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The Internet

It's the Architecture, Stupid 104

Thanks to Lawrence Lessig for sending us a filing that he and Mark Lemley have put before the FCC. The filing, also in PDF, deals with open access as well as principles of network design. It's a long piece, but well worth reading.Thanks to Lawrence for another link.
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It's the Architecture, Stupid

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  • Thanks to Lawrence Lessig for sending us a filing that he and Mark Lemley have put before the FCC.

    The reason I know the name Lawrence Lessig is from the last Microsoft trial, right? Where MS wanted to disqualify him because they thought he was to cozy with Netscape? And now he's in with /. -- I guess Bill may have been on to something...

  • Just because someone happens to own the cables of more than half the internet, does that really mean that they should be allowed to set standards for the internet? One would think a board of advisors including all major vendors of cable, routers, etc... would benefit all of us. A monopoly here would be disaster.
  • by friedo ( 112163 )
    Under the banner of "no regulation," the FCC threatens to permit this network to calcify as earlier telecommunications networks did. Further, and ironically, the FCC's supposed "hand's off" approach will ultimately lead to more, rather than less regulation.

    Regulation

    Pardom my libertarianism, but the Internet has done just fine without any regulation. It was conceived as an open model, developed as such, and still tends to exist as such to a wide extent. So why all the fuss? Does the transition from a publically funded and maintained architecture (NSFNET, NYSERnet, etc.) to a commercial one (Sprint, MCI) necessitate regulation? I don't think so. As long as the environment is competitive and the Internet continues to grow as it has been, I don't foresee any problems.

  • Actually, no they don't. They have a right to do with their cable what they please WITHIN THE LAW. Those last three words are -very- important, and ones that Microsoft apparently neglected.

    Then, there is another point you need to consider. A service exists to serve. It has no other purpose. Nor should it have. Every service that puts short-term profits, or the whims of it's shareholders, above it's customers and products has invariably collapsed.

    This, in itself, wouldn't be an issue if it existed in a vaccuum. But nothing in life does. If something the size of AT&T destroys itself, in an orgy of profiteering, it's liable to destroy the larger percentage of the telecommunications services in the US, on which modern lives are very dependent. (The emergency services depend on these facilities, for example, as do many hospitals, research facilities, etc.)

    Last, but not least, Slashdot does not have an attitude. Slashdot is a collection of bytes in a computer's memory. Slashdot's admins may have their own attitudes and opinions, but each will have their own. The same is true of the readers. We are ALL individuals, and ALL different, in our views, political persuasions, religious beliefs, ethical and moral values, etc. To blanket everyone as this mysterious "THEM" with the "Attitude" is to do a terrible disservice to the diverse, multicultural segment of humanity that comprise the people who inhabit the Slashdot news service.

  • The Internet was developed over several decades by the government using public funds. As Lessig points out in his paper (which, by the speed of the first few responses, I doubt many have read), there have been other publicaly-accessable WANs that did not grow so rapidly.

    Remember Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL before they were ISPs? Where are they now? They promised "e-shopping" and "online information" in the early 80's. Instead, nothing happened until the Internet opened up in the mid-90's (and yes, you should thank Al Gore). The Internet developed as a free (libre) network because its public funding allowed it that agenda.

    What I see today is a lot of people saying,"Thanks, Uncle Sam for making this great network... now get the hell out of it so we can strangle it to death in the name of the almighty dollar." I can't believe that the so-called "voices of freedom" are demanding that corporate interests be allowed to achieve levels of control that would be dangerous to said freedom. AOL already controls more media time than prime-time television. Good for them, but doesn't that make any of you a little nervous that they might begin to abuse that power?

    Microsoft is not the only company that practices "embrace and extend."

    Is your site AOL approved?

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday November 11, 1999 @05:15AM (#1542654) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the Internet is heavily regulated, doubly so now that it's in the private sector.

    • Internet connections cannot cross State lines without a long-distance carrier licence. (Research labs, Universities and the Military could all get round this, one way or another.)
    • Internet backbone providers must use FCC-approved equiptment, and be licenced to connect to telecommunications equiptment.
    • Internet cables and junctions must meet FCC standards and regulations. (You don't think local telecos -like- the 56K limit, do you?)
    • Wireless Internet connections must meet FCC requirements, and operators must have the appropriate licence, where necessary.

      And then, there are the internally-imposed regulations that the Internet has:

      1. To be a part of the Internet, per se, a system must be capable of supporting at least IPv4 traffic, and all appropriate inter-router gateway protocols.
      2. All appropriate RFC's must be natively supported. Otherwise, the connection is deemed a gateway to a non-Internet network.
      3. The network must be connected to the Internet via a recognised and registered node.

      Then, there are the Ethernet packets. Formally specified. Deviate, and your device is not capable of connection to an Ethernet network. Same with ATM (Asynch Transfer Mode, to Americans who might confuse this with their bank machine).

      Sprint's takeover of some of the NSFNET resulted in a 2 week collapse of all transatlantic services, so I'd think ==VERY== carefully before citing them as a good example of deregulation.

  • Pardom my libertarianism

    Done :) Please pardon mine...

    but the Internet has done just fine without any regulation. It was conceived as an open model, developed as such, and still tends to exist as such to a wide extent. So why all the fuss?

    In principle, I agree with you. I'm only about half way through reading the paper, but from what I've gathered so far, I think they would agree with you too.

    What they seem to be saying is that this merger (in a way they haven't explained yet) threatens the open nature of the net as we currently know it, and that a little bit of regulation now may be a far preferable alternative to a lot of regulation later.

    It seems to me that so long as the protocols and the underlying network architecture are not controlled by one source (remember, the network was originally designed to withstand a nuclear attack...), things should go more or less okay.

    Time to finish reading it...

    Anthony

    ^X^X
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ummm. . .go ahead and ignore the fact that most cable companies have exclusive franchise rights within a city. for the first 20 or so years of cable, there was no competition *by law.*

    put another way, they've been given a legal monopoly. as a result, it's rather disingenuous to say they have assumed much risk in laying the cable.
  • This is just the latest in a long series of postings that are highly favorable to the AOL position in the cable broadband open access area. I've traded emails with various slashdot folks who always deny they have a bias, but isn't it odd that they so rarely post anything that actually supports AT&T in this one?

    How about this guys:

    -- The existing cable infrastructure is obsolete and needs serious upgrades to make it work with high speed data.

    -- This upgrade will cost many billions and will entail tremendous amounts of risk. Cable modems and cable telephony could fall flat in favor of DSL or some future technology, leaving AT&T holding the bag on billions in invested capital.

    -- AOL is a multi-mega billion company that could easily afford to throw a couple bil AT&T's way in order to help pay for this and have some skin in the game. How much you wanna bet AT&T would be glad for some investment like this and would open their lines in return

    -- Telephone companies have been forced to resell local loops, but those same companies are also getting let into the LD business are part of the deal. AT&T would get nothing in return for having to open up its line.

    I sure wish slashdot would get their tongues out of AOL's butt.

  • Democracy is supposed to be a government of the people, for the people, by the people.

    Could that perhaps mean that the government might actually stand up for the people as a defense against big business?

    The internet was created by government. Government is prosecuting M$ because they felt they were hurting the choices of the people. They did the same with IBM, Standard Oil and others.

    Perhaps its time we started realising how the government can serve us and start using them to help us.

    If you don't like the government then vote them out, move or start a revolution.



  • One rather dedicated AC is promoting this simple argument:
    • Cause and effect...you take the risk, you get the benefit. You lay the cable, you make the rules.
    Here's the simple response:

    Fine. You connect to the Internet, then we (the taxpayers who funded it) make the rules in the form of regulations put forth by our representatived in goverment. If those who own the cable find those rule onerous, then they can create their own private network. No Yahoo. No Slashdot. No ETrade. Just whatever they can come up with. I'll bet they'll get a ton of subscribers on that network.

    Meanwhile, people who don't mind playing by the rules can enjoy the Internet boom with the rest of us.

    (Whohoo! 17th post!)

  • by Robin Hood ( 1507 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @05:27AM (#1542660) Homepage
    Let me try to explain the terminology... Infrastructure is the physical wires going into your computer, whether they be connected to a POTS modem, a cable "modem", or a DSL "modem". Presumably you would pay a monthly fee for the maintenance of those, just like you pay the local phone company extra for a second phone line into your house. An ISP uses the existing physical network to deliver Internet traffic: you get an IP address from your ISP, not your infrastructure provider. ISP's pay the infrastucture providers for the cost of using their networks, and pass on that cost to you in your monthly ISP fee -- want more bandwidth, pay a higher fee. If you're dissatisfied with your ISP's service, well, there are several others with local POP's (Points of Presence) near you, so you can easily switch.

    The concern here is that AT&T, an infrastructure provider, is merging with MediaOne, an ISP to provide a bundled infrastructure + IP address commercial package. Sounds fine, right? Well, stop to think about it.

    Say your ISP blocks port 6667 (the most common IRC port) for some reason -- say liability concerns about the legality of IRC activity. Or say they don't want you connecting to any USENET servers but their own, so they block port 119 (the NNTP port) connections to all servers except theirs. You'd soon ditch them and move to another ISP, wouldn't you? And you'd stop paying the first ISP, because you weren't using their services anymore.

    And there's the rub.

    If AT&T is allowed to bundle its infrastructure service with MediaOne's ISP service, you'll be paying for MediaOne whether you use it or not. It would be like bundling an OS with your new computer so that you paid for the OS whether you wanted it or not (<sarcasm>which I'm sure has never happened...</sarcasm>). Say MediaOne starts blocking the ports used for IP telephony -- after all, that's a direct competitor to AT&T's primary business. Suddenly, millions of MediaOne customers are forced either to switch to another ISP or give up using IP telephony. And if they switch to another ISP, they're still paying for MediaOne! Don't want to pay for MediaOne? Sorry -- it comes with your DSL connection; if you don't want MediaOne, you're going to have to find another DSL service. What? There aren't any other DSL providers in your area? That's just too bad. At least with the Wintel hardware/OS bundling, you had other choices -- you could buy a Mac, or an Amiga, or a Sparc, or... But with this situation, you'll be forced to pay for MediaOne -- and how many people will choose to pay *extra* for another ISP? Very few -- most, in the scenario I describe, would choose instead to give up IP telephony.

    And that's what the concern is. If AT&T is allowed to bundle ISP services with infrastructure services, it can kill any use of the network it doesn't like, by doing things like I just described. That's why this paper is important, and why infrastructure needs to be kept separate from Internet access.
    -----
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • Pardom my libertarianism, but the Internet has done just fine without any regulation.

    Er, most people access the internet via dialup modem lines, and ISPs use leased lines to aggregate packets off to their NAPs.. How much more $$$ would it cost to access the internet in this country if we hadn't had Ma Bell deconstructed?

    Look at countries outside the US: where the telco is a monopoly (state or otherwise) adoption of the internet is much slower and more expensive..

    Any way you slice it, you can't argue with the results.

    And I tend to be a realist, not a libertarian. Government is useful if it can be trusted, and it could be, if we weren't so fucking complacent and apathetic... (in a Democracy, you should get the government you demand, but in the days of 30% voter turnout, you get the government you deserve... And there's nothing in the Constitution delineating only 2 parties...)

    Your Working Boy,
  • The government built the roads, so they make the rules. And if you wanna drive on them, you've got to let anyone who wants to park in your garage and sleep in your house. That's about what your "logic" boils to.
  • We are ALL individuals, and ALL different,

    YES! WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS!

    Follow the SHOE!!!!!

    Your Working Boy,
  • Did it ever occur to you that cable is so lame precisely because it is so heavily regulated by the gov't? Gov't regulated monopolies and gov't provided services are routinely bashed for their inefficiency (the Post Office, anyone?) The answer is usually more competition, not more regulation.

    It's good that few cities now give their cable companies an exclusive franchise. Competitors can come in. DSL competes with cable modems. DBS with cable TV. That's what will improve service, not regulation.
  • Why do you think that Internet connections cannot cross a state line without a long distance carrier license? This is clearly false.

  • So, toward the beginning of the letter, the authors make the statement that having an "end-to-end" architecture (ie intelligence on the edge), with generic protocols in the network and applications running on clients is one of the strengths of the internet. Then, it goes on to say that ISPs can provide intelligence in the network, through things like web-page cacheing, and that you should be able to choose an ISP that does that.

    This entire argument seems hokey to me. At most, it seems to me that AT&T should allow users to say "I don't want to use AT&T's web servers or usenet servers or mail servers. Please take $15 off my monthly bill." The user could then configure their software to point to somebody else's servers.

    This repeatedly goes back to my point (made in this space before) that ISPs are an anachronism caused by trying to route a packet-based network over a switched network: You have to have gateways that convert from one to the other. This, currently, is the main function of ISPs. In a world where you don't need the gateway -- ie where the packet-based network extends all the way to the machines that want to see it (as is the case with packet-over-cable), then the main purpose of the ISP goes away.

    Now, I would argue that if Mindspring & AOL want to stay relevant, they need to transform themselves into "ASPs" -- Application Service Providers. At the low end, this means running the same servers that the ISPs ran before -- mail, usenet, web, &c. But, there's a lot of opportunity beyond that -- PC backup services, video servers, network file storage and so on. These are the logical place for the ISPs to move into. But, they're so entrenched in what they've been doing that they can't see to move beyond it.
  • It's a good thing we don't have pure democracy. No matter what the "majority" might think, it still can't vote to simply sieze someone's property. That's why we are a republic. The rights of the minority are protected against the tyranny of the majority - sometimes.
  • What percentage of the time it is wrong to tell government to shove off? 99.99%? More? The government sometimes does good things by mistake, as with the early Internet. Tang and Space Food Sticks come to mind. And when the government actually notices it is doing something, watch out!

    I use Windows "monopoly" software. I don't use AOL "monopoly" Internet access or sites. In fact, I can't remember the last time I did AOL anything on the Internet. I'm sure that if I used a Mac (which I once did) I would have equally little to do with Microsoft.

    I find it very hard to believe government involvement won't simply bring taxation where there was none before, and screw things up worse than the worst scenario sketched out here. Nobody will dominate the Internet. Not Microsoft, not AOL, not Intel, not Cisco, not AT&T. All will have a significant role, maybe even a dominant role in some aspect of it, but no real overall dominance. Only a government could achieve that.

  • by igjeff ( 15314 )
    >the Internet has done just fine without any regulation.

    That statement is patently false.

    The Internet has benefited *greatly* from regulation. Read the whole filing, it actually details it quite well. If it hadn't been for the regulatory actions of breaking up AT&T/Ma Bell, the Internet likely would not have existed in anywhere near the form it does today. Why? Because AT&T would have restricted, and was restricting, use of *their* network for uses which they didn't like.

    Open Access in telco's set up a very competitive environment where ISP's were able to vigorously compete. ISP's are not allowed to vigorously compete in broadband access at this point (primarily because most broadband access is on cable modems, secondarily because the telco's are fighting much the same way...just not as publicly, and with less regulatory justification, and with somewhat less success).

    Jeff
  • Cause and effect is a tricky one, as it's a very simplistic view of complex inter-dependencies. It's useful in science, where you want to look at each component in turn, but scientists recognise that those -are- just components, and that to understand in full, you must then take those components and assemble them to see the big picture.

    Who is providing the service? The supplier. In this case, companies such as AT&T.
    Who should benefit from providing the service? The consumer. First, last and always.

    This may sound "utopian", but it isn't. It's practical recognition of symbiotic relationships. No customers, no company. No company, no consumers. Each lives off the products of the other. (Money from the consumer, the service from the company.)

    But for a symbiotic relationship to remain stable and survive, each must focus on what they're giving, not on what they're getting. Otherwise, the relationship becomes unstable, and can collapse completely, in mutual mistrust and suspicion.

    (By the by, this is why 99% of all relationships between people fail. They're too busy focussing on what they're getting - or not - that they've no time left to give.)

  • by jd ( 1658 )
    Because FCC regulations prohibit any kind of commercial data line crossing State lines without such a licence. Look it up yourself, before deciding it's so clear.
  • by Saige ( 53303 )
    And I tend to be a realist, not a libertarian. Government is useful if it can be trusted, and it could be, if we weren't so fucking complacent and apathetic... (in a Democracy, you should get the government you demand, but in the days of 30% voter turnout, you get the government you deserve... And there's nothing in the Constitution delineating only 2 parties...)

    Thank you... I'm glad someone said this.

    There is no reason why the government in a democracy has to be such a mess. Sure, the US gov't is somewhat of one, but that's because of the lack of people voting, and the lack of paying attention to what the politicans are really doing.

    They'd stop being "bought" by corporations if the public made it clear that doing so meant they never were back into office. They'd serve the people if the people made it worthwhile.

    I see libertarianism as a means of allowing corporations to control the public instead of the government - and we won;t get a vote in that aspect. I know that's not the intentions, but I think it will be the resulting effect.

    A little bit of regulation now, a little slap on the hand saying "don't do that", will keep us from having to carve everything apart later and look at a means of bring innovation back to the internet.

    When your only option for getting the access is through a company that strictly regulates what you can use it for, then there's not going to be much incentive to try new things.

    Would you use a provider that tells you "you can only use e-mail, the web, and irc" through your cable connection, and your other choice is a 28.8 modem, what good is that?
    ---
  • by adimarco ( 30853 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @05:48AM (#1542673) Homepage
    This whole thing is basically about broadband access. "Our sole concern is the architecture that AT&T and MediaOne propose for broadband access."

    The model proposed apparently does not allow the user to select an ISP, and the authors argue that this may unfairly (to consumers) limit the types of services available in the future, and possibly allow the AT&T/MediaOne merger to create a monopoly on services they feel ISPs should be providing.

    "By bundling ISP service with access, and by not permitting users to select another ISP, the architecture removes ISP competition within the residential broadband cable market. By removing this competition, the architecture removes an important threat to any strategic behavior that AT&T might engage in once a merger is complete."

    They go on to explain how this represents a threat to the very kind of open-ness that has made the internet great so far.

    Interesting to note that they don't seem like the type who would actually ask for regulation. They seem to consider it as a necessary evil at this stage of the development of the net. I tend to agree, letting things get out of control (if they're right) would only mean even more regulation later.

    Look, they gave us props:

    35. This is not to say that the government created the innovation that the Internet has enjoyed. Nor is it to endorse government, rather than private, development of Internet-related technologies. Obviously, the extraordinary innovation of the Internet arises from the creativity of private actors from around the world. Some of these actors work within corporations. Some of the most important have been associated with the Free Software, and Open Source Software Movements. And some have been entrepreneurs operating outside of any specific structure. But the creativity that these innovators have produced would not have been enabled but for the opening of the communications network. Our only point is that the government had a significant role in that opening.

    Anthony

    ^X^X
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • Did it ever occur to you that cable is so lame precisely because it is so heavily regulated by the gov't?

    ...

    The answer is usually more competition, not more regulation.

    Your logic here is schizophrenic. Cable being lame is not the case because it's so heavily regulated by the government, it's lame because CABLE COMPANIES HAVE MONOPOLIES ON CABLE SERVICE IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES!!! If anything, there should be a refocus of regulation to emphasize competition and common-access to cable infrastructure. Eminent domain it if all else fails..

    The answer truly is more competition, and whenever necessary the FedGov should force it so states and local communities can't get all cozy with local and regional monopolistic cable franchises.. The FedGov should in fact force competition in every non-competitive area of life now! Utilities, Professional sports, Software, CPUs, Currency printing, everything... Open it all up!

    I'm a free market realist, meaning that I want a free market, by hook or by crook... Because I'm a smart and greedy consumer, who wants to be able to research as many options as possible before selecting the best price/performance on anything I need...

    Your Working Boy,
  • I'm certainly no fan of AOL, and I will admit a background that would contribute to bias (I work for an ISP)

    >-- The existing cable infrastructure is obsolete and needs serious upgrades to make it work with high speed data.

    (rest deleted for brevity)

    This argument would have some merit, *except*, I've never heard *anyone* express the idea that ISPs and others should be able to have access to the cable network (or DSL access) without compensation to the company that owns the infrastructure. I wholeheartedly support compensation for Insight (where I live) for the ISP that I work for providing cable modem service over their lines.

    If they've computed in their excel spreadsheets to cover the costs of their infrastructure build-out by the revenues of their ISP's, then they're dumb. :) I have no problem with the concept that the cost of Insight (formerly Intermedia, formerly TKR, formerly...formerly...) to build out their cable plant should be covered by subscription fees. That concept does not imply that the customer has to be tied to an ISP though.

    The ISP that I work for is providing DSL service in a city with GTE as the telco...its going quite well. The structure works that the end-customer calls GTE to get DSL service (comparable to calling Insight to get cable modem service), then they call us to get the Internet/ISP service. The customer is billed by GTE for the DSL service, and they're billed by us for the Internet/ISP service. Everyone is happy, DSL is going great guns in that city. There is no reason that the same couldn't work with cable modems. The customer calls Insight (or whoever) to get the cable modem access...chooses their ISP and calls that ISP to get the Internet/ISP access, the customer is then billed by the cable company for the cable modem access (to cover the cost of the infrastructure buildout), and then pays the ISP for the Internet/ISP access.

    Jeff
  • And where do you think your rights come from? From popular consensus, or the barrel of a gun?
  • by Saige ( 53303 )
    It's a good thing we don't have pure democracy. No matter what the "majority" might think, it still can't vote to simply sieze someone's property. That's why we are a republic. The rights of the minority are protected against the tyranny of the majority - sometimes.

    Agreed. A pure democracy would, IMHO, rather quickly crumble from the horrible infighting, persecution, etc. One by one, each minority would be eliminated by the majority.

    Too bad we don't have a government in the US that really stands up for the minorities. Because the government is "of the people", instead of fighting the people to protect the minorities, they're trying to legislate to "protect" the majority - and the majority is the one group that never needs protection.

    Example? Gay marriages. These "defense of marriage" acts are nothing more than an attempt by the majority to discriminate against that minority. It harms absolutely nothing to allow them to occur. It's just the majority (especially the so-called (im)"Moral Majority") trying to exert power and control.

    We have made a lot of headway in the past, as women have gained rights and the vote, non-whites have gained rights and the vote, etc. And I do think we'll continue to increase the number of minorities that are included equally. But we'll have to fight for it.
    ---
  • Sure, AOL has to pay for access (at a legally mandated discount rate). So what? Cable modems flop, AOL cancels their service as customer switch to other connection methods, then AT&T is still left holding the bag. AOL wants the best of both worlds. They want to be in a position to get access to cable if that technology takes off, without any of the downside risk if it flops.
  • I fail to see the problem. ISP's are dead anyway, in terms of service.

    All I want is an IP Address. That's it. Everything else, I can deal with:
    E-mail? Hook up a copy of sendmail.
    Web? Run Apache if I want to serve pages.

    There's no service out there i need that I cannot get, all I need is an address on the network. That, IMHO, is the primary function of the ISP. Everything else is just nice to have.

    If you're buying high speed connection, usually you get an IP along with that, right? What do I need any of their servers for, except for possibly DNS? (since having a massive database sitting around doesn't appeal to me)

    Provide me an address and a way to look up other addresses. I'm happy then. Unless there's something else I don't know about (which is probably true).

    ---
  • Two things:

    1. Cable companies do not have monopolies in most areas today. Competitive franchises are being awarding in cities across America. Ameritech (the midwest phone company) has a couple hundred competitive franchises I think. 21st Century is wiring the Chicago lakefront with competitive cable. The days of monopoly are soon over.

    2. "Cable" is not the service. TV channels, internet, phone, and perhaps more broadly entertainment, are. Cable companies have competition in all areas. Look at the millions of DBS dishes sold recently. Once the (gov't imposed) restrictions on carrying local channels is lift, I expect that market to explode.
  • The government built the roads, so they make the rules. And if you wanna drive on them, you've got to let anyone who wants to park in your garage and sleep in your house. That's about what your "logic" boils to.

    Not nearly that at all. Try again.

    If we want to make the analogy correct, then the government built the roads, so they make the rules. If you want to drive them, you follow them - you drive the speed limit, get a license plate, etc. If the government decides that anyone who drives also needs to let anyone who wants park in your garage and sleep in your house, then you need to follow that - but at this point they haven't decided that.

    The regulation is to prevent a corporation from buying up a large chunk of the roads, and then telling you that you can only carry certain things in your car, that you can only have so many people inside it, and you can only drive it a certain amount. And they own enough of the roads so that you don't have the option of driving only on competitor's roads, so you don't have a choice.
    ---
  • The company I work for serves telephone and Internet customers in one state from switching facilities in another. We aren't a long distance carrier.

  • >Did it ever occur to you that cable is so lame precisely because it is so heavily regulated by the gov't?

    Too bad that cable modem internet access is *not* regulated by the gov. @Home can put pretty much whatever restrictions on your cable access they want...what's your choice? BellSouth DSL (not much better), or back to an ISDN line. Hrmm...

    The falacy that I see a lot of people perpetrating is that cable modem access for some inherent reason should/has to be tied to a specific ISP (I see some of the same falacious arguments with regards to DSL...specifically with BellSouth). These are (at least) two different services. One service being the service of wiring your community for cable access, and the other service being an Internet access that is provided over whatever access method is available to the consumer. The ISP I work for doesn't want to be a cable company or a telephone company...but the current setup by the cable company and telco's where we are almost require that to be able to offer broadband service. We want to bring business to BellSouth and Insight...and they're not letting us! It truly boggles my mind.

    Jeff
  • Disclaimer: I work for AT&T, but I am not speaking for them.

    I agree with you in principle, but you overlooked on point even though it was in your post. ISPs currently pay for their use of the POTS or ISDN infrastructure. The issue here is that AOL and others want free (as in beer) access to the new, faster infrastructure.

    AT&T's primary goal is to be a carrier, not a content provider that's why AT&T sold DirectTV a while back. AT&T acquired TCI to get infrastructure (in the form of wires as well as trucks, vans, equipment, and employees). Since TCI owned content as well that came along for the ride, although much of the content production trades separately on the stock market as Liberty Media.

    AT&T has repeatedly stated that it is willing to sell capacity on the cable infrastructure to content providers (i.e. ISPs) that want it. The only issue is that TCI had signed a contract with @Home giving them exclusive rights to provide ISP service over TCI's cable. As part of the acquisition of TCI, AT&T became bound by this contract. Since this contract has been found to be legal and binding, AT&T would be open to a lawsuit from @Home if they allow other ISPs to use their cable lines within the period of the contract (a couple more years I think)

    If there were a legal way out of this contract AT&T would gladly let other ISPs deliver service over their cable lines since more content leads to more demand. AT&T markets phone service in partnership with a variety of other companies and organizations and would be glad to have dozens or even hundreds of special interest ISPs doing targeted marketing and paying AT&T for the infrastructure.

    What AT&T is not willing to do is grant "open" (as in free) to anyone who petitions the government. Much of TCI's cable was crap and is being upgraded by AT&T. This costs money. If AOL or anyone else wants to send their traffic over the lines that AT&T is paying to upgrade they should be willing to pay a fair share. The whole "open access" debate is simply a ploy to get the government give away the infrastructure that AT&T is paying for.
  • If the "popular consensus" turns against me (as with the black men lynched by white mobs), then you're right, my rights do come out of the barrel of a gun, or by whatever other means I can defend them. Sometimes the gov't does this for me, but other times not.
  • The government built the roads, so they make the rules.
    AT&T builds/upgrades cable infrastructure (the roads) so they get to make the rules. Okay, the rules: You are required to lease a car from us to drive on our roads. If you have your own car, you still have to pay for a lease from us with no discount. And you also can only use our gasoline.

    The gov't built the roads, but they're not requiring you to buy a car from them to drive on them. I think that's where that argument breaks down. We pay for roads (in the form of taxes or tolls), so we can use them *with our existing vehicles*. An End-to-End solution, as the paper describes. Separate the road builders from the car manufacturers, and let the car manufacturers work on their value-adding, rather than being stuck with a Model T that's any color, as long as it's black.
    --
    • The government built the roads, so they make the rules. And if you wanna drive on them, you've got to let anyone who wants to park in your garage and sleep in your house. That's about what your "logic" boils to.
    Isn't it a little early in the day to start smoking crack?

    The government did build the roads and they do make the rules. Try running stop signs and speeding in front of our friendly law enforcement officials and see how they respond.

    I don't think that driving on the roads obligates me to open my garage or house in any way -- the laws governing use of the roads do not require this. Perhaps, if you should have your representative propose such a law just to teach liberals like me a lesson. Unfortunately, my representatives (and everyone else's probably) will vote against it and it will not pass. Good thing because it would be a voilation of the 4th Amendment barring "unreasonable seizure" of my property. Oh damn, that's another one of those damn laws you hate so much. Why oh why can't people be free to unreasonably seize things?!! It's so Stalinist!!!!

    That's representative democracy. Read up on it when the drugs wear off.

  • by jd ( 1658 )
    Then you almost certainly lease the lines from a company that is, which is my point.
  • -> So what? Cable modems flop, AOL cancels their service as customer switch to other connection methods, then AT&T is still left holding the bag.

    You seem to forget that AOL isn't the only ISP in existance. Take a look at xDSL services for an example, here in St. Louis, I when I signed up after something like a week of it being offered there was something like 5 ISP's including SouthWestern Bell (who provides the DSL line) that I could find in just a couple of minutes. Today (just a few months later) the list has grown and I can barely open a newspaper or watching TV without seeing an add from something like "Joe's discount ISP service" offering DSL connections.

    Broadband access is a big buzzword today. Cheap and inexpensive (for the bandwidth) high bandwidth 24/7 never worry about having to dialup and getting the "busy signal". It's taking off in a really big way in just the last few months. Cable modems have a huge advantage in that it's only real competitor right now is xDSL but there is those really annoying distance limitations. I know quite a few people that have cable modem service just because they were too far away from the telco for xDSL. Who wouldn't want a part of that action?

    Just my two cents.
  • by PD ( 9577 )
    You're the phone company? You ran your own wires? You own the fiber and all the backhoes you need to lay it?

    Or, did you pay someone *who has a license* to let you use their fiber optic cable?

  • with no choices, I'd be afraid that my ISP would go Australian on me and start blocking ports, or forcing me through their proxy. afaik, there is nothing to prevent them from doing this -- it's kinda like AOL trying to block websites from kids since they're "pornographic" or "innapropriate" (even though I was set to recieve unfiltered internet, they blocked me from Microsoft, becasue it was "obscene". :))

    just a thought -- I don't think they're going to try to do it (they'd be morons to jepordize their common carrier status) but we've seen other moves like this before...

    Lea
  • Otto,

    That may be true for you, but not the vast majority (18+ million) of Internet users who use AOL or some similar service. Their knowledge of computers and networking is not sophisticated enough to allow them to configure sendmail, Apache, etc. They need to have their hands held.

    Also, on the "all I need is an IP" argument... I have DSL. I pay my Telco. a monthly fee for the service. I pay another company, my ISP a monthly fee for Internet service. The ISP provides me with a connection to the Internet and the all important IP address. I could have gotten the IP from my Telco., but I didn't like their policy on assigning them. (The Telco. uses dhcp while the ISP I chose assigned me a number that stays my number for as long as I'm their customer.)

    The ISP also provides POP e-mail, a few megs of web space and Usenet feeds. Granted, I could set up my own e-mail, my own web server, and even get a Usenet feed from another party and host my own Usenet groups. I still use my ISP's services because it saves me time, effort, and I'm paying for them anyway just to get my IP number.

    The point is, you need that IP number, as you, yourself pointed out. Do you want to be locked into one company's policies for how you use it, or do you want a choice?
  • Hmmm,
    Couple of comments. First I should not that I haven't read the paper. I have seen papers like this in the past and expect to see more in the future. Second, I should not that I have worked for AT&T and have been actively involved with modems and data transmitions since the early 80's. Third, I currently do not own stock and am not employee'd by a telecommunications company. That said...

    Deregulation of the cable services just took place this year. June or July I think. The big problem for most of the litigation against ATT at the moment is from "grassroots" organizations that somehow seem to be orginized and paid for by the baby bell's.

    The way I see it, and until I see something different is this. The baby bells still have monopolies in their regions. Allowing high speed data connections via cable breaks their monopoly and they want to stop this. Consider, DSL technology has been available since '91 as an effecient and cost effective way of transfering information. I have been waiting since that time for DSL to hit the market, but it never has. Then Cable modems start hitting the market. All of a sudden DSL is available at prices comparable to cable modems.

    Now something here strikes me as odd. Why sit on technology for 7 years? Well let's talk about my T1 line. Theoretically DSL should be able to transfer T1 like rates of information over standard copper. However DSL is what $80.00 a month and my T1 costs me in the neighborhood of $1600.00 a month unless I lock myself into some pretty sever contracts (yeah I have done so) This is what the baby bells fear. ATT has been a frontrunner of new tech for a long time. With divestiture it has intensified.

    Now being an ex-employee I have seen the changes the CEO (Armstrong) is making and if I were the baby bells I would be scared to. They want to milk as much money as they can and cable modems threaten them. In the past the cable modems were not implemented because the companies didn't have enough money to make a real go of it. Plus they had monopolies and cable was/is just a cash cow to them. I try to get my cable company on the phone and they never answer, yet when I move to a new apartment they are real quick to respond... Hmmm.

    Anyway, I say if it's going to lower the cost of communications let ATT go for it. What we need to be focusing on is getting more right of way access for other companies and not allowing counties and city planners to only allow 1 phone company, and 1 cable company access your house.

    Open up the right of ways and give att competition. Rather than using the same lines as ATT does and thus limiting the infrastructure. Frankly, give me DSL, OC3, Cablemodems, satellite TV, Wireless, microwave. All these techs are available and if I don't like ATT's service and I have to pay $5 a month more for a wireless system fine. That is what competition is about.

    This really comes down to the baby bells getting scared someone will compete for local phone service and data connections so that they cannot milk their customers. AOL has a different problem with ATT and the ISP, but that is beyond this article, though I don't believe they have any better justification than the bells.

    My point is that these people want to protect their turf or get a free ride on the back of ATT. ATT when it bought the cable companies paid approx $4000 for each customer these companies had. That's a lot of money. They intend to spend billions upgrading the network and frankly I think they will do it, but if they are forced to allow access to other companies at a fraction of the cost it took to upgrade the network ATT won't be able to justify the expense. Hense no cable modems therefore the baby bells retain their stranglehold over data communications and they can keep ripping me off!

    Not that I have an opinion on this or anything.

    Grin

    Lando
  • A democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on dinner.

    A republic is a flock of sheep voting on which wolves decide on dinner.

    A Constitutional (the US Constitution) Republic is where dinner isnt voted on, and the sheep have guns.

  • I see libertarianism as a means of allowing corporations to control the public instead of the government - and we won;t get a vote in that aspect. I know that's not the intentions, but I think it will be the resulting effect.

    We actually would end up with:
    • Voting with consumer $$$
    • Voting with common-stock shares
    • Voting with feet


    I don't think we should surrender our system to big business, because they don't even have to pay lip-service towards the goals of improving the lives of citizenry: the avowed goal of modern corporations is to maximize shareholder value. Not to improve the lives of corporate employees, not to improve the character of the nations in which the corporation does business, but to (and let me emphasize this again) maximize shareholder value. Not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but certainly not the way I want my government to behave..

    Your Working Boy,
  • by itachi ( 33131 ) <mwegner@cs.oberl ... RGedu minus poet> on Thursday November 11, 1999 @06:34AM (#1542697)
    Businesses such as telco, gas, electric, etc are called natural monopolies, because it is inefficient and stupid for competing firms to lay redundant power/gas/telco lines through an area. Think about it - five different gas pipelines running under a given street, all maintained by different people. One day, there's a leak. You call all five, and they each say there's no trouble on their line, must be the other utility. Or phone poles with lines for all 43 local telcos? The way that natural monopolies are dealt with in free market economies is heavy govt. regulations or govt ownership. Look at your local utility companies, if you live in such a nation. The only way around natural monoploies that makes sense is requiring companies to lease out infrastructure for a fair price. So let's get some examples:
    *Montgomery County, MD gas utility - (DC suburbs) gas is provided by one utility. There is no competition. However, the local govt. has pricing and quality of service restrictions on the utility to ensure that the monopoly power that they have granted the utility isn't abused.
    *Cell Phones - Cell companies build cell infrastructure, and that isn't a natural monopoly. However, most local telcos are, so when you make a call on a cell phone to a local landline, what's happening is that the cell co. uses up some bandwidth that it has leased from the local telco. (this is assuming that the local telco is a natural monopoly)
    *Long distance telco - no monoplies anymore, but the flexible infrastructure is very important and used in the same manner. Joe Bob and Peggy Sue start their lond distance service, but have no infrastructure. They lease a portion of some AT&T lines. AT&T wants to oversubscribe the lines, so it's in their interest, Joe Bob and Peggy Sue get some infrastructure space, and there's another long distance provider trying to bring lower prices to the market than its competition.

    The reason these professors are rightly concerned is very clear. I would suggest that anyone who doesn't get their point should re-read the article, the whole way through. If one company controls the infrastructure, has no competiton, and goes unregulated, the consumer gets screwed. The FCC should NEVER hand a firm unregulated monoploy power. Would anyone here suggest that MS should have been handed its monoploy power by an agency of the federal govt?

    itachi
  • by itachi ( 33131 )
    There is a difference between stupid, un-needed regulation that screws with the way the market works and regulation that prevents a compnay from becoming a natural monopoly. The authors are suggesting that the FCC maintain competition and nothing more.


    itachi

  • Actually, since they get to lay a big chunck of this cable under emininent domain, I believe the tax-payers have every right to set some ground rules. What right does ATT or any other utility have to clutter up my skyline with their ugly poles? Seems fair to me. ATT gets to use "public property", that is, easements taken under eminent domain, and maintained at taxpayer expense, for a non-monopoly share of infrastructure running open standards. Why is this so difficult to understand?

    If ATT wants to use a private property argument, they should purchase all their own easements.
  • Cable companies do not have monopolies in most areas today.

    Not in Westchester, NY.. We suffer under the pricing yoke of Cablevision (and only Cablevision) ever since they bought out TCI's franchise in our area. IIRC NYC has some kind of thing where cable companies don't cross into each other's territory.

    Cable companies have competition in all areas. Look at the millions of DBS dishes sold recently. Once the (gov't imposed) restrictions on carrying local channels is lift, I expect that market to explode.

    The legislation to permit DBS providers to carry local stations was passed in the house in the anti-cybersquatting bill.. The senate may ratify it this week (before going on break until January) and pass it up to the Prez quite quickly..

    Don't forget that there are lots of lobbyists for both the DBS and Cable (and Telco, and Tobacco, and Automakers, and $oftware, etc. etc.) who sway representatives on many issues which are unfriendly to driving costs for consumers down.

    If we consumers could get our head out of our ass and find or form some non-partisan group whose only mission was to drive down prices for consumers, and use that to combat profiteering interests.. Or hell, if we could bother to get off our ass and vote.. Or if we could pressure our parties to nominate people who weren't complete chowderheads...

    You can do one of two things: work within the system to improve it, or smash the system and build a new one. I happen to think that (based on my knowledge of the founding documents of this nation) this system is fundamentally oriented towards good, so rather than smash the system it would pay to 'overhaul' it.. But none of this will happen if instead of reading the newspaper and giving a shit, you just sit there fragging demons in Quake or watching Ally McBeal... Whatever your political and/or personal persuasion, please whatever you do, don't be another 'ignorant American' statistic...

    Your Working Boy,
  • This whole argument is nothing but a big vat of doo-doo.

    If I don't want to buy broadband internet access from AT&T/Media One, there is always my local RBOC, Bell South, who will happily sell me a DSL, wireless cable television, wireless telephones, whatever.

    The brief states that Lessig &is/was on GTE and Bell Atlantic's payroll to argue against the merger, so exactly how unbiased is he?

    The fact is that high-speed, always on internet technology marginalizes or completely eliminates the value provided by today's dialup ISPs. Of course they will cry "foul!" and try to get the government to protect their business. But it's a whole new world; dialup-style ISPs will become obsolete just like electric refrigeration made the icebox obsolete.


    there are 3 kinds of people:
    * those who can count

  • OK...and what's your point?

    That's the risk that AT&T takes as the implementor of a technology as opposed to a purchaser of the technology. Any new technology has that risk. Cable companies should charge for the cable modem access service in a way that's a good solid business plan...ie, in a way that will make them a profit in the future. I haven't heard anyone demand broadband access at a discounted rate even (certainly the ISP that I work for isn't asking for that) only for a level playing field, and no tieing of the broadband access infrastructure to a specific ISP. Nothing more.

    Jeff
  • So might does make right, but only when the majority doesn't agree with you?

    (Great example, using lynch mobs to futher the notion of "mob rule", as if a lynch mob constitutes a majority in a democratic election.)
  • Remember for a moment, too, that government regulation has more than once produced not competition, but monopoly. AT&T, the railroads, local utilities, cable TV.

    The whole broadband market is so in its infancy that it's way too early to stifle this. If AT&T becomes enough of a threat to the architecture of the net, then dump the cable modem and buy DSL.

    -cwk

  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @07:22AM (#1542707)
    Robin Hood wrote:
    Say MediaOne starts blocking the ports used for IP telephony -- after all, that's a direct competitor to AT&T's primary business. Suddenly, millions of MediaOne customers are forced either to switch to another ISP or give up using IP telephony. And if they switch to another ISP, they're still paying for MediaOne! Don't want to pay for MediaOne? Sorry -- it comes with your DSL connection; if you don't want MediaOne, you're going to have to find another DSL service.

    Much more to the point, you still have port 119 blocked. Your access to YAISP is through MediaOne, not around them. Their Terms of Service still apply, and so does their firewalling of port 119.

    This isn't hypothetical; I tried to get Cox/@Home to connect me, and was even willing to pay extra for access to my old ISP. No such luck; their TOS forbids having any servers attached and I use NFS for the home machinery.
  • Paul Carver writes:
    If there were a legal way out of this contract AT&T would gladly let other ISPs deliver service over their cable lines since more content leads to more demand. AT&T markets phone service in partnership with a variety of other companies and organizations and would be glad to have dozens or even hundreds of special interest ISPs doing targeted marketing and paying AT&T for the infrastructure.

    Help me here. If AT&T is so unhappy to be bound by the MediaOne contract, howcome they're fighting so hard against regulations that would free them from it? After all, contractual obligations are always subordinated and superceded by legislative and regulatory ones.
  • > then the government built the roads,
    and where do you think the government got the funds to PAY for the roads?
    A. Gas taxes and tolls? Who pays those? The people USING the roads pay for the roads.


    > so they make the rules. If you want to drive them, you follow them - you drive the speed limit, get a license plate, etc

    Look, I travel
    i) WITHOUT a driver's license, and
    ii) WITHOUT my car being registered by the government / state (hence no state license plate.)
    and I have
    a) never got a ticket for driving without a license, or
    b) been given a ticket for speeding.

    How come?

    Because I'm exercising my Right To Travel.
    http://teaminfinity.com/~ralph/dl.html
    http://www.lvdi.net/~willys/travel.htm
    http://www.ironsoft.com/lp/driving.html
    http://aero.net/silver/Driving.htm

    I have an Internationals Drivers Permit. Also, the state does NOT have the Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin for my car, so I am completely out of their jurisidiciton.

    http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/4417 /vehiclecertorig.html

    You might want to check FACTS before spreading FUD.

    Cheers
  • Otto asked:
    Provide me an address and a way to look up other addresses. I'm happy then. Unless there's something else I don't know about (which is probably true).

    If you want NNTP, you're going to need an NNTP host. If you want DNS, you need a DNS service. Most small nodes benefit from SMTP hosting on redundant server farms; it's more reliable. Even large companies with fat pipes and server farms of their own are finding it beneficial to use external webhosting services. Hey, even NTP is best run with some structure.

    The list goes on. Are these necessary services? Some, yes. Other, maybe. Many, probably not. So shop around. The diversity of Internet Service providers allows the market to sort these issues out rather than having them decided by one suit in New Jersey.
  • Your logic here is schizophrenic. Cable being lame is not the case because it's so heavily regulated by the government, it's lame because CABLE COMPANIES HAVE MONOPOLIES ON CABLE SERVICE IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES!!! If anything, there should be a refocus of regulation to emphasize competition and common-access to cable infrastructure. Eminent domain it if all else fails.. Why do cable companies have local monopolies? Because local governments GAVE them those monopolies. Whenever the government is dealing with a government-established monopoly, the usual rule that the government should keep its hands off doesn't apply. The best answer to the problems caused by cable monopolies is to outlaw exclusive franchises. However, because exclusive franchises already exist, the transition towards a competitive system needs to be guided by the government at some level, with regulation to insure that the monopoly isn't used as an unfair competitive advantage elsewhere. The best solution would be to allow AT&T/MediaOne to provide bundled cable-modem and ISP service only where there is real competition between cable companies, and forbid them from bundling the service where they have a monopoly or exclusive franchise. Let AT&T/MediaOne decide whether keeping their exclusive franchises is more important than being able to offer broadband internet.
  • There's a misconception that the internet has grown without regulation. True there is very little as far as direct regulation is concerned, but there is a great deal of underlying regulation. There are regulations that force local phone companies to sell ISP services in the first place without discrimination. Long distance carriers must haul the traffic because they are regulated. Most telco pricing is fixed by regulation. The "free" access we all enjoy to this and other nation's telephone networks is the result of a big pile of gov't regulation. It's the commerce regulations, as mentioned in the brief, that make commerce possible between the various states. It's regulation that allows us to buy and sell from other countries. Even though there isn't any "apparent" regulation to the internet, we all live and die buy regulations. What we have to praise/condemn now is more gov't regulation. Will the FCC go ahead and allow the merger? Will they deny it? Whichever the case, it's gov't regulation. What we depend on here is gov't regulation that makes competition possible. This is exactly what the DOJ vs. Monopolysoft case is all about, regulations that insure competition.

  • The Internet should have a simple regulation from the FCC which says that network A is required to peer with network B no more than "x" months after network B requests peering. And peering is meant as to be "directly connected" in a way which will allow allow packet delivery from either network to any host on the peered network. (with some mention of bandwidth parity)

    Therefore, you could be a small ISP and want to wire your town with fiber optic line. The local ISPs would have to "peer" with you to allow you to connect with all of their customers without cost. If a so called "transit" network provider like AT&T wants to get involved at the local level, then they pay the price of having to allow all the local ISPs direct access to all of AT&Ts customers without getting any cash in return from the local ISPs for the used bandwidth.

    As I recall, open peering was one of the founding principals of the Internet and it only makes sense for that principal to be codified somehow.

    Let's not return to the days when it was illegal to plug your own phone into AT&T's network.

  • In their paper, they refer to @Home's ``acceptable-use'' policy [home.com], which you would do well to read carefully before you decide that ATT+M1 will sell you ``an IP Address. That's it.'' They call out numerous things you can't do over their connection (set up a Web server, sell access to 3rd parties, etc. Hell, they even tell you you've got to authenticate anyone who connects to you:

    For example, you must take appropriate precautions to prevent minors from receiving inappropriate content.
    )

    But the beauty part is that, with ATT+M1's proposal, you get no choice. ``Connect to the internet over our cable---sure, but you go through our ISP. Don't like it? Then keep dialing.''

    In fact, IIRC, ATT+M1 said a few months ago that if they couldn't bundle, they wouldn't even try to merge. I wonder why? Could it be that they forsee money in forcing an ISP down peoples throats? Nahhh, couldn't be....

  • I recently had TCI digital cable installed in my home. Cable modems are not yet available in my area, and I have gone with DSL access from my local telco. In speaking with the TCI tech that came to my house. He has already been to training for installing AT&T telephone service over TCI cable.

    Currently, all local telcos are required to provide access to CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers; Correct me if I am wrong, but the basic idea is other telcos.) over their circuits for a fee. So that, if I am in a SWBT region I should be able to get GTE services over the same wire if I was so inclined.

    Once AT&T starts offering phone service over cable, won't they be held to the same standards as the regular carriers? Why should internet access be any different? ISPs should be able to pay a fee to AT&T/TCI to have access to their wires so consumers can have a choice like I do with DSL.

    In the Dallas area, I have heard the argument that it is a technical issue. The way cable works, being a shared access medium, prevents them from splitting up their network for different access providers. The problems with the CLECs is that different companies have to share their pools of telephone numbers, which they were not originally set up to do. IP addresses could be shared in similar ways between AT&T, and a local ISP. I don't even think they would have to do anything as complicated as that, just provide PVCs over ATM into the neighborhood. In Dallas, they have fiber going to each "block" of people, and when it gets over 90 they split it up again. At most there would be 90 or so PVCs on the edge switch to the block. It sounds like a problem that needs to be solved, and I would be glad to do it for a fee. I wouldn't even charge them the hundreds of millions of dollars they think it would cost.

    Hey ATT! want a bargain on fixing your network?

    I would rather have an option to get a line and IP addresses (and maybe some large DNS servers in relatively close proximity) without paying for all the other fluff that ISPs provide. Unfortunalty, that isn't an option I have been able to find. I know it wouldn't be suitable for everyone, but I think some of us could handle it and would enjoy the cost savings.
    • Look, I travel WITHOUT a driver's license...

      I have an Internationals Drivers Permit.

      You might want to check FACTS...

    Yes, there are facts that are unclear to some people here. Guess who those people are? Or person. Sheesh.
  • How does AOL paying ATT give more risk to ATT? Either ATT does it all, and takes all the risk, or they take money from AOL, and have exactly the same risk -- but at reduced cost. How is this a problem, exactly?

    How does AOL drop out nad make the risk bigger than if AOL had never dropped in at all?

    --
  • Suppose ATT charges $40/month for combined access. Suppose the split into wire and ISP is $20 + $20, or $10 + $30, or $30 + $10. It doesn't matter. Unless they are gouging you on the ISP cost (ATT? Never!), when you don't go thru them but use any old ISP instead, there's 5MB of disk, email storage, DNS, etc that ATT no longer has to maintain. Someone else does, and that's who you pay instead of ATT.

    Where exactly is the theft here? What exactly is the problem with this scenario?

    Like the judge in Portland said, ATT is either a cable company, in which case regulation is what the FCC has ordered, or they are a telecommunications company, in which case the FCC and state PUCs have said stop bundling and open up. You and ATT can't have it both ways.

    --
  • On the topic of blocking ports, has anyone else on @Home's network noticed that outbound connections on port 139 (used for windows networking) are being blocked? Inbound connections on port 139 work fine, but outbound packets on port 139 are dropped.

    One thing I've noticed, which I think coincides with blocking port 139, is that the performance of my @Home connection has been significantly better for the last two weeks or so.

    Has anyone else noticed this, or is it only happening in Portland (where they are being asked to open their networks, hmmm....).
  • 23.

    End-to-end design does not only promote innovation by creating the opportunity
    for innovators to offer services to the network. In our view, the effect comes as well from the
    expectation that innovation will not be countered by strategic actors who might control the flow
    of commerce. The potential of an actor in the distributional network to act strategically is a cost
    to innovation. The expectation that an actor can act strategically is an expected cost to
    innovation. Thus to the extent an actor is structurally capable of acting strategically, the rational
    innovator will reckon that capacity as a cost of innovation. Compromising End-to-End will, then,
    tend to undermine innovation.[emphasis added]


    Overall I found this brief to be clear and understandable, but I can't make sense of third sentence on in the above paragraph. Anyone care to translate?

    --
  • DSL works well with competitive ISP's because the ISP can either colocate equipment in the CO to service the loop directly or pay the phone company to service the loop and feed a frame relay or other digital link to the ISP. In either case the IP address for the end user comes from the ISP's pool and the phone company is only responsible for maintaining the hardware and virtual circuit. Since the DSL loop is dedicated, the ISP can reserve enough bandwidth to service it's customer at the maximum rate, regardless of the activities of other subscribers hosted by the phone company. (That's not to say that ISP's actually reserve this bandwidth, but they could).

    In the case of a cable loop, all the subscribers are effectively sharing an ethernet segment. An individual subscriber does not get dedicated bandwidth and gets his IP address from the cable provider. While clearly you could have competitive services such as mail, web, news, and DNS servers without much trouble, it would seem to be difficult to offer competitive ISP service on equitable terms when a number of subscribers share the same local loop. I'd be interested in learning more about how those who propose opening cable (a good idea, all else being equal) plan to do so.
    --
  • This is the same guy that believes the government should regulate the internet becasue private groups and people cannot.
  • In the Dallas area, I have heard the argument that it is a technical issue. The way cable works, being a shared access medium, prevents them from splitting up their network for different access providers. The problems with the CLECs is that different companies have to share their pools of telephone numbers, which they were not originally set up to do. IP addresses could be shared in similar ways between AT&T, and a local ISP. I don't even think they would have to do anything as complicated as that, just provide PVCs over ATM into the neighborhood.

    This is exactly how it COULD be done to support more than one ISP on the cable TV network. Or different IP addresses could be assigned to different customers of the competing ISPs, via DHCP.

    Some of the very first cable modem products on the market (LanCity, back in '94-'96) were specifically designed to support multiple ISPs on a single CATV network! In their network subscriber management application for the CATV company, they had database entries for which ISP a customer was subscribed to. The CATV provider could define multiple ISPs, and assign new customers to any of them. LanCity had the notion that the local CATV company would only supply point-to-point transport services (for a fee) and then a seperate ISP would provide Internet connectivity, bandwidth, tech support, and so on. Not to say that the CATV company couldn't have a subsidary or a sister company that was also an ISP...

    There are no technical reasons why open and competing access can't work on cable networks. When I was involved in some cable modem deployment work 4 years ago, this was technicially possible even then, when the cable modems were mostly based on ethernet and MAC layer protocols (VLANs were possible). Today, it seems that a lot of the systems are PVC or SVC based using ATM to a head-end switch. Should be even easier to keep traffic seperated between providers and customers.

  • Sure, here you go. 1 IP address. What, you want more than
    1 IP address? Well, it's going to cost you.

    Go ahead, run sendmail. Oh, by the way, we blocked port
    25, so it probably won't work so well. But you can use our
    POP servers for a nominal fee.

    Your underlying assumption here is that with your IP
    address(s), you get unrestricted use of your connection
    bandwith. If that lack of restriction isn't regulated, then
    your connection provider can block out all services which
    they provide alternatives for, or provide for additional
    fees.

    Competition? Yeah, right. I live in the middle of silicon
    valley, and even here many houses are too far away from
    their central office to get DSL. Additional broadband
    services are popping up, but no company is going to
    limit themselves to being just a bandwidth provider unless
    they're forced to. There's too much money in "optional"
    services.
  • The lawsuit alleges that the defendants have harmed more than 500,000 consumers by depriving them of the right to choose their high-speed ISPs...

    You have a right to buy or not buy the damned service. GOD!

    Extortion is extortion, whether the people doing it have big pinkie rings or law degrees.

    -cwk.

  • The US is not completetely socialist,
    By the same token we're not completely capitalist either. Otherwise how do you explain social security, environmental regulations, zoning requirements, or anti-trust restrictions. The laws of this country state that you can't use a monopoly in restraint of trade. In practice this means that most companies seeking monopolies are acting in an illegal manner. In the case of cable companies, they have a natural monopoly (it is impractical to have too many wires to the home), and in exchange for their monopoly powers, they exist under regulations.

    As we have seen with the "deregulation" (really just different regulation) of long distance and local telephone operations, the society gets the most benefit when businesses are allowed to compete in a free-market capitalist manner on every piece of the network other than the small piece that is a natural monopoly.
    --
  • Local governments set up monopoly cable franchises. The theory was that in exchange for a monopoly local franchise, cable companies would charge reasonable rates. Of course, we all know what really happened, cable companies filled up required channels with the cheapest programming, and rates were high anyway. Most areas with cable competition have lower cable rates than monopoly franchise areas. A closer look typically reveals that these monopoly franchises are often granted with various kickbacks to the local governments (certain people's cousins getting parts of the franchise, etc.) Instead of creating new open access regulations, I suggest that the FCC make the granting and re-issuing monopoly cable franchises illegal. Open up the ability to put infrastructure in place.
  • There are no such things as natural monopolies. There are only such things as government bureaucrats giving fat cats monopoly powers.


    Every time a "natural monopoly" has been broken up, it has ended up that a competitive marketplace is far better for the consumer. Cable competition is the shining star example.


    There was a time when there were many local power companies and many local phone companies. They were forced out of business by government, they did not end "naturally".

  • Actually, cable companies rent pole space from the local power company. Anyone can do it for a few dollars per year per pole. However don't try to offer cable television service without a local franchise.


    There is talk of setting up a local "phone company" here in Laurel that would deliver phone, television, and Internet over fiber to home. The technology is not tough, the regulations are.

  • No, the market does nothing to monoploies. It can't, because by definition, a monopoly has monopoly power. By definition, monopoly power keeps a firm in a dominant role by way of the machanisms of the market. If a firm naturally loses dominance of the market, it wasn't a monopoly. Monopoly power includes the high cost of entry, making it prohibitive for other firms to enter the market, and the ability to dump goods below cost to drive other firms out of the market.
    You mention that quality of service and price can only be determined by the market. This is true, after a fashion. However, in a monopoly situation, QOS falls, price rises, and quantity available falls. In a natural monoploy, the govt. assigns quotas to prevent the firm from exercising it's monopoly power. Again, look at local utilities. Call up your gas co. and ask them if they set the rates completely independantly, or if there are locl govt. regulations on rates.
    You are correct about telcos, they are not as much of a natural monoploy anymore. I should have been more specific - local landlines are a natural monopoly. Now you can choose to go all cellular if you don't like the local landline provider, however, the cost of cellular does still restrict who can consume that market - local landlines are still much cheaper, at least in the US.
    Finally, it is expected that the govt should hand off some monopolies - they have few other reasonable choices when it comes to natural monopolies. This is where regulation comes into play. One of the solutions that the authors imply is that AT&T should only be allowed to combine ISP and infrastructure and build this monopoly if they are regulated by the govt. until they are willing to open the infrastructure to other ISPs. This is exactly what i was arguing in my previous post, and it seems to be what you are looking for.


    itachi

    as always, feel free to email me and tell me I'm wrong...
  • Provide some examples. Again, it is a far more efficient use of resources for there to be a single natural monopoly, or at the very least, a single owner of infrastructure that leases use of the infrastructure to it's competition, but that requires govt. regulations. So we get back to the situation we are at today. I would maintain that there are situations where it really is a natural monopoly. Look at gas utilities. How feasible is it for one utility to build infrastructure for gas feed and then share it with others?


    itachi
  • How the heck do you get right-wing militia types out of a post on travelling?

    I want nothing to do with guns, and don't own one.

    Unfortunately that doesn't stop the criminals. But I digress.

    Its considered bad nettiqute to attack a person, and not the discussion, which I see you didn't even attempt. I'm awaiting a civil and intelligent discussion.

    Cheers
  • A Driver's License is ONLY valid in the place it is issued. An International Drivers Permit is NOT valid in the place it is issued.

    They are NOT the same thing !

    Here, I'll include the text on the back of my IDP for you, since you seem to be confused.

    "Convention on Internation Road Traffic of 19 September, 1949

    This Permit is issued under International Law and the Law of Nations. By signing this Permit, Holder described herein, Certifies that He/She has all the necessary skills to safely operate a motorized conveyance as required by law.

    This Permit may be presented in over 200 contracting and independent countries. Some countries may require a special registration fee be paid in addition to the possession of this Permit. Consistent with international regulations, this Permit is Not valid in the country of issue."

    Like I said, check your FACTS.

    Cheers
  • I don't fear AT&T, Sprint or Cisco. If they decide to do a certain thing, the consumer can always tell them to shove it and move on to something else.

    Such as? What if the "something else" tells you "sorry, initial costs are too high compared to market potential, unless you want to pay me $2000 a month for your access. Go to Sprint."? At some point you run out of 'something else'.

    Then you realize: Free market is just a theory, it has a lots of holes in it, and you either decide you can do without the monopoly goods you wanted, or pay the requested price.

  • Re the "payroll" claim, that is just false. The brief expressly states neither Lemley nor I have been retained by any party in this matter.

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