All the Techdirt writers agree with what you wrote. But what you wrote is only theoretical when the actual US market does not have the minimum number of competitors needed to drive such service competition.
If we want to "let different businesses offer different plans", we'd need more than 1-2 providers in a given location.
the constantly shifting meaning of "net neutrality"
...is not a happenstance. It is deliberate FUD. NN was fairly easily defined a half-decade back. And under that definition, every citizen would have been in favor of it.
So the lobbies have confused the definition, to link it more closely to "regulating the Internet" and "goverment hands all over the net".
This has been a successful clouding of the issue, to the point where you have demonstrated their success. You see NN as a gov't grab of control of a "free market".
You wrote, "can anyone do an honest pro-con benefit analysis as to why regulation is better than free-market innovation." A fair question to ask, but your premise is faulty. The alternative is NOT a FREE MARKET.
THE CURRENT OPTIONS ARE NOT: NN OR A FREE MARKET. THE CURRENT OPTIONS ARE: NN OR A BIG-ISP-CONTROLLED MARKET.
Ours is a market will all the signs of market failure, largely related to oligopoly, duopoly, or monopoly. This is inherent in the "utility nature" of the service, which, at its most basic level, is a dirt-and-shovel industry that requires digging up roads and boulevards to lay fiber or cable. The last mile is just too expensive to expect multiple competitors in that space.
We were once competitive. We had something called UNE-P for a while. That 1996 law required last mile carriers to lease their last mile lines to competitors...and for a brief moment in time , we had broadband competition in the US. It took a few years to get started, then you'd see companies like Covad competing with AT&T for DSL business using AT&T's last mile copper. Just as it was succeeding, we had United States Telecom Association v. FCC, decided on May 24, 2002, which killed UNE-P. Who was against UNE-P? Well, the Telcos, for sure, but also our friend Michael Powell who wrote this: http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/rich-tehrani/uploads/une-p-powell.pdf. Basically, Powell says, "Sure, UNE-P is OK, I guess...but market based competition at every infrastructure level is better. So that's what I want instead." As Karl wrote, an example was his silly fascination with BPL, and his fantasy that THIS would provide the needed competition for a working market.
The EU, however, picked up on our lead with UNE-P and ran with it. Since, the USA's experiment with new infrastructure-based competition has fallen entirely flat, while the EU is extremely competitive with multiple broadband providers for every home, lower prices, and incredible 30 euro bundles of phone, mobile phone, TV, and Internet.
NN regulations, or Title II are not perfect, and nobody at Techdirt is ever going to say so. Title II is currently the least worst choice.
You still have problems with any kind of: - credit card use - closed circuit security cams - facial recognition - license plate readers - traffic cams, red light cams - other people taking photos, social media, tagging you
"It seems the obvious solution is already here: keep the TV dumb, and provide a set-top box (STB) that has the smarts. The STB can thus be replaced cheaply, once out of date. Consumers can easily have more than one STB, not committing to any one company's ecosystem. Do people really want to buy their TV's by ecosystem?"
"Even those actively looking for a TV may resist if there is a price premium...The TV OEMs are going to have to bundle in the smarts for free, and hope that they can make money back on the content ecosystem."
1) My daughter brought back a Palm Sunday palm frond doll from France. It was confiscated by customs, I signed off on the confiscation and was chastised because I did not check off the "plants or seeds" box on the I94 form.
2) I applied for a Global Entry pass for US customs. A year later, I had my application rejected at interview because to paraphrase "I was a lying liar who lies, and imports contraband". I asked WTF, they said "You know." I repeated WTF, they said "Crushed Palm Leaves". I had no recollection, because, recall, what I had confiscated was a DOLL, not a plant.
But you see, the doll that I had was made of plants. And I am supposed to know that. But then, where does it end? My cotton shirt is also made of plants. I'd venture that nobody at all has ever crossed a border guard without some plant material on his/her person.
Where does the responsibility to understand the input materials of our products end? - Is Vanderklok legally required to know what "organics" means, to that agent in that context? He had Powerbars. Does he need to know the list of ingredients, and their family, genus, and species?
- Does someone driving from Vancouver to Seattle need to know the soft materials used in the seating for their car, which may contain plant matter? Or all the other input materials for their car?
- Why is everything so arbitrary? I've had trips where a new and packaged Snickers bar is not considered food by agents that I've asked, and I've had trips where it IS considered food. You can judge which was right, but regardless, it should not depend on the mood of the agent.
If the Homeland Security agents can't nail down what is contraband and what is not, how can we? Ridiculous! A moron in a hurry cannot be expected to be a material science expert on the composition of every product they carry across borders or onto airplanes. Nor should we need to be.
Homeland Security should look for bombs and weapons. That's all most of us really care about our TSA finding. Just keep the plane safe.
"the benefit of the doubt goes to the whistleblowers"
It's a David vs. Goliath fight, and a bold move for any whistleblower, who is always burning bridges. The least we could do is apply an innocent until proven guilty mentality, and a "public defender" level of legal support.
"The ultimate irony, he says, is that everything he was punished for saying has now been proven true."
Tim, I'm 100% pro John Kiriakou. He's a hero. His case is clear. He is saving the country from a massive blunder.
But I need to point out that the test of whether a whistleblower is a hero or a traitor is not whether the information that is leaked is later "proven true."
There is a lot of Top Secret stuff that is better kept secret. Some secrets are ethical, legal, and it is strategically significant that they remain secret. Leaking them would be "true", but still wrong.
That's why the hero/traitor distinction is so fraught with disagreement and subjective evaluations. It's not a cut and dried question of truth - it's a nebulous question of "was this leak the right thing to do for the nation?"
Techdirt tends to focus on whistleblowers which this community think (and I agree) are on the right side of ethics. John Kiriakou, Ed Snowden being prominent examples. But it's not because their leaks were true. It's because the public NEEDED TO KNOW.
"You're saying that my $110 per month, along with all the other customers, is not enough to cover their fixed costs?"
No. I clearly said they make high profits, because of a lack of competition. But we're not discussing what fair profits are, we're discussing pricing models.
" If I want 50 mbps, I pay the company for that capability, and I'm paying to account for their fixed costs"
Yeah, but you probably know that they oversubscribe their customers, and estimate actual usage for network planning purposes. You are not paying for 50 Mbps. You are paying for "up to 50 Mbps, best effort". You do not have dedicated capacity, as business lines often do. If you want 50 Mbps with an SLA (Service level Agreement) to guarantee and dedicate that full capacity to you, then expect to pay hundreds of dollars per month.
Network planning has always been thus (oversubscribe), because it would be stupid to build a network any other way. Roads, toilets at the theater, elementary classrooms, theme park rides, gym memberships. They're all built assuming everyone doesn't use it at once.
Nah. Not on board. I know the theory that packets of data are free is common here at TD, but that's where I diverge with the rest. Mike often makes that case, and Karl too, if I recall correctly.
But there is a very real investment in the network infrastructure, and also an ongoing expense in operations. And when existing network capacity is filled up, significant capital must be invested to increase capacity for the newer traffic.
And there's nothing theoretical about that. Data traffic has grown phenomenally year over year, every year. We could not carry all those bits we send today using 2008's network assets, nor 2012's.
AT&T spent $19 Billion in one year on their network. That's real money. Separately, how do you think companies like Cisco, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, Alcatel, etc. all make their big revenues every year? That money comes from YOU, from your per GB fees, through the carrier, and on to their equipment suppliers. Ericsson will not provide network upgrades for free, so AT&T has to charge those who use data to pay for the upgrades.
So, a fair way to pay for a GB of data is based on the average cost (in operational cost and capital rent) of that GB of data, plus some profit margin.
Sure, the US carriers margins are too high, because competition is too light. But the basic notion that a GB has a cost and a price is entirely fair, and not just some wacky imaginary construct to rape the customer. It's not the only way to charge for the network, but it's an OK one.
If you'd rather pay some rent for some network capacity, then that's just another model. It might work. You'd end up paying near the same amount, though. It would be harder to allocate the higher payments to the people that use more, too.
I would say the construct that "transporting a packet is free" is the fictional construct. It's only true if significant investments were made, and continue to be made, in over-capacity of infrastructure. You make a lot of assumptions there, and you're making them with someone else's capital.
"The network pays for it's bandwidth capacity not it's network throughput."
Analogy time: Restaurants have very high fixed costs, and some marginal costs in labor and food. Do you walk into a Subway and say "I won't give you $6 for this sandwich, that's a farce. The Sandwich is $3 fixed costs, and $3 variable costs. The fixed costs are already done and paid for. I should only pay you the $3 marginal cost for my food and labor inputs."
Cuz that's what you're doing to ISPs.
Listen, ISPs oligopolists are dicks. They're not easy to defend. But occasionally they're right.