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Robert McMillen: What Everyone Gets Wrong In the Debate Over Net Neutrality 270

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-was-never-fair dept.
ygslash writes "Robert McMillen of Wired claims that we have gotten Net Neutrality all wrong. While we are all busy arguing about whether there should be regulations preventing large content providers from getting preferential bandwidth, McMillen says that not only have the large content providers already had preferential bandwidth for ten years, but that by now this has become an inherent part of the structure of the Internet and in practice cannot be changed. Instead, he says, the Net Neutrality discussion should be about ensuring a free and open competitive market for bandwidth, so that anyone who wants bandwidth can purchase it at a fair price.
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Robert McMillen: What Everyone Gets Wrong In the Debate Over Net Neutrality

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  • by supertrooper (2073218) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:23AM (#47297633)
    ...but he got it right? Sure, why not.
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      He's either right or he's wrong. But the popularity of the other opinion doesn't affect this. Only the actual facts.
    • by mellon (7048) on Monday June 23, 2014 @10:19AM (#47298001) Homepage

      Well, his chart is a good clarifying bit. But aside from that, he seems to be in complete agreement with John Oliver and all the other stories I've read on the topic: the problem is, truly, not with fast lanes, but with slow lanes. If they were not dicking with Level 3 by giving them a more congested link than they give Google, we would have nothing to complain about. The point about the last mile is also true, and going back to Common Carrier-based regulation would address that point, because it would re-open the ability of the FCC to require carriers to sell last-mile bandwidth to their own internal business units for the same price that they sell it to competitors. This is not something new to the discussion, although I will admit that not every article about Net Neutrality covers it.

      So I guess this article is worth reading, because I think it does hit on all the major points, but the characterization that it's the first to do so, and that everybody else has gotten it wrong, is essentially clickbait. Forgivable, since in this case the article is worth reading.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is exactly the problem, it isn't the fast lanes. I don't think anyone who wants a fast lane and wants to pay for it is wrong, and the companies offering it should be allowed to provide it.

        The biggest problem, as I see in Canada is that there are ONLY two lines running to my house, one line is owned by Bell, the other owned by Rogers. This means that any service I get is dictated by their equipment.

        I can go to other providers who have, by law, been allowed to use this last mile, but that doesn't mean

    • by alen (225700)

      CDN's have been around since the late 1990's
      google and other edge providers have been doing direct connections to ISP's for a long time as well

      today's net neutrality arguments seem to be done by a bunch of blogger retarts who think Netflix should get everything for free because they like netflix and hate cable TV. and they have no idea how the internet really works and think everything is streamed or sent thousands of miles via tier 1 backbone networks which isn't true at all. everyone has been staging thei

  • Why not both? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:27AM (#47297651)

    Why can't we have both what McMillen is asking for, AND prevent fast lanes. That seems the *most* logical of all. They are not exclusive, they are two separate systemic problems.

    • Exactly! The problem is he's ignoring the HUGE political obstacle to reclassification of ISPs as common carries. That's pretty much a non starter. But there is some political support for NOT double charging people. Netflix pays for access, you pay for access but Comcast wants to charge you a second and third time for access to Netflix. The irony is it has nothing to do with bandwidth and everything to do with Netflix competing against Comcast's video on demand service. By forcing Netflix to charge mor
      • by UPZ (947916)

        McMillen says that not only have the large content providers already had preferential bandwidth for ten years, but that by now this has become an inherent part of the structure of the Internet and in practice cannot be changed.

        Everything is *always* in a state of change. Bad argument made by McMillen. There are many ISPs who don't have prioritized access for Google/companyx. Comcast/Verizon/ATT operate only within US, their prioritized access model does not exist the rest of the internet world.

        When a journalist writes such poor quality articles you kinda do have to wonder about their motivations ($$$) as well as of their publishing company who approves it for publication.

      • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Talderas (1212466) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:00AM (#47298329)

        The charging both sides isn't actually that insane. I know I risk being downmodded for this but it's really all a matter of how the Internet is structured. There's multiple ways to get from Point A to Point B and some paths are going to be congested more than others. I personally think that we should be paying for what we send and not what received and that's how I can agree with both sides paying for me to get Netflix.

        If I buy bandwidth from my ISP, I expect them to provide the outbound performance that I have paid for based on the SLA we agreed to. This means that if my SLA to Comcast is 50Mb then I should be able to send 20Mbps. Comcast should be engaging in deals to ensure they can send my traffic at 50Mb. I also expect them to not in any way shape or form throttle or shape traffic too me assume it's not exceeding my SLA (ignoring QoS reasons). Anything more than that should not be in the confines of my agreement with Comcast because anything else is outside of Comcast's direct control. Comcast doesn't dictate what providers send traffic to me so there's no way to tell if it will come from L3, Cogent, or some other provider. There's no way to tell if a content provider is going to be traffic balancing across multiple providers or shoveling all their traffic through just one provider. That makes guaranteed download speeds virtually impossible.

        The same thing should apply to Netflix. If they engage a provider for 50Gbps and the provider isn't capable of supporting 50Gbps then that provider should be engaging its peers in order to meet the SLA it signed with Netflix.

    • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Monday June 23, 2014 @10:59AM (#47298307) Journal
      There's nothing wrong with Netflix, Hulu, Google, or anyone else for that matter, going directly to an ISP and saying "Here's some equipment; if you install it, your users will be able to get our content, which is a big reason they pay you, faster." There is, likewise, nothing wrong with the ISP saying "Sure, let's get that equipment installed. It's gonna cost you $10,000.00/mo to use our facilities and backbone." And, there's nothing wrong with the two parties agreeing to, and implementing that. What's wrong is the ISP moving the intermediary providers (e.g. the backbones) between them and the provider wishing to install their equipment onto slower links until the provider agrees to pay the fee (at which point, the intermediary becomes irrelevant and probably remains on the degraded link), thereby degrading service for everybody. Especially when there is a peering agreement between the ISP and the intermediary provider and/or the intermediary is willing (and even asking or begging) to pay for the link they were on before.

      And if you think that's not exactly what happened, please, explain this [washingtonpost.com].
  • Strawman (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:28AM (#47297655)
    While there might be outliers, I generally do not hear the pro-NN crowd claiming that direct peering or colocation should be outlawed, only that traffic should not be shaped based off its origin. So if some data comes in through, say, Level 3, all that should matter is that the data is coming through that pipe, not where it originated from on someone else's network.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597)

      Outright traffic shaping part of the debate, but not the entire debate. Some of the higher-profile NN disputes have been over peering agreements, e.g. Comcast's refusal to increase its peering with Level 3, who is Netflix's provider, because of Comcast's claims that the benefit of the peering agreement is asymmetric.

      • Re:Strawman (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jythie (914043) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:46AM (#47297793)
        I have a hard time swallowing the 'asymmetric' argument. Comcast's customers are, after all, paying for access to that data, Comcast is supposed to simply be a path. If the cost of delivering that data is really that unfair on Comcast, then they need to charge their customers more and build out more infrastructure to support the increased load. That is what we pay them for.
        • by Trepidity (597)

          I tend to agree, but I'm just pointing out that you'd still have these problems even if traffic shaping were banned. If you want to avoid cases like the Comcast-Netflix one, afaict some kind of regulation of peering is needed, because otherwise companies like Comcast can just use selective peering denial as their strategy.

        • by rahvin112 (446269)

          All the last mile networks WILL be traffic asymmetric. In the past that was never an issue. Now that they see the opportunity to increase revenue AND protect their own video offerings they see an opportunity to extract rent on the traffic. This won't hurt Netflix but it will be a major barrier to entry to the video streaming field. And that is exactly the problem with it, it is anti-competitive at it's core.

          • Re:Strawman (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bengie (1121981) on Monday June 23, 2014 @10:34AM (#47298125)
            I made the same mistake my first read through. They were not talking about asymmetric bandwidth, but asymmetric value. Comcast finds it more valuable to not provide the service their customers paid for than to spend money investing into their infrastructure to actually deliver what they advertise.

            This is a competition problem. It's hard to use the law to create competition, but it's easy to put restrictions on what a company can do.

            What we really need to do is just classify what Comcast et al are doing as fraud. They should have to deliver what they advertise and not have an escape from providing sub 1% service because "up to".

            If Ford advertised that their car got "up to" 40mpg on the highway, then you took their car out on a 65mph interstate with no traffic and got 0.5mpg, I'm sure Ford would be in a word of hurt.
        • Re:Strawman (Score:5, Informative)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday June 23, 2014 @10:27AM (#47298065)

          Comcast is supposed to simply be a path

          And this is one of the problems. Comcast is a path, but it is also a company with a video service that Netflix competes with. The more people use Netflix, the less they use Comcast's video service. So if Comcast can slow Netflix down until they pay Comcast money for "fast lane access", then Comcast doubly-wins: 1) Netflix might need to raise prices to cover the additional costs making Comcast's video services cheaper by comparison (or, at least, not as expensive) and 2) Even if people still use Netflix instead of Comcast's video services, Comcast will still profit off of their usage (twice: once for the customers paying Comcast for the Internet connection and once for Netflix paying Comcast not to slow them down).

          If ISPs were forced to remain separate from content services companies, this wouldn't happen.

        • by alen (225700)

          sender pays to send their data or traffic has been around for a long time until netflix started playing games and demanding free bandwidth as a competative edge

      • by ArhcAngel (247594)

        Outright traffic shaping part of the debate, but not the entire debate. Some of the higher-profile NN disputes have been over peering agreements, e.g. Comcast's refusal to increase its peering with Level 3, who is Netflix's provider, because of Comcast's claims that the benefit of the peering agreement is asymmetric.

        It is entirely asymmetrical but that is of Comcast's own doing. They sell more bandwidth than they can provide to their ISP customers. Of course in the contract agreement the term they use is "up to xMbps" so they can simply say "sorry we only guarantee xMbps to business class customers". This is by design. Comcast (or just about any US ISP today) depend on the consumer overpaying for what they use. The trouble only comes when they start actually using the bandwidth they thought they were paying for. Which

        • by wiggles (30088)

          > Comcast's peering connection to Level 3 has been saturated (over 90% capacity) 24/7 for over a year now

          Got a source on that? Not that I doubt you, just looking to back up that claim.

          • Re:Strawman (Score:5, Informative)

            by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:01AM (#47298345)

            > Comcast's peering connection to Level 3 has been saturated (over 90% capacity) 24/7 for over a year now

            Got a source on that? Not that I doubt you, just looking to back up that claim.

            While he doesn't come right out and say the name of any specific ISP Mark Taylor VP of Content and Media at Level 3 points his finger [level3.com] at 5 major US ISP's that have been saturated for over a year and refuse to upgrade their connection. Take that revelation and combine it with this graph [washingtonpost.com] which shows 8 Major ISPs and the relative speed with which Netflix traverses them and the 5 companies he references become pretty clear. Granted the graph does originate from Netflix so grain of salt and all that but I'm inclined to believe the data.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Charliemopps (1157495)

        Outright traffic shaping part of the debate, but not the entire debate. Some of the higher-profile NN disputes have been over peering agreements, e.g. Comcast's refusal to increase its peering with Level 3, who is Netflix's provider, because of Comcast's claims that the benefit of the peering agreement is asymmetric.

        The problem is Netflix refuses to sign reciprocal peering agreements. Neflix signs up with Level3 and makes no guarantees that they wont switch overnight. And in fact, that's exactly what they do. The providers understand this, give Netflix discounts and then charge the ISPs an fortune. The price Netflix pays to Level3 for a 10gig trunk is heavily discounted because Level3 knows how high profile that traffic is. When Comcast comes to them for the same sized trunk so they can get that data uncongested, Level

        • by Shatrat (855151)

          The problem is Netflix refuses to sign reciprocal peering agreements.

          What? I work in the industry too, our network has multiple dedicated 10GE peering ports with Netflix in every major IXP where we have a presence.
          Netflix is easy to work with on peering because it's very much in their interest not to use Level3, Cogent, or other transit providers at all.
          The point about Netflix using transit providers that are relatively more expensive to the ISP on the other end may be valid, but is any ISP with more than a few thousand customers should be peering directly with Netflix anyw

      • Re:Strawman (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:32AM (#47298595)

        That's technically not a Net Neutrality argument, which is why the argument existed in the first place. To some extent, Comcast was right: it wasn't funneling as much data to Level 3 as Level 3 was funneling to it. What Comcast left out was that this problem was 100% of its own making, and impossible for Level 3 address: Comcast only sells highly asymmetric pipes to highly asymmetric users. It is actually illegal for its users to try to create a situation where it will funnel as much data to Level 3 as Level 3 funnels to it. Which is why techies were incensed by the argument.

        That's the issue. All techies know the huge holes that have to exist in NN for the Internet to work. No one disagrees with any of those. The problem is that the principle of NN is all we have to concisely explain to people why Comcast is being an utter monopoly-rent-seeking shithead in this discussion, and how Comcast's attitude will break the Internet. Anything more requires delving into the depth of QoS, CDNs, dark fiber, roll-out subsidies, last-mile topologies, and barriers-to-entry in the website market to make a coherent argument. No one in the public sphere is going to listen to that.

        That's why NN keeps being brought up. It's the only sound bite that's remotely applicable, and unfortunately, sound bites is what wins political wars.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Wait, your subject refers to your own comment, right?

      the Net Neutrality discussion should be about ensuring a free and open competitive market for bandwidth, so that anyone who wants bandwidth can purchase it at a fair price.

      While there might be outliers, I generally do not hear the pro-NN crowd claiming that direct peering or colocation should be outlawed,

      That is literally the opposite of what this article is about. It's about making internet-level connections the standard, as opposed to backwater filtered-down double-natted bullshit-level connections where QoS is even an issue. In short, either forcing providers to share the last mile (again!) or decoupling infrastructure from service. The internet is meant to be peer to peer, but the current model has made it seriously client-server. This was a necessary

    • The issue that I see with Network Neutrality is this.
      You pay for bandwidth (say 15mbs), as the customer you have paid your ISP to get data at that speed.
      The Internet Service Provider has paid their own ISP a lot more money so they can support millions of customers at 15mbs. So they are paying more for service.

      Now Non-NN want to charge the Service Provider for service to the customer that they are already paying for. It is in essence double dipping.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:31AM (#47297675) Homepage
    The debate about net neutrality is not really about 'equal' speeds. That concept is a ridiculous over-simplification. People in NYC get faster internet access, particularly to things like stock trades that are hosted in NYC, than those in Nome, Alaska. Similarly, when the USA's Constitution says all people are created equal, we don't mean that they all have the same IQ, or are all entitled to the same retirement plan (Sad to say we don't even mean they are all entitled to the same healthcare).

    No. Net neutrality is about ISP's not violating their contracts with their customers.

    My ISP works for ME. I pay them to provide X amount of service. As such they are legally required to provide me with X amount of service, even if take full advantage of their service and use X amount of service every single second of the day. They can't promise me 10gb/second, and then only give me 10gb/second for ten minutes a day, switching to 5 gb/second after those ten minutes.

    They are perfectly allowed to give me MORE than 10gbs a second, if someone else - like say Google - offers to pay for it.

    But they can decide to not give me 10gbs because netflix refuses to bow down to extortion from them, even if I am using all 10gbs every second of every day of every month. Nothing netflix or other companies do gives them permission to break their contract with me.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)

      Net neutrality is about ISP's not violating their contracts with their customers.

      My ISP works for ME. I pay them to provide X amount of service.

      This is where the fine print comes in to play. You are paying for a connection to the internet and promised up to X amount of service. There may or may not be a guaranteed minimum speed spelled out but no ISP promises peak speeds without paying extra for the promise (Business class).

      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        Which is why we need net neutrality, as opposed to simply trusting that the ISP will abide by their ADVERTISED service, as opposed to sneaking fine print into the contract like you discussed.
    • And when you get 10kbs a second by provider A and 5kbs by provider B with no provider C, your still screwed. Of course their own services and those of trusted partners can do 10gbps.

  • Why does everything need a normative judgment attached to it? The interesting part of TFA is the information about the structure of the internet and how that has developed (or not) over the past ten years (as this was new to me, though it may not be to you), not the author's opinion about what he thinks are the right topics to debate and which ones are wrong.

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      I agree, this is really about the ISPs actually providing the product that they've sold and there's no need to get into what 'should' happen or what people 'deserve'.
      I wouldn't put too much weight on the article author's description of how the Internet works. He gets some of the concepts right, but the implications wrong.
      Peering is a win-win for absolutely everyone. It's not preferential treatment, it's a way for two networks to reduce both of their IP transit monthly bills. We don't need less peering, we

      • by Shatrat (855151)

        Replying to my own comment here, but Content Delivery Networks aka Caching is also a win-win for everyone. It keeps IP traffic local and cuts down on the amount of bandwidth that has to leave the ISPs network and burn up transport bandwidth and possibly also increased transit costs. The customer gets faster service, the ISP gets reduced costs, the Content Provider has a better product. This is also something we need more of for the Internet to continue to grow.

  • He isn't taking the regulation far enough.

    We should not only enforce fair pricing on interconnects (perhaps even require public data on them) but we should also be demanding that Quality of Service (QOS) is honored from end to end.

    There are numerous applications that are running across the Internet today that require higher QOS levels but the priority gets dropped 2-3 hops out so they can only be run on local LANs or private WANs.
  • by sinij (911942) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:39AM (#47297741) Journal

    Libertarian market driven approaches of 'perfectly informed' customers having access to 'flexible supply' are only workable on paper. Sure, it would be nice if we could get there, but meanwhile our situation continuing to deteriorate. Time to abandon this quixotic quest.
     
    What we need is "mostly works for most people most of the time", and to get there we need policy with teeth that mandates Net Neutrality. Sure, it won't prevent all abuses, but we only need to prevent worst of them and let the rest play out in courts.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Libertarian market driven approaches of 'perfectly informed' customers having access to 'flexible supply' are only workable on paper.

      I think that the obvious rebuttal of this Libertarian argument is GM and the ignition switch issue(*). When companies have all the power to disseminate information about their products there can never be an informed customer.

      * Or the Ford Pinto where the cost of law suits was balanced against the cost of fixing an issue.

    • We need neutrality today and we need municipal fiber to the home tomorrow.

  • by smoothnorman (1670542) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:41AM (#47297753)
    ...is not a worthy goal. Robert McMillen is essentially saying "the market is historically uncompetitive" (and thus broken) "but that's not the point" (i always love it when people tell me that their point is the point) "you should be able to receive [only] that broken product at a fair price". If he actually believes and understands what he's saying then he's promoting a system of government supported monopolistic and anti-capitalistic cronyism. (i'll leave it to Godwin to apply a label to that system)
  • by Ramirozz (758009) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:41AM (#47297755) Homepage
    When someone with technical background says "It cannot be changed" it smells corruption. There are times when things cannot be changed because technical constrains (that should fade with time), time, money, etc. Everything can be changed if it is well designed and based on something real. But this is based on money and profit, it can change, and it should be chaged, as soon as possible. This is not a technical problem or limitation, this is stupidity at the service of profit.
  • Simple solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by future assassin (639396) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:43AM (#47297769) Homepage

    If you offer internet access you can't offer any vertically integratred services that will cause conflict of interest in the way you run the network.

    • THANK YOU! The ISP portion should be spun off. Comcast's merger with Time Warner is all about competing against Netflix in the video on demand service. Since they control the pipes to and from Netflix, we and Netflix get screwed.
  • If we wanted to go back to AOL's gated network of the 1990s we would invent a time machine and cover it with AOL CDs.

    We the customers are paying for a certain amount of bandwidth to the Internet and we have long since paid for the build out of the Fiber Optic network infrastructure through our monthly payments. It is simply fraudulent to be charging customers a fixed price for bandwidth and then effectively limiting peering to other networks so as to create an incentive for other networks and content pro

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:49AM (#47297811)

    What the author of the article gets wrong is the idea that there can ever be a "free and open" market for bandwidth. The holders of the most bandwidth are always going to be major corporations, because they can pay for the infrastructure necessary to keep them going. Sure, I'd love to have my own backbone connection and the server infrastructure to back it up, but in practice that will never happen unless I take out a bunch of loans and somehow manage to start my own ISP (and not be immediately sued out of existence by Big Telco or Big Cableco). It's a financial issue, not one of net neutrality.

    The real issue here is that the United States will never have bandwidth and speeds equivalent to those seen in parts of Europe and Asia unless we start regulating what the ISPs can sell and how they can sell it. Right now, an ISP can promise a connection that goes "up to" any arbitrary amount of bandwidth and get away with it even if they never deliver speeds anywhere close to the upper limit. This allows them to charge more and more for the same inadequate connection. If we start regulating their advertising and start forcing the ISPs to upgrade infrastructure to remain competitive, that's how we'll get the connection speed other countries do. That, in my mind, is part of what net neutrality is - being able to buy comparable connection speeds for a reasonable price no matter where in the world you are or which ISP you're dealing with.

    • by asylumx (881307)
      I have to say that while I agree that the marketing is devious, in practice my bandwidth has always been at least as good as the "up to" amount the companies have promised. I don't defend these companies in general, but the "up to" speeds & marketing is going to be a hard one to argue against if it's not currently a problem.

      I think the lack of market competition is a much bigger problem than marketing techniques. Customers can't "vote with their dollars" because their only two realistic options are
    • $200/month. You could do it. Cable prices are getting to that point.
  • by Joel Cahoon (2906501) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:52AM (#47297827)
    I fail to see how CDNs and direct peering agreements between ISPs and content providers are particularly relevant to the debate over Net Neutrality. As an analogy:

    Comcast owns all of the land and roads in a city (or region, or neighborhood). Google wants to deliver goods to customers in that city, but their warehouse is in another city. Google and Mom-n-Pop Content Provider, Inc. both use the same publicly funded highway to get their goods into the city, and the same Comcast-owned roads to deliver to customers throughout the city. Comcast can deliver goods faster because they have a warehouse in the city. So Google pays to build an air-delivery network (peering) and a warehouse in the city (CDN). I don't see the problem with any of this. The analog to net neutrality, then, becomes whether or not to allow Comcast to (abuse its monopoly ownership of the roads to) raise or lower the speed limit for individual delivery trucks, based upon whether or not they belong to Google, Comcast, or Mom-n-Pop.

    As I've said, IANANE, so feel free to point out any relevant inconsistencies in this analogy. On an 'unrelated' note, Amazon...
    • by Talderas (1212466)

      There's a lot of stuff muddying the waters. I think a lot of the noisiest players in the game are also those who seem to be engaging in hypocritical or unusual behaviors.

      For instance, Netflix is the only content provider that seems to be making a stink. Others like Google have not made a stink and in fact Google did have some CDN services inside Comcast's network. I'm actually wondering why Netflix wasn't able to get the same sort of deal going on and I don't think the fault is in Comcast's court.

      Netflix al

  • by mbone (558574)

    I expect better from someone in his position.

  • Perhaps Mr. McMillen needs to take a reality pill and realize that he is the person who has gotten it wrong, not everyone else.

    .
    I'm surprised that Wired fell for this false equivalence.

    Sure, it is always good to publish ideas that may be in opposition to the mainstream. But I would have expected Wired to at least publish opposing ideas that are not so completely ridiculous, thereby giving those ridiculous ideas a false equivalence to the reality-based mainstream ideas.

  • Ensure true available choices and competition among consumer level ISPs and nearly all of these problems take care of themselves. Allow local monopolies on a broad scale as we have now and we give the power to do this to those ISPs because you have no choice to take your business elsewhere. The "Libertarian" self regulating market can work, but only if monopolies are not allowed.
  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday June 23, 2014 @10:43AM (#47298197)

    Net neutrality isn't about forbidding high-traffic companies from finding efficient ways to handle that traffic. Doing what Netflix usually does, having a local cache server hosted within the ISP, works because it reduces the amount of traffic leaving the ISP. As long as the ISP charges the same amount to everyone doing so (0 is a good amount - it's a benefit to them - but if they want to charge a nominal fee, fair enough), it's neutral.

    Net neutrality is about not letting ISPs slow down traffic unless they get paid twice.

    If the only difference between two sites is that one paid the danegeld and the other didn't, they aren't making one faster - they're making the other slower. Deliberately degrading the performance of everyone else is NOT neutral.

  • As a consumer I pay for a certain amount of bandwidth. How do I make a choice if I only get that bandwidth when I use certain services and the rules are so complex that I can't figure out when I am not getting what I paid for because the provider sucks, or because I have the wrong one for the services I want.

  • Completely wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

    by duke_cheetah2003 (862933) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:05AM (#47298377) Homepage

    This guy is totally wrong, on so many levels. Yeah, ok, so the last 10 years we've been seeing providers buying preferential treatment from carriers. For most of us, the common Joe, we're not going to feel this, not in 10 years. It's just happening slowly, quietly. I imagine as it progresses further, smaller content providers will be seeing the preferential treatment of larger ones forcing slow downs on them. Given more time, smaller providers and startups will face crushing competition with the big guys who can afford to buy up all the bandwidth. Don't even get me started on content providers whom are also carriers.

    And saying just because it's been going on for 10 years that we can't go back? WHAAATT? Is this guy insane? So just because they've been building up contracts of preferential treatment we can't say, "Hey, you need to cut that out now." No sorry, common carrier status for all carriers and be done with this issue. I call shill.

  • SciFi come to life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whistlingtony (691548) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:11AM (#47298423)

    Everyone's arguing about this or that net neutrality opinion... They're missing the big point. The internet is a miracle, and we shouldn't fuck it up.

    I didn't have the internet when I grew up. When I wanted to know something, I had to go to the library and read for hours. When I wanted to communicate with someone, I had to write a letter and wait weeks. When I wanted to shop remotely, I had to get a catalog, fill out a form, send a check, and wait 4-6 weeks for delivery...

    The idea of instantaneous (or near enough) access to all the knowledge and culture of humanity was a science fiction pipe dream that would only come in a fantastic future. We don't have flying cars, but we DO have access to all the knowledge and culture of humanity. That's AMAZING. That's a miracle.

    We finally invented the future. It's here. We have an amazing tool. Now some assholes want to gate it off and double dip, to charge you more than they should, and to charge the giver of knowledge or culture more to be seen, even though we're both already paying for connection.

    This is outrageous. This is why we need net neutrality. Real net neutrality. The pipes should not be allowed to dictate WHO gets to play in the bright future.

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:17AM (#47298479) Homepage

    Net Neutrality is about preventing the providers from fiddling with your bandwidth simply because they want to extort money.

    QoS was never part of Net Neutrality. If a Google or an Amazon wants to pay 1Mbps for a line directly to my house, that is FINE with me. They pay for the QoS and peering agreements at that point. However that does not mean the provider can now give me 9Mbps instead of 10Mbps because the Googles of this world paid for 1Mbps direct lines. And that is what this is all about. Comcast/TWC wants to sell my 10Mbps that I have over and over again to the highest bidders so I have 1Mbps to the Google, 1Mbps to the Netflix, 1Mbps to the Amazon and 7Mbps for the rest of the world. I want my 10Mbps and decide who I want to get services from.

    I paid Comcast/TWC for the 10Mbps, I could reasonably assume that they give me 10Mbps to the "Internet". They pay for peering at an Internet Exchange. Google pays for peering at an IX, Netflix pays for peering at an IX. The IX makes sure that there is plenty of bandwidth at the IX to have the 10Mbps from Google to go to Netflix and TWC. The problem is now TWC wants to squeeze the Netflixes and the Googles simply because they are a large portion of the traffic they've been seeing and thus they're an easy target. TWC has been oversubscribed 1000:1 and even though data requirements have increased 10-fold, I am still at the same speed that I had 10-15 years ago. So now they need to actually get along with the rest of the world and they don't want to, they'd rather someone else pay for it (over and over again).

    In a free market, I would go to whoever gave me the fastest connection to the Netflix. However in the US at least there is no choice so I am at the mercy of my provider. And even though they are a monopoly, they also don't want to be classified as a utility since then they could be regulated and forced to play fair like my other utilities.

  • by macraig (621737) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (giarc.a.kram)> on Monday June 23, 2014 @12:03PM (#47298867)

    ... McMillen gets it wrong, too.

    Net neutrality isn't achieved through regulation at all. It's achieved by public ownership of the physical infrastructure and demoting the ISPs and even backbone providers to contractor status serving the common good. What would happen if American roads and highways weren't for the most part publicly owned and instead were all toll roads privately owned by the construction companies that laid them? Who would benefit from that situation, do you suppose?

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