Mike McCurry: Will You Pay Google's Bandwidth Bills For The Rest Of This Year?

from the worth-asking dept

We've already covered how much dishonesty there is in the network neutrality debate -- often involving editorial pieces in major newspapers penned by lobbyists. In almost every case, those editorials aren't just misleading, they include flat out lies. Broadband Reports points us to the latest, written by Mike McCurry, who runs a lobbying effort funded by AT&T. He's written up an editorial for the Baltimore Sun that doesn't bother to mention his lobbying duties, or who has funded them. McCurry tries to make it seem as though the whole net neutrality thing is simply a ploy by Google to get "free" bandwidth. He notes, derisively, that "a $117 billion company like Google wants legislation that would drive Internet prices higher." Of course, he doesn't happen to mention that his viewpoint is funded by AT&T, who at close of business on Monday appears to be worth (oh, look at that) $117 billion as well.

While we're not convinced legislation is the right solution (it's focused on the wrong thing, first of all), it's extremely worrisome that the telcos and their friends keep resorting to trotting out lies. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to not support the various laws as written, but this constant string of lies certainly suggests that the telcos recognize their position is pretty weak. However, rather than just accepting the rhetoric on both sides, shouldn't we call the lies out? Among the whoppers in the editorial: "The "neutral" proposal that companies like Google are touting will ensure that they never have to pay a dime no matter how much bandwidth they use, and consumers who may only use their computers to send e-mail and play Solitaire get to foot the bill." That's a flat out lie. Google pays tremendously large bandwidth bills, and the more they use the more they pay. However, if McCurry is going to pretend Google "never [has] to pay a dime no matter how much bandwidth they use," let's see him put up or shut up. If McCurry really believes that, will he agree to pay Google's bandwidth bills for the rest of this year? We're sure Google would have no problem having McCurry contribute -- but we doubt he can actually afford their bandwidth bill. Still, if he's so concerned about his own bill from playing Solitaire, we're also quite sure that Google would simply trade him. So, come on, Mike, why won't you trade bandwidth bills with Google? According to you, you wouldn't have to pay a dime...

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  1. icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 2 Aug 2006 @ 2:46am

    Re: It's not actually a lie

    Well Mike, that's a nice strawman argument and I can see it makes you feel very virtuous. You've exposed me as a liar without even once proving your point or addressing the issues. What I actually said is that simplifying issues is standard practice in politics, but according to you that's the same as saying "it's OK to lie as long as your side is right." Having God on your side isn't the issue.

    But what is the issue? A silly commenter above says "QoS is fine as long as it's free!" to which we simply say "then why not use if for everything at every time? It's not QoS if you do that, of course.

    I think this misunderstanding is the essence of the Google position: everybody has to pay the same price for Internet access on the consumer side, and on the content side we should have a bandwidth auction that allows bigger players to get steep discounts and no charge at all for high-value services such as QoS. That's a joke.

    We're re-building the Internet, and not for the first time. The original Internet that Kahn and Cerf designed collapsed within two years of going on-line, and was replaced with one that had congestion control in TCP. That one has been patched and re-patched for many years, but is near to collapse. It will be replaced by a network that can handle a broad mix of traffic types and services, some advertising-supported like Google, some by subscription like Skype, Vonage, and the NY Times editorial page, some by ISP subscription like ESPN 360, and some by means we haven't even seen yet. It costs money to run pipes, it costs money to build server farms, and it costs money to produce "content".

    It's completely absurd to hit every Internet user with the same bill regardless of how they use the network. It's completely reasonable to separate users into access plans that fit their needs, whether they're on-line gamers, VoIP callers, file downloaders, or web surfers. And it's completely reasonable to allow content producers to buy bandwidth or QoS at wholesale so they can re-sell it to ISP customers who can use it to access special services or content outside their service plan.

    Google, Yahoo, MSFT, and the others are arguing for continuation of a status quo under which they've been very successful to prevent upstarts from challenging them by clever adaptation of applications to a more flexible protocol and billing system. They're building massive server farms close by the major hydropower dams on the Columbia River with 100's of thousands of servers, because in the Internet of today whoever produces the traffic controls the flow. The potential stifling of innovation is right there in The Dalles, Oregon.

    The Internet that we have today isn't the last word in networking, and it hasn't even kept pace with the LAN and WLAN and WPAN technologies that feed it. We should prepare for massive overhaul of the entire system, and dispensing with the "neutrality" and "end-to-end" foolishness is a good place to start. As the Internet become a richer and more robust playing field, it may hope to one day catch up with the sophistication and utility of the networks people use in their homes and offices today instead of being an albatross around the neck of progress.

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