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FCC Commissioner Blasts Verizon On Net Neutrality 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the brutal-honesty dept.
destinyland writes "FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says that net neutrality rules 'will happen,' promising the FCC 'will make sure that we get the rules right... to make sure that what we do maximizes innovation and investment across the ecosystem.' But the same week, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps announced that the public should not stand for deals 'that exchange Internet freedom for bloated profits,' mocking the tiered-data plans of the 'Verizon-Google gaggle' and accusing them of wanting 'gated communities for the affluent.' Speaking at a New Mexico hearing, the commissioner warned the audience against proposals that would 'vastly diminish' the Internet's importance, blasting 'special interests and gatekeepers and toll-booth collectors who will short-circuit what this great new technology can do for our country.' (The text of his speech is available as a PDF file at FCC.gov.) He concludes by acknowledging that 'you can't blame companies for seeking to protect their own interests. But you can blame policy-makers if we let them get away with it!'"
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FCC Commissioner Blasts Verizon On Net Neutrality

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  • by reboot246 (623534) on Monday November 22, 2010 @04:56AM (#34304118) Homepage
    This ought to be entertaining. :)

    Personally, I don't trust either the FCC or Verizon.
    • by openfrog (897716) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:50AM (#34305772)

      Should there not be words of support on Slashdot for such a clear and unambiguous stand from the FCC Commissioner and the FCC Chairman? This is exactly what we need to begin turning the tide.

      Look at the discussion below: sidetracked in a shouting match and out of topic all the way down (at least at the time I write this...).

      Please!

      • by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Monday November 22, 2010 @12:30PM (#34307770)
        What I'd like to know is where the FCC stands on that unspeakable NBC/Comcast merger. From everything I've seen that one seems to have just been written off as inevitable by everyone. Talk about net neutrality...
  • Oh boy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @05:14AM (#34304170)

    Tsk America. How on earth did this guy slip through the net? Isn't the name a bloody clue this is a pinko who will undermine your countries economy... oh wait... to late.

    On a more serious note, novel way to resign. I wonder how many policy-makers choked on their breakfast or had to have it explained to them that some people think that it is not their job to protect the interests of companies at the expense of everything else.

    Brave guy, but somehow I feel any praise I write is like writing a eulogy.

    • Re:Oh boy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @05:46AM (#34304296)

      Why is this modded troll? It's completely accurate. Net Neutrality will never happen in the US for two reasons:

      1. The Republicans are against any regulation of companies at all, so they'll never support it.

      2. The Democrats want to censor the Internet in the name of reducing piracy/protecting children from "cyber bullying." Anything called "Net Neutrality" that comes from a D will actually be a way to censor "unpopular" thought from the 'net (read: anything remotely conservative), along with massive fines for anyone caught "pirating" data.

      As long as either of those parties are involved, net neutrality will never happen.

      • Re:Oh boy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Monday November 22, 2010 @06:01AM (#34304358)

        The Democrats want to censor the Internet in the name of reducing piracy

        I'm pretty sure the Republicans are right there with them on that one.

      • Re:Oh boy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @06:59AM (#34304596)

        Yes, those Democrats sure do want to discourage people from having conservative thoughts. That's why they have a 24 hour media machine that scares the bejesus out of people, claiming that sinister conservatives are destroying the fabric of America, building a knee-jerk association in peoples' heads between "conservative" and "anti-American traitor," selectively editing out-of-context video footage to make people from groups that liberals don't like look bad...

        No, wait, those are the OTHER guys. I know Slashdot has been getting somewhat more paranoid and wingnutty, but seriously. Have you LOOKED at the Democrats, who couldn't even "suppress the conservative thought" inside their own damn caucus for two years? Breathe, come back from conspiracytown, and join us back in the real world.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ArcherB (796902)

          Yes, those Democrats sure do want to discourage people from having conservative thoughts. That's why they have a 24 hour media machine that scares the bejesus out of people, claiming that sinister conservatives are destroying the fabric of America, building a knee-jerk association in peoples' heads between "conservative" and "anti-American traitor," selectively editing out-of-context video footage to make people from groups that liberals don't like look bad...

          No, wait, those are the OTHER guys. I know Slashdot has been getting somewhat more paranoid and wingnutty, but seriously. Have you LOOKED at the Democrats, who couldn't even "suppress the conservative thought" inside their own damn caucus for two years? Breathe, come back from conspiracytown, and join us back in the real world.

          Have you LOOKED at MSNBC? Were you not watching CNN when a reporter called a giant Hitler at a protest a George Bush "look-alike".

          I understand that it's hard to recognize bias when it's bias you agree with, but seriously man, open your eyes! Say what you will about Bill O'Reilly, but I've never seen a conservative on Olbermann's show.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Pojut (1027544)

            Say what you will about Bill O'Reilly, but I've never seen a conservative on Olbermann's show.

            Would you really want to? Have you ever seen a left-winger on a fox news show? What happens? They get shouted down/talked to like they're five. I'd imagine the same thing would happen should a right-winger appear on MSNBC.

            The REAL question is, why are you watching the big news services? You realize they're nothing more than fear, polarization, and embellishment, packaged to sell advertisements...right?

          • by hedwards (940851)
            To be fair, when's the last time that the media backed off when accused of being biased in favor of conservative views? Now when's the last time they did it when conservatives were complaining about a liberal bias?

            Sure there's MSNBC, but the reality is that pretty much all of the networks have a notable bias in favor of the right. Ever wonder why that death panels story got any airplay? I'll give you a hint, it's not because the networks were exercising any sort of journalistic integrity, it's because th
      • by Redlazer (786403)
        The OP is wrong - Republicans are always trying to censor things, including the internet. There was an especially stupid "off switch" proposed by a Democrat - but it made it just as far as the "Tubes" explanation.
      • by rhovland (701048)
        1) agree
        2) this is not net neutrality.
      • 1. The Republicans are against any regulation of companies at all, so they'll never support it.

        You must be thinking of those libertarians. Republicans have certainly rallied behind regulations on businesses, just not the ones that make the headlines as "socialist regulations." For example, take a look at how many Republicans support "decency" measures and the regulation of pornography.

        2. The Democrats want to censor the Internet in the name of reducing piracy/protecting children from "cyber bullying."

        So do Republicans, so what is your point? Neither of the major parties has any interest in protecting free speech or any other individual freedoms.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          They use the word "socialist" whenever they want to kill something. There's basically no hope of the US becoming a socialist state anytime soon. And really it's because a lot of hicks are afraid that they won't have their chance to become rich. The only problem is that they won't be getting rich either way, because that's not how our society is set up. Sure there's a few each generation that make it, but in general it's a hoax.

          Even more moderate things like ensuring quality healthcare for all is opposed
    • Re:Oh boy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 22, 2010 @07:07AM (#34304618) Journal

      >>>pinko who will undermine your countries economy...

      The local internet, by definition, is not a free market. It's a monopoly just like the phone and electric monopolies and needs to be regulated the same way. IMHO rather discuss net neutrality, the FCC should just impose the same Common carrier rules the phone company must follow, where they are required to handle all calls equally regardless of content.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LaissezFaire (582924)
        It's only a monopoly if a government has forbidden another company to enter that market. Don't confuse the costs of the last mile with government intervention and restriction of the market.
        • Re:Oh boy (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hedwards (940851) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:53AM (#34305824)
          Technically speaking we have an oligopoly and it's every bit as illegal to abuse as a monopoly. It's not anywhere near as expensive to operate the last mile as you're suggesting. The speed available at my house hasn't increased in nearly a decade by any significant figure. I'm now getting 5mbps with DSL versus 4mbps via cable and that's over a decade. I've seen no evidence that the DSL company has increased or replaced its equipment and as such the price ought to be going down. It's not, but since wholesale bandwidth is so much cheaper now than it was back then and their equipment should have amortized by now, I don't think I can assume that this is a competitive market.

          And yes the DoJ does have the ability to go in and break it up. And really, the DoJ shouldn't have allowed it to happen in the first place.
          • Probably prices haven't dropped because your fees are being used to upgrade other people from 50k dialup to 7000k DSL (people like me).

        • >>>It's only a monopoly if a government has forbidden another company to enter that market.

          And that's precisely what's happened. Local or state governments have blocked competition from entering, via the use of exclusive licenses to Comcast (or cow or time-warner or ...)

          • Re:Oh boy (Score:4, Informative)

            by TheEyes (1686556) on Monday November 22, 2010 @02:32PM (#34309302)

            That hasn't been true for fourteen years. The Telecommunications Bill of 1996 [fcc.gov] made exclusive licenses illegal.

            What we have now is basically collusion between the major ISPs. The phone companies have all agreed that only one phone company will ever serve any particular area, and the cable companies have all agreed that only one cable company will ever serve any particular area, meaning that, for the majority of the area of the US, broadband customers have at most two choices.

            For example, I have a choice of AT&T DSL or Time Warner cable, period. My parents live a five minute drive away and they have a choice of Verizon or Comcast, period. Verizon doesn't serve my area, despite the fact that they have hundreds of FIOS installations less than a mile from my house, and Time Warner doesn't serve my parents, despite the fact that they have a regional office less than a mile from their house.

            This has nothing to do with government conspiring with business, and everything to do with too few players falling into a Nash Equilibrium [wikimedia.org]: a state where nobody competes with anyone else, and instead work to squeeze as much money out of customers as possible.

            • >>>The Telecommunications Bill of 1996 made exclusive licenses illegal.

              I don't believe you, especially since states like Michigan and cities like Baltimore are still signing exclusive franchise agreements with Comcast (i.e. govt-granted monopolies). That fact alone negates your fallacious claim, but such a bill would also be unconstitutional, because Congress has no authority to interfere with state or local governance.

        • It's only a government sanctioned monopoly if a government has forbidden another company to enter that market. Don't confuse the costs of the last mile with government intervention and restriction of the market.

          The hallmark of clear thinking and good writing is that the verb carries more weight than the noun. "Has forbidden" what exactly, using which powers, on which continent, under whose dim scrutiny of the passive voice? Not important, I guess, for you, after you trumpet the golden noun "government".

          In a democracy, most government sanctioned monopolies are introduced with the phrase "national security". Another example of government sanctioned monopolies (under law) are professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL,

          • You're not quite right on the sports leagues. In the US, Major League Baseball benefited from a bad Supreme Court decision, and is explicitly allowed to use anticompetitive practices. The other sports leagues aren't.

            The fact that you don't see a difference suggests to me that whether a monopoly is government-sponsored matters less than some people think.

          • >>>"Has forbidden" what exactly, using which powers, on which continent, under whose dim scrutiny of the passive voice?

            You sure do ramble. Let me boil it down for you:

            - 30 years ago county desired CATV for its citizens.
            - It contacted Comcast.
            - Comcast said, "Okay we'll roll-out the cables, but we want exclusive rights."
            - County agreed, thereby creating a government-protected monopoly (i.e. no choice for customer).

            End of tale.

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday November 22, 2010 @05:26AM (#34304200)

    I fail to see where does the complexity of those rules lay. It seems that the only need for complexity starts exactly where net neutrality ends.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aaribaud (585182)

      This would imply that net neutrality can be easily defined in simple terms; what, according to you, are those terms exactly?

      • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday November 22, 2010 @06:11AM (#34304388)
        That any and all data on the network, regardless of source, destination, or content, should travel unhindered.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aaribaud (585182)

          All right. This appears simple. Now *is* it simple, i.e., how do you go about implementing this in practice?

          • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday November 22, 2010 @07:15AM (#34304666) Journal

            Your question makes no sense. The answer is obvious: You would handle all packets identically regardless of content.

            If the "pipes" start to get full, install new faster pipes to relieve congestion. If that's not practical impose ~250GB limits + 5 cents/extra GB so people will limit themselves (in the same way they limit how much electricity or water they use).

            • by aaribaud (585182)

              My question makes no sense only in a situation of infinite resource availability. Alas, such a situation is unrealistic (and a waste of resources which, at this point of our history, would seem quite inappropriate). Even a network which would be sized to withstand, on average, the current demand, occasional peaks are inevitable, and packets have to be dropped then -- how do we choose which packets to drop?

              Or, IOW, how do we choose which packets to keep, and which ones do we send first? How do you "handle" c

              • by dkleinsc (563838)

                It sounds like what commodore64_love is suggesting is making the decision entirely on source and destination IP address. If some destination IP attempts to receive more bits per second than their advertised download rate, drop packets until they aren't getting faster throughput. If some source IP attempts to send more bits per second than their advertised upload rate, drop packets until they aren't getting faster throughput.

                If those aren't technically feasible, then the advertising needs to change to match

                • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

                  by aaribaud (585182)

                  So that would be an "equalize by IP address" rule. But not all IPs consume the same amount of data; so that would be "weighted equalize by IP address", or it would favor small traffic IPs -- not neutral.

                  But then, the weight for an IP would be provided by an IP... Honest IPs would send out their real needs (if they ever can determine that, actually) and dishonest IPs would send out exaggerated needs to be sure to get what they actually need, thus causing the honest ones to starve.

                  Doesn't seem neutral to me.

              • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday November 22, 2010 @09:32AM (#34305564)
                Net neutrality is the belief that any and all data on the network should be treated identically. You may as well be asking what racial equality is, barring universals and ambiguity.

                Unless you're a specialist in sociology, employment law, and politics, I don't think you can comment on racial equality except in universals and ambiguous terms. The same applies to networking engineers commenting on network neutrality. However, both can agree that having a general concept of either is a Good Thing, and can probably agree on the basics of each.

                Leave the technical details to the specialists; I simply wanted to put the concept into simple terms anyone could understand.
                • by aaribaud (585182)

                  Leave the technical details to the specialists; I simply wanted to put the concept into simple terms anyone could understand

                  Why do you think the saying "the Devil is in the details" exists? Because, precisely, any solution where you "leave the technical details to the specialists" means someone just *assumed* that what they see as a solution is feasible, whereas actually only the detailed analysis by a specialist will tell if it is -- and usually conclude it is not, at least not without a good load of devilling.

                  We French have a name for such holy solutions, we call them yakafokons ("Y'a qu'à - faut qu'on", i.e. "You just ne

              • by Golddess (1361003)
                Something I've wondered about that I don't think I've seen come up, why would it be so hard to say "You can get up to 100gbps, but in times of heavy usage we may throttle your entire connection back to max bandwidth / # of customers", and then have the onus on the individual customer to shutdown bandwidth intensive applications if they want to, say, make a VOIP call? The ISP could even offer a service (for an additional fee of course) where you can tell them which services should have priority when they ne
                • by aaribaud (585182)

                  It would be hard to say what you suggest, because of the N customers among whom the bandwidth should be shared, not all *require* 1/Nth of it. Some will happily use far less, and some will want far more. So in this model of equality, some bandwidth would be wasted to people who did not even ask for it, and will be unavailable to some people who could have made use of it.

                  • by Golddess (1361003)
                    Which is why I specified the throttling would only occur during times of heavy usage, which I figured would be calculated on how saturated the pipe is with data, not the number of people connected to that pipe.

                    If I'm using 1.5x the minimum, and my neighbor is using 0.1x the minimum, then there should be no throttling because between the two of us, the pipe is only 80% utilized. Should I get up to 1.8x, at that point the pipe is 95% utilized between the two of us, so my entire connection should probably b
              • by Shotgun (30919)

                But the cable company doesn't sell me an infinite resource. They clearly sell me a stated amount of bandwidth. If they don't have the resources to service the bandwidth for which they are collecting compensation, they should be arrested for theft.

                • by aaribaud (585182)

                  Make sure to read the contract. What bandwidth exactly do they sell you? Usually, bandwidth is guaranteed, if it is at all, between you and them only. Beyond that, they cannot and will not guarantee anything.

              • >>>packets have to be dropped then -- how do we choose which packets to drop?

                I already answered this: Don't drop packets. Instead:
                (1) Install faster servers so there's no need to drop.
                -or-
                (2) Raise prices higher to discourage users from being hogs. (Same thing that raising gas prices or electric prices does.) Maybe users would download SD movies instead of HD in order to limit their consumption & monthly bill.

                • by aaribaud (585182)

                  Strategy (1) of always making sure that the resources are there just doe not work, because there will always be more demand than the available resources and these resources are ultimately limited.

                  Strategy (2) does not work because people downloading (and payingà more will still clog the net to the point that people paying less (and downloading less) won't be able to download what little they pay for.

                  • I disagree.

                    (1) is not true because there's no limit to how many fiber optics can be laid. Simply lay more until the capacity exceeds the usage. AND:

                    (2) is not true because if customers start getting $200/month bills, they WILL lower their internet usage to bring it back down to a reasonable level, just as they limit their long distance calling or electricity or gasoline usage. Economic science has proven that raising prices does result in reduced consumption.

            • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Monday November 22, 2010 @10:46AM (#34306476)

              Your question makes no sense. The answer is obvious: You would handle all packets identically regardless of content.

              If the "pipes" start to get full, install new faster pipes to relieve congestion. If that's not practical impose ~250GB limits + 5 cents/extra GB so people will limit themselves (in the same way they limit how much electricity or water they use).

              I want you to do something for me... Let's do a demonstration, then think this through.

              Disconnect any devices from your modem (both wired and wireless).

              Now, look at that "Activity" light; Notice that it keeps blinking even though you are not using the Internet?

              That's because of Internet Background Radiation. There are packets of unrequested data arriving at your modem many times a second. The sources are numerous, distributed, and many are malicious.

              In a $x per Gig model a distributed denial of service attack directed at your IP will drive your bill to absurd rates; If you're lucky you have a hard cap on your monthly consumption, if you're unlucky you pay for the overages (as you suggested above).

              The current answer to IBR is a NAT/Firewall that drops all unrequested packets, but NAT makes using your connection to run a server difficult. Now, you can come up with clever ways to "open ports" on your NAT router, but they all rely on having admin access to the router.

              Even with a NAT router connected to your modem, you would still be paying for all those IBR packets with a $x per Gig model -- they would be delivered to your modem before being dropped.

              So, the ISPs can put a NAT router / firewall on the other side of your modem, in their facilities where you have no admin access to the router (indeed, some already do this). Then, they can charge you only for the packets that make it through -- the ones you specifically requested. The problem is that now, you've limited the way you can use the Internet. You can't very well host a (game) server if you can't accept incoming (read: unsolicited) connections.

              Protocols like STUN help bypass the "behind NAT" problem, but require a 3rd party to help coordinate the connection... (3rd party AKA MITM).

              The phrase "only pay for the bits you use" depends on your definition of "use"; Treating all packets as equal doesn't really describe how most people expect they are "using" the Internet...

              This is a very complicated thing indeed.

              • Perhaps a better solution would be to pay for all the bits you send, or at least request. Implementing the second part efficiently may require some new protocols, but the basic idea would be to label each outgoing (non-reply) packet with a projected reply cost. Normal packets, including ones with this label, would be charged to the originating network, but packets which are marked as replies, which match the source and destination IDs in the original outgoing packet, and which do not cost more than their re

              • >>>Notice that it keeps blinking even though you are not using the Internet?

                No. I have DSL and when my computer stops, so too does the modem. I mean it's still on but there's nothing being transmitted. It stop blinking.
                .

                >>>Nationalise the network hardware... Works for the power grid.

                Not true in the U.S. With just a few minor exceptions (Hoover Dam), the entire electric grid is privately owned not nationalized. Although it is heavily regulated to prevent abuse by natural monopolies.

                • >>>Notice that it keeps blinking even though you are not using the Internet?

                  No. I have DSL and when my computer stops, so too does the modem. I mean it's still on but there's nothing being transmitted. It stop blinking.

                  I too have access to a DSL line/modem, and disabling my NIC via my OS control panel results in the modem's activity light continuously blinking (indicating incoming or outgoing traffic) even though I'm sure than none of my machines are "using" the Internet. 10 hours pass, and still the activity light is blinking furiously away. I have also encountered modems that do not consider inbound packets as "Activity", and therefore only blink when outgoing data is being transmitted.

                  My first reply included a very b

            • You propose a terrible solution. There should be prioritization of data. A DNS lookup request should never be dropped. It is a minuscule amount of data but is a major bottleneck if it cannot be completed. If I am surfing the internet while I am downloading something on bittorrent, I would be fine with the ISP dropping 100 torrent packets per DNS request I make, as long as they never drop my DNS requests. Similar situation for VOIP. If I am on the phone with someone, I want my ISP to prioritize the VOI

      • by sjames (1099)

        Destination IP/port may NOT be considered when queuing/dropping outbound packets source IP/port may not be considered when queuing inbound packets. Customer set QOS may be considered.

        With current technology, a good implementation is to assign each customer a slot in a fair queuing system with a documented committed rate. QOS flags should be honored within that slot. Bandwidth should be sharable.

        The rest derives from that. If they want to advertise VoIP as viable on the connection, the committed rate must be

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      Indeed. Like:
      Initial: All Connections Are Equal.
      Later: But Some Connections Are More Equal Than Others.
  • no solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2010 @05:30AM (#34304212)

    "How dare those popular internet companies be popular? They're making our customers use more data! Charge them money!"

    Unfair price models are the problem driving that. X per month is simple and a good idea for most customers, X per gigabyte is simple and a good idea for most ISPs. Neither is exactly fair in every circumstance, and choosing between them is essentially the same as choosing who to give the benefit of the complex situation. Their only advantage is that they can be explained in under 5 words.
     
    I'm not sure it's possible to come up with an alternative pricing system that doesn't end up as an even more unfair black box model where you only find out how much you've spent when the bill comes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You think at X gig per month people will put up with bloated pages, flash, ads all over hell?

      From the very same companys selling X gig per month?

      I don't think so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dwandy (907337)

      X per month is simple and a good idea for most customers, X per gigabyte is simple and a good idea for most ISPs.

      ISPs like "x-per-month" because they can claim to sell you 100gb knowing you will only use 10gb. On a per-gig charge you would only pay for what you use.
      Bandwidth should be charged more like electricity: you pay for what you use when you use it. It's not like the unused time can be saved for the busy period.
      Of course, all of this is predicated on actual competition to keep the 'per-gig' charge

    • by jonwil (467024)

      Australia gets it right.
      I have access to 100s of internet plans with caps ranging from 2GB per month all the way up to 1 Terabyte per month and prices to match.
      If you exceed the cap, you get your speed cut back to dialup speeds for the rest of the billing cycle. Never have to worry about extra expense on the bill.
      Some ISPs even let you buy extra data blocks if you run out.

      The problem with caps in the USA is that the cable companies are introducing very low caps with no option to buy more data or go to a hig

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Monday November 22, 2010 @05:38AM (#34304264)

    Policymakers are great about talking up justice for everyone and saying no to special interests until thy actually have to put pen to paper. The FCC can make all the noise they want, but until this Net Neutrality is actually on the books and being enforced call me skeptical at best.

  • Can't blame them? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by julioody (867484) on Monday November 22, 2010 @06:26AM (#34304450) Homepage

    Surely you can blame then when, in the course of protecting their interests, they bribe and corrupt a system designed to protect the interests of the majority, in order to create blockades that add no value whatsoever to a product that got paid for with tax money.

    • by Lothar+0 (444996) on Monday November 22, 2010 @08:32AM (#34305048) Homepage

      Indeed. When everyone expects human greed and disregard for the public good to rule businesses, then businesses will meet that expectation. Public policy is supposed to be a check on that, but the first line of defense consists of decision-makers in business remembering back to some very basic lessons they were taught in the home and in kindergarten; the "sharing is good" and "be nice to others who aren't like you" kind.

      • Public policy is supposed to be a check on that, but the first line of defense consists of decision-makers in business remembering back to some very basic lessons they were taught in the home and in kindergarten; the "sharing is good" and "be nice to others who aren't like you" kind.

        The decision makers in the tech business learned different lessons in kindergarten, such as "look out for yourself because nobody else gives a damn" and "you can't please anybody no matter how hard you try, so please yourself and let everybody else be damned". Such an upbringing explains why Ayn Rand remains in print.

  • I suspect... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 22, 2010 @07:56AM (#34304874) Journal
    I'm guessing that the "gated communities for the affluent" comment is going to come back to bite him.

    For one, American political discourse tends to shy away from anything that can even be remotely described as "class warfare". His comment doesn't really qualify; but once boiled into a contextless soundbite and replayed a few bazillion times on the news channels of the same cable companies on whose toes he is stepping, it sure will sound like it.

    Second, it seems most likely that the rent-seeking model of tiered internet providers will be much closer to that of cable TV or old-school telco providers: that is, massive rent seeking; but much broader availability than "gated community" would imply. Everyone pays too much for cable, and everyone used to pay too much for long distance; but the companies realized that gouging everyone a bit was much more profitable than gouging half of the top quintile a lot. It may well end up being the case that only the affluent(and specifically the techy affluent) will be able to afford access to the real internet, as opposed to the "facebook and youtube over IP channel"; but that is too subtle a point to play in soundbites.

    Third, and perhaps most serious, Telcos and Cable companies are actually superbly positioned to make a (dishonest; but superficially convincing) "friend of the common man" play. They are, in fact, bloated rent-seeking conglomerates; but, by the simple necessities of operating an infrastructure business, bloated rent-seeking conglomerates with very, very broad-based operations.

    Most of the rents go right up the food chain to the big fish; but Verizon, Comcast, et al. have to have installers and linesmen, and technicians and whatnot in virtually every city and town. These guys aren't seeing much of those rents being collected, and are themselves paying too much for cable; but they know who their employers are. Also, since the marginal cost of adding an extra internet subscriber is nearly zero, doling out cheap/free internet access to schools, community centers, youth-centers-to-keep-at-risk-kids-off-the-street-after-school, etc. is very easy, very cheap, and good PR. All that adds up to a massive PR bonus in a broad based group of community groups, blue collar, semi-skilled and skilled tradesmen, and the like.(Obviously, it isn't as though a neutral internet wouldn't need linesmen, and a competitive internet would provide cheaper internet not as part of a cynical charity effort; but that isn't immediately visible...) This, along with a few modest, but strategic, monetary donations to the correct local charities, can be converted into a torrent of letters of support from various worthy local anti-poverty groups.

    By contrast, tech companies tend to have fairly geographically narrow(or, even if geographically distributed, as with Google, Akamai, and friends, pretty lightly staffed, mostly with engineers and programmers and such) operations and human resources bases. Their customer bases are fairly broad, and they are often much more popular than the local Telcos and Cable outfits(only paranoid privacy geeks hate Google, while cable companies are about as popular as the IRS); but they have much less of the sort of presence that can translate into thousands of letters from the "grassroots". The tech guys do benefit a great many people; but most of them in smaller, subtler ways. Outside of areas that are virtually company towns, or highly-educated startup hotbeds, there is virtually no blue-ish collar bread-and-butter coming out of the tech industry(particularly since, for anything that can be shipped, hardware assembly is largely offshore). Internet competition and tech company services are likely to save everyone some dollars a month, in addition to the free speech and innovation benefits; but that isn't nearly as concrete as having a layer of people, coast to coast, whose checks you sign...
  • huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wpiman (739077)
    Private islands on the internet? Isn't that what we have now? I pay for a subscription to the WSJ and there is content and comments in there reserved for subscribers. I fail to see how this is a bad thing. If my traffic was being shaped so I cannot access the islands I want-- different story. I would switch ISPs in a heartbeat if they did this. I don't really trust the big ISPs, but I trust the government even less. You can bet your boots that any net neutrality bill would have loads of other provisi
    • What if down the road, you do not have an ISP to switch too, or they all really just work for the same parent company or follow the same money making policy. What if I come out with a fantasic new web site and can't compete due to throttling unless I make a special deal with them.. There is a problem..
  • Is it an internet with no price restrictions? Or no speed restrictions? Or both?

    No matter what, you still end up paying a monthly fee to a relative monopoly of ISPs
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday November 22, 2010 @08:40AM (#34305098) Homepage Journal
    Partially lost in this whole debate is the fact that there are really 2 ways of giving preferential treatment to traffic, "caching" and "throttling". Throttling is bad, but since it's really cheap to implement the execs like it. Caching on the other hand is much harder and more expensive to implement, but it ultimately ends up being a service instead of a burden to the customer. If Google wants to pay Verizon to cache the most popular 100,000 youtube videos than they should be allowed to. The people that watch said videos get better download times and google saves on bandwidth.

    I would hope that such "positive" preferential treatment wouldn't be banned along with throttling, but I can certainly see an upshot, namely enforcement. How is your average customer supposed to know whether or not you are throttling or merely just caching competing content?
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday November 22, 2010 @08:56AM (#34305216) Journal

    I've gone back and forth on this issue. I do think ISPs who have monopolies to run cable to the home do warrant some regulation from the FCC, because of their monopolies. On the other hand, I also realize that in the end, customers have to pay for their access and it might not be completely unreasonable to have 'tiers' of service. If someone can't afford a more 'premium' connection, it doesn't seem out of hand to do things like throttling that customers bandwidth, but then also striking deals with content providers to open up the bandwidth for their traffic to those limited customers. So, maybe I get the cheapo internet connection, but when I download content I pay for from places like Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, etc, I get faster download and no cap on the traffic, because the content providers setup a deal with the ISP.

    Now, I don't think it's reasonable for them to completely block any (legal) traffic, but I do think it reasonable to allow them to setup tiered service and tiered pricing. The key is that they should fully disclose in their advertising and customer agreements, just exactly what it is the customer is paying for. If a customer buys "10Mb/s UNLIMITED Internet", then they shouldn't throttle any traffic, because the customer was sold unlimited service at up to 10Mb/s. If the customer only wants to pay for 768Kb/s, but a content provider has worked out a deal to actually send their content at *faster* than that 768Kb/s, I could totally see something like that.

    Of course, I realize that's not what the big ISPs are trying to do, but I'm just saying, as a general principle, as long as the customer gets what they payed for and what was advertised, I'm kind of ok with some allowance of tiered service and agreements with content providers to enable a better experience.

    • So, maybe I get the cheapo internet connection, but when I download content I pay for from places like Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, etc, I get faster download and no cap on the traffic, because the content providers setup a deal with the ISP.

      Something like this being implemented is exactly how the internet could cease to be free in a very short time. Though your proposal sounds reasonable, It's not a far stretch to see such a tiered service offering increasingly slow service (relative to technological progress) to at all but the highest tiers, but then allowing extremely fast access to their corporate partners. Maybe the price gap between those services will also grow until eventually only a few will be willing to pay for the 'premium service

  • FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says that net neutrality rules 'will happen,' promising the FCC 'will make sure that we get the rules right... to make sure that what we do maximizes innovation and investment across the ecosystem.'

    Just like software patents.

    We have heard that story before and we know how it ends.

  • I thought Google supported Net Neutrality as we know and understand it on wireLINE services and on wireLESS services they just wanted to prioritze traffic based on the TYPE of traffic (eg - VoIP traffic would be preferred over BitTorrent). Is this not correct?
  • I am completely in line with the Commish on this one. We need to stop pretending that the Internet is anything other than a telecommunications service. That means operators have some obligation to be a common carrier of information, regardless of source.

    It's not the same type of telecommunication service as a telephone network, to be sure, so you can't use exactly the same rules to regulate both services. But what the Internet is NOT is an "information" service, it's current, erroneous, regulatory c

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