Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Policy Wonk Castigates Net Neutrality 322

An anonymous reader writes "Tom Giovanetti, president of the Dallas, Texas based public policy think tank Institute for Policy Innovation envisions a chaotic world as a result of Net Neutrality. He says a flood of undiscriminated traffic to and from Youtube, Coldplay, and Victoria's Secret will bring down the Internet, leading to failures of IPTV, VOIP, and emergency services which depend on VOIP. Is he right or wrong?." From the article: "... government should be about fostering a dynamic and risk-taking economy, not preserving the certainty of anyone's business models. Net neutrality regulations would severely restrict broadband providers' right to enter into contracts and to try new business models while protecting the business models of Google and Ebay." Compare this with George Ou's commentary on this subject from yesterday.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Policy Wonk Castigates Net Neutrality

Comments Filter:
  • by duerra ( 684053 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:03PM (#15505536) Homepage
    I think Tom Giovanetti's reasoning is very justifiable. Often times as humans we are quick to criticize, and very hypocrytical. We should ask ourselves how often we complain about the government regulating this or that and trying to solve problems that don't exist, while at the same time cheer on legislation that would have demanded things such as net neutrality. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't valid reasons for either or both, but it's a rhetorical question that I think we should all be asking ourselves.

    Anyway, this is one of the reasons why I'd love to see the government set up a site for everybody to go to, where they can see each of their legislator's votes on issues, as well as a quick comment on the reasoning for voting that way (or longer per the legislator's desire), and put this out there in a very accessible location, and make this a manditory part of the legislative process. The site could be organized in a way such that citizens could easily see the reasoning behind other legislator's votes as well, so that counterpoints are clear to citizens.

    This would all help us be better informed and make good decisions, as well as help the government keep itself in check ("I voted no on this legislation because it contains 'xxxxx' add-on legislation that I don't agree with"). Debates would always be there and available to citizens in a way that they can do it at their convenience, and don't have to try and dig up all this information themselves. Essentially, this idea would function a similar purpose as that of a judicial decision opinion (clarifying the decision). We don't need big media to give us all our info anymore. We can get it right from the source. The internet is a very powerful thing. LEVERAGE IT!

    Anyway, I know that rant was slightly off topic, but I felt it to be relevant since originally my opinion was leaning towards enacting net neutrality legislation, but I still had my doubts, and this reasoning has made me think that maybe it's just better to wait and see what happens before we get too hasty to legislate, though I still do think that publically funded infrastructure should still be publically owned and unhindered.
    • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:10PM (#15505602) Homepage
      maybe it's just better to wait and see what happens

      No. See my letter to my congresscritter [].
      • by CDarklock ( 869868 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:21PM (#15506121) Homepage Journal
        Hi Russ... I read you regularly, even though we don't always agree.

        On this, we do. Right now, the commercial internet works because I pay someone to connect me to the internet and give me a certain amount of bandwidth. I do this for my connection at home, because I want bandwidth to get what I ask to see. I do this for my server at a data center, because I want bandwidth to get to people that ask to see me.

        When I use bandwidth to my own server, like when I get my email, I pay twice for that bandwidth. I pay for sending the email from my server, and I pay for receiving the email at my desktop. And that's fine. It makes perfect sense to me.

        What isn't fine is that now someone in the middle is saying that I should have to pay them extra so I can use the bandwidth I'm already paying to have. They seem to be of the opinion that I need to pay THREE people for the bandwidth I use. I understand that there are two ends to the connection, so I need to pay people on both sides. But this third charge is someone in the middle. How many "third" charges *are* there? How many networks does my data traverse on the way from point A to point B? Can they all charge me? When? If I go from network A to network B and then back to network A, do I have to pay network A twice?

        This is a big-ass can of worms. We need to keep it well and truly sealed.
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:18PM (#15505670)
      We need to ask ourselves if this is a tragedy of the commons or a case where uniform access decreases costs or provides more public-goods. I don't know which it really is.

      The tragedy of the commons is what happens when a resource is provided that lacks a proper mariginal cost for increased use. The classic example is private property versus unrstricted access to public grazing land. By charging a small price for admission per sheep to the land or by making it private, the incentive to overgraze it is removed and the total amount of meat sustainbly raise actually is higher. In this case if it's case where there is simply not enough baqndwith for everyone to do voip, and I don't pay any extra to do VOIP, then it's going to be over grazed and everyone gets a crappy connection. On the otherhand if the connection cost already is sufficient to expand the network to handle all the users that want voip or if we can prevent this from becomeing a power law network with critical links then it may be that the more users the better some sort of p2p works.

      Thus another way of looking is this is that the thing we need to fear is too few corporation controlliing the internet and resulting in bottlenecks on backbones. In the long run to get high bandwidth we will need p2p that does not traverse a central backbone.

      Assuming that the p2p scaling effect will not be sufficient and the tragedy of the commons wil happen then the way out is to have a pricing schedule. We can put that schedule on the users or on the content providers. the latter is what the backbone owners want since it means no net neutrality and control. The former would be better but I can imagine the cheap ass slashdotters used to paying a tiny sum for all-they-can eat internet won't like it.

      • by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:37PM (#15505809)
        Tragedy of the commons is a pretty good example, but it doesn't fit the net.

        The whole commons mentality is "If I don't use it somebody else will."

        However, this doesn't work with bandwith. There is no free bandwith just laying around to be snatched up by anybody. You pay for your bandwith, websites pay for theirs, and if you use more bandwith, it costs more.

        Thus another way of looking is this is that the thing we need to fear is too few corporation controlliing the internet

        This is the entire problem. Most small towns usually only have the local cable company and the local phone company supplying broadband access. There are only a few national telcos with most of the lines under their control. The stage is set for rampant extortion.
        • However, this doesn't work with bandwith. There is no free bandwith just laying around to be snatched up by anybody. You pay for your bandwith, websites pay for theirs, and if you use more bandwith, it costs more.

          Well that was part of the question I was posing. You assert that everyone is paying their fair share. Perhaps not. Few people consume all the bandwidth they could and conversely the heavy users are getting a cheap ride since most (home) internet use is a flat fee that varies little (less than

          • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:39PM (#15507094) Journal
            This is all bullshit.

            The costs involved in telecommunications are in the laying of infrastructure. The cost to operate it after it is built is insignificant by comparison. Furthermore, the cost to operate it doesn't decrease appreciably with less users. You still need to run the lines regardless. It's not like when half the people turn their connections off they get to turn off half the lines and save electricity.

            And this nightmare scenario, where too many people downloading a hot wardrobe malfunction cause the rest of the internet to stop, that has NEVER HAPPENED. The fact of the matter is that all this chaos exists because it has been demonstrated to be the most reliable means of running telecommunications in the public sector ever created. He talks about how all these essential services are moving online. They're not moving online because it's the cool thing to do and all the firefighters and EMS workers want to be hip. They're doing it because it's MORE reliable than the pre-existing ivory tower administered systems that predate it.

            The reason why it's more reliable is because it is NOT STRATEGIC. It is TACTICAL. Highly structured systems where you say "we need to do it precisely this way and everything will work" rely on perfect information and perfect judgement, which do not exist. Chaotic systems like the internet work better because they say "we're not capable of making all these determinations and decisions on how the system should work, so we're going to lay down a set of tactics that will allow individual components to react co-operatively and intelligently to problems".

            It's like the difference between a good boss, who recognizes the strength your individuality brings to the table and attempts to make it useful, and a bad manager, who tries to micromanage you and just ends up making you (and the entire system) less effective.

            The internet, in it's chaotic form, is a SMART internet. Every node has the capacity to make tactical decisions, and thus react to problems that no other node even recognizes exists. Tiering, rather than attempting to progress this powerful idea, is a fundamental rejection and dismissal of that intelligence and the value it brings to the table.

            I'll cap my little rant by mentioning that this whole thing about the internet being a resource in short supply is a ridiculous joke. Capacity has been growing faster than usage for a long time now, and we're at the point where free wireless mesh networks can be set up for next to nothing. Small cities with limited budgets and technical resources have demonstrated that they have the capacity to do this with no help all from any existing carrier. We could, with minimal investment in infrastucture, set up wireless networks of sufficient speed that they could assume all the burdens off the wired net for all in-city traffic, and with an intelligent caching system, it could assume a lot of the burden for inter-city traffic too. So for negligible investment (compared to laying fibre) we could practically unburden the entire existing internets physical infrastructure and use it for some new purpose without losing any of the communications we currently enjoy.

            In a nutshell, the mans position is either utterly ignorant foolishness or a blatant lie intended to manipulate the people who are exposed to his bullshit, to the detriment of us all. Having seen how very warped the views of people who are isolated from reality with other intellectuals can become, I'm not quite cynical enough to say with any confidence which one it is.
        • I agree. That's where the "Google or Ebay are getting rich off my bandwidth" excuses fall flat. Google and Ebay are paying some network provider for their network connection. If they need more bandwith, they will pay for it. The customers who are using those sites pay for their connection. If the telcos want to offer video on demand or VOIP to their customers, charge those who want it a fee. What the net neutrality opponents fear is what's been in place and working for years. It's not broke, so don't
      • Most people, at least in the US, are already paying the "small price for admission" for the amount of bandwidth they want to consume (I am anyway) - so I don't think we are in the unrestricted commons scenario you mention.
    • Comment removed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:25PM (#15505721)
      Comment removed based on user account deletion
      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:11PM (#15506042)
        I'll give you another reason not to trust the invisible hand to write QoS rulesets: because the rulesets are too opaque. ISP's will be constantly playing with complicated QoS rulesets, naturally *without* notifying customers. When I'm shopping around for an ISP, do you honestly think they'll volunteer the fact that they cripple Vonage to promote their own service? No way. The sheer complexity and unavailability of information from ISPs will make it difficult or impossible for consumers to really know what they're getting, and thus for corrective market forces to work.
      • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:31PM (#15506186) Homepage Journal
        Telcos want to compete with cablecos and everyone else in the world in delivering "IPTV". They want to leverage their oligopoly advantage in controlling the backbones to compete with what would otherwise be a level playing field.

        Porn always forecasts the trend in comms/entertainment tech markets. Amateur porn and tiny little producers/distributors are the majority of porn consumed. TV of all genres will go the same way, now that the Internet has hit critical mass of high bandwidth consumers. Telcos can't compete with such a diverse array of content competitors on a level playing field, so of course they're working to fragment and unlevel the field.

        Giovanetti of course knows this. His analysis doesn't come from any ignorance but the willful kind. The principles are obvious, the break with the decades-old, unprecedentedly successful "neutral Internet" too blatant to miss. He's shilling for corporations who benefit for his thinktank's "less regulation" ideology. As usual, deregulation promotion masks corporate anarchy in the name of "freedom". Freedom for corporations to exploit us without government protection.
    • You assume the legislator actually gives a sh*t about what his constituents think. My guess is they care a lot more about what the people lining their pockets think.
      • Sometimes constituents are wrong. In cases like that, it takes solid leadership and communication skills to show why something that seems intuitively right is actually wrong long-term. It seems to me these days that people opt too much for the immediate outcome. They do no know enough about how free markets work to see what the possible long-term out come could be. Time and time again free markets work and work well. When there is corruption it should be punished. Otherwise, just let the market work.
        • But in telecommunications, the free market has been a total failure since they broke up Ma Bell. It's long past time to realize that for these sorts of services, the free market will never and can never work, and the only way to even approach any sort of fairness is through regulation.

        • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:32PM (#15506196)
          They do no know enough about how free markets work to see what the possible long-term out come could be. Time and time again free markets work and work well.
          All this free market worship forgets one thing: the free market didn't invent the Internet! Sorry, but it's true. Government and academic researchers designed and implemented the Internet (which is strange because all they do is pick their butts and polish their ivory towers... right?) Only afterwards did market forces kick in to expand its reach.

          The Internet totally wiped out the free market's contemporary offerings: GEnie Online, Prodigy, and a bunch of other crap proprietary networks that didn't interoperate, cost a fortune, didn't give people enough freedom to be useful.

          • And don't underestimate Al Gore's contribution. And I don't mean that as a joke: He did a lot as senator to make sure DARPA had the funds it needed, and led the legislative effort to turn the Internet into a public network rather than an exclusive network for mostly military purposes.
        • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:44PM (#15506290)
          The free market has been enormously enabled by net neutrality of the past decade. For a relatively small investment, individuals and companies have access to the world as a market, with the winners according to merit. Discrimination by different type and participants in network traffic will only result in more power to the people who already have power, and less power to those that don't, regardless of merit. That may be capitalism, with elements of monopoly in places... but it's certainly further away from the free market than where we are now.
    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:32PM (#15505771)
      I think all the reasoning against net neutrality doesn't recognize the fact that I, joe consumer, paid to surf the internet. The ISPs can say they'll favor certain corporations, but that's not what I paid for. They are trying to sell a resource, already paid for by me, at the other end. That's double dipping and should be illegal.

      Besides, the article is illogical. The very entities like Google CAN pay corps the extortion fee to be in favored status. It's the smaller guys that get fucked. Tom Giovanetti can pretend that this will threaten Google's/Microsoft'sMSN/OtherGenericBigBadGuy business model. And then there is the real world.
    • I think Tom Giovanetti's reasoning is very justifiable. Often times as humans we are quick to criticize, and very hypocrytical.

      Oh, I agree completely. I don't think there's any reason to think the phone company will exploit their monopoly []. No reason at all...

      Now, I'm not saying that there aren't valid reasons for either or both, but it's a rhetorical question that I think we should all be asking ourselves.

      But if I ask myself for an answer to the question, it's no longer rhetorical. Must... not

    • You oppose Net Neutrality because there's no easy GUI to Congressmembers' vote history or their explanations for their votes?

      What happens when Congress doesn't pay as much as the opposing lobbyists to get the fast lane over some intermediary telco for the content you want?
    • by kozumik ( 946298 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:26PM (#15507043)
      There are some justifications for guaranteed bandwidth. For example, one could see a portion of the net being split off for VOIP use only and it would make sense to protect that from spikes in pron DLing or whatever. So yes, I can see some arguments for protected bandwidth. But this whole debate is smoke screen for a monopoly grab and deregulation. Net Neutrality should be the norm and exceptions carved out of that on a case by case basis where justified. NOT the other way around.

      The loss of Net Neutrality goes way beyond that and strips every protection against monopoly on the internet. FACT: with the loss of Net Neutrality, anyone who doesn't have a contract with a Telco assuring them a chunk of bandwidth (i.e. everyone except the largest companies) no longer has any right to be on the internet and can be completly shut down. Blocking traffic is completly at the discretion of Telcos now.

      What the loss of Net Neutrality does is to completely deregulate the internet and allow Telcos to shut down any site they choose. That's no exaggeration. Now, there are no consumer protections and no guidelines on what's fair and what's not in regards to filtering.

      Anyone who thinks the free market is going to ensure fair competition is a real dunce. History shows the natural outcome of a completely unfettered market is an anti-competitive monopoly. That's why we had to regulate to prevent monopolies for pete's sake!

      To make matters worse, other deregulation a while ago means Telco monopolies are no longer required to offer their lines service to small ISP. In other words they don't even have to share their government sanctioned monopoly on the last mile anymore. So, there goes the competitive market as small ISP are gradually squeezed out over the coming years.

      This is going to lead to aggressive and highly anti-competitive Telcos running turf wars on an unfettered and unethical internet. Fair competition will vanish quickly. If for example a rival company (insert mega-corp of choice) wants to pay more to shut down your bandwidth than you can pay to buy your bandwidth, that's perfectly legal now. If Oracle for example had wanted to pay to buy People Soft's internet bandwidth to depress their stock price and ease the takeover, perfectly legal now. If MS wans to pay confidentially to hobble Linux servers or companies using them, again, perfectly legal now.

      The loss of Net Neutrality means there is now no regulation and turns the internet and Telcos into monopolies capable of extorting protection money, and calling that protection: perfectly legal fees.

      I really can't believe the lack of awareness and apathy on this issue from supposedly tech savvy people.
  • What else is new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guysmiley777 ( 880063 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:04PM (#15505546)
    Corporate shill says private companies should be allowed to control the internet. Film at 11.
    • Re:What else is new? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bimo_Dude ( 178966 ) <> on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:22PM (#15505702) Homepage Journal
      Shill, indeed.

      If you use this [] as a starting point, you'll find that one of this institute's corporate contributors is Exxon-Mobile. I wouldn't be surprised if companies auch as AT&T are also paying this guy.


      He says a flood of undiscriminated traffic to and from Youtube, Coldplay, and Victoria's Secret will bring down the Internet
      The fact is, the traffic on the net is already that way, and I don't see the Internet going down. This guy is full of shit.
      • Exactly. First thing I thought while I read the article was "which one of the TelComs is paying for this guy's kids to go to college".
      • well over this side of the pond we're going to get a real test of our internet's ability to handle streaming video... the Beeb have decided to stream world cup matches live... soon see how well the various ISPs perform under load...
    • at least we have a slight chance to influence a corporation, government, ours, theirs, whomevers, have proven time and time again that they are beyond our influence.

      the primary difference between corporations and governments is that there will always be at least one other corporation wanting to sell us something different while government will simply strike the same old tune over and over and over.

      yeah I know some corporations wield considerable power but even they are beholden to governments. do you reall
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:05PM (#15505549)
    First off.. they have been saying one thing or another would "overload the internet" for ages and it has yet to happen.

    second. i want to know what his stance on music downloading is given this quote:

    "government should be about fostering a dynamic and risk-taking economy, not preserving the certainty of anyone's business models."

    if he's against "online piracy" than he is a hyppocrite.
    • It doesn't take long to see that IPI are a bunch of shills. I read some of their stuff awhile back... That said, it's not hypocrisy if you accept the fundamental category called "intellectual property". Defenses of **AA by such folk are just arguments for strong property rights, against "theft". Nothing to do with business models.

      The fact that infringement isn't theft doesn't seem to matter much to 'em.

  • hrmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dance_Dance_Karnov ( 793804 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:06PM (#15505557) Homepage
    Maybe they should think about taking "Life and Death" stuff off the internet, a back-hoe could take out a large part of the net for a day or two. If emergency reponse people are relying on vonage or skype for critical communications, that is a serrious problem.
    • Re:hrmm... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > Maybe they should think about taking "Life and Death" stuff off the internet, a back-hoe could take out a large part of the net for a day or two. If emergency response people are relying on vonage or skype for critical communications, that is a serious problem.

      In a real life-or-death emergency when the phones are down, all you really need is couple of feet of fiber and a shovel. Use the shovel to bury the fiber, and when the backhoe driver shows up, you can ask him to drive you to the hospital.

    • If you are sending information on which people's lives depend over a wire that you do not control both ends and the middle of, you're going to lose some people. EOF.
  • MY HEAD ACHES NOW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:06PM (#15505560) Homepage Journal
    Over a day and a half of fury about how the internet is being sold by the u.s. house to the big bucks, my head now aches.

    I f.ckin do not believe how you, u.s. people can ALLOW for such debate to even take place, such s.hit rule the agenda, and do not blow your congressmen's senator's ears off about the matter.

    The biggest revolution, since the french revolution, the internet, is being handed over to the minority elite.

    This is our 'thing'. This is the 'thing' of our times. This is one of the most important thing in our times.

    My head really aches, and im weary.
    • This article was submitted about a month back.. but due to "differential treatment" of packets.. made it late.
    • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:45PM (#15505865) Homepage Journal
      Hey ... don't give us USians such a hard time ... we have the most powerful military in the world protecting our congressmen, they are a major pain to kill.
    • I f.ckin do not believe how you, u.s. people can ALLOW for such debate to even take place, such s.hit rule the agenda, and do not blow your congressmen's senator's ears off about the matter.

      I f.ckin don not believe how you Europeans could allow monarchs to rule for a thousand years, with such s.hit ruling, and did not blow their ears off. We kicked the monarchy to the curb after a short 250 years, na-na.

      Look, no offense, but you can't blame all of the U.S. citizens because our loony government has some qu
      • Whats the point of kicking out monarchs if one is going to let the wealthy rule in place ?

        Actually there is not much difference between the feudal society and the wealth-based dynasties.
    • first off, lets just let the profanity flow.
      you FUCKING cannot believe
      such SHIT is ruling the agenda.
      there we go, I feel...well, a little better.

      Apparently the net neutrality amendment to the cable tv bill this morning only got 20 min of floor "debate" before being tossed. Rep. Markey said that they usually give twice that to mundane issues like naming a new post office somewhere.

      The entire thing is complete bullshit.
    • by fbg111 ( 529550 )
      We've been calling and giving Congress an earful. The pro-net-neutrality side is the most bizarre coalition ever to form in my lifetime, including groups from the Christian Coalition to the Gun Owners of America and the NRA to at the other end of the spectrum, Google and Microsoft (chair-throwing truce). It doesn't get more across the board than that. The problem is that the Republicans are bought, lock stock and barrel, by the telecoms industry. Also, they talk about free markets, but most o
  • If... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:06PM (#15505563)
    If an emergency service depends on VoIP, someone needs to be sacked NOW! Dont wait for the service to fail ... failure is certain.
    • As long as there is one user who has dicthed their landline, doesn't have a cell phone, and is doing all their telephone talking over VoIP, the emergency network depends on VoIP. If you can't call 911 and get to the right people serving your area, you're an accident waiting to happen.

      VoIP is operating in a regulartory space where because they don't have to taylor their network to the same level of regulations that POTS, they appear cheaper. When you dial 911 on POTS, you're certain that call will go through
  • specious argument (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:08PM (#15505582) Homepage Journal
    The internet today is mostly neutral, and people accesing Victoria's Secret haven't brought it down.

    The telephone system is neutral, but some telephone numbers are clearly more popular than others. Yet this hasn't brought down the phone system.

    The reality is that the engineering of the network (including capacity planning and expansion) is done precisely on the basis of traffic flows. There is also congestion control. The internet is not like the public highway system, where capacity problems take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to solve.

    Even if a zillion people did all try to get to the Victoria's Secret web site all at once, that would probably not affect my ability to access my email or read CNN's web site.
    • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:38PM (#15505814)
      Even if a zillion people did all try to get to the Victoria's Secret web site all at once, that would probably not affect my ability to access my email or read CNN's web site.

      Unfortunately, due to consolidation, mergers, rabid anti-spam measures, and hard-line corporate push towards 'consumerism' on virtually any kind of internet connection- that's just not true anymore.

      A few years ago, it used to be that Apple would bring Akamai to its knees every time they had a big announcement, and anyone that used Akamai (which was a large number of popular sites) would suffer; a million mac users would be trying to load up the webcast or hitting "refresh" a thousand times on or

      Google is another example. Google is so ingrained in people's brains that I watch fellow -professional- sysadmins ping "" as a test of whether a machine has DNS and outgoing connectivity. People hardly bookmark things anymore; they just "google it" and sift through the first 6 hits or so to find what they were looking for.

      Here's my point: pick any one of the big giants in the internet world today. Now picture they're gone- wiped off the map by a disgruntled employee, a natural disaster, or more likely these days- a corporate scandal (imagine what would happen if Google was the next Enron. If you think that's impossible, look at the Google CFO's background.) Now think about how much that would hurt the web. We've made progress in some areas of the Internet (DNS- you have lots of choices for registrars, though GoDaddy has become the largest by far, and now represents a similar risk), but lost massively in others.

      I have ONE choice in internet service provides in my town. I live 20 miles from Boston, but because of "Gentlemen's agreements" that are pervasive in the telco industry, I can't get DSL because Comcast is in our town. 10 years ago I could pick from a dozen dialup ISPs, national, regional, and local- same for ISDN. Now I have ONE choice, and I live in one of the more wealthy and technologically advanced states in the union, and I'm not permitted by my ToS to run a webserver, email server, "discussion board", or "Internet relay chat server". I believe I'm not even allowed to run a VPN server. My ToS clearly states that I am a "consumer" of information services. That's progress?

    • The telephone system is neutral, but some telephone numbers are clearly more popular than others. Yet this hasn't brought down the phone system.

      This actually happens more often than you might expect. During big events such as telephone voting etc, it's sometimes difficult to connect to other numbers due to the sheer number of calls going through. Entire telephone exchanges (switches) have actually failed due to occurences like this.
    • Why oh why on a technical web site like slashdot people keep missing peering agreements? Only big company's like Yahoo and Google have the content lots and lots of people want. Because of this, big ISP's want to directly peer with large content companies. This saves both companies money by keeping traffic off their transit links. It also gives the content provider a short cut to the consumer. Less hops and lower latency. Is this fair to the little guy?
  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:08PM (#15505583) Homepage
    VOIP uses UDP. When you get network congestion, you simply get packets dropped and your -oice get- littl- ch-ppy. TCP stacks will send fewer packets per second when packets get dropped.

    Ignoramuses keep bringing this issue up as if it's going to KILL THE INTERNET, so we MUST CHANGE INTERNET POLICY. They tried this back in the early 90's when IBM was running the T-1 Internet backbone through some subsidiary. What didn't work back then still won't work today. For an arbitrary packet on the Internet, you cannot tell in which direction the value is flowing; thus you cannot figure out who to charge.
  • Dumb (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cixel Sid ( 977171 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:09PM (#15505585)
    This ignores the fact that people and companies adapt. I'm sure the 911 service won't just hope things don't fail; for example, I cluster the servers that handle 911 dialing on our campus because I don't "hope they won't fail." It's like in the 70s when people thought we'd be out of gas by 1996. They forgot to consider that people make adjustments as the world around them changes. We have more gas now than ever. Same with bandwidth.
  • by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:11PM (#15505606)
    The State should not get involved.

    The unintended consequences of any act upon a complex system are far greater than the intended consequence - if the intended consequence even occurs at all.

    Morevoer, State intervention upon one issue opens the doors to State intervention on many issues.

    Do we really think, overall, that the sum of State intervention will be positive or negative?

    Given past performance, suspectibility to lobbying, short-sighted political behaviour, "it's for the children", simple incompetence and failure to understand the issues, I'd be far happier with zero State intevention.
    • Except we're already at 100% state intervention.

      The whole reason these telcos exist is because of state intervention. All we're talking about now is using that state intervention for the public good, instead of letting the telcos profit from it by screwing the customer.

      If you're against state intervention, then back a proposal to get telcos to leave their grubby hands off people's private property. Because the biggest state intervention to this point has been when it claimed eminent domain and allowed the t
    • Aid programs for the poor is too complicated to get exactly right, so the government should not get involved. (People starve)

      International policy with countries we have no direct relations with is too complicated to be entirely effective, so the government should not get involved. (Rouge states can ignore one of the most powerful nations)

      Criminal justice is far too complicated for us to get right in every single case, so the government should not get involved. (Yay anarchy!)

      You have an easter bunny argument
      • > Aid programs for the poor is too complicated to get
        > exactly right, so the government should not get
        > involved. (People starve)

        Aid is complex. State aid is highly inefficient in its application and in particular is prone to corruption - and because of that, people do indeed starve - more than would have done if the aid had been effectively used.

        The State should get involved in that it should provide funds, but it should simply distribute dollars to the people in need. The market will ensure the
    • Do you have running water? Is there a road leading to your house that you can drive to work on? Do you have electricity?

      Bring on the government intervention please.
      • > Do you have running water? Is there a road leading
        > to your house that you can drive to work on? Do
        > you have electricity?

        > Bring on the government intervention please.

        I'm not sure what you're arguing.

        Are you asserting that we wouldn't have these things, were it not for State intervention in the market?

        Dare I say that we would have had them sooner, and we have them now more cheaply, if the State *hadn't* have been involved?

        Electricity in the UK is now about half the price it used to be; this i
    • Free market arguments don't work so well when you have (virtual) monopolies operating on a publicly subsidized infrastructure and a market that has massive barriers to entry. The system as it exists today is the direct result of government intervention - the companies involved have more power and influence than they would reasonably ever achieve in its absence.

      The government has already created this monster, it needs to keep them in line.
  • I agree... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:13PM (#15505630)
    Suchs laws would severely impact the contracts broadband companies can enter into.

    That's the entire point.

    They've been handed full or near monopolies on data communications, and with monopoly comes restriction.

    Because they already have, already are, and will continue to screw over the consumer.

    Heck, even companies that do not have monopolies have huge restrictions on screwing over their customers when it comes to conflicts of interest. For example; some investment banker isn't allowed to tell you how great company X is, if a different unit of his bank happens to be seriving company X's IPO. That's really just plain common sense.

    Net non-neutrality is very simple, basic, econ 101 vertical monopoly. Nothing at all suspect about wanting to curb it. Yes, it happens to benefit other companies. In fact, making sur the vertical playing ground is even benefits the entire economy, and not just broadband companies rights to enter into contracts.
  • WRONG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:14PM (#15505632)
    Basically, the premise of the tiered system is that companies like your tube, google, etc don't pay for all the bandwidth they consume. NPR's Market Place had a horrible story on last night claiming that with out extra cash from these large web sites, they can't expand bandwidth.

    It's the dumbest argument ever. 1) Companies that large connect directly to top tier providers. These companies are paying hundreds of thousandsands of dollars to the top 10 internet back bone providers for fat pipes into the internet. 2) We have tons of dark fiber still running across the US. Companies liek Qwest invested millions upon millions of dollars in infrastructure for customers who still don't exist.

    We don't have a bandwidth problem. We have a problem with a congress that doesn't understand infrastructure.

    BTW: Here's the list of house member who voted NO the ammendment: []
  • Policy wonk? (Score:5, Informative)

    by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:15PM (#15505648) Journal
    This "think tank" was founded by Republican Dick Armey in 1987 [].
    As usual, you just need to follow the money in these matters and this is very revealing. The last year that records were kept regarding Dick Armey's contributions you'll see that his top contributor was Allegiance Telecom. Other notables in the "Dick Armey" include National Cable & Telecommunications Assn, Verizon, BellSouth and SBC. It's all here at open secrets. []

    Politicians remain lapdogs to their masters even after leaving the Hill
    • Re:Policy wonk? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:49PM (#15505893) Homepage
      Let's also remember that Richard Armey was given the Poetic Justice Award [] because his web site was blocked by the filtering software that he voted to make mandatory. Time to change your name, Dick!
      An anonymous submitter noticed that the Web site of Richard "Dick" Armey, Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and a staunch defender of censorware and strict Internet regulation, is himself a victim of censorware. Netnanny, Surfwatch, Cybersitter, N2H2, and Wisechoice are among the "software solutions" which Armey advocates. All of them filter his site because it contains the word "dick."
  • i too would trash net neutrality ....

    NOT ! ....

    Unfortunately im not a person that puts money ahead of principles, but apparently there are many that do.
  • ...that it shouldn't be the services that have the most interesting content (and thus have the most people access it) that get the biggest pipes, but the ones that crawl the deepest into the rectum of the telcos?

    That what you want to say, Mr. Giovanetti?
  • Someone downloading gigs of porn at a time from a P2P server hasn't overloaded the internet, but a 15 second streaming video from Youtube will? If porn hasn't overloaded the internet, and caused it to collapse in on itself, nothing will.*

    A server may fry, and a kitten may get hit by a car, but that's about it.

    *(except price gouging...)
  • Oh yeah, I'm sure that the telecoms will ensure VOIP quality. NOT!
  • He gives away his real agenda with this distinction, in that the important question, for him at least, is not whether the "traffic" was requested with purposful intent, but whether or not the "traffic" was determined to have a valid intent. That is NOT the job of the telcos/cable cos.
  • That's an interesting twist. He uses the dictionary of OSS and piracy movements: stop using laws to protect someone's business model, Internet should be free to try new methods of doing business and so on.

    Is this an attempt to appeal to the techies among us?

    It's a pretty weak attempt, given that the entire "tiered" model is about preserving the big ISP-s business model (they are afraid people will use what they pay for, once), and giving them the freedom to wreck Internet and blackmail any online business f
  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <> on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:22PM (#15505704) Homepage
    Yes, if we were in a situation where individual customers could vote with their feet on net neutrality this anslysis would have a point. There would be less government regulation and the market could sort out whether people value net neutrality.

    However, there is little to no effective competition in the internet access market. Sure there is a bit of competition between the cable and phone companies and electric companies always claim to be just about to deploy broadband over powerlines but these providers control the lines and can make life very difficult for any other DSL providers. Besides even if your broadband provider believes in net neutrality it isn't clear you don't still suffer from privleges granted by an upstream carrier. In short their is no easy way for competition to exercisce its judgement that net neutrality is worth paying for (and with enough money surely people could expand their pipes).

    I mean just imagine if the local phone company announced it was going to charge you double if you called any buisness that didn't join its prefered buisness program (i.e. paid it money). This would be extortion and phone regulations rightly prohibit it because otherwise phone companies could use their monopoly position to exact almost arbitrarily high profits.

    • We were all sunk years ago when dubya and crew decided that the cable monopolies didn't have to open up their network to competition ( 0 02/nrcb0201.html) and further ruled that they are not subject to Common Carrier status. That effectively locked us into one of three monopolies for broadband (phone company, cable company, or power company in theory at least). In theory the phone companies must share their lines but in reality the cost structure is prohibiti
  • by pyza ( 877061 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:23PM (#15505710)
    Let me see if I'm understanding this.

    If there is enough bandwidth then everyone's traffic will get through regardless of Net Neutrality. If there is congestion though, without Net Neutrality only traffic from sites that paid the extortion fee will get through.

    Does this not lead to a situation where it is ideal for an ISP to maintain a certain level of congestion at all times in order to ensure that there exists a reason to pay the extortion fee?

    One the other hand with Net Neutrality in place it's in the ISP's best interest to maintain an adequate level of bandwidth to make sure everyone's traffic gets through.
    • Actually, that's a little over simplified. What Mr. Ou's very insightful article pointed out is that you can't do an all-or-nothing policy like that without really pissing off your customers regardless. He uses a great FedEx shipping analogy with priority mail vs. ground shipping. If you pay for ground shipping and the package never arrives, then you're going to be wanting your money back very quickly. However, the problem is we need a way to get ISPs to periodically publish their service statistics, so
  • by TheCabal ( 215908 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:23PM (#15505711) Journal
    Why the hell would any mission critical or emergency service be using the Internet as a medium for transport? These services should be on their own redundant private networks.

    People have been predicting the death of the Internet for years. First 56k modems were going to do it, then the glut of DSL and cable subscribers. Now it's going to be all the fibre to premises customers and Google. After that it will probably be WiMAX because now we're going to have kilometers of wireless coverage that anyone can jump on. These people seem to forget that bandwidth is a two-way street. You might have 5Mbps down, and all your neighbors, but the hosted server most likely has a bandwidth lock at 1Gbps or so... that's your limiting factor, not how much bandwidth you can pull down.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:29PM (#15505750)
    Check this segment FTFA:

    Suddenly, the TV image goes pixilated, and then dark. The phone call drops. You hear yelling from your teenagers' rooms. But that's not all.

    Across town, police on the beat suddenly can't reach headquarters on their radios. In an ambulance, the EMTs are trying to call in vital signs for a patient they are transporting to the hospital, but they can't get through.

    Is it an alien invasion? A convergence of planets or some other astral phenomenon? No, it's a convergence of a different sort. Turns out that tonight is also the night of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, as well as the night Coldplay releases its latest song online. And YouTube has just released embarrassing video of a major Hollywood star having a ``wardrobe malfunction.''

    My question is: how does prioritizing help. If a neutral net can't handle all of this at once, how could one claim a tiered Internet CAN.

    And if it's not at all about being able to handle all at once (but about blackmailing service providers), but prioritizing one over the other, which of these should fail?

    The quick answer is that VOIP and police stations should have high priority and the rest can go to hell. But is this (to quote the article again) "the converged, always-on, interconnected world we've all been dreaming of".

    Would you let some corporate or government entity to anonymously decide which stuff is important and which is less important?
    Is the stuff from those who pay more, more important?

    Is Coca Cola's site more important than Pepsi's site? Is Yahoo more important than Google?

    Plenty of questions, for which the answers will change with every shift of power, as people "on top" work on doing what's "best for us", since we're apparently told we don't know it ourselves.
  • A lot of policy wonks are for and against it. That's what policy wonks do, they research issues and take sides.

    You know what would be news? Is if a libertarian think tank like Cato came out in favor of network neutrality. Why? Because that would be a major policy group going against what is normally expected of them.
  • by gbulmash ( 688770 ) * <> on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:32PM (#15505770) Homepage Journal
    Trusting the big telcos and cable companies to act in the best interests of their customers is like hiring a python as a babysitter. They're going to act in the best interest of the bottom line. If the market is savvy enough to make acting in the interest of customers a competitive factor, then they'll do it. If it's not, then they'll screw their customers to make more money and their customers will just bitch and moan, but won't leave.

    A very real fear is that a telco says "this pipe is reserved for general internet traffic" and never increases the size of that pipe. As time goes on, they continue to expand capacity, but all new capacity is reserved for the pay-for-play lanes. The original pipe stays its original size for years, getting more and more congested until any company that wants to reach this telco's customers with any kind of speed or surety needs to pay the telco for access to the pay-for-play lanes. That's an unregulated net where filtering and prioritizing has gone awry.

    On an overregulated network, where absolute neutrality is enforced, you have the doomsday scenario where World Cup streaming takes down the Internet.

    A middleground I think works is that you enforce a ratio of neutral pipe width to free prioritized pipe width (for ensuring that certain services can maintain a certain minimum level of quality) to pay-for-play prioritized pipe width (where a QOS is guaranteed to anyone willing to pay the premium). As capacity grows, all of those pipes grow at a proportional rate. So if BellSouth/AT&T lays new fiber that triples bandwidth across their backbone, the neutral pipe width triples, the free prioritized pipe width triples, and the pay-for-play pipe width triples.

    It's figuring out what's a fair ratio and a workable way of monitoring it that's the trick.

  • I have been following this whole discussion, and I want to clear something up for everyone. Network engineers, this one is for you...

    General uninformed public, meet Quality of Service (QOS) []. Simply stated, the concept roughly is:

    To allow for differentiated levels of service (ex. best effort, guaranteed delivery, etc.) based upon the content of packets and type of transmission

    Telcos, ISPs, etc. should not.. and I repeat.. NOT!!! be able to discriminate against different users of their bandwidt

  • by malibucreek ( 253318 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:35PM (#15505788) Homepage

    The author is not an independent researcher. He is a paid shill for an-industry funded think tank [] founded by one of the more aggressively pro-corporate members of the House GOP leadership.

    Let's not forget that "net neutrality" is the STATUS QUO. The telcoms want to change the system to take net neutrality AWAY. Recognize this, and the author's "straw man" argument collapses. Shame on the Mercury News [] for printing this corporate PR garbage on its op-ed pages.

  • "... government should be about fostering a dynamic and risk-taking economy, not preserving the certainty of anyone's business models."

    The acronym "DMCA" springs to mind. Ah well.

  • There is just so much confusion over what this issue means. How can anyone say that Net Neutrality would cause anything, when it is what we already have today? This isn't about adding regulation - it is about preserving the system we already have this is working great.

    When explaining net neutrality to lay people, make sure you mention that it is merely legislating how things already are today. It makes it much easier for people to understand and they can see through FUD like this article very easily.
  • "Policy Wonk Castrates Net Neutrality." Probably would have been just as accurate, actually.

  • Theres alot of meaningless to this phrase

    To me net neutrality means not discriminating on the basis of origin. Example Verizon/ATT/Bellsouth/Comcast cant arbitrarily decide to play with packets from google to make yahoo the only search engine that works.

    Then theres neutrallity based on type of service but not origin. An example would be VOIP from vonnage would work just as well as VOIP from comcast on a comcast cable modem. Similar arguments are there for video.

    MOST ISP's have not been neutral in t
  • by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizard.ecis@com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:59PM (#15505965) Homepage
    is a bunch of far right [] corporate spokesdroids. Below is a partial list of their donors. I suspect that a great many of you will recognize them. A.Lizard

    • Armstrong Foundation
    • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
    • Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation
    • Carthage Foundation
    • Jaquelin Hume Foundation
    • Earhart Foundation
    • JM Foundation
    • F.M. Kirby Foundation
    • Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
    • Sarah Scaife Foundation
    • John M. Olin Foundation
    • Roe Foundation

    IPI's president Tom Giovanetti wrote in an email exchange with Australian blogger Tim Lambert that "IPI has an absolute policy of protecting our donors' privacy". [12]

    "If you are correct that organizations like IPI are being funded by companies who have an interest in these areas, the more you rail against us and "expose" us, the more heroic you make us appear to our assumed benefactors, and the checks just keep coming," he wrote. [13]

    Unfortunately for their donor "privacy", 503(c) organizations have to file lists of their donors every year. Assume that the telcos will show up in the next filing statement... and that the "policy wonk" is a corporate shill who'd be bloviating in favor of Net Neutrality if Google had paid IPI first. Or NAMBLA if that pedophile organization had paid IPI off to generate "neutral" opinions.

    Here's another IPI opinion []:

    The reality is that open source can trap a customer into an outsourcer relationship more readily than commercial software. This is because commercial platforms expose standard APIs for third party applications and any consultant can develop for them. open source will go the way of other IT industry fads that were once trumpeted as the way of the future, like Macintosh computers, business AI, 4GL programming languages and Y2K.
  • All this telco "Net Neutrality" mumbo jumbo just means that AT&T can charge put Google in a bidding war with Yahoo to speed searches and content over AT&T's Internet hops. In addition to the money Google already pays to the carriers for carrying its vast Internet traffic at the connection point.

    Anyone who paints it any more complicated than that is spinning. For a fee from someone, whether directly from the telcos or some ideology thinktank gobetween.
  • Youtube has a finite amount of bandwidth, they are not given free reign to the entire backbone, they are allow to send out as much as they pay for - period. The worst that will happen is youtube will suffer a slashdot effect and be swamped. If the case is that the backbone needs to be upgraded then upgrade it. Maybe if the damn telcos stopped offering ghastly amounts of bandwidth to subscribers for near nothing it wouldn't be a problem.

    Be careful what you offer, you just might sell it. And that's exactly wh
  • Let's answer his "stupid" comment. Let's explore what his version of 2009 will look like. Let's say I'm at home watching the latest Naruto on my new IPTV -- not even high-def. My brother's playing some open source Quake 3 mod online with some friends. My mother's on the VOIP phone.

    Suddenly, well, the same scenario. The TV grows pixellated, then dark. The phone call drops. I hear my brother throwing a tantrum about his lost game.

    Across town, the police on the beat have to shout over static to reach po
    • The problem with ISP's no longer "overselling" their bandwidth is they are in fact selling "burst" speeds not "continuous" speeds. OK, you can get 6MB/sec "burst" but when everyone on your network segment (DSL, cable or whatever) tries for 6MB/sec they are going to end up getting less. Fact of life today. The backbone isn't in place to deliver more than around 10GB/sec to the provider, period.

      How long will it take before this is overrun? Not long, in some areas we are there already.

      Do you want ISP's to
  • I see no problem in tagging VOIP data used by emergency services and giving it priority over google, but that should be the end of it. Everything else will be on a level playing field and private companies cannot dictate any special traffic beyond that.
  • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:39PM (#15506878) Homepage Journal
    Eric Cantor is my representative in the House, and he voted "No" to the "net neutrality" amendment. Here is the text of my letter to him:

    June 8, 2006

    The Honorable Eric Cantor
    U.S. House of Representatives
    329 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515-4607

    Dear Congressman Cantor:

    As your constituent, I am very concerned about the efforts of the telephone and cable companies to fundamentally alter the way the Internet works, and urge you to do all you can to protect the Internet as we know it and to stand up for the principle of "net neutrality."

    It seems that you do not agree with this sentiment, since you help to defeat the "Markey of Massachusetts Amendment" (HR 5252). My only conclusion must be that you are poorly informed about the issue, and have allowed the incumbent telephone and cable companies to unduly influence you. Make no mistake - this is one of the most important issues of our time, and the plans of these communication companies will destroy our public infrastructure. I work in the field of Information Technology, and I have a clear understanding of both sides of the issue. Frankly, you have supported the wrong side.

    I am a conservative person, and am always opposed to intrusive government regulation, especially at the national level. Unfortunately, the ISP industry does not respond well to market pressures, since most services exist as monopolies or near-monopolies, and were supported as monopolies by federal laws for many years. The market will not be able to keep the damage in check. The Internet will fundamentally change, and very much for the worse.

    This is not about Google, Amazon and eBay wanting a "free ride". I understand why they support network neutrality regulation, but they are the few supporters with the deep pockets to make their opinion heard. The real losers will be the small businesses and individual citizens. I'm sure you have heard about Web Loggers or "bloggers" on the Internet. They are the freedom-minded individuals that create news and opinion websites on small budgets, and report on current issues. It was the bloggers that first revealed that the National Guard documents about President Bush, reported on 60 Minutes, were actually a hoax. Without net neutrality, these small voices will be silenced. Most are small, unfunded writers with opinions, started websites out of their own pockets. ISPs will now be allowed to silence these small voices.

    My wife is very fond of researching products before she purchases them. She will go to forum sites and discussion boards on the Internet, where she can read the experiences and opinions of other people. When access to content can be strictly controlled by the big ISPs, manufacturers will be able to pay to have these websites effectively blocked, or throttled to such a degree that they are effectively useless.

    The Internet is NOT television, Representative Cantor, and it should not be run like television, but the ISPs will now be given the ability to do that. I have several hundred channels of content available on my television today, and there is nothing to watch. Sure, there are be a few independent voices out there, but they are of such poor quality and so full of static that they are be unwatchable. So what do I do? I just turn it off. It appears that this will happen to the Internet, too. Do you want everyone so frustrated with the Internet that they will just turn it off?

    The Internet produced one of the greatest communication revolutions of our time. It connects people with people. Not everyone can afford to produce a slick television show or advertisement and pay for air time, but anyone can put up a web site and have their message available to the world. No more. Since the big 5 media companies will want all the bandwidth they can buy to push our their content, and Google, Amazon, and eBay paying the ISPs for some of the extra left, all the small voice will be drowned out.

    Please reconsider your stance. You may be given a chance to make the right decision next time.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva