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Tech Manufacturers Rally Against Net Neutrality 222

An anonymous reader writes "Producers of networking hardware such as Motorola, Corning, and Tyco have come out against Net Neutrality. They support the current senate communications bill, and urge immediate action. 'Don't be confused by these spurious complaints about Net neutrality,' Tim Regan, a vice president with fiber optic cable manufacturer Corning Inc., said. 'Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem.'" From the article: "Supporters say the Senate measure, which was approved by a committee vote in June but has since gotten hung up chiefly over Net neutrality, is crucial because it would make it easier for new video service providers--such as telephone companies hoping to roll out IPTV--to enter the market, increase competition for cable, and thus spur lower prices. Among other benefits, they say, it would also permit municipalities to offer their own broadband services."
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Tech Manufacturers Rally Against Net Neutrality

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  • What about telcos? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by conigs ( 866121 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:02PM (#16155235) Homepage

    From the summary:

    Among other benefits, they say, it would also permit municipalities to offer their own broadband services."

    Wait, so telcos are rallying for a bill that would allow municipal broadband? I find that hard to believe.

  • Re:you know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:03PM (#16155247) Homepage
    This is exactly the uphill battle we /.ers have. Get to work people and educate the public.
  • It seems to me that telcos would also need a lot of new hardware, supporting more traffic shaping and QoS. I wonder if the tech manufacturers have anything that might help them with that...

    You wanna talk about solutions in search of problems?

  • Re:you know (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:10PM (#16155329)
    Net neutrality is when you don't throttle packets based on their remote destination or source. Hardware manufacturers want to sell devices which support fine grained throttling rules, so obviously they are in favor of a tiered internet. From that alone it should be obvious that net neutrality is good for consumers: Hardware manufacturers stand to make more money without net neutrality. Wanna guess who's going to pay the bill? The internet is a success because it is a "dumb network" with the "intelligence" strictly in the communication endpoints. It is cheaper to build a net which is fast enough to carry all traffic than to upgrade routers so that they can throttle "unwanted" traffic.
  • Re:you know (Score:4, Insightful)

    by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:11PM (#16155333)

    I'll get to work, but since my opinion is that "net neutrality" IS a solution in search of a problem, you might consider my efforts to be counterproductive.

    The commercial internet has existed now for over a decade, and the tools to allow carriers to shape traffic at will have existed that entire time. And yet, no one has attempted the kind of favoritism that "net neutrality" is concerned could happen.

    It seems to me that market forces have been and will be sufficient to guarantee that the net is as neutral as the people want it to be.
  • by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:12PM (#16155351)
    "Net Neutrality" is about control of the future of media - who can deliver what to the masses, with the power to exclude and/or dampen alternative points of view. Simply following long established history of swaying public opinion [wikipedia.org] through control of media [google.com].
  • by aleksiel ( 678251 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:13PM (#16155359)
    of course removing net neutrality will require a lot of new hardware. thats why the hardware manufacturers are against it! removing net neutrality would be a huge financial boon to the industry.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:14PM (#16155366) Homepage
    Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem.

    Well DUH! The whole point of the debate is to prevent bad things from happening, not to stop something bad that's already happening. Do these people really understand the issue?
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:16PM (#16155389) Journal
    I suspect they really mean "Municiple Broadband: brought to you by Verizon." I can't imagine it'd mean anything else. The Cable/Telcos have fought tooth and nail for true municipal internet services.

    Even that line about "easier for new video service providers--such as telephone companies hoping to roll out IPTV--to enter the market, increase competition for cable, and thus spur lower prices" is a nice bit of misdirection.

    "...increase competition for cable, and thus spur lower prices" isn't the freaking point!1!eleven
  • by nightsweat ( 604367 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:16PM (#16155395)
    The name, I mean. Who can get excited about being neutral? The Swiss?

    We should start to use "Network Equality" or "Data Non-Discrimination" instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:18PM (#16155410)
    The momentum to ensure the internet remain a neutral medium has completely died out by this point. Meanwhile, the corps that would benefit from the internet being non-neutral are moving deeper and deeper into a well-funded PR push that just gets more sophisticated and more dishonest all the time. The public, always light on technical issues, is now reaching the point where they don't know what "net neutrality" is, except that it's bad.

    Google, if you're listening, you're losing big time here.
  • Re:you know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:31PM (#16155493) Journal
    The commercial internet has existed now for over a decade, and the tools to allow carriers to shape traffic at will have existed that entire time. And yet, no one has attempted the kind of favoritism that "net neutrality" is concerned could happen.

    It seems to me that market forces have been and will be sufficient to guarantee that the net is as neutral as the people want it to be.

    You are being incredibly naiive. Why do you think that the telcos are spending lobbying dollars on trying to eliminate any regulation that would enforce net neutrality if they don't plan on doing traffic shaping that would not be neutral?

    The telcos see a new source of revenue: charging Google, Yahoo, etc. to deliver "their" packets. Of course they plan to go after this revenue.

    Market forces only work where there is a functioning market. For high-speed Internet, there are no functioning markets -- why do you think Internet access is far more expensive in the US than in many other countries? We have an oligopoly in high speed Internet access in most cities across the US.

  • Re:Hypocrites (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <fred_weigel AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:35PM (#16155535) Journal
    "I love how people who would normally hate government regulation of the Internet are stepping and screaming for it over net neutrality."

    The "Physical Internet" as supplied to people is almost COMPLETELY government regulated. You either access via telco (POTS) with a modem... through a government regulated telco, or via broadband cable... again government granted easements, or DSL... through the aformentioned telco... or fibre... with government granted easements.

    About the ONLY way you can get the "internet" without government regulation is if you have a two-way satellite link. And it required government involvment to get the satellite there to make it possible.

    And what do you get in exchange for dealing with these natural monopolies, granted by the government? Net neutrality.

    If the government wants to do content regulation (the above deals with access), there are checks and measures. Losing net neutrality? Means that the companies who have been granted the monopolies can also regulate content.

    You had better be careful of what power is granted to these companies.

  • The funny thing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:35PM (#16155541)
    The funny thing to me is that the biggest part of the argument against net neutrality is the telecoms claiming that they're not going to violate Net Neutrality, so there's no need to pass a law. Since they haven't yet started violating net neutrality, goes the argument, it would be really wasteful and needless to illegalize something they're not doing... yet.

    It's kind of like the Bush Administration insisting "We don't torture! But if you passed a law banning torture, it would be really bad!"

    I can't help but wonder. If this bill doesn't pass, and in a few years we start seeing telecoms demanding payment from Youtube, or prioritizing their own iPTV packets over Youtube until the latter is no longer usable... what will the argument be then? Will we see people jumping back up and going "see, that stuff we were warning about a couple years back, it's happening now"? Will the people who argued it wasn't going to happen shrug and go, oh, you're right, let's pass a net neutrality law now? I doubt it. More likely the entire subject, the public's attention on it long since exhausted, will be quietly dropped.

    Because though at the beginning of the debate I didn't really believe a bill like this was strictly necessary because I saw no signs anyone was intending to violate net neutrality left to their own devices, I no longer expect this to be the case. I think we can expect if this bill does not pass, it is only a matter of time before the internet's current neutral nature is being violated by one program or other at nearly every major ISP. The campaign against net neutrality is just going at this too intensely and too fiercely for this to be just a philosophical objection. They would not fight quite this hard or in quite this manner if they weren't planning to roll out products that this law would block; and the idea the lobbyists' objection is really to the precedent set by one more law passed on an already-heavily-regulated telecommunications industry is just not credible, given the telecoms' essentially complete silence on previous legislation like COPA, the DMCA, laws concerning recordkeeping required by social networking and "adult" sites alike, laws concerning internet gambling...
  • Re:Hypocrites (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 2short ( 466733 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:35PM (#16155542)
    Yeah, imagine, adjusting ones opinions based on the facts of the debate. They oppose the government doing things they think are bad, then the next thing you know, they want the government to do things they think are good. How can one respect oneself if one changes one's answer just because it's a different question? "Yes" or "No", just pick one and stick with it already!

    Out of curiosity, which ballot spot do you vote for? I'm strictly a second- candidate-from-the-top voter myself. Can't wait to see what order they put them in this time so I'll know who I support.
  • by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:39PM (#16155577) Homepage
    'Don't be confused by these spurious complaints about Net neutrality,' Tim Regan, a vice president with fiber optic cable manufacturer Corning Inc., said. 'Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem.'"

    Translation: don't be confused by trivial things like facts and details regarding the case. Instead, please be confused by our utterly content-free, shaded, and spun vague assertions!

    I think it's interesting that most of the anti-net-neutrality statements don't contain any substance. Those that do certainly don't rebut concerns brought up by net-neutrality advocates. They've clearly chosen to try to win over the public and the senate via obfuscation rather than argument. That *alone* should tell you something.

  • Re:They're right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SmokedS ( 973779 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:40PM (#16155580)
    Lets examine the logic of your argument:

    1. The telcos want the power to regulate the internet.
    2. Network neutrality forbids regulation so that we retain a free market on the internet.

    Handing the power to regulate the internet over to a few large corporations, with no goal except to maximize their own profits, seems a bad idea to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:41PM (#16155597)
    Right Attitude, Wrong Argument. The Telcos do not neccesarily want to offer new services, they could do that anyway without any reregulation. What they want is to be able to charge more for what they already provide. In other words, if you now have say Skype there is no additional charge from say your DSL provider to use VOIP (Skype). Without Net Neutrality said DSL provider can charge extra or block VOIP, Itunes or any other particular service or website. So if you want a service fee for bidding on Ebay make sure Net Neutrality fails. The equipment providers have now fallen for the Telcos argument that the increased revenue from tiered pricing will go toward "infrastructure upgrades" that the Telcos claim cannot be afforded any other way. There is no guarantee that said profits will go toward infrastructure or any other improvements.
  • Re:you know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:45PM (#16155627) Homepage Journal

    Unintended consequences.

    Congress (or merely the FCC) passes a law (or regulation) which promotes net-neutrality.

    Six months later, Apple approaches Earthlink (for example) with a deal. Normal Earthlink DSL subscribers pay for certain amounts of bandwidth, the limits being enforced in software at the DSLAM end. Apple suggests that to make the iTV practical for Earthlink subscribers, they'll pay 0.01c per kilobyte for traffic that doesn't count towards the bandwidth the subscriber pays for.

    ie, someone paying for a 256k connection sees no reduction in service when someone else in their home is streaming "Star Wars: The Version Where Chewbacca shoots Greedo In Order To Save Wimpy Han" to their iTV box.

    Everything looks great until the FCC unexpected intervenes and rules the practice unlawful under network neutrality rules, because they've been worded too broadly.

    I'm concerned about network neutrality not being the panacea its supporters claim it is too. I'm not opposed to regulating the Internet (in terms of service quality, not, obviously, in terms of content), as I wrote here [slashdot.org] I think the Government needs to intervene to ensure a level playing field, and guarantee reasonable expectations are satisfied. But I have difficulty with the idea of bans on providing better services for those willing to pay for it. We need to make sure the minimum services are acceptable, not that the premium services are unavailable.

  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:56PM (#16155718) Homepage Journal
    Without the guaranteed monopoly, I would probably have 4 fiber lines running to my house providing me with 10-20 service plans. Other countries are getting 100Mb service, what has kept the US free market from doing the same?

    You might like to ponder the fact that the other countries you refer to have more heavily regulated telecoms than the US.

  • by kgwagner ( 611915 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:04PM (#16155789)
    Exactly so. It's two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.
  • by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:04PM (#16155794)
    Repeat after me: Coorelation does not equal causation.

    What evidence do you have that supports the notion that Americans will get faster access if net neutrality is scuttled? This is equating "faster access" with killing net neutrality is the exact koolaid that the telcom industry has been trying to cram into the collective consciousness. Their real goal has nothing to do with fiber in your home. It's all about being able to wring more cash out of Google, YouTube, and especially Vonage (who directly undercuts them).
  • No No No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flink ( 18449 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:16PM (#16155898)
    So if UUNet is throttling traffic to Amazon how will switching from Comcast to ATT help? It won't. Chances are all routes from your physical location to a given host passes through one of only a few Tier 1 providers regardless of who your last mile ISP is. Don't think in terms of your local ISP charging you to vist websites, think of trunk carriers charging websites to receive traffic from them.

    Breaking Net Neutrality violates the End to End Principal [wikipedia.org]. Think of it this way: would you want a phone call from Boston to Florida to cost more than one from New York to California because some regional telco in Georgia wanted to charge Miami more to receive calls? The end of a rational peering system won't be the end of the Internet, it will just be the end of this internet.
  • by SquareVoid ( 973740 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#16155968)
    Correct me if I am wrong here, but I will try to explain the breif history of this debate as I have understood it since its development.

    1) The internet was considered a telecommunication and as thus had to adhere to existing net neutrality regulations. This was the case since the internet existed.
    2) At some point, the FCC ruled that the internet was a data service and not a telecommunication. As a side effect of this ruling, Net neutrality was no longer required for the internet.
    3) Verizon (I think) started to throtle VoIP, more specificly Vonage traffic.
    4) Verizon, Bellsouth and ATT came out and publicly made statements that Google, YouTube, and Vonage have been getting a free ride on their pipes (forgot who started it).
    5) The easily defeatable debate of a "free ride" (due to the fact Google/YouTube/Vonage pay for their traffic) made the telecoms change their position and the debate about wanting to serve Television over the internet (TVoIP?). Somehow Net Neutrality would prevent them from offering these extra services to their customers.
    6) The "free ride" debate sparked interest in creating a net neutrality bill passed for the internet.

    There is a lot more details here, but this is in essence what I have followed. I do not see why it is so hard to see that the greedy bastards are the cable/telecoms? Why are we paying so much for internet access and yet receiving so little when compared to other countries? Where did the $200 billion go to fund a 45mbps duplex fiber line to every home in America? Why do people keep defending the very same companies who tried to rob you of $2/month when the FCC lifted several federal charges on DSL? I am pretty pissed, and everyone else should too!
  • by Aqua_boy17 ( 962670 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:24PM (#16155982)
    For me, if I'm ever torn on a candidate for office or a ballot mandate and I don't know or have time to research all of the issues involved, I'll often look at who supports or opposes them. One can often make an informed decision based on this alone.

    So, lets look at who supports Net Neutrality: Google, Yahoo, Vonage, Ebay, Skype, Amazon etc. Now take a gander at who is against it: Most (not all) politicians, major telcos such as Verizon, ATT, Comcast, Time Warner and now hardware manufacturers are coming out against it. Now is it so hard to tell who is telling the truth and who is spreading FUD? Who among those mentioned above has the best interests of the consumer and small businesses in mind, and who else is constantly trying to squeeze more and more and more profits from them?
  • Re:Hypocrites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:25PM (#16155993)
    I want the government to maintain a fair playing field for all competitors in all markets. Without this, capitalism dies.

    This means the government enforces fraud and misreprentation. It means the government enforces environmental laws so all vendors have the same production costs. It means the government punishes or breaks up monopolies that try to abuse other markets. It means the government enforces the neutrality of mediums upon which business is conducted.

    If roads were private, and the vendor of the road to my house decided to charge USPS and UPS trucks $10 a package to drive through (but let DHL and FedEx trucks through with no extra charge), I'd be clamoring for the government to fix that problem, too.
  • Re:you know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LocalH ( 28506 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:38PM (#16156109) Homepage
    Do you enjoy spam? With network neutrality, it becomes illegal for ISPs to block spam.

    Good. I don't want my ISP making decisions as to what mail I can get, based on an imperfect filtering algorithm. I think that spam filtering should be an optional service ISPs are able to provide, rather than something that is done across-the-board and that affects all customers, willingly or not.
  • Ethics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:44PM (#16156178)
    On the same day that we see a story that says over 50% of business students cheat, we see an article in which:

    Network equipment manufacturers lie, because they want to sell equipment.

    Bobby Rush lies, because he's selling his community out to the phone lobby by pushing a law which will "Improve competition between VoIP Intenet-based telephone services and local telephone services" (by adding more restrictions to VoIP companies, which means less competition for the local phone companies, not more). He has the audacity to promote a law which will "Allow localities to retain control of their rights-of-way and ensure local jurisdictions still receive the franchise fees they collected under the current system. Additionally, the FCC will be authorized to step in if a locality tries to unfairly use its rights-of-way authority to block new competitors from entering the local market." which is simple doublespeak, since it claims to give rights but also codifies the giving of them away.

    The Telcos lie, because they claim no restrictions will be made, while at the same time DESPERATELY fighting any restrictions on their ability to restrict, which wouldn't hurt them at all if they WEREN'T lying.

    Nobody in consumer-friendly (read TV) national news simply calls them on this obvious stuff, because they're in tight with advertisers and telcos advertise.

    And if all the above didn't curdle your toes, the average schmoe in business school thinks that mirepresentation is just fine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:47PM (#16156204)
    Net neutrality wouldn't keep telcos from getting into the business of ipTV.

    What it would do however, is force them to actually compete in it, instead of just dropping the packets of their competitors.
  • by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <basenamedave-sd@ ... o.com minus poet> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:51PM (#16156237) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I'd say it's just something they threw in there to get more support for rallying against net neutrality.

    So is this:

    Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem

    By the way - "x is a solution in search of a problem" - particularly in this case, is an attempt to dismiss anything that's seriously forward-thinking. Like Gonzales trying to get ISPs to retain records for longer periods of time "only" for child pornography, anyone can see that although there are overtures of non-intrusion, such policies, allowed to florish, will undoubtedly be abused in the future.

    There is no search for a problem - there is a realization by anyone that is any degree of forward thinking that given the opportunity to squash competition, a company will take it - and the consumer will lose.

    Unfortunately, many people are "sheeple", and believe the last (or loudest) thing they heard. Although there have been people complaining that a lack of net neutrality will eventually negatively influence innovation and stifle competition, many in the world hear their favorite companies saying "there is no issue, NN is a good thing" and will make a judgement without introspection or reflection.

    Many /.ers seem pretty forward thinking, whether I agree with their politics or not... Which is why net neutrality gets so much play here - because I, and many others here - can see the stupidly big handwriting on the wall.

  • by pafrusurewa ( 524731 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:52PM (#16156249)
    And the fact that those other countries are considerably smaller and more densely populated, reducing build-out costs by vast amounts.
    If that were the real reason big, densely populated US cities would have much better connectivity than "those other countries", some of which BTW have a total population that's smaller than the biggest cities in the US.

    In short, bullshit.
  • by stile99 ( 1004110 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:04PM (#16156360)
    http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20060909 [userfriendly.org] Give the babies their bottle. Just when they are in the middle of jumping and hooting for joy, that's when you tell them they just lost common carrier status.
  • Re:you know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:27PM (#16156560) Journal
    The problem with your solution is that ISPs don't have the 256k that John Doe is paying for, much less more bandwidth to set up special deals with Apple to transmit over the cap. Requiring that ISPs live up to the "minimum level of service" would pretty much kill every single one of them overnight thanks to oversubscription and the ISPs refusal to upgrade their infrastructure until they can guarantee that they can make everyone but themselves pay for it.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN