Is Network Neutrality Costlier? Not Really, But Some Will Pretend A New Study Says So

from the not-necessarily dept

Over the weekend, someone anonymously sent us an announcement about a study, co-authored by some folks at AT&T, suggesting that network neutrality is a lot costlier than a non-neutral network. This seemed to go directly against the experience of many others, but it's still an interesting read. The problem is that the report doesn't quite say what AT&T wants it to say, but that won't stop people from pretending it does. It doesn't actually say that neutral networks are more expensive. It says that they require more bandwidth to deliver equivalent traffic speeds and delay. That's not news. Everyone already knows that. What's implied is that this excess bandwidth makes things a lot more expensive, but that's not necessarily the case. The paper doesn't bother to explore the actual dollar costs between the two setups, just the amount of bandwidth. It also doesn't consider all the costs associated with a non-neutral network. As David Isenberg points out in the link above, provisioning additional bandwidth isn't directly proportional to the amount of bandwidth. In other words, requiring 60% more bandwidth does not mean 60% additional cost. Furthermore, Isenberg notes that the cost of bandwidth keeps dropping, so it actually gets cheaper and cheaper over time. However, the cost of labor associated with setting up and maintaining a non-neutral network is likely to increase over time. It doesn't appear that the details in the report are wrong or biased, but the implications suggested by those pushing it seem to fall into the same old propaganda positions that are all too common in this debate.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Buzz, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 10:28am


    This whole concept fascinates me. I can just see AT&T execs with their hands on their hips, "We'd really like to offer a better ISP, but certain web sites are just too popular! We'll just tone the traffic down a bit so the rest of our customers can enjoy a smooth Internet experience!" It's more like, "Our competitors are kicking our trash. Let's block them for fear of our customers discovering them."

    I don't know how everything will turn out, but if it ends up where there are neutral and non-neutral ISPs, most users will flock to the neutral one in the same way people flock to a DRM-free version of a song over the DRM-protected version. How is a non-neutral network supposed to help us again?

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

  2. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 10:44am

    man beats peacock to death because he thought it was a vampire.

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

  3. identicon
    andy, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 10:53am

    Re: WTF?

    "We'd really like to offer a better ISP, but certain web sites are just too popular! We'll just tone the traffic down a bit so the rest of our customers can enjoy a smooth Internet experience!"

    one of the best summary statement i've read on the issue... and i have an entire library of bookmarks devoted to this topic.

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

  4. identicon
    suv4x4, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 11:13am

    They forget

    It doesn't matter which is more expensive (even). Unpackaged food without "best before" date, substance and ingredients control: that's cheaper.

    But you don't wanna buy it at the risk of going to the hospital in few hours.

    We need internet model that works. If it's a bit more expensive than a model that doesn't work, so be it.

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

  5. identicon
    Old Guy, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 11:16am


    Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. ~William W. Watt

    Then there is the man who drowned crossing a stream with an average depth of six inches. ~W.I.E. Gates

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

  6. identicon
    sonofdot, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 11:42am

    Re: They forget

    And what exactly is it about the current model that doesn't work? I was able to locate your lame comments without any problem.

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

  7. identicon
    Trouble Maker, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 1:21pm

    two cents worth

    This the same sort of mendacity that is spouted from the Oil Companies just before they bend the consumer over the pumps.

    It is a business; they are in the business to make money. They will manipulate and maneuver and construct the necessary environment they desire that best suites their roadmap to success.

    The Consumer, the public, the mindless lemming, what ever you want to call the faceless masses that are being forced into capitulation of the transfer of monetary ownership. They are the control group that provides these companies with the power to achieve their goals.

    Say it with your wallet, keep it closed.

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

  8. identicon
    CharlieHorse, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    the only study I want to see ...

    is just how much of "their" network was paid for/or highly subsidized by tax dollars in the form of either tax breaks or tax incentives, or any other means by which public monies might have been in play in building out these networks ...

    without even bothering to do the legwork myself (yes, 'cause I am lazy, thank you) ... I'm gonna take a crazy wild guess that it's not a small number ...

    tiered internet will stifle growth and expansion. it will hurt small business, it will make second class netizens of those who cannot afford some ludicrous top tier pricing scheme.

    lookie - what is the incentive in a tiered scheme for telco to expand it's infrastructure when customer A complains about not having enough bandwidth ? answer: there is none - telco simply says to customer A - oh, you want better bandwidth, well, you need to move to from your current tier 3 service to tier 1 service - which is $$$$$ per month more than you pay now

    so - now what happens - say company A pays up this blackmail fee, protection racket, extortion, whatever you like to call it ... now company B and company C are suddenly feeling the pinch because company A is now QOSing more bandwidth ... so, now what ? do company B and C also have to "pay up?" literally ? what then about company D and E ? and on and on - so now you see the REAL reason the telcos want "tiered pricing" ... it's a thinly disguised racket to try and wring more money from customers and force them to "pay up". (off subject and flamebait, but can you say "vista"?)

    oh, but no, Charlie, you're wrong, the telcos will have a separate network for tiered services ... blah, blah, blah ... okay, fine - this solves nothing! the problem is still exactly the same - perhaps even worse ... those on tier 1 are still paying extortion to have decent bandwidth - but now maybe tier 1 is expanding somewhat due to high usage fees, while those on tier 3 network are even worse off now as there will be no incentive to upgrade tier 3 network ever - why should the telco ? - if those currently on tier 3 want better service, then pay up suckers and move to our shiny tier 1 network ... tier 3 network is getting slow with increased users and connections ... thus forcing some to "pay up" ... and on and on ad nauseum ...

    aaaaggghhhh ... can't .... take ... it ... any ... more ...

    *okay, okay, I'm going back on my meds now*

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

  9. identicon
    Overcast, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 3:40pm

    Pay enough - and you can get a study to say whatever you want. It's easy to twist 'science' if you have the right 'environment'.

    I could prove that water kills - I mean, if I only studied people that fell out of boats that couldn't swim....

    "In 98% of cases, the study shows that people who fall out of boats die" - just need to be careful not to mention the important facts! lol

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

  10. identicon
    suv4x4, Jul 4th, 2007 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re: They forget

    "And what exactly is it about the current model that doesn't work? I was able to locate your lame comments without any problem."

    In case you've missed that one, we're currently in a non-tiered model. This is what is proposed to change.

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

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