Companies Reach 'Deal' On Net Neutrality... But What Does That Mean?

from the not-really-their-call,-is-it? dept

A few weeks back, we noted that a bunch of tech and broadband companies were back to "negotiating" around net neutrality, leading us to highlight Adam Smith's famous quote that "people of the same trade" seldom meet together except to create "a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." Now comes the news that those involved -- including Verizon, AT&T, Skype, Microsoft, NCTA and "others" have "reached an agreement," which might be "stricter" than the Googrizon "framework," but which probably doesn't really apply to wireless networks.

I'm still at a loss as to how this actually matters. The companies can agree to whatever they want, and none of it makes a difference if Congress acts (or the courts say that the FCC is allowed to act). I guess the idea is to think that an "industry agreement" will stave off legislation, which perhaps might work for some time, but still reeks of collusion without consumer input or review.

Filed Under: lobbyists, net neutrality, telcos

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2010 @ 5:09am

    Telco Politics start with MaBell.

    It means that infrastructure companies have faster ways to deliver data using the same fiber network and don't want to tell end customers yet.

    Let me explain it to you in simple terms:
    Back in the 1990s, a common telephone copper line was said to only support 300bps. Then as companies innovated and came up with new modulation techniques, we had 1200, 2400, 9600, 14.4, 19.2 and ultimately 28.8. Eventually, speeds topped out at 56k, which was the limit over an analog line. To get faster consumer-grade internet over twisted copper, customers were often told that the phone companies had to lay fiber to the central office, but that wasn't the case. Because it was over telecommunications, the lines had to comply with Federal Wiretap Laws. In the US, ISDN lines were not "consumer grade" and as a result, most companies that offered ISDN did so, but charged $100+ more a month for this service.

    At this same time, people in Germany could acquire a 256k ISDN line from their carrier for $20 a month. But because they didn't have the same Federal Phone Tap and Cable Tap requirements, they saw a much higher ISDN broadband penetration rate than the US did. Perhaps this was because the carriers were not legally required to tap their citizens.

    Now you have new technologies that are about to be rolled out. The difference is that the carriers control the standards now.

    You're silly if you believe that more efficient bandwidth modulation techniques haven't been created and faster rates aren't market ready. But unlike the 1990s, internet and cable traffic remains under Federal Patriot Act laws, and has to be made available under Federal Wiretap Laws. The Patriot Act was enacted during a time of war.

    Just remember...
    It's still pipes paid for by US Taxpayers under the "High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991" All they have to do is place new repeaters and line cards along the existing fiber path to get better bandwidth for all US content providers.

    It will be interesting to see if anybody else who uses shared networking like Google follows their lead.

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