Funny, The Telcos Weren't So Against Regulations When It Helped Them

from the hands-off-now? dept

It's getting somewhat annoying to see just how partisan the network neutrality debate has become, with both the telcos and the internet folks spinning the rhetoric in the debate well beyond the actual issues. Both sides are making statements that have little basis in reality, but it still seems like the claims from the telcos and their supporters that this is about "keeping regulatory hands off the internet" are the most silly. Remember, these are the telcos. They've benefited from billions of dollars in subsidies and regulations in their favor over the years -- regulations that granted them monopoly rights of way and helped them get rid of most of the competition. That, again, is the real issue. If there were true competition that would allow others to enter the market, then there wouldn't even be a debate about network neutrality, because no firm would realistically be able to break network neutrality without a serious backlash. So, the next time someone says this is all about keeping regulators away from the telcos, remind them that regulations built these telcos into the position they're in today -- and ask them if they're willing to trade in all the benefits they got from those other regulations?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    OhYeah, May 23rd, 2006 @ 7:39pm

    Another First Post!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    DittoBox, May 23rd, 2006 @ 7:48pm

    Re:

    Stop this idiocy please.

    Yelling first post and then walking off is useless, and clutters these forums.

    Can the guys at TechDirt require allow for registration to post? I'd glady do so, that way anyone who posts something like this gets banned.

    Stop being an idiot.

     

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  3.  
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    I, for one, May 23rd, 2006 @ 7:58pm

    commodity bandwidth would make it irrelevant

    "... there wouldn't even be a debate about network neutrality, because no firm would realistically be able to break network neutrality without a serious backlash"

    Which has always been my economic argument all along. Seems I'm not really grasping the complexity of this debate. I think it's not about their rights to route data how they like so much as it is about lack of choice for the end user. If I had a multi-homed link with a choice of 100 providers to send my traffic through I couldn't care less about it. Perhaps the compromise is staring us in the face, give them the right to compete in whatever way they like in a truly open market by breaking up the telcos with antitrusts?

    Unfortunately the whole thing is based on a false dichotomy, the myth of bandwidth as a finite resource. Bandwidth scarcity is an entirely manufactured concept. Flick a few switches to activate the "dark fiber" and the throughput could step up an order of magnitude overnight with no additional outlay. Of course if you actually reduced bandwidth to its commodity price all the jokers charging $20/mo for a crappy DSL would be out of business faster than you can ping localhost.

     

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  4.  
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    I, for one, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re:

    > Another First post!
    >>Stop this idiocy please.

    Aww look Ditto, now you've just encouraged him to do it some more.
    Let us not ridicule young OhYeah like grumbly old men, no, let us congratulate him. We should respect the lightning wit, razor sharp reflexes and determination that has placed the clever chap where he rightfully belongs, at the top of the pile where he truly is the center of our attention and consequently validated as a worthwhile human being. Who are we johnny-come-lately runners up to comment?

    I think that was pretty damn fine first post you know. You beat us all!

     

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  5.  
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    Tony, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:17pm

    Why is it funny?

    Why is this funny? What foolish, publicly held company would not be FOR legislation that increases its bottom line and AGAINST legislation that is decreases its bottom line? Oh yeah... every business that intends to turn a profit.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:22pm

    Re: first posts + dsl providers going outta busine

    first off - how can you say

    Of course if you actually reduced bandwidth to its commodity price all the jokers charging $20/mo for a crappy DSL would be out of business faster than you can ping localhost.

    when the fact that AOL is still miraculously (or more likely, cursedly) still in business?

    and now about the first posts thingy - why make people have to register to post? if people wanna post stupid shit, they'll post it having to register or not - and the ones that still do post, will be the especially stupid ones. - its a fucking forum, people post stupid, senseless crap - get used to it...

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:28pm

    speaking of which

    7th post --- lol

    And hey where is Dorpus

     

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  8.  
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    LoudNClear, May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:47pm

    AOL and Bandwidth

    I think AOL serves a purpose. In many ways I see others using it as a Standards of Learning test. Those who have any idea about the internet do not use it. I work closely with the American public as a service technician for a major retailer, and one of the first questions I ask is "How do you connect to the internet?" if the response is "AOL", I keep everything I am explaining to them elementary until they show me they know more.

    While the telcos have definately futureproofed themselves by laying lots of "dark fiber" getting them to light it up would be harder than pulling a non-sedated lion's tooth. They make their billions by selling bandwidth to repackagers who in turn sell it to consumers. They would loose the investment they put into the work and material if they gave it away. Short of federal regulation making them use all available bandwidth, it won't happen. Not that I am defending them, I simply see their position. If I had laid out fortunes to create a data transportation backbone, I would defend that money too. It is possible to get as fast a connection as you really want from most telcos... if you are willing to pay for it. you might need a business license and do a little lying, but its possible.

    So until I can afford a T3 line into my house, leave AOL and its victems alone. They can stay off my bandwidth and tie up their phone line all they like. My Ex used to say uneducated people are worthless, but she still wanted her gas pumped and her McMuffins in the mornings.

     

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  9.  
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    LoudNClear, May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:49pm

    more on telcos

    I know they make money elsewhere too...

     

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  10.  
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    gheez, May 24th, 2006 @ 1:39am

    why AOL

    Man, why is it everytime network neutrality/ bandwidth topics are brought up AOL somehow ends up on these posts? yes, we all know that AOL is crap for us savvy users, but a blessing for the computer retards OK? Ok then. Please.

     

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  11.  
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    Scott, May 24th, 2006 @ 5:31am

    Re: AOL and Bandwidth

    "If I had laid out fortunes to create a data transportation backbone"

    There is a flaw in this logic, the telco's were granted 200 Billion dollars of taxpayer money for this. I don't see a grand investment on their end.

    If someone took $2000 from you and promised you something, wouldn't you make damned well sure you got what you paid for or your money back? The telco's got your money, didn't deliver, and in fact have been allowed to consistently raises taxes and fees on those same lines. You have just been robbed, the gov't knows who did it, but doesn't give a crap.

     

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  12.  
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    Tim, May 24th, 2006 @ 5:52am

    "Subsidies"

    Mike, allowing a company to raise its rates is not a subsidy. And enacting a bad regulatory scheme tomorrow is not a good way to atone for having enacted a bad regulatory scheme last year.

    Network neutrality rules would not only apply to telcos. It would also apply to cable companies, and to any new entrants down the road. In fact, it's quite likely that if a competitive alternative to the telcos and cable companies emerges, it's quite likely that they'll do everything they can to throw up regulatory roadblocks in the way of that new competition. That will be much easier if we've already conceded that the FCC has the power to regulate the Internet.

     

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  13.  
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    William C Bonner, May 24th, 2006 @ 6:33am

    Net Neutrality vs. Censorship

    I believe that it was on this blog that I read an excellent piece about network neutrality being in the telco's best interest. Primarily because as long as they are just passing data back and forth and not examining it, they are not responsible for it.

    At the point that they are filtering, and some kiddy porn gets transferred over their network, then it's concievable that they should be liable for trafficking in kiddy porn.

    On a different but related subject:

    Free Internet is a question I've had for some time now. Does free internet really mean free web browsing? With the Free part being funded by advertisments in the web browser? When I'm connected to the internet, I'm using a web browser, but I'm also using Instant Messenger, SSH, SMTP, IMAP (primarily over SSH) and who knows what other protocols that don't have a way of inserting ads into the datastream.

    A web connection that doesn't allow me to bring up a secure socket connection to my primary web server isn't getting me very much, but I don't understand the economics of free.

     

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  14.  
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    Patrick Mullen, May 24th, 2006 @ 6:35am

    "Monopoly Power." Where? From my point of view, I can get broadband from my cable company, broadband from a phone company (fiber to the home coming soon to your neighborhood, with fiber to the curb also) DSL service, in Texas, they are doing the worlds largest broadband over power lines (10mbs both up and down, which is better than my current cable connection) EV-DO through numerous wireless companies, and who knows what coming soon.

    Just what monopoly are we talking about?

     

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  15.  
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    Patrick Mullen, May 24th, 2006 @ 6:37am

    Re: commodity bandwidth would make it irrelevant

    And one issue is that while it may just require a flick of a few swwitches to activate the "dark fiber" it does cost a bit of money to light it and keep it lit. The fiber was dark because there wasn't demand for it, now, quite a bit of that inventory is gone.

     

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  16.  
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    Scott, May 24th, 2006 @ 7:04am

    Re:

    Duopoly would be a better choice of wording, there are only 2 real backbones, cable and telco. Whether you have fiber, DSL, or EV-DO from a phone company, it is still the same backbone connecting you to everyone else. Opening the number of connection types offered does nothing to eliminate control.

    Broadband over power-line is still in trial phase in the US because of ham radio interfernce, which has potential repurcussion to public emergency response equipment.

     

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  17.  
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    ebrke, May 24th, 2006 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    Texas is not the entire country. DSL is limited by your distance from CO. Fiber to the curb won't be available for years, if ever, in many locations. And basically, we're still talking cable or phone company. Duopoly--far from unlimited choice.

     

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  18.  
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    Turk, May 24th, 2006 @ 8:25am

    Government regulation

    Just a couple of facts to get in the way of your logic. Cable companies are responsible for 60% of the residential broadband internet connections versus the 40% provided by telcos. That network was not built with government subsidies. It was built with private investment and initiative.

    The common carrier laws that applied to telcos did not apply to cable and cable flourished. In fact, it was only because cable began pushing broadband service that the telcos decided to provide DSL. Telcos sat on that technology for years, opting instead to charge more money for T-1 lines. The competitive market for broadband was created by people who wanted to do more.

    If you're going to point to the technology stagnation that occurred under government regulation of the telcos as an example of successful regulations, you might think again.

    Broadband is where it is today because of free markets, not in spite of them.

     

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  19.  
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    Scott, May 24th, 2006 @ 10:34am

    Re: Government regulation

    "Telcos sat on that technology for years, opting instead to charge more money for T-1 lines. The competitive market for broadband was created by people who wanted to do more. "

    Thus proving that Telco's can not be relied upon to play nice or fair. Also you are talking residential broadband when discussing penetration. The networks that Google , Yahoo, and most other big corp.'s run on are Telco. So where do you think QoS will occur? I expect something like this:
    Google router>>telco router w/QoS>>backbone.
    Comcast has already been hit for degrading VoIP, seems they aren't so altruistic. As have Cox and Adelphia, though those reports haven't been substantiated to a degree I would rely on too much.

    I am sorry, but it is amazing that just days before or after AT&T is re-incorporated, the head of SBC(not renamed quite yet) is talking about restrictions on their backbone.
    I also think that once 1 side realizes they can get away with it, the other will as well.

     

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  20.  
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    Turk, May 24th, 2006 @ 1:12pm

    comcast Allegation

    "Comcast has already been hit for degrading VoIP, seems they aren't so altruistic."

    Can you cite a source for that allegation? If so, you're the only person engaged in this debate at any level who has been able to come up with two US (non-Canada) examples of anything like this happening.

    There has been exactly one case investigated and found to have actually occured - Madison River. That was settled - with a fine to the company - under existing law.

    If you are able to demonstrate any other instance, I'd love to hear it. That's the problem with the legislation - it's a solution in search of a problem.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike (profile), May 25th, 2006 @ 2:23am

    Re: Government regulation

    Just a couple of facts to get in the way of your logic. Cable companies are responsible for 60% of the residential broadband internet connections versus the 40% provided by telcos. That network was not built with government subsidies. It was built with private investment and initiative.

    Well, that's one way to look at it... though it conveniently leaves out the franchise issue, and the fact that no one else can go out and lay wires these days if you're not a cable or telco. So, you mean "private investment and initiatives" teamed with gov't granted monopolies. That last part is important.

    If you're going to point to the technology stagnation that occurred under government regulation of the telcos as an example of successful regulations, you might think again.

    You are misunderstanding my point here. Nowhere was I saying that the past regulations were "successful." I was saying that the telcos are in the position they're in now, in large part, thanks to regulations. I don't consider that a success story. So for them to say "hands off" is ridiculous. They were perfectly happy with the hands for a while.

    All I'm saying here is that the situation isn't nearly as simple as either side is making it out to be. Claiming it's about hands off is ridiculous when the telcos have benefited greatly from the hands in the past -- often through promising specific things in return, which they're now trying to get out of providing.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Scott, May 25th, 2006 @ 6:09am

    Re: comcast Allegation

    Sorry the FCC investigation was into blocking VPN connections, in my opinion just as bad, you still can't do what you want with your connection(assuming it is legal).

    However, I will stand by the fact that Comcast is getting blasted(I used to be a Comcast customer, and still know many people who are), for this fact: Comcast VoIP works rather well, vonage and skype on their network have many issues.

     

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