Is Comcast A Threat To The Internet?

from the competition-is-the-thing dept

Tim Lee has written a long, detailed and really thought-provoking article for National Affairs Magazine, all about what it takes to keep the internet competitive. Lee, who has a reputation for being generally skeptical of regulation without real evidence that it's needed, actually comes down on the side of suggesting that certain key regulations probably make sense to keep the internet competitive, with a specific focus on limiting Comcast's power to directly impact the market, and to effectively disrupt the internet's decentralized nature. It's a persuasive piece that doesn't shy away from the fact that telecom regulations are incredibly complex, and anyone who argues that any change to the existing market is putting regulations where none existed before is delusional, since the whole space is already highly regulated -- it's just a question of how that regulation might shift around.

The key point in all of this is that the guiding star of anyone trying to keep the internet vibrant should be making the market truly competitive with no dominant power able to make significant shifts in the core underpinnings of what makes the internet work. Lee uses the Comcast/Level3 dispute from a few years ago to suggest that Comcast is potentially shifting the traditional contours of the internet's competitive market:
Comcast's large share of the broadband market, along with the fact that most of its customers have few if any comparable alternatives, gives Comcast significant leverage in negotiating with backbone ISPs. Comcast has traditionally been a customer of Level 3, one of the largest internet backbone providers. When a Comcast user exchanged data with a network that was not directly connected to Comcast's own network, Comcast paid Level 3 to carry that traffic.

But in November 2010, the two firms became locked in a bitter dispute. Level 3 had just won a contract to deliver content for Netflix, one of the internet's largest video services. Anticipating that Netflix would generate more traffic than the existing links between the Comcast and Level 3 networks could accommodate, Level 3 proposed installing additional links between the networks. Ordinarily, Comcast, as a Level 3 customer, would gladly accept what was essentially a free upgrade. Instead, Comcast refused to accept the new connections unless Level 3 agreed to pay Comcast for the additional traffic. And Level 3, after voicing strong objections, paid up.
There's a lot more to this -- and Lee highlights some of the more detailed nuances as well, so don't just go on this brief summary -- but he argues it's a sign of the power that Comcast has been building up. I highly recommend reading the full thing if you're thinking at all about the issue of regulations on broadband service providers, and the future of the internet.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Perhaps you might want to look a little further and consider the implications.

    If you pour more traffic into the top of the Comcast funnel, hopefully it is big enough to handle it. If it is not, then Comcast is forced to upgrade their internet network to carry all the new traffic. Bringing more connectivity in the door has repercussions all the way from the gateways to the end user hubs.

    "free" isn't always free, isn't that what you say Mike?

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:49am

      Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

      As usual, Comcast doesn't want to invest in upgrading their network, nor do they want to do anything resembling providing a reasonably priced competitive internet service to anybody.

      Comcast wants to milk every dollar it can out of its over-priced under-performing network for as long as possible before selling it to some poor schmuck who'll have to shell out a ton of cash in upgrades after paying a premium for this "valuable" company just to get the company anywhere near modern and competitive.

      /rant-prediction.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

        Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

        Actually, I agree with you here. There is no real incentive for Comcast to improve their networks, except as equipment goes obsolete. Rates for internet connections will get pressured down over time, and we can only assume that they will not see the return they really want.

        Further, let's be clear here: Netflix streaming is a direct competitor for Comcast's PPV offerings. I can't see them wanting to improve the competition at their own expense.

         

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

          "Further, let's be clear here: Netflix streaming is a direct competitor for Comcast's PPV offerings. I can't see them wanting to improve the competition at their own expense."

          And this is what happens when you allow these types of companies to play in too many fields through acquisition w/little competition. You now have two aspects of Comcast's business in direct competition w/one another.

          Bandwidth customers would obviously be better serviced for emerging/current offerings like Netflix by an increase in service levels and partnerships with Level3. However, the VOD part of Comcast doesn't want this.

          Who is the utlimate loser in this scenario? The customer, which is exactly what regulation is supposed to prevent....

           

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            hegemon13, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

            Yet, ironically, it is regulation that allowed them to seize the control they have.

             

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              Chargone (profile), Mar 30th, 2012 @ 7:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

              ... the Specific regulations in place at the time/now. not regulation in general.

              HUGE difference that people need to stop being morons about and actually understand (from both sides)

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

          If Comcast doesn't want to be in a business that competes with its other offerings, then get the hell out of the internet service (I use the term loosely) provider business completely, and let someone who wants to provide actually service take over.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

          You're....quite a bit off, here.

          1) Being that in MANY areas, Comcast is a monopoly, the only pressure to drive prices down is if people were to get so fed up that they'd give up on broadband and go to dial-up.

          (In many areas, no, there is not an option for FIOS, DSL, or any other competitive service. I'm apartment-hunting right now, and many places have told me that literally my only option for internet is Comcast)

          2) Do you know how something becomes obsolete? A better product is introduced into the market. In areas where they have a monopoly, what incentive does Comcast have to introduce new products? Absolutely none. They may upgrade where there are competitors, but only at the rate they're forced to do so.

          3) If people pour more traffic into Comcast's funnel, they are in no way forced to upgrade their network. Do you know what they are forced to do? Put stricter caps on data to make sure no one is using "too much" so their current network can continue to handle it. Using the iPhone as an example, it's not like there's a Sprint out there saying, "Hey, other people want to cap you? We'll offer unlimited data!" Once again, in many cases, there's Comcast and only Comcast.


          So, all that said, no, improving a network given no real competition is not in a company's best interests. It's in the consumer's best interests. And given that our idiotic government has handed the consumer-level broadband access for the vast majority of the country to a controlled monopoly, it's then the government's job to treat it as such and either force them to provide an adequate product or force them to not use their size to prevent competition, and let a free market decide what happens.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

            try satellite

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

              Try reading and not skimming. TV access != internet access.

              The most satellite does is DirectTV will say, "hey, you can use Verizon.....if it's available in your area."

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 5:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

                  Hughesnet is an under performing and over priced offering that no sane person would cheerfully accept.
                  Even after dealing with Comcast.

                  In my opinion, Hughesnet is not a viable option unless your grandmother likes to check her email with it. No way she can use it to watch a video of her grand kids playing.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:33pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

                    Hughesnet is an under performing and over priced offering that no sane person would cheerfully accept. Even after dealing with Comcast.

                    That's different than having no alternative whatsoever,which will be the justification for throttling under six strikes, deep packet inspection and any regulatory measures.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 8:22pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

                      ???

                      Both ends in the same outcome, less bandwidth.

                       

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          CoCo Was Screwed, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 3:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Your Pipes are too small."

          [quote]Rates for internet connections will get pressured down over time...[/quote]

          Really, based on what? The fact that rates for Comcast service have never gone down? I have been paying the exact same amount since my first Comcast HSI account back in 2000. The only change has been in the speed of the connection.

          Don't try and argue that

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      Wow, it only took you 8 minutes since Mike posted this to come up with something retarded to say.


      Try following Mike's advice from the last paragraph, and maybe next time, you won't embarrass yourself.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:59am

        Re: Re:

        Wait, you don't think for a second that perhaps, just MAYBE, I read it on the original post instead of waiting for Mike to digest it and spin it for you?

        Nah.... perhaps you might want to take your own advice and think before you post!

         

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          Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You've had 6 days to digest this and you come up with something that suggests you have no idea how the Internet works.

          Level3 isn't dumping unsolicited data down Comcast's throat, Comcast's users are requesting it. That means Comcast's users are already paying for it.

          Comcast is also receiving a service from Level3 (access to their backbone and the rest of the Internet). Why should Comcast get payed for receiving a service?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I understand it completely. But I also know that Comcast, by limiting the incoming bandwidth (by not accepting a larger connection) in turn regulates the usage of their own network - basically, they use the strangle point of connectivity to level3 as a sort of throttle.

            By adding new connectivity, they increase the amount of data on their internal network, which in turn can lead to overloads within the parts of the network that they would have to address.

            "Comcast is also receiving a service from Level3 (access to their backbone and the rest of the Internet). Why should Comcast get payed for receiving a service?"

            Well, look at it this way: Without the Comcast customers, netflix might not buy so much connectivity from Level3. Just a thought.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 8:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Don't Comcast have QoS?

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 8:38pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Exactly. Level3 is the UPSTREAM PROVIDER Comcast is the DOWNSTREAM PROVIDER. It works like this. Customer pays downstream provider for a portion of the connection that they in turn get by PAYING THE UPSTREAM PROVIDER. How then is it that the downstream provider is demanding payment from the upstream provider for bandwidth used by their users? Can you say "wagging the dog"?

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2012 @ 2:10am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You write like RD.

                I understand that - but I think that Comcast is trying to turn that model on it's ear. Basically, "we have the customers, pay us for them".

                 

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                  Bengie, Apr 2nd, 2012 @ 7:52am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  That is a monopoly abuse. The customers already pay for access, now Comcast wants to double charge by getting L3 to also pay.

                  Not to mention a HUGE portion of Comcast's network was paid for by tax money during the late 90s free money hand-out to ISPs.

                   

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      "If you pour more traffic into the top of the Comcast funnel, hopefully it is big enough to handle it. If it is not, then Comcast is forced to upgrade their internet network to carry all the new traffic."

      Yes but its the customers who are using this traffic. They are also the one who are paying for the bandwidth. Comcast wants the customer to pay, netflix to pay and Level 3 to pay for the same fucking bandwidth use.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, except it's not the same bandwidth use. That's the issue.

        Connection from user to comcast is one connection. Connection from comcast to level3 is another connection, and the connection from level3 to comcast is another.

        By your logic, level3 expects comcast to pay for the same bandwidth that netflix paid for. That seems silly!

         

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          teka, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't pay my internet provider to connect to "them". I pay them to connect Me to What I Want.

          The fact that deals are negotiated between different layers of the nationwide network architecture does not change the fact that i am paying for end to end service.

          Comcast, and other providers, are getting greedier in their logic-defying attempts to get everyone to pay over and over again for the same byte.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2012 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, I pay Comcast for them to hook me to the internet. If I watch a Netflix video, I have requested that data be sent to me and am paying to receive it. Netflix doesn't randomly shoot information into Comcast's network.

          Comcast pays level three to connect it to other networks. Comcast would be pretty worthless if I could only reach other Comcast users with it.

          Netflix pays Level 3 to connect its data center to all the other networks in the world. One of which is Comcast.

          But now Comcast also wants to get paid for allowing Netflix traffic on their network even though that traffic only enters their network when their PAYING CUSTOMERS request it.

          Comcast is the only company trying to double dip here.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:08pm

      Re: Funnel????

      It only comes in if someone that is paying for the connectivity to Comcast requests it. If Comcast can't provide what its paying customers are trying to get because of a connection bottleneck Comcast should be paying to correct the bottleneck, not getting paid for letting someone else fix it for them.

       

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      Machin Shin (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

      Re:

      There is just one big issue with your whole "Comcast funnel" thing. Comcast is selling bandwidth to customers and the end customer is paying according to how much they are supposed to be allowed. So if suddenly everyone starts watching netflix and Comcast cant handle that traffic that would mean they oversold their network. That is on Comcast not anyone else.

      Also a bit stupid to say it in terms of "If you pour more traffic into the top of the Comcast funnel," anyways. You do realize the internet works by people requesting things right? Unless Comcast customers REQUEST the extra traffic then there is no extra traffic. No one is dumping anything anywhere. Comcast customers are requesting it.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:06pm

        Re: Re:

        Yup. Oversubscription is an ancient practice that fit quite well for the old telephone switched networks (remember how it would take a while to get a call through on the holidays?). The problem is that the oversubscription model doesn't adapt well to rapid increases in demand. That makes suits unhappy, and childish things will happen when suits are unhappy.

         

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          harbingerofdoom (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          its clear you have no idea how network management actually works.

           

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          Bengie, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oversubscription works just fine as long as you don't do it too much.

          Like that company out in Cali that is rolling out gig fiber for $70/month. They claim that there are some users who make full use of their 1gb line, but there is no point in throttling them because they don't skew the average enough to care.

          If a small start-up can roll out 1gb fiber for $70/month and not have any choke points during average peak usage, then I don't see why Comcast/etc can't do the same.. oh wait, the purposefully degrade the quality of their network while reserving 100s of gigabits of bandwidth for TV channels that rarely get used.

          Instead of 4 DOCSIS3 channels, they should just put out 64 channels and use IPTV+multicast. Get rid of reserved bandwidth, do everything packet switched.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 5:06pm

        Re: Re:

        "Also a bit stupid to say it in terms of "If you pour more traffic into the top of the Comcast funnel," anyways. You do realize the internet works by people requesting things right? Unless Comcast customers REQUEST the extra traffic then there is no extra traffic."

        Yes. I understand fully how the internet works, please try to pay attention.

        My assumption is that right now, comcast customers who are using Netflix may be "maxing out" the current peer connection (say 20 gigs), so Comcast only has to really allow for that much network activity. But if you double the amount of connectivity allowed, perhaps the existing customers will ask for more movies via streaming, which would mean more incoming data. If they go from 20 gigs (example) to 40 gigs, there will be some increase as the "maxed out" requests actually get processed. With more speed, perhaps even more customers start to use Netflix, which drives more consumer demand, which drives more network traffic.

        The issue? This will mean that Comcast will almost certainly have to improve their existing infrastructure.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

      Re:

      If you pour more traffic into the top of the Comcast funnel

      You really don't understand how the internet works, do you?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:29pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, he was told it's tubes, not a dump truck, and tried to take the analogy from there. I give him a C for effort since at least a funnel into a pipe shows that people are demanding more bandwidth and the pipe is too small for it all.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2012 @ 2:14am

        Re: Re:

        It's amazing trying to deal with people who say "you don't understand how the internet works", but didn't take the time to understand what I said.

        The point is if you have a bigger pipe, your customers can request MORE data, which has to move through the comcast network (which is effectively a funnel, becauee it has a limit to how much can get past it's gateways). If their gateways and trunk network can only handle 20 gigs of data, then opening up 40gigs of pipe above them isn't going to change anything inside the Comcast network.

        In order to truly accommodate 40gigs of pipe, Comcast would have to upgrade their main trunks or backbones to support more traffic. That would cost them. So the "free" extra bandwidth from Level3 really wouldn't be free, because it would pretty much force Comcast to spend money on their network.

        I can draw it out on napkins for you if you can't understand the very basics.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2012 @ 6:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The point is if you have a bigger pipe, your customers can request MORE data

          And my point is, if this is the case then you charge your *CUSTOMERS* more money. Don't want to do that? Then that's on you. I don't want my electric utility company charging Samsung more money because I chose to purchase a bigger TV. They need to charge ME more money.

           

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

      Re:

      What's that saying about a "series of tubes" and a "dump truck"?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:30pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am

      But Level3 isn't dumping more traffic on the Comcast funnel. The traffic from Netflix to Comcast's subscribers would hit their network regardless of where Netflix's access point was. Access at Level3 just means less hops to get there and thus better performance. The amount of traffic is still the same.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:45pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am

      Comcast was trying to get what AT&T wants and that is to be paid for the traffic on both ends of the connection.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:45pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am

      Comcast was trying to get what AT&T wants and that is to be paid for the traffic on both ends of the connection.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am

      Comcast was trying to get what AT&T wants and that is to be paid for the traffic on both ends of the connection.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am

      Comcast was trying to get what AT&T wants and that is to be paid for the traffic on both ends of the connection.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2012 @ 7:00am

        Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am

        See techdirt this is what happens when you poor too much into the funnel. Its spills over the top and you get information leaking everywhere.

         

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    McHandler, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    it's a shame

    too bad the FCC won't be allowed to regulate this kind of activity anymore...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Remove the Comcast Monopoly

    All of this could be solved if the market was opened up to REAL competition.

    Too bad no one is talking about Competition.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    The biggest problem with the telecommunications system is the fact that the companies had to invest trillions of dollars into the development of the network, the copper, fiber optic, microwave, satellite, etc.. infrastructure. After having made these capital investments the companies feel it is unfair for other companies to utilize these networks without having had to invest in their development. I am not sure that there is a way to legislate fairness. And I am quite sure that nationalizing the telecommunication networks would result in stagnation and deteriation.

     

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      rubberpants, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

      Re:

      Are you suggesting that consumers and companies aren't paying for their bandwidth?

       

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      Greevar (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      They invested? Trillions? No, we invested about 200 billion of our tax dollars to expand the network (which they didn't do, they pocketed the money and used it to break in to long distance services). The network belongs to us, they are merely granted right of way to build and sell it to us.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

      Tax payer built

      How much "infrastructure" spending was backed by tax payer subsidies? (See Yankee Stadium)

      I would like to see how much was really spent (you can't prove trillions, per your argument) and how much the infrastructure builders were reimbursed, subsidized or granted (through monopoly) via local municipalities.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

      Re:

      If I had a dollar for every bit Comcast dropped last month, then I'd be a trillionaire.

       

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    Greevar (profile), Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    I feel I need to repeat myself.

    The internet needs a separation between content distributors and internet service providers. Mixing the two creates far too much conflict of interest. Cable companies should be cable companies and ISPs should be ISPs. The same goes for the telecoms as well since almost all are in bed with Dish Network or DirecTV. Nobody with services that the internet competes with should be serving internet access because they will always try to give an artificial advantage to their services over others.

    Just like investment and commercial banks were once separate, so should ISPs and content distributors. Combining conflicting interests is the problem here. It's the only effective way to establish a neutral internet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

    over-subscription: I worked at ATT supporting frame-relay, ATM, MPLS etc for over 5 years and I can say I KNOW they over-subscription their networks 300%! so a t1 1.5 mbps line is subscribed 4.5 worth of customer CIR "Committed Information Rate" I often took call from our customers complaining about latency during high use times ( Morning, late afternoon and evening). So, as soon as I was laid off, I cut the Uverse cord! ITs been 2 years now and miss nothing! As far as internet, we do use ATT Internet as the other choice is Comcast and when it comes to internet service, they are worse! Anyway . . .

     

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    John Thacker, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 1:59pm

    "The fact that Comcast feels comfortable charging CDNs for the privilege of installing servers that reduce Comcast's own bandwidth expenses is itself evidence of Comcast's growing market power."

    Huh? Growing? ISPs have always charged CDNs on their networks for using their bandwidth.

    At least he understands that in the Comcast/Level3 dispute, it was Level3 that was the big monopoly using their size to undercut the CDNs. However, since that monopoly saves consumers money, I don't complain much.

    Consumers think that Comcast is the bad boy with market power, because ordinary people sign up with them. But Comcast isn't a Tier 1 network; they have to pay for transit to send users' data to some locations on the Internet. By contrast, Level3 is a Tier1 network, able to send data anywhere on the Internet without paying transit.

    Level3 is one of the few Tier1 networks with which the Tier 2 Comcast has a peering relationship. That relationship is worth more to Comcast, which is why they backed down to Level3's "bullying."

     

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    medlaw, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    comcast - Level 3

    My takeaway from your discussion of Comcast's strong arm of Level 3 was that, in essence, Comcast used its market power in the broadband market to extort part of the revenue Level 3 received from the Netflix contract. That does raise an eyebrow.
    (Note: I'm not suggesting extortion in the strict criminal sense.)

     

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      John Thacker, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 2:20pm

      Re: comcast - Level 3

      My sense is that Level 3 used its power as a Tier 1 backbone to expand into the CDN market to undercut smaller CDNs, and that this sudden change in its network traffic cause Comcast to re-evaluate the terms of its existing free peering agreement of Level 3 for on-network traffic (distinct from Comcast's role as a paid transit customer of Level 3 for off-network traffic).

      CDNs have traditionally paid ISPs. Backbones have traditionally been Tier 1 networks that ISPs have often paid for transit. Level 3 decided to use its market power in the backbone market to expand and offer cut rate CDN services, cutting away at Comcast's revenues and causing Comcast to reconsider if the peering agreement was still a good idea.

      Peering agreements have always been voluntary, and disputes are nothing new.

      I like this Ars article from a year ago: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/12/comcastlevel3.ars/1

       

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    chris, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 3:55pm

    If other internet companies could keep up with Comcast's speed then I might go over to one of them but they don't even come close when my Comcast gives me around 50MB download and 6MB upload. Fact is me and 3 others in the house have 4 computers and each of us game online download and lots of other things tablets running Netflix or OnLive but we never lag or have major problems.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 4:23pm

    Is Comcast A Threat To The Internet?

    Yes. As are most major ISPs that have too much money. They should only be allowed to make a certain % of pure profit, based on the size, number of employees and clients. The rest would be put on infrastructure, R&D, etc; and be mandatory. Then we'd have awesome progress, happy end users, and MAFIAA off our backs (though I'm sure they'd figure out others ways to mess with our internets).

    But that's what happens in an Imperial world. Money rules it. Take a snapshot of the USA. It's a sad thing to see.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

      Re: Is Comcast A Threat To The Internet?

      Yes. As are most major ISPs that have too much money. They should only be allowed to make a certain % of pure profit, based on the size, number of employees and clients.

      Excellent idea, Comrade. Perhaps you should suggest the same for Google.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 4:34pm

    Regulation > Legalised Antitrust

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2012 @ 11:28pm

    This article by Tim Berners Lee is the most informative and well reasoned articles I have seen on this issue. This article goes far beyond Comcast and Level3 dispute: it highlights a fundamental deficiency, and perhaps hypocrisy, of the government's role over the infrastructure of this vital technology. Railroads and highways were of such importance that the government thought it would be in the public interest to intervene. I see no reason why they should not again do so in this sphere.

    I truly hope the FCC will get authority to regulate the infrastructure of the Internet. I will be referring to this article repeatedly.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 30th, 2012 @ 1:01am

      Re:

      This article by Tim Berners Lee is the most informative and well reasoned articles I have seen on this issue

      I agree it's informative and well reasoned, but just want to point out that the author of it, Tim B. Lee, is NOT the same person as Tim Berners-Lee.

       

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    Jim Sanders, Jan 30th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    That's really ridiculous.

    "Level 3 proposed installing additional links between the networks. Ordinarily, Comcast, as a Level 3 customer, would gladly accept what was essentially a free upgrade. Instead, Comcast refused to accept the new connections unless Level 3 agreed to pay Comcast for the additional traffic. And Level 3, after voicing strong objections, paid up."

    There's definitely something wrong there, I feel bad for L3.

     

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