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Telcos Propose 2-Tier Internet 414

Posted by Zonk
from the internets-plural dept.
cshirky writes "Boston.com is reporting that 'AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill for the right to create a two-tiered Internet, where the telecom carriers' own Internet services would be transmitted faster and more efficiently than those of their competitors.' The telcos basic fear, of course, is that the end to end design of the net (PDF version) will erode the telcos ability to use service charges to generate revenue for delivering video and voice; the proposed solution is to break end-to-end in order to protect pricing leverage over the users." We reported on this at the beginning of the month, when it was just speculation. Not any more.
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Telcos Propose 2-Tier Internet

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  • by Scoth (879800) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:08PM (#14248267)
    I admit to being a bit too young to remember the original, but maybe it's time for another breakup similar to the original Bell? Seems the current ones have gotten a bit too monopolistic, IMHO...
    • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:12PM (#14248324) Homepage Journal
      No single company has the money to invest or support a seperate Internet over the long run. There are too many ISPs and backbone providers competing in the open market.

      Telcos can try to create their own Internet, but how long would it last if users can't get to sites they've commonly accesses? Google and Slashdot and other popular sites can refuse to pay the telco premium charges, and the users will bail.

      They should have tried this a decade ago. Too little, too late.
      • You know, that's a comforting thought, but to the Telcos, it's just going to be another batch of obstacle they can whine about to Congress. The conversation might go something like this:

        Telcos: "Waahhh, this is turning out to be too expensive! Please make the taxpayers pay for it instead of us!"
        Congress: "Sure thing! Don't forget us during election time!"

        On a related note, anybody wanna take a crack at defending capitalism anymore?

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Since what you described was an example of socialism and not capitalism, the burden is on you to take a crack at defending socialism.

          The key phrase, you used was: "Please make the taxpayers pay for it instead of us!". The fact that it's a company saying it does not make it any less socialistic.
          • by Skreems (598317) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @03:01PM (#14248845) Homepage
            Except the GP is pointing out the fact that what we try to pretend is a capitalist system is in reality a buddy-oriented socialist state. If we would just come out and ADMIT that we want to be socialist, then we could concentrate on making sure that the money propping up corporations is distributed to benefit the citizens at large, not the corporations and the corrupt politicians. In which case, there is no possible way we would consider paying corporations to take choice away from the citizens in the manner this article describes.
            • Maybe we should spend less time worrying about which category we fall under and instead find the right combination of capitalism and socialism and whateverism that meets the needs of the society it represents and protects our ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only thing wrong with capitalism is that sometimes it doesnt represent the states members but in the united states thats a problem with the organization and systems in place in the government and not the philosphical underpinnings that
        • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:51PM (#14248725) Homepage Journal
          On a related note, anybody wanna take a crack at defending capitalism anymore?

          I will.

          Capitalism is providing no regulation or public funding for a market. Mercantilism is providing corporate welfare for favored company. Lincoln fought a war to protect his mercantilist dreams. Congress today runs the mercantilist ship, with the Executive branch profiting from the warfare state. You have Congress doling out corporate welfare with the Executive's warfare manipulations.

          Don't confuse a free market with a regulated one. Capitalism is merely the process of billions of consumers and producers making unique trades that create common values that can change on a whim, but the entire process still runs. Mercantilism is stealing from the majority to support a minority that the majority didn't want to support at the price they were asking.
          • Thnaks for the correction, but it still strikes me that we get the worst of both: Either it's a hyper-succesful company that basically exists due to slave, or quasi-slave labour; or a mildly succesful comapany that would be nothing but memories if it weren't for large chunks of taxpayer money.

            Everybody loses except a few thousand majority shareholders, executives and politicians, yet these are the systems that are held up as paragons to emulate.

          • by kindbud (90044) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @04:02PM (#14249500) Homepage
            I see. So, just like the communist utopias, unadulterated capitalism, too, is a pipe dream, dosconnected from reality, and will never be realized.

      • No single company has the money to invest or support a seperate Internet over the long run. There are too many ISPs and backbone providers competing in the open market.

        You misunderstand the issue.

        This is not about creating a separate internet. This is about giving some packets priority over others in a single transport - and the regulated transport operator being able to assign their OWN packets to the higher priority - and to include others' packets for an extra fee, when contracted to do so.

        No "second ne
    • by Catbeller (118204) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:23PM (#14248429) Homepage
      I'm more than old enough, so here's how it was, in brief: AT&T fought the monopoly battle in court for almost ten years, lost in '84, then was broken up into multiple geographical companies, AT&T for long distance only, and Bell Labs became Lucent Technologies.

      During the last twenty years, they've individually frozen out as much competition as they could, in a forward-guard holding action. And the last two decades have seen the installation of a lot of judges whose philosophies are decidedly pro-business with a jaundiced eye for monopoly regulation, as well as a large number of legislators and at least two Presidents, even three as Clinton wasn't exactly a flaming socialist, turning a blind eye and a curious lack of oversight as the Baby Bells merged together again.

      Right now, the Justice Department has found itself stripped of monies to enforce antitrust law for the last five years. No money for investigations, no investigators. It's like repealing antitrust legislation without the messy bother of repealing the laws. (Ditto environmental laws, pollution, meat inspection, etc. ad nauseum).

      So the last ones standing are AT&T and SBC. And they will merge very soon, so here we are again, with one monopoly dictating terms. And even if somehow a new set of enforcers come in after the next election, they will find a hostile Congress and court system slowing them down. Even in ideal circumstances, as we found with the original AT&T breakup and the Microsoft conviction, it takes ten years to get to the point of enforcing antitrust laws under a judge's supervision, and a lot can happen in ten years. A new Republican president can be elected, and the case dies. New technology can obsolete AT&T entirely in ten years -- if they let it happen (look at Philadephia and Pennsylvania trying to install municipal WiFi).

      Every decade, the corporate powers grow stronger, more integrated with the government and the courts. The ability to enforce antitrust laws is decreasing hyperbolically with each era.
      • I agree for the most part with everything listed above, except the assertion that we are only left with at&t and SBC. I would still throw Verizon in there; and there are more non-traditional triple- or quadruple-threat players out there, like Comcast or even Google and Apple. Throw in Sprint, which looks to become the pure-wireless provider, and there's still a lot of competition for the last mile of voice and data.
      • by xs650 (741277) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:39PM (#14248566)
        So the last ones standing are AT&T and SBC. And they will merge very soon,

        It already happened on November 21st of this year.

        http://www.schwabpt.com/downloads/support/T_SBC_21 Nov05v3.pdf [schwabpt.com]

        "Important Information about the new AT&T Inc. The AT&T Corp. ("AT&T") and SBC Communications Inc. ("SBC") merger completed effective November 21, 2005. The newly formed company is known as AT&T Inc. Initially AT&T shares will be exchanged for SBC shares under the 'SBC' ticker symbol. On December 1st, 2005, the newly formed company will take back the symbol 'T'"

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The DOJ's budget was $23.4 billion dollars last year, as opposed to $21 billion in 2000. By the DOJ's AntiTrust division's own reports, its budget has gone up, even with respect to inflation: DOJ Budget Trend Data, Antitrust Division. [usdoj.gov]
      • by RevMike (632002) <revMike.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @03:01PM (#14248849) Journal
        I don't deny everything you say, but the landscape today is very different than it was in 1984. Pre-breakup there was no other game in town. Now even if Ma' Bell is reassembled there are several alternatives.

        First, cell phones are wide spread, and the companies that control them aren't entirely under the thumb of Ma' Bell. Verizon and Cingular are closely related to Regional Bell operating companies, T-Mobile and Sprint are not. They'll limit any power that resurgent Ma' Bell could exercise.

        Second, the cable tv industry is making strong moves into telephony. The VoIP bundles offered by the cable companies provide the second line of defense against Ma' Bell.

        Third, municpal broadband would only become a stronger alternative in the face of a reassembled Ma' Bell. Municipal broadband, coupled with Skype, Vonage, or a dozen others will offer a third line of defense against Ma' Bell.

        Fourth, new technologies like WiMax will provide additional communications options.

        In 1984, Ma' Bell was a monopoly because not only did they completely control a particular service, but there was feasible substitute service available. Twenty-one years later there are several substitutes available and so the monopoly won't have near the market influence it once had. The attempts to reestablish Ma' Bell should be interpretted as a set of uncompetative companies merging in order to hopefully achieve economies of scale and become competative - not an attempt to reestablish an old monopoly.
        • First, cell phones are wide spread, and the companies that control them aren't entirely under the thumb of Ma' Bell. Verizon and Cingular are closely related to Regional Bell operating companies, T-Mobile and Sprint are not. They'll limit any power that resurgent Ma' Bell could exercise.

          Only if they own their own cable... if their voice/data traffic has to travel via any wire owned by "Ma'Bell", as you put it, then they can be choked out by price rises and/or low prioritisation.

          Second, the cable tv industr

      • by lgw (121541)
        So the last ones standing are AT&T and SBC

        Amoung the many things wrong with your post: AT&T was not one of the "last ones standing". AT&T was an empty shell, and was bought by SBC just for the name. TFA talks about "AT&T and BellSouth". BellSouth is not SBC. AT&T is SBC's new name, but isn't the old AT&T. The old AT&T is history.

        The breakup of Ma Bell did nothing to offer any consumer more than one choice for local service. It was only about long distance, and the plan work
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So I used to work for one of their equipment suppliers. I believe these companies are Evil (TM) but there is SOMETHING good about what they would like. They DO have the ability to control quality of service, end to end, and to use things like multicasting effectively. What this means to you and I is good quality media and let's say a very, very impressive Quake arena for all players and it could conceivably not be that expensive because they control the distribution equipment. It won't be cheap, but it COUL
    • That's it! (Score:5, Funny)

      by temojen (678985) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:30PM (#14248494) Journal
      I'm making my own internet!

      I've got a spare linksys and two pringles cans; who's with me?
  • Does this fall... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spytap (143526) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:08PM (#14248272)
    Does this fall under the heading of "If we ask permission, it's not illegal anymore?"
  • Common Carrier? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwsmith824 (638640) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:09PM (#14248283)
    Wouldn't this go against the common carrier provisions? Wouldn't this sort of filtering and degrading things that they choose open them up to liability in other areas like P2P sharing that happens on their networks?
    • No (Score:2, Informative)

      by bwd (936324)
      Common Carrier status is granted when the provider doesn't filter content. However misguided this attempt is, it does not violate common carrier status, because they are not passing judgement or denying certain content. They're still allowing it all, albeit at different levels of service.
  • Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malacon (761384) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:09PM (#14248284)
    So they want to break the internet to make more money for themselves?

    Will anyone actually go for this?

    Seriously, what ever happened to running a business on the merits of its product, not on cash generated by hidden surcharges?
    • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

      by bcattwoo (737354) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:20PM (#14248401)
      Will anyone actually go for this?

      You must be new to the real world where enough lobbying and campaign contributions can buy just about anything.

    • what ever happened to running a business on the merits of its product, not on cash generated by hidden surcharges?

      That is so 1985! Don't you realize that businesses need to pick pockets these days with hidden surcharges and whatnot in order to keep the exec bonuses high? I mean, what would happen if you didn't get charged to get your own money out of the bank? The bank would have to rely on the money it makes from interest payments only, depriving the CEO of his new BMW. The CEO of AT&T will be livin

    • There's no money in just providing a service.

      If you want to make money, you have to find or make a bottleneck for a desired product/service.

      Then you make big bucks off of the bottleneck.

      All they're doing right here is trying to build a bottleneck where one doesn't exist today. Whether they succeed or not is another question.
    • With the amount of money being funneled via lobbying, yes.

      They will claim they are providing a "new" service for video to help promote technology yad yada .. and the politicans will buy it and think its a good thing for consumers.

  • by tehwebguy (860335) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:10PM (#14248286) Homepage
    not like anyone reading this doesn't know already, but this would be the worst thing ever to happen to the internet. if you think they would stop by offering crap connections for competitors, you're blind. things like /. would be low priorities since they love to expose what big bells are doing to screw us.
  • Dumb Network (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:10PM (#14248292) Homepage Journal
    Hmm, maybe we need to send these telcos over to World of Ends [worldofends.com] and remind them that the end-to-end or "dumb" nature of the Internet (in the sense that all the logic is handled at each end, not in the middle) is a big part of what's made it successful.

    Not that that's ever stopped anyone from killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, of course...
    • remind them that the end-to-end nature of the Internet [...] is a big part of what's made it successful.

      That will only encourage them.

      Their problem is the fact that the internet *is* successful. Reminding them of that fact won't discourage them in the least.
  • Google is fighting the proposal, along with other large Internet companies including Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. They fear they may have to pay telecoms millions of dollars to gain access to customers who use the premium Internet services. In addition, they argue, many small Internet start-ups would be unable to pay the fees, which could reduce consumer choice.

    Ma' Bell strikes back!
  • Why ask Congress? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:10PM (#14248296) Homepage Journal
    It confuses me as to why Congress should have any say in companies creating additional networks. Interstate commerce clause? What a joke.

    If companies want to try to create supernets for their customers to better access each other, I say allow them to. I can not imagine any supernet subverting the Internet in any way. If an ISP decides to slow down traffic to non-ISP destinations, you're going to see user backlash. I've changed ISPs over the years due to bad routing (or repeatedly failed routing) and I know some of my non-techie friends have done the same.

    These supernets would just be a second backbone connecting their network together, correct? I think this is a great idea, especially for corporations that can not afford their own backbone connections for remote offices. If my companies could connect quickly through a secondary network at no additional cost (or lower cost), I'd jump on it immediately.

    I just can't understand why Congress has any say in what companies do with their own property. They're already providing for the "public need" and they should be free to supplement the "public need" for what other users are demanding/needing.
    • by Red Flayer (890720)
      "If my companies could connect quickly through a secondary network at no additional cost (or lower cost), I'd jump on it immediately."

      You can bet it would cost more -- whether in terms of actual operating expenses for your company, or in terms of less valuable service provided to your company.
    • Re:Why ask Congress? (Score:2, Informative)

      by bwd (936324)
      Because both Bellsouth and AT&T operate under a monopoly status granted by the federal government to provide local telephone service. That is why they have to ask Congress if they are going to change the terms of the service.
    • Re:Why ask Congress? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If companies want to try to create supernets for their customers to better access each other, I say allow them to.

      It isn't about them trying to create a supernet, it's about them breaking the current 'Net and inserting them selves between the end points. then they can prioritize traffic based on who coughs up the most money to them. No $$ = no access.

      This isn't a suppliment to what has become, in essence, a Utility.

      Unfortunately, with the current Administration's track record on pro-corporation, pro-Inte
      • Re:Why ask Congress? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dada21 (163177) *
        No matter how much control they receive through government force, they can't stop the process that billion of users are familiar with. Sure, the telcos likely control an enormous quantity of users' endpoints, but we will always have cable and dial-up (which isn't affected like DSL is as you can pick any ISP to dial into).

        There just isn't the motivation of users for better service when many users can get 50K/s downloads over a $20 DSL or cable line. If they truly want to disrupt Internet connections to maj
    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:20PM (#14248399)
      I just can't understand why Congress has any say in what companies do with their own property.

      Allow me to elucidate.

      It's because they are a Monopoly. It's because you, the customer, doesn't have any other reasonable choice if you don't want to go with them. It's because in return for being allowed to be a monopoly that they have to play by different rules than the open market. You take your choice of monopoly or open market, but once you make it quit yer complaining about the rules you initially agreed to follow!

      Clear now?

      • by dada21 (163177) *
        It's because they are a Monopoly. It's because you, the customer, doesn't have any other reasonable choice if you don't want to go with them. It's because in return for being allowed to be a monopoly that they have to play by different rules than the open market. You take your choice of monopoly or open market, but once you make it quit yer complaining about the rules you initially agreed to follow!

        Government is the only monopoly in this picture. They rent their monopoly powers to others, though.

        How are th
        • How are the telcos a monopoly? I have a cable modem, my friend across the country has one. A little free VoIP software and we've forgotten about the telco.

          And when you cable company (don't think this traffic shaping is only for DSL carriers) starts degrading all VoIP services except for the one they're selling for twice the price you're paying otherwise and your calls even across town get all choppy well then...

          ...you won't be making posts like this last one to Slashdot anymore.

          • Actually, I read slashdot and post to slashdot from a packet network -- GPRS. Good luck getting comcast or SBC to try to affect that :)

            Your point is well taken, but my point is that there is so much competition and so many access points to the bigger Internet, there is no single point of failure except ICANN.
        • by supabeast! (84658) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:37PM (#14248551)
          "I have a cable modem, my friend across the country has one. A little free VoIP software and we've forgotten about the telco."

          The telco is still there. Comcast doesn't have its own huge backbone running connections out to all of its own users around the USA, it uses the backbones provided by the big telco monopolies to do that. So if they decide to create special high-priority networks accessible only at a premium charge, and degrade the quality of the existing networks to make VOIP unusable, you'll have to pay extra for a premium Comcast account that can send data over the premium networks.

          Unfortunately its next to impossible for anyone else to move in an build new networks that can challenge the big telcos, because years of overregulation kept everyone else out of the business for so long. So if the telcos manage to pull this one off, everyone who wants low-latency access will be paying extra to the big telcos unless a huge number of people pool their resources to build new backbones, which would most likely require government involvement that will make such actions illegal under the anti-municipal internet laws that the telcos will doublessly get pushed through at the federal level at the same time they get Congress to allow them to build the premium backbones.
    • It confuses me as to why Congress should have any say in companies creating additional networks. Interstate commerce clause?

      With formal backing of the government, it thus becomes "the law"

      Why is the even a question. It should be rather obvious to anyone living in the US.
    • "It confuses me as to why Congress should have any say in companies creating additional networks."

      Because the wires wouldn't have gotten run without eminent domain. Without government intervention (perish the thought!), you'd quickly arrive at one of the following extremes:
      1. You don't get any internet connectivity because your neighbor won't let the wire run across his property.
      2. In order to change service providers, you need a new physical wire run out to your house.

      "Interstate commerce clause?"

      Can you pro

      • by dada21 (163177) *
        Because the wires wouldn't have gotten run without eminent domain.

        Prove this. The original telegraphy and radiotelegraphy was created without government funding or mandate. The railroads that were built with private dollars and private aquisition of land were quickly regulated in order to control the procedures (and incorporate taxes), but the telegraphy lines were privately funded and controlled.

        We believe we need government to help with communications because we've always had them around. I see many of
        • Re:Why ask Congress? (Score:5, Informative)

          by pthisis (27352) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @03:14PM (#14248978) Homepage Journal
          Because the wires wouldn't have gotten run without eminent domain.

          Prove this. The original telegraphy and radiotelegraphy was created without government funding or mandate.


          Absolutely untrue. The original telegraph companies had government-backed eminent domain powers. Further, they often relied on railroad landed (acquired through eminent domain). There were constant battles between the two; see, for instance, Western Union Tel Co v. Pennsylvania R Co, 195 U.S. 594 (1904), available at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?c ourt=us&vol=195&invol=594 [findlaw.com]

          The Pennsylvania statute (mentioned in that ruling) granting eminent domain to the telegraph company was absolutely typical, and telegraph companies in the US relied on such mandates. Normally such power was granted to a single company, giving it a monopoly in the state or region.
    • I just can't understand why Congress has any say in what companies do with their own property. They're already providing for the "public need" and they should be free to supplement the "public need" for what other users are demanding/needing.

      In a competitive marketplace, there's generally no need for Congress to get too involved with what companies do with their property, beyond various provisions to avoid fraud, theft, and people's safety.

      Note the key words: "competitive marketplace". A monopoly is not a "
    • It confuses me as to why Congress should have any say in companies creating additional networks. Interstate commerce clause? What a joke.

      Oh Good Lord, another uninformed, Libertarian knee-jerk response.

      The reason(s) Congress has a say over how the telcos behave include the fact that

      1) The telcos wire runs across public lands
      2) The telcos are local monopolies (at least in terms of last-mile copper, and in many places, in terms of telecom services in general)
      3) The telcos received subsidies to build their net
    • Re:Why ask Congress? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@NoSpAm.praecantator.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:52PM (#14248747) Homepage
      If the Telcos did business more or less privately like any normal business, you'd have a good point. However, that is far from the case.

      The Telcos have been the beneficiaries of large grants of land siezed or given to them by the government. The government taxes their customers and then hands that money to the Telcos to pay for capital improvements in less profitable geogephic markets. The Telcos benefit from government regulation that places enourmous barriers to entry for competitors attempting to enter their markets.

      So yeah, the are subject to congressional oversight. If they don't like that they should'nt have gone to Congress in the first place for all the freebies and just conducted business in an open market.

      It really hacks me off when whiney corps try to have it both ways.

  • by notNeilCasey (521896) <NotNeilCasey@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:10PM (#14248299) Homepage
    Wouldn't this automatically end their common carrier status, if they're filtering blocking traffic from certain sources to certain destinations? Or is that something they hope the law they're lobbying for to address? The Telecommunications Cake Eating and Having Antiterrorism and Freedom Act of 2006!
  • the American Govt doesn't run the interweb, eh?

    Oh, wait....

    never mind.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:11PM (#14248313) Homepage Journal
    This means that common carriers will be essentially committing fraud.

    If for example, I get a T1 from Verizon (I would never buy from them directly, we're going with an alternate provider, but hear me out) and AT&T has a dispute with Verizon. Were this thing to pass, data transfers between my T-1 and a customer's T1 (who happens to be an AT&T provider) would be downgraded. This means that my customer is not getting the full 1.54mbps bandwidth their SLA guarantees, and by effect neither would I. This is {potentially} interference with interstate commerce and is also discriminatory in deciding whose traffic goes where, not to mention breach of contract (violating the SLA).

    Implementing this kind of policy should immediately result in the provider's losing common carrier status, as by advertising one thing and then providing a different service, they are carrying out a bait-and-switch on the customer - in short, fraud.
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:34PM (#14248529) Homepage
      Cell phone carriers do exactly what you're describing above in the form of in-network calling.

      Heck, I'm switching to Verizon's mobile service because it doesn't make any sense to pay Cingular when virtually all of my contacts are on verizon, and would be free to call if I were a verizon customer.

      It's probably racketeering, and definitely immoral, but it's a damn effective business strategy.
    • by Urusai (865560) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:47PM (#14248682)
      It's only fraud if Congress hasn't been paid enough.
    • by chill (34294) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @03:50PM (#14249378) Journal
      This means that my customer is not getting the full 1.54mbps bandwidth their SLA guarantees, and by effect neither would I. This is {potentially} interference with interstate commerce and is also discriminatory in deciding whose traffic goes where, not to mention breach of contract (violating the SLA).

      Wrong.

      You'll get the full T1 from your termination point to theirs. That is ALL the SLA covers. You are not guaranteed any type on link to other networks at all. Never ever. Telcos don't guarantee service on their competitors networks.

      What most people dont' realize is that the common carriers DO THIS ALREADY. The connection equipment of choice is ATM, and that supports QoS. Leased circuits were configured with QoS depending on what was paid for by the customer. As a field engineer at Lucent, it was explicitly explained to us "see that level there, marked 'no guarantee, best effort'? That is all the Internet traffic -- lowest priority there is."

      However, all this is done at the network level and not the transport level. Major carriers routinely ran their own circuits high priority. Anyone else who paid for one, also got high priority circuits. Everone else got 'best effort' links. Links where they didn't control both endpoints, like to a competitor thru a peering agreement, were 'best effort'.

      The fuss is not that the carriers are doing this, it is that they want to do this further up the stack. They want to become more than carriers and get into the realm of "content providers". Thus, not just provide the wires, but the stuff on the wires as well. This is where they run afoul of the existing laws.

      In essence, they want to do QoS at the TCP level. Personally, I think that is fine by me as long as it is TARRIFED like services are now. If SBC wants to do it for SBC produced content, they have to charge that division the same as if it was a Google, Yahoo or NBC service. The "premium" costs the same no matter WHO you are.

      I'd love to have end-to-end QoS available, even if at a premium.

        -Charles
  • I pay already for internet access. If I go for DSL I guess it will have to look at Earthlink.
    Maybe this will push Google into the ISP market so it can do no evil and make a lot of money.
    • I pay already for internet access. If I go for DSL I guess it will have to look at Earthlink. Maybe this will push Google into the ISP market so it can do no evil and make a lot of money.

      Unless Google lays their own wire (or fiber, whatever), BS or AT&T would still be getting your money when Google pays to lease their lines for you.

  • What a mess (Score:3, Funny)

    by VaderPi (680682) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:11PM (#14248315) Homepage
    This has the potential to turn the Internet into a huge mess, especially as the telecoms continue to consolidate. I hope that Congress is not going to implement this. At least we have Google, Amazon, Ebay and Microsoft sticking up for us, because we all know that their interests are much more pure.
  • by borgheron (172546) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:12PM (#14248316) Homepage Journal
    For one thing, it would require a radical change in how the internet currently works. TCP/IP was designed around the whole idea of having no central routing (note, I didn't say naming) authority. This is one of the features which make it resilient to damage, since the network can adapt to nodes which suddenly might go dark.

    This, after all, was the whole purpose of it, since ARPANET was intended to be resilient to enemy attack if parts of it were taken out.

    • by ivoras (455934) <ivoras@fer . h r> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @03:07PM (#14248910) Homepage
      Yes, TCP/IP is built to be reliable and decentralized, but the lower-level protocols used by big telcos, like ATM, can discriminate just fine.
    • by Bishop (4500) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @04:25PM (#14249787)
      it would require a radical change in how the internet currently works

      No it wouldn't. It is a common myth. TCP/IP was desgined to allow for dumb routers so that it is resiliant to damage. But TCP/IP does not enforce this feature. There is nothing to prevent smart routers from prioritising packets or simply dropping packets into the void. There is nothing preventing AT&T from closeing their massive network and disconnecting it from the Internet. The rest of the Internet will continue to function as designed, but that is little comfort to whose people who are left with an inferior network at a higher price.
  • For [insert favorite diety]'s sake, write your representative [house.gov], and write your senators (both of them) [senate.gov]!

    Tell them this is a bad idea. Make up some ideas - I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion here.

    Write them a physical letter if you can bear to touch it - those go farther...even if you're talking 'bout the internet.

    --LWM
    • Write them a physical letter if you can bear to touch it - those go farther...even if you're talking 'bout the internet.

      Actually physical letters don't carry the weight they did even a few years ago. After the anthrax scares many avoid them now like the Plague. While I can't say what is most effective now: faxes, e-mail, telephone calls, personal visits, visits to their local offices, I do know that the gold standard that each actual letter represents this many other people who never quite got their own

  • by Darth Maul (19860) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:12PM (#14248323) Homepage
    "AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill..." ...But our politicians are elected to best represent the needs of their constituents (and we all voted, right?), so everything will work out just fine in the best interest of the individual citizen.

    Whew. That was a close one.
  • Telcoms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PetriBORG (518266) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:14PM (#14248339) Homepage
    Just another example of greed? This is directly comparable to them being allowed to degrade voice service from another phone company. Its ridiculous for voice its ridiculous for the internet. See what happens when you stop considering them to be common-carriers where everyone is on a level playing field? It will lead to no good, thats for sure.
  • This has to be stopped before it's allowed to ever get started. I hope everyone who is a customer of these firms immediately and loudly complains. If not, you'll find yourself owned by your monopoly carrier when it's you who are paying the bills to start with!
  • If they are transmitting their "own services" in their own network what is there to stop them from setting up their routers to mark packets from their own web (and other) servers with higher quality of service (TOS/Diffserv field)?

    Of course these markings lose all meaning when the packet goes out of their AS, but if they want they can always set up peering agreements where the QoS is preserved..
  • I'm not a fan of this proposal, but I'm curious what the real difference is between this and Internet2 connectivity that get people so incensed? Universities and corporations on Internet2 get higher bandwidth to each other than the rest of the internet, and for that they pay a premium.

    It seems to me that the major difference is that it's the telcos coming up with the idea and that end users may actually get to use it. While I'd prefer everyone get access to the higher speed network, what's stopping backbone
    • I'm curious what the real difference is between this and Internet2 connectivity

      Well:

      1: They can charge more for the premium service.

      2: They can continue to degrade the basic serivce to force you to upgrade to the premium service and pay more.

      Is this how you want to be treated by your telephone company?

  • An Old Issue (Score:2, Informative)

    by One Div Zero (851169)
    This is an old issue - Lessig has been writing about it since 2001.

    The idea pops up every few months, but in the end, it is economic suicide for a market that already has an open, neutral standard to splinter into a set of closed, preferential standards.

    In short, the competition between providers will reduce their profit below the current 'tacit agreement' point it is currently at, thanks to the neutral standard. This is especially true as long as they are not offering any additional value with their servic
  • by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:18PM (#14248380)
    Not to play devils advocate here, but isn't this the setup all cable companies currently have?

    They have their own private internet for video services and a separate internet for normal IP traffic flow.

    This allows them to send massive amounts of video with fairly reliable QOS.

  • There really are both sides to this issue. From the press release linked it sounds as it they want to offer video on demand and other services over the DSL line. This is almost identical to what comcast does with its video on demand. It run through a special channel that doesn't tie up your internet, and arrived much faster than regular internet video on demand. I see nothing wrong with DSL providers doing the exact same thing. ON THE OTHER HAND. If like google fears the DSL providers want to be able to ch
  • Davidson has an ally in US Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Malden. ''I don't understand why we would tinker with the model that has been so wildly successful," Markey said.

    Markey said he's engaged in ''intense private negotiations" with telecom companies and congressional colleagues in search of a compromise.


    How about this for a compromise? No. Bad Telcos... you had yours.
  • The prospect of a tiered Internet with ''regular" and ''premium" broadband services is spawning fierce debate as Congress takes up a major overhaul of telecom regulations. The House of Representatives last month held hearings on a preliminary draft by two GOP congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan, that would give the telecom companies the freedom to establish premium broadband services. The telecom bill is due for action early next year.

    Hmmm...I think I will do a search of these g
  • I'm not practiced in writing legal verbage, but in it's own way, it can't be much more difficult that thinking in program code... making sure there are few if no loopholes or problems with interpretation and all that.

    But Damnit if I'm not tired of seeing law and legislation constantly being proposed to prop up older business practices in newer and changing environments. This *HAS* to be seen by our legislators as the quickest way to outmode our economy. While the rest of the world grows and changes with t
  • The feds (FCC, FTC, SEC) catch wind of this they will go ballistic. The House and Senate committes will grill the telcos until they are well done over QOS or priority packeting, filtering, depeering and email routing. They won't hear the end of it until they drop the bloody thing altogether.

    You know it aint going to happen.
  • Create a premium service,
    charge people more to access your network at 'fast' speeds. Ok no problem. That's sort of been going on for a while with tiered speeds for broadband connections.
    Telco's provide content targeted at those premium accounts. Again, ok by me. Paying more generally entitles you to more.

    So now other sites that provide streaming auido or video or just use lots of bandwidth are going to have to pay a premium or face serious degradation of quality of service. Welp, that's not good for th
  • I'm confused why they are asking or even need to "rearchitect" the Internet to do this. Can't they just use some QoS features of their router hardware to give packets for "partners" higher priority? Lower latency, more bandwidth, etc, etc. What other power is needed?
  • by gstoddart (321705)
    Instead of paying for what I pay now, they'll want to put their own obnoxious content (which I never use) onto the faster pipes and make everything else suck??

    As other people have pointed out, I hope this loses them their common carrier status.

    Changing the network topology of the internet to make sure they can continue to sell me extra services/features/content is crap. Imagine getting an itemized bill charging you additional moneys for accessing stuff other than their content.

    I mean, really, WTF does AT
  • I'm not trying to troll here, but at what point can we just come out and say America is Facist? I mean let's face it, big corporations already control much of our lives beyond just salaries, there's corporate health care and pensions that many people count on to survive, corporate lobbyists influence massive policy changes and regulations. In many cases corps have much more influence (through political alliances and/or $$$) than any one citizen certainly, and even most citizen groups! And with the DMCA, FCC
    • You undersell the real meaning behind the term "fascist"

      From http://www.m-w.com/ [m-w.com] Main Entry: fascism
      Pronunciation: 'fa-"shi-z&m also 'fa-"si-
      Function: noun
      Etymology: Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces
      1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, seve

    • Sounds like we're pretty much there...

      http://demopedia.democraticunderground.com/index.p hp/Fascism [democratic...ground.com]

      Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

      1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag s
  • All they have to do, to give prioroty to their communication, is to quickly route anything that has the Evil Bit set to 1.
  • The telcos basic fear, of course, is that the end to end design of the net will erode the telcos ability to use service charges to generate revenue for delivering video and voice; the proposed solution is to break end-to-end in order to protect pricing leverage over the users.

    Translation of above paragraph...

    The telcos basic fear, of course is that the end to end design of the net will further erode the telcos antiquated business model. The proposed solution is to use legislation to protect and keep t
  • So is it that the carriers now wish to disclaim that they are "Common Carriers" since they will no longer carry content on an entirely non-discriminatory basis?
  • Is anyone else thinking that Verizon will side with Google, et. al., and oppose the other telcos in this effort? Verizon's big push, the on they're basically betting the company on, is their "FIOS" fiber-to-the-home initiative. If they control the fiber going in to the home, they can stick their video infrastructure in their own CO's and (where necessary) use private broadband circuits (owned by them) to transfer data. They don't need priority on the internet to deliver their product well. So it would
  • Does this mean if I want a better Internet, I now really will have to go to AOL? NOOOOOOO!
  • .. 2 weeks ago SBC mentioned they would intentionally cripple the internet with 1000 ping times and allow only 3 or 4 sites that would run regularly. The user would have the option to pay extra money for each site they want to run optimally.

    So are they going to create a seperate backbone as an excuse for this project? Think about it? They can't let just any ordinary user use the fiber backbone right? Oh well I guess you have to pay extra $$ for a less than 500 ping time for your favorite quakeserver.

    If you
  • The House of Representatives last month held hearings [house.gov] on a preliminary draft by two GOP congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan, that would give the telecom companies the freedom to establish premium broadband services. The telecom bill is due for action early next year. If your rep. is on This List [house.gov] be sure to drop them a line.
  • They,

    Are barking up the wrong tree.

    They would achieve much quicker success by just petitioning the FTC, the FCC, and/or the court systems.

    Any one of the three organizational units above has consistently shown the propensity to gladly hand over to proviate hands assets the public has repeatly entrusted as public property.

    Personally I'm fed up with providing right of ways, local monopolies, etc. only to see the courts, etc. say that those things suddenly exclusively belong to a private company.

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