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BitTorrent's Bram Cohen against Network Neutrality 269

wigwamus writes "BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen warns on potential 'absurdity' of Network Neutrality laws and concedes that his hook-up with Cachelogic is creating a system that might contravene Network Neutrality. He suggests there'd be no difference between big media footing the bill for their own upload costs of their offerings and subsidizing the consumer's download costs of the same."
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BitTorrent's Bram Cohen against Network Neutrality

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  • Net Neutrality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:51AM (#15415842)
    I worry that if a law is passed to solve bandwidth problems today it will take 20 years to repeal it when there is no problem. Could Net Neutrality work out the same as the Spanish-American War Excise Tax?
    • Indeed. Network neutrality is vital here and now, with The Internet, but will it make sense in twenty years, with whatever framework we're using at the time? Communications technologies change, and what works today isn't necessarily what works tomorrow. Legislation moves slowly. And really, regulation just fucks things up. The government is either in charge, or it isn't. It's all or nothing, because free markets just don't work in the face of regulation.

      That's not to dismiss having the government run

      • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:28PM (#15416186) Homepage Journal
        you repeal the law of humanness. A totally free market would result in MEGABIGCO Inc. owning the world and everyone being some sort of electronic plantation worker for them, never quite making enough "money" to ever get out of debt to them. You will inevitably go from lot of companies to cartels to a monopoly, because that makes more money for the monopoly owners, and because humanness means that they will continue to impose their will on governmental processes. We already went through this crap and debate in our semi recent human past. it's been tried and found severely lacking. A "free" market means zero environmental regulations, what is in it for them? They don't care if their factory pollutes the water table over someplace, the bosses and owners will just live where that doesn't happen and buy up all the land around them to give them a clean environment, and stuff like that. It means no minimum wage,back to child labor, no safe working conditions, etc, because that is their historically proven over and over again humans as bosses track record back before these regs existed. This is *precisely* because companies are run by humans and megalomaniacs and greedsters strive for top dog positions all the time,and they get there, "by hook or CROOK", hence why those sorts of bad news policies flow downstream in the "giving orders" chain of commands structure, in government or business.

        The "free" market is one of those things that it is easy to say and might sound sort of good in theory, but it won't ever fly or work as advertised without tremendous negative effects. For an example of an area with more or less "anything goes free markets", look at the horn of africa.
        • A totally free market would result in MEGABIGCO Inc. owning the world and everyone being some sort of electronic plantation worker for them, never quite making enough "money" to ever get out of debt to them.

          That's not true. The reason we have MEGABIGCO is because of preferential treatment such as:

          1. Regulations -- Creates a very high barrier to enter a market
          2. Subsidies -- Creates a financial incentive for the cronies of the law
          3. Licensing -- Creates a cartel that prevents the proper number of competitor
          • Your comment applies to telcols, cable companies, and other utilities, but it does not explain other large companies like Microsoft and Walmart, which use their size to keep competitors out (although government anti-trust legistlation supposedly makes that behavior illegal). Another problem with a 100% free market is transparency. In our current system, publicly traded companies have to tell the truth about their accounting (in theory). Also, they cannot lie in advertising (once again, in theory).
          • The biggest polluter in the country is the US government, by the way.

            It's not that I don't believe you, but you wouldn't happen to have a reference for that lying around, would you?

          • "MEGABIGCO won't occur in a free market if there are no barriers to entering that market."

            Barriers to entry or not, companies can make more money if they collude or merge rather than compete. In a fully free market, you probably wouldn't have one company growing into MEGABIGCO; the several existing smaller companies would merge into MEGABIGCO, and new entrants would also merge into MEGABIGCO so they can charge the monopoly prices.
          • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Woundweavr ( 37873 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @02:33PM (#15416717)
            "MEGABIGCO won't occur in a free market if there are no barriers to entering that market"

            Thats all well and good except that the barrier to market entry and not government created. They are fundamental to capitalism. Since it costs initial capital to enter a market, a company can not enter the market and be competitive immediately. There is a reason you or I couldn't start making cars that ran on butter tomorrow.

            "Monopolies ONLY occur due to government licensing."

            Ridiculous beyond comprehension. Learn about economics and its history. See: John D Rockefeller and Standard Oil []. In an unregulated system, the natural equilibrium is monopoly.

            "Not true. A provider of a product or service will provide what the consumer wants, including making sure that they abide by whatever environmental restrictions the market demands. Pollution is better covered by trespass and realistic tort laws than by regulation -- regulations of the environment today just move polluters around. The biggest polluter in the country is the US government, by the way."

            First of all, a dichotomy between "tort laws" and "regulation" is patently false and intellectually shallow. Furthermore, pollution is not well-suited for tort law. Not only are harms that occur due to pollution often societal, but they are difficult to trace to individuals or companies as the cumulative effect brings about such negative consequences. Tort law focuses on private property and pollution harms the common good, public property and society in general.

            "No, child labor has occured during the beginning of markets because the older workers were not able to adapt to the new markets. In most situations, children will be less productive if the government stops restricting how it pays employees. Minimum wage laws create unemployment because they rob uneducated non-productive people from finding jobs that won't pay them what they're worth until they prove their worth as employees. Many foreigners come into the country to work illegally for less than minimum wage, but quickly start earning much more than minimum wage once they've proven their worth."

            Factually wrong. Its that simple. Child labor did not occur because older workers were not able to adapt. Its insulting that anyone would actually post such tripe. Children [] are not working in South East Asia for three generations because the older people couldn't adapt. Children [] didn't work in Western Europe and the United States from the start of the Industrial Revolution until nearly WWII because their parent's couldn't adapt. The children of children who were forced to work were also forced to work, are still forced to work at the same jobs.

            "Go read Mises, Rothbard, Hayek and Goethe. You'll drop your Keynesian theories right quick."
            Ah it all becomes clear. How about this - don't try and drape ideology as economics. The Austrian School is all about how economics 'should' be. Its horrible at predicting how things are. Its also fundamentally anti-labor (relying solely on the marginal utility to produce value has no fundamental origin of the system). There's a reason the Austrian school has been a fringe theory of economics in every society (except ironically under the National Socialists).

            • Dammit - me with 5 shiny mod points and a great post languishing at +2. Too bad I already posted elsewhere....

              The only thing I disagree with is that the natural equilibrium point of any market is a monopoly. In a perfect (i.e., practically impossible) free market, it takes just one person to break up the monopoly. Furthermore, the idea that the natural equilibrium for markets is a monopoly requires humans to be completely rational beings, which many studies have shown they are not. The simplest example of
          • Monopolies ONLY occur due to government licensing.

            You know, I've seen you post this drivel time and time again. I just want to know one thing: do you actually understand how markets work? Are you even willing to rethink previous positions that are patently false, or are you just interested in preaching? Because of all the complete falsehoods that you manage to come up with from time to time, this takes the cake. Do you understand the concept of a natural monopoly? Would you care to explain why you think

          • by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:41PM (#15416966) Homepage Journal
            Monopolies ONLY occur due to government licensing

            mmm... and are there no exceptions?

            If I remember correctly the East India Company used to maintain a private army to enforce its self proclaimed monopoly over trade in India. Eventually Britain came to depend on that trade so much it sent its own troops to protect British interests, and ended up conquering the place. But in the beginning, the East India Company enforced its own monopoly. In blood, if need be.

            MEGABIGCO won't occur in a free market if there are no barriers to entering that market.

            In a purely deregualted market, MEGABIGCO will create it's own barriers to entry. Quite possible by sending men round with hammers to break up your equipment and hospitalise your staff.

            But if you pass law against organised violence and intimidation, then you're interfering with the market. That may not be the primary intent of the law, but if you have a business model that relies on violence and intimidation for income then you probably won't see it that way.

            From that, I think it's clear that some level or regulation is required, unless we want the the markets to be dominated solely by the vicious, brutal and unprincipled.

            On the other hand, I don't think this completely invalidates your points either. Bad regulations can be abused, and often seem designed to be abused, in order to enable monopolies.

            I think the problem is binary thinking. The question is not "is regulation good or is regulation evil?" The question we should ask is "what level of regulation best serves the public interest, and while we're at it, how do we thing the public interest is best served?"

            Incidentally, please don't take this personally. I agree with a lot of hat you write. On this occasion though, I think you're arguing mainly from theology.

      • Re:Net Neutrality (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BEHiker57W ( 253848 )
        But there's no free market here no matter what. The majority of internet users are hooked in through local telephone companies (ILECs) and cable companies. Most endpoints in the USA are accessed by only one possible wire connection and 95+% are accessed by no more than two. That means almost all endpoints face a monopoly provider. There is no free market when the city or county prohibits build out of alternative connections and collects franchise fees for the monopoly providers. But a free market with
        • That's because telephone lines are a form of infrastructure. Realistically, they should be publically owned and run, the same way that the plumbing system is. Regulating the telephone system doesn't accomplish anything other than to drive prices up. Can you imagine if you got your water the same way you got your telephone service?

          Infrastructure needs to be either inherently socialist, or it needs to be so completely deregulated that anyone can set up their own set of phone lines, and start competing.

  • by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:53AM (#15415850)
    From TFA: "One reason, perhaps, is because if toll roads are to be allowed on the internet, then someone has to build them, and that means jobs for the hardware boys."

    Possibly the biggest problem with the 'net neutrality' debate is a mass lack of understanding of how prioritized services would be implemented. It has little to do with hardware. One can forgive mere journalists for such a network faux paus.

    The thing about prioritized traffic is that the last mile makes the biggest difference. So, if come big media company pays its ISP to prioritize its video traffic, it won't amount to very much unless each and every last-mile provider on the Internet everywhere configures their equipment to treat that traffic with the same priority.

    In fact, even on the backbone, its the same story. As soon as a packet crosses onto another provider's network, it may no longer be routed with any priority at all.

    The only thing that can be know for sure about the effect of prioritizing IP traffic is that other traffic will slow down. Like VOIP 911 calls, for example.

    The most, and possibly only, practical way to improve the performance would be for the telcos to make good on promises made 10 years ago to run high capacity to every home. Promises used to get lots of money from the government, which they never delivered on.

    Perhaps the best thing would be to support "fail fast" [] for telcos. Never bail them out - the sooner a telco goes under, the better. Artificially keeping them in business supports investment in outmoded technology and outdated business models and managment structures. The 'dumber' a network is, the better it works. By allowing telcos to go under, investment in newer, faster technology is naturally encouraged.
    • The only thing that can be know for sure about the effect of prioritizing IP traffic is that other traffic will slow down. Like VOIP 911 calls, for example.

      So buy VoIP services from your ISP instead of Vonage or some other random net entity. Your ISP can guarantee their VOIP services have sufficient QoS so you get excellent quality phone service. Most cable companies are already starting to offer VoIP.

      • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:36AM (#15416000)
        Most cable companies are already starting to offer VoIP.

        Yeah, often at *substantially* higher costs than what is available from the independent VoIP providers, and with no guarantee that QoS can be maintained once the packets leave your provider's network.
        • I'm not sure how it works where you are.. but up here in Canada, my cable company (Mountaincable []) offers a VoIP package for $25 cdn/month including services (call display, call waiting, voicemail). This is a VERY competitive price.

          The thing is, with their system, your packets don't leave your provider's network at all! From their FAQ []:

          Q. Is this another 'Internet phone service'?
          A. No. With Mountain's Digital Telephone your call will never go over the Internet. It is securely relayed over Mountain's state
          • I'm glad you brought up the point about VoIP never leaving the ISP's network - that's exactly what I have here. VoIP is a bad idea... but using VoIP and going directly to your ISP, and then to a phone network, works great. We just had to put QoS on our local LAN, and between the routers to and from my ISP, and everything works great.
          • Here, the local cable co. offers VoIP for $39.95/month (above and beyond their broadband service which is a prerequisite), which to my knowledge is by far the most expensive VoIP service available where I live. Services such as call display, voicemail, etc., I don't consider as a selling point as any VoIP package should include them, and the main thing that I *do* consider a selling point (bring your own device) is not offered through their service.

            I don't know for certain that they route calls over the
          • That service wouldn't be affected by net neutrality laws. The company has provided a service that is competitive with other services. The ISP does not need to take the extra step of slowing down competing services in order to gain more customers.
            • The ISP does not need to take the extra step of slowing down competing services in order to gain more customers.

              I thought this wasn't about slowing down competing services, it was about reserving bandwidth for your own services that could otherwise have been used by your competitors. This is basically what my cable company is doing.. they've laid a 'virtual' network that their services run on nice and fast, while their competitor's services are forced to share the common, clogged internet pipe.

              They're usin
              • I didn't read it as "we set up a completely different network just for VoIP, and then charged you almost nothing for it", I read it as "we have a great network; our VoIP servers are located within our network so the packets don't have to travel far (and don't travel over anyone else's network, in case you have a reason to fear the internet backbone guys, but trust our network completely); and maybe we encrypt the voice data too".

                If my reading is more accurate, I do see a slight advantage for the ISP owner

        • Yeah, often at *substantially* higher costs than what is available from the independent VoIP providers, and with no guarantee that QoS can be maintained once the packets leave your provider's network.

          And independant VoIP providers can gaurantee QoS? Nope. They can't even gaurantee the service within your own network since they don't control the transport lines. The extra cost from cablecos is that little convienence fee of having it appear on the same bill as your cable TV and data and having the phone serv
          • I never said other providers could address the QoS issue, but then they're not trying to charge me forty bucks a month either. Practically, QoS has not been a problem for me as I've consistently gotten excellent sound quality, with no complaints of poor quality from anyone on the other end. The only problems that I *have* experienced relate to the fact that my cable service seems to go down periodically, which would take the cable-branded VoIP service down with it as well.

            The extra cost from cablecos i
        • When your ISP offers VoIP, the VoIP traffic typically never goes on to the Internet because they have their own POTS gateway within their network.
    • Doesn't IPv6 have a priority header for things like 911?
    • You are correct about the debate's semantics being flawed.

      Having first experienced the Internet through a large proprietary provider (Compuserve) it became immediately clear to me back then that whatever additional services/features CIS offered didn't matter much to me as long as my TCP/IP link was availble.

      That's all that mattered: The Internet Protocol.

      IMO raising other higher-level protocols in importance over general IP traffic means that provider is no longer in the Internet business.

      Yet, there is scan
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This guys a fuckin' nut!

    He makes dark deals with the movie and music monopolies and now claims he can circumvent Net Neutrality.

    Just let him bob and weave in his dark corner with his soiled money and let the rest of us move on to the real world please!

  • by a_greer2005 ( 863926 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:54AM (#15415859)
    this is about the podcasters, bloggers, and startups...if you make them pay twice, then you are taking away the nets key advantage to old media -- easy access to all, anyone can create, not just consume...dont let the Bells take that away, dont let a few billionairs control out thoughts, news and entertainment, we broke that mold, DONT RE-BUILD IT!
    • Don't let the promise of more golden eggs tempt you to kill the golden goose.

      We NEED net neutrality more than we need VoIP people! QoS can wait.

        Free Speech.
        Specific loop holes and ignored violations have been added during "maintenance" as they were "needed", some were rolled back, but the base policy is still there on paper.
  • Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suspected ( 907639 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:56AM (#15415862)
    Long story short: he is wrong. He didn't take into account what would happen to smaller websites if Network Neutrality was no longer the norm. I don't really want to go into why Network Neutrality would be a good law because this is Slashdot, and I assume most of you already know. Bram Cohen is a smart guy, but he does not properly capitalize on his ideas. His statement regarding Network Neutrality just further proves that seeing the world in $$$ is not his forte.
    • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

      All I want is a simple clarification of the common carrier status. If AT&T wants to continue to be called a common carrier and NOT sued when users download child porn via their network then they need to keep out of the content arena entirely. AT&T should make absolutely no distinction between packets that flow from outside its network to one of its subscribers for the purposes of "quality of service".
      • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:45AM (#15416042)
        The Supreme Court ruled on this some time ago - common carrier status doesn't apply to internet service providers offerings because their offerings are considered to be "information services" rather than "telecommunications services" under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That's not to say I don't think they *should* be considered common carriers, but under current law they're not.

        The Court's opinion can be found here []. (PDF file)
    • Cohen's reasoning: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:50AM (#15416059)
      Did you even read the blurb?

      "[Cohen] concedes that his hook-up with Cachelogic is creating a system that might contravene Network Neutrality"

      Only an idiot would want legislation to pass that would make his current business project fail.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:28PM (#15416185) Homepage Journal
        Mod parent up insightful.

        In fact, the same can be said about everybody who has been "against" network neutrality. Cisco has the most to gain because they make routers and... guess what... all those QoS things that the telcos propose will require them to buy new routers.

        Thus far, everyone against net neutrality legislation has had a profit motive. Most of the people against it do not, though some (like Google) have a "we don't want to bleed red" motive. Most folks want net neutrality because a lack of net neutrality allows big telcos like AT&T who have lots of end users to strong-arm smaller companies like hosting providers and similar for what amounts to protection money to avoid having the performance of their customers' access to those end users artificially degraded. The result will be less availability of services, and a gradual compartmentalization of the Internet by ISP, and eventually a complete breakdown of the power of the Internet to serve the consumer.

        Net neutrality should be mandated. As for future technologies, the LAST thing we ever want in the future is a technology that would regress us back towards a pay-per-bandwidth system. As a consumer, I won't do it (which is why I don't have a data plan on my cell phone). I want to see MORE swing away from pay-per-[insert unit of measurement here] and towards flat rate services. Flat rates are good for the consumer because they encourage people to try new technologies that otherwise would not be affordable.

        Would the iTMS be here if we had to pay our ISP per kilobyte for those downloads? Doubt it. Would we have things like Google Video/YouTube? Nope. In fact, I would say that all of the companies that are actually innovating in the technology space (as opposed to leaches like Cisco and AT&T that do pretty much the same thing year after year, only faster) benefit greatly from net neutrality.) When those companies benefit, innovation increases, and the consumers ultimately get cool new technologies that simply would not exist if companies like AT&T had their way.

        Of course, flat rate services are the last thing AT&T and friends want. They'd like to sell those downloads themselves. They'd like to be the only ones who can afford to do so just like with their cell phones. Too bad for them. They can take my net neutrality when they pry my DSL modem from my cold, dead hands.

    • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iminplaya ( 723125 )
      Bram Cohen is a smart guy, but he does not properly capitalize on his ideas.

      This is precisely what he is trying to do. And he does take all those things about smaller sites, etc. He signed up with the big boys now. He want to clear the way for his "new" friends. He has no interest in what happens to the small timers. Make no mistake, he's using he "geek clout" to convince us that what's good for WB is good for the internet. I hope that nobody falls for it. Ah, the power of money. Quite a bear trap it is.
    • He's wrong because you said so. End of discussion then, mod parent insightful.
  • Quite frankly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The dude had one good idea and now he's struggling to monetize it. He's hardly impartial. Network neutrality isn't about not having to pay for the bill for your uploads, it's about having to pay the rest of the net too. Without peering, the internet will turn into a content delivery network much like cable television, and I guarantee that I won't subscribe to that. That'll be the day when I rent an excavator and start burying fiber myself and peer to other folks like me.
  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:02AM (#15415886) Homepage Journal
    ...but, with all due respect, when organizations as diverse as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google,, the NRA, the Christian Coaliation and the EFF all actually agree []on Net Neutrality [], you must be barking up the wrong tree.

    Sure, laws on this subject need to very carefully crafted to avoid unintended consequences. And the American Lawmakers have a long record of messing up in that respect. But I believe -- with all the above-mentioned organizations, that Net Neutrality has to be respected.
    • The Gun Owners of America [] is a different group than the National Rifle Association [], similar agendas but different groups.
      • "You read that rightthe Christian Coalition has joined everyone from Google to MoveOn to the Gun Owners of America in the fight for Internet freedom."

      MoveOn lists the Gun Owners of America as a supporter of the Net Neutrality initive, Andy Carvin may have mixed up the two but that doesn't mean that they're the same group


  • by saterdaies ( 842986 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:02AM (#15415890)
    "when you're talking about large file transfers going to very large numbers of people there frequently are significant costs involved"

    While it would be terrible for an ISP to block Google or Amazon, it probably won't happen because neither service puts a strain on their resources. But there are internet uses which do put a strain on an ISPs resources. For example, while this isn't true today, it is quite possible that we will download DVDs which, even compressed using XVID or something, will still be a couple gigs a piece (maybe as low as 1GB). Imagine a Netflix/Napster-like subscription service for video downloads!

    Currently, ISPs oversell their capacity because most of the time, we use very little of it. Like while I'm writing this comment, I'm using 0kbps and when I submit it, my connection will burst up to give me a fast experience. But if I was using a lot of this connection a lot of the time, my ISP would have a problem - and I don't think it's too hard for us to imagine IPTV or the like for the future which would present such a problem.

    Personally, I would prefer usage charges (charges per GB levied against the user) than charges to the content provider. I'd rather pay for it myself than just get the content that a company will pay for, but it seems like Bram has realized that, with high-bandwidth services becoming more and more prevalent, there will be a point at which ISPs need to do something about that extra used capacity - whether that means charging the users sucking all that capacity or charging the content providers enabling the users to suck all that capacity.
    • you have the problem right. the isp's will have to build out a lot more capacity to be able to deliver these new, rich media services. this debate isn't about neutrality it is about WHO PAYS.

      right now the consumer pays but rates are as high as the market will bear. isp's sre not going to be able to raise rates, so they are looking to the beneficiaries of the extra bandwidth to pay for the costs.

      gooogle makes more profit than comcast on a much smaller revenue base. the internet content providers get a r
    • While it would be terrible for an ISP to block Google or Amazon, it probably won't happen because neither service puts a strain on their resources. But there are internet uses which do put a strain on an ISPs resources. For example, while this isn't true today, it is quite possible that we will download DVDs which, even compressed using XVID or something, will still be a couple gigs a piece (maybe as low as 1GB). Imagine a Netflix/Napster-like subscription service for video downloads!

      Last night, I saw a

    • Honestly I wouldn't mind giving the telecoms $10 billion dollars or so to invest in capacity. Bring in some third party to validate the usage of this money so the telecoms don't try to line their pockets. The government doesn't mind handing out huge subsidies to oil companies when the they don't build refineries and are having record profits.

      I mean if the money goes towards improving the broadband infrastucture within the United States, that seems like money well spent. Much better than the various other cr
      • What have you been smoking? Show me the last time in the last 50 years that any major telco or cable company did anything truly innovative or worthwhile with that much "free" money (i.e. money that was not earned, such as government grants, write-offs, tax breaks, customer rate hikes and the like) like investing in infrastructure (which is THEIR responsilbility not ours) or designing vastly quicker transmssion methods.

        Virtually all major innovation in the telco arena has come from competition and startups
    • Have you not seen ads on TV for Vongo or I'M yet? Two video download services and counting.
    • Overselling your bandwidth is what is wrong with the internet as it is now. You shoul dalways plan on your users ALL using the internet at the sametime because they CAN! You can be ok for a while overselling, but eventually it will bite you in the ass. Is that the users fault? No. The user is just using what he paid for. Net Neutrality is evening the field. Amazon is where it is today because of a neutral network. Ebay itself used to be a very small sight but is where it is because of a neutral netw
  • by electrosoccertux ( 874415 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:08AM (#15415900)
    I wonder if the internet is something that should not be left to capitolism, to media companies...because of things like this. Aside from the obvious privacy issues of a government issued internet (something we could probably get around...but hey, its not like they don't already see everything), I think a govNET could have some very nice benefits. I am of belief that government exists to do for the people only the things they cannot do for themselves, or things which there is little incentive to consider (pollution). The government doesn't always screw things up. They manage, for the most part, to get our mail where it belongs in a reasonable time for a reasonable cost. They keep our highways and our roads in decent shape for the most part. And they train and are capable of effectively (more so than other countries can) deploying troops in the event of a crisis.

    I don't see how a govNET would be very much a different decision than the highway situation was...get the government to lay out tons of fibre optic cable to every home, and then the only upgrades you have to make are to the infrastructure. What a campaign advantage it would be to boast of pushing for fibre optic to every home, school, and office, for a REASONABLE cost. Considering the benefit we all get out of our highways, we don't pay that much tax to keep them useable. I think the same could go for the internet.
    • I don't see how a govNET would be very much a different decision than the highway situation was

      Oh, dear god, no...

      I don't know where you live, but here in Chicago our roads are notoriously poor, constantly under construction, and never built to last. Am I going to have to check the TV news first thing in the morning to make sure there's enough bandwidth through the construction zone of the Dan Ryan backbone for my telecommute to work?
    • Thankfully, someone modded you up already, so I can just reply to you. You're completely right - there are very good reason why a free market doesn't work in certain situations, and this is one of them. As a quick reminder, a free market can by definition only be beneficial to the greater public if the following conditions are met: the market provides perfect information about all products and companies to the consumers, and barriers to entry are low to non-existent.

      Here's why: perfect information is requir
  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:11AM (#15415910)
    I know there are more important issues at stake than fast music downloads.

    The internet has proven to be wonderful tool for people to communicate. TV and radio were supposed to fulfill these promises but big business has subverted them.

    We have seen that bloggers can actually force big media to carrry there stories, that the internet is an invaluable research tool, and that it gives voice to the voiceless, from Iranian dissedients to disgruntled corporate employees.

    The free music is a nice side beneift, but let's not lose track of our priorities.
  • by LinuxDon ( 925232 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:12AM (#15415915)
    I read TFA, and I find it to be very naive.

    If there would be no Network Neutrality anymore, the following could (and probably will) happen:
    - Netcache has to pay to the user's provider as well as for it's own upload costs it already has.
    - The user still pays the same amount of money he does now.
    - There is no incentive anymore to upgrade those main pipes, the company's that want good network performance to the end-user will just have to pay up extra.
    - PROFIT (For big providers like AOL).

    In the end, there will be no (speed) advantage to anyone. Everything will just get more expensive! This is what history should have taught us by now.
    Network neutrality should be guarded!

    I think Bram Cohen is just making a BIG mistake here! (Or he is simple misquoted)
  • by kilonad ( 157396 ) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:13AM (#15415920)
    If the services that Cachelogic offers violate net neutrality at some level, then the internet hasn't had net neutrality since the mid 1990s. Akamai and Squid Proxy do very similar things with data (replicating it in multiple locations for faster downloads). Cachelogic and Akamai still have to pay the backbone providers, just like everybody else. What violates neutrality is the backbone providers setting aside a certain amount of bandwidth (or setting up a second network) to make transfer speeds from some sites faster than others.

    If the ISPs want to create a second network of their own to push their own media services at much higher speeds, let them. I equate it to getting your internet access from your cable company. Your TV and your net access come down the same wire, and TV is a media service, so that's really nothing new. If you don't agree with that, then you can think of it as whatever the ISP wants to provide being on a faster LAN (since it originates "locally"), whereas the rest of the internet is still on a WAN.

    That said, the article's analogy to toll roads was an excellent choice, as anyone in the Northern Virginia area can tell you. When they first open, the toll roads are significantly faster but cost a fortune to use, with the promise that the prices will go down once it's paid for. But then it fills up to the point where it's only a tiny bit faster than the equivalent free roads, and the prices go up even more to cover the costs of expansion. After a few years, your choices are completely clogged free roads where you go 15mph, or a $3/each way 15 mile road where you go 35mph after the fourth or fifth mile.

    The conclusion that it doesn't matter if the media company buys more bandwidth the old fashioned way or pays the ISPs for the use of a secondary faster network is spot on. However, the customer will end up paying the same amount either way, which means there is no advantage for the customer by switching to the new tiered network model.
    • It's true that the reporter didn't have a clue, but Bram knew exactly what he was saying when he said we should not have net neutrality laws.

      And by the way, net neutrality of spam is acceptible if we can sue the bastards, both the spammers and the people who own zombies.
  • by cbiffle ( 211614 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:14AM (#15415927)
    This article seems to completely miss the point.

    Bram points out, rightly, that one must be very careful with legislating network neutrality, to keep from forcing ISPs to deliver all traffic (DDoS, spam, etc.). He acknowledges that with a sufficiently broad definition, the Cachelogic scheme could violate network neutrality.

    Of course, so would Akamai, in this case. The article gets the entire topic wrong. What they're discussing is not a QoS tier at the network level, but a single company's caching architecture that makes their clients' data go faster.

    And the company isn't even a network provider.

    Close, but no cigar.
    • "This article seems to completely miss the point."

      Indeed. These are two completely different issues; QoS for specific protocols vs. QoS for generic protocols to _specific destinations_.

      It's same-treatment-for-everything vs. same-treatment-for-everyone. I havent seen any suggestions about legislating for the former, only the latter.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:26AM (#15415964)
    How can things like IPTV come into being if companies like Verizon are barred from building up and reserving the capacity to provide them? Why should Google, Microsoft, etc. be allowed access to that bandwidth since it's not impeding their ability to provide their services? Not allowing the telecoms and other large ISPs to do this would akin to not allowing Google to invest in dark fibre for its own purposes. Hmmm is that the smell of hypocrisy among the slashdot crowd once again?

    Both sides are being dishonest here. The content companies have no right to the entire network, and the ISPs don't want to provide the full service that they sell. There is supposed to be an implicit gentleman's agreement that if someone buys a leased line, they won't face arbitrary tolls. That's the point that a lot of talking heads can't seem to understand. They think that the content companies want to be free-riders when all they want is to be able to deliver their content at full f$%^ing speed to their customers. The "toll" is more like a warlord in Africa charging a "toll" to let legitimate businesses use the government-built roads. The customers on both ends paid for the bandwidth. If there is a problem with not making enough money, then the ISPs need to go back and rethink the wisdom of charging only $15 for broadband.
    • by esconsult1 ( 203878 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#15416062) Homepage Journal
      That's a horrendously terrible reason to oppose it, and also shortsighted.

      Its very frustrating listening to both sides when the solution is really simple:

      1. Run big pipes to every home/office
      2. Cap usage (not bandwidth) daily.
      3. Charge users who use more (like your cellphone)

      I work from home/office and need a fat pipe with big upload. Joe suburban kid wants to peer-to-peer stuff. No problem. When the traffic reaches the cap, either suspend service, or charge more for the extra traffic -- according to pre-existing arrangements. (Remember your cellphone business model?????)

      I do the same for hosting now and the hosting providers seem to be happy with what they make from me. I would get the burstable traffic that I want so I can download a distro, or other large files occassionally at great speeds. Joe suburban kid can download the media that he wants from Youtube, and the ISP's can get into the business of providing all the content that they want as well.

      What's wrong with that? It's capitalism, they can build out all the capacity that they want, and pass the buck onto the consumers.

      But no, that's too simple for everyone to understand... What they want, is to build the big pipes and use it for their own traffic to us. Exclusively. Except that's not the way how the internet works. We want to watch Youtube or listen to iTunes or download the latest viral Lazy Sunday. They want to give us Verizon channel 5. Sure, give us Verizon channel 5, if its any good, we will watch it.

      I only wish network neutrality advocates could stick to the simple position outlined above. It works for everyone. The ISP's content providers, and the consumers.
    • How can things like IPTV come into being if companies like Verizon are barred from building up and reserving the capacity to provide them?

      And how did we ever end up with DSL and Broadband? If I was still using 300 Baud dialup, then you might have a case. But I don't, and your argument holds no water.

      Why should Google, Microsoft, etc. be allowed access to that bandwidth since it's not impeding their ability to provide their services? Not allowing the telecoms and other large ISPs to do this would akin to n
  • I call this a PR blurb, what he's talking about is basicly "Akamai for P2P". There's nothing in net neurality that prevents you from doing that - or most anything else you do today. Want to put the VoIP port in a priority queue? Want to traffic shape it? Want to block it? Knock yourself out - as long as you do it regardless of destination.

    Want to put a cache server closer to the customer, so you're only competing for the local link and not the long haul links? Fine, as long as you put it in line with your o
  • Subsidizing? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:29AM (#15415976)
    He suggests there'd be no difference between big media footing the bill for their own upload costs of their offerings and subsidizing the consumer's download costs of the same."

    Subsidize? Subsidize?! I have to wonder what Cohen is thinking. If he thinks that the telco's plans will result in cheaper internet access for consumers, then he's an amazingly naive optimist. Only competition will force prices down and quality up, and its just not happening. My choices here are roadrunner, which goes out for days at a time versus SBC dsl, which for about $40/mo tops out at about 2.5Mbit at my range from the CO. Meanwhile I can only look on in envy at my friends in verizon markets who are on FIOS, while SBC/ATT continue to pledge lightspeed for my city "real soon now".
    • Exactly. What people don't get is that there would be no net if it weren't for competition. Some people complain about the breakup of AT&T, saying it was government interference, regulation, etc. But nobody remembers that before Sprint won the right to provide long distance service, it was actually illegal to hook up any non-Bell equipment to your phone line. You couldn't buy a cheap small phone, you could only get a big clunky Bell phone, usually rented. They were NOT innovating, they were using centur
  • the phone company charging you extra to phone Walmart to order something?

  • I'm not going to debate the issue. But as it stands now, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay, Christian Coalition, Associated Press, Gun Owners of America, MoveOn, the Christian Coalition, financial groups such as National Association of Federal Credit Unions, America's Community Bankers, American Bankers Association and Independent Community Bankers of America, and the typical EFF and ACLU, and yes, even Moby and Michael Stipe all support this. And ya know, i gotta support what Moby does.. ;) Seriou
  • Vested Interest (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shoolz ( 752000 )
    As much as I respect Bram, I'm not going to include his voice as being relevant for the net neutrality discussion.

    Anybody with a vested interest cannot add anything other than personal slant to the discussion.
    • Re:Vested Interest (Score:2, Insightful)

      by faboo ( 198876 )
      Brotha', then all our opinions are irrelevent. Everyone who uses the internet will be directly affected, both monetarilly and personally, by the presence or abscence of net-neutrality. To say that someone with an interest in the outcome of the debate cannot have a valid, arguable opinion implies that no one who is affected by the outcome can way in. And frankly, given that the passage of the Net-Neutrality bill will directly affect me, you're fuckin' right I'm going to have an opinion.
  • by NeoSkandranon ( 515696 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:12PM (#15416138)
    I'd be willing to wager that something like Bittorrent, which seems to have a habit of choking/flooding a connection, would be prioritized flat at the bottom of the list unless otherwise paid for.
    • It's called Traffic Shaping but it's just an arm's race. In the end all P2P traffic will be encrypted and running over port 445 (SSL). One sound business model would be to charge consumers (us) for excess traffic... and stop with the silly limited "unlimited" services for rock bottom prices (here in the UK).
  • the argument is moot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:32PM (#15416209) Homepage
    So let ISPs start giving priority on bandwidth for some things, and maybe limit bandwidth for others. Over time, let people yell and scream, and companies figure out ways to provide premium services without irking their customers too much, and ten years from now when everyone has 25-megabit connections no one will care because even "low tier" bandwidth will be enough for a couple of high-quality video streams simultaneously.
    • Why don't you get back to me again in a few decades when everyone uses high resolution video conferencing and downloads high definition TV shows and movies on demand (free, pirated, pay-per-play, and/or DRM'ed with built-in commercials... one way or another, it'll happen.) With 4+ people in a household sharing a connection, a 25-megabit pipe would bottleneck pretty damn quick, and that's without giving any consideration at all to future yet-to-be-invented high bandwidth applications. Just because YOU can't
  • by BlackErtai ( 788592 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:42PM (#15416237) Homepage
    This falls into the same category that anything Linus says does for me. Just because you've had one good idea, doesn't mean we should listen to you about anything else. Bram doesn't sound like he knows what he's talking about, and he's using the position he gained by inventing something lots of people use to push his opinion. Linus tries that all the time, and I usually don't give him the time of day either.
  • He suggests there'd be no difference between big media footing the bill for their own upload costs of their offerings and subsidizing the consumer's download costs of the same.

    Umm - yes there would be.

    Because they'd be paying for their own upload costs plus the consumer's download costs. This increases their costs, which in turn would increase our costs.

  • Of Laws and Men (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dsanfte ( 443781 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:59PM (#15416300) Journal
    A big problem with western society today is this: We have seen how corrupt and untrustworthy people can be, and we attempt to codify what we want in our laws such that the reading of them is infallible enough to keep these corrupt and untrustworthy people from doing harm.

    It doesn't work.

    No law can be rigid enough to be interpreted flawlessly by everyone and yet be flexible enough to catch the exceptions that eventually crop up.

    It requires human judgement to really tell if something contravenes the spirit of the law, and yet we tie the judges' hands with specific, rigid definitions of how to judge the case. We attempt to remove human judgement from the equation because we do not trust it. This is utterly stupid.

    The only way to get Net Neutrality to work is to establish an ideal scenario of how the Internet should work, and giving judges the leeway to decide whether certain cases that crop up go against those established ideals. Yes, this also means selective enforcement, which is only a bad thing if you have bad people making the enforcement decisions.

    If people would stop electing corrupt and otherwise untrustworthy invidviduals to positions of power, we would not have to worry so much about these things. It is the responsibility of the people to weed out the political landscape and leave only the trustworthy. Obviously we have been slack.

    Judgement calls in cases like Net Neutrality are necessary, and if made by trustworthy and integrous people, will solve a lot of these bickering problems we have trying in vain to construct a law so perfectly worded that it can bend both ways backwards at the same time.
  • Get A Clue!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For those of us who build telco networks, this discussion of network neutrality is all just plain silly.

    There are many ways to get internet data from source to desitinantion. If a company wants to buy into a faster or better connected network, that is the choice they make. That has always been the choice the content providers make. The customer does not have any implicit rights to the best path unless the content provider has made the choice to be on the best path.

    As for building a fast lane, that is jus
  • by wigwamus ( 977411 )
    The extended audio of the interview (just over 4 minutes long) is on the Newsnight 26th May podcast, buried 26 mins 30 seconds in. On itunes at: viewPodcast?id=136697142&s=143444&i=5973421 []
  • They're talking about all the customers for this service coming home and firing up their PCs instead of the TV. This won't be a small fraction of their customers using the full bandwidth, it'll be essentially all of them at once. They will be unable to plan for any meaningful fraction of idle bandwidth, because this is streaming media: if they have to delay packets at all, they've failed to deliver on their contract.

    They're talking about a service that won't even tolerate as much overbooking as airline

  • My idea on net neutrality is the following.

    A consumer should be able to mark his packets as high/low priority, and the ISP should treat them as such. If a consumer marks too much of his traffic as high priority, it should automatically get downgraded to low priority.

    Which packets that should be prioritized or not should be completly up to the consumer and his programs. The ISP deciding which network traffic gets low and which gets high priority is a big no-no.

    If someone wants to use his priority bandwidth t
  • "Net Neutrality" []
    Digital Discrimination or Regulatory
    Gamesmanship in Cyberspace?

    The regulatory regime envisioned by Net neutrality mandates would also open the door to a great deal of potential "gaming" of the regulatory system and allow firms to use the regulatory system to hobble competitors. Worse yet, it would encourage more FCC regulation of the Internet and broadband markets in general.

    The Internet is the success it is today because the FCC did not regulate it. Let's not screw that up.
  • A quick question: (Score:4, Informative)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @03:05PM (#15416829) Homepage Journal
    " subsidizing the consumer's download costs of the same."

    Pardon me, but isn't the subscription fee for the DSL/Cable Modem/T1/Microwave connection supposed to cover bandwidth costs?

    Yes, you say?

    Ah, thought so. In that case, net neutrality is the only thing that makes sense. What the providers can do is, hmm, let me think. . . oh wait, I know! How about offering tiered connection speeds? E.g., 768 Kbps/128 Kbps for a small monthly fee, 3 Mbps/768 Kbps for a slightly higher monthly fee, and 7.1mbps/1.5mbps or faster for a higher fee?

    What, providers already offer tiered services, you say? Oh my fucking GOD, they already HAVE their solution in place! Here's a hint Verizon/comcast/TW/Adelphia/Cox/Rogers/Etc: how about realizing you offer tiered services (or if you don't already, OFFER them) then you have your solution. Don't pile on yet more fees. If your subscription prices don't cover the costs of your infrastructure, then you need to revisit your pricing structures to begin with.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup