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Game Theory Computer Model Backs Net Neutrality 315

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the skynet-opinions dept.
Stu writes "'A world without net neutrality is one devoid of intellectual development' said Sir Tim Berners Lee in a presentation to congress last week. Well, now there's a computer model that uses game theory to back that forecast up. Developed at the University of Florida, the model shows that everyone loses if the IPs get their way — even, eventually, the IPs."
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Game Theory Computer Model Backs Net Neutrality

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:06PM (#18294664)

    Developed at the University of Florida, the model shows that everyone looses if the IPs get their way -- even, eventually, the IPs."
    Everyone looses when the screws that hold the tubes together become lose

    brought to you by the captcha: fickle
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by EvanED (569694)
      everyone looses
      Everyone looses when the screws that hold the tubes together become lose

      I wish there was an "ironically funny" option.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by EvanED (569694)
        *woosh*

        I'm an idiot. Didn't realize there was a spelling error in the summary...
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Correction: two spelling errors. Congress should always be capitalized. No pun intended. :-)

    • where everyone wound up fighting over the last tree, or something like that, because their belief structure demanded something that as short sighted and ultimately destructive.
  • What's an IP? (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:09PM (#18294694) Homepage Journal

    FTFS:

    Developed at the University of Florida, the model shows that everyone looses if the IPs get their way -- even, eventually, the IPs."

    What is an IP? It can't be an intellectual property, since they don't have will, so they can't get their way. I'm pretty sure it can't be internet protocol.

    Did you perhaps mean ISP?

    • Re:What's an IP? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hitokiri (220183) on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:16PM (#18294816) Homepage
      Internet Providers, we are dropping Service from ISP since customer service these days is generally abysmal.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Internet Providers, we are dropping Service from ISP since customer service these days is generally abysmal.

        That joke was old when I was still a sperm and an egg.

        I first encountered it, though, when I worked for the county of santa cruz' health and human services dept's MIS dept, referring to the difference between IT and IS.

        Anyway the S in ISP refers to internet service, not customer service. Although I suspect you were making some sort of attempt at humor :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dunbal (464142)
        we are dropping Service from ISP

        Seems like a lot of businesses are positively allergic to the word "service" anyway. I remember chuckling years ago when flying and listening to the speech by the chairman of some airline (cough Continental cough) welcoming me onboard and how proud they were of the PRODUCT they were offering me. Yep, transporting someone across the US - a product, not a service. Got to LOVE them marketing people and how they twist things around like weasels. God forbid
  • everyone looses if the IPs get their way


    Well, at least they don't get tight. I mean, I hate it when people get all tight about things, don't you?
  • While I applaud the advocacy, the bad new is "intellectual development" is not what the telcos and media conglomerates have in mind.
    • A[cent]/D[cent] (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)
      While I applaud the advocacy, the bad new is "intellectual development" is not what the telcos and media conglomerates have in mind.

      Exactly. It's profit maximization they're after.

      If they think they can make Google pay to serve their customers, they'll have a customer revolt over not being able to access Google. Google's packets are more valuable than those originating at a leaf-node ISP. Leaf-node ISPs will find themselves paying Google's ISP, not Google paying them, to get their users access to Google.
  • ... we don't need regulations to enforce it. The companies who refuse to get it will eventually be forced to change, suffer from disruptive technology, or be eliminated from the gene pool.
    • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:17PM (#18294830) Homepage
      You're funny.

      Really, you are. You take companies that have natural physical monopolies and then try and act like there are some competitive forces working against them when infact the only thing that keeps them from completely raping the customer are the relevant governmental regulatory agencies.

      You must be too young to remember Ma Bell...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        You must be too young to remember Ma Bell...

        Remember Ma Bell? I get my local and long distance service from them right now. I'm just lucky I've got a non-ATT cellular provider. Oh wait... Edge Wireless [edgewireless.com] is an affiliate of Cingular Wireless, which means it is part of the largest digital voice and data network in the U.S.*... shit!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Qzukk (229616)
        You must be too young to remember Ma Bell...

        I agree with the other guy. Breaking up "Ma Bell" was dumb, all it did was create lots of little regional monopolies. Didn't like the service? Well, you could always move across the country. Far more good was done by forcing the phone companies to allow people to buy their own phones from anyone who made a compliant phone.
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Agreed, mostly, but the decision to deregulate phones would probably not have made a big difference were it not for the breakup of Ma Bell. If new phone manufacturers had to compete against a single monopoly, the competitive barrier to entry would have been too high. This is, of course, an untestable theory, but I think the principle is sound.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by morsdeus (1059938)
        "Natural physical monopolies?" I think it's you, rather than he, that is joking. The abusive monopolistic power of ISPs and similar telecommunications service providers is handed to them by the regulation of the government. Government effectively grants monopolies to these companies through exclusive rights to lay dark fiber in certain areas, etc., adds a pile of supposedly consumer-beneficial regulations on top of that, and wonders why barriers to entry are so high, industry oligopolies form, and the compe
  • by Syro2000 (948558) on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:12PM (#18294762) Homepage
    I find the blurb difficult to understand with its talk of IPs winning and losing. From the article:

    Not surprisingly, they found that broadband service providers were the ones to gain the most from ending net neutrality because they could collect fees from content providers. The content providers such as Yahoo! and Google, in turn, would be the biggest losers.

    Consumers will "win" if their favorite online provider is the one paying a fee to the telephone or cable company because it comes with a guarantee that its site would have the opportunity to load faster than its competitors, Cheng said. But those consumers who prefer a content provider that paid no such fee will "lose" in having to endure slower service, he said.
    However, that implies there are both winners and losers. I'm not sure why the submitter claims that "everyone looses [sic]."
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I wonder if the simulation takes into account the effect of consumers switching to the content provider that pays the fee, and the effect this would have on the amount of content consumers have to choose from.
  • by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:15PM (#18294796) Homepage
    It makes sense that an ISP with a given set of customers would want to extort content providers by slowing down the connections to those who don't engage in payola. But wouldn't that put the ISP at a big disadvantage compared to another ISP that continues to upgrade the speed of connections and not charge the content providers?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dr. Eggman (932300)
      Logically, yes. But ISPs are a finite group, and the smaller the group, the easier it is for them claim that the extortion is the best for their buisness. If enough ISPs take this route, customers begin to accept it as normal. Of course, the ISPs that would want to gain a larger share of the customers are the ones likely to not extort content providers, which usually means the smaller ISPs. Content providers will be slow to switch if they can make up the extortion in different way; none of them will want to
      • Networks & ISP's (Score:5, Insightful)

        by queenb**ch (446380) on Friday March 09, 2007 @07:50PM (#18295734) Homepage Journal
        Here's the deal, people. There are only 10 of the so-called Tier 1 ISP. They are AOL, AT&T, Global Crossing, Level 3, Verizon, NTT, Qwest, SAVVIS, Sprint, and XO. You'll notice that many of these guys have absorbed many of other Tier 1 providers. For example Verizon now owns what used to be UUNET. They've also absorbed many of the Tier 2 ISP's. Quoting Wikipedia, "By definition, a Tier 1 network does not purchase IP transit from any other network to reach any other portion of the Internet." which is a definition I can live with.

        What that means to you lay people is that whole freakin' globe is being carved up by 10 companies. Everyone else ultimately pays one of these 10 guys for bandwidth. How hard do you think it would be to get 10 CEO's to agree to charge Google for example, at the rate of 1 cent per click?

        I'm not the kind of person to start screaming for the government to step in an start regulating things, but I would like to see the internet adjusted so that there are peering points that match the physical borders. I'd like to see the US goverment say that if you start charging content providers the peering points for the USA will be unavailable to you. If you're stateside, we'll charge with Anti Trust and RICO violations. Since American's buy more stuff on line than most anyone else, I think that this would prove an effective deterrent to this sort of stupidity out of the ISP's. They're already fat from the profits that they make off selling the rest of us bandwidth that must be used to send worms, viruses, and spam to each of us every day.

        If they want to be more profitable, stop the worms, viruses, and spammers. That will leave plenty of bandwidth for the rest of us to do some thing amazing.

        2 cents,

        QueenB.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      That sounds nice.

      I have a choice between Comcast, or Verizon.

      Neither is likely to play nice. Both have a good reason to tamper with, say, Vonage, since both offer VOIP as a part of their package deals. Both offer digital TV, and on-demand entertainment - both would want to hinder the growth of things like Vongo, and will make sure that IPTV dies in the womb.

      There's very little competition, and every reason to expect collusion among the biggies.

      And theres no reason at all to tamper with the current state o
    • by Qzukk (229616)
      But wouldn't that put the ISP at a big disadvantage compared to another ISP that continues to upgrade the speed of connections and not charge the content providers?

      The content providers are not buying the service. As the buyer of the service, why should I choose one over the other? If I buy the first one and fancysite.com doesn't work, and I call up my ISP, are they going to accept responsibility or claim that it's not their fault?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Thatto (258697)
        I have often wondered why this is an issue at all... On my POTS line, I can call anyone, anytime, as long as they have a phone. In the beginning, they charged based on distance. Long distance calls cost more, but as the infrustructure has expanded, the concept of distance is mostly meaningless. Never did the telecos charge based on whom I was calling. How is the net different? I pay my isp for my internet connection, Google pays bigbucks for theirs. Why should the telecos get any extra because google is us
        • by Dunbal (464142)
          Never did the telecos charge based on whom I was calling.

                Well in a way, they did. 800 numbers are free for you because the business picks up the tab. Conversely 900 numbers charged you an arm and a leg...
    • It makes sense that an ISP with a given set of customers would want to extort content providers by slowing down the connections to those who don't engage in payola. But wouldn't that put the ISP at a big disadvantage compared to another ISP that continues to upgrade the speed of connections and not charge the content providers?

      In many regions there are a very small number of ISPs (particularly if you count only those that own the fiber rather than those that just provide service on the phone companies lines

    • by Bastian (66383)
      They're pretty insulated from this kind of competition, at least in the USA.

      When I signed up for high-speed internet access, I had two choices: AT&T DSL or Comcast cable service. For one, that's only two choices. (Which is actually one more choice than I had at my last home, where it was either cable or dialup.)

      Secondly, a decision like that isn't as simple as choosing an internet provider - what if you don't have a phone, are you willing to sign up for a phone line just to get your DSL? What if you
    • Not really, at least no time soon. The 2 broadband intertubes there are nowadays (cable and DSL) utilized existing, and crazy expensive, infrastructure. The companies owning said ridiculously expensive infrastructure aren't opening their circuits. Cable's, well, cable was already in place. It wasn't much work to add a box in the cable office and connect it to some T3s or such. Same thing with DSL.

      Unless wireless takes off in a big way, itself another crazy expensive infrastructure problem, for any real cove
    • Yea, sure, I'll just switch to my other cable provider... Oh wait, I only have comcast in my area...

      Lets see, the pressure to keep comcast honest in the net neutrality thin is my threat to switch to dialup.

      That doesn't seem that threatening.
  • Hey, the rest of the world can run these internets and intarwebs however they like, but THIS IS AMERICA and we don't appreciate none of that intellectual development garbgage. We prefer our internets to be about sending videos of people getting hit in the testicles, underage girls shaking their ass on their webcams and flash videogames targeted at school children on Kraft Foods' websites.
  • "In Japan and Korea, where there is net neutrality and much greater competition among broadband providers than in the United States, there are also higher broadband speeds," he said."
    The top 9 largest cities in Japan make up ~50% of the population (147 million)
    The top 4 largest cities in S. Korea make up a bit less than 50% (48 million)

    In terms of size, to paraphrase from someone in another thread: In Texas we call that a county.
    • by Volante3192 (953645) on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:40PM (#18295078)
      "In Japan and Korea, where there is net neutrality and much greater competition among broadband providers than in the United States, there are also higher broadband speeds," he said."

      Call me crazy, but I would think it's the "greater competition among broadband providers" that is spurring the higher broadband speed.

      You could replace 'net neutrality' with 'rice paddies' in that quote and it would still be accurate.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by geek2k5 (882748)

        The countries in question are small and high tech, with population densities that make it a lot cheaper to provide services. I also suspect that lot sizes are smaller, so the costs of physically connecting to broadband are cheaper.

        In the US, with certain exceptions like NYC and San Francisco, we have lower densities so it requires longer runs for physical wiring. This can be a major problem if you are looking at various forms of DSL, which have distance restrictions. Even if the cost differences in the w

  • A world without net neutrality is one devoid of intellectual development

    Look.. I don't support Net Neutrality. Or specifically, I don't support a net neutrality law because I don't think it's required. It'll just get politicians involved in something they really don't understand, and getting politicians involved is almost always a bad idea.

    I think a neutral network is a great idea, but it doesn't have to be enforced by the government exactly because those who abuse the market willlose out quite naturally. Neutrality is the natural state of the network.

    Oh, and on the quote... "

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday March 09, 2007 @07:09PM (#18295342)

      I think a neutral network is a great idea, but it doesn't have to be enforced by the government exactly because those who abuse the market willlose out quite naturally.


      Um, no. Everyone may lose, but those who most abuse the market will be the ones who lose least, in precisely the sense of the classical tragedy of the commons. Indeed, that's precisely why everyone is likely to lose, because the absence of neutrality rules promotes ever greater abuse. Which is precisely why a regulatory and enforcement regime is needed.

      Neutrality is the natural state of the network.


      "The network" is not natural and has no natural state. The network has previously been largely neutral because of government policies enforcing certain aspects of neutrality on important parts of the network, though those policies are currently only in the form of shifting FCC practices, not law.
    • by Qzukk (229616)
      those who abuse the market will lose out quite naturally.

      Why?

      If an ISP charges Google extra for their users to use their search site (or get redirected to someone who will pay, or just not have their site come up at all), what is Google going to do, cancel their cable subscription? Or maybe when people call up and ask about this, only to be told that Google must be down, but you can go to www.isppartnersearch.com to search the web, the percentage of people smart enough to realize that this is bullshit will
      • by cdrguru (88047)
        How about the difference between the company that charges Google because people connect to their service and the company that just raises their service price?

        Assume the same amount of money is received by the ISP in both cases and allows them to deliver their service.

        Which is better? That is the question that is coming. All this talk of blocking, monopoly and censorship is so much rubbish. It's all about the money.

        And raising customer prices isn't going to happen. Not with anyone that wants to stay in b
  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:35PM (#18295016) Homepage
    Please, no more comments until everyone reads Wikipedia's network neutrality article [wikipedia.org] in its entirety.

    My take: the real fear is monopoly control of the Internet. Since monopolies are a problem independent of the Internet, we need to strengthen anti-monopoly laws rather than pretend we're living like it's 1969 on the ARPANET.

    • by TheWoozle (984500)
      Monopoly is the problem, huh?

      Then let me ask you a question: can you explain why in the U.S., where there is most definietly not a monopoly air carrier, that travel between two given cities at a certain time of day costs roughly the same for a given class of service across all of the major airlines (Southwest being the obvious exception)?

      You'll notice that when one airline raises ticket prices, they pretty much all do. Coincidence?

      Let's suppose that one airline got the bright idea to charge its passengers
      • You seem to fear higher ISP prices. My fear is censorship from a monopoly. We are already seeing this as Google AdWords often bans political ads.

        But as for the cost side of the equation -- your observation of airline prices is correct, but only half the story. While the airline industry is in fact an oligopoly that incrementally raises prices in tandem over time, it also suddenly slashes prices in tandem periodically. This is the behavior of an oligopoly, which while not ideal, is preferable to a monopo

      • by Bluesman (104513)
        But by that logic, airline ticket prices would inch up over time until nobody could afford to fly. This doesn't happen.

        Competition doesn't just include competition among like businesses. Airlines aren't just competing with each other, they're competing with all of the other options you have when you spend your dollar (not spending it being an option too). At some point, you'll decide that buying an airline ticket just isn't worth the price, and you'll either go on vacation within driving distance or do s
      • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday March 09, 2007 @07:57PM (#18295786)
        No monopoly is necessary

              It's called an oligopoly, and it's almost as bad.
    • by hazem (472289)
      Why that particular article? While packed with facts, it's biased pretty heavily against "Net Neutrality".
    • My take: the real fear is monopoly control of the Internet. Since monopolies are a problem independent of the Internet, we need to strengthen anti-monopoly laws rather than pretend we're living like it's 1969 on the ARPANET.

      Monopolies are certainly a problem independent of the internet, but they are problems that, experience has shown, require, in addition to general solutions (like the various anti-trust laws), more focussed controls in certain domains (like the common carrier provisions that apply to "tel

  • It was very easy for us to "prove" a wide range of conflicting hypotheses by tweaking the rules until we got the results we wanted. Without knowing the assumptions behind the simulation, it's really impossible to judge the accuracy of the simulations.
  • Simplistic model (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:39PM (#18295058)
    Their model do not account for innovation, they use fixed parameters, a very neat toy model. The real world doesn't behave like that, it is much more complicated.

    Do they foresee Google raising WiMax masts? Do they foresee P2P based webservices?

    The article says:

    "More important, the researchers found that the incentive for broadband service providers to expand and upgrade their service actually declines if net neutrality ends. Improving the infrastructure reduces the need for online content providers to pay for preferential treatment, Bandyopadhyay said."

    Of course it does, but then your competitor has an incentive to expand and upgrade their service so that they can charge lower prices. How can the model not take *that* into account?

    If this kind of simulation had any validity, planned economy and sovietism would work. We know it doesn't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by antv (1425)
      Of course it does, but then your competitor has an incentive to expand and upgrade their service so that they can charge lower prices. How can the model not take *that* into account?


      Umm, could you please list all those competitors Verizon, SBC and Qwest have in their respective rural areas ? I rest my case.

  • Wow. A computer program came up with a result that supports a particular political position. This is a surprise?

    Any computer program that predicts that folks will act against their best interest needs to be looked at very sceptically.
    • by hazem (472289)
      You have to define "best interest" because people act against their best interest all the time, often out ignorance or short-term thinking.

      Two simple cases:
      Americans tend to finance a tremendous level of their "lifestyles" using high interest rate credit cards. Once those cards maxed out, they're stuck with less lifetyle than their income would normally allow because they have to service the debt.

      Few Americans save for retirement - most neglect to contribute to a company provided retirement plan, even if t
    • by rhakka (224319)
      I think I'd have to point out the clearly radical notion that for people to reliably act in their own best interest, they would have to be perfectly rational, perfectly educated, and pretty much infallible human beings.

      Any computer program that predicts that folks will act in their own best interest... indeed, that they will even know what their best interest really IS... would be completely out of touch with reality and incapable of making any useful predictions about the real world we all live in.

      Predicti
  • Money is the point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Friday March 09, 2007 @07:37PM (#18295616) Homepage
    The problem is that pricing has been pushed down to the point where it is almost a losing game to win market share. That's nice for the consumer and it was nice that all this service could be provided without much hardware investment.

    That was great when the connections were not being used much.

    The issue today is who is going to pay. And nobody wants to just raise end-user prices. While that might be the fairest way to do it, it would shrink market share and be a shakeup for the entire ISP industry.

    We could have government subsidies pay for it all, as is mostly done in other countries to keep prices low. That means taxes pay for cheap Internet service. So the people that don't have it have to pay - not so fair.

    Someone came up with the bright idea of charging the other end. Google is paying almost nothing for their connection (check prices on OC-192 connections) and is making billions off the people looking there. Maybe they could pay more?

    Of course, making Google, CBS Sports and CNN pay more for their connections just comes back around to the consumers anyway. There is no escaping that prices are going up. The consumer is going to end up paying, one way or another. The only question is how many middlemen are involved.
    • Government does subsidize the network. Governments have given telcommunications companies money and or tax breaks to buildout the networks therefore they are being subsidized.

      Someone came up with the bright idea of charging the other end. Google is paying almost nothing for their connection (check prices on OC-192 connections) and is making billions off the people looking there. Maybe they could pay more?

      Google does pay for their connection, they pay thier provider. What the telcoms want is to double

  • The question is, did the game theory model include competition among ISPs? In my area we have a choice of DSL or Cable for broadband, but some customers live where there is only one provider (or none!). The optimal game theory strategy should be very different for cases where there is a monopoly on broadband internet access vs where two or more companies have to compete for customers. Their model would have to take that into consideration.

    The fact that the article didn't say anything about it makes me suspe
  • So, if we get Net Neutrality, does that mean that I my VoIP is going to go to shit every time my neighbor fires up BitTorrent?
  • The truth of the matter is that its the content that drives adoption of the net and drives expansion of the infrastuture, not the other way around, however the content and infrastructure are symbiotic, nto parasitic.

    However, the idea of an ISP billing a content provider is parasitic.

    In the hey day of the dot.com's, huge amounts of content were created using investor cash which was "burned". Now that the cash has been burned, for the most part this content is drying up.

    Without an ability to make money, most

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