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Network Businesses The Internet

Comcast: Destroying What Makes a Competitive Internet Possible 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-your-cake-and-stream-it-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Vox has another in-depth report on the perilous state of net neutrality regulation, and how Comcast is attempting to undermine it. Quoting: 'In the bill-and-keep internet, companies at each "end" of a connection bill their own customers — whether that customer is a big web company like Google, or a an average household. Neither end pays the other for interconnection. ... ISP's typically do this by hiring a third party to provide "transit," the service of carrying data from one network to another. Transit providers often swap traffic with one another without money changing hands. ... The terminating monopoly problem occurs when a company at the end of a network not only charges its own customers for their connection, but charges companies in the middle of the network an extra premium to be able to reach its customers. In a bill-and-keep regime, the money always flows in the other direction — from customers to ISPs to transit companies. ... But when an ISP's market share gets large enough, the calculus changes. Comcast has 80 times as many subscribers as Vermont has households. So when Comcast demands payment to deliver content to its own customers, Netflix and its transit suppliers can't afford to laugh it off. The potential costs to Netflix's bottom line are too large.'"
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Comcast: Destroying What Makes a Competitive Internet Possible

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  • by loony (37622) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:37PM (#46935089)

    ... need google fibre. Its the opposite extreme when it comes to performance and openness...

    Peter.

  • by supersat (639745) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:51PM (#46935203)
    It doesn't really matter where you are; there is no real competition in the US broadband market. Sure, DSL exists, but old copper lines can't handle nearly the bandwidth that coax can. I live only a few blocks away from the CO, but due to the age of the wires, I could barely get 1.5 mbps.
  • by stox (131684) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @08:26PM (#46935419) Homepage

    You can still change this!

    Start with filing your comment NOW at the FCC:

    https://www.fcc.gov/comments [fcc.gov]

    Click on 14-28 Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

    Here is a sample to give you some inspiration:

    "It has become time to classify Internet Service Providers as Title II Common Carriers. The possibilities for abuse are just too great otherwise. Failure to do so will cripple the future economic well being of the United States, stifle innovation, and limit the freedom of consumers to choose the content they desire."

  • by fightinfilipino (1449273) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:22PM (#46936083) Homepage

    having lobbyists in government regulatory bodies HAS to stop

    sign this and share it: http://wh.gov/lwhr8 [wh.gov]

    Tom Wheeler and his ilk have empowered too much Telco/Cableco monopoly control and done nothing to help regular people

  • by Duhavid (677874) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:23PM (#46936317)

    My recollection is that NetFlix has such caching equipment, and that they have offered it to Comcast and Verizon.
    CC and VZ did not take them up on that offer.

  • by David_Hart (1184661) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @01:01AM (#46936705)

    Can someone explain something to me, because I don't get it. If I want content, and netflix has the content, and I have a subscription to Netflix and an ISP, assuming neither has a monopoly, why does it matter if netflix or the ISP pays for the transmission of data? One of the two of them has to pay for it for my consumption. I understand this all changes if there's a monopoly by either netflix or the ISP, but without the monopoly, why does capitalism not drive this to cost+ a reasonable cost of doing buisness/profit margin? And if it does, why do I really care if I pay this money to either the ISP or netflix, I have to pay it to someone. Now obviously, this goes out the window if one or both has a monopoly. Also, please, I'm looking for a real answer as to why I should care, not "zomg, ISP greeeeed"

    Basically, Netflix pays their ISP for bandwidth. You pay your Comcast for bandwidth. The traffic goes through Netflix's ISP, through the Internet backbone, to the Comcast network. Netflix's ISP is supposed to have a peering arrangement with Comcast where they agree to carry traffic to and from each other, usually for free. Normally both ISPs are close to being equal in the amount of data they exchange so this is fair.

    Comcast has two arguments that they are using to charge Netflix extra to deliver their data to you:

    1. Netflix data takes up a lot of bandwidth on the Comcast network and someone has to pay for that bandwidth. This is a total lie as you have already paid for this bandwidth through Comcast service fees, Netflix has already paid their ISP for this bandwidth, and tax payers have paid ISPs for time immemorial to upgrade their infrastructure, much of which has been just pocketed.

    2. Netflix is using a small ISP to get a really good deal on their ISP rates and because their ISP is tiny, in comparison to Comcast, the peering agreement is unfair. Comcast does have a valid point here, but are going after the wrong party. Comcast should be charging Netflix's ISP additional fees as part of the peering agreement, which they would then have to pass on to their customers. Wait, you say, doesn't Netflix end up being charged more anyway? Yes, but this way the existing internet model is maintained and there is no prioritization of data based on who paid a toll or not. However, Netflix paying Comcast is a gateway to Comcast charging other companies for bandwidth even though their ISPs have fair peering agreements. Once this happens, any new internet business will have to have enough funding to pay Comcast for premium access or they would be at a severe disadvantage against the established companies.

  • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @08:46AM (#46938463)

    How many of the average consumers getting Comcast "Hot Deals!®" realize the penalty for the deal? Not many.

    I firmly believe Comcast's "average" customer has only the choice between Comcast or no adequate Internet service at all. Other than Stockholm syndrome, it's the only explanation that makes sense.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @08:59AM (#46938587)

    Actually, packet switched networks work just fine for this IF they have a "reserved bandwidth" connection-emulation feature. In return for being limited in the number and size of the packets, and having asked first, the packets of the call get to "go to the front of the line", which means they aren't dropped and have little variation in transit time (jitter). The high-bandwidth services that speed up until they hit a bottleneck and back off, dividing all available bandwidth among themselves, then find that "all available bandwidth" is just a little smaller. That way both types of service play together JUST FINE.

    But that means treating some packets different than others, which in turn means that "net neutrality" mandates, in a naive form, ban them, leaving the phone calls running in the "best effort" manner you describe.

    Repeat after me: NET NEUTRALITY IS NOT FUCKING QOS!.

    It's really simple: QOS ("Quality Of Service") is about discriminating between different types of traffic based on its characteristics and needs (e.g. low-latency-required stuff like VoIP vs. latency-not-important "bulk data" transfers like BitTorrent). That kind of discrimination is just fine. In contrast, Net Neutrality seeks only to prohibit discrimination based on the origin or destination of the packets; i.e., who sent or requested them. That kind of discrimination is very much not "just fine."

    For example, Comcast wanting to prioritize Comcast's video-streaming service above Bittorrent is fine; that's QOS. Comcast wanting to prioritize Comcast's video-streaming service above Netflix is wrong; that violates net neutrality.

    In my experience, the only people who disagree with this after having it explained to them are those who are paid to believe otherwise.

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