Rational Thoughts On Network Neutrality

from the about-time dept

We've been pointing out the ridiculous editorials on network neutrality that get the basic facts wrong and ignore the real issue (the lack of competition), so we might as well point to the well written pieces on the topic as well. Former telco exec Tom Evslin writes out a nice balanced article that highlights the real issues (the lack of competition) while also noting why network neutrality is necessary -- and why trying to legislate network neutrality is difficult to impossible and could backfire as well. He, like us at Techdirt, feels that there's too many lies on both sides of this debate -- and its obscuring the real issues. So what will it take to move the discussion away from the minor issue of network neutrality, and back to the bigger issue of competition?
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  1. icon
    rijit (profile), 14 Jun 2006 @ 7:42pm


    Fair competition is something else again though and either way it goes, it will be the users who end up on the screwed side paying more than it is worth, o wait, we already are. Now they are gonna screw small biz as well.

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

  2. icon
    wulfman (profile), 14 Jun 2006 @ 11:07pm


    Ever look at what a T1 costs ? Lets get more people to COMPETE and bring down real internet costs for the masses.
    the US is WAY behind in providing cheap service. more competition is better for us consumers.

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

  3. identicon
    JR, 14 Jun 2006 @ 11:38pm


    Well, I think the idea that cable companies are going to be battered around by all this is going to prove out on it's own. With DVRs and varying packages, cable companies offer a lot of different solutions. Granted, they won't be for everyone, but the dirty little rub about IPTV is that the people who want their shows NOW without interruption or subscribing already get what they want... from other fans. It's call fan-sharing, and it's the biggest kept secret of the P2P networks. Movies? Music? Screw that, man. I catch up on episodes of shows I just can't get anywhere else. These guys keep extensive archives that are commercial free. It's not just for weird fan-geeks of Japanese anymore, and hasn't been for awhile.

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

  4. identicon
    Lloyd Fassett, 14 Jun 2006 @ 11:41pm

    Competition is the key

    Techdirt does seem to be the only place I can find that is onto this main issue. GYM etc. got significant press for walking around Washington via their PR engines and successfully distracted everybody. MSM doesn't seem to be able to think anymore in it's 'balanced' coverage.

    I too am for a totally open high band width connection, but I'm actually totally more for capitalism and ownership rights. The telcos and cable companies own their networks. They are the rich kids with the ball and they can take it home anytime they want. It's a matter of opinion about what the reaction would be. And a matter of spin what their legal obligations are for the permissions given by the government to build those networks.

    Isn't this the same as the public trying to decree that banks shouldn't charge access fees to their ATM networks about 10 years ago? End of that story was of course - they own their networks and make their own rules. This is the same strategic throttle point as the Neutrality issue.

    The closest alternative drives price and relative strength of a position - not the GYM boys walking around Washington. Why would the rich kids just charge certain companies to not be slowed down? Because most of their consumers could access those sites through dial-up as an alternative. The performance will be just better than that. The long tail of sites doesn't matter.

    I'm hoping that public WiFi becomes the public's 1,000 Mighty Mice to the rescue. Maybe it becomes a little more clear through the San Francisco Fog why Google wanted to get into public WiFi a couple years ago.

    Now, if I was only so smart to see why eBay bet the farm on Skype. Then maybe I'd understand strategy.

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

  5. identicon
    Gerry Mandering, 15 Jun 2006 @ 1:57am

    Other Countries

    With Wi Fi being not for another decade (or so), and it being America's real hope for some competition, how is it that other countries avoid the problem of laying down all the wires and such, and why is it such a problem for America? Back to the article though, I really was kind of a nazi in support of net neutrality and didn't really understand the ramifications of it until this article. I wish more people could see both sides, then maybe we'd see some real results being made.

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

  6. identicon
    break from the hype, 15 Jun 2006 @ 6:27am


    surprising, but welcome breath of rational air from all the spin on both sides.

    I second the insightful comments that have already been made as well.

    thank you.

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

  7. identicon
    eb, 15 Jun 2006 @ 7:11am

    How Are We Going to Get Competition?

    And isn't some assurance of net neutrality needed in the interim? Without assured net neutrality, won't any competition using the telcos pipes be restricted to the "slow lane", thereby rendering it pretty ineffective in terms of competition? If anyone has a good idea about how we're going to get competition that doesn't use the telcos' pipes, aside from pie-in-the-sky wireless that won't be feasible for years, I wish they'd speak up.

    Face it, competition is going to be extremely hard if not impossible to bring about.

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

  8. identicon
    Mousky, 15 Jun 2006 @ 9:16am

    Re: $$$$

    There is a difference between cheap service and subsidized service. Also note that more competition does not necessarily mean lower prices, it may mean better and/or a broader range of services and products, or it may simply mean having choice.

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

  9. identicon
    Robert Rittmuller, 15 Jun 2006 @ 9:22am

    The revolution will be netized...

    I agree, we need greater competition in order to foster better prices and greater selection. I also agree that the issue has become very clouded and it is high time we all paid closer attention to what factors are the key motivators for the current legislation. One small thing I would like to draw some attention to is the idea that somehow the internet is the end in itself when it only comprises the delivery method for services. It sure seems like many are focused on the issue of broadband delivery costs when this only comprises a very small part of the larger issue. My gut feeling is that media companies are running scared, afraid they are about to lose large amounts of ground to upstarts like Apple's iTunes (and many others). In an effort to protect these interests the media giants are circling the wagons (recent legislation) in an effort to cut these services off where they are most vulnerable, at the "last mile". If the media giants (cable companies are especially suspect here) succeed in accomplishing this then I would expect to see the Internet access market move away from cable modems to other technologies as customers become frustrated because they are unable to access online video services.

    Just my .02 ;-)

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jun 2006 @ 12:51pm

    The Elephant in the Room

    "Right of Way" access is the elephant in the room the incumbents don't want mentioned. ROW access restriction is at the very root of the problem because it is the method by which the government protects the incumbents and competition is constrained.

    I see no reasonable prospect of the incumbent operators ever willfully giving up their monopolistic ROW access or the government ever willfully giving up control over it.

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

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