Net Neutrality vs. Net Neutering

The fight for Net Neutrality is for the place we call the Net. The fight against Net Neutrality is for a neutered Net biased toward carrying the next form of Cable TV. But what about the fact that most of us never have experienced Neutrality in the first place?

An earlier version of this article was presented in Doc's
March 2, 2006, SuitWatch newsletter. Click
to subscriber to SuitWatch.

It's time to define the Internet. We haven't done that yet--certainly
not in a way that allows lawmakers and regulators to operate from the
same set of assumptions that we do--"we" being the Net-savvy techies
of the world.

As I pointed out last November in
"Saving the Net: How to Keep the
Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes"
, carriers subordinate the Net
to the pipes that carry it, which they own. To them the Net is a
container cargo system for the stuff we call "content", and it's subject to
whatever traffic control regime they wish to impose on it. That includes
tiered service akin to airline service, divided into first class,
business and coach. This brings up doomsday scenarios that are easy for
many of us to imagine, if the carriers succeed in lobbying this
definition and service regime into law.

Meanwhile, copyright extremists of the Hollywood school see the Net as a
big "content" business and carriers as ideally positioned to offer
"piracy" protections at the backbone level. So they find the carriers'
Net definition agreeable as well, because they are lobbing in roughly the
same direction.

As I also pointed out in the same piece, our best hope for saving the
Net from the carriers and copyright extremists lies in defining it, and
understanding it, as a place--as something
everybody goes to and builds on, not merely as something stuff goes
through. Here's how I put the case last Monday in

...the Net is not a form of carriage, even though it might appear
that way to the carriers and the copyright extremists. The Net has
an existence that encompasses carriage and content but is not
reducible to either--just as human beings have an existence that
encompasses the circulatory system and its constituents but is not
reducible to either.

There are higher principles involved. Life is larger than the
systems that sustain it. The principle we call net neutrality is as
essential to Internet life as consciousness is to human life. When
we subordinate Net neutrality to the systems that sustain it, we
reduce it to those systems. The Net becomes a cable system, a phone
system, a content delivery system. And nothing more. In human terms,
this is called brain death.

By framing the Net as a neutral place, we assure that it will
continue to serve as what it has already been for more than ten
years: a public marketplace where private enterprise of all forms
can not only grow and thrive, but can do both better than it ever
has anywhere, ever, before.

The principle we call Net Neutrality has its own natural laws, akin to
those of gravity, motion and thermodynamics. The judicial laws we make,
as we move toward new telecom regulation, need to respect the natural
laws that define the Net and make it such an ideal habitat for business
and culture.

In his testimony to the

Senate Commerce Committee's Net Neutrality hearings

on February 7 of this year,
Lawrence Lessig said this
, among many
other things:

...this Committee must keep in view a fundamental fact about the
Internet: as scholars and network theorists have extensively
documented, the innovation and explosive growth of the Internet is
directly linked to its particular architectural design. It was in
large part because the network respected what Saltzer, Clark and
Reed called "the 'end-to-end' principle" that the explosive growth
of the Internet happened. If this Committee wants to preserve that
growth and innovation, it should take steps to protect this
fundamental design.

Meanwhile, Kyle McSlarrow, President & CEO of the National Cable
Telecommunications Association, said this in

I would like to focus this morning on three main points.

First, Congress's policy of leaving the Internet unregulated has
been a resounding success. The resulting network flexibility has
encouraged billions of dollars in investment. Companies that include
high speed Internet services among their offerings have the freedom
to experiment with multiple business models, producing more choices
and competition in content and providers for consumers, and more
innovation than ever before.

Second, any change to this policy could have serious repercussions
to continued network innovation and investment. Government, by its
nature, is ill-equipped to make judgments about the best business
models for an industry. This is especially true for a business as
dynamic as the provision of high speed Internet services. It is
clear that how those business models develop will directly affect
the level of investment and innovation we can expect over the next
few decades, but no one today can predict which business models will
most effectively promote those goals.

Finally, in the absence of any problem calling for a legislative
solution--and since the broadband services marketplace is
characterized by robust competition--Congress should refrain from
premature legislative action and allow the marketplace to continue
to grow and change so network and applications providers can offer
consumers the fullest range of innovative service options.

Congress's Decision to Leave the Internet Unregulated is an
Unquestioned Success

Keeping the Internet free of regulation has helped to spur
tremendous investment and competition in broadband networks and
services. Left free to create new business opportunities and
services, broadband providers (including cable operators, DSL,
satellite and wireless operators) have invested billions of dollars
to bring high-speed Internet access services to consumers across the
nation. With bandwidth usage growing at a rapid pace, continued
investment will be needed to keep broadband services robust.

If broadband providers are to continue to make these investments,
and if consumers are going to be given the levels of services and
innovative new products and features they desire, all at prices they
can afford, broadband providers need to have continuing flexibility
to innovate in the business models and pricing plans they employ.
Likewise, websites and content providers also need the flexibility
to experiment with business models, and to partner with broadband
providers in doing so.

McSlarrow makes sounds that resonate with my libertarian sympathies. I
do worry about the unintended consequences of any legislation that
restricts opportunities for doing business. But...exactly what kind of
business do the carriers wish to pursue freely? The answer shows up in
McSlarrow's last sentence, above. The carriers still think the Net is
about "delivering content to consumers". In other words, Cable TV. They
would like to use the "free market" where they enjoy
government-protected monopolies, to shake down Google, Yahoo, Microsoft
and other large "content providers" for the same favored treatments
their cable systems give ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN.

The carriers' plan from the beginning has been to convert the Net into a
paid content delivery system--of some kind. That's all they were ever
able to imagine. That's why they've screwed Net Neutrality from the
beginning, offering crippled asymmetrical service to customers whom they
expected only would consume, never producing much more than clicks
that brought down more to consume. Most of us have never known anything
but an asymmetrical relationship with the Net, which is why so many of us
barely can imagine what it means to be a producer as well as a consumer
in the Net's end-to-end world. A couple of days ago, a woman I
know--middle class, white collar--told me she doesn't like the Net because "I don't
like mass media in general".

In fact, the asymmetrical build-outs of service to homes has done
enormous harm to market growth by preventing countless small and home
Net-based businesses from starting and growing.

Specifically, by provisioning big bandwidth downstream and narrow
bandwidth upstream, while blocking ports 25 and 80--in crass violation
of the Net's UNIX-derived network model, in addition to the end-to-end
principle--the carriers prevent customers from running their own mail
and Web servers and whatever server-based businesses might be possible.
Again, all the carriers can imagine is Cable TV. That's been their
fantasy from the beginning.

So, while pro-Net advocates wish to liberate the Net by burning
neutrality into law, anti-Net advocates wish to neuter the Net by
preserving the current regulatory regime--or by otherwise
re-regulating it to favor the Cable TV model they've built their
infrastructure for since the beginning.

Yet the colossal success the Net has enjoyed, including all the good
it has done for business and culture around the world, owes everything to
the neutral nature of its end-to-end architecture and nothing to paid
content delivery.

A few days ago, I asked Eric S. Raymond to give his best Libertarian
take on the situation. He

Telecoms regulation, to the extent it was ever justified, was
justified on the basis of preventing or remedying market failures--such
as, in particular, lack of market incentives to provide
universal coverage.

The market failures in telecoms all derive from the high
fixed-capital costs of conventional wirelines. These have two major
effects: (1) incentives to provide service in rural areas are weak,
because the amount of time required to amortize large fixed costs
makes for poor discounted ROI; and (2) in higher-density areas, the
last mile of wire is a natural monopoly/oligopoly.

New technologies are directly attacking this problem. Wi-Fi,
wireless mesh networks, IP over powerlines, and cheap fenceline
cable dramatically lower the fixed capital costs of last-mile
service. The main things holding these technologies back are
regulatory barriers (including, notably, not enough spectrum
allocated to WiFi and UWB).

The right answer: deregulate everything, free the new technologies
to go head-to-head against the wired last mile, and let the market
sort it all out.

Let's think seriously about this. What would happen if we de-regulated
carriage at the federal level and encouraged it at other levels? How
about if we opened up more spectrum as well? (Including TV
Channels 2-13, which are due to be liberated by 2009 in the US?)
Wouldn't we like to see the carriers get some real competition? Why
should your neighborhood be limited to a choice of one cable and one
phone provider? Why not drop the definitions of both and let everybody
carry whatever they want?

By a similar (though not the same) token, how about regulating Net
Neutrality--insisting on it, essentially--while de-regulating everything
else? Can we characterize Net Neutrality as a modern equivalent of a
market incentive to universal coverage?

I lean toward insisting on Net Neutrality, because I know what the big
carriers are up to, and it creeps the crap out of me. But I also lean
toward de-regulating telecom to let carriers new and old come into the
market and fight to build the best possible infrastructure for the fully
neutral Net--one that includes symmetrical and unrestricted service to
every end in the whole end-to-end system.

Symmetricality has to be on the table, or Net Neutrality is largely
meaningless. Asymmetricality is the non-neutrality we already have.
Getting rid of it will open the market to countless new businesses and
business opportunities for everybody.

On another hand--because there are not just two, although thinking so always
simplifies things--Bob Frankston has another take on Net Neutrality:

It's simple.

The Internet has won. Why negotiate terms of surrender?

We mustn't settle for negotiating "Net Neutrality". We must demand
the basic right to connect and not just an enumerated list of what we
are allowed to do. It's no different from having to negotiate free
speech by listing what is allowed. Having to beg for permission to speak
is offensive.

What we need is very simple: a recognition that Internet-style
connectivity is our right as fundamental infrastructure just like the
roads are. We can share them like the roads or power lines.

When I asked Jim Thompson to review what I wrote above, he added,
"perhaps we should insist (and legislate) that no service provider can
violate end-to-end".

Architecture is what matters most. Neutrality is a result of end-to-end.
Make end-to-end the subject of law, and we cover both at once.

Or so it seems to me at deadline on a Thursday.

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux
, for which he writes the Linux for Suits column.
He also presides over
Doc Searls' IT
which is published by SSC Media Corp., the publisher of Linux


Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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I think the most important thing to notice here is..

Anonymous's picture

I think the most important thing to notice here is.. "just what is the internet". I'll give one example where I can see a justified approach from carriers. Lets use the term "pipes" to describe the standard bandwidth an end customer may get over the internet, then while carriers would have to allow 1 pipe to all others in the network equally, they can offer, say 3 additional pipes (4x the standard speed) to their customers and to their preferred service providers (ficticious example: 1x speed, 4x speed), they may call it ISP high speed internet access (notice: access, not yet the internet, still their network). In the interest of fairness, they would have to offer this higher speed service evenly to everyone but the cost would be "cost of operating + reasonable profit + loss due to the competative effect of offering this path" and why not, (Example: carrier invests thousands per pipe to allow competitors to deliver competative IPTV eating away at their customers & using their last mile -- hmmm, I don't think carriers would want to invest to improve their network for this, they'd just assume leave it the same.)

What right do we have to driving or the Net?

Ricky's picture

A while back I was surprised to hear someone talking about his right to drive his car. I even read a reference to the concept here. NO-ONE has a right to drive. Driving is a privilege. As is Internet access and hosting (asymetric and symmetric). I can live and work woithout the 'net, but it would be a lot harder. (I am a software programmer by profession, and a system admin by trade.) I use locations on the Internet (aka. websites) to gain information easily. I use a tool created by the now famous Google guys to easily search for the locations of interest to me. The networking that makes all that happen is done by a massive (and sometimes bickering,) conglomeration of ISPs, Telecoms, and other providers in a constant state of change, each trying to get an edge and keep a profit. Without each service/content/data/etc. producer making a profit, or dying due to not being able to catch up, we wouldn't have what we have now. I don't currently see any robber barons getting ready to set up shop, and if they do they'll soon find themselves out of business because the hardware infrastructure will change out from underneath them into something else just like it has always done.

Net Neutrality is a natural resource.

Anonymous's picture

I have no say where my taxes go. If I did, I'd gladly give 1% of my property tax, income tax and sales tax to putting in a publicly funded "Information Freeway" system. That takes care of the money and state-of-the-art plumbing. Naturally,publicly funded projects requires a local council of directors to keep it healthy. The only ones "qualified" to sit on the council and keep the system pure and free of corruption, should come from the earliest inventors who understood their Open Source intentions and goals. The precept of "intellectual property rights" is spiritually bankrupt. For this reason, let the corporate bullies keep their toxic power/control nonsense. Let's focus on passing local referendums/levees or whatever, to pass this public service legislation according to healthier business practices, open to every commuter on planet earth at no charge, and recycle those computers we consider outdated, they're still good for beginners. The internet belongs to We The People as a collaborative natural resource, let's keep it that way.

Net Neutrality v. Parasitic Services

Ed21's picture

It seems to me that net neutrality is the kiss of death. Free Internet has been promoted for many years by a various pundits. With the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, it is obvious that the model has failed. Actual providers of the Internet have suffered poor ROI and bankruptcy. Look at MCI/UUNet etc. That's most of the Internet.

While in the meantime parasitic service/content/search providers have flourished. Why? The reason is they pay for access and not Internet transport. Internet Access Charges do not pay for the LD component of the Internet and the current peering relationships between providers have little or no provision for compensation. Everyone wants service but nobody wants to fund the Internet.

Take some of the search engine providers for example. They have hugely overvalued stocks and enormous profit margins. Why? Because they are not paying for what they use yet without the net they would not exist; hence, my term Parasitic Service. The industry needs a way to compel some of that profit margin to be distributed across the infrastructure in order to pay for it. Again, I point to the failure of the current model. It establishes proof of concept.

IMHO QoS enabled networks are one path to financial reparation. None of this means abusive treatment of network users. In fact, QoS and fair treatment are pretty much orthogonal. The fact that some perceive QoS as some type of conspiracy by the carriers is nonsense. They are after all in the business make a profit and they certainly recognize that an unbalanced business model generally results in either the customer or the carrier being adversely impacted.

For those that point to the explosive growth of the Internet, I point to the fact that it was accomplished with no corresponding growth in revenue for Internet providers – just more traffic and more expnese. The problem is so bad it even has a name, “The Revenue Gap

yes, about money ... and market control

Paul Bouzide's picture

"QoS and fair treatment are pretty much orthogonal". But only in an ideal world.

I definitely concede the good point you make Ed on parasitics and poor ROI on the network infrastructure. The organizations that build and maintain the backbones have every right to a fair return on their investment, and probably aren't getting it. I say "probably" because there's really no transparency between whatever cross-subsidy occurs between the last mile monopoly and the competitive backbone. Yet your example of MCI/UUNet makes me tend to believe it exists to some extent.

But the validity of your point is exactly what makes this issue difficult. I don't for example believe that the existence of bandwidth /access asymmetry at the end of the last mile is in any way due to some "parasitic" traffic burden not compensated with ISP access fees from small-scale endpoints. So there must be another principle at work. I think it's market control. Which is to say the tendency for powerful and wealthy organizations like Carriers and Mass Content Providers to preserve highly lucrative business models against the onslaught of technology-shift-borne competition that a truly open and neutral internet provides. Buying policy at the federal level has a very nice ROI I think.

It's similar for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay et al. I'm sure they are going to spare no expense lobbying to adjust and tweak the resulting regulation to keep their network carriage costs as low as possible. But while I don't have much sympathy if they simply are working to avoid paying a fair cost for carrying the volume of traffic they generate, their business models at least acknowledge (much more like facilitate) the potential for disruptive change and the economic growth it engenders. Plus I believe that if the whole Net Neutrality issue was only about fair return on the backbone, these same business models will be able to absorb and/or pass on the incremental cost per information unit carried.

So while I agree that the issue is indeed about money, obsolescent business model preservation on the part of Carriers and Mass Content Providers is what the real (and serious) money battle is about in my opinion. Backbone traffic compensation I think is a smokescreen. Or a Trojan Horse. I'd be much more inclined to accept that argument and side with the carriers in this battle if those very same organizations crying about fair return on the backbone didn't also happen to participate in a last mile monopoly. Or to be more accurate, a duopoly that just so happens to have the same bandwidth and access asymmetry regardless of medium and topology.

A free society needs Net Neutrality

DL's picture

Congress is debating this issue now. Please contact your Congressman and Media outlets about this issue. Read on...

If all of our news were to be filtered by, lets say, North Korea, I believe what we would get is bias news- to say the least. Could the big telecoms filter our news the same way- probably not? Or should say not at first. By giving the power away to the big telecoms to provide fast access to sites that pay their proposed "Information Tax", we consumers will be limited to the narrow band of highly paid for news, information and entertainment. How will the small news outlets be able to be heard? How will any small business or organization be heard?

Am I exaggerating this issue?

What if we allowed a corporation to own all the clean air- they would sell us all the clean air we wanted or could pay for? You might say, that is ridiculous and air is free and can't be owned. What about the news, e-mails, information and media you used. Should that be free like the air? If not, what would you pay for this information? Why would we have to pay at all?

Why do the people who transfer our information get confused about their roles as a utility in the name of higher profits? Don’t they already charge us enough for high-speed Internet service? Now they want more money. Sounds like simple greed and a power trip.

-David Ladwig

side comment on last mile

Anonymous's picture

in my opinion, net neutrality is strongly tied to last mile. If you have only one choice of provider for last mile, net neutrality can never be truly implemented.

As to the folks who claim that there are multiple technologies capable of bypassing the last mile monopolies, I suggest running the numbers on the basic model for last mile providers. If the cost of infrastructure is roughly comparable (i.e. fiber versus fiber or even fiber versus copper) two players might be able to survive but it's more likely that only the deepest pockets will survive. Three players don't have a chance of making it in the marketplace. The key to understanding this is cost per subscriber. A single supplier has lowest cost per subscriber. Two suppliers means you double your cost per subscriber (on average, each supplier now needs to fund infrastructure costs out of half the number of customers). It gets worse from there.

This aspect of last mile economics is why it is so important to make last mile infrastructure a regulated monopoly and services over that infrastructure unregulated. this model has proved successful in Europe and Asia. In contrast, the current US telecommunications policy has us heading towards 20th place and probably lower for "broadband" Internet penetration and usage.

Unfortunately, short of some magic fairy dust, technology or free market philosophies aren't going to solve this particular problem. Policy and firmly enforced regulation is the only thing that will solve the problem.

this discussion keeps me learning

Anonymous's picture

I am sitting in front of a computer and learning. Now it is a last mile concept.

Net Neutrality

Zubov's picture

I have no problem with the Telcos charging different rates for 128/128 vs 2/2 or whatever speeds as long he prices are reasonable. The Telcos should not be allowed to give preference or tier the internet to suit their needs. Also, and this one really scares me. Bellsouth recently made a statement that they would liked to make us pay for Net Access with similar models to the Cellphone industry. I do not want to have to worry about if I am close to that magic number of bits transfered or I get charged extra. I only download the occasional Linux ISO, watch and listen to some podcasts/videocasts, purchase some music online and play World of Warcraft. I would sure cut out most of those activities out if I was having to pay twice to do them, once to the content creator and once to the Telco leaches.

Need to Define What Network pieces are in the Internet

Jacomo's picture

Before anything serious can be decided in this Net Neutrality debate we need to get rid of the verbiage and focus on exactly what is involved in this issue. The term Net Neutrality sounds to much like the Marketing Spin the Abortion Rights folks are playing with: Right to Life vs Choice.
Let's step back and look at exactly what pieces are in play in this issue:
The Network is comprised of the following pieces that need to address separately and not as a whole-as follows:
1. Last Mile ACCESS Piece-Connects the user to the Edge and Core Network, whether its a DSL or Cable Modem. This is owned, paid for and operated by the local Access Provider-Telco/MSO etc. This is the ACCESS or circuit piece and does not include any services per say. when demands for this grow it will need to be expanded-Big $$$$.

2. Core or Head End is where the routing takes place based on the Service requested. If a customer wants to go to the Internet he would have selected this Service and the Core would send this inquiry over the next piece of the Network to the Internet Gateway provider Tier#1. (examples are AT&T and Sprint). Some one needs to pay for and maintain this circuit between the Local SP and the Tier#1

3. Tier#1 Network circuit is again simple Access bandwidth between local Provider Core and the Tier#1 Data Center. The Tier #1 provider maintains the connections to the WWW and routes traffic over it. Someone needs to pay for the Data Center overhead as well as the connections it makes to the Internet.

4. Content Providers, whether its Yahoo, Google, MSN, etc. or simply a friends server are the source of the content being deployed over the Internet/WEB. Someone needs to pay for the overhead at these sites as well.

Now, all I ask is for someone to document what all the fuss is here.
The Local Service Providers should simply create a Multi Tier pricing plan to allow subcribers a CHOICE as to what level of bandwidth they want to operate over the network. If they want the high speed required to download a movie or play an on-line game-at Low Latency, then let them pay a premium (for 2Mbps Symmetrical etc), and if they only want to get email daily they can sign up for a 128/128Kbps link. The Service providers have tools today that can effective allow this by creating profiles based on fees paid to control the bandwidth levels they consume.
In order to make this network really solid the COntent Providers should agree to pay for and provide a big pipe connection for their big bandwidth content to the Tier#1 Provider. Again, they do have tools that will allow them to route the big content over a high speed link and route simple text and low bandwidth content over a lower bandwidth best effort pipe. They do not need to charge the subscriber anything here in that their Ad revenues can be made to pay for the premium links.

If the Internet is to survive in the real world the end Networks will need to be paid for as demand surges-just wait until we start downloading Video over our Video iPOD using the WiFi/Mesh Networks. This hype about the carriers trying to change the fundamentals that made the Internet FREE (which it never was) need to be put aside.

MY contention is that if we create a dynamic ACCESS model and allow those who want to pay to get better access can get it, we'd be able to all help pay to maintain the robustness of the edge or Last Mile pieces and allow everyone at all levels to benefit.

Jacomo-Give me Bandwidth CHOICE

Thanks Jacomo

fraxus's picture

It was a pleasure to read Jacocmo's response. Very seldom does anyone *think* anymore. Debate on this and so many topics if filled with meaningless catch-phrases intended to solicit an emotional response.

(anyone caught using the "culture of corporate greed" phrase with a straight face should be sent to a re-education center).

I do think that several commentaries were so far off the mark as to make no sense. How does the hypothetical YAHOO-like company buying higher QoS void the free market ?? That *IS* the free market ! If some company believes they will make more profit by having better QoS and are willing to pay for this - what is my interest in the matter ? I don't have to access their content, and I can buy the same QoS as they have if I want to.

The 'corporate greed' detractors will always view this as nefarious, but the fact is that your Granny and a lot of retirement system recipients are the primary mean-old corporate owners, and they hire bright motivated money managers who vote for the corporate management. This corporate management has a legal responsibility to manage the company in the shareholder's interest - which fundamentally means making a profit. The only legitimate way they can make a profit is by making a competitive or superior product of service for the marketplace and that's very good for me - as consumer - a buyer at the marketplace.

Internet access purchased on a "per connection" rate has a fundamental problem, which is often called 'the tragedy of the commons' by economists. If you are not paying for this service in proportion to the amount or quality of service, then everyone is motivated to make profligate use of their internet connection. This is a socialist rather than a free market problem. Since the resource is free for all to use, then the 'biggest piggy' gets the greatest benefit from this service,

Some people give away internet access to neighbors and such in a way they would never attempt with telephone service simply because the additional access is free to the purchaser. Similarly we have seen the internet use develop from email & ftp, to http use, and now VOIP with streaming video certain to follow. Each of these methods implies a radical increase in bandwith, yet we all seem to expect ISPs and backbone providers to carry this massive additional traffic without additional compensation - the biggest piggies making much greater use of the resource but seem unwilling to pay extra for the additional service.

I must admit I enjoy the 'unlimited use' aspect of my assymetric ISP plan. I would like to have upstream access at a greater rate on occassion, but I wouldn't mind paying something for this additional service. Huh - it seems I can do this, but the price is higher than the benefit I expect. So what exactly is the problem besides everyone wanting a free-lunch ?

Free lunch?

Kamus's picture

Care to explain this "free lunch" please? evryone pays for internet service, and companies pay for their servers on their ends, where is this "free lunch" you talk about? i sure as hell don't get such thing as a free lunch, and i can assure you most internet users don't either.
Whats hilarious is you make it sound as if technology got stuck and it's no longer possible to make bandwidth progress with out a substantial increase in internet price, oh wait, this isn't even what they're doing the way this is looking they don't even want to offer faster internet for an increased price (hell, i wouldn't have a problem paying more if that was the real issue.). no, instead what they want is pretty much CONTROL what you see on the internet.
if they want to do this kind of crap they can go ahead and build their own private network, but don't let them call it internet, because it wouldn't be.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but technology is moving foward regardless weather the telcos like it or not, at the rate technology is improving (compared to demand) i'd say technology has pretty much left the telcos in the dust, don't belive me? go tell that to the southkoreans, some of europe and the japanese, oh and don't forget honk kong, they can get up to 120 mbits/sec for about 50 bucks or so, can you please explain to me how that is possible if what you say is true? (specially considering the US is the RICHEST country in the world!)
We live in an era where computers advance by leaps and bounds evry few years, and where those same computers come down in price DRAMATICLY because technology allows it. (not to mention the huge demand for this technology)so you seriously think we're gonna belive that this "QoS" some of the telcos have talked about is anything but a ripoff on customers? do you really expect people to belive they are not able to make that level of "QoS" available for the internet the way it is today? (meaning, the internet not some private network they seem to plan on making.)
if you think so you're kidding yourself, the internet hasn't moved up in speed dramaticly in the US and you really got to wonder why, when a country like japan, who used to be WAAAY behind the broadband curve is now ahead the US, by far.
The telcos here have enjoyed a pretty awsome monopoly for a long time now, and this monopoly is now threathened by technology, if you seriously expect people to belive that progress on bandwidth isn't possible unless the telcos start charging for whatever they want as a "service" you gotta take an eraser and erase some of europe and asia, because "magicly" they've found a way of offering a LOT of bandwidth for the same price they used to charge, and all this with out destroying the nature of the internet.

People pay for the internet

Anonymous's picture

People pay for the internet on two ends right now, hosting and ISP. This bill would make people pay for the middle, adding a third cost for using the internet. Although it would be broken into two-tiers, 1 costing more and working better, 2 would be slower, limited and less expensive.

Net Neutrality is a public domain issue, in my oppinion

Levshoy's picture

Until few days ago, I did not know about net neutrality a thing. Visiting pro- and anti- websites, reading news releases, articles on the Net, is giving me a sense of an urgency of this issue. Of course I am still a novice in this issue, but I am beginning to see logic of both sides from a fresh perspective. The logic of big corporations is based on a corporate greed culture, the pro Net Neutrality group is a very diverse, it includes net businesses, academia ... and singular private individuals. I belong to the last one. And I use broadband as an average consumer. I do not want big companies to spy on my net existence, I do not want to be charged extra for downloading stream videos, I would like to have uncompromising access to
shopping on internet, I would like the NET to stay away from the control of big corporations. It is a public domain, and let it stay public!!! It is like a public library for pits sake!!! I do not want MICROSOFT, VERIZON, AT&T to control it. Thank you very much

Unbundling definitions

Doc Searls's picture

This is good and informative feedback. Thanks.

I agree that a dynamic access model would make all kinds of sense. The problem is, most of the last-mile guys can't see any reason for it. The following is close-to-verbatim dialog between myself and a cable company executive:

"Why maintain asymmetrical no-choice service when upstream demand is growing?"

"But it's not."

"You were just in a meeting with forty people who said they need it and they'd pay for it."

"They're the exceptions. They're not the average consumer. The average consumer is a TV watcher who sometimes goes on the Net. When they do, they need high download speed, and have little need for upload speed."

"How can you tell they don't have a need for upload speed?"

"We monitor usage."

"But you don't provide any upload speed. If I want to upload two hundred pictures to Flickr, or a video to YouTV, I go down to Starbucks, because your 'high speed' connection is too slow on the upstream side."

"What's Flickr?"

It's that sad.

On the other hand, in a follow-up meeting, I said I thought we - those of us in town who need serious broadband - should approach the cable and telco companies with good ideas for them to do business off symmetrical service.

"For example?" a cable guy said.

"Offsite backup. Disk storage is cheap. You guys have the room. Sell it like insurance. If your house burns down, your data is safe."

"That's a good idea," the cable guy said.

So, maybe there's hope.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal

Re: Need to Define What Network pieces are in the Internet

Cymerej's picture

Your comments were very informative. I'm writing in response to your request to know "what all the fuss is". I think what is at stake here is the possibility that groups in what you call the "core or head end" category will make buisness partnerships with groups in the "Content Providers" category; buisness relationships that might harmful to the free market. For instance, Sprint may make an agreement with Yahoo that it will give higher priority (QoS) to IP traffic originating from Yahoo. If I'm wrong about the issue, someone please let me know.


Ok, let's make some things clear.

PokeyJoe's picture

The Network Neutrailty Bill is, in a nutshell, equal treatment of data on the internet, enforcable by the FCC with the burden of proff of fair treatment on the ISP's.

If the fact that Microsoft, Google, Jahoo, AT&T, Sprint are lobbing to kill Net Neutrality isn't enough to convince you that this is bad for the average user, you may want to look at the charges you get to use EVERYTHING they provide.

Example: You buy Windows 2003 Server, OH! You wanted to conect people to your server? Thats a charge. you wanted to actually use it for eMail & connect people to it? That's a charge, OH! you wanted it to backup that eMail data, thats a charge, you wanted to host your website, thats a charge. OH! you wanted people to get to see your website... I hope your INTERNET TAXES are paid on time & you have Bill Gate's special seal of approval for content and your local Telco has you on their premium service plan and you don't violate their speed laws, or try to offer a competing content or data technology, but it don't matter because they can just block it. It's in the ISP's service aggreament... (And if you don't think they are drafting them right now you have your head in the dirt.)

See boy's and girls, this is a Pandoras' Box. Once you crack open the door, the beast wil come crashing through and all the money you, your employeer, mabey even your city has spent on public network infastructure will have a negitive ROI. (public library's and such).

No Free Lunch

GeorgeE's picture

QoS in the Internet has traditionally been defined by the size of your access to the internet. In this manner a natural order is defined by an entities (be it an individual or corporate entity) willingness to pay for access.

With the recent increase in the ability of ISPs and carriers, which are one and the same more and more these days, to understand and deploy true QoS technologies, there is the potential that they would tier their service. That may sound nefarious, but from an engineering perspective, QoS does not equal bandwidth. QoS is used to ensure that your VoIP discussion with you peer on the net would be clean and crisp (or at least as much as your chosen codec would allow). But it would not reduce your impact on the need for bandwidth.

If you want an environment that allows class of service delivery and a free exchange environment, then the focus needs to be on the percentage of traffic delivered, not on its QoS rating. In a free exchange of ideas, I don't care if my traffic is queued and release in deference to VoIP traffic. I do care that it gets there with a minimum of retransmission.

IF you really want to keep a free exchange environment and have it supported by corporate $ then insist on a single regulatory constraint; 98 percent delivery of traffic.

This will force the ISP/Carriers of the world to increase the economic load of content delivery, but those wishing to have seamless video on demand will pay for it, while still not crushing the dynamic which made the web what it is today, free exchange of ideas, knowledge, and hopefully a little wisdom.

In the end it still costs money to run a network, ask any Enterprise organization. As such we need to find a way to pay for it and support inovation. Demanding delivery rate limits would allow both to live side by side.

No free lunch?

Sparky's picture

I am a subcriber to the local cable company's broadband internet. For the economic area that I live in, I pay $45.00 per month for 10 meg. down and around 750k up. The cable internet works well, in 4 years only ever had 2 times that service had an interuption, and the longest was around 30 mins., and that was because of someone hit a pole carrying the fiber, they rerouted there nodes and it came back up. Yes I would enjoy having atleast 5 meg up, and would pay a few more dollars for it. But like said in a previous post, the cable companies are in the BUSINESS AS DOWNSTREAM PROVIDERS. My cable companies nodes do not have the capacity to have anymore upstream than 750k. But I feel that at 45 bucks (thats only twice the major dial up isp's) i am getting a bargain. As for the content being tiered, that is another fight. Sooner or later the cable/telcom isp's are going to pull it. That is where the regulation needs to be applied. The Government should impose that if a carrier is to provide internet service/s, that it must be carried as a complete unit, no site sifting, or content of such should be allowed. The content of the internet, good, bad, or indifferent is a free speech, and commerence right.

Cable capacity in the last mile

Doc Searls's picture

You make a couple of good points here:

"the cable companies are in the BUSINESS AS DOWNSTREAM PROVIDERS. My cable companies nodes do not have the capacity to have anymore upstream than 750k."

Two thoughts.

First, do the cable companies have to only be downstream providers? That business was forged in the CATV (Community Antenna TV) era, and is getting more retro by the minute. Wouldn't there be more business opportunity in deploying broad and unrestricted connections to homes and businesses, and then offering various services on top of that?

Second, the cable companies do have more upstream capacity. They've instead decided to devote that capacity to television. As one of the cable guys who works for our local service explained it to me, all cable service, in both directions, is modulated RF over coaxial lines. The faster connections we enjoyed in both directions a few years ago was slowed when the company moved internet service to lower frequency bands, to make room for more TV channels and HDTV. The bottom line today is that Internet service is second class on cable. How long, however, will that last? Just wondering.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal