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AT&T Says Net Rules Must Allow 'Paid Prioritization' 390

suraj.sun writes "AT&T said Tuesday that any Net neutrality plan restricting its ability to engage in 'paid prioritization' of network traffic would be harmful and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Internet."
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AT&T Says Net Rules Must Allow 'Paid Prioritization'

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  • by rotide ( 1015173 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:56AM (#33434968)

    "AT&T said Tuesday that any Net neutrality plan restricting its ability to engage in "paid prioritization" of network traffic would be harmful and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Internet.

    Telecommunications providers need the ability to set different prices for different forms of Internet service, AT&T said, adding that it already has "hundreds" of customers who have paid extra for higher-priority services."

    So you want to tier the internet. You want only certain things viewable if I "only" pay you $30/month. I'll get more, but probably not everything at $50/mo and at $100/month I'll get everything you think I should want, but of course, something will be blocked as it will probably be against your businesses interests for me to see and/or use it (competing services, etc).

    Seriously, go @#$# yourselves, AT&T.

  • how fitting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:58AM (#33434986)

    I love how this is the quote that came up at the bottom of the story.

    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. -- Aleister Crowley

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:59AM (#33434994)

    You can prioritize video over web, etc - but you have to do it to all your data the same way you treat someone else's - if you say that YouTube's video needs to be limited, so does your video service. If you give your video higher priority, YouTube's video gets the same high priority, and soe does Hulu's, Comcast's (if they send over your lines) etc.

    (lol - CAPTCHA: defend)

  • More detail... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:59AM (#33435008)

    Man, that's a short summary.

    Essentially, AT&T is arguing that because the idea of service classes is built into packet headers, the internet is not meant to have net neutrality.

    Their opponents argue, essentially, that the service classes are there for a given end user entity to prioritize traffic by class if they choose, not for the telecom companies to do so.

    Honestly, who could be surprised that AT&T reads the history/design of the internet in such a way that it seems to say exactly what they'd like it to say? This isn't any different from a corporate version of the phenomena in which a person interprets the holy text of their religion in such a way that it just happens to say that they should hate things or people that they already hate.

  • Re:Fuck you AT&T (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @10:01AM (#33435028)

    Maybe I just don't get net neutrality and what's being argued for, but how would it no affect how peering contracts are worked out, how QoS can be implemented, etc? All this "routing around damage" stuff people talk about seems to stop fairly swiftly at the border, where policy is used to determine where data goes, and not metrics.

  • by PhysicsPhil ( 880677 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @10:12AM (#33435156)

    The usual Slashdot response is that there is no way prioritization is compatible with net neutrality, but we only have to look at the post office to see that it can be done. You have the choice to send by standard mail, or to pay more to speed up delivery. I'll grant that it's not a perfect analogy, but there are models that would work.

    My biggest concern would be that prioritization is done on an exclusive basis, i.e., a company pays to be the only one that can distribute sports on a high priority basis. We could imagine multiple tiers of bandwidth with a couple of conditions. Each tier must be available on uniform and nondiscriminatory terms, so that anyone can pay $X to deliver a megabyte on the highest tier. It's also important that the lowest tier doesn't get starved, which could be accomplished by requiring that no more than X megabytes are transmitted by high speed delivery before a megabyte is moved over the lower tier system.

    As a community I think we have to look really hard at whether net neutrality is a battle that can genuinely be won. If it is, then we fight the good fight. If not, then I think we have to consider what kind of non-neutral network is most reasonable.

  • by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @10:15AM (#33435200) Homepage Journal

    AT&T objections here, while worrisome on their own, don't necessarily conflict with the principles of net neutrality.

    I'm not sure they're even worrisome, from the article it sounds almost like everyone's talking past eachother. Or just talking about different things where only the news people think they're trying to talk about the same thing.

    The consumer-protection people say ISPs shouldn't be able to alter service levels based on how much the external endpoint has paid. AT&T says ISPs should be able to alter service levels based on how much the internal endpoint has paid or what preferences the internal endpoint has expressed. These are perfectly compatible and both make perfect sense.

    The only problem would be if AT&T is using the internal-endpoint argument to push for the ability to make external-endpoint actions. But I expect that if that were the case we'd be hearing stories highlighting their duplicity, so...

  • Re:Actually.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @10:39AM (#33435510) Journal

    They're also lying assholes. yes, they should be able to charge more for a T1 than DSL

    But should they be allowed to prioritize the traffic from that T-1 over the traffic from their DSL customers when network congestion is an issue? The T-1 customer probably got an SLA if he was smart. The DSL customer was promised nothing of the kind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @10:44AM (#33435594)

    Sadly, I believe this is exactly what they are talking about, and that the reactionary zealots are simply ignoring it to "stick it to the man"...

    The specifically stated "network traffic", not "specific, branded applications and services".

    Prioritize VoIP over torrent? fine.

    Prioritize Skype over GV? not fine. ...but then, I have yet to see AT&T (or comcast...or cox...etc) claim they are actually trying to fight for option 2...

    The zealots seem to be under the impression that "more bandwidth" will solve all prioritization issues and simply ignore the fact that we've had huge jumps in bandwidth many times in the past...which our use has simply scaled to fill. Suggesting that applying the same solution over and over again will change the results is, well...the very definition of insanity according to many. :) (unless we're talking chemistry, of course...)

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @11:02AM (#33435880)
    They failed because common carrier rules allowed people to switch their ISP.

    Those walled gardens would not fail today after the telecoms were reclassified to exempt them from this regulation. In other words, the failure of those semi-closed systems was an example of net neutrality working and why it should be put back in place, since without it consumers do not have enough power to actually shape what is offered to them.
  • Re:More detail... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @11:04AM (#33435914) Homepage

    Their opponents argue, essentially, that the service classes are there for a given end user entity to prioritize traffic by class if they choose, not for the telecom companies to do so.

    If that's what they're arguing, frankly, they're absolutely full of shit.

    Go read the RFCs. The entire point of TOS flags and DSCP bits is to give traffic engineers *in the network* the flexibility to manage traffic as needed to optimize service for various traffic classes. Of course, this requires cooperation between network operators *and* end users, but it benefits everyone, as everyone gets the best service for the type of application they're using.

    Is this mechanism open for abuse? Absolutely. But AT&T is *partially* correct, in that 100% neutral packet routing has never been a core principle in the architecture of the internet. *However*, the idea that clients and servers are equal peers, and that traffic should be treated fairly regardless of source or destination, *absolutely* is, and to conclude that network neutrality is invalid based on the presence of IP-level traffic classes, is, to say the least, a twisting of the facts and the history of the internet.

    As such, I think network neutrality is vitally important, and should be regulated, to ensure that everyone is routed fairly. *However*, that same regulation should not preclude the use of valid traffic engineering techniques for optimizing network performance.

  • Re:Fuck you AT&T (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Darby ( 84953 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @11:06AM (#33435946)

    To make your analogy more accurate, you have to include the fact that the roads were built using public funds and that the companies in question have already failed to live up to their obligations therefore have stolen billions in public funds and now are attempting to triple dip when they are not at all a private company and have no right to even single dip.

    The very idea that they should be allowed even the delusion of being in the private sphere is utterly retarded and the overwhelming cause of the problem in the first place.
    They are a public utility and are owned by the public, since we've paid for them. So nationalising them is the only appropriate or rational solution as we've already paid for it. The only thing stopping us is the lies of that same industry spewed over the networks they also generally own.

    Nothing like paying for something and then having the profits privatized, or rather "stolen".

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @11:17AM (#33436100)

    So what makes it wrong? Should the old AOL and MSN "walled gardens" have been illegal? They seem to have failed just fine on their own...

    They failed because there was competition. They were operated by dialing in via the phone lines. And that LITERALLY is the point. That AOL and MSN could exist at all was by virtue of the fact that the Phone Companies couldn't discriminate against them. And since there wasn't discrimination over who you could call, anyone who had the equipment and paid for the connections could set up a competing service.

    Switching from AOL or MSN was as easy as calling another phone number.

    Now, consider how easy it is to switch from one Cable internet provider to a different Cable internet provider. I'd bet 90% of the time if you want to try a different cable company, switching would involve selling your freaking house and moving to a different city (or state).

    Hell, the NUMBER 1 factor in me chosing my current home was finding one that had decent internet services available. And I'm not kidding on this, the first thing I looked at when presented with a new place on the market was "Can I get FIOS there". Now, that's not true for everyone, but having the ability to at least switch between two comparable services was VERY VERY important to me because when you DON'T have that option, it is very easy for that option to suck.

    Earlier I decided that I wanted to switch internet providers from Dial-up. If I wanted another dial-up provider all it took was 5 minutes on DSLreports.com to find a decent service. To switch to DSL... impossible, they hadn't upgraded the CO. To switch to cable... $1500 to build a new extention to my house, it took 9 months before they finally got around to it.

    The point is, MSN/AOL failed because there was competition. In the broadband market, aside from a very few lucky areas, there is none.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:08PM (#33436878) Homepage Journal

    Your analogy is too deeply flawed. It more matches paying more for a T1 than a DSL line, which few would object to. What AT&T wants is like charging more for shipping a ten pound box of chocolate than shipping a ten pound box of raw sugar.

  • Re:Actually.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:26PM (#33437202) Homepage Journal

    Because they can. And this is why tethering apps are the most popular jailbreak apps on iPhone according to several websites. Want to know why so many iPhone users jailbreak? Look no farther than AT&T.

    AT&T will look for any opportunity to overcharge their customers---to squeeze a little more blood out of them. They are fundamentally harmful by any standard, whether you're talking about the Internet, phone, whatever, but they are such an entrenched monopoly that they are too big to take behind the barn and shoot.

    Thanks, Reagan, for the most completely failed monopoly breakup in our nation's history.

  • by Ivan Stepaniuk ( 1569563 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:30PM (#33437272)
    Often we choose an expensive ISP over another because it is faster, or has a lower national or international latency. How is this different from paid prioritization? A real problem is the size and power of AT&T and similar companies, which limit the available options when choosing your ISP.
  • FTS (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:36PM (#33437372)

    "... would be harmful and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Internet."

    What is the politically correct way to say:


    These Corporate Oligarchy scumbags seriously want to rule the world, overriding all sanity and citizen's rights. Bite me AT&T.

    CLUE: The Internet belongs to the CITIZENS, not to any corporation, not ever. Deal with it.

  • boycott (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @12:37PM (#33437404)

    Do not use AT&T I cancelled mine and switched to Verizon.. letting AT&T know why.
    Use verizon & let THEM know why. They still have a real "unlimited data" plan also.

    Data is data and all data should flow w/ the same alacrity.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @01:02PM (#33437780) Homepage

    Maybe some people don't understand this, but in general the pipeline from an ISP to the rest of the world just isn't big enough to handle user traffic to a lot of very popular sites. Take CNN for example. When you type in www.cnn.com what do you think happens? Do think your request goes to a server owned by CNN in Atlanta?

    Well, if you did you would be wrong. It goes to a server probably in the same building as your ISP (if it is big enough) that is owned by Akami. See, if you have enough traffic it is almost cheaper to pay Akami to cache the content on its servers which are co-located in pretty much every major ISP's facility. If you want high speed access to your content for all users then absolutely you want that content coming from a locally caching server.

    Now, if you don't have a lot of money then Akami's fees are way out of line for you. And so you get way, way slower performance on requests.

    See, pay-for-performance is here already and has been for a really long time.

  • by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @04:50PM (#33441096)

    One man's discount is another another man's extra. Meaning as long as there is a difference in price & service, one is either less than the other, or the other is more than the one.

    Advertisement 1: 90$ for our service, 10$ extra for better service.
    Advertisement 2: 100$ for our service, 10$ discount for our discount service.

    There is no difference between the product, just the psychology. Companies love to reel you in with the low price, and then convince you that you NEED the higher one.

    Also, using the post office is a bad example because is run by the federal government, and never comes close to breaking even.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"