Are Industry Best Practices Enough To Protect Net Neutrality?

from the no-sticks-anymore,-just-carrots dept

For the supporters of net neutrality, an Obama White House, Genachowski FCC and Democratic Congress seemed to be the magic combination to ensure an open, non-discriminatory Internet. However, one of the key proponents, Representative Boucher, has recently suggested that he is switching tactics, "scrapping the idea of pursuing legislation mandating an openly accessible Internet in favor of negotiations with stakeholders aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord." An agreement upon industry best practices could, in theory, be a good way to protect net neutrality, but there are causes for concern.

As Techdirt contributor Tim Lee pointed out in his paper on net neutrality, the unintended consequences of legislation may be costly and inefficient. So, voluntary agreements could create a flexible, realistic approach to protecting an important principle. Something similar happened with the Global Network Initiative that brought together Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!, along with academics and human rights organizations, to agree to a set of principles and enforcement mechanisms to protect and promote free expression and privacy around the globe. But the motivating factor of this agreement was the threat of legislation following very humiliating Congressional hearings on American Internet companies' dealings in China. By creating a voluntary set of best practices, the Global Network Initiative sidestepped the unintended consequences of poorly drafted legislation. The ISPs could do similarly, but by publicly stating his change of tactics, Boucher may have removed the motivating factor.

Another key to any agreement would be competition in the ISP marketplace. In Norway, where they recently created a similar agreement between ISPs and consumer protection agencies to mandate non-discrimination of networks and endpoints, the ISPs are in a competitive sector. Because ISPs there recognize the competitive advantage of staying neutral, there is a force pushing them in that direction. In the United States, the driving force was largely the threat of legislation, and hopefully that is still there as Boucher guides the ISPs towards his comprehensive accord.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 7:37pm

    Forced net neutrality (legislated) would likely lead to two very bad effects for end users:

    1) Low caps on bandwidth. If ISPs cannot control the low percentage of people who use huge amounts of traffic by blocking or disabling certain types of traffic (P2P, Skype, etc), then they will have to limit everyones traffic to a number low enough to make the heavier users pay dramatically

    2) Higher monthly costs. If the ISPs are forced to provide both ingoing and outgoing bandwidth to support P2P, Skype, and other "peered network" commercial systems, they will have to purchase significantly larger connections to peering points and increase their internal network size and connections to support it.

    In the end, absolute net neutrality isn't any better for the average consumer than a restricted network. 90% of the bandwidth is used by 10% of an ISPs users. Being obligated to support all these other business models will mean massive changes, and those changes will go in the wrong direction.

    Careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 6th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

    Re:

    Careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

    Weird Harold once again displays his stunning reading comprehension abilities.

    Kevin points out in the post that legislation is a bad idea. But that what's useful is the *threat* of legislation.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 7:46pm

    The threat does nothing for the companies, in the end they want it. As a comsumer, you should be scared of this legislation, because the end results would likely be bad for the consumers, not the companies.

    Threaten them all you want, the ISPs are hoping like heck it comes down the pipe, because then they can get all draconian on bandwidth without looking like the bad guys.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    jonny_q, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 8:04pm

    Is this a place for advertising laws to be involved? If ISPs are going to shape traffic or give certain services the fast lane, then they should have to be honest about it. Rather than try to ban them from doing so, make sure their customers know what they're doing. What area of law would/should cover this? For example, if a company is going to advertise "unlimited Internet" or even just "Internet access" then I expect, unless told otherwise and not buried on page 4 of some fine print, that access is unfiltered and "neutral".

    Now there are some legitimate cases when some sites do get the fast lane. Mobile phones have special apps just for YouTube, so the carrier might prefer YouTube traffic since it's best supported on the devices. (I'm fairly sure that's an idea I picked up from Tim's paper.)

    Can you regulate this type of transparency instead of regulating the actual behavior?

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 9:05pm

    It seems to me that net neutrality legislation is superfluous. The moment an ISP starts biasing their traffic in favor of any specific provider, they're violating at least the spirit behind safe harbor provisions, and may well lose their protection entirely. The risk of that to an ISP is far greater than the extra revenue they'd get from breaking net neutrality.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 9:29pm

    Regulations

    If regulations are so bad, then lets replace them all with "voluntary sets of best practices", starting with traffic regulations.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    reed, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 9:55pm

    Voluntary agreement to respect neutrality?

    I have a hard time swallowing that a voluntary agreement could do anything to protect neutrality.

    I believe laws should exist to protect certain rights, and as the digital age continues to grow it is clear that companies can control and manipulate data in ways unlike we have ever seen before. We are all coming to depend on the Internet and because of this there has to be a legally binding agreement to keep things neutral.

    While I am not a fan of any new laws it is clear that a law could be written in such a way to prevent companies from the shady practices they are already likely engaged in.

    The main problem with this is that Judges and the legal system are completely out of touch with current technology issues and ethical dilemmas that are being created on a daily basis on the Internet.

    Leaving big business to "be fair" through an "agreement" sounds even more ridiculous than letting e-tarded judges and lawyers duke it out.

    It seems there is no easy solution, but the laissez-faire approach will only allow large companies to continue to consolidate their power until it doesn't matter what the people say (like it hasn't already happened many times before)

    If the majority of our data and communications wasn't heading towards complete reliance on the Internet then this wouldn't be such a big deal.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    The Internet is not a Big Truck, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    The sky is Falling - The sky is Falling

    Weird Harold == Chicken Little


    Boucher -> "scrapping the idea of pursuing legislation mandating an openly accessible Internet in favor of negotiations with stakeholders aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord."

    How will ALL stakeholders be involved in the outcome?
    No doubt, the end users will be left out in the cold because there is not enough competition in the marketplace for them to vote with their money.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

    The Internet started with agreed upon standards and still runs tht way. Seems clear that agreements via standards work well. Laws will not help.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 12:06pm

    Re: The sky is Falling - The sky is Falling

    Does not matter if it is a law or an agreement, at no point will ALL stakeholders be involved in the outcome. It goes one way or the other or there is a compromise - no party gets everything they want.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    matt, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Net neutrality legislation is not the solution

    As this article points out, net neutrality legislation is not the perfect solution that so many people on the inter-webs seem to think it is. It will cost ISPs money, and while I hate my ISP as much as the next guy, I do understand that it will translate to higher monthly costs for me, lower usage caps/quality of service, slower deployment of services, or a combination of the three.

    Besides, ISPs shaping traffic can be a very good thing. Low latency traffic for things like VoIP or video games should be given a higher priority to things like file transfer or P2P where latency does not matter. This just makes logical sense and is how any network administrator worth his salt would configure QoS controls on their network. I make heavy use of bit torrents, but honestly feel it should be given bulk priority below everything else and this is what I do at home. Legislating for a 'free' internet could very well make this practice illegal for ISPs, only resulting in a poorer quality of service for gamers and people with VoIP phone service.

    The point is, the problem here is lack of competition, and NN legislation is only a band-aid fix to a symptom of that problem. Energy should be spent on encouraging competition and anti-competitive practices taken by ISPs (ie throttling competitor's content) should be addressed with existing anti-trust laws. We just don't need more legislation here, but I'm afraid we now live in the world where everyone expects the government to come swooping in to save them.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    zcat, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    For once I agree with weird harold

    If by 'net neutrality' you mean having Torrent, SIP and Gaming traffic all get equal priority, no thanks! QOS is good. I can make SIP without dropouts, play games with reasonable latency, and those p2p applications aren't going to care in the least if their packets wait a few hundred ms longer to arrive.

    Fuck net neutrality. Without QOS, uncontrolled p2p simply makes everything else unusable, and with no real gain for the p2p users either.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 2:00pm

    Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    The argument that Weirdo addresses assumes there is a bandwidth problem causing congestion. But there is no evidence to support that assumption.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: The sky is Falling - The sky is Falling

    Sure - no party gets everything they want.
    (unless they are a dictator)

    That does not preclude all parties from having an input to said agreement.

    Why is the opinion of some stakeholders more important than that of others?

    If there were real competition, then even the lowly consumer would have a form of input. Without choice, the consumer is subject to the silliness and greed of the monopolized marketplace.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    anonymous2, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 4:53pm

    For some other insight on this topic check www.teletruth.org

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Congestion? Well, here's the thing. Your ISP oversells it's network connections probably 1000 to 1 or more (for every 1mbps of connectivity they have peered onto the net, they sell 1000 home 1mbps connections). This works fairly well because most people don't use that much bandwidth, don't download so much, aren't online 24 hours a day, etc.

    Some cable companies, because of the topography of their networks, can suffer congestion between the end of the school day and 10PM at night, with too many people trying to get through too small of a straw.

    The issue comes when more and more people are online all the time, with P2P, skype, and whatever other products that they leave active 24 hours per day. When you get enough of those types of people, the ISP needs to buy more bandwidth to avoid congestion. So their costs to offer you service goes up, but their income does not.

    ISPs would look at any dramatic increase of bandwidth usage as a cost issue. Already, Comcast is setting a high 250 gig a month limit on users, and over time, that limit may be dropped to keep costs in line. Further, they may be required to increase the throughput of their internal network to support increased traffic flow, which in turn creates cost. Alternately, they might have to split users into smaller blocks and create more internal connection points, which also costs.

    I also would not be surpried to see any "net neutrality" agreement include provisions for blocking out commercial services such as skype, which use the users computer as a node for transit of traffic.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Pants, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Harold,

    Such worn out and tired excuses have become passe. Please try a bit harder, ok?

    It is nice of you to use paragraphs, so I'll address them by number.

    1) If a company oversells capacity, they should not call it unlimited. Plus there is little evidence that congestion is a problem, yet.

    2) Then those cable companies need to expand their network. btw, which cable co are you referring to?

    3) If they can not provide the service that they sold, maybe they should not be in the business. Maybe they need to charge more.

    4) See item 3 above. And putting limits on a service that was sold as unlimited is just plain wrong.

    5) A possible reason for a business to block a service would be because it is considered competition. The one thing that the big ISPs fear is real competition.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    1) If the companies didn't oversell capacity, your internet bill would be out of the financial reach of most people. Go price out a peered connection to your home at, I dunno, even 1mbps, you would choke.

    2) multiple cable companies, both in the US and Canada have had issues. Comcast in the US and Rogers in Canada come to mind as companies that have this issue from time to time.

    3) See point #1 - 90% of the customers couldn't afford to pay the real market price of what they are "buying".

    4) The service isn't sold as unlimited anymore.

    5) Unless the last mile is somehow nationalized and turned into something like a state owned water utility, there will always be the question of blocking potential internal competition. The true solution is competition, and in most major cities, there is at least a cable and DSL offering, plus potentially others.

    In the end, the cost of getting you that internet service is probably higher than you would be willing to pay for 24/7 assured bandwidth at your desktop. Hosting servers at under $500 for an open 10mbps connection isn't unusual, but that is without all the transit to get it to your door.

    It isn't exactly as simple and as cheap as you wish it was.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Pants, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    "It isn't exactly as simple and as cheap as you wish it was."

    I am not wishing for anything except a winning lotto ticket. I am simply pointing out several flaws in your logic.

    It sounds as though you are selling a walled garden and I doubt many people are interested in that anymore. I certainly would not like having to choose internet connectivity from prepackaged offerings similar to the cable/sat tv available today. The internet is a communication medium, not a media delivery system.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Not I am not pushing to block anything, don't think I am suggesting a "walled garden". That's crap.

    The internet is a communications medium, but it is also a large overlapping collection of businesses. There really are three costs of doing business online, connectivity, bandwidth, and physical hosting / servers. If you run a business, these are the important issues. For an ISP, it is the same, connectivity, bandwidth, and physical network equipment.

    What P2P does (even when used to distribute entirely legal, permitted commercial content) is that it takes bandwidth FROM the ISP (at their cost) and gives it to the software distributor for free. The usually answer is "that's not true, I pay for my 5mbps connection, I can use it as I want!". That may be true, but the ISP has priced your connection like you use many 10% of it, maybe less. Now, when it's only a few people using a bit more bandwidth than the others, it isn't an issue. But if the expectation is that everyone will use their connection to 30% or even 50%, the ISP needs to pay for more connectivity, more bandwidth, to support the business models of OTHER companies that the end users are choosing to use (and to provide bandwidth to).

    In the case of total network neutrality (where the ISP has no say at all in how the connection is used ever), either your connection speed would have to drop to spread out the available bandwidth, or the price would have to increase to source more bandwidth.

    My original example is 1000:1 - giving a monthly price say of $39.95. Raise the requirement and make that 100:1, and your monthly bill could be $399.50 for the same connection. (it would be lower because a part of the bill is administrative and so on).

    You cannot get it both ways. If you want your full bandwidth all the time (total net neutrality) you will pay for it.

    The ISP solution is a hard cap on all traffic. It means that the 90% of the people who don't use a ton would get full access at the given price, and the 10% that go way over would have to shovel over the cash to support what they are using.

    Net neutrality by law or even by agreement would be a license for the ISPs to lock you down in other ways.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Pants, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Most ISPs charge a user more if the user intends to run an internet facing server. Some even block ports in an attempt to enforce this, and it is stated as such in their TOS. At times P2P acts as a server, it depends upon how it's configured. I see no reason why a user should not be charged more by the ISP if the user wants to run an internet facing server. And those users who do not run said server(s) should not have to pay as though they are.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Mar 8th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Re:

    1) Low caps on bandwidth. If ISPs cannot control the low percentage of people who use huge amounts of traffic by blocking or disabling certain types of traffic (P2P, Skype, etc), then they will have to limit everyones traffic to a number low enough to make the heavier users pay dramatically

    time warner is already implementing caps without legislation. it's the lack of a mechanism like legislation that gives ISP's the idea that they can do these kinds of things without consequences.

    2) Higher monthly costs.If the ISPs are forced to provide both ingoing and outgoing bandwidth to support P2P, Skype, and other "peered network" commercial systems, they will have to purchase significantly larger connections to peering points and increase their internal network size and connections to support it.

    the costs are high already, and they never go down. no residential broadband provider has ever lowered prices except temporarily as part of a promotion. the current duopoly of cable and telephone companies guarantees high prices and little competition.

    companies like skype and even the pirate bay already pay for bandwidth (both incoming and outgoing) already. residential users pay for bandwidth as well, incoming and outgoing. it's already being paid for by both parties. why should the ISP's be allowed to charge twice?

    if the ISP's don't want to upgrade their networks, that is their prerogative. since there is no competition in the residential broadband space, it's not like consumers will be able to switch providers or anything.

    In the end, absolute net neutrality isn't any better for the average consumer than a restricted network. 90% of the bandwidth is used by 10% of an ISPs users. Being obligated to support all these other business models will mean massive changes, and those changes will go in the wrong direction.

    there is a simple way to fix this, which is to abandon the unlimited model and charge for bandwidth the way that hosting companies do.

    this will never happen, because then consumers could choose providers based on a price per gigabyte basis, making cable and DSL an apples to apples comparison when deciding which of the two providers to go with (if you are fortunate enough to have two to choose from).

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Re: The sky is Falling - The sky is Falling

    Weird Harold == Chicken Little

    i hope he's a shill and is at least getting paid to act like a corporate whore.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    Re: Net neutrality legislation is not the solution

    i use QOS to do exactly the same thing on my network: voip is given top priority, and p2p is given the back of the bus treatment.

    but that was my decision. i was involved in the decision making process. with corporate agreements, i wouldn't be given any input. if youtube or vonage can't pay the asking price for preferential treatment, they won't get it. in fact, they may get degraded to the point of being useless, or blocked altogether.

    this is especially dangerous when time warner and verizon are offering their own voice and video services that they want their customers to pay for and have plenty of incentive to discriminate against competitors.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    What P2P does (even when used to distribute entirely legal, permitted commercial content) is that it takes bandwidth FROM the ISP (at their cost) and gives it to the software distributor for free. The usually answer is "that's not true, I pay for my 5mbps connection, I can use it as I want!". That may be true, but the ISP has priced your connection like you use many 10% of it, maybe less. Now, when it's only a few people using a bit more bandwidth than the others, it isn't an issue. But if the expectation is that everyone will use their connection to 30% or even 50%, the ISP needs to pay for more connectivity, more bandwidth, to support the business models of OTHER companies that the end users are choosing to use (and to provide bandwidth to).

    that's great, then stop over selling. if you can only afford people using 512k down, then sell it as 512k down, not 5mbps.

    the world is changing. people don't just surf the web and check their email anymore. new applications and technologies come out every day that let people do more with the computers and the internet access they already have.

    you act like the need to make a profit some how supersedes this innovation.

    if your ISP can't deliver what it sells it either needs to be honest about what it is selling, or upgrade what it sells so it matches what is advertised.

    if p2p is destroying your ISP, then maybe your ISP can work with the p2p community to improve the protocol before the community moves encrypted connections make shaping impossible. or do something crazy like talk to it's users about what they want and what they think is important.

    this old world idea that you can just block something and expect it to go away is absolutely foolish.

    being a corporation doesn't grant an ISP the right to lie about what they sell. profits are not more important than people.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    reed, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    No representation is the real problem

    After having read the comments here it is clear that techy people, however intelligent and forward thinking have very little understanding of how our republic works.

    It works through a representation system. Right now we have no real choices due to the heavily monopolized corporate atmosphere. We have no representation, no redress, and no input into how the Internet will continue to exist. This is a very real problem.

    Simply put, if we do not demand rights we will not get them. Sitting back and letting big business decide how to police the Internet is the height of stupidity for a free thinking society.

    I agree that there are laws already in place that could be applicable to this situation, but it makes very little sense to try and apply already broken laws to a system that is very different than anything that has existed before.

    We must have mandated legislation that guarantees neutrality in communication over the Internet. This is a basic rights issue for 21st century people.

    In another world where we actually encouraged competition this may not be necessary, but we do not live in that world. We live in a world that hails consolidation of power and money as the only real goal. This gives those with capital an unfair level of representation in our government.

    The only way to counter-balance this is through demanding and ensuring our rights are protected through the legal system. There really is no other logical choice in this matter.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Long winded chris, I hope you are getting paid for it :)

    The point isn't to block anything. Shaping was an attempt to address the issue by punishing the 10% that eat most of the bandwidth to the advantage of those that don't. The ISPs got slapped for it. End discusion, they aren't doing it in the US anymore (by sympatico does it in Canada).

    My point is this: Overselling is the issue only when people are doing things beyond what an average used does. Most of us are not actively using the majority of out connectivity all the time. It allows us all to have a faster connection for the bursts of things we do, because there is enough lulls in our activity to let someone else go ahead.

    With P2P and other methods (no matter the protocol) significant amounts of bandwidth are being used all the time. When you visit this website, example, you download the page quickly, and then spend X amount of time reading it. That doesn't use bandwidth. But your P2P program is running as close to full tilt as possible all the time, which means you have no lull time for others. If another people are doing it, there is no space for average users to get a full speed burst to download a website, and thus the get slower response time.

    With average users, the ISPs only need a certain amount of connectivity to satisfy their needs. But when P2P users come along and eat up a ton of bandwidth all the time, they ISP has to get more connectivity, yet cannot charge more for it. Their costs go up, their income does not.

    The response is caps. There is no part of net neutrality that says "and you get an unlimited connection at full bandwidth at all times". net neutrality just says no particular traffic will be blocked. Capping usage (say 50gig a month) isn't a violation of net neutrality, but certainly sticks it to the heavy file traders. Without those caps, the ISPs will do exactly what you ask, increase their network to match their complete offer, and raise you price through the roof to use it.

    ISPs don't want to work with the P2P community because they don't want to get involved in policing content. It would also violate net neutrality by giving advantage to one type of traffic over another.

    You might want to try thinking about it as a business person, rather than as a teenager in moms basement. The big world is very different from theoreticals.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Pants, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Harold,

    An ISP can simply charge the user more if they want an internet facing server. It is not difficult to ascertain packet quantity and direction without deep packet insprection.

    Several ISPs got called on the carpet for their shaping, they could've simply asked the user to pay more.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    They could always ask the user to pay more? Are you kidding? It's one of the things about all this that makes it all so funny. Everyone wants their full X mbps connection, but they want to pay like they are using dialup.

    Shaping was an attempt to cut down the amount of traffic so as to keep the service good for the 90% of people who don't trade files 24 hours a day. It wasn't done the best way possible, and now the likely result will be no shaping but hard caps at a very low traffic level. I am guessing that ISPs will go as low as 30gig a month, which is more than enough for most people. You guys shoving 400 or 500 gig a month of file trades will be paying out the butt, which is pretty much what you are asking for.

    You cannot have it both ways. Unlimited huge price, limited reasonable price that is right for 90% of the users.

     

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

  30.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Long winded chris, I hope you are getting paid for it :)
    and just who would i be getting paid to shill for? who would pay for vitriolic posts full of leetspeak and typoes? :-)

    seriously, are any of you interested in paying for it? i could seriously improve the quantity and quality of my nerdrage if i didn't have a real job :-)

    The point isn't to block anything. Shaping was an attempt to address the issue by punishing the 10% that eat most of the bandwidth to the advantage of those that don't. The ISPs got slapped for it. End discusion, they aren't doing it in the US anymore

    i disagree. one of the concessions for the at&t/SBC merger was that AT&T offer 768/128 dsl without filters or caps, effectively creating the internet slow lane they have always wanted.

    all of this "bandwidth crisis" nonsense is about creating a tiered internet. there are hundreds of ways to implement the tiers and all of them involve residential ISPs treating their users like a captive audience that you have to pay to put your applications in front of. it's a move to get web companies to pay twice to deliver content and applications.

    My point is this: Overselling is the issue only when people are doing things beyond what an average used does. Most of us are not actively using the majority of out connectivity all the time. It allows us all to have a faster connection for the bursts of things we do, because there is enough lulls in our activity to let someone else go ahead.

    and my point is this: new applications become available everyday that add value to high speed internet access so the idea of the "average user" doesn't exist anymore.

    bouncing calls through the internet used to be the kind of thing that only fone phreaks could do, now skype makes it uber simple for everyone. the next innovation (whatever it will be) will enable even more functionality which will mean even fewer "average users".

    innovation happens way faster than cable and telecommunications companies can handle, so it's better for everyone if they just shut up and deliver the bits.

    over selling was great when internet access was largely used to surf and check email. almost no one does just that anymore thanks to IM, MMO's, xbox live and the like. thanks to sites like youtube, googledocs, facebook, and myspace, even surfing the web isn't what it used to be.

    the world changed, it's time for ISP's to change along with it.

    When you visit this website, example, you download the page quickly, and then spend X amount of time reading it. That doesn't use bandwidth.... With average users, the ISPs only need a certain amount of connectivity to satisfy their needs.

    that might have been the case 5 years ago, but like i said before that is no longer the case. there is no such thing as an "average user" anymore thanks to tabbed browsers, ajax, and other new innovations. every day new applications move more people away from simple surfing of static pages.

    as communications unify, they will unify over the internet. there are plenty of other uses for the internet besides HTTP and bittorrent and the longer american ISPs ignore that fact, the further we as a nation are going to lag behind countries with progressive network infrastructures.

    ISPs don't want to work with the P2P community because they don't want to get involved in policing content. It would also violate net neutrality by giving advantage to one type of traffic over another.

    no, ISPs are also in the content delivery business and do not want the competition from p2p. cable compaines are offering phone services, at&t uverse, verizion FIOS, phone companies with no video offerings often partner with satellite TV providers, the list goes on and on. these corporations are fighting tooth and nail to avoid competing not only with each other but with new pure play start ups.

    and even if p2p is bad for the internet, if we allow ISPs to block, filter, or cap it, what's to stop them from doing the same thing to games or streaming video or VOIP?

    most broadband advertisements talk about how fast you can download music and video as a selling point. it's no secret that napster sold more DSL subscriptions than the cleverest of madison avenue marketing campaigns.

    the problem with p2p is competition in the video and communications space, and that scares ISPs shitless.

    The response is caps. There is no part of net neutrality that says "and you get an unlimited connection at full bandwidth at all times". net neutrality just says no particular traffic will be blocked. Capping usage (say 50gig a month) isn't a violation of net neutrality, but certainly sticks it to the heavy file traders. Without those caps, the ISPs will do exactly what you ask, increase their network to match their complete offer, and raise you price through the roof to use it.

    now you are being deliberately obtuse. i said nothing of the sort. i said that ISP's should be honest about what they sell. that means being upfront about the actual speeds you can connect at, and disclosing things like caps instead of burying them in the fine print, or implementing them after the fact. this helps consumers make the best of their limited (if any) choices.

    and so if "average use" is 50gb a month, what happens when the next hulu comes along and more "average people" start doing more with the web than ever before? internet usage will only continue to grow. isp's can grow to meet that demand, or they can upset their userbase and risk government intervention.

    you can't sell a drug and says "cures cancer" on the label, why should an ISP be able to sell limited service with caps with "unlimited" on the label?

    You might want to try thinking about it as a business person, rather than as a teenager in moms basement. The big world is very different from theoreticals.

    and you might want to think about the future instead of clinging to the flawed thinking of the past. deceptive and anti-competitive behavior is not now and never has been good for business.

    how's this for theoreticals in the big world:

    first let's talk real traffic numbers. at my house i have two voip phones, my wife plays an MMO, i am a very active steam user, and my nephew is an avid xbox live user, plus i seed/leech torrents 24x7 and according to my firewall logs this month i have pulled in 55.8gb and put up 66.4gb, which is well under the 200gb a month transfer i get on my rented VPS for $20 a month.

    i pay $85 a month for basic cable and "unlimited" broadband, yet i can get almost twice the transfer for almost half the price from a web host. based on those numbers i am all for paying for what you use, and i am one of the bandwidth hogs.

    based on your speculation, that would put my costs "through the roof" but i am not so certain. now, let's assume that residential bandwidth is somehow more expensive than the commercial variety, and that twice the price is justified. what about the almost half the transfer?

    is it really 4 times as expensive per bit to push traffic to a home?

    now let's take these numbers to your mom's basement. if i am being overcharged per gigabyte, and i max out my connection 24x7, imagine what your mom is paying per gig as a "average user" whatever that is.

     

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

  31.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For once I agree with weird harold

    Shaping was an attempt to cut down the amount of traffic so as to keep the service good for the 90% of people who don't trade files 24 hours a day. It wasn't done the best way possible, and now the likely result will be no shaping but hard caps at a very low traffic level. I am guessing that ISPs will go as low as 30gig a month, which is more than enough for most people. You guys shoving 400 or 500 gig a month of file trades will be paying out the butt, which is pretty much what you are asking for.

    look at these transfer prices:
    http://www.linode.com

    400gb of transfer is $39.95 600gb is $59.95. they aren't the best deal around either:
    http://www.webkeepers.com/vps/index.html

    you can get even more for even less. the actual price of transfer just isn't that much. sure, residential ISPs have higher costs for wiring, equipment, and customer support, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that the hosting space is highly competitive and the residential broadband space is not.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    mkam, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re:

    Good post Chris.

    It all comes down to lack of competition. I just moved to a new location in a downtown area (walk to everything), and guess what happened when I go to get Internet at my house. Yep, Cox is the only game in town (not even DSL), and they charge $45/month for a 1.5 Mbps line. The only saving grace is I get like 20% of that speed most of the time. Normally I get like 10% of the advertised speed.

    You don't need to enforce net neutrality if you have competition, you only need regulation where there is no competition (probably 95% of America).

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Brett Glass, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Threats are not useful at all

    Threats of regulation are not useful. In fact, they do great harm. They drive away investors -- especially venture capitalists -- and discourage new players from entering the business, thus harming competition and innovation. (VCs are allergic to regulated industries, especially when the regulation could make the company unprofitable.)

    What we need, to ensure that anyone can switch if he or she doesn't like what a provider is doing, is competition! Thus, the drive for "network neutrality" legislation and overbearing regulation of the Internet is very anti-consumer.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    nasch, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Re:

    You're addressing the "no traffic shaping" definition of net neutrality. I don't even know why anybody is concerned about this. Why should ISPs not be allowed to implement QOS rules? I think it would be great if they would slow down my downloads, email, and bittorrent (what little I do) if it means my streaming video and skype has lower latency.

    As mentioned elsewhere, any problems here should be solved by encouraging competition, not by forbidding traffic shaping.

    The real net neutrality issue IMO is treating different providers differently (ie making sure MSN loads as fast as possible, but not Google), not different types of traffic. So far I think we haven't seen any of that, but it could still be coming.

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    The success of the internet is due to the lack of regulations and government interference; a Net Neutrality bill would be a step backwards. More Red Tape more opportunities for abuse and corruption.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This