Traffic Blocking: A Financial Issue, Not A Technical One

from the get-your-wallet-out dept

Several ISPs and telecom providers’ first reaction to the likes of Vonage and Skype has been fairly predictable, network neutrality be damned. The Wall Street Journal today has a round up of many network providers’ feelings on the matter, hidden under the guise that heavy users are hogging bandwidth and slowing down service for all their other customers. But one consumer advocate nails it when he says it’s not a network-management issue, but rather a revenue-maximization issue, with an exec from Time Warner saying they’re looking at different ways to control traffic, but that “Revenue opportunities…definitely exist.” So, basically, it sounds like more providers will implement “price blocking”: you’ll be able to use whatever you want, you’ll just have to pay extra for it . The problem is that these ISPs are looking to block services with which they compete — Vonage packets might get hung up, for instance, while data for a provider’s own VoIP system sails through just fine. FCC boss Kevin Martin has said that market forces will keep providers from blocking certain traffic on their networks, but that’s not an assertion that’s held up. But given how the commission has changed Internet freedoms into entitlements, and how the industry wants regulation to disappear, it’s hard to see this situation getting any better before it gets a lot worse.

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Comments on “Traffic Blocking: A Financial Issue, Not A Technical One”

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Luke (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Comcast traffic controls

Actually, that really doesn’t matter as the ISPs will continue to have control over who moves what data across their network one way or another.

Moving the root DNS won’t stop this sort of thing.

Plus, I find it much easier to figure out what a money-hungry company will do versus what a bunch of politicians will do. Never, ever give ANY government more control unless the only alternative is to kill everyone on the face of the planet.

DV Henkel-Wallace says:

Re: Re: Re: Comcast traffic controls

moving root dns servers outside of the us will prohibit private corporations from making policy decisions

Unfortunately there’s nothing to stop your ISP from responding to your DNS query themselves, even if you try to contact one of the root servers directly (i.e. they can spoof the root servers). Remember they control the routing information for packets to/from your machine. They are the ultimate “man in the middle”. Without cryptosealed DNS, what can you do?

Thoughtful (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Comcast traffic controls -Adam Smith's Hand?

Competition is good – the only role the government have to play is to ensure it occurs and to prevent price fixing or blocking of new entrants into the market.
If you have competition e.g. web hosting or Intel/AMD CPU sales – you can see competition provides the consumer with better value.
A new company providing a better value product or service will take business from the existing firms. All the better for consumers and society – think of the effect of cheap computing has had. e.g. cell phones, TVs, PCs, iPods etc.

The danger in the ISP world that the ISPs will conspire to fix the prices to keep them high.
[It is obvious that the cost of communications equipment and hence bandwidth keeps dropping.
So price of bandwidth should drop too.

Routers are also electronic – Moores Law applies, and the price falls in the same way. These are main costs in the Internet. ]

A company can try to prop up price but this will mean that they will lose business to better value firms.

Just look at how Cable firms have cut into the traditional phone business.

The only government role is to stop price fixing.
Another role is to allow
new entrants to connect to and serve the customers.
Do these and Adam’s Smith invisible Hand will ensure that the is more product at better prices
– and companies will be profitable too.

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