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Net Neutrality Debate Crosses the Atlantic 277

Posted by Zonk
from the its-just-business dept.
smallfries writes "The network neutrality debate has raged on in the States for some time now. Now broadband providers in the UK have banded together to threaten the BBC, who plans to provide programming over 'their' networks. The BBC is being asked to cough up to pay for bandwidth charges, otherwise traffic shaping will be used to limit access to the iPlayer. 'As more consumers access and post video content on the internet - using sites such as YouTube - the ability of ISPs to cope with the amount of data being sent across their networks is coming under increasing strain, even without TV broadcasters moving on to the web. Analysts believe that ISPs will be forced to place stringent caps on consumers' internet use and raise prices to curb usage. Attempts have been made by players in the industry to form a united front against the BBC by asking the Internet Service Providers' Association to lead the campaign on the iPlayer issue. However, to date, no single voice for the industry has emerged. I thought that the monthly fee we pay already was to cover access ... but maybe it only covers the final mile and they need to be paid twice to cover the rest of the journey."
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Net Neutrality Debate Crosses the Atlantic

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  • Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oberondarksoul (723118) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:17PM (#20207581) Homepage
    I'm going to hunt down the relevant addresses and start sending letters. The BBC pay for their bandwidth usage. I pay for mine. At what point are the ISPs getting short-changed in this equation?
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:36PM (#20208027)

      The BBC pay for their bandwidth usage. I pay for mine. At what point are the ISPs getting short-changed in this equation?

      It's the typical corporate sense of entitlement. Thus far, they have been making money by selling the bandwidth available to them many times over. The BBC player increases the probability that people will actually use all the bandwidth they have paid for, meaning that the ISPs can't make money this way any more. Thus they view the BBC player as costing them money, not realising/caring that they weren't entitled to that money to begin with.

    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:51PM (#20208105)
      Exactly. Actually, the ISPs can largely thank themselves for allowing this situation to arise in the first place. We could have had real multicasting and proper resource reservation in place, but instead we have (not so) good, old IPv4 and IPv6 is nowhere in sight.

      A few years back, I was the instructor for a week-long CIW Security course. The students in that particular class were mostly admins and technicians from one of the larger Norwegian ISPs.

      One of the topics covered was IPv6. Naturally, I was curious to hear about their plans for implementing the next-generation IP protocol. The answer I got was "well, there isn't any demand for it at this point, so we'll wait and see." Doh!

      And today, surprise surprise, still no IPv6. Still no decent resource reservation and still no multicasting. You can't even expect IPv4 IGMP to work everywhere.

      I know that iPlayer is not meant to be a real-time streaming service (which is where multicasting really shines), but bandwidth consumption could still be dramatically reduced by, say, starting streams at predefined intervals and putting as many viewers as possible in each stream.

      If iPlayer and similar services (and, dare I say it, P2P protocols) were all multicast-capable, this would almost be a non-issue. But they can't be, because it doesn't work, and now ISPs are trying to make it sound like content providers like the BBC are putting undue strain on the core network. Nonsense! The BBC pay their bandwidth bills like everyone else, and besides, without content the ISPs would have nothing to sell.
      • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BlueLightning (442320) * on Monday August 13, 2007 @01:13AM (#20208607) Homepage Journal
        Regarding IPv6, the cynic in me says that the actual reasoning is along similar lines: IP addresses will no longer be a scarce resource and therefore providers won't be able to charge as much for static ones - so why would they spend all the money to implement IPv6 when it'll probably lose them money anyway?
        • Re:Ugh... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by hitmark (640295) on Monday August 13, 2007 @02:09AM (#20208859) Journal
          bingo.

          its the same reason why you see entertainment corps fight for more and more stringent, or should i say draconian, copyright laws.

          hell, the only reason diamonds where so expensive where because of their rarity. now that we know how to make them by the ton (put carbon, one of the most available resources on this planes, into what amounts to a very large pressure cooker) the diamond dealers have started to remarked themselves with stuff like "real" or "natural"...

          this is the same reason why we will not see home replicators put into use, at least not the degree shows in star trek, for a long time after it have been developed. the number of legal battles to be fought will be staggering...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        If iPlayer and similar services (and, dare I say it, P2P protocols) were all multicast-capable, this would almost be a non-issue.

        Amen. BitTorrent is an absolutely brutal hack, and I really want it to die, but we just don't have decent multicast to replace it with.

        Maybe what we need is a sort of hybrid between cacheablility and multicast. Right now, Polipo (and maybe Squid) does something close -- if I start downloading some huge file, and someone else on my network starts downloading the same file, they'l

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SpeedyRich (754676)
        The BBC have looked into multicast; but a few ISPs disable it but, interestingly, the key issue are home routers - most home routers filter multicast by default and most home users don't understand how to enable it.
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by matthew.thompson (44814) <mattNO@SPAMactuality.co.uk> on Monday August 13, 2007 @02:06AM (#20208847) Journal
      Actually that's part of the problem - the BBC don't pay for their bandwidth. They pay for some bandwidth and they pay quite a lot overall for bandwidth but the bulk of BBC content is provided to ISPs through peering arrangements.

      The BBC peer at 11 different peering exchanges across the UK, Europe and USA with two different AS Numbers - one for BBC European ops and one for BBC American Ops. Details are available at http://support.bbc.co.uk/support/peering/ [bbc.co.uk]

      The upshot of this is that the ISPs are peering with the BBC so they don't get complaints from customers that one of the biggest sites in the world is slow or have to pay over the odds to an upstream provider and the BBC is peering with ISPs to make sure that they don't get hit with a bill for the 10s of Gbps of bandwidth they have available to them.

      Now that the bandwidth is likely to increase and the ISPs aren't going to get any more money from anyone for this they want the BBC to stump up. Personally I say tough - you decided to peer with the BBC, now you get to carry their traffic. It must have seemed beneficial once, surely those benefits haven't dissipated completely.
      • Re:Ugh... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by terrymr (316118) <terrymr.gmail@com> on Monday August 13, 2007 @02:21AM (#20208915)
        But the ISPs are still charging their customers for a given bandwidth and then complaining that they're using it. IF the BBC was magically sending more data over the link than the end user was paying for I could see the problem. Don't sell people bandwidth you can't deliver.
      • Who should pay who? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by meringuoid (568297)
        The upshot of this is that the ISPs are peering with the BBC so they don't get complaints from customers that one of the biggest sites in the world is slow or have to pay over the odds to an upstream provider and the BBC is peering with ISPs to make sure that they don't get hit with a bill for the 10s of Gbps of bandwidth they have available to them.

        It occurs to me that, if anything, the ISPs should be paying the BBC. They should cough up for the privilege of being able to provide BBC services to their cu

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pollardito (781263)

        The upshot of this is that the ISPs are peering with the BBC so they don't get complaints from customers that one of the biggest sites in the world is slow or have to pay over the odds to an upstream provider and the BBC is peering with ISPs to make sure that they don't get hit with a bill for the 10s of Gbps of bandwidth they have available to them.

        this same motivation would prevent them from extorting the BBC now, if they weren't colluding in making a demand for payment. if just one or two of these ISPs came to the BBC and said "you have to pay us or we'll degrade your traffic", but BBC would say "ok, degrade it" and they'd again be put in the position of having to explain to their customers why they have poor access to the BBC website. if the ISPs ban together and throw competition to the wind, then they can make such a demand without giving cust

    • The problem is... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 13, 2007 @06:02AM (#20209951) Journal
      The problem is that ISP's everywhere have dug themselves in a PR hole, for some time now.

      See, the move to "unlimited flat-rate internet access" was in a day and age when there wasn't that much to do on the 'net. The average user would read a few emails, maybe answer them too, but that's mostly time without any actual data transfer, and read a few web pages. Web pages which too meant a lot less graphics than today. And online games meant mostly MUDs and some cutesy java games on some website. (EQ and UO and AC did exist, but they accounted for maybe 1% of the internet subscribers.)

      God knows AOL had plenty of subscribers who didn't complain, at a time when (at least in Europe) their ISDN service had 2000-4000ms ping to the second node in the traceroute, and bandwidth wasn't much better either.

      So basically they sold you a service on the assumption that you wouldn't use much of it.

      The drive to advertise higher and higher access speeds, again was mostly driven by marketting. Backbone speeds didn't increase proportionally, or in many cases at all. Again, the assumption was that you wouldn't actually use most of it. Sure, maybe the email with pic you send mom would upload faster, but then you wouldn't do much on the net for the rest of the day. Basically it's more like burst speed, than sustainable speed for everyone.

      Unfortunately, what you pay for internet access doesn't even come close to paying for 24/7 usage of the whole bandwidth they advertised, and they know it.

      Even more unfortunately, now the idea of unlimited unmetered access is so entrenched in everyone's mind, that it's a bit like an ISP game of chicken. Whoever is the first to not stay the course, and announces that they're reverting to pay per minute or pay per MB, has lost. But, like with the real game of chicken, if noone gives up, everyone loses a bit later.

      Trying to go after the providers of such massive data streams is, basically, the band-aid. If they can't charge the users more, then, well, maybe they can try to charge BBC more. Or maybe they can stop BBC from making their users use more bandwidth altogether. Ditto for trying to demonize the users who actually use the bandwidth advertised: unpopular as it is, it's less of a seppuku maneuver than just admitting that the old model is breaking down and they're reverting to making you pay for how much you use.

      To compound the problem, here's another thing they didn't count on: your using the upload bandwidth. The traditional model has been that some site publishes the content, and pays for that bandwidth, while you only download it and at most send a few emails and the HTTP requests/ TCP/IP handshake upstream. Basically the content providers would subsidize your broadband. Every 1 MB you download would be 1 MB that some web site paid for. Then the ISPs would divide that loot according to how much each pushed on the others' network.

      Unfortunately nowadays more and more traffic is P2P or VOIP, between users which all are on such unmetered unlimited access plans. When you download 1MB via P2P, that's 1 MB that noone really paid for. That's not how that pricing model was supposed to work. It was supposed to be "free" for you, only because someone else paid for it. Or better said, it was never "free", it was just that someone else paid the tab.

      With P2P, that model breaks down, because noone pays the tab. The ISP is left not only with a bunch of used download bandwidth that noone pays for, but actually ends up paying to the backbone for the upload part of it.

      And again, it's a bit of a game of chicken: noone wants to be the first one who just announces that they're starting charging per MB uploaded.

      Admittedly, the latter isn't "solved" by trying to extort BBC, but going after such sites looks like the easiest way out anyway. Maybe they can make them pay more for the bandwidth left after P2P and VOIP.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not very sympathetic to that approach, and that's putting it mildly. Just saying that, if you were wondering what's their problem, there you go. That's what it is.
  • universal encryption (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:18PM (#20207595)
    The sooner everything uses encryption, the sooner this type of idiocy will be impossible.

    Encrypt every protocol. If it's a legacy protocol, pass it over an encrypted tunnel. Governments can't censor and corporations can't selectively extort when to them all bits are just bits.

    Bandwidth is a commodity. Encrypt, and these people will have to treat it like one rather than abusing their monopoly/cartel positions to implement artificial restrictions and surcharges.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142)
      The sooner everything uses encryption, the sooner this type of idiocy will be impossible.

            No, you just wait - they'll start blacklisting and throttling traffic that comes/goes to specific high-volume IP's, despite the content.
    • Have you ever tried to troubleshoot a protocol issue when the protocol itself is encrypted?
    • The sooner everything uses encryption, the sooner this type of idiocy will be impossible.

      Nope.

      If traffic can't be managed through packet shaping, they'll just meter your bits per month. Sure, you can have that nice fat 10mbit down, 5mbit up pipe. Just be sure not to go over your monthly quota unless you want to pay an extra fee at the end of the month. Kinda like going over your cell phone minutes.

      If and when this happens, I can guarantee you will see a utility provided by Microsoft to help you manage your

      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        But that is what we have already. You may have a deal that offers unlimited bandwidth, or you may have one that is capped, but the point of it is that you can use that bandwidth for whatever you like and no distinction is made. Which is as it should be as it's none of the ISP's business what you do with it. Using universal encryption preserves this state as the ISP can't make charging distinctions on what the data is. So the same market forces apply as now.
    • by arkhan_jg (618674)
      ISP's like pipex UK already just pre-emptively throttle ALL encrypted traffic.
  • by llamalad (12917) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:20PM (#20207609)
    I do not understand the idea of random networks charging content providers for their bandwidth.

    I already pay *my* ISP for my bandwidth.

    Content providers already pay *their* ISPs for their bandwidth.

    My ISP wants to charge the content providers for delivering their content?

    So that means my intraweb tube becomes free for me, right?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nemoyspruce (1007869)
      They dont want to charge content providers for delivering content. they want a slice of the juicy profit that the content providers are getting out of the tubes that they have already paid for...greedy bastards.
    • by init100 (915886)

      I see two reasons why they want to charge content providers extra:

      • They aren't actually charging you (the consumer) for all the bandwidth that you have available, so that if you and every other customer would start tu use a higher percentage of it, they can't make their ends meet. This more or less amounts to false advertising on their part (they said you had "unlimited" traffic, while in reality you hadn't.
      • They see the content providers make bucketloads of money making all these services available to yo
  • I guess i'm confused (Score:5, Informative)

    by jombeewoof (1107009) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:24PM (#20207637) Homepage
    The article doesn't go into much detail, but from what I've read the deal goes something like this.

    BBC to ISP/IPP == Hi I have an idea for a website/web based product let's hash out the details.

    ISP == oh yeah, great send that money right over here. We're the internet we can do anything.

    ISP/IPP actually looks over the details... wait.. we'll be needing more money if you want that service we just agreed to.

    That's not right, if a company cannot keep it's part of the bargain they should not have made the deal in the first place.

    This reminds me of an ISP I dealt with a few years ago when DSL was just gaining popularity. My predecessor made a deal that we would get free unlimited bandwidth for the school I worked at, in exchange for free classes for some of their employees. After I took over we went from about 3GB a month to close to 25GB. The ISP called and wanted to renegotiate. I said no, unlimited is what the contract says, unlimited is what I'm getting. You may be able to limit the speed at which I download, but you can't limit the amount of time I'm hitting that at 100%.
    They did so, and I started removing their employees from the classes. Sometimes in the middle of the class.
    • by epee1221 (873140)
      It's important to note that there are actually more than two parties involved. It's more like this:

      Your ISP to BBC's ISP: I have traffic that needs to get to your customers
      BBC's ISP to your ISP: And I have traffic for your customers. Ok, I'll carry this much of yours if you'll carry that much of mine

      You to your ISP: I want to connect to this internet at this rate
      Your ISP: Ok, it will cost you this much

      BBC to BBC's ISP: Here is our idea for web-based service
      BBC's ISP: Ok, the bandwidth you need will cost thi
      • by hitmark (640295)
        BBC's ISP to your ISP: And I have traffic for your customers. Ok, I'll carry this much of yours if you'll carry that much of mine

        and here most likely sits the problem.

        as suddenly the bbc isp (if not bbc operates as its own "isp"), is sending way more data then its receiving.

        a similar situation have been making waves in norway recently. there the biggest isp, telenor, pulled out of a IX,citing reasons like NRK, the norwegian equivalent to BBC, being allowed on, and using that link to get cheap/free access to
  • by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:28PM (#20207655)
    The ISPs screwed themselves over. They let the consumer pay some amount for a specific amount of bandwidth. However, they can't actually guarantee that consumer that bandwidth anymore. For example, cable has various hubs, each with bandwidth that is split amongst its users (usually a town or city will share a number of hubs depending on its size). They told its users they'll get x amount of bandwidth, but they based that amount on the bad assumption that everyone won't be online at the same time. They severely underestimated how drawn to online content the world would be so now they're getting flooded with users and not enough bandwidth to handle it. Instead of blaming themselves, they'll blame the content providers and say thats why they can't handle the traffic anymore. The content providers are somehow unfairly causing too much traffic for them to handle. The problem is, the ISPs promised the world more than they could actually deliver and now they're trying to shift the cost onto someone else. Each side pays for its bandwidth (consumers & content providers), but now the ISPs are actually being burdened with upholding their side of the deal and somehow that's unfair.

    The ISPs never should have promised the amount of bandwidth they're offering, and charging for, if they can't actually deliver it.
    • by wall0159 (881759)
      "they'll blame the content providers"

      It's not about blaming anyone. It's just that now, with increased prevalence of rich media web-apps, they can't continue to offer the same deal anymore.
      • by bit01 (644603)

        It's not about blaming anyone. It's just that now, with increased prevalence of rich media web-apps, they can't continue to offer the same deal anymore.

        Sorry, but that's typical marketer's reasoning. Either ISP's lied about the deal they were offering or the users and content providers somehow used more than the ISP offered. My money's on the first option.

        Yes, ISP's built their business model based on customers and content providers not using all the bandwidth they paid for but that's the ISP's proble

    • "The ISPs never should have promised the amount of bandwidth they're offering, and charging for, if they can't actually deliver it."

      You forget ISP's like most businesses will do anything to make a profit, that means lie, cheat and extort their way to profit on the ignorance of society then so be it. The truth is ISP's tightwads, the reason they get away with such crap is because the majority are not tech savvy.
    • by seebs (15766)
      Competition at work; if one company offers me 1Mbps for a given price, and another offers me 10Mbps for the same price, I'm gonna go with the company that offers 10.

      Except, of course, that if we all do that, and actually use it, we have problems.

      I'm okay with some amount of overselling; it makes good economic sense. If companies only sold as much bandwidth as they could guarantee everyone at once, my downloads would be throttled to MAYBE 512Kbps right now, more likely 256. As is, I get 7Mbps, and I really
  • ...perhaps the ISP's should complain to Sky/Virgin since many people are now viewing Sky news reports through the
    website portal rather than through the TV channel.
  • whoa whoa hold on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadukar (102027) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:31PM (#20207685)
    There is something i am clearly missing here and I hope one of you kind sirs could enlighten me on:

    The content provider (youtube/bbc) pay for UPSTREAM bandwidth with their ISP. This covers the costs of users coming to the site and downloading data.

    Then the users pay for DOWNSTREAM bandwidth with their ISP. This covers the cost of the isp downloading data from the content provider's isp.

    Is someone getting money from two directions there AND wanting more ? Even if there is no overlap of payments for costs, etc, based on the above two lines it seems like everyone's getting paid for providing the bandwidth ? Or is it the question of ISPs saying "yes, you pay for bandwidth (upstream or downstream) but you are using too much of it and we'd like to charge you more for some of the services which use up too much of the bandwidth you paid for ?

     
    • by xixax (44677)
      ISPs have set their pricing by selling the same capacity several times over on the assumption that no-one will notice as most subscribers will never actually use all the capacity they buy. By dreaming up ways of using this unused capacity we purchsed we've put them in a bind and it's easier to go after large organisations than directly jack up subscriber prices to supply the originally promised capacity.

      Xix.
      • by dattaway (3088)
        So the ISPs don't like the contract they signed and want to market their bandwidth and change their billing like the cell phone companies? Are we going to end up with 50 page bills like AT&T iphone users?
    • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:18PM (#20207939) Homepage
      Sure, the upstream and downstream are being paid for, but those aren't the only directions that matter. ISPs have funded research which recently discovered the existence of heretofore unknown directions of bandwidth which are not accounted for in traditional network models and as such has not been profited upon until recently. These directions include the "leftstream" and "rightstream", the former being paid for by government subsidies and the latter being paid through extortion of content providers. Their research is ongoing though, with network theoreticians currently postulating that there may very well be a third set of bandwidth directions, colloquially known as the "forwardstream" and "backwardstream". We can also look forward to later discoveries which derive from current network ideas, such as the theorized existence of such bandwidth directions as the "upperrightstream".
    • by hitmark (640295)
      the interesting thing is that upstream provider and downstream provider may not be the same one.

      and its the downstream providers that wants a bigger slice of the cake.

      even more so as the bigger content providers are more or less operating as their very own upstream provider.
  • Anticompetitive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:33PM (#20207695)
    Attempts have been made by players in the industry to form a united front against the BBC by asking the Internet Service Providers' Association to lead the campaign on the iPlayer issue.

    It's not a united front against the BBC, although I'm sure they'd like to portray it that way.

    It's a united front against their users who want to pay for "unlimited access" and actually receive same.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      It's a united front against their users who want to pay for "unlimited access" and actually receive same.

            If I recall correctly the UK, unlike other countries, is full of laws that severely punish those who engage in false or misleading advertising.
    • by drsquare (530038)
      If you want true unlimited access, then get a T1 in, and pay for it like everyone else who wants to saturate his connection 24/7.
  • Monopolies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeevesbond (1066726) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:33PM (#20207697) Homepage

    This is monopolistic behaviour. From the Reg (talking to Lord Currie, chairman of OFCOM):

    Speaking to El Reg after the debate, he added that the crucial point was whether providers were attempting to force content providers to pay. A content provider going to a service provider and asking for a guaranteed level of service was OK, he said. Access providers strong arming content providers into paying, was not.

    They'd better stop trying to strong-arm the BBC into paying for service, anyone who disagrees with these attacks on the free market should give OFCOM a ring [ofcom.org.uk]. I've contacted them before, aside from being very informative/helpful, the number of complaints has an effect on whether they think they should intervene (assuming the complaint is valid of course).

  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dosboot (973832) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:38PM (#20207723)
    Power plants band together to force GE into paying a surcharge on their light bulbs. Spokesperson for the electricity industry said "These bulbs will suck up a sizable portion of our power generation."
    • Re:In other news... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by terrencefw (605681) <slashdot@nospaM.jamesholden.net> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:58PM (#20208147) Homepage
      It's not at all like that - you're metered and billed for the electricity you use, but not for your broadband connection. You pay a flat fee and get "unlimited" access.

      The problem here is that (surprise surprise) "unlimited" doesn't mean unlimited, because at the time these deals were created, the ISP customer base had certain usage patterns that meant that it was OK to offer "practically unlimited" service. Customer usage has changed, and people are downloading/streaming more video and now the figures don't stack up.

      The BBC will be paying several times more for their bandwidth than an ADSL consumer is on a £20/month unlimited plan. The ISPs need to rethink their pricing in the light of video becoming popular.

      Those who moan about how they should be able to download the entire internets every night for £20/month clearly don't understand what a contended service is. You can get uncontended (1:1 ratio) ADSL service for about £1000/month. Buy it and knock yourself out, but don't expect the same level of service for 1/50th of the cost.

      The services may have been sold as "unlimited*", but the * was always there, and the service was always contended with certain usage restrictions.

      Badgering the BBC etc for payments to support their business plans is cowardly though. The ISPs are feeling the pain of the overly competitive market they've created (with the help of Ofcom). The best thing that could happen now is that Ofcom mandate that all-inclusive plans are axed and replaced with per GB billing all round. I wouldn't have a problem with that because I pay already for my gas/petrol/electricity/baked-beans/socks that way.

      Notes: Yes, I used to work for a UK ISP. Yes, I know what the running costs are. No, I'm not biased, just realistic. No I don't use P2P regularly, but if I did I'd expect to pay more for it, just the same as I pay more for everything else if I use more of it.
      • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Monday August 13, 2007 @03:46AM (#20209355)
        Then if it's not unlimited, or even close, they should stop selling it as unlimited (and no, the * certainly wasn't always there). Pipex does this, but has a hidden cap of ~40GB a month - if you go past it, not only will you have to live with the general traffic shaping of P2P to 30KB/s but they throttle everything bar unencrypted http to 5KB/s. Yes, that includes online banking and webmail, causing timeouts making the service unusable with no warning or other notification.

        Then try getting the customer services to actually admit you're being throttled for hitting the secret limits on your unlimited account, or how long you'll be throttled for, or what you have to do avoid being throttled. "download less during peak hours" was the best they could come up with.

        I've now switched to an ISP with no throttling, but an explicit total useage cap. 45GB onpeak, 300GB offpeak, 832Kb upload speed for £30pcm. No shaping, no throttling. Good customer service, transparency about everything, constant investment by entanet in centrals to keep up with demand. ADSL24 absolutely rocks compared to pipex, tiscali and orange.

        Mainstream ISPs have got far too used to having a steady income from grandmas who pay £20 a month to download less than a GB.
        Now people are actually starting to use the unlimited bandwidth they're supposedly paying for, the ISPs are panicking because they spent all our money on LLU to extract more profit from the existing bandwidth instead of increasing their central capacity to cover what was coming in the future. Its not contention that's the problem (I'm still on a contended service of course) it's the deliberate throttling and shaping then lying about it to cover their lack of investment that's the problem.

        I'd be very happy indeed with ISPs being required to explicitly state up front what their usage caps are, the penalties for exceeding them, their exact definition of on/off peak, exactly what shaping they do and when. I'd also like significant negative changes in these conditions to be grounds to allow people to leave their contract without penalty - being stuck for 10 months with an ISP that's just completely changed their throttling to cripple your service, and you're the one who has to pay to leave is completely unfair.

    • Look how many governments are banning [google.com] incandescent bulbs: Australia, The Netherlands, California, Ontario, etc.

      An outright ban bothers me.
  • "Protection" money (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:39PM (#20207735) Homepage

    The BBC is being asked to cough up to pay for bandwidth charges, otherwise traffic shaping will be used to limit access to the iPlayer
    Am I the only one who sees this as a clear case of racketeering? Gee, this is pretty nice website you got here, it'd be a shame if anything were to happen too it...

    The BBC isn't trying to get anything for free here, they pay for their internet connection and their consumers pay for there's as well, the ISP shouldn't expect anything beyond that. Threatening to throttle traffic from a particular site unless the owners pay up amounts to nothing more than extortion and it's a shame that the greedy ISP owners who think differently won't get treated to the same punishment that Vinnie the Protection Racket Thug would get for the same crime.
  • Stupid 'them' (Score:3, Insightful)

    by feepness (543479) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:40PM (#20207749) Homepage

    over 'their' networks.
    Stupid 'them' for using 'their' money to buy 'their' materials and pay people to do what 'they' asked to put in place 'their' network that we want to use.

    It's us vs 'them' people, and there are more of us than there are of 'them' so let's vote to take what 'they' have got! Because 'they' aren't us and no one will ever vote to take what you have*!

    *Civil liberties and privacy excepted.
    • Stupid 'them' for using 'their' money to buy 'their' materials and pay people to do what 'they' asked to put in place 'their' network that we want to use.
      Stupid them for using OUR government to enforce 'their' right of way on OUR property.
      Stupid them for using OUR government to enforce 'their' monopoly on 'their' rights of way.
      Stupid them for using OUR government to subsidize 'their' networks with billions of OUR tax dollars.

      • by feepness (543479)

        Stupid them for using OUR government to enforce 'their' right of way on OUR property.

        So the government doesn't enforce property rights? Or is their equipment our property now?

        Stupid them for using OUR government to enforce 'their' monopoly on 'their' rights of way.

        See above.

        Stupid them for using OUR government to subsidize 'their' networks with billions of OUR tax dollars.

        No, that's stupid us. But what do you expect when you give government money?

  • by Bragador (1036480) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @10:42PM (#20207759)
    I think that having everybody buy their own hardware and building their own internet was great in the beginning. I'm of course talking about the BBS era where people bought servers and modems. That was simple.

    Now we are in an era of "inter-BBS" where the ISPs charge you but also let you browse the others "BBS". Since ISPs offer to host websites I'm considering them as the modern BBS. Now the problem is that some users are becoming competitors to these ISPs by providing services and thus are a new breed of "BBS" and they are making money instead of the ISP having full control. But who are managing the wires outside? The ISPs. So do we give all the rights to the ISPs or do we now declare that the Internet's hardware be owned by governments so that all of the citizens pay for the services?

    Like the others have said someone has to pay the bill. If the users start to make more money than the ISPs then they should make sure parts of their earnings go into the development of the Internet right? Which is partly why the ISPs are currently bitching about all this.

    I strongly believe the governments should invest and build the physical foundations and rent it to the users. Henceforth the Internet would be a service made by the people for the people.

    I agree that this would go against the anarchistic Internet many of us wants but for upload and download speeds and efficiency of resources this would be great. I'm of course assuming that bureaucracy will not kill the whole process.

    Anyway, if you really want privacy there will always be Tor networks and the old school BBS right?

    • by SpecTheIntro (951219) <spectheintro AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:15PM (#20207929)

      I agree that this would go against the anarchistic Internet many of us wants but for upload and download speeds and efficiency of resources this would be great. I'm of course assuming that bureaucracy will not kill the whole process.

      That's really the problem in its entirety. Governments are absolutely terrible at providing services to people. Private enterprise is always more efficient--the reason the internet is so fubar'd in the US is because the government granted monopolies to cable and phone companies, in order to get rural areas wired too. Now, though, there's no competition in the market, so shit like this is starting to happen everywhere. The government needs to abolish all of its contracts with the companies and ensure there are no barriers to entering the ISP market. Then everyone and their mother will start laying wire in an effort to undercut the other guy, and eventually the market will settle at a price/performance ratio that's reasonable. At the moment, we have no method of recourse with cable or telephone providers: it's not like I can switch to a competitor. If I don't like Comcast, I don't get cable, period.

      What really gets me is how much money the US government has thrown at the telcoms precisely to avoid this problem. Monopolistic greed and incompetence know no bounds.

      • If the Government had stayed out of the cable/phone company issue, a monopoly would have happened anyway.

        Or do you intend upon arguing that several different companies would have laid their own fiber networks across an entire city?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Comatose51 (687974)
        "Then everyone and their mother will start laying wire in an effort to undercut the other guy, and eventually the market will settle at a price/performance ratio that's reasonable."

        I think you provided the counter argument to this in your own comment. It's the high price of laying lines into rural areas that made the government get involved. There are certain segments of the market that costs more than others to penetrate. If not for government intervention, most of rural America won't have telecommuni

      • by gullevek (174152)
        Government support might be needed sometimes. Japan & South Korea have such a high Broadband connectivity, because the Government is support the construction of high speed access. Of course the ISPs / Telcos are seperated and all private. So you get cheap-ass-high-speed-no-limit internet almost everywhere (almost, because in the countryside where only a view villages are it will be different)
      • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Monday August 13, 2007 @01:22AM (#20208659)

        Then everyone and their mother will start laying wire

        Exactly what companies do you think are going to start massively laying wire? The phone companies (the what, two that are left)? Already have. Maybe cable companies? Already have. The... ummm... newspaper industry? Cereal manufacturers? Who do you think is going to jump in the ring and change the world?

        The government has nothing to do with the high barrier to entry to the telecommunications market. In fact, aside from the bureaucracy of having to get the permission of basically every local government you want to lay wire for, I don't believe that there ARE any laws restricting competition. It is simply ungodly expensive to lay wire and purchase all the devices necessary to connect those wires, and it's economically inefficient to run two or three or 15 pieces of wire to the same places when only one gets used at a time.

        That these new entrants would have no interest in serving rural customers if not forced to is certainly something to consider. So is whether or not these people all scrambling to run wire in your scenario would bother to connect with each other and under what terms. Ultimately these are issues that will require government intervention.

        You should acquaint yourself with the term Natural Monopoly [wikipedia.org] and its implications. These issues are complicated, particularly if you go back in history to the time when things were just starting out. There really isn't an answer that is both simple and good. It may be that there is no good answer at all.

  • If it's such a freaking concern to the ISPs of the world why don't they just come up with a few colo (coloation) agreements for those companies that they claim are using too much bandwidth. They ISPs are complaining that youtube et al are using too much bandwidth and I would like us to remember that according to This article [slashdot.org] Windows Update is using quite a bit of bandwidth itself. One has to wonder why MS isn't being targeted by the ISPs.
    • I think they already do. Most UK ISPs already have peering agreements with the BBC. For me a traceroute to bbc.co.uk is 8 hops. It never leaves my ISPs or the BBCs network.
  • Yes, providers will have to raise prices or impose stringent caps.

    This is what happens when people start trying to use a hugely oversold service.
  • This has nothing to do with TV companys get a "free ride" and everything to do with slimey telco's over subscribing their network, and then lieing about it.
  • it's time to move forward [m4if.org] in video compression. There's so much that can be done, and so little that has been done.

    Nine visual profiles have been defined in MPEG-4 Visual Version 1 [MPEG4-2]: Simple, Simple Scalable, Core, Main, N-bit, Scaleable Texture, Simple Face Animation, Basic Animated Texture, and Hybrid.

    DivX uses the Advanced Simple profile (which would fall in the first of the above list). And yet MPEG-4 [chiariglione.org] can be expanded to use sprites/panorama, animated textures, 2-D animated meshes, 3d-Meshes, nat

    • And yet MPEG-4 can be expanded to use sprites/panorama, animated textures, 2-D animated meshes, 3d-Meshes, natural sound...

      Too bad nobody knows how to encode that stuff. Out of the codecs that actually work, the BBC is probably using one of the most efficient ones (Windows Media Video 9).
  • This is a simple matter of greed.

    AT&T is more greedy than a beta wolf.
    This so-called "net neutrality" is bad business.
    it's nothing but greed. There is no other way to describe it. Unless you like "double-dipping"
    These few network owners want to charge a premium for allowing commercial traffic on "their" networks.
    Everyone pays a subscription fee for accessing the internet. They pay based upon how much bandwidth or throughput they use.
    Network owners have peering agreements to share network access. The
    • So it's just a simple matter of which side is greedy and which is not? So Google is for Net Neutrality out of the kindness of their heart...not because they don't want the increased costs for themselves? Oh I see. Some companies are greedy and others are not. That is why companies increase prices or decrease limit supply. It's simply about greed. That settles everything. Right....
  • Who needs who ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Climate Shill (1039098) on Monday August 13, 2007 @12:02AM (#20208161) Journal

    Fortunately it seems unlikely they'll be able to make this stick. Nowadays, at last, there's some degree of choice of broadband providers for most people in the UK. In fact, usually more choices for ISP than there are television companies. So who needs who most ? If my ISP won't do BBC, it's not likely I'll be dropping the BBC for some other station. I'll be dropping the ISP.

  • So here is what people need to realize, that the "Internet" is only as good as the computers connected to it. Why would you want to connect to a network - easy, the content you can access. Same as for the office, for the home, and for the internet. You connect to a network to access content. You can create a network, like many a community wifi-based networks have built, but unless you connect to something with content, no one else will want to connect to your network.

    So the issue with network neturali
  • The fantasy is that you are paying for 10Mbit on your cable connection so therefore you should get 10Mbit 24/7. The reality is that you weren't sold dedicated bandwidth and are sharing perhaps a max of around 100Mbit with your community.

    The fantasy is that you are paying for an Internet connection so therefore anything that is possible you should be able to do. The reality is what you are paying is carefully crafted not to support the service but to build market share. Other services are involved on the
  • Here in NZ we have a similar, but significantly different issue.

    We have an incumbent bandwidth provider with a Govt-sanctioned monopoly. Add in overseas shareholders & the focus for the last 10 years has been on profit over investment. We have pathetic internet connections - average users are on plain ADSL, with a real downstream speed of 2-3Mbs. Recently they had to cancel a connection plan as they had oversubscribed it so badly that they were hardly able to provide speeds faster than dialup.

    Recently,
  • Is there a complete list of ISP's who are asking for this? I want to avoid giving any money to the net-mafia.
  • But why would anyone buy Internet connection from a company which limits access to high bandwith services? Soon as they try, there is going to be other ISPs stealing the market by selling free access. This is the market economy. They can try to set up cartel, but as economic history shows, cartels don't hold. Getting the regulators messing this will only cause harm in the short and long run.

    And suppose some service providers really strain the network more than others. If the invisible hand of the market so

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