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Is Net Neutrality Really Needed? 705

Posted by samzenpus
from the six-of-one-a-half-dozen-of-the-other dept.
darrad writes "An opinion piece over at the Wall Street Journal lays out an alternate theory on why we have new regulations from the FCC on Net Neutrality. There is a lot of talk about this subject, particularly among the tech sector. Most of the talk centers around preventing companies from charging more for traffic or black holing other traffic. However, the question should be asked, is granting control over the Internet to political appointees the way to go? Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"
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Is Net Neutrality Really Needed?

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  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:53PM (#34645138) Homepage

    We all know what we want: We want Comcast to be unable to charge Google extra for the service of letting customers access Youtube. But it's really hard to phrase this well enough and clearly enough that it lets network admins do the kinds of QoS and traffic shaping things they need to do in order to provide good service, or for that matter, block unwanted traffic entirely.

    I am not at all convinced that getting the government involved will improve my life.

    • by ubergeek65536 (862868) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:58PM (#34645206)

      But it's my job to say what type of traffic is unwanted. If I wanted to live in China I'd move there.
      It's difficult to decide who I trust less the government or big business; maybe that's because there isn't much difference between the two.

      • Real problem (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > maybe that's because there isn't much difference between the two.

        Especially in the Internet biz. For 99% of customers the choice is between a huge bloated government granted and regulated monopoly telco and the almost as bloated government grated and regulated cable company. Then there is a couple of wireless options here and there most of which are owned and operated by the monopoly telco and will never deliver enough bandwidth to matter.

        But the bigger problem with the FCC is the newspeak. Whenever

        • Especially in the Internet biz. For 99% of customers the choice is between a huge bloated government granted and regulated monopoly telco and the almost as bloated government grated and regulated cable company. Then there is a couple of wireless options here and there most of which are owned and operated by the monopoly telco and will never deliver enough bandwidth to matter.

          The whole issue of ISP regulation would (mostly) go away if there was a functioning marketplace for internet service. This was pretty much the case during the dial-up era, but the capital demands for high-speed service makes it difficult to get a true competitive marketplace.

          Maybe the solution is for a municipal utility to provide a fiber optic line from the residence to a C.O. It would then be up to the individual residents to contract with their preferred phone provider, TV provider and ISP for connection

          • History lesson time (Score:4, Informative)

            by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@bea u . org> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @08:33PM (#34647884)

            > This was pretty much the case during the dial-up era, but the capital
            > demands for high-speed service makes it difficult to get a true
            > competitive marketplace.

            As someone who was there, yes the capital demands ramped up with the move to 56K and DSL (Go lookup the price of a fully loaded Portmaster 3 in 1996/7 vs a Portmaster 2 and a sack of modems) but that wasn't what changed. In that era the telcos were mostly out of the picture, selling (raping) the ISPs for dialup lines on a even basis. Then they realized the Internet wasn't just a passing fad and got in bigtime at prices nobody could hope to compete with. The head of AT&T was on the tube saying things like "Yea we expect to lose money for five plus years but we can afford it." Small 'Mom & Pop' operations started dying left and right about then as the price for 'unlimited' dialup fell through the $19.95/month level and started toward $9.99/month. Those prices were lower than the cost of telco service to handle a customer and that wasn't even taking into account the leased circuit upstream, normal business costs, etc.

            But there were still big players capitalized well enough to stay in the game and the laws were on their side. Then Rep Tauzin (R-BellSouth) spearheaded the effort to gut the CLECs, the markets panicked, the equipment makers were left with worthless paper for the equipment they had been self financing to the CLECs and before anyone realized what was happening it had spread throughout the Internet and the .bomb was in full swing.

            > Maybe the solution is for a municipal utility to provide a
            > fiber optic line from the residence to a C.O.

            That is one way. A better way would be to revisit the AT&T breakup and this time do it right. A regulated monopoly with the part that is a natural monopoly, the physical plant comprising the CO and the wires/fibers/right of ways and the rest a totally unregulated entity who buys access to an equal footing with as many additional players wish to enter the market.

            • Great writeup. When the country goes from thousands of ISPs back to only the ILECs (Baby bells) it's not market consolidation, it's the baby bells acting like the monopoly they are. It got really bad when Bush took office and put Powell's kid in charge of the FCC. All the good things of the '96 telco reform were removed and big telco won the internet access war. We have all suffered since.

              Since I doubt we'll ever see a penny of the 300 billion we've already spent [newnetworks.com] for nationwide broadband, or the ILECs eve

      • No.

        We have to wait until the ISP's do something so egregious that there is a huge public uprising, and then Congress and the Senate can get together to prevent that specific thing.

        Then lather, rinse, and repeat.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:37PM (#34645850) Homepage Journal

          We have to wait until the ISP's do something so egregious that there is a huge public uprising

          By the time that happens, there won't be any going back. There will be fines all around which will be paid out of an increase in broadband prices.

        • We have to wait until the ISP's do something so egregious that there is a huge public uprising, and then Congress and the Senate can get together to prevent that specific thing.

          First, the Congress includes the House of Representatives and the Senate, so saying the Congress and the Senate can get together is incoherent.

          Second, the Congress already has granted the FCC regulatory authority with regard to promoting broadband access, promoting broadband competition, promoting telecommunication competition, providing terms that serve the public interest for licenses to fixed and mobile wireless broadband providers, and promoting competition in the video market.

    • by jwietelmann (1220240) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:04PM (#34645300)
      If they were willing to either A) deliver all of us the kind of bandwidth promised in their Unlimited*** plans, or B) charge by the megabyte instead of by the month, this should be moot. I paid for that bandwidth, and I'll use it as I see fit. If I need to prioritize my own traffic, I'll do so with my router. That way my streaming video doesn't interfere with my VOIP calls.

      But they're not talking about that, are they? They don't want my streaming video to interfere with their other customers' VOIP calls... which would seem to suggest that they don't actually have the capacity to deliver their Unlimited****** (up to) 10Mbps** that they sold to everyone in my neighborhood.

      We have this fundamental problem where these companies have oversold the bandwidth, and the only solution they're willing to consider is to invent rules that will give you less of what you paid for. Because any other solution would force them to abandon an already-misleading marketing gimmick.
      • by DubThree (1963844)
        I think you've nailed it. It pisses me off when I get poor quality on Netflix, but a speed test puts me at over 20 Mb/s. I'm thinking about switching from Comcast to a competitor because I know they're throttling Netflix. Let's let the free-market solve the problem.
        • by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:20PM (#34645550) Homepage Journal
          Good point, the free market can sort this out. I'll just dump comcast and sign up with my local dial up. That'll show them.

          In the mean time, what does a majority of the country do - since most of us do not have multiple options for broadband?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ubergeek65536 (862868)

          The free market is the problem. You trust Comcast to do the right thing? I've got a nice piece of swampland to sell you. Many people only have one available provider in their area, ie there is no choice.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:42PM (#34645934) Homepage Journal

          Let's let the free-market solve the problem.

          Why don't you ask Santa Claus to sort it out while you're at it. He's just as real.

      • Some of the plans sound like they want to bring back AOL, in essence--the walled garden of 'preferred' content, with, optionally, a pipe out to that "internet" place.

        Why we didn't use "you don't want AOL back, do you?" as an argument for net neutrality before completely escapes me.
      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:21PM (#34645562)

        They don't want my streaming video to interfere with their other customers' VOIP calls...

        That's not what's going to kill the Internet. That's a problem that's easily solved with QoS and prioritizing based on protocol. What they don't want - and will pretty much kill to prevent - is they don't want you to stream video content that competes with their video content. And since the Telcos all got smart and invested in content providers, it is trivial from a technical perspective to implement this.

        In China, the free Internet died because the government didn't want the users to watch Tiananmen videos. In the US, the free Internet will die because corporations don't want the users to watch content they're not getting paid for.

    • by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:09PM (#34645402)

      "block unwanted traffic entirely."

      If Comcrap defines Youtube and Hulu as "unwanted" because their video offerings conflict with Comcrap's crappy, underfilled, looks-like-crap streaming video and extortionately-priced cable tv "services", your statement makes no sense at all.

      And that's pretty much what Comcrap and TW have been setting up to do.

    • I completely agree with you. What does the government even know about a complex issue? This seems like it will only begin to hamper the innovation that is capable on the Internet without being crushed by regulation. I think the politicians are just trying to do another power grab.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:34PM (#34645810) Homepage Journal

      But it's really hard to phrase this well enough and clearly enough that it lets network admins do the kinds of QoS and traffic shaping things they need to do in order to provide good service, or for that matter, block unwanted traffic entirely.

      More important, it's really hard to phrase it well enough so that your average member of congress or Fox News viewer can understand.

      I am not at all convinced that getting the government involved will improve my life.

      I'm equally unconvinced that getting AT&T or Comcast more involved will improve my life.

      There was a time before the telcos ruled the Internet, when it was almost entirely a government-funded project. And it did just fine thank you very much.

      And if you think there's any part of the anti-net neutrality forces that are concerned about "providing good service" you are delusional. I'm not confident that the "unwanted traffic" that the telcos want to block isn't the stuff that's best about the Internet.

      • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @07:21PM (#34647296) Homepage

        I don't think it's rational for you to accuse me of being delusional. Since I'm arguing against "net neutrality", I am by definition "part of the anti-net neutrality forces". Since I am telling you exactly what I am concerned with, the only way I could be deluded about this would be if I were totally wrong about what my arguments or interests were, and that seems pretty unlikely.

        I want the ability to block unwanted traffic. I ran a small ISP for a while (heck, technically I still have a few people using my server for their internet stuff), and we block a LOT of traffic. We use two or three blacklists for spammers, we have a local blacklist, we greylist... And you know what? It was a popular feature. People did occasionally want to be outside the filters... often, they'd ask for this, thinking they wanted it, then a week later tell us to put the filters back on their stream.

        That's us, a network provider, blocking traffic because we know that if we don't block it, we can't provide good service.

        That said, I do agree that there's a serious issue with phrasing it well enough that people in Congress can understand, because if they don't understand it, the law we'll get will be a Bad Thing.

        You're telling me that the people who thought the DMCA would improve my life as a writer and programmer ought to be in charge of my life as a network admin. I'm telling you that's batshit insane.

  • False Dichotomy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:53PM (#34645142)

    It's not a choice: one is not "handing it over control to political appointees". It is simply saying not packet dicrimination. So yes there will be regulators but they do not have fiat control, just enforcement responsibilities.

    Thus this discussion is starting out on a false premise.

    • Re:False Dichotomy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne (414635) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:04PM (#34645298)

      Thus this discussion is starting out on a false premise.

      The claim that Net Neutrality is "government regulation of the Internet" is a lie perpetuated by politicians acting on behalf of the cable and telephone monopolies. The purpose of Net Neutrality is to prevent the cable and telephone monopolies from shutting out competitors (or people they don't like).

    • It is simply saying not packet dicrimination. So yes there will be regulators but they do not have fiat control, just enforcement responsibilities.

      However, the regulation that no packet shall be discriminated against based on its origin requires fiat control. The trick here is that the initial fiat control gives way to only enforcement responsibilities. It's unlikely to be that way, but then again: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." The price for a near-free Internet will be eternal vigilance for people who will seek permanent fiat control.

  • Answers. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BenFenner (981342) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:54PM (#34645152)

    Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

    Yes.

    Should ISPs be free from regulation?
    No.

    • Re:Answers. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:01PM (#34645264) Homepage

      The real problem with government regulation is it can screw you in the face. Take Canada for example where the CRTC has decided that UBB is just fine, oh and we get to charge more. And you can only use 60gb/mo even if you're on another ISP. The SS Fail Train has set sail for the bottom of the Atlantic.

      • Re:Answers. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:14PM (#34645460)

        But the problem with NOT having government regulation is that the monopolies fuck the consumer just as hard then.

        Look at all the places in the US where cable companies have a monopoly, simply because they managed to raise the barrier to entry high and entered into collusion agreements with other companies to pull out (my area used to have TW, Comcast, and Verizon for cable TV options, now we're stuck with Comcrap only because they ran Verizon out by running under cost and then TW "traded" us away by promising to pull out of our city if Comcrap pulled out of another city on the other side of the state).

        Now look at what precisely Comcrap has been trying to do: block off streaming video from Youtube, Hulu, and Netflix to force people in their monopoly-areas to pay more for Comcrap's crappy shitty "video on demand" cable service instead.

        No. In this case, we need government regulation. The trick is making sure it's the *right* regulation and properly enforced.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        If you are making a point, I recommend defining CRTC and UBB. Or better yet, just explain your point instead of making a vague reference to some event that most Americans won't recognize.

        Nobody is saying all regulation is good. But network neutrality regulation is good. Lets not compare it to other dissimilar regulation. Lets look at this regulation, which boils down to "do what you've been doing for the past decade and don't try to defraud people in subtle, complicated ways."

    • While I in large part agree with this, I could imagine a "specialty" ISP (targeted at, say, hardcore gamers) with robust traffic shaping being a Good Thing. This fictitious ISP would throttle http/ftp/ssh/smb/etc. traffic, with the trade-off of better throughput and lower latency for gamers. Were I a no-holds-barred gamer, I could see myself electing to sacrifice some speed on YouTube or what have you, if it meant a better gaming experience.

      Of course, this is an entirely hypothetical situation, wherein the
      • (will that get me a +1 Funny?)

        Probably not, but your epic username fail is worth a chuckle :p

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        Traffic shaping on the last mile is only going to have limited benefit. Unless you're suggesting a complete fiber GamerNet backbone - it still goes over the same backbones as the other ISP's are sharing already.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The original question isn't even a correct one.
      One way or another the internet is going to be regulated.

      The real question is whether you want private companies setting the rules,
      or a government agency that at least pretends to care about the consumer.

      And consider that if the Feds don't regulate, the States will.
      With the end result being inconsistent rules across the nation.

  • by moortak (1273582) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:55PM (#34645158)
    Do you trust someone with a profit motive to screw with your connection, or someone with a political motive?
    • Neither, but I do trust one simple-to-understand-and-enforce rule ("you shall indiscriminately handle and deliver packets") to take it out of the hands of both.

      If there were only a name for such a rule...
  • by uncanny (954868) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:56PM (#34645172)

    Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

    Yes, very much so, which is why we dont want companies regulating it. Content or availability.

  • To assume that a lack of government regulation is the same as no regulation is to completely overlook the corporate regulation that those who want net neutrality oppose. I would always rather have the government regulating instead of the profit driven anti-competitive private sector.
  • by Senes (928228) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:57PM (#34645200)
    In an environment of "the customer is always right," the market can be trusted to deliver exactly what is in the customers' best interests without any form of outside interference.

    In an environment of telco monopolies, multi-year contracts, terms which the provider can change at will, and more; it becomes necessary to restrict what providers can and cannot do because the customers are left powerless other than as voters who tell the government what they want.
  • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:58PM (#34645224)

    Net neutrality is a misnomer. What is needed is are regulations to stop ISPs from doing any or all of the following:

    Discrimating by site. Non-DDoS traffic to site "A" should not cost more than going to site "B".

    Add/modifying/deleting in flight traffic. Throttling/QoS is one thing, adding adds via Phorm, or changing people's postings to Web boards in flight is another.

    Blocking/slowing down one site, just to make another site seem faster.

    Unneeded snooping on connections. Traffic should be considered PII, stored only a few days to check for security breaches, then binned. It is not to be sold to any ad companies who want router logs.

    Expanding infrastructure. We never see Japanese ISPs wringing their hands in front of the Diet and saying how they are being driven into the ground by people in Tokyo watching TV on their phones. Nor do we see this in Korea or Singapore. ISPs build infrastructure, not just whine about people actually using their services.

    We need to address issues exactly, not bundle them under the hazy "net neutrality" topic.

    • What is needed is are regulations to stop ISPs from doing any or all of the following:

      Discrimating by site. Non-DDoS traffic to site "A" should not cost more than going to site "B".

      Non-discrimination is Rule 3 of the recent Report and Order.

      Add/modifying/deleting in flight traffic. Throttling/QoS is one thing, adding adds via Phorm, or changing people's postings to Web boards in flight is another.

      Most of that would seem to fall within the Rule 2 provisions on blocking or the Rule 3 provisions on discrimination in the recent Order.

      Blocking/slowing down one site, just to make another site seem faster.

      Again, Rule 3 on non-discrimination.

      Unneeded snooping on connecti

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:59PM (#34645232) Journal
    How cute. The WSJ has dug up somebody who thinks that only governments are capable of "regulation".

    States generally reserve the most dramatic flavor of regulation for themselves "Don't do X, or men with guns will put you in a cage"; but corporations, particularly monopolists and oligopolists, are easily capable of exerting influence on par with fines, taxation, censorship and almost any other flavor of regulation short of that promising imprisonment or death....
  • Cable companies have a huge incentive to protect what is otherwise a dying industry. They will do whatever it takes to block or otherwise interfere with those services that are going to kick their butts. This whole "you didn't pay for the bandwidth" is crap as it is their customers demanding these services and thus if anyone is going to pay it should be the customers. Except at wholesale rates bandwidth is nearly free. Even if you downloaded a gig an hour 24/7 the cost to provide this on a per customer basi
  • by howlingfrog (211151) <ajmkenyon2002.yahoo@com> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:59PM (#34645242) Homepage Journal

    In what way is a large, powerful institution that can control the flow of information NOT a government? In what way is showing preference for certain packets over others NOT regulation?

    Anarchism is feudalism. There is no such thing as total deregulation--the choice is about who gets to regulate and how much say you and I get in it.

  • First impressions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:00PM (#34645252) Homepage Journal

    I look at the link and I think, "Gosh, is the Wall Street Journal capable of delivering an objective opinion on this? They do, after all, have a stake in the issue."

    So I click through, and there's the sub-head: "The campaign to regulate the Internet was funded by a who's who of left-liberal foundations."

    Technically, I have to actually read the article to come up with an opinion. But I had a chili dog for lunch, and I don't need to be nauseated any further. I might even agree with the article's conclusion, but I doubt I'll find the reasoning sound.

    • Re:First impressions (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KublaiKhan (522918) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:08PM (#34645388) Homepage Journal
      The WSJ has an impressively schizophrenic personality. The regular articles--the ones that you'd find on, say, the front page of the print edition--are very well researched and well-written, as well as impressively neutral in political alignment. They tend to stick strictly to the facts and use as little conjecture as possible.

      The editorial page, however, is sometimes even further to the right than Glenn Beck. It is -RABIDLY- right-wing, sometimes getting close to fascism. It's probably what the Fox News people point to when they try to claim that their coverage fair and balanced.
      • by jfengel (409917)

        That's my impression as well. They still do a good job of reporting the real news, but are completely insane on the opinion pages.

        Not entirely unlike Fox News, in fact, which really does deliver only somewhat slanted news on the pure news shows but are frothingly deranged on the opinion shows. WSJ seems to do a better job of keeping it from spilling over, while Fox News viewers who believe that they're genuinely separate are deluded.

    • Gosh, is the Wall Street Journal capable of delivering an objective opinion on this?

      No one is capable of delivering an "objective opinion" since opinion is, by definition, subjective.

    • by Stregano (1285764)
      Wow, mods must be nice today. You got +4 insightful for a really long version of:

      tl;dr
  • Faux News (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:02PM (#34645286)

    An opinion piece over at the Wall Street Journal

    Since being taken over by NewsCorp, I'm not sure you could describe any of their articles as anything else. They're just GOP/big business shills now, RIP the news organization that used to make a meaningful contribution to our society.

    Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?"

    You might as well ask, "Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the privately owned bridges be free from regulation?" or how about "Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the banks remain free from regulation?" or maybe "Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the electric company remain free from regulation?"

    In any case the answer is "NO!" Vital resources should be regulated by the government because the government, for all its flaws, is ultimately answerable to the people and private companies have shown again and again they put their profits first and do great harm to society in pursuit of that, whether it be by dumping poison in our nation's rivers, gouging individuals using monopolies, Misusing money put into banks with risky investments, or leveraging resources to influence politics for profit.

    A better question isn't if the government should regulate things, but "Why are we still letting private companies and foreign nations" influence our politics through campaign contributions, lobbying, and political adverts when the vast majority of individuals thing it should be illegal?"

  • I think the last thing anybody wants is one or more government's interfering with the Internet.

    Perhaps the best solution would just be to define "Internet Access" as a utility that provides unrestricted use of an Internet connection. Just like the power
    company can't introduce fancy tech to prevent me from powering a TV if it does something the electric company doesn't like, if I'm paying for a service, I
    should be able to use it as I see fit. I personally think that companies shouldn't be able to advertise

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:04PM (#34645322)

    The Internet is not going to remain free, regardless of what happens. Either Telcos and content providers integrate to add value to their commoditized dumb pipes and control where users go through caps and channel pricing, or the government regulates what Telcos and ISPs can and cannot do to users. One is the guaranteed effect of a capitalistic system in a market with very high barriers to entry, the other is the result of a population wanting some input on how a market prone to the creation of monopolies.

    This means that the argument that a lack of regulation is the same as a free system is a flat-out lie. It necessarily implies that corporations will never engage in monopolistic rent-seeking, which is clearly false.

    The only question then is: who gets to control the Internet? A corporation, or a bureaucrat? Furthermore, will control be left to an entity that is guaranteed to create a system that is designed to maximize its profit, or to an entity where the common citizens has even a chance of providing input?

    This doesn't mean that any regulation is good. Some regulation will lead to the same result as no regulation. Some will lead to worse results. But there is at least the chance that it will lead to a better result. What's more, other countries have already shown what kind of regulatory environment is more beneficial to users than the one that currently exists in the US. So it's not that it's hard - it just requires some politicians to be afraid of their constituents.

    Finally, I'd like to point something out that Americans seem to have a hard time understanding: a corporation is not a person. Furthermore, a corporation behaves like a sociopath. This means that things that benefit a corporation are not the same that benefit society as a whole. Remember that next time a corporate lobbyists argues that what's good for them is good for the country.

  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:05PM (#34645332) Journal

    The crux of John Fund's ENTIRE article is, to paraphrase, "Net Neutrality is bad because it was created by SOCIALISTS! AND MARXISTS! AND THEY DON'T DENY IT!"

    That is, of course, the problem with a lot of the commentary about Net Neutrality (although more on the side against Net Neutrality than for, I've noticed, although maybe that's just my own biases showing). None of the commentary actually address the issues of why Net Neutrality is or isn't necessary. Rather, it devolves into arguments about collateral issues like crying socialism like John Fund does here. He thinks Net Neutrality is bad because a "socialist" came up with it. As if a person's political views will render a person's idea per se invalid.

    There are always those who thinks the way to score political points is to try to fit the word "socialism" as many times as they can into an article and call it an argument.

  • by geekoid (135745)

    It's a primary means of information. Not regulating it means corporations will control where you can go, adn tyou will ahve no course of action.

    With government regulation you have rights, and due process. You also have a voice.

    The 'no regulation' concept is bullshit. Either the government will regulates it or corporations with regulate it.

  • FTA:

    "The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility."

    How will the consumers be losers? We're treating the companies that maintain the conduits of the Internet like a public utility and we should keep it that way. Do we have the water and power utilities telling us how to use our water and power? Should the water company prevent us from buying bottled water or buy it only from them? What if there are new st

  • by RandCraw (1047302) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:10PM (#34645408)

    A WSJ blogger? Are you kidding me? Has Slashdot fallen so far that now you're promoting for-profit hacks like this guy?

    For shame. This article is 100% unrecyclable trash.

  • I think net neutrality as it's currently being proposed simply treats a symptom, not the cause. The cause is that telecom and cable companies have virtual monopolies due to access to public property that is granted to them exclusively. This allows them to pull whatever shenanigans they please; not just prioritized service. They have fiber wire just laying there unused because they don't feel the need to compete -- there's no one else around after all. They can price their plans ridiculously high (Verizon Wi

  • However, the question should be asked, is granting control over the Internet to political appointees the way to go?

    That's actually not a relevant question in regard to the recent decision. No power was granted to political appointees that they did not already have under existing law. What happened was the parties to whom power was granted in existing law chose to exercise it in a manner which is proactive and provides advance notice and clarity as to how it will be applied, rather than the reactive, case-by-case manner in which the same political appointees have previously used the same grants of authority to pursue the

  • If there isn't some regulation for 'fairness' to protect us citizens, you end up with comcast.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:25PM (#34645648) Homepage

    The entire article just talks about what leftist-liberal-marxist-socialist groups are supporting network neutrality. There is no evidence that this guy even knows what the issue is. You could replace "Network Neutrality" with "Lowering Taxes" or "Abortion" and not even notice. There's only one single attempt to even talk about the legislation:

    There's little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic.

    That's the only "fact" he stated, and it is completely wrong.

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:36PM (#34645842)
    Q: Regardless of your political point of view shouldn't the Internet remain free from regulation?


    As somebody who has already been modded to 5 said, Internet yes - ISPs no. And what is the internet other than a collection of Tier 1,2 and 3 providers. And the Tier 1s, the AT&Ts and Level 3 and such, they have a oligopoly partially caused by de-regulation. Regional competition in the DSL space, like Rhythms and Covad, was shoved aside because of fair use considerations to the central offices for equipment. They were shut out. Cable - same thing. The Comcasts were never mandated to allow their cable infrastructures to be shared. So they didn't. Which is why only now the Telecom's, using the old phone infrastructure, can complete against cable. Celestial like DirectPC never had a chance in hell to be anything other than a last resort technology.

    So de-regulation caused this oligopoly. There was already a /. article earlier this week about how Comcast lets it's ISP peering points slam to 100% and congest, because it is in their interest to create poor response for streaming competition and force those companies to pay to locate services within their networks for fees.

    If the FCC doesn't stop this via regulation, the Tier 1 providers will simply force the upstream peering points to differentiate classes of service. Tier 2 providers can only send so much Skype into AT&T's network and any more than 10% of the pipe will get congested using QoS. Because it's not in AT&T's interest to support the flow of voice when they themselves are in the business of carrying long distance and supporting the PSTN. Why should they? Who will stop them if they band with Global Crossing and Level 3 and Qwest and say "why the fuck should we cut our own revenue carrying Skype when we don't want to?" And if the Tier 2 provider buys a bigger pipe to the Tier 1 carrier, the Tier 1 carrier can say "I don't give a shit if you have a 10Meg or 10Gig pipe, you can only send us 1Mb/s of Skype traffic and that's all."

    Who can insure that their isn't collusion? Only the Federal government can.

    As others have pointed out, it is in the Tier 1 providers INTERESTS to create artificial scarcity of bandwidth. A Tier 3 provider buying upstream pipe from a Tier 2 should be federally mandated to buy at least 50% of the bandwidth he is selling in aggregate to end customers. There is PLENTY of dark fiber and equipment to handle that, even if we are talking about a company like Comcast that sells an entire medium size city all 100Mb pipes using new DOCSIS specs. Add up all the bandwidth sold, and federally MANDATE that they purchase upstream capacity to support all that.
  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:45PM (#34645994)

    Should users be regulated on how they use the Internet? No.
    Should providers be regulated on how they restrict users of the Internet? Yes.

    Do you really want a Microsoft funded provider slowing down you Google searches to the extent that Google is unusable?
    Do you want a provider owned by one media conglomerate slowing down streaming video from everywhere else so that they are the only option?
    Do you want a provider black holeing requests for web sites they do not agree with?
    Do you want all your search requests re-directed to Bing?

    Without regulation providers can make decisions on how customers interact with the Internet that are better for their bottom line and not necessarily for the customer's benefit.

    There is a major flaw in the article's argument. They state that most people are fine with the way the Internet works now. That part is true as net neutrality is the norm right now. The flaw is what do we do when net neutrality is not the norm and people fell issues of providers restricting traffic? Do we regulate then? Isn't that a bit late? There is no problem with what providers are doing now; the problem is what they could, and some companies are trying to, do in the future.

  • by protektor (63514) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:51PM (#34646104)

    There is very little problem with the Internet. This is a solution looking for a problem. All this is going to do is legalize companies discriminating against other sites online. They are going to say it is legal for me to make sure my network runs well, since I can't control the big bad Internet out there. So they will QoS the local traffic to give everything local better traffic rates. Then they will basically lackmail companies like Yahoo, Netflix, and other CDNs (Content Distribution Networks) like Akamai, one of the first. You want great web performance to your web site you should put your content servers in our network for huge monthly fee. Thus those sites will work great because they are part of the local network. Backbone providers will do the same thing by offering large websites direct connections, now they are part of the network, so they can QoS that traffic. The entire time every company will be saying, Hey you said we could manage traffic to make our networks run the best possible, it's not my fault that I don't/can't control traffic out there on the big bad Internet. This is how these companies will grab as much money off the table as they possibly can. Then they will say heavy bandwidth users are a problem for making our network run like crap. So we are going to go to a measured service since we can manage traffic to make sure our network runs fine. Then consumers will still pay $40-$60 a month for Internet but have limits like 30gig and each extra gig is $5. All this does is legalize what they have wanted to do for years, but haven't because they were afraid of market forces in response to this type of plan.

    All this has done is screw the consumer, and screw innovation.

    You want real Internet competition. Stop letting the telcos and the cable companies have monopolies on the last mile. Stop letting them use their historic monopoly status to trample and destroy anyone who tries to compete at the local last mile level. Telcos and cable companies have had monopolies on the last mile for 40-100 years. The cities and the states are then bought off by these companies to make it impossible to even run your own lines to compete against them. These companies have used their monopoly status to run all the other ISPs out of business. They have propped up the Internet side using the other side of the house (phone & TV) to drop prices so low that others can't compete, and attacked other ISPs by lying about them, then once they are gone they start jacking up prices. All you have to do is look at how many independent ISPs there were 15 years versus now. Now about 90% of the US uses one of 10 ISPs. That isn't free market competition, that is monopoly leveraging and market collusion. I have seen telcos and cable companies tell the state and cities that independent ISPs have no business trying to compete with them for the Internet. That it is their domain, they know best and if you don't want huge problems you shouldn't allow these guys to exist. The telcos and cable companies were very pissed that the independent ISPs existed years ago. They saw them as taking food out of their mouths, they were an affront, and should not be allowed to exist. They waged a campaign against independent ISPs and were very successful, using lobbying and fake grassroots groups.

    All of this just allowed the consumer to get screwed again. Only the state forcing cities to open up is going to help. I doubt the feds have the authority to do anything about the local level.

  • by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @09:01PM (#34648082)

    Let me quote from the preamble to the GNU General Public License:

    To protect your rights, we need to prevent others from denying you these rights or asking you to surrender the rights.

    That principle applies to so many different situations. People often discuss freedom under the false assumption that you have freedom unless the government takes it away from you. That view is way too simplistic. There are many threats to freedom from many sources. The fact is, lots of people will try to restrict your freedom unless they are prevented from doing so. That is what government regulation is about (when it's done properly, which certainly is not always the case): protecting your freedom by denying others the right to restrict it.

% A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back the when it begins to rain. -- Robert Frost

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