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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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  • Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by koan (80826) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:36PM (#46935077)

    First they came for Netflix, and I did not speak up because I did not use Netflix.

  • by gavron (1300111) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:49PM (#46935187)

    These concepts were part of the commercial Internet circa the early 1990s
    and were part of the reason CIX was so successful. Then PAIX then others.

    In time, Internet exchanges were themselves bogged down and companies
    did private peering. Those who connected to like-quantity produders of
    content did so for free (settlement-free peering). Those who were unequal
    paid for transiting the network (paid transit).

    That hasn't changed in 32 years. All that's changed is the up and down of
    who provides more traffic where. The dominant player in each interconnection
    point ALWAYS demanded transit, and often did so with the "wherever our
    two networks meet" even if elsewhere it was not the dominant player.

    Comcast could be made to behave, but Netflix blinked and paid them money.
    Now others will as well.

    This CAN BE FIXED BY REGULATION but not the kind people are thinking
    of. No, not net neutrality. Rather the elimination of the cable-company
    monopolies on entire swaths of subscribers. Eliminate the government-granted
    access to rights-of-way, towers, utility poles, and infrastructure. Let them not
    have a "sole franchise" but rather be one of many competing in the market.

    Remove Comcast and their ilk from their high post as the monopolistic "owner"
    of all these households by fiat, and having to compete to keep them, and instead
    of throttling their peerings to make Netflix users (THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS)
    suffer... they'll get peering with netflix.

    More government regulation doesn't solve a market-driven problem. Removing the
    government regulation harming free competition is the key.

    E

  • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:59PM (#46935245)

    Pretty much this, but not exactly. How many of the average consumers getting Comcast "Hot Deals!®" realize the penalty for the deal? Not many. Just like with so many other things the only way to fight is by consumer knowledge. Since the same people (I'm tempted to use an ad hominem for them, but won't distract) that own Comcast own all of the Mass Media, consumers are once again either ignorant or lied to.

    EFF and others have been warning about this for years, hell we have debated this topic over and over on Slashdot. How do you wake consumers when you don't own any media? I guess we can hope that more of the SOPA type blackouts will occur, but I have doubts. It was effective once, but corporations hated it. Keep mailing those US House and Senate members, but also start tapping people on the shoulder. It's not like NBC is going to warn consumers of the dangers of monopolization.

  • by CheshireDragon (1183095) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @08:43PM (#46935527) Homepage
    As soon as that spineless fuck Tom Wheeler stops threatening to knock them all down to Title II and actually does it, we can only expect this to escalate.
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @09:33PM (#46935851)
    I should add that I'm not promoting Communism or anything. In many industries private competition is the only rational way to go. But communication is one of those things that has seemed to work best under the "natural monopoly" scheme. Which basically means Title II Common Carrier.
  • by Arker (91948) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:15PM (#46936049) Homepage
    "you're insane. the rates were $100 in today's dollars for an average bill"

    I believe you exaggerate, though the point that rates were higher is good.

    "you paid extra for caller ID and lots of other services"

    I actually miss that part. Because the corollary was that you could decline unwanted 'services.' Now any phone service you get has a dozen "services" that I do not want, must pay for anyway, and to add both insult and additional injury it's often impossible to even turn them off.

    "you paid per minute for local calling. higher rates for regional calls and crazy rates for long distance calls"

    It was possible to pay per minute for local calling, if you got the super-cheap phone service designed for those who would otherwise have no phone at all. With that lowest level of service you still got a number you could receive calls on all day every day, you only paid extra when you called out.

    The normal mode was to pay slightly more per month and get unlimited local calls. Rates for long distance were certainly higher.

    "there wasn't enough capacity for everyone and getting all circuits busy was normal, especially on long distance calls"

    Not true, it happened but it was certainly not normal. Unless, say, you were trying to call Mexico City right after the news reported a natural disaster there - yeah, in that case, circuits would be busy.

    So those are the down sides, and they are significant. What was the upside? If you were designing the system from scratch, why would you consider using a circuit switched network instead of a packet switched network?

    In a word, reliability. Once you established a call, there was literally an unbroken strip of copper reaching from your handset right into the hand of the person you were talking to. There was NO packet loss, latency was very little above what the speed of light demands, bandwidth was constant and predictable.

    With modern telephony being VOIP based, these things are no longer true, and telephone service is much less reliable.

    With the old circuit switched network, when too many people tried to call Mexico City at the same time, a certain number actually got through. Each one of them got a good connection. All the other people whose request when through a moment too late got the message about all circuits being busy and try again later.

    With the current packet switched network, when too many people try to call Mexico City at the same time, what will happen instead is that far more connections will be made, but they will not be reliable. If it's only a few too many, then maybe the audio quality goes down, a little delay creeps in, some audio artifacts... but you can all still keep talking. That's probably good. But when it's waaay too many, then no one will get a usable connection at all.

    A packet-switched network is great for lots of applications but one can certainly argue that telephone service is not one of them.
  • by OhPlz (168413) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:44PM (#46936183)

    The current President lied in his campaign promises to not appoint lobbyists, but I'm sure an Internet petition signed by a bunch of geeks will change his mind.

    Washington DC is useless to us.

  • Re:Sigh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mfh (56) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @01:59AM (#46936859) Journal

    Oligarchies have no incentive to listen. My question still is how do we take an Oligarchy and transform it into a Technocracy because this is exactly what would solve the problem. How is it possible without all hell breaking loose?

  • Re:Sigh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mfh (56) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:27AM (#46939489) Journal

    Sociopathic tendency is spectrum based. Just because someone is a sociopath doesn't mean they are inherently evil. Take the new Sherlock series [wikipedia.org] where Sherlock is portrayed as a high functioning sociopath (autistic) person. He is arguably a good man, and a man with axioms developed to protect society as a whole.

    I assert that crime is a result of a lack of imagination.

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw

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