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If the FCC Had Regulated the Internet From the Start 191

In the spirit of (but with a different approach than) last week's post "Is Net Neutrality Really Needed?", an anonymous reader writes with this "counterfactual history of the internet, but one that is all too plausible. Unfortunately, I can see this happening under the new 'Net Neutrality.'"
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If the FCC Had Regulated the Internet From the Start

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  • Re:Pure Fantasy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by abarrow ( 117740 ) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:13AM (#34669860) Homepage

    Yeah, and there's a good chance we would have ended up like some countries that got widespread Internet after the Telcos figured it out, like South Africa. Telekom hired a bunch of consultants from SBC who showed up and told them they had to meter Internet usage.

  • by shoppa ( 464619 ) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:39AM (#34670188)

    We already had "the internet" regulated, tarriffed, and adopted by the suits.

    It was called X.25.

    In retrospect it was the best possible scenario. All the standards writers, and the big business suits, and the government, and the telcos, were chasing X.25. Giving hackers the freedom to do TCP/IP and SMTP and FTP and the web etc.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26, 2010 @11:45AM (#34670204)

    Your point is very valid, but you're missing something. All of your exhibits of regulatory over-reach or worse have one thing in common: some corporation/cartel/sociopaths profit big time by each of them--the War on Drugs in particular, but also the whole mess with the TSA which of course relieved airlines of three things: the cost of security implementation (another tax giveaway), the negative publicity from the crap the TSA always pulls, and the responsibility when something actually goes wrong. Great deal--if you're an airline.

    Net Neutrality, done correctly and in the fashion that it's meant as opposed to the scaremongering going on here, would probably hurt the profits of the big telcos and that's why of all those things it's in the crosshairs. It also provides the best hope for small businesses to actually compete in the world, which of course is another negative for the big monopolies and duopolies. Come to think of it, they're always trotting out small businesses as the big job creators when it's time to argue for tax cuts for the rich, but they totally ignore them or even hurt them when it suits their purpose. Funny how that works...

    Regulation by itself is not always bad, but regulation where the regulators are in bed with those being regulated, which is pretty much what we have in the US now, is almost always bad. The only thing worse is usually no regulation at all, which of course is the next logical argument spewing forth from those in the bed and the useful idiots who work against their own interests by following them.

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

    by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <> on Sunday December 26, 2010 @12:16PM (#34670316) Journal

    I think that, perhaps, you are confused by what the "Internet" is.

    The Internet is the network of networks. When I connect my network, which, for the record, is under my sole control, and not under any other regulation, to another network, we have a piece of the "Internet".

    The Internet is facilitated, but not defined, by the "backbone" -- fiber optic connections (currently). The Internet does not mandate the form of these backbone interconnects. They exist because, simply, there is a need or desire to send that much data between the interconnected systems and networks.

    So, what are you proposing should be regulated?

    Nothing in the description of the "Internet" mentioned content, or physical interconnection requirements, or physical systems.

    Read the article -- the point is brought home when the author mentions "Bob" and "minitel" as being REQUIRED to connect... not to the "Internet" but to regulated information providers.

    As an example - my neighbor has a network of around 5 systems, and I have a comparable network. We connect these networks using two different ISPs (a cable provider and a DSL provider). We also occasionally directly connect with 802.11g wireless. The connections are made to exchange data (photos, videos, Linux distributions, it really is none of anyones business). What regulations would you want to put into place, and where?

    Because 802.11g, ethernet, etc. are just convenient standards that permit us interoperability. We could come up with our own local protocol if we had to. The ISP provides a higher degree of interoperability (an IPv4 address that allows my network to be reached from other ISPs that co-operate, packet services that allow data to be exchanged, and access to DNS services to provide a convenient naming service). There really isn't any service my ISP offers that I couldn't easily replace, except for access to the high-speed backbone.

    In the case of my neighbor, that isn't a problem. But my best friend has his own network; but is located across the country. Data exchange with him would be impaired without my ISP (and, my use of /. would be curtailed).

    I thought the article was actually very well thought out. The point is that the "Internet", being a simple connection between systems and networks, only exists because it is beneficial to the connecting parties, and the method of connection is irrelevant.

    Now, as soon as enough systems and networks participate, there is a "network effect", and some of the "Internet" may degenerate into a pure producer/consumer relationship. I imagine that this is what you want to regulate. Be careful though, because the end game of regulation is simply that some parties may decide to pack up their dolls and leave. We are not TIED to the infrastructure. We have always had a bit of balkanization in the Internet. Certainly, not all of my content is publicly available. Some is simply not directly addressable, or findable via Google (darknet, an example of this would be my music collection, family photos and videos, which I share to friends but no one else). Some is SSL only, and password controlled (my TV watching schedule, my calendar. And some is only locally available (banking statements, financial records).

    In previous years (when high-speed meant 1Mbps down/128kbps up), I shared this data with my distant friends via transport of CD, or hard disk drive. 5 Gbytes of music was a lot to jam down the limited communication pipe I had. So, the mail and airplane system was part of my "Internet". It can be again, if those physical pipes are regulated to the point where the data will be inspected.

    In other words

    The Internet is dead; Long live the Internet

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