Think Tanks Mock Net Neutrality With Fake Amendment

from the missing-the-point dept

While most of the press attention today on net neutrality is about how the House rejected net neutrality language, there's one side story that's a bit disappointing, in that it shows how low some think tanks and politicians have stooped in this debate. Declan McCullough, over at News.com, plays along with a silly and misleading attempt by some think tanks and a Congressman to mock network neutrality support, by introducing an obviously stupid amendment to apply "neutrality" to all companies that do business on the internet -- such as Google or Amazon. So, for example, the backers of the bill claim, Amazon couldn't do an exclusive deal with Toys R Us, because that would be "discriminatory." They put forth this bill and support it with idiotic quotes from the same think tanks that have been against network neutrality, by saying this proves the bad logic of supporting network neutrality. Except, it doesn't. All it shows is that these think tanks either don't actually understand what network neutrality means (doubtful) or are being purposely misleading in describing what it means. Obviously, some may say that it's no surprise these think tanks would be purposely misleading, but you would hope that they would at least take the debate seriously.

Through out this debate, we've tried to stay pretty neutral, while pointing out problems with the arguments on both sides, but the statements in this article are really bad. It's yet another case of think tanks (including our friends over at the Progress & Freedom Foundation) setting up a totally bogus strawman, and then destroying it to support their argument. The point of network neutrality isn't some Utopian "everyone must be equal" concept -- but a real concern for a lack of competition in the broadband space. The telcos were given a ton of money in subsidies and incentives to build out a wired, natural monopoly network. The government gave them rights of way which no one else can get. In exchange, they had to open their networks up to others to provide services. In other countries, this has resulted in robust competition and better services -- which was the point.

With companies like Google and Amazon, that doesn't apply. There was no government granted natural monopoly. There are no rights of way issues. There were no subsidies and incentives in exchange for promises that weren't met. There is no stifling of competition. The purpose of network neutrality isn't a Utopian vision, but a simple response to a natural monopoly where competition is going to lead to better results. To pretend otherwise for the sake of a cheap publicity stunt is really a sad move by a group of people who clearly have no desire to actually discuss the root of the issue.


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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jun 8th, 2006 @ 11:44pm

    Barriers To Entry

    I unsurprisingly agree with you, Mike. Definitino: In economic discussions, "barriers to entry" represent very difficult hurdles that prevent new entrants from competing with existing vendors in their markets. The idea is that, if new entrants cannot com in and compete, and there are only a few existing players, then you will not have a competitive market, and the associated benefits. Of course, capitalism, of which we at Techdirt are huge supporters, requires open markets and competition to reach the optimal outcomes. The reason that the broadband ISP market is a monopoly (or if you're lucky a duopoly where you live) is that there are massive barriers to entry for new competition - not the least of which is regulatory and lobbying resistance from the incumbents against any competitive threats. If new competitors (think Muni Broadband) get past the regulatory blockade, you still have the problem of rights of way that Mike mentioned. Get past that and you have the incredible capital barrier that represents installing a parallel infrastructure (which the incumbents built and amortized while they were government-supported monopolies.) Because of these barriers to entry, there is no real competition in this space (if you've taken Econ 101, you will understand the relationship between barriers and competition). Over to Google. There are no such barriers to entry in this market, and a new entrant with a "better mousetrap" could come in and beat Google at their own game. How can we prove that this is fact? Uhh.. well, let me see. Yahoo, in 1997, was in that day what Google is today. But this new entrant came along with "a better mousetrap" and beat Yahoo right under their nose. Who was it, duh, Google. If that isn't proof enough that this market is competitive and that innovators are rewarded, I don't know what is. There are fifty other search companies that are trying to compete with Google, and if Google pulled some deal that forced me to use their preferred partner for, say, mapping solutions, then I could easily switch my search partner, or go get my maps somewhere else on the net. However, if Comcast made a two tiered Internet where I would only get good service from their mapping partner, I would have NO other options, since they are my only broadband choice. How could anyone try to paint those two situations as similar, unless they were lying or stupid.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 2:17am

    This First Post ©2006 Capitalism, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

     

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    PopeRatzo, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 3:55am

    This why we are so screwed here in the US. We have a congress, (Republican-controlled, in case you didn't know) which belongs so thoroughly to the richest, most powerful corporations, that they will go above and beyond the call of duty to advance corporate interests.
    The funny part of this, is that the House of Representatives has historically been known as "The People's House" because its structure and rules historically has made it a more "populist" body. Miscreants like Tom DeLay, who created the "K Street Project" to create a way for corporations to funnel money to Republican House members more efficiently. Thanks to men (mostly) like DeLay, we now have a House of Reps that laughs in derision at the notion that infrastructure such as the Internet should be available equally to all users. To them, the notion of equal access is high comedy.

    Next time, I'll explain why these conservative so-called "think-tanks" suck so bad. For now, remember for a moment why this country was founded, what the founders believed. Think for a moment about the wording of the Declaration of Independence. Read Madison or Jefferson. Then walk down to the office of your local Republican rep and throw a brick through his window. Be an American.

     

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      Angel, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 4:08am

      Why Is It Always the Rich?

      Before you start wringing your hands in despair over Republicans and "rich" corporations perhaps you should look at the giving practices of some of Silicon Valley's finest proponents of network neutrality, especially Google, gives 95% of its political donations to Democrats and most recently reported $1million to MoveOn.org. If you are going to argue about net neutrality than argue the policy. You've only served to prove the point that even money can't buy bad policy given last night's defeat of net neutrality.

       

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        Shadow Rider, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 5:50am

        Re: Why Is It Always the Rich?

        What R U not gettin? The point is that policy , gone unabated by populist action will sway to who holds the real power in the present socioi-eco-poly climate.

        "I said 'Yeah, we'll just order that up right now,' " Mr. Snow recalled in an interview this morning.

        Minutes after that exchange, at 3:45 p.m., the national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, left the room in response to note passed to him asking that he call the American ambassador to Iraq in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad.

        "We think we have Zarqawi," Mr. Khalilzad told him.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/08/world/middleeast/08cnd-bush.html?ex=1307419200&en=000c 058ded7db464&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

        I'll have some fries with that.
        -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Don't try that on your home pc.

         

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        Nick, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 7:21am

        Re: Why Is It Always the Rich?

        Granted, Google gives money to Democrats, but the 95% you mention I'm pretty sure refers to individuals working at Google, rather than Google corporate donations, but that still doesn't disprove anything about those "rich" corporations you are defending. Verizon gave 66% of $1.2m to Republicans, SBC 65& of $1.8m, and ATT 56% of $581k, and every other major telco favored Republicans by their donations. In a way, the whole debate comes down to fairness: is it fair for telcos who have had their networks paid for by the public and who are paid monthly by the public, to charge for someone to do business on the net? People who don't support network neutrality seem to see companies like Google as something that ought to pay because it's loaded. Problem is that if it has to pay or is downgraded, then the same can happen to everyone else. So why does it seem that Repubs are on one side and Democrats the other? Perhaps because this kind of fairness has been part of the Democrat policy since the New Deal, guaranteeing a minimum level of safety and security (or in this case access) to things that are most important.

        If anything, Google giving all its money to Democratic causes shows a belief in a set of values (do no evil?) whereas telco companies have to hedge their bets between Democrats and Republicans so they can ensure that no matter who has a majority they can ram their stinker ideas down our throats. Which of these two approaches ought we be more critical of?

         

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      Buc, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 7:43am

      Re:

      *claps*

       

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      Moneyguy, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      PopeRatzo,

      Thanks for the history lesson. I'll take our system AND our congress over any other group out there. Go and live in another country for a year. It's a great experience, but it also gave me an appreciation of how good we have it.

      By the way, the amendment this article referred to was proposed by Rep. Charles Gonzalez a Texas Democrat.

      If you think the Democrats don't have rich, powerful corporations backing them up you're just a tad on the ignorant side. What about the unions backing the democrats with their interests? Have you seen the statistics on how much each party raises each year?

      Like the Democrats don't have ways to funnel money to their causes. How many 527 plans are there? How many of those give money to their preferred party or cause? Democrats in Congress are just as rich as Republicans, they just have to work harder at hiding it from their poor, down-trodden, working-class constituency. Give me a break. While you're raising your blood pressure about DeLay, how's that guy from Louisiana doing? William Jefferson, I believe? And just how much money did he have in his freezer?

      When you tell us how bad conservative 'think-tanks' suck, please include a dissertation how liberal 'think-tanks' are so beneficial for Americans. (By the way, I've been impressed with your vocabulary on this and other posts - do you subscribe to Evelyn Wood's Vocabulary Dynamics?)

      I've read Madison, I've read Jefferson (reading a biography right now) and I actually carry a pocket sized version of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence with me in my coat pocket. (I'm a nerd, but a well read nerd.) Since you are condescending, er excuse me, stooping, to tell us to read the above authors, perhaps you'll enlighten us as to just what in the hell you are talking about?

      I thought the above article was speaking to a poorly thought out amendment (proposed by a democrat) regarding net neutrality?

       

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    Republican Gun, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 5:04am

    Vote your Wallet

    Republicans vote their wallets. Democrats vote with our wallets. See the difference. If you made money wouldn't you want to protect it?

    As for net nuetrality how can anyone expect a politician, republican or democrap, to legislate something they know nothing about. That's what lobbyist are for.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 5:36am

    Flawed argument

    I think there is a fundamental flaw in the argument presented. The artcile reads: "With companies like Google and Amazon, that doesn't apply. There was no government granted natural monopoly." Really w/o the same governement subsidy to build the network - which I am not sure you can claim applies to cable companies who pay a portion of their revenues to the muncipality for the use of the right of way - Google, et al would have no business model. So maybe they did nto directly recieve the benefit but they are undisputable receiving enomormous gain from these subsidies.

    So isnt this argument really about who should make the money and not if money should be made?

    It is also noteworthy how the main points keep changing. At first it was neterok providers should not be allowed to block any traffic and now it has morphed to not enabling preferential traffic. There are plenty of real world business models that highlight the stupidity of this argument. Semi private country clubs enable members who PAY for preferential treatment to play earlier and reserve better tee times. Heck even some public golf course enable those that sign up for an annual card preference over those that dont and these are all own and run by local and state governements. At some level these are nothing more than SLA's. Can you imagine banning SLA's so that core business network services could not recieve priority over consumer traffic? Why doesnt this violate net neutrality. I mean after all why should that giant comapny paying 300X what I do for services slow down my download when my tax dollars helped pay for the network. Again all of these areguments are silly and baseless in the real world.

    As I have said many times before, netowrk capacity is not unlimited and the companies and their investors that poured BILLIONSof dollars into improving their networks should have every right to engage in viable bus models that repay these loans and bring value to shareholders. If you want to object than dont by the service and let the free market work.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 6:27am

      Re: Flawed argument

      Yes, the cable guys have paid to build out their networks, and the phone guys are paying too with fiber. We're not in the subsidized monopoly common-carrier era anymore, and read any Wall Street report skeptical of Bell buildouts and their dicey chances of earning RoI and you'll see this isn't taxpayer money being spent.

      As to rights-of-way, these aren't exclusive to incumbent Bells; anyone willing to pay the local authority (not the "government" writ large as TechDirt implies) a ROW fee can did trenches to their heart's content. Anyone who lives in an urban area has seen that.

      It's not absurd to think that, if net neutrality is really about combating anti-competitive behavior, it can't be extended to other layers. You think YouTube was happy when Google Video landed exclusive distribution rights to Colbert's speech at the WH Correspondents' Dinner and YouTube had to take their clip down? Was that anticompetitive on Google's part?

      What if TechDirt wanted to launch a competing search engine. Google, Yahoo and MS have all bought up unused server farms from the dot-com bust, and are now constructing new ones in low-tax places like central Washington state. Why are they spending so much on servers? It increases their caching capacity and speeds their search engines, giving them a competitive advantage over the TechDirt search engine. Wouldn't it be better for competition if Google couldn't speed up its search through billions in investments but had to offer end-users the same functionality that TechDirt's search engine provides? Don't we all want to live in that world?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 7:43am

        Re: Re: Flawed argument

        The competition argument is a loser. When Google and YouTube battle it out for a video clip, that's one thing. But who is Verizon competiting with such that they have to pick favorites among the data on their network? Their business is providing the pipes, and as everyone knows, there aren't that many pipe companies out there. To go ahead and charge extra for the resource (i say resource akin to water) they provide is what is anti-competitive. Whether they charge for priority or merely favor their own content, the telcos will profit, simply because they own the pipes. Such is a conflict of interest, and not the kind that can be overlooked or justified because the internet is potentially the greatest Democratic enabler in all of history.

        If Verizon deprioritized a PAC's traffic for the few days before an election to disrupt their voter turnout drives I don't think we'd be wondering if its a problem or not. Of course they'd deprioritize a couple other sites too, just to cover their tracks, but they'd have the right to and no one could question it. No one could question it.

         

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      Kamus, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 4:54pm

      Re: Flawed argument

      "As I have said many times before, netowrk capacity is not unlimited and the companies and their investors that poured BILLIONSof dollars"

      Oh, i'm sorry, are they giving away the internet?
      can you please point me to the company that gives away their banwidth for free?
      Last i checked, i had to pay for my internet access, so maybe you can explain to me how this is anything else but a way of controlling consumers content to their benefit.

      Look, we happen to live on a planet called "earth". In this planet, technology advances a lot in very short periods of time, bandwidth could be a LOT higher than it is right now for the SAME price, but why would the telcos bother with new technology, when they can charge you whatever the hell they want with little oposition from competition?
      case in point:
      Telmex. I live in Mexico, there's extremley limited competition to this telco, and they are the number one internet provider in the country, this company is owned by one of the richest man on earth, the third one to be exact. (this is on a third world country mind you...)

      Telmex charges 800 pesos for 1 megabit of bandwidth, that's about 75 dollars for 1 megabit, they got no competition.. so whats preventing them from one day adopting a model like one that the telcos want in the US? they control the bandwidth allready, next up.. the content.

      So you belive we have a shortage of bandwidth, care to share your facts please? can you please show us, how it's not possible for telcos to increase banwdidth with out transforming the internet into a private network?

      Or maybe you can explain to me how countries like Japan, Korea... and even China are able to offer internet acecss for about 40 bucks a month, with a bandwdith of 100 mbit/sec?
      care to explain that for me?
      Obviously those countries don't have monopolies as huge as the ones in Canada, the US, Mexico and pretty much all of latin america.

      The fact is the US telcos were given HUGE tax breaks to build a fiber optic network that they never actually got around building, and they actually have a broadband fee that they charge you on your phone bill that was supposed to be destined for building this promised network that never became a reality.

      And i just LOVE your analogy of comparing a fitness club to an internet service... they are nothing alike.
      The internet has pretty much become a nessesity for todays world, golf... well, let's just say your analogy ends here.

      This is nothing more than an attempt to roll back things back to the way they were before this inconvinience for them called the internet, so they can keep charging you for phone service (obsolete service, it uses extremley low bandwidth for the capabilities of todays technology.) and so they can keep charging you obscene prices for TV programming like cable.
      (Again.. the technology is here so we could have multiple HDTV streams open at the same time, from companies that are not the usual suspects...)
      If they were to advance with technology, they would be destroying themselves, this is obviously why they are doing this.

      Can you just imagine if we had a fiber optic network like in Japan? there would be a TON of video providers, not just the usual monopolies. The telephone is eventually gonna be erased of the phase of the earth, but if the telcos have their way, not for a long time on US soil.

      so to recap... the Telcos old way of doing bussines is OBSOLETE, the technology has been here for years, just who the hell do you think you're fooling when you're saying that this is a bandwdith issue?
      that's like saying the fastest computer you can get is a 486 in todays world.

      I think the telcos are going to eventually lose this battle, because technology always prevails, but i gotta ask, at what cost?
      Just how many countries need to pass the US and the rest of the Americas before we get rid of these guys?

       

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    Don Dodge, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 5:37am

    YouTube, BrightCove, and Skype should be worried

    What do the telecom carriers want? They want the right to charge extra for certain applications at their discretion. Consumers pay about $40 - $60 a month for unlimited Internet access. The carriers are rethinking "unlimited" in cases where applications consume huge amounts of bandwidth. Things like video, IPTV, and VoIP could be the target of extra charges from the carriers. Companies like YouTube, BrightCove , Skype, and Vonage might be asked to pay surcharges for bandwidth. What is the problem? What happens if Verizon decided to charge Skype and Vonage extra for VoIP but allows its own VoIP service to go over its network for free? What happens if Comcast decides to charge BrightCove and other IPTV companies extra and has its own competing IPTV service? What happens if Comcast and Verizon coincidentally decide to add a surcharge YouTube traffic? What happens if they decide to add a surcharge to Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft just because they have billions of dollars and can afford it? I wrote an indepth blog about this today. See http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2006/06/what_is_net_neu.html

     

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    Doug, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 5:38am

    "Through out this debate, we've tried to stay pretty neutral" Ha! Techdirt isn't biased -- that's a funny one!

    "The point of network neutrality isn't some Utopian "everyone must be equal" concept -- but a real concern for a lack of competition in the broadband space." It seems to me that most of the people who support network neutrality *are* pushing the "everyone must be equal" concept. Network neutrality is simply anti-capitalism. A business which owns assets (in this case, network infrastructure) should be able to ask for payment when someone else wants to use that asset (by sending data over it). It really is that simple. Now people get all up in arms about this because they think telcos are going to block Google or something like that, but obviously any company that does something stupid like that is going to lose customers left and right until they change their mind or go out of business.

    Your main argument, about lack of competition, simply isn't true anymore. I can get DSL service from over a dozen different providers. I can get cable internet from two different providers. I can get FIOS. I can even get broadband over my cell phone. I can go to Starbucks and hook up to their wi-fi network. There is *lots* of competition for broadband. The argument that the telcos originally were given subsidies to build out their network so they should submit to more regulation now is bogus too. The solution to monopolies isn't to protect those monopolies with more regulation, the solution is to remove the regulations that make the monopoly possible in the first place. That will encourage competition by lowering the barriers to entry.

     

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      Wizard Prang, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 6:41am

      Competition? What Competition?

      When it comes to broadband, most of us have the "competition" of one DSL Provider (maybe more, but all go through the local Telco) and one Cable Provider. If we're lucky. Those who live in rural settings may have only one choice, or none at all. Starbucks... good point... but not really relevant to home-based Internet access, which is what this is all about. Isn't FIOS operated by Verizon? I would agree that in general, letting the market sort itself out... but once the market consists of a small number of very large companies, you can expect to enjoy the same free and fair competition that Americans currently experience at the gas pumps every day. It appears to me is that after taking huge amounts of money from the Government to build a network, the Telcos have short-changed the Gov't and are now trying to assert ownership over that network, even though it was built with public (i.e., OUR) money. Did I read that right?

       

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        Andrew, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 6:44am

        Re: Competition? What Competition?

        Yes, you read that right. The same thing is happening with Fiber optic. The companies have the wiring and they got money from our goverment to build it but they won't let us use it. Instead they charge us 45 dollars for some shit that I can't even get a proper 300kb/s that they claim. They just want money and this is what the bill provides them with.

         

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      Scott, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 6:59am

      Re:

      "I can get DSL service from over a dozen different providers. I can get cable internet from two different providers. I can get FIOS. I can even get broadband over my cell phone. I can go to Starbucks and hook up to their wi-fi network."

      That DSL from a dozen carriers, is leased from the Telco's. FIOS, telco, broadband over cell, still telco. If you are like me I can get cable from 3 companies, all 3 use 1 carriers backbone. And driving to use wi-fi is hardly competition, because they use the telco or cable backbone.

      If I put 300 doors on the outside of my house, but lock the doors to every room unless you pay me, you don't have competition. Your door may be close to my living room, but only the guy paying from the farther away door gets access.

       

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    Andrew, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 6:40am

    What the H*ll?

    When will our congress not just pass bills willy nilly. First, DMCA, Intellectual Property Act, and now this? Do the congressman actually know what we want? It seems that its controlled by greed not by a representation of the people. If you say they are representing the people I will call you a bullshitter. The Republicans just went for the juglar of our internet and in the process they just hurt themselves. I am considering a move to Sweden very soon.....

     

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    Pope Ratzo, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 6:48am

    Silly rabbit

    Republican Gun,

    Thank you for explaining that lobbyists' purpose in Washington is to explain all that complicated legislation stuff to lawmakers. I had no idea they provided such an important public service. I better apologize to Tom DeLay right now (I better hurry in case he doesn't read his email before going to prison).

    Seriously, would you mind terribly if I showed your comment to some friends as an example of astonishing ignorance and dishonesty?

     

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    Anonymous Bum, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 7:13am

    Silly Rabbit

    Lobbyists' are not just people working for the oil companies, NRA, tobacco or ((insert anti-liberal group here)). They are groups like MADD, ham radio operators, Cancer societies, unions, and trade organizations. People who know about the subject. This article is about Think Tanks (lobbyist's) that seem to have gotten it wrong, not what current political party has power.

    Nuff said.

     

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    Tim, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 7:21am

    Missing the Point Again.

    I think most people miss the point that the Internet was developed, has traditionally been regulated, and essentially functions and is used as a utility. Applying the argument that companies like Google and Amazon reap huge benefits from the marketplace that the internet provides is like saying that the consumer electronic industry is unfairly profiting from the marketplace that electricity companies provide (PEPCO should get their cut from Sony! After all Sony relies on PEPCO's electricity to power their products).

    The truth is that the internet access is at best a government subsidized utility provided by private corporations in a monopoly or duopoly marketplace. The costs involved necessitate this situation. I think it's enough that telecommunications is a private industry at all. I don't think anyone is arguing this is a good thing. The rest of the world has followed our lead on this to great effect, but there need to be limits, and it has to be regulated to the common good. The internet is a still developing marketplace with an almost unlimited potential for profit gains. We need to consider more carefully the potential damage handing stewardship of such a marketplace to corporate interests will have on our economy as a whole.

    As far as I see it Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot for their shortsightedness by pushing a tiered internet so hard. It goes to show how far the lobbyist culture as penetrated the hill that Republicans aren't even legislating to their own benefit or platform anymore. A lobbyist is not an expert; they are a corporate interest-monger. Unfortunately our representatives seem to have a hard time distinguishing the difference.

     

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    Doug, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 7:36am

    "We're not in the subsidized monopoly common-carrier era anymore, and read any Wall Street report skeptical of Bell buildouts and their dicey chances of earning RoI and you'll see this isn't taxpayer money being spent."

    People seem to have missed this point completely, judging by the comments that have followed. Telco's are not "subsidized" anymore.

    Commenters who said "they got money from our government", "and who are paid monthly by the public" and (here's a doozy) "The truth is that the internet access is at best a government subsidized utility" are all WRONG. The internet is successful largely because it is relatively free of government regulation, and it needs to stay that way. Government-mandated "neutrality" will only stifle innovation.

     

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    I, for one, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 8:45am

    I have considered this complex issue of network neutrality at some length now and heard interesting arguments from all players.

    The conclusion I have reached is simple. There is a glaring conflict of interests. Network carriers must be banned from all business outside shifting packets from one place to another unless the market is wide open to all to create new networks with no reguation whatsoever. By allowing a finite number of carriers to also provide services that utilise the infrastructure there can never be an impartial, balanced and stable operational framework, regardless of whether regulation or market forces are employed to moderate pricing.

    The only solution is either to introduce a cast iron partition demarkating which businesses may provide network infrastructure and those which may provide services on that system, whereupon existing anti-trust, competition laws and natural market forces will maintain a stable environment. If necessary companies with a conflict of interests should be broken up and forced to sell off their service or network assets. The alternative is to remove all regulation to the creation of new networks. Unlike roads in physical reality, there is no theoretical limit to the expansion of network bandwidth. It is only partial regulation unfavorable to individuals and small startups buying up public airspace and cable that keeps the equation finite and thus keeps a lid on an artificially scarce market. In short, the problem is neither the market, nor regulation, it is bad, partial regulation that serves those who are both owners and service providers.

     

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    GDog, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 9:24am

    I for one, would like to welcome our new Republican / Telco
    overlords, and wish them the best in their world domination.

    GDog

     

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    Intergalactic Hussy, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 9:37am

    The Right to Write

    As long as they don't take away our right to bitch about things we aren't doing or can't do anything about.

     

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    Joe Smith, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 10:02am

    Off shore

    So if the US telcos start premium charging the most successful US websites for their network traffic - charging them more for bandwidth than is charged to less successful sites - isn't that just going to encourage companies like Amazon and eBay to move their server farms to Canada?

     

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    Our country is rotting, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 10:03am

    This whole thing is crap. IF they need to expand they should have been preparing for it with the money they get. When a major contractor needs a new truck or a saw the cost of a remodel dosent skyrocket so the unprepared can get rich and get new equipment. When you are taking in money you are supposed to set aside a portion for development and growth, not give out massive dividends to stockholders and bonuses to CEO's. But I guess if the net is going to work the way this country does then go ahead pass laws to pass the cost either directly to the end user, or to the end user from the bandwidth suppliers and content creators. I am all for it, the more and faster we piss on all the little guys, the more hate toward large business and the government we will create. We are all conspiring to create a third world country right here in america (i used to capitalize it, when I believed in "of the people"... etc.).

    If this country wants me to try and to earn here, I am going to need an incentive, when more people see this we will be able to let other countries worry about immigration and security. It won't be long at this rate until people flee this country like rats from a sinking ship

    But the up side is they just blew the coffer dam at three rivers in China, a country where at least when they feed you a pile of crap they offer you salt for your crap, instead of trying to tell you its sherbert. If we do something to bring everyone in and motivate all our citizens, we might only be able to barely keep up with China after five years. If we continue to let our government be sold to corporate america, and fractilize our society, China will economically bury us by 2015.

    The moral of the story, have neutrality.... I won't swim against a flushing toilet, I am going to learn Mandarin and go get a government job. I'll come back and visit all the non government/corporate employees in their staw huts in a few years. Ahhhhh how I will laugh and point when americans are the ones in breadlnes, and the Chinese are saying,"but labor is so much cheaper over there..."

    See also comment 16 this poster seems to be a touch better spoken and a lot less disienfranchised than myself. At any rate it is still time for a tea party....

     

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      Tashi, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 11:44am

      Re:

      Nihao pengyou! :)

      I've already acquired some land overseas and I'm currently having a house built there. Even if I don't leave America anytime soon, there's no way I'm retiring here. Not only will my money not go as far, by the time I hit retirement age, America will likely be a full on fascist state by then.

       

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    chris (profile), Jun 9th, 2006 @ 10:37am

    government subsidy

    the telcos got their start thanks to government subsidy. that's a fact.

    if you and i want to compete, and your service was subsidized 30 years ago, and mine wasn't, you esentailly entered the market with a significant advantage over me. the advandtage came courtesy of the subsidies paid to you by the government.

    the government may no longer be paying those telco subsidies, but it doesn't change the fact that the industry was builit on and the players in the industry still exist to this day thanks to subsidies paid by the government.

    no one can compete with the telcos because they entered the market with a significant advantage. that makes the telco industry a government susidized oligopoly.

    the telecoms deregulated in 1996 and what did they do? roll out fiber across the country? no, they spent billions buying up their competitors while the bottom fell out of the long distance market.

    and just how is there going to be competition between a handful of providers with local monopolies?

    there won't be becuse whatever thing you come up with to compete with the telcos will eventually plug into the internet backbone which is made up of... say it with me... telcos!

     

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    KeyStroke, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 10:49am

    Why 'net neutrality' was a bad idea

    Lets say that cars and roads are invented, however jet airplanes are not (yet). You pay a flat monthly fee to your local road construction company and they pay fees to other construction companies and they pay (etc. etc). You wind up with streets leading from your house to other houses near you and to toll-free highways that lead to businesses and other interesting places.

    All well and good.

    Now someone starts tinkering with flight. They build a 'wright flier' and launch it off a cliff and it flies. Now more and more people are building 'fliers' and they are getting heaver but also faster. Soon you see fliers using the streets paid for by your monthly fee. So far the accidents have been minimal. When a 'flier' ( now called an airplane ) crashes into a car no big pile ups have happened.

    Now a major change happens. Big businesses are now constructing big 747 like jet airplanes. But they don't want to pay for airports with big runways to let them fly faster. No, they want to use the existing set of streets and highways that your monthly fees have paid for.

    Soon there will be huge traffic tie-ups on the highway you want to use because some 747 has decided to land on it. You have to re-plan your route and hope some other huge 747 hasn't used your alternate.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to build airports for jet aircraft and limit use of those runways to jet aircraft (keep the cars off) while still allowing cars to use the streets and highways that their money has already paid for?

    OK, lets say we agree that jet runways should be constructed. Now, who should pay for those big and expensive runways? Should it be the little guy who only drives his car on the streets and highways? Or should it be the big companies with the jet airplanes?

    Net Neutrality would allow capacity-hogging traffic (streaming HD VoD and VoIP) along the same 'pipes' that your little blog would want to travel.

    I think it makes much more sense to have the providers of streaming HD VoD and VoIP pay extra for a build-out of high-bandwidth, low-latency set of connections to carry that capacity-consuming traffic and allow the existing connections to continue to carry the traffic that exists, today.

    But wait, you say! Your local asphalt company now wants to get into the business of constructing and flying jet airplanes! What about that? OK, so what? The asphalt-now-jet plane company will know that it would harm their car customers if they tried to land jet airplanes on the local asphalt road. So it is not in their best interest to harm their customers in that way.

     

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    Mike R, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    Consumers don't care.. yet anyway

    I don't care where the money goes, how it gets there, or what the mechanics are.. who's pockets get lined or whatever else, as a consumer. As a consumer, what I care about is this: I want to pay for what I consume. I pay for broadband access, I want to get screaming-fast speeds to each and every website or service I go to. If I'm paying $50/mo I dont want to get 56k speeds from a purely educational but popular site with donation-only driven revenue because they can't afford to line telco's pockets. I'm visiting the site, consuming bandwidth, so I want to pay for what I consume, and only for what I consume.

    If I do a search for "Early Roman Empire" and come across an educational site thats free and as not a single ad on it, I want the site and its pictures to load fast -- because I'm paying $50 instead of the $10 or less for dial-up. Why in gods name should it be slow? WTF would I have to do it get lightening-fast accesss to pure information for research, etc, go to my university to get in their intranet and then be SOL with more 56k-like speeds (or slower?!) if the information isn't available at the library or their intranet?

    This is a return to the stone age. Consumers I don't think will care how the language is, but they'll care when they can't get to what they want.

    I think it seems clear this won't go the way it should, Verizon and co will carry the battle. I think we can only really hope that our ISPs somehow offer a plan where we possibly pay more but get access to priority traffic, ie, like I said, everywhere we try to go is fast. Thats pathetic to have to pay more though when most people understood their internet connection to be unlimited high-speed.

     

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    Moneyguy, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 4:08pm

    Out of curiousity ...

    Politics aside ...

    Just out of curiousity, how much would streaming HD, VoD and VoIP impact on the Fiber Optic backbone here in the U.S.?

    It's been a few years, but I thought there was something like 60% dark fiber (fiber optic cable which is laid but unused at the moment) plus add the technology to push through more data (like 100 times the current load) on current lines using different colored light. Will the "capacity hogging" traffic really have that much of an impact?

    I'm all for Net Neutrality, but I also understand that if I want "screaming internet" I'm going to have to pay a premium for it. As little as 5 or 6 years ago, 55% of Americans did not have access to high-speed internet. What percentage of Americans have it today?

    I currently use Roadrunner light at home, and frankly I don't really notice the difference. I have something like 80 channels of crap via Time Warner and I hardly watch it television anymore. I'm considering limiting my cable to the basic 30 or so channels as we speak. The shows I like I buy on DVD. Video on demand? Don't use it because I don't want to pay for it. I'd rather buy or rent the DVD. My cell bill has steadily been falling, so I can't see myself using VOIP.

    As a business owner, I have a high-speed connection but hardly ever use it for more than data-transmission. Every once in a while I will watch a podcast, but that is the exception not the norm. I have a land line, but use my cell for 85% of my calls. A few years ago we tried video conferencing, but the conclusion after two years was that our business suffered because face-to-face time was limited. I travel more, but my business and income has increased. According to one of my customers, "we like you because you take the time to be here in person."

    Am I the exception or the norm? I do know that my expenses have gone down after sky-rocketing in the late 1990's. Why? I got rid of all the extra capacity that I never used. How many Americans will be using these technologies? And be willing to pay for them?

     

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    Kamus, Jun 9th, 2006 @ 5:00pm

    ""As I have said many times before, netowrk capacity is not unlimited and the companies and their investors that poured BILLIONSof dollars"

    Quoting you agian.. forgot to add something, ok so if this is a money issue, how come they don't offer you this increased network capacity for a price? they are not even CONSIDERING this option, they want to control the content you can use, and that's all there is to it.

     

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    Rich, Jun 10th, 2006 @ 1:06pm

    Remember when........Things changes

    Once upon a time.. you wanted info, you dial up the site you wanted, no access fees, just any toll charges incurred. Rules and laws made so you did not have to use the acoustic coupler to avoid to teleco fees.
    Next. Dial up, competition with everyone offering more bandwidth to the point of tech limit of the local loop. Next price drop competition. Then the sites increase their content slowing the dialup.
    Now we have broadband access, in my area with limited competition, I still see some price reduction. But with the increase bandwidth, The sites increase content.
    Things to consider, The industry is still changing, players come and losers go. The ones the offer the best under whatever the conditions are, will win and call the shots, whether the Government helps or hinders.
    Sit back and enjoy or endure the ride….

     

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    Xtreme, Jun 10th, 2006 @ 1:30pm

    In the end the loser is average Joe. Let me tell y

    In plain english, I, you and average joe pay Verizon from 30 to 60 a month for a high speed internet.
    I, you and average Joe get on google to search anything we look for without paying google a penny.
    If verizon starts charging google because I, you and average joe using the engine then google is going to charge me, you and average joe.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2006 @ 8:33am

    get government mandated monopolies out of the cont

    We don't need net neutrality; we need to keep the cable companies and telcos from offering content or owning content companies. Make that a condition for being one of the few connectivity provider allowed to legally in a town....

     

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    Hegemonator, Jun 12th, 2006 @ 6:45am

    identify those who naysay net neutrality

    Most of these people that are trashing net neutrality are pro AT&T, pro Verizon or just tainted with political favors promised for support. Access to the Web has been methodically handed over to a handful of a new breed of super mega-monopoly and they will either block or diminish spectrum allocation for data transport which affects quality of services to users that wish to access IP media from competitive interests outside the broadband service provider's realm.

    Each of these organizations that spew on net neutrality; Each of these players that voice bad opinion about net neutrality; each of these politicians that insist on no net neutrality protection; all should be catalogued, monitored, and documented thoroughly. This way when Acres at AT&T makes his move, Siedenberg at Verizon makes his move and the rest of the cable and satellite monopolies all band together to control the web... every one of these people that supported no protection for the web can be tracked down and held responsible. There will be no room for political sidestepping and these people will be branded the next next time they run for public office or try to claim they represent the interests of society.

     

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    PokeyJoe, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 8:44am

    The propaganda, OH the propaganda...

    Propaganda page: http://www.internetofthefuture.org/
    Bought, and paid for by the Teclo's propaganda department.

    FACT: Telcos were given a ton of money in subsidies and incentives to build out a wired, natural monopoly network. The government gave them rights of way (which no one else can get). In exchange, they had to open their networks up to others to provide services. In other countries, this has resulted in robust competition and better services -- which was the point. I.E. WE PAID FOR THEIR NETWORK!

    And you think misdirection in the media is bad now?

    Lack of bandwidth and QoS is a front, a lie. The point is that big Telco's should not have the right to filter, limit or give preference to ANY content in ANY way.
    Canada's internet is suffering from not having network neutrality with no recourse. Would you have us be next?
    http://www.slyck.com/news.php?story=1083

    What will it take to pull our head out of the dirt? If we give private corporations control of OUR public information superhighway, you don't think they will put of a toll gate at on/off ramps? Whoever controls information, is in the drivers seat of our country. "We the People," ring any bells? If you think is about anything other than power, control, and profits, your a complete idiot and deserve what you get.

    The Bill our elected officals rejected: (and it looked good to me) http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/epo0631.pdf

    This is a Pandora's box. You need to take a step back and look at the big picture, how can you even think this is about QoS? QoS is not even a term or technology with defined rules as there are MANY things that fall under this term. Quality, in QoS, is defined differerntly depending on who you ask. For the VoIP end user is means sound consistency, for the ISP's it means PROFIT MARGINS, i.e. whoever can pay us the most can get a guarantee their data comes first and anyone else gets what's left over if anything! Or mabey we will give preference and punishment a try.

    QoS on Cisco equipment is giving priority rating to a protocol by tagging the packets sending them out in a first come first served basis by priority and hope the next stop qualifies them the same way we tagged them, QoS on a WatchGuard Appliance is bandwidth throttling or capping of a protocol or destination for the traffic on it's own ports. The QoS Telco talk about not possible except in a laboratory where there are only 2 traffic type and combined = the total bandwidth available. Not in any network outside of a controlled lab, my dear diluted propaganda technicians.

    You may think this is not about the Skype and Vantage taking profits from the outdated business model of AT&T. But know that the Teclo's smell a windfall of profit if we lay down and give them the power to say who can do what, where, and when, or not on MY network.

    The current laser technology can afford us terabytes per second of data, this can be sent on a single fiber line, arguing that there is not enough throughput mind boggling. And a fiber trunk can carry upwards of 96 fiber or more. And there are hundreds of thousands of miles of "dark fiber" across America are left unused, left dormant by bankrupted startup web companies.

    Will we let the Telco's be the next OPEC Oil Barons of our information? How much is a byte of content this week AT&T? Oh, you don't like them? I guess i'll have to trust you have my best interest in mind when you tell me I can't go there...yea, ok...

     

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