by Mike Masnick

Freeloaders Are Not The Issue

from the can-we-stop-talking-about-it? dept

In the continuing annoying debate on net neutrality, one thing that the telco supporters keep bringing up is the idea that breaking net neutrality is needed to stop "freeloaders" from using up all the available bandwidth and choking off the network for everyone else. Of course, generally speaking, none of the people or companies described as "freeloaders" actually are freeloaders. They're all paying for the bandwidth they use. If part of the problem is that the telcos gave them too much bandwidth for the price, that's a telco pricing problem -- not a net neutrality one. No one is saying that connectivity can't be priced on usage. However, Tom Evslin, in his continuing series of smart thoughts on network neutrality, is now explaining why so-called freeloaders are not the problem in network congestion. He knows what he's talking about, as he started AT&T's WorldNet ISP to compete with AOL many years ago. It's an interesting read that pokes a lot of holes in the claims from telco backers that somehow these freeloaders using BitTorrent are going to kill the internet. Instead, those people are helping the network operator, spreading content out during off-peak times, making the network much more valuable to users, and bringing content closer to the various endpoints. Update: Meanwhile, along similar lines, rajesh points us to this blog post from someone at Global Crossing explaining how the numbers BellSouth is giving out about just how expensive it will be to offer IPTV are totally wrong. The baby bells lying about their actual costs? What a surprise.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    J, Jun 29th, 2006 @ 11:34pm

    Since legistlation is the word of the day, can we pass a law saying that people have to be educated on a subject before they talk about it. If everybody would just read Evslin's blog and the book that was linked a couple of days ago about all the money the telcos got for doing absolutely nothing then maybe people would stop worrying about network neutrality and start putting the blame where it belongs. With Ma Bell.

    First Post!!!

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

  2. identicon
    Jsmith, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 5:17am


    This is a very simple topic.....just like anything that happens in washington....all comes down to the Green stuff aka money. the telco are spending big money to get this pushed to the top of the list. what can we do seeing as they dont give a damn about us. God i hate the goverment

    /bangs head on desk

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

  3. identicon
    Name Withheld, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 6:38am

    Why should net access be priced based on usage? My cable TV bill doesn't go up when I watch more television.

    If it's going to be based on usage, then at least it should be based on UPLOAD bandwidth used.

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

  4. identicon
    Pope Ratzo, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 6:48am

    There are laws restricting certain types of business from creating horizontal monopolies. The FCC has rules about media outlet ownership.

    Telcos should be restrained from selling content. Period. They should be able to make billions from selling bandwidth, but not compete with the people providing content on that bandwidth. It's pretty simple, really. I don't want AT&T in the movie business, and I don't want Touchstone Pictures laying cable.

    What, they don't make enough money being in the telecommunications business? Is there any limit to the rapaciousness of corporations? Who out there believes that a completely unrestricted marketplace is healthy us as a society or for us as individuals?

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

  5. identicon
    Grundy, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 7:46am

    People's Network

    @ Pope Ratzo:
    Unrestricted marketplace? You're a total hypocrit ya know that? You just said you don't want AT&T in the movie industry or Touchstone laying cable. That would be an unrestricted marketplace.

    It's really the free market that's helping to create monopolies and oligopolies.
    Would it be possible to run an open source backbone network from donations? Basically anybody would be able to connect for free. However donations would be strongly encouraged. This would certainly begin to create some serious competition for the current giants.

    Of course... I'm sure nobody will ever try this as it's totally insane to think people would pay when they don't have to right?

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

  6. identicon
    DShealey, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 8:54am


    The HUGE issue to me is the absolutely insane amount of spam clogging the pipes. To me, THAT is the "freeloading" that is wiping out bandwidth.

    Why in hell cannot anyone do anything about that?

    Spammers should be fined heavily and or jailed, virus/trojan initiators should get the death penalty.

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

  7. identicon
    jsnbase, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 9:06am

    Re: People's Network

    >Unrestricted marketplace?......

    You need to read his post again.

    Whenever these tech-regulation issues come up, I always advocate letting the various factions fight it out through software before getting the government involved. There's somethiing gladatorial about it....

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

  8. identicon
    Don S, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 9:10am

    Re: People's Network

    @ Grundy:
    You missed Pope Ratzo's point. He is saying that a completely unrestricted marketplace is not good.

    There need to be some restrictions to try and keep the playing field level for all players. The telcos should not be able to charge for bandwidth that is already being paid for by websites through their ISPs. If the telcos want to offer additional and/or guaranteed bandwidth levels for an additional fee, without affecting any other website or service, that is completely different.

    The telcos do not seem to like that idea, though. They want to be able to charge some websites extra, just because they can. That would be similar to Exxon charging you an additional fee for gas just because you drive a Hummer. If you don't pay the extra fee for your gas, you may not be able to pump all the gas you need because Exxon has decided that your gas intake restricted to five gallons or less per trip to the pump until you pay the fee.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 10:29am

    Level playing field? What the hell does that have to do with anything? If I start creating a really kick ass operating system, do I have a level playing field with Microsoft? Can I spend the money to market my product that they can?

    There is no such thing as a level playing field.

    Answer me this, everyone bitches about America being behind in terms of broadband connections. Why the hell would Verizon run Fiber to the home at a cost of $800 only to have customers only pay $20 for monthly data service? Where is the ROI in that?

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

  10. identicon
    Corey, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 11:07am

    I already pay more for the bandwidth...

    They already charge more for more bandwitdth. I pay about four times as much for my broadband as I would for dial-up.

    As for the level playing field bit, it sounds like the problem is a telco selling movies competing with other movie providers who have to pay that telco extra for the bandwidth. Makes it harder to compete with the telco. And as I said above, the extra bandwidth is already being paid for.

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

  11. identicon
    Mike Mixer, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 11:08am

    Re: Amen

    Can you imagine the upload lane opening so they can make money WHoo hoo

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 11:44am

    Does anyone have a problem with a telco charging more for higher bandwidth? If a consumer wants slow service, they pay for dial up. If they want a little faster, they pay more for dsl. If they want faster, they pay for cable or fiber. Any problems with that?

    Now, if Verizon goes to Google and says if you pay us money, we will deliver your content to our customers at a higher rate than they currently pay for, we will let you do that.

    Nothing wrong with that, is there? Its all just a matter of who you give your money to. Nothing is free, the consumer will pay for it, one way or another.

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

  13. identicon
    Jeff R, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 11:54am


    Lets see. $800 to lay the fiber, $20/mo means 40 months to recoup those costs. But I think those numbers are a bit off. It'd much more likely be $800 - $200 install charge and $40/mo which is 15 months to recoup those costs.. and then lower ongoing costs to provide the service going forward for the telcos.

    And let's not forget the fact that Version (in particular, although they're not the only one) accepted BILLIONS of dollars from various government entities as part of a contract to lay fiber to the premises that was supposed to be complete by the end of 2006...

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

  14. identicon
    Brian A., Jun 30th, 2006 @ 1:16pm


    I agree the the general sentiment of this thread... you are already paying for it. If the amount of bandwidth your using isn't a good deal then raise the price. Problem is the telcos can't do this and retain subscribers. So they just bitch and moan and try to extort money from so other source.

    Besides if you REALLY wanted to freeload you could poach wireless off some unknowing coffeeshop or your neighbor. (not that I'd ever do that :)

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 1:19pm

    OK, show me a press release, article or anything else that documented where the govt. ever gave the telco's taxpayer money. Just one? Don't point me to some bullshit book that talks about $200 billion dollars, because that comes from the govt. allowing the companies to raise their rates. That isn't exactly the same as giving them taxpayer dollars.

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

  16. identicon
    J, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 11:17pm


    Maybe I misread your comment. Maybe I'm just confused. Help me out here, did you just say that the money came from the government and not the tax payers? Did you really just say that? tell me I'm wrong. Please tell me there aren't people that stupid in the world. Tell me that you know that all government money comes from taxes. Please, I beg of you, don't wipe out the last little bit of faith that I have for people.

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

  17. identicon
    Mike, Jul 3rd, 2006 @ 12:18pm

    that just made my day

    to 'J'

    thanks man. that comment just was perfect. honestly, how are people so retarded?

    "that comes from the govt...that isn't exactly the same as giving them taxpayer dollars"

    wow. public education was one of the most detrimental legislations of all time.

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

  18. identicon
    MikeB, Jul 4th, 2006 @ 8:52am

    Telcos charging extra?

    Listen, I'm paying $60 per month for PCS broadband (the only broadband available where I am), and Verizon gave me the boot because I used over 10GB in one month. They stated with that usage, I was obviously violating their AUP. They also claimed that was more than 40 times the average use of internet service. Who can honestly say they only use 256MB of bandwidth per month? I now have Sprint PCS and am waiting for them to kick me off of theirs too. Don't give these Telco’s another dime until they expand and improve their service (what they have all promised the FCC and FTC through merger agreements.)

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

  19. identicon
    Bog Wafer, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 3:17am

    Calling Google et al "freeloaders" is like calling other trucks on the highway "freeloaders" because they aren't taking cargo to YOUR destination.

    Utterly ridiculous.

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

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