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), 3 Aug 2006 @ 3:08am

    Re: Mike and Richard Bennett Discussion - clarific

    You're overlooking the fact that there are at least two dimensions to broadband service: bandwidth and jitter. We're all used to bandwidth and we accept service tiering on that basis already, as you point out. I can choose dial-up, DSL, cable, or some form of wireless according to bandwidth and understand what I'm getting, how much it costs, and why I choose what I choose.

    Consumers are less well-acquainted with jitter, the fundamental element of QoS. It's technically the variation in delay from one packet to the next in a stream of packets, and it's something that packet networks like the Internet don't handle very well, by design. The fundamental tradeoff we made in moving from the circuit-switched PSTN to packet switching was to surrender the jitter guarantee made in the design of the PSTN for the higher bandwidth available in packet-switched networks. That was fine as long as all we did on the Internet was file transfers and services built on the file transfer model such as e-mail and web surfing.

    But now we want a network that reserves a little bit of bandwidth for low-jitter, real-time services such as VoIP and video multicasts and then gives us the traditional packet-switched service across its remaining bandwidth.

    The telcos, understandably, want to sell the real-time, low jitter service for premium prices and the rest of the network in the traditional way, with the exception that they want to place a cap on each user's consumption of raw bandwidth in order to guarantee that each gets a fair piece of the shared tubes.

    Most consumers are so naive about the nature of the Internet - and this extends to the consumer advocacy groups that are pushing net neutrality guarantees - as to think that a 6 Mbps link means each consumer can use all 6 Mbps all the time. That's possible in a circuit switched, PSTN network, but it defeats the economies of packet switching.

    Packet-switched networks such as the Internet are built on the insight that traffic is bursty and users don't use all of the network's capacity all of the time. That bursty nature has to be controlled in order to make real-time services work, and it has to be controlled to stop greedy bastards from hogging the whole tube. This wasn't so important back in of the early days of the Internet, but we have different needs and different users today.

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