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Communications The Internet

Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You 361

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the assuming-you're-a-cable-exec dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Berin Szoka and Brent Skorup write that everyone assumes that cable companies have all the market power, and so of course a bigger cable company means disaster. But content owners may be the real heavyweights here: It was Netflix that withheld high-quality streaming from Time Warner Cable customers last year, not vice versa and it was ESPN that first proposed to subsidize its mobile viewers' data usage last year. 'We need to move away from the fear-mongering and exaggerations about threats to the Internet as well as simplistic assumptions about how Internet traffic moves. The real problems online are far more complex and less scary. And it's not about net neutrality, but about net capacity.' The debate is really about who pays for — and who profits from — the increasingly elaborate infrastructure required to make the Internet do something it was never designed to do in the first place: stream high-speed video. 'While many were quick to assume that broadband providers were throttling Netflix traffic, the explanation could be far simpler: The company simply lacked the capacity to handle the "Super HD" video quality it began offering last year.' A two-sided market means broadband providers would have an incentive to help because they would receive revenue from two major sources: content providers (through sponsorship or ads), and consumers (through subscription fees). 'Unfortunately, this kind of market innovation is viewed as controversial or even harmful to consumers by some policy and Internet advocates. But these concerns are premature, unfounded, and arise mostly from status quo bias: Carriers and providers haven't priced like this before, so of course change will create some kind of harm,' conclude Szoka and Skorup. 'Bottom line: The FCC should stop trying to ban prioritization outright and focus only on actual abuses of market power.'"
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Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You

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  • riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:10AM (#46274683)

    bullshit!

    • Re:riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:18AM (#46274723)
      Exactly. If they receive revenue from two major sources (i.e. double billing for the same bandwidth) then they have a distinctive to carry any data that they cannot charge twice for moving over their pipes. Berin Szoka and Brent Skorup are abviously industry shills or completely clueless. Simplistic assumptions what a load of bullshit...
      • by alen (225700)

        this has always been this way
        CDN's and other companies who paid for access and special circuits always got better access

        this net neutrality idea of ISP's carrying all their traffic through their internet pipes never existed. companies have always signed deals to prioritize some network traffic. google does it as well and has private circuits to most ISP's for youtube and all their other traffic

        • Re:riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

          by afidel (530433) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:49AM (#46275385)

          No, it has not always been this way! In fact when Akamai first started out ISP's were housing their cache boxes for free because it was cheaper to pay for the bit of power and AC for them then it was to pay for additional upstream bandwidth. Also Tier-1 ISP's have ALWAYS carried traffic in a neutral way and without charge to each other (you've been here long enough that you should know what tariff free peering is). These deals aren't about the costs, providing peering points for traffic is relatively cheap, this is about the last mile providers abusing their monopoly/duopoly positions to rent seek.

          • Re:riiiight (Score:5, Interesting)

            by lordofthechia (598872) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:25PM (#46280355)

            This is like buying a computer case from Newegg, paying for 3 day UPS shipping, then the UPS driver that shows up to Newegg and demands a tip to pickup the package because it's too big and heavy and without the tip the package could take much longer to arrive.

            The shipper shouldn't get to charge twice for a shipment. Likewise ISPs shouldn't be allowed to sell data delivery to its customers then try to also extract fees from the data providers.

        • Re:riiiight (Score:5, Informative)

          by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @02:43PM (#46278219)

          There is a difference between caching, and QoS by type, and QoS by source.

          The first two are not a problem: possibility for abuse is very low, and they both benefit the consumer quite a bit. The third is the problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Desler (1608317)

      Yep, since prioritization is an abuse of their market power. And since there is little competition due to the telcos/cable companies buying local monopolies, there's nothing anyone can do as theu continue to try strangle out smaller competitors. This seems to be nothing but a false dilemma argument.

    • by DoctorNathaniel (459436) <nathaniel,tagg&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:03AM (#46275025) Homepage

      The argument that the poor carriers are being bombarded by all this data (when our endpoint bandwidth is much less than other places in the world) is completely absurd. It's not because the internet wasn't "designed" for video, it's because competition hasn't spurred more development by the carriers. They've been living on capital rents.

      This piece is naive in the extreme: it assumes implicitly that the only players are major content providers, carriers, and "consumers", and never speakers, telecoms, and citizens.

      • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:28AM (#46275657) Journal
        If ISPs had been spending all these excessive profits from charging the living shit out of everyone involved for years and years now on building more capacity instead of crying poor and overbooking the capacity they have, there'd be more than enough bandwidth for everyone and everything and there'd be no need for throttling or prioritizing.
    • Re:riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:11AM (#46275089)

      Except for some interesting aspects that make net neutrality a real issue.

      Most of our high speed internet companies, are also ones who offer us TV and/or Telephone service too, and are often with partnerships with other companies. That means they are offering a pipeline to their direct competitors. High bandwidth services such as VoIP and Streaming Media, are often in direct competition with the subsidiaries of your ISP. Being that they are indeed high bandwidth, give your ISP alternative reasons to throttle the site besides just because they don't want you to go there.

      • Re:riiiight (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:50AM (#46275395)

        Allowing Netflix et.al. to pay for their bandwidth is what gives these content providers real power. Now they don't have that much power - they're at the mercy of network providers building the infrastructure. However when the content provider starts to pay for (part of) that network, nothing is stopping them from adding clauses that stifles competition, such as requiring that the extra bandwidth is only for themselves, leaving the competition with less bandwidth and a lower quality service.

      • Re:riiiight (Score:4, Informative)

        by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:59AM (#46275987) Journal

        High bandwidth services such as VoIP

        VOIP is, by today's standards a very low bandwidth service.

        Pick up an old-fashioned wired landline and marvel at the voice quality. That's generally 8 bit, mono, 8kHz u-law, which takes precisely 64kbit/s. That's why ISDN was that speed. It sent data down the same channel as phone audio was digitised too.

        Of course, if you put on a lossy codec (or even lossless!) you'll get substantially lower bandwidth, even with a very low latency codec like opus.

        I think opus goes down to about 6kbit/s for acceptable quality (factor of 10 for lossy compression is not unreasonable).

        It is, however, a low latency service.

    • How can somebody right that it's the content owners we should fear, and not mention that the largest ISP is one of the largest content owners? It seems a little disingenuous. If NBC, Comcast cable, and Comcast ISP were separate companies, net neutrality would be a lot less important.

      • Re: riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:20AM (#46275157)

        That's because the entire argument is disingenuous. It's just an apology piece for Comcast. That anyone believes that Netflix is bullying companies many times their size is laughable. Especially when some of the very same companies are ones they license their content from.

    • Seriously, when the summary's entire premise is founded on false assumptions, you can't expect much. For instance, this gem is patently false:

      But content owners may be the real heavyweights here: It was Netflix that withheld high-quality streaming from Time Warner Cable customers last year, not vice versa

      The ability for an ISP to provide "Super HD" video is entirely in their own hands, since Netflix makes available everything that is necessary at zero cost to the ISP, other than the utilities bills for running the devices. All they need to do is install one of Netflix's network appliances [netflix.com], which they give away for free to interested ISPs. And the network appliance is

  • by willaien (2494962) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:10AM (#46274687)

    "No, you shouldn't worry about prioritization, in fact it can help startups."

    What? Wasn't that what everyone was worried about to begin with? That those with all the purse strings would be able to lock out these very startups you're claiming will benefit the most from this setup?

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:07AM (#46275499) Homepage

      "No, you shouldn't worry about prioritization, in fact it can help startups."

      What? Wasn't that what everyone was worried about to begin with? That those with all the purse strings would be able to lock out these very startups you're claiming will benefit the most from this setup?

      You're talking about startup content providers, which the likes of ESPN want to put out of business (do you think they actually want to help their competition?).

      ESPN is talking about startup broadband providers, which don't exist. If they did exist ESPN would want to help them as they'd prefer to deal with a bunch of small cable companies and not one big Comcast or whatever. However, the last mile is a natural monopoly, so there won't be any startups.

      Really it is about coming up with a bogus argument about helping small business so that they can kill it. The only place you'd actually see startups would be on the content side, which is where ESPN plays.

    • by Karl Cocknozzle (514413) <kcocknozzle@hotma i l . com> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:52AM (#46275901) Homepage

      "No, you shouldn't worry about prioritization, in fact it can help startups."

      What? Wasn't that what everyone was worried about to begin with? That those with all the purse strings would be able to lock out these very startups you're claiming will benefit the most from this setup?

      Their comments fly in the face of logic and basic economics.

      Once the ISPs can double-dip, charging twice for the same bandwidth, there will exist a tremendous disincentive to carrying any traffic they can't double-dip on. Worst case scenario, "startups" without enormous financial backing will simply be stuck on the Internet slow-lane.

      "Help startups"? My ass!

  • by olsmeister (1488789) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:11AM (#46274689)
    Of course, Comcast owns NBC and Universal Studios.
  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:12AM (#46274693)

    "A two-sided market means broadband providers would have an incentive to help because they would receive revenue from two major sources: content providers (through sponsorship or ads), and consumers (through subscription fees)."

    Thus it would be a disincentive to carry any data where they could not do any double billing for the bandwidth revenue. Is Berin Szoka an industry shill?

    • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:14AM (#46274705)

      Yeah as soon as I read this I had propaganda bullshit sirens going off in my head.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:30AM (#46274811) Homepage

      Thus it would be a disincentive to carry any data where they could not do any double billing for the bandwidth revenue. Is Berin Szoka an industry shill?

      Yes. Not to mention the obvious fact that if content providers have to pay for that bandwidth those expenses will be passed on to the customers. The only people who'll benefit from this are ISPs that can double dip and price gouge while services become both less varied and more expensive. That the customer buys the bandwidth and is then free to use it on Netflix or YouTube or TPB or any other service he wants is exactly what has made the Internet so successful, obviously the ISPs would love to be the gatekeepers to their customers charging companies lots of money for the priviledge of communicating with them but we'd be total fools for letting them.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      If must be. The alternative would be incoherent with the his alleged ability to write.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:14AM (#46274701) Homepage

    1. How much bandwidth does a Super HD stream require?
    2. How much promised bandwidth are you paying for?

    • by thaylin (555395)
      Since when has an internet provider actually promised bandwidth, and not just said less than or equal to X amount?
      • by Paco103 (758133)

        Windstream has told me on multiple occasions by multiple reps that 60% is their acceptable minimum. Funny thing is when I moved out here everything was great, but they haven't oversold, there's just "More people using more internet than they used to".

    • by shipofgold (911683) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:32AM (#46275253)

      I have been in the telecom industry for for many years. The issue that most people don't understand is that the infrastructure is "shared" amongst all subscribers and somebody has to pay for it.

      One of the common questions I always got from Telco operators is "how many subscribers can your mobile system handle"? My snide answer is "100 billion"....as long as nobody makes any calls. The question they should be asking is "how many simultaneous calls can your system handle?". Then the answer becomes 100,000 peak busy hour calls. The Telco customer should know what their *expected calls per hour per subscriber* are and then they can calculate the number subscribers they can handle.

      The "expected calls per hour per subscriber" (or expected bandwidth per subscriber in this case) changes the calculation significantly. Netflix and other content providers have been a game changer in recent years because they have drastically changed that number. The ISPs know they can't provide every subscriber peak bandwidth at the same time. When subscribers used their "promised bandwidth" in 2 second bursts to quickly load a WWW page, the ISPs had no problem providing it. But now that subscribers are demanding their "promised bandwidth" in 2 hour "bursts", the playing field changes dramatically. ISPs, of course, can engineer for that load, but then "somebody" needs to pay for it. That "somebody" is either the subscriber in the form of higher ISP subscription rates, or the content providers in the form of "throttling fees" which they will undoubtedly pass on to their customers or advertisers.

      Net neutrality simply shifts who is paying for the cost of all that equipment for our access. One way the end user will end up paying for it directly, and the other way the end user pays for it indirectly through higher content fees, or goods and services that are more expensive due to higher advertising fees. In the end we all have to pay for it.

      I tend to fall on the side of Net Neutrality (and consequently would be willing to pay the ISP more for access), because otherwise the big players (Netflix, Google, etc.) will become more entrenched as they are able to pay the throttling fees while some upstart with a great service can't afford it.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        The issue that most people don't understand is that the infrastructure is "shared" amongst all subscribers and somebody has to pay for it.

        The issue is that people shouldn't NEED to understand the infrastructure.
        If a certain amount of bandwidth is sold, that amount of bandwidth needs to be available.
        It is upto the telco to ensure their infrastructure can handle what their salespeople sell.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        One of the common questions I always got from Telco operators is "how many subscribers can your mobile system handle"? My snide answer is "100 billion"....as long as nobody makes any calls. The question they should be asking is "how many simultaneous calls can your system handle?". Then the answer becomes 100,000 peak busy hour calls. The Telco customer should know what their *expected calls per hour per subscriber* are and then they can calculate the number subscribers they can handle.

        Net neutrality simpl

  • Misses the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:17AM (#46274719)

    everyone assumes that cable companies have all the market power, and so of course a bigger cable company means disaster. But content owners may be the real heavyweights here

    So big content providers (the "real heavyweights") can lean on ISPs to exclude access to small content providers (or at least to get better access than small content providers). That's what network neautrality is intended to stop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:18AM (#46274721)

    When ISPs where Mom and Pops shops doing things for the neighborhood, they got some special protection and the FCC kept their hands off.
    Now ISPs are huge companies and SHOULD be considered common carriers. If they start inspecting packets to see where they come from, to assign priority, they will lose the shield of common carrier. They will be expected to know more about the contents of the packets that get sent. So that Bin Laden or kiddie pron video will be on THEIR network. Do you want them to know more about the contents of what you put on the web?

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      I would mod you up if I could. I always thought the same thing. A requirement for common carrier protections should be neutrality.
  • by pesho (843750) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:20AM (#46274737)
    Things like polluted air and water, sugary drinks, strychnine, high crime rate, police state, etc. could also be good for you. Except that they are not.
    • by bmajik (96670)

      Actually, lets look at one of these in particular.

      Let's look at "high crime rate"

      Part of our current high crime rate is the rampant usage of illegal drugs in the US.

      I think we can agree that there are negative outcomes here. General disregard for the law; some people don't manage their drug habits well; even people who manage their drug consumption well are doing harm to their body.

      However, I'm of the opinion that what we do to police drugs is worse than any of the problems of the drug trade.

      At this point,

      • I should hope that there is a happy choice between crappy regulation and having no regulation at all. But if there isn't, you can be sure that as the options for traffic shaping improves, the likes of Comcast will at some point approach Google or Netflix with a request (demand) for payment for offering bandwidth-intensive services. And once those companies pay, you can be sure that all other similar services will be effectively broken unless they pay up as well. Having no regulation in the form of net ne
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Comcast doesn't care about "angry users". After all, who are you going to? Isn't that the issue of free-market, capitalist USA: no competition to speak of when it comes to broadband? Users will continue to pay whatever they have to pay to get connected, because an Internet connection is so important nowadays you can hardly do without.

        What your beloved Comcast does care about is money. They want lots of it. This is why they do their best to stifle any sign of competition in the broadband arena. Try to run yo

      • by geekoid (135745)

        What high crime rate? it's been decreasing for 40 years.

        " I can't trust the government to do very much right."
        the VAST majority of 'Government'* project are successful and honest. Less then 1% go over budget, or involve anything you can't trust.

        FCC needs to make the common carriers. Problem solved.

        The speed of innovation on the internet is highly exaggerated. What new innovation has come from the internet in the last 5 years?
        Of course, then internet is a serious of protocols, and the government is why it's

  • by davecb (6526) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:20AM (#46274743) Homepage Journal

    The internet is a dumb system of pipes with the intelligence at the edges, specifically so we can do things with it that non-techies don't think we can do.

    Streaming video is easier than downloading large programs, as you only need to ship a certain amount per second, rather than ship it all and only be able to use it when the last byte has arrived. For real-time broadcast, which causes massive numbers of synchronized transfers, you can use multicast directely, as well as to "prime" a content delivery network node close to your particular edge.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:36AM (#46274841) Homepage Journal

      you can use multicast directely,

      Well, in theory, but it's usually blocked by default on many/most routers. I'd be happy to wait a few minutes to start a show if it mean the end of buffering. DVR-like capabilities are just the logical extension of that.

      But the thing I don't get is how Netflix can afford 'my' bandwidth for less than $9/mo but my ISP supposedly can't get a similar deal. Or is the ISP simply unwilling to allocate $9 out of the $90 they charge me for upstream costs?

      • by davecb (6526)

        ISPs bottleneck on their respective upstreams, and this makes them a major business (ie, financial) concern. This in turn drives technical decisions to be based on

        1. 1. the ability of the delivery arm to express the problem to financial management and
        2. 2. to make a business case for any change that has the capability of increasing costs.
        • by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:11AM (#46275525)

          Upstream is not more expensive than downstream, it's entirely technical. Both cable (coax) and telephone (twisted pair) wires were never designed to carry data, and the only way to make this work is if it is highly asymmetrical. Rolling out proper UTP cables is expensive, which is why it's never done to households, only to businesses that need fast upstream. Households mostly download (or stream) where upstream is basically just for ACK packages and the occasional e-mail.

          Everyone who's on glass fibre (fibre-to-the-home) has symmetrical connections already. I've had cheap, symmetrical broadband. 20M down, 20M up for years in my office. The building had optical connections available. The same company offers also tradition ADSL, and that is of course highly asymmetric.

    • I new this article for bullshit when they said the internet was not "Designed for video", as if video was any different to all the other 1s and 0s sent between computers. I use my phone to stream Netflix (unlimited data ftw) and I get min 10 to max 15 GB of data each month. That's one large game, like TERA or ARMA or The Witcher, of which, if in Steam sales I might download 5-10 such games a month.

      No, this is just another propaganda piece to try extort the greatest common denominator (those who watch TV) an

    • by ardor (673957) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:59AM (#46274995)

      Streaming video is easier than downloading large programs, as you only need to ship a certain amount per second, rather than ship it all and only be able to use it when the last byte has arrived. For real-time broadcast, which causes massive numbers of synchronized transfers, you can use multicast directely, as well as to "prime" a content delivery network node close to your particular edge.

      Uh, no, it is not easier. I say that as somebody who has been developing audio and video delivery software. The requirements differ significantly. Most network gear out there is optimized to maximize throughput, which is *not* what you want for video. For video, you want deliver on-time. This affects the kind of buffering used in hard- and software. Given the many different sources of latency over a WAN, the real-time constraints of video playback cannot be met unless you use a big jitter buffer. How big? Well, here is where the difficulties start.

      Multicast does not solve that problem. All it solves is scalability (which is nice). But not the real-time constraint. BTW, if you wish to distribute video over Wi-Fi, you might be surprised to find out that many unicasts streams are better than one multicast one, thanks to Wi-Fi specific issues.

      (And yes, video playback is a case for real-time programming. Real-time simply means that a given task has to be finished before a specific deadline is passed, in this case, the next frame has to be shown on screen until its timeslice passed. It does not necessarily mean that it must be something that happens many times per second.)

      I do think this case against net neutrality is bollocks though.

    • by bmajik (96670)

      Streaming video is easier than downloading large programs

      This is false. Another response to yours is worth reading, but I wanted to emphasize this point.

      I don't have an expectation that once a program _starts_ downloading at a certain rate, that rate is maintained, _without interruption_, for 90 minutes.

      That is precisely the expectation I have for video.

      Think about all of the timeouts in the 7 layer OSI model. Can you even enumerate them?

      If your goal is to deliver an uninterrupted stream of video, with no

  • Why stream? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mystakaphoros (2664209) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:25AM (#46274783) Homepage
    Shouldn't we instead at some point focus on the fact that streaming itself is a silly and wasteful thing? So much more efficient to download something once and watch it to your heart's content. But then how to keep it under control...
    • The problem you're describing is a solved one, and has been for years.

      As you said, streaming is wasteful. On the other hand, most content only gets watched once by a person, so storing it locally ad infinitum is inefficient as well. The answer, then, is to store it communally in a place that is close to the user but where more users can access it. At that point, it starts to sound a lot like caching, and if you actually implement that sort of a system at an ISP or higher level, you get yourself a CDN [wikipedia.org].

      In the

  • Sure, the Internet was not designed to stream HD videos, but neither it was designed to play games, or make telephone calls. The only thing they designed it for in the beginning was simple http. But all those things work now. The Internet is flexible. The companies want to kill net neutrality because the Internet is a strong competitor in many services they have a stake in too. Examples: Skype can replace telephones. Netflix can replace cable. And the Internet allows for people to create new, better solutio

  • by bobstreo (1320787) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:29AM (#46274803)

    It appears to me like thay are paid shills of the Telecommunications Industry hiding behind "non-profit" "think tanks"

    Berin Szoka used to work for the PFF: (from Wikipedia)

    The Progress & Freedom Foundation (PFF) was an American market-oriented think tank based in Washington, D.C. that studied the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. Its mission was to educate policymakers, opinion leaders and the public about issues associated with technological change, based on a philosophy of limited government, free markets and individual sovereignty.[1]

    PFF was funded in part by the digital media and communication industry.[2]

    Brent Skorup works for the Mercatus Center: (From Wikipedia)

    Washington Post columnist Al Kamen has described Mercatus as a "staunchly anti-regulatory center funded largely by Koch Industries Inc."[3] Rob Stein, the Democratic strategist, has called it "ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.”[2] The Wall Street Journal has called the Mercatus Center "the most important think tank you've never heard of."[2]

    The Mercatus Center was founded by Rich Fink as the Center for the Study of Market Processes at Rutgers University. After the Koch family provided more than thirty million dollars[2] to George Mason University, the Center moved to George Mason in the mid-1980s before assuming its current name in 1999.[2] The Mercatus Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit and does not receive support from George Mason University or any federal, state or local government, but rather is entirely funded through donations, including some from companies like Koch Industries[3] and ExxonMobil,[4] individual donors and foundations. As of 2011, the Center shows that 58% of its funding comes from foundations, 40% from individuals, and 2% from businesses.[1]

  • by Kevin108 (760520) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:32AM (#46274823) Homepage

    In the early 2000s, the federal government gave tax breaks to the then-leading communications giants to install an open high-speed data infrastructure throughout the country. The amount of taxes they didn't collect averaged $2,000 per household. Shortly after that, the companies began sales and mergers. TechDirt.com [techdirt.com] published an article detailing this scam as recently as 2013.

  • trying to make something horrifying into good. Good luck !
    Even with net neutrality, it's already bad enough for content providers.
    Stop with the BS.

  • Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

  • by bigmo (181402)

    Caution, this is a rant:

    People want to be able to download as much as they want from anywhere they want for a flat rate. This is childish.

    I believe completely in net neutrality. The ISPs are in fact common carriers and should be treated as such.

    However net neutrality does not come cheap. People have to pay for what they use in bandwidth the same way they pay for what they use for electricity, water and fuel. Someone who uses 10GB a month should pay ten times as much as someone who uses 1GB a month and t

    • by wagnerrp (1305589) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:53AM (#46274941)

      Someone who uses 10GB a month should pay ten times as much as someone who uses 1GB a month

      While I agree with you in principle, your pricing structure is way off. There is a physical infrastructure that must be maintained regardless of whether you're using 1GB/mo or 1TB/mo. Your proposal would require breaking out a separate network access fee, which would be the overwhelming bulk of the cost for someone only using 1GB/mo.

      • I'm okay with that, provided that the monthly amount is reasonable. $10 a month for flat the network access, and then 50 cents per gigabyte on top of that. So the 1 gig email checker pays $10.50 for the pipes they're sipping from, and the Netflix junkie pays $60 for the 100 gigs of bandwidth they're hogging.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          >$0.50/GB
          Wow. How about, no? That rate is worse than what I pay when I go over already (AT&T DSL 3.0, 150 GB + $10/50GB)
          Maybe you should do some actual research before you open your dicksocket? Anyway, your entire premise is unfounded. I've a friend in Tromso, Norway (An Island in the arctic) that gets 70/20 for $30 (nominal exchange rate). It would be laughable to make the common claim about population density for Norway, so you can stop typing right now. The only reason we do not have comparable pl

      • by Paco103 (758133)

        Most electric and water rates I've seen have a connection fee that includes the first X amount of power/water. I would envision something that's like, say (making numbers up here), $20 for the base connection and the first 10GB, then 10 cents/GB after that. *THIS* would give incentive to ISP's to give you all the bandwidth they could. We wouldn't all the power we want* (yes, I know, there *IS* technically a limit) available at all times if we still paid for electric on a per outlet basis, and we'd also s

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          But it's really not that simple. The amount it costs to service you has very little to do with how much internet you use over the entire month. Downloading 1 movie in 10 minutes puts more strain on the network, then downloading the same movie over a longer period of time. It would be much easier on the network to download their desired TV shows slowly while they're at work, then for everybody to get home and start streaming shows at 7 pm, where everybody wants a large amount of data at the same time. a
      • >> Someone who uses 10GB a month should pay ten times as much as someone who uses 1GB a month
        > your pricing structure is way off. There is a physical infrastructure that must be maintained regardless of whether you're using 1GB/mo or 1TB/mo.

        This is cheap infrastructure to keep in place for 1 GB. There is expensive new infrastructure to buy for 1 TB.

        24 port 100 Mbps switches cost about $15
        http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html... [ebay.com]

        24 port 10GbE switches cost about $450 - $3200
        http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html. [ebay.com]

    • by jon3k (691256)
      You cannot compare it to water, fuel or electricity. It's not a resource provided over the infrastructure that is consumable. In those examples someone produces something and then delivers it. In the case of tier 1 ISPs, they just deliver. There is no commodity they produce that is consumed. If the pipe sits dormant or if its working at capacity, there is no material difference in cost to the provider, other than the additional power required, which is minimal when you look at it as a percentage of tot
    • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:35AM (#46275723)

      Someone who uses 10GB a month should pay ten times as much as someone who uses 1GB a month and they should be able to use 100GB if they can afford it.

      I'm a cost accountant [wikipedia.org] professionally and your analysis of the economics here is complete nonsense. You are assuming that delivering 10GB/month costs 10X as much as delivering 1GB/month. In reality it doesn't work like that. There are two types of costs, fixed and variable. Fixed costs [wikipedia.org] are things like electricity and salaries and rent that you have to pay every month regardless of how many customers you have or products you produce. Variable costs [wikipedia.org] are things like raw materials or data interchange fees that scale with each unit of product delivered. For companies like Comcast, fixed costs hugely outweigh variable costs, meaning that it costs them only fractionally more to deliver 10GB than it does 1GB. The equipment used is the same, the salaries of their employees are the same, their electricity costs are the same, etc. The cost to serve a customer is generally not affected greatly by the amount of data they use in most cases once the infrastructure is in place to serve them.

      What these companies are doing is in many cases creating artificial scarcity and engaging in price discrimination [wikipedia.org] to maximize revenues while minimizing costs. Investing in infrastructure (a large fixed cost) is expensive so companies don't want to do it if they don't have to. Furthermore they know that some people are willing to pay $100 per month while others only $30 so they are using the fact that there is a minor difference in variable cost for data delivery to extract more money out of those who are willing to pay more for faster/more data. Companies like Comcast don't like companies like Netflix because Netflix customers start demanding more out of their existing infrastructure which screws up their cost models and forces them to invest in infrastructure (big fixed costs) soon than they intended.

      If you want to charge differential pricing based on usage, then you need to have a flat access fee based off the actual (fixed) cost of providing the service (plus some profit for the ISP) and then you charge a per-byte usage fee for the variable cost of delivering the data. The variable cost in this instance should be a relatively small amount compared to the flat access fee. Right now by paying a flat fee, users who use less data subsidize those who use more.

  • by kjs3 (601225) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:43AM (#46274883)
    He's not talking about a "two-sided market", he's talking about an industry that is trying to double bill. The end user pays for the delivery infrastructure, and if they need to build more capacity, it should come out of the huge profits these companies are realizing. *That's* how Economics 101 works. Saying "I'd really hate something bad to happen to your bits on the way to your customer...maybe you should pay me a little something to make sure that doesn't happen" and then claiming "I need the money because bandwidth" is simply extortion. Utter bullshit, every word of it.
  • by a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:44AM (#46274889) Homepage Journal

    It's warm and feels good to let it flow.

    But after a while you realize that in the end you will stink and be dirty.

    Don't do it!

  • by prefec2 (875483) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:46AM (#46274905)

    The problem with BIG network companies is that they control which data can be transmitted and how fast it can be transmitted. If they cannot do that, the net is an equal space which can be used by everybody, depending on his or her connection speed. This allows any business to use the net as a medium to eliminate distance between data users. A thing which brought us voice over IP, media streaming, education, and knowledge in every home (which can afford connection fees).

    The big network companies form an oligopol for data transportation. As any oligopol, they must be regulated otherwise they misuse their power. The same applies to content delivery companies like netflix. There are also only a few companies available which provide streaming services. It is also hard to enter that market and therefore they must be regulated. Actually they are just on a higher level in the ISO-OSI layer architecture.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:47AM (#46274913)
    Let's start off with:

    But content owners may be the real heavyweights here: It was Netflix that withheld high-quality streaming from Time Warner Cable customers last year, not vice versa

    Netflix except for a few shows it funded, is mostly a distributor. Also if you read up on what really happened [gigaom.com], Netflix found itself with steep interconnect fees due to the actions of Comcast. So it built their own network that the ISP could join. However, any ISP that joined and did what Comcast did would find itself under scrutiny by the FCC. Time Warner wants to spin it as Netflix "withholding access" when really it is Netflix protecting itself.

  • Do these people claiming allowing ISPs to charge providers even understand how the internet works? Providers buy bandwidth from one ISP. Consumers buy bandwidth from another ISP. Those ISPs then decide amongst themselves who has the more valuable network, and one ends up paying the other for access. If consumer ISPs think they deserve more for access to their customers, they charge their peers, and those peers in turn charge Netflix and their ilk more. Charging them directly would constitute triple dip
  • Netflix isn't the only content provider out there, and most of the others are also service providers. Net neutrality is often about keeping the behemoths from giving their own content preferential treatment, bandwidth-wise. Laissez-faire inevitably leads to consumers getting a raw deal. Are these guys the shills they seem like, or do they just not understand economics?
  • ESPN should go and fuck itself, sideways. In the past they forced net operators to pay them in order to make online streaming accessible to their customers.

    That's right, you probably sponsor Joe Shmuck's ESPN habit even if you are not interested in watching the fucking 'football' or baseball. And now they want me to sponsor his mobile data?
  • Yet it’s important to remember that subsidy programs are a conventional business practice that brings down the cost of services for consumers. Nobody’s access is degraded. In an increasingly connected world, it’s a welcome development that carriers and ISPs are proposing market-oriented solutions to bring more people online while gaining a new revenue stream for network upgrades.

    Is this a joke? Subsidy programs don't bring down the cost of services, ever. Access is 'degraded' by overselling services after the big ISPs use their subsidies for piecemeal upgrades that only pad profits, instead of actually improve the entire infrastructure. Carrier and ISP's market-oriented solutions are to bring more profits with the least amount of additional expenditure, and network upgrades are an accident of necessity. New revenue streams are about profits.

  • I actually assumed that the biggest losers in TW/Comcast Hookup would have been the cable content producers, who have to negotiate where their programming is carried. But I checked and Viacom at least saw it's stop spike up on the news of the merger (NASDAQ: VIAB), and Disney follows the same exact spike (NYSE: DIS) Then I figured wait, they are a big enough corporation that the end of Net Neutrality must be even better for them than the merger of Carriers is bad for them.

    CNN reports that perhaps the mer

  • by aurizon (122550) <bill.jackson @ g m a il.com> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:16AM (#46275123)

    Streaming was originally set up to allow a 1:1 dialog between the content owner, in both audio and video formats, with the person receiving not permitted to make a copy - Hah, that lasted 11 minutes and now we can copy a stream at will.
    So we are left with the relic of streaming, and zero benefit to the content owners or to the buyers (who suffer buffering, etc), and the content owners must marshall the resources to send tens of thousands of streams of the same content, on scattered time phases, which blocks any possible efficiency of scale.

    How can this be rectified?

    I believe a form of torrent should be made that allocated a unique hash number to each transmitted block, so that the blocks could be seeded to many hosts and when the receiver wants them his torrent program marshalls them in the correct order to play a stream.
    In the best case a 1-2 minute buffer would serve, a worst case would need a deeper buffer.

    When a client signed up for "The Gladiator", if he was the first to buy, the system would start to stream these sequential blocks, and know where they were. It would also assess the network the data would traverse and present the customer with a screen display that said, "building stream and buffering - stream will play in x seconds", and if nothing changes that x seconds buffer would be deep enough so the client would never break out of the buffer. As more clients came on board, they would also start to stream and also have access to closer and prior streamers and they could use their data in sequence = a smaller buffer time. Overlaid on this is the clients "last mile", on which the depth of his buffer would be determined. He knows his last mile and will accept this.

    The content owners have been so screwed over (only in their minds) by torrents that this would need a new name, like "sequential multi cast", or some such to make it palatable to them.

    This method might be the saving of the industry. In fact, it seems so obvious that it must have been thought of and be in use already?

  • It's wrong to say the internet wasn't engineered to deliver video, it was. Multicast [wikipedia.org]

    Unfortunately for this to work seamlessly service providers and backbones would have to implement the standard protocol. This would enable streaming what we currently consider cable TV much easier. It does not solve on demand problems, but would create a similar experience to current viewing habits.

    But I don't see it ever happening, because if you are in the business of selling data you don't want to make delivering data

  • by pcjunky (517872) <walterp@cyberstreet.com> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:26AM (#46275199) Homepage

    I run a very small WISP. We have around 200 residential customers. Most other alternate ISP (not Comcast or CenturyLink) will not sell residential Internet. Why? Less money, more bandwidth. Streaming video uses up to 100 times more bandwidth that typical web surfing does. Comcast gets Level3 (Netflix's bandwidth provider) to pay them extra to deliver there video streams to there customers. We are so small, how are we supoosed to get Level3/Netflix to compensate us without getting laughed out of the room?

    The situation is bad enough that we are considering discontinueing our sales of residential Internet.

    At least if Comcast was not allowed to charge Level3 for the delivery of there streaming data (Shouldn't Comcast customer my fees cover this?), net neutrality, they would have to pass that expense on to the customer. If there rates went up so could ours. Level playing field.

    • The first problem is that you're conflating volumes of data and transmission speed. I'm pretty sure if your claim of "100 times more bandwidth" made any sense, it would mean you're assuming your customers would be perfectly happy browsing websites over broadband technology at a dialup speeds.

      You clearly do not understand transit and peering agreements. Typically, Level3 should be charging Comcast extra because Comcast is sucking down traffic so asymmetrically. This is happening because Comcast has been a

  • by Bengie (1121981)

    It was Netflix that withheld high-quality streaming from Time Warner Cable customers last year, not vice versa

    Netflix withheld SuperHD from everyone not on OpenConnect, not just TWC, not to mention that TWC was bitching about the 1mb/s SD streams, yet alone 8mb/s SuperHD streams. TWC is two faced. I one moment they say that Netflix is overloading their networks, and in the next they say that Netflix is holding back customers by not offering SuperHD. They flip-flop stances depending on which one suits them.

    The debate is really about who pays for — and who profits from

    WTF does this mean? The customer ALWAYS pays in the end. Let customers pay for their bandwidth to the ISP and l

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @10:58AM (#46275453)

    And it's not about net neutrality, but about net capacity.'

    Bullshit. This is an argument being made by very large companies who would like nothing better than to extract economic rents [wikipedia.org] from other companies to maximize their own profits without any consideration for whether this benefits consumer or the economy as a whole. They do see the opportunity to charge extra to google and amazon and to throttle potential competitive threats like Netflix. They can simultaneously limit competition to their own content and charge extra to competitors who will have no choice but to go through them to reach vast portions of the public.

    But these concerns are premature, unfounded, and arise mostly from status quo bias: Carriers and providers haven't priced like this before, so of course change will create some kind of harm,'

    Again, bullshit. This presumes that we have no insight into the likely behaviors and consequences of eliminating net neutrality. We know EXACTLY how companies like Comcast will act if they are allowed to charge discriminatory pricing and we also know that it is extremely unlikely to benefit consumers. Frankly Comcast doesn't give a rat's posterior about me specifically because I am a teeny, tiny fraction of a rounding error of their revenue stream. No action I could possible take as an individual is likely to have any meaningful effect on their behavior. But there is a LOT of money to be made for them without net neutrality.

  • Why is this here? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dagmar d'Surreal (5939) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @11:34AM (#46275707) Journal

    This isn't news--this is an opinion piece, and it's a bad opinion piece at that. The bulk of it is not only wrong but eye-wateringly wrong and factually incorrect.

    Whether or not ESPN wanted to monetize their viewers or not has nothing to do with Net Neutrality or a lack thereof. ESPN is an over-the-top provider in this case just like dozens or other companies. This argument is just thrown in to confuse people and pretend that there is precedent for the argument the morons are trying to make.

    "the increasingly elaborate infrastructure required to make the Internet do something it was never designed to do in the first place: stream high-speed video"

    That quote deserves special contempt because it's not only bullshit but is also a shamefully ignorant statement to make. Not only was the Internet designed to route traffic without passing judgement, IPv6 (the protocol broadband would be moving to if they weren't so busy punting around) handles all sorts of data in special ways to facilitate these sorts of things. Furthermore, multicast, bitches. It was designed for doing things like streaming video something like twenty years ago.

    As to this stuff about a "two-sided market"... it's simply a load of nonsense. Broadband providers don't need a special incentive to "help". What they need is actual competition so they'll stop goofing off, actually invest in upgrades like any healthy technology company should, and stop paying people to write shillery like this. The fact that they're already being paid by their customers at rates higher than almost everywhere else in the world, for notably slower connections should be a big red flag that they're negligent in this obligation.

    We're not "assuming" broadband providers are throttling Netflix--we can prove it, because unlike paid shills, we can actually analyze and diagnose networking issues. Fifteen minutes of Googling will readily turn up multiple reports (from both skilled individuals and capable technical organiztions) demonstrating that the broadband ISPs are throttling the traffic.

    If you want abuses of power, this article is one. It's nothing but a pack of lies designed to muddy the waters. Are we going to start seeing reposts of the stupid shit FOX News says now?

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @12:39PM (#46276457) Journal

    The Internet wasn't originally designed to handle MOST types of traffic it handles today. Never-mind the streaming video thing.... It certainly didn't envision VoIP telephony or P2P sharing protocols. I don't think anyone even thought about such things as IPSEC VPN tunneling back then.

    In reality, the Internet should handle pretty much anything we can conceive of that can be sent over it following the basic rules of TCP/IP, as long as bandwidth is sufficient and latency low enough for the purpose.

    If a business tries to offer a service (whether HD video streaming or anything else) that it lacks the Internet capacity to provide reliably, the whole problem lies with them and their implementation.

    To abuse the ever-popular automobile analogy once again? Sometimes it's as though a company decides to build a vehicle so wide, it occupies 6 lanes of traffic. Then people start having a discussion about the problems it causes when it takes up an entire highway including a couple of lanes designated as "HOV" only. (I see the net neutrality arguments here as being somewhat like folks arguing over if the company building this super-wide vehicle should or shouldn't be allowed to buy a special permit to occupy the HOV lanes, so it can get through.)

    The better question is probably asking why they decided to build something so darn wide in the first place? Maybe building it extra long, or just using multiple, smaller vehicles would have been a better design choice from the start?

    If you're having issues pushing streaming SuperHD quality video reliably? Maybe you should quit concerning yourself with whether or not you can purchase a higher QoS over the existing infrastructure so it transmits better, and start asking if you're just trying to do something that's not technically advisable in the first place. We've come a long way with such things as improved video compression methods. There might not be a lot of room to squeeze more out of that... but maybe this is one of those areas where the existing cable TV infrastructure starts making more sense? (If you want to keep cable television subscriptions viable, morph them into super/ultra/whatever HD quality services delivered right to your set-top box over all that bandwidth the cable network has, and let people use the regular Internet to stream the lower resolution stuff.)

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @09:34PM (#46281911) Homepage

    War is peace, ignorance is strength and poverty is wealth.

    Industry shills shill for industry, film at eleven. This newscast will not be streamed.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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