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Net Neutrality or Not? 352

Posted by Zonk
from the hoping-for-alternate-history dept.
Reverse Gear writes "CNN has two commentaries about net neutrality with quite opposing viewpoints. Craig Newmark discusses how the legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would efficiently remove net neutrality, while Mike McCurry writes about how the big companies should pay their fair share for the physical upgrade of the internet. From Newmark's commentary: 'Telecommunication companies already control the pipes that carry the Internet into your home. Now they want control which sites you visit and how you experience them. They would provide privileged access for themselves and their preferred partners while charging other businesses for varying levels of service.'"
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Net Neutrality or Not?

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  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:47PM (#15514439)
    Google pays for the bandwidth it uses.

    I pay for the bandwidth I use.
    • by pjhenley (98045) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:58PM (#15514481)
      I think the problem (from the telco's point of view) is that Google is paying only one company for the bandwidth it uses. Wouldn't it be nice if they could all get a share by threatening to throttle Google's traffic on their networks? Not only that, you can squeeze out any small-time competition from the market by threatening to take away a big chunk of Google's users if they sign with a smaller company for bandwidth. Only why stop at Google, you could do it to anyone! Heck, maybe even political parties? (So, probably not but the telcos would love to do it anyways, I'm sure.)
      • by GigsVT (208848) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:00PM (#15514490) Journal
        Suppose I'm Google's ISP. I notice you start throttling traffic to Google. A have a very simple solution. No more peering for you. You deal with angry customers that can't get to Google.

        Nothing will come of this. It's all bullshit "what ifs". There's no such thing as a "good new law".
        • No "Good new law?" That clearly doesn't work. The Consistution is relatively new, and I think that one's pretty OK.

          Regulating companies that have any form of a monopoly (I literally have one choice for broadband) is not a bad thing. When the phone monopolies were granted it was under a condition of universal access. The government realized that a monopoly has no interest in reaching every consumer, the way competing companies do. Hence they made universal access a requirement of granting the monopoly. Here
          • by GigsVT (208848) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:14PM (#15514544) Journal
            Regulating companies that have any form of a monopoly (I literally have one choice for broadband) is not a bad thing.

            Agreed.

            When the phone monopolies were granted

            A mistake.

            The government realized that a monopoly has no interest in reaching every consumer,

            A consequence of that mistake.

            Hence they made universal access a requirement of granting the monopoly.

            A bad new law to band-aid over that mistake.

            Until we have total competition in all aspects of the network

            That won't happen. The last mile is a natural monopoly. I believe that localities should own last mile media. Any interested party should be able to rent use of said media.

            That will solve your "one choice for broadband" problem nicely. The only place there isn't competition is the last mile. People seem to be extrapolating their situation onto the Internet in general.

            I can tell you when you go shopping for a T1 or T3 or more, you get to choose from at least 10 ISPs. There's plenty of competition there.
            • by interiot (50685) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @11:25PM (#15514963) Homepage
              Well put. When roads need improvement, it's the local government that improves them, funded by local taxes. And FedEx and grocery chains deliver goods over the roads as efficiently as they can, because that's what capitalism motivates them to do.

              If we let companies own major local roads, they might try to put up roadblocks to charge FedEx and other wealthy companies extra money. And then local governments would have to pass laws that say "companies that own road infrastructure can't block competitors from driving around". But, as you said, that's really a band-aid. Having the ability to deny access or charge extra to individuals or corporations for really basic things like driving or communicating is a really big deal, and maybe it's better for local taxes to fund the development instead.

              • So what are you proposing? That all homes be connected into some city or county-owned peering networks and then allow vendors to peer with them or that your dry copper would go back to a central point and then ILECs or cable companies or CLECs could choose to patch that copper into their POP located there? I guess that would work fine and that's how Covad basically works by putting equipment at a telco CO, but rerunning all that cable to a new location would be astronomically expensive without firm commit
        • I notice you start throttling traffic to Google. A have a very simple solution. No more peering for you.

          WHAT?! And give up billing Amazon?! I think your CEO wants to have a word for you. Something about corporate socialism and how he deserves to get Amazon's money for free and he was counting on that for the new yacht he's already ordered.
      • Net Doublecharge (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday June 12, 2006 @01:13AM (#15515279) Homepage Journal
        Google's ISP pays the telco for the bandwidth the ISP uses.

        The Internet works. It pays for itself well, even better than centralized payments. Except if you're the telcos, and you have "unleveraged assets": legalized blackmail you bought in Congress and Mike McCurry's lobbying office. You could get paid not only by Google's ISP (or their ISP, etc), but also by Google itself, because you can cut them off anyway.

        The telco answer to the Net Neutrality that has created $HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS in wealth, connected BILLIONS of people worldwide, and has been THE ONLY REALLY GOOD NEW THING PEOPLE HAVE DONE FOR GENERATIONS is Net Doublecharge. Which will make telcos even richer than their current blackmail and bribery has. And will of course destroy exactly the innovation and investment the telcos and McCurry are whining about as if they wouldn't drown it in a bathtup the moment they thought they could sell its soggy corpse.
      • by golgotha007 (62687) on Monday June 12, 2006 @03:58AM (#15515555)
        You're exactly right.

        Personally, I don't mind if an ISP gives higher priority to say, voice packets over data ones. I don't mind if they give a higher priority to SSH sessions to reduce lag. Giving priority per packet type is certainly acceptable and Mike McCurry (from TFA) uses this as an arguement on his platform of promoting Net Neutrality (oddly enough). However, priority because of the name of the company providing the packet is a huge NO!

        Hasn't this already happened? The network infrastructure is the hardware and the apps running on top is the software. I remember when IBM laughed at Microsoft saying that the profits are in the hardware, not the software; and look how they were wrong.

        I think telco companies are finally starting to realize that the big bucks in the Internet game is not in the wire, but in the applications themselves.

        And they want a piece.
    • by balls199 (648142) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:08PM (#15514728) Homepage

      The whole "Hands off the internet" campaign tries to frame the issue as who should pay for the expansion of the internet, consumers or Amazon/Ebay/Google/etc.

      Where does Amazon/Ebay/Google/etc. get their money from? That's right, consumers.

      If Amazon and Ebay have to pay to reach consumers, then they will be forced to raise their prices. This, of course, means the consumers will still be paying for the expansion of the internet, only indirectly. The only problem with this is if Amazon and Ebay have to charge so much more to reach consumers, that it's cheaper for consumers to buy from brick and morter stores. Consumers may stop shoping online altogether, and Amazon and Ebay risk going out of business.

      Google is only sightly more complicated. Google gets it money from advertising, so it would have to charge more for ads. Any business that want's to continue advertising through Google, will have to charge more for their goods and services, and you have the same problem as above.

      The real question of who should pay for the expansion of the internet isn't between consumers and Amazon/Ebay/Google/etc, but consumers (directly) and consumers (indirectly). The answer to this question will determine whether internet innovation will continue as it has, or stop and the internet will become just another way to watch TV and Movies.

    • by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Monday June 12, 2006 @12:21AM (#15515141)
      As I see it, the real problem here is that ISP's bank on the fact that you'll use a lot less bandwidth than what you think you're paying for. The broadband connection to your house is (almost) always on, and if you wanted you could download stuff at a pretty decent clip 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Nobody really does that, though... most subscribers probably only use their connections for a few hours each day, and even then they probably don't get anywhere close to capacity. ISP's count on that behavior, which is one of the reasons that they usually prohibit running a server.

      That's really not the case so much for Google and other big content providers. They pay for a certain level of service and expect to use that much all the time, and they pay for a guarantee that they'll have it.

      Video and other services obviously mean that consumers are going to use a lot more bandwidth than they currently do. Content providers will pay for their end, but the consumer end of the system is still going to be swamped. ISP's will have to deliver the sort of bandwidth to consumers that consumers already think they're paying for. Raising consumer prices therefore means ISP's will have to confess their bait-and-switch ways, so that's not appealing. The only other option is to squeeze content providers.

      One wonders why the ISP's can't simply turn on some portion of the zillions of miles of dark fiber that's already in place. I'm sure there's hardware to be purchased and all, but upgrading networks this time around ought to be pretty inexpensive compared to previous upgrades. That cost seems like a small price to pay to cover up the fact that they've been overselling their networks for years.
  • by Rod, Hot (672270) * on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:53PM (#15514461)
    Of the two, Craig Newmark makes the better argument... however, neither explains how we have already PAID for the access to the sites we visit. However, the BEST argument I have seen so far is the ninja from "Ask a Ninja" http://www.askaninja.com/news/2006/05/11/ask-a-nin ja-special-delivery-4-net-neutrality [askaninja.com]
  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:53PM (#15514462)
    No offense, but I'm not going to shell out an extra $50 or so each month for some "gold package" that lets me talk to you guys and read the lefty political blogs.
  • Politics sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Umbral Blot (737704) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:54PM (#15514465) Homepage
    Removing net neutrality might make sense, if the telecoms weren't monopolies that is. If they weren't monopolies they would be competing with each other to provide the best service to the customer, and thus wouldn't want to charge content providers for bandwidth (possibly at all), since they would want their customers to desire their services, and they would only desire their services if they could access content. However as it stands the telecommunications companies are monopolies, so there is little motivation for them to provide the best service. As a monopoly they simply want to charge as much as the market will bear, and if Google is making money off ads clearly they can afford to pay more to the telecoms. The fact that laws doing away with net neutrality might be passed is sad evidence how much our politicians are in the pockets of big companies.
    • Re:Politics sucks (Score:3, Informative)

      by XorNand (517466) *
      I agree with your point, but one nitpick... A "monopoly" is a single company dominating an industry. An "oligopoly" is when a small number of companies have the share that same level of control. With the deregulation that occured in 1996 and resulting mass consolidation, things are rapidly becoming an oligopoly.
      • Yes, but every region has a monopoly, not an oligolopy. That is the problem. And the deregulation of '96, is not what created this. There was nothing wrong with the dereg. The real problem is that they do not go far enough. Basically, they should have de-monoplized at the regional level. If there is going to be a monopoly, it should be allowed at the CO to/from endpoint and only by a company that does not provide anything else (content, bandwidth, etc).
    • The solution is to break up monopolies, not enact laws that prevent businesses from entering into mutually beneficial contracts.
  • by porkUpine (623110) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:55PM (#15514468)
    If the telcos are so worried about big sites not paying their fair share, why don't they just raise bandwidth rates? This is a free market after all. If I were company X and ATT raised my bandwidth rates, I'd shop around... If i couldn't find a better rate, i'd be stuck... kinda like buying gas :)
    • The problem is asymmetric costs. Because it's an INTERnet, the traffic that I put on may pass over several networks before it gets to you. I only pay my provider, but may be impacting your provider.

      This sort of thing is supposed to be taken care of by peering agreements, based on the idea "If you carry my traffic, I'll carry yours." This only makes sense, though, when the two numbers are roughly equal -- ie I'm sending about as much to your network as you are to mine.

      With residential ISPs, this breaks do
      • You hit the nail on the head: This sort of thing is supposed to be taken care of by peering agreements.

        You are absolutely right. It is taken care by peering agreements. In the rest of the world. In the US the telco's killed the peering points 5-6 years ago to be replaced by private peering between the tier 1 cartels.

        An average EU national non-tier 1 ISP has 2-3 upstream transit connections and 30+ peers. An comparable US ISP has 2 upstream connections and that is it.

        Net Neutrality in the US is dead and has

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:55PM (#15514470)
    Mike McCurry writes about how the big companies should pay their fair share [CC] for the physical upgrade of the internet. From Newmark's commentary: 'Telecommunication companies already control the pipes that carry the Internet into your home. Now they want control which sites you visit and how you experience them. They would provide privileged access for themselves and their preferred partners while charging other businesses for varying levels of service.'"

    Maybe the government should sieze control over the main backbone and make the upkeep/upgrade no longer a responsibility of the major providers. ISP's would all compete for the last mile hookups/billing, allowing other companies in who don't already own part of the highway itself.

    They can try to earn more of their revenue from these supposed services they are going to bring in - if the services really are all that fantastic. If they really are cooking with gas, they should have no beef with a truly level playing field with Google. If I don't like the fact I can't get (competing service) as well with ISP Alpha because they're partnered with TVIP-X, I'll just drop them and move to ISP Beta since they treat everyone the same.
  • Fair share? (Score:4, Funny)

    by mortonda (5175) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:56PM (#15514474)
    Wow, I didn't realize Google got free bandwidth.
  • So what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GigsVT (208848)
    Telecomm providers always had the right to give you crappier service.

    If you wanted a T3 and didn't care how bottlenecked it was upstream you can buy it from a local ISP. If you want one that can max out to nearly any other site, you buy from a Tier 1 ISP.

    If the Tier 1 starts to offer you crappy service, you change to another one.

    If the Tier 1 ISPs collude to offer subpar service and fixed prices, then fix that with antitrust.

    As long as it's a free market, there's nothing to worry about. While you may only
    • I think you're missing what Net Neutrality is about.

      If a website owner's ISP starts offering bad service or starts demanding protection money^W^Wa premium access fee they can switch to innumerable other hosting services or ISPs. That's not the problem. The problem comes when ALL of the other backbones and ISPs start demanding protection money.

      If the local Mafia moves in on your shipping business, you can move to somewhere they aren't. The problem here is that all of the other Mafia families everywhere
  • So without net neutrality, a theoretical entity that owns big pipes and is against this greed could figure out which packets are being prioritized and which are being deprioritized on incoming pipes from other providers. Then on their pipes, swap the priorities.
    • That's an interesting concept. I wonder how long that would last though with big telco's lobbying abiliy?

      Incidentally, imagine if the VoIP packets origination from Comcast's service were to pass through AT&T's. Suddenly Comcast customers would feel how Vonage customers do. All's fair in love and telecommunications war.
  • Wait until symptoms manifest. We don't know how to effectively stop non-neutrality before it happens, and either way, we can't know what the side effects of our actions will be.

    It's just that we have to continually remind ourselves, the telcos, and Congress that certain pricing policies are blatantly unacceptable, in addition to the multitude of other issues that we track.
    • We don't know how to effectively stop non-neutrality before it happens,

      The first step is to develop a nomenclature that Joe Sixpack (read: your elected representative) will be able to understand is A Bad Thing (TM). Instead of calling it "non-neutrality," using evocative and descriptive phrases such as service discrimination or biased delivery or prejudicial routing might explain more clearly just what the telcos are up to.

  • Privileged access (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:02PM (#15514494)
    At a minimum the telcos should be forced to act as common carriers. That means everybody pays the same and gets the access they pay for. No playing favorites.

    The telcos could create whatever rate scheme they wanted but they would have to treat everyone equally. Actually, the telcos are currently common carriers. It would be necessary to pass legislation to make them otherwise.
  • OK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:02PM (#15514497)
    If they don't want Net Neutrality, let's take away their common carrier status! After all, if they're discriminating against content, that means that they're taking some responsibility for what content goes where. I can't wait for the first telecom VP who ends up on trial for aiding and abetting a child molester.
  • Vote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omeomi (675045) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:05PM (#15514503) Homepage
    The only way our government is going to stop screwing everybody in order to help out big business is if the one's who are responsible for this crap get voted out of office. Don't forget that in November.
    • Of the two major parties(the only two with a chance at really affecting things), could you please point me to the one that is not responsible for this? Thank you.
      • I say we all gather up and form our own party -- "The Slashdocrats". Whaddya' think? It has a nice ring to it. There's around a million of us (according to user ID numbers, throw in lurkers and take away international /.'ers), so if we each reach out to 30 people, that's 30 million, which is about 10% of the country. (295,734,134 total U.S. pop). If we make a strong case to each of those 30 million and then half of them go out and tell 5 more people, that's another 75 millions (plus the 30 million told
      • Re:Vote (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ezavada (91752) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:36PM (#15514619)
        Well, according to TFA this latest vote was pretty much along party lines, Republicans voting against net neutrality and Democrats voting for it.
      • Re:Vote (Score:4, Interesting)

        by omeomi (675045) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:51PM (#15514835) Homepage
        Who cares? Look up what your congressperson / senators voted for, and then vote accordingly in November.
  • With net neutrality, the users pay for access to the internet and the web sites pay for their bandwidth. That's how it should be.
  • the real issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by convolvatron (176505) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:06PM (#15514508)
    why is cell phone internet access in the US so terribly useless.
    its not just the low bandwidth and the tiny screen, its because
    its packaged as a delivery media for ringtones and crappy games.
    not just as a pipe.

    the value of the internet is that there isn't necessarily some
    marketing shmuck in tan slacks and a blue shirt sitting between
    me and what i want to do. its a free-for-all. if those people
    had been involved from the beginning it would have been worthless.

    do whatever you like. dont mess with my rfc 791.
    • " its because its packaged as a delivery media for ringtones and crappy games. not just as a pipe."

      Huh?

      All three of the cellular carriers I've used actually went out to the net. I've even posted on Slashdot with one of them. (Very short post, heh.) I haven't tried this with my latest provider, but I've also been able to use hand-set to get my laptop on the internet wirelessly.

      In all three cases, the phones were pre-configured with bookmarks etc taking me to their stores etc, but that's about the extent o
    • Re:the real issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:40PM (#15514631)
      You make a good point. Every time the big telecom corporations talk about offering tiered levels of service so that they can offer improved, lightning-fast content, what they are really saying is that they want to restrict the flow of the internet so that customers are drawn more to their commerical poopfest.

      They want to offer us fast connections to "partner" sites so that we can shell out 20 bucks for a drm-crippled movie download, or to another site where we can pay $19.95 a month to listen to streaming music.

      What the telecoms really want is control over the internet similar to the way in which cable t.v. is controlled: compartmentalized areas of advertising-infested crap. The internet as it exists today is too fragmented and open to easily hypnotize the consumers. The telecoms want to change that. They want control.

      A tiered internet would really suck donkey-balls, but in some ways I won't be disappointed if it happens. The internet seems to be becoming one big tool for citizen tracking and monitoring, both by the government and the corporations. Perhaps the glory days of the internet are over no matter what happens.
  • by Quixadhal (45024) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:07PM (#15514512) Homepage Journal
    I don't know why people are surprised by this. The internet has become the only effective free press that almost anyone on the planet can both read AND write to. As such, it's a constant thorn in the side of everyone who wants to control the flow of information. That means every government, every business, pretty much everyone who has soemthing to gain by focusing any segment of the public towards their own goals.

    The free ride is over. It was destined to be over the moment the internet was opened to commercial activity (1992?). It just took the pointy-haired types a few years to figure out why they needed to pay attention.
    • by Edward Scissorhands (665444) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:01PM (#15514712)
      Mod parent up.

      How come no one has any videos of the _television commercials_ that were playing on network news on election day 2000? Am I the only person who noticed that, on that night, defense companies like Lockheed Martin were running commercials with slogans like "Lockheed: Getting ready with the technology to fight the information warfare of the 21st Century."

      I think that there is a war on information. And we are the targets. Maybe it's time to fight back, eh?
  • by tokki (604363) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:09PM (#15514517)
    They talk a big talk about free markets, while at the same lobbying for legislation that makes it decidely unfree. The Internet right now allows for very little in the way of required capital to start up a business. If the Telcos get their way, they'll gladly raise that cost, even if it means an overall worse economy, even if it implodes the Internet as we know it, even if that impedes on the American dream (you know, work hard, build a business).

    To those that hate government intervention on principle, I'm not big on it either. However, in this situation, we'd end up worse off with the few network providers with an iron grip on who gets to see what. It's just a matter of who gets control.

    They've got more in common with Tony Soprano than any business visionary. "That's a nice website, it'd be a shame if no one saw it. Telcos and cable companies are tripping over each other on the way to congress and the courts to try to each other from entering their markets. They'r threated by civic minded citizens in townships sick of listening to telcos tell them how great the network connectivity they get will be, and how they're doing them favors, but they'll just have to wait a few more years to get fiber out there.

    It's a simple money grab, they see the cash Google and them make and they want to wet their beak. Right now the content providers have been outlobbied. They haven't been out-argued, just out-lobbied. Being a monopoly is great work if you can get it. You don't have to worry about competition, just the occasional complaints from the people that don't much like that they pay more.

  • Rotten either way (Score:2, Redundant)

    by petrus4 (213815)
    The government should have no say in what happens to the Internet, but big business shouldn't either.

    Commercialism has been nothing but a plague to the Internet...the only thing it has done is allow that segment of the population that are likely to render the rest of us extinct to discover one more thing to screw up, in their suicidal quest for the increased bottom line. Now, to top it off, we're having to rely on the utterly corrupt, craven, senile geriatrics of the American legislative branch to prevent t
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:11PM (#15514532)
    From the pro-NN article:
    "Think of the pipes and wires that you use to go online as a sidewalk. The question is whether the sidewalk should get a cut of the value of the conversations that you have as you walk along? The traditional telephone model has been that the telephone company doesn't get paid more if you have a particularly meaningful call -- they're just providing a neutral pipe."


    No, think of the pipes and wires that you use to go online as the car you pay for by renting. The question is, should the rental car actively resist the steering wheel when you pass by a burger king and instead redirect you to a McDonalds because McDonalds paid the rental car agency a bribe.

    God, I hate stupid f*ing metaphors. The thing is easy enough to understand, I can't believe how the debate gets convoluted by the other side: You are already paying for net access. Now your telecoms aren't quite satisfied with your payment and want to double dip by collecting on the other side of the pipe. The problem is, that as a consumer, this isn't what I paid for. I paid for internet access, not Verizon's Paying Friends network. This is fraudulent behavior against the consumer, plain and simple.

    In his anti-NN article, Mike McCurry, who obviously knows how the net should really work instead of how it current did for the last XX years wrote:
    Under their self-proclaimed banner of "neutrality," Google, eBay and other big online companies are lobbying for what amounts to a federal exemption from paying. Unfortunately, their thinly disguised effort at self-interest would dramatically shift the financial burden of paying for these upgrades onto the backs of ordinary consumers.


    Their thinly disguised self-interest happens to be my self-interest in this case too. Rather than your stance, which coincides as the thinly disguised self-interest of the bells.

    Oh, and no matter what, the consumers will pay for the upgrades. Let's not pretend that the corps will pay for it and not pass it down.
    • Whew, that was a close one. I wasn't sure how we were going to get a car analogy in here about net neutrality but you seem to have pulled it off. Slashdot thanks you.
    • No, think of the pipes and wires that you use to go online as the car you pay for by renting. The question is, should the rental car actively resist the steering wheel when you pass by a burger king and instead redirect you to a McDonalds because McDonalds paid the rental car agency a bribe.

      Or how about the metaphor of McDonalds charging you $10 for a big mac in the drive thru when they see you bought a new car or when you seem particularly hungry that day. Or the gas station charging $20 a gallon when the
    • >In his anti-NN article, Mike McCurry, who obviously knows how the net should really work instead of how it current did for the last XX years wrote:

      Under their self-proclaimed banner of "neutrality," Google, eBay and other big online companies are lobbying for what amounts to a federal exemption from paying. Unfortunately, their thinly disguised effort at self-interest would dramatically shift the financial burden of paying for these upgrades onto the backs of ordinary consum
  • But Slashdot found place for only one in the front-page summary. Am I the only one to sense bias?
    • theyre both there my friend, try clicking the links again
      • theyre both there my friend, try clicking the links again

        Only one — Craig Newmark's — was quoted in the front-page summary. For Mike McCurry's one does, indeed, have to "click the links". That was my point.

        (I'm not your friend.)

    • Don't fall into the american media delusion that in order to be fair and balanced, you must present both sides of every story. If there was a story about the government proposing to chop off baby heads and offer them as a sacrifice to satan, would it be necessary to present both sides of the debate?

      "Chopping off baby-heads? Why, that's insane!"
      or,
      "How do we know that offering baby-heads to satan won't solve all our problems?"

      Must we link and quote from both articles? And yes, handing the internet over to
  • by ichin4 (878990) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:14PM (#15514545)

    Like most slashdotters, I feel and instinctive affinity for net neutrality. And I think having a medium where all "content providers" are equal has been great plus, not only for internet culture, but also for the level of competition in internet commerce.

    Still, the tremendously increased investment that can be conjured up by the profit motive is nothing to be sneezed at. I was using the internet as a graduate student before there was a web, and I remeber the ruckus over the first advertisment that appeared on usenet. Like most usenet denizens of the time, I was appalled, and I thought that commercialization would destroy our beloved cooperative internet. Obviously, I was dead wrong. So having been proved wrong once, I'm not inclined to dismiss the power of the profit motive to provide us with an infrastructure capable of doing things we haven't even dreamed of yet.

    • Funny.

      Verizon has a fucking DSLAM installed in the local CO of my town, tells people via their online billing service that they qualify for DSL, yet they refuse to provide the service because they are trying to blackmail the Texas PUC.

      Explain that.
    • by Captain Lou (904174) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:46PM (#15514815)
      There is absolutely nothing stopping the telecoms from charging google and the like for their "Free" Bandwidth, meaning, if they feel that they are getting too smoking a deal, then by all means jack up their pricing on badnwidth to google and yahoo etc.

      this is allowed. Nobody is stopping them. If you believe that its a free market out there, then you must accept that the market will charge what the market will bear.

      Not enough money to upgrade the internet? RAISE THE RATES. Google Yahoo and other content providers getting a "Free ride"? RAISE THEIR RATES.

      Prioritising packets has nothign to do with protecting the bottom line. its totally uneccessary for the reasons they give. It is about being able to finely control every little packet you get, so you can be billed accordingly.

      Why give up the incredibly profitable Long Distance business model for the "flat rate" model of the internet, when you can convert the internet into another "long distance" service?

    • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @11:40PM (#15515018) Homepage Journal

      "Still, the tremendously increased investment that can be conjured up by the profit motive is nothing to be sneezed at."

      What tremendously increased investment are you referring to? The tremendously increased fees that content providers will have to pay to already bloated telcos for the 'privilege' of continuing to do business? The trememdously increased revenues that the telcos receive for sitting on their fat asses? Others have stated already that the only incentive present in this scenario is for them to reduce performance for customers of certain clients until the clients agree to their extortion. This is a shakedown, pure and simple.

      F*ck balance. There are two sides to this argument all right, but they are Right and Wrong. Extortion has always been wrong and always will be.

      HTH, HAND.

  • The Bells OVERSOLD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by a_greer2005 (863926) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:19PM (#15514557)
    The crunch that is being felt isnt because of sites like youtube, google or iTunes: It is the bells and cable COs that have been selling 3-6Mbps connections for years when they thought "no one could ever use that much" but those idiots forgot the golden rule of bandwidth, peope find new uses for bandwidth when they have more at their disposal!


    If the bells sold these connections knowing that they could not support them, they should be sued for fraud, they shouldnt be charging us MORE money to fix their fuck-up

  • McCurry... ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by illtron (722358) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:21PM (#15514564) Homepage Journal
    It's sad to see how much of a whore Mike McCurry has become.
  • And CNN is publishing industry press releases as news, but hey, what's new?

    Notice no disclosure that he's completely freaking paid for by the telecom industry, who do you think Public Strategies' clients are? And "Hands off the Internet"? That's an astro-turf campaign, noticed the crappy wanna-be underground looking propaganda that's been popping up on blog-ads, that's them. More info at DailyKos [dailykos.com].

    Editor's note: Mike McCurry is a partner at Public Strategies Washington Inc. where he provides strategic communications counsel. He is a co-chairman of Hands off the Internet, a coalition of telecommunication-related businesses. McCurry served as press secretary to President Bill Clinton from 1995 until 1998.

    More coverage by kos [dailykos.com], john marshall [talkingpointsmemo.com], la times [latimes.com], matt stoller [mydd.com].

    This is just like the telcos claims over open access. Every regional telco has been granted monopoly status for years, we the users paid for that infrastructure, and we'll use the same model in the future if need be. These claims of eminent domain are horseshit distractions. They were when they strangled and drowned the CLECs and they are now as they try to do to the Internet what the cell companies have done to wireless. I don't use my phone other than to talk, data services currently lack value over the cell networks in the existing price structure. They want to impose the same pricing structure possibilities on their segments of the Internet. Just like access to the copper, they want you to pay for what you've already paid for. Mike McCurry is getting paid to help these people steal from you; for this payment, he's trying to convince you that being stolen from is in your best interest.

    These assholes will kill the goose that laid the golden egg if allowed. Support Save the Internet [savetheinternet.com], don't let them do it.

    Stop them cause Mike McCurry is a Jeff Gannon-wannabe [google.com] manwhore.
  • telcos... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m874t232 (973431) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:34PM (#15514608)
    The big network providers already get to charge by bandwidth. If Google uses a lot of bandwidth, then they pay more to their own ISP, which, in turn, does the right kind of accounting with its peers. Right now, we have a mostly neutral system in which bandwidth is fungible.

    What rankles network service providers is that the current infrastructure doesn't give them much freedom to charge by what people are able to pay; that greatly reduces their opportunity for revenue. Telephone companies, for example, have been able to charge a premium to individual residential customers because individual residential customers don't have much ability to negotiate. While that premium may be small in absolute terms, it's huge in terms of percentages. The same is true for other customer categories. They also want to be able to continue to charge excessive rates for specific services, such as voice. With the proposed changes, network providers can implement that kind of differential pricing again.

    There is absolutely no justification for any of this; all it does is create market inefficiencies that make telecommunications services unnecessarily expensive. Both from an economic and a public policy point of view, net neutrality is clearly the better system.
  • corporate shill (Score:5, Informative)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:37PM (#15514621) Homepage
    according to savetheinternet.com [savetheinternet.com], Hands Off The Internet is an astroturf group set up by the telephone and cable companies, so Mike McCurry from the opposing viewpoint is just a corporate shill.
  • while Mike McCurry writes about how the big companies should pay their fair share for the physical upgrade of the internet.

    You mean, like, by paying for service, proper, which we already do? Hands off the internet, jackass.
  • The commentary against Net Neutrality is written by Mike McCurry, former whitehouse press secretary. So obviously everything he's saying is wrong and full of lies, right?
  • by waddgodd (34934) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:50PM (#15514663) Homepage Journal
    The proper response to tiering is a TCP/IP death penalty. Basically "if they tier, don't peer". If $FUCKTARDCORP wants to make a tiered intarweb, source-route around their asses. If they screw up the last mile, find another ISP. This is a battle that should be fought in routing protocols and markets, not in Crapitol Hell.
  • Common Carrier (Score:4, Informative)

    by Crashmarik (635988) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:56PM (#15514685)
    Currently ISP'S are Common Carriers. They recieve legal protection because of this. If they start blocking or regulating traffic they will put themselves into a defacto position where they have to police said traffic. If they are blocking traffic from websites that didnt cough up they will be in a position of liability for not blocking P2P traffic or emails between terrorists. The above being said what the heck was going on in congress ? Did the braincell they collectively timeshare have the day off when they passed this ? I mean my god lets say the phone company decided variable rate pricing was a good idea ahh youre a wealthy bank want to call your customers its going to cost you.
  • This is America, the land owned by corporations.

    The corporations will do whatever they can get away with to increase their profits, including pushing so called "net non-neutrality" upon an unsuspecting public. All they need to do is divert lots of money into the Halls of Congress to accomplish thier goals.

  • Strange isn't it? Mike McCurry goes from being a press secretary in the Clinton White House, to being a telecom industry mouthpiece. I wonder how much money they are paying McCurry to totally bend the facts to fit the telecommunications agenda? I didn't know he was such a sell out until that CNN piece.
  • by wayne (1579) <wayne@schlitt.net> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:01PM (#15514711) Homepage Journal
    Geoff Huston made a great presentation to the NANOG conference last fall called Won't Get.Fooled Again? [nanog.org].

    In it, Geoff points out that for a very long time, telecommunication companies were monopolies or in some cases oligopolies (a few companies controling the market). They owned everything from the handset on one end to the handset on the other end and any feature like "call waiting" or "answering machines" had to be bought from them.

    Depending on what part of the world you lived in, from the 70s to the 90s, these companies were forced to change from market monopolies to competative markets of differentiated goods. This is almost always a very rough transition to make and many companies, in any industry, often go bankrupt before they can make the structural, political, technical and cultural changes need to survive in such markets. The telecommunication industry is no different.

    While the telecommunication companies are still trying to deal with competing in a differentiated market, e.g. the 80's slogan from AT&T "they are making second class phones!", to the huge number of options on cell phones, Geoff points out that they are really facing an even harder transition. They are having to go from a competative market of differentiated goods to a market of commodities. Even companies that are used to competative markets have a hard time successfully transitioning to commoditiy markets, again, they require even more changes to the organization. People just want to push packets.

    Telecommunication companies thought they could create differentiated products like "video on demand" where everyone would get their TV, movies and music from the telecommunication companies. Instead, P2P systems have taken care of those needs, with the result of people not wanting huge downloads from a central company, but rather they will download from other "end users". But, even TV shows and Movies are just the tip of the iceberg. People are generating their own content and are bypassing the both the traditional media companies and the telecommuncation companies. They are creating pictures of their kids, and porn, They are creating blogs and small business websites. New features of the net are not added by the big companies under careful regulation, but spring forth from millions of places. The amount of data that is being passed around that has nothing to do with the big companies is mind boggling, and it is just going to get bigger.

    People don't want content from the ISPs, they want packets pushed around, and that means a commodity market for packet delivery. Telecommunication companies that can adapt to a commodity market will survive. Ones that can't will talk about how they need to charge people for their "enhanced content".

    • by Cheeze (12756) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:48PM (#15514823) Homepage
      A shining example of this is video on cell phones. Sure, sounds like a great idea in theory; get CNN or BBC on your phone while sitting on a train.

      In reality, at least in the USA, just about the only content available is movie trailers. Advertisements. So, you are supposed to pay to download (at unbelievable prices) an advertisement? Doesn't sound like much of a benefit to the early adopters.

      USA is just sitting around and waiting until a cell phone provider comes out with a cheap, reliable, "no extra charges" plan. They have them now, but it'll kill your pocketbook. They want to overcharge in just about every case. Wanna send an e-mail on your phone? Ok, that'll be $.10 per kB. Wanna send that picture you just snapped of your kids to grandma? Ok, that'll be $1.

      Come on. No one wants to pay for those services when they are already paying for the service.

    • Telecommunication companies thought they could create differentiated products like "video on demand" where everyone would get their TV, movies and music from the telecommunication companies. Instead, P2P systems have taken care of those needs, with the result of people not wanting huge downloads from a central company, but rather they will download from other "end users".

      Wrong - people DO want huge downloads from a central company, but they can't get that, so they're downloading from other end users instead. Things are slowly starting to change: now you can get some of the content you want, for a little more than you'd like to pay for it. In time, you'll be able to get more content for less money, but that's several years away (and remember, if Apple didn't have a monopoly position, they couldn't negotiate prices down as low as they are now - they had to fight pretty hard to keep songs at $0.99, and were only able to force the record companies to agree because the record companies can't afford to lose Apple's customers altogether).
      • Wrong - people DO want huge downloads from a central company,

        Ah, I didn't polish my post enough and make my point clear enough. Geoff Huston did a much better job in his presentation that I mentioned.

        The key word in the "a central company" is "a". Lots of different companies letting you download stuff pushes the telecommunication companies into the commodity market. The telecommunication companies hoped to be competing against other telecommunication companies for delivering their products from thei

  • by quantaman (517394) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:17PM (#15514756)
    Several conservative organizations have also spoken out on similar problems. And as a recent Forrester Research analysis concluded, if these regulations become law, "Legal costs will shoot through the roof -- draining the pockets of everyone involved." That may be great news for lawyers, but not for ordinary consumers who'll be forced to pick up the tab.

    I realize that usually more regulation == more legal costs but with net neutrality all it means is that providers can't discriminate based on the origin of the packet. Shouldn't enforcement be easy since there shouldn't be a lot of grey areas?

    But without net neutrality you now have the legal costs of all these contracts between the telcos and different websites, making sure those contracts are being properly enforced and that they don't cross the line into censoring sites (I assume those safegaurds exist) could lead to some massive legal costs.

    Does anyone know where these extra legal costs with net neutrality are supposed to come from?
  • by kuyaedz (921036) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:34PM (#15514793)
    We can still voice our opinion to the people that make these decisions. Check these out to find out how to contact your Senator.
    It's Our Net - Contact A Senator [congressweb.com]
    Save The Internet - Sign The Petition [freepress.net]
  • by mrshermanoaks (921067) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:37PM (#15514800)
    If net neutrality isn't legislated, then every cable and Bell customer is going to be staring at AOL circa 1999. AOL was a perfect example of: We know that what you really want to see are all these companies who have paid us for front-page access to your eyeballs. Want something else? Well, there is this crappy thing called "the internet" that you can try to browse if you can find it...
  • by Daniel Zappala (15756) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:50PM (#15514833)
    McCurry has this quote in his opinion piece:

    The Internet providers need to recoup their investments and one way is to charge a premium for managing bandwidth content differently. The need for this is self-evident: Data from a video or phone conversation has to be prioritized differently than data from a standard Web site access.


    If this was really about deploying QoS, I think there would be far fewer arguments. The technology for QoS is well defined, short of the mechanism needed to charge individual customers and distribute the revenue to ISPs. This is actually harder than one might think because your data for a QoS-enhanced video conference would usually traverse multiple ISPs. If the ISPs were serious about figuring out how to do this, and then giving customers a better video-call for a per-call charge, I think most of us would be happy for the extra service.

    Instead of going through the trouble setting this up, ISPs want to do something far easier -- filter based on the source or destination of a packet and put packets indiscriminately into a different queue based on who it is coming from or going to. Then they simply charge people who want to put large numbers of packets into the high priority queue, namely the large content providers. Of course, the resulting service might not be any better. To get priority service for all its users, a company like Google would have to pay all ISPs who play this game along all paths between it and any customer -- essentially all ISPs in the entire Internet.

    Even if an ISP is only interested in prioritizing its own traffic (to give itself a competitive advantage), it might not get very far. ISPs do not typically carry traffic end-to-end from user to user, so the priority they give their traffic may be wasted once the traffic gets to a competitor's ISP!

    I'm tempted to let the ISPs hang themselves on this one -- if large content providers refuse to pay, and the high priority queues stay empty, then what? They get blamed for artificially slowing down all Internet traffic? Not pretty.

    One scenario: In a competitive environment, rival ISPs (in the backbone) will end up fighting each other to offer the best possible price for the best possible non-tiered service, and those offering more expensive tiered service will end up losing their customers.
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:51PM (#15514836) Journal
    Don't get me wrong, I'm totally on the side of net neutrality and keeping the fucking telecoms from getting paid twice for selling the same bandwidth -- I just thing that, rhetorically, thumping the "keep net neutrality" meme over and over is going to confuse the issue. Because it's not really about keeping the net neutral -- it's much simpler than that.

    The problem is that companies like AT&T are claiming that Google is getting a "free ride" because Google's data goes over AT&T's pipes, but Google isn't explicitly paying AT&T. The problem with this argument is that AT&T's bandwidth IS getting paid for, just not by Google. And Google IS paying for bandwidth, it's just not paying AT&T for it. Google pays its ISP, that ISP pays another ISP, and so on along the chain, somewhere in which sits AT&T.

    AT&T gets paid; the problem is they want Google to not only pay its own ISP to send data into the Internet, AT&T also wants Google to pay AT&T to "insure that your data gets high-priority treatment." This is unnecessary and statements like McCurry's that claim it's important to ensure the future of the "creaky Internet" are horseshit.

    The mantra is this: The telecoms want to get paid twice for selling the same bandwidth. When someone wants to get paid twice for selling the same thing, that's usually called fraud in the real world. Ever seen "The Producers"?
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @11:50PM (#15515051) Homepage
    People who lie are going to hell, but people who get paid to lie, and lie knowing that they're lying, have a special place reserved for them in hell. Pity Mike McCurry.
  • Fear mongering. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Captain Scurvy (818996) on Monday June 12, 2006 @12:46AM (#15515208) Homepage
    This is the same sort of fear mongering that statists have always employed. "If service X is in private hands and under private control, there will be nothing to stop them from doing whatever they want with it! Therefore, it must be regulated!" Of course, they neglect to mention that if these "big greedy corporations" don't deliver a product that people actually want to pay for, they don't stay in business.
  • by Maul (83993) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:17AM (#15516345) Journal
    The costs that content providers will be passed off to the consumer in one way or another. I expect internet access from your ISP to remain relatively the same. A lot of people would simply stop using the internet if the cost was raised by even $20 a month for the average user. No, these charges will be passed on in other, creative ways that will hide them from the average consumer (who has no clue that this battle is even being fought right now, they're too busy watching Lost), or be presented to consumers in a way where they will be upset at the "content provider" rather than the telcos.

    - Do you play World of Warcraft or another MMO? Expect the monthly fee to double, since they will need to become a preferred provider to every major telco in order to keep their connection speeds fast enough. Otherwise, the game won't be playable for their customers.

    - Want to shop at Amazon.com or another online store? Expect there to be a non-trivial surcharge tacked on to every item so that the store can pay up.

    - Enoy reading online news? Be prepared to see four times as many ads or be forced to pay a few bucks for a subscription. The news providers will need the extra money to be preferred content providers.

    - And the fate of bloggers, small web comics, independent music artists, etc. that won't ever be able to generate the money to pay for being preferred providers? Expect the speeds their pages load to be about ten times slower than they are now.

    Oh, and when the telcos get to "upgrading the internet," expect to see the bill in your taxes. It'll likely be subsidized heavily by the government. That way the telcos can charge you even more for the "upgraded" internet they didn't even have to pay for in the first place.

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