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Talks end amid reports of backroom deals between Google and Verizon

The FCC has been holding talks with wireless carriers and some large internet firms like Google. The goal of these talks is to come to an agreement that both internet service providers and content providers can live with while offering open and unfettered access to the web for consumers.

The FCC has announced that it has stopped talks that were underway with Google, Verizon, Skype, and AT&T. The reason cited for calling the talks off by the FCC's Edward Lazarus is that the talks have resulted in no robust framework being offered.

Lazarus said, "We have called off this round of stakeholder discussions. It has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet -- one that drives innovation, investment, free speech, and consumer choice."

Lazarus does say that all options are still being considered at this time. The cessation of talks came as reports that Google and Verizon had come to an agreement between themselves that large content providers would be able to pay for faster access. The agreement also reportedly stipulated that Verizon would not throttle any services on fixed line broadband, but could throttle certain content on its wireless networks. AT&T has gone out of its way to make it clear it has no part in the supposed deal between Google and Verizon.

Google and Verizon have denied the agreement is in place reports eWeek. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has stated that any agreement where ISPs offered faster access to some content providers for money was unacceptable.

Genachowski said, "Any outcome, any deal that doesn't preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs will be unacceptable."

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By foolsgambit11 on 8/6/2010 10:47:33 AM , Rating: 3
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has stated that any agreement where ISPs offered faster access to some content providers for money was unacceptable.
I'm confused. The FCC thinks it's okay for ISPs to offer faster access for money to really small customers (like me), but not for larger customers? Or is it that tiered rates are only okay for dynamic IPs, but not static ones, because that's the only difference in principle I can come up with between my connection and YouTube's.

RE: Ironic
By Silverel on 8/6/2010 10:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
Google and Verizon have denied the agreement is in place

Seems rather telling. Kinda like they wouldn't be able to put that agreement in place if the FCC wasn't on board, which it isn't in the slightest as it cut off these talks at the knees.

I'm confused what the news is here.
Large companies have controversial ideas which are quickly shut down by regulatory agency. No more news at 11.

RE: Ironic
By bhieb on 8/6/2010 10:59:50 AM , Rating: 3
I'm confused here too, don't they already have several tiered speed plans priced differently? I don't see a problem with that.

Maybe they are talking about the "content provider" level. Where say I have a 5M connection. A YouTube video would be served at the full 5M, but they throttle a competitor (say Hulu) to 1M?????

Just not sure what is wrong with offering tiered plans, you want faster speed then pay for it.

RE: Ironic
By Motoman on 8/6/2010 5:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
Your YouTube/Hulu example is right on the money...that's what the service providers want to do.

Let's say that, as a user, you notice that always loads much, much faster than, say,

...although, if you're looking to get news from Fox, there's already a problem, but anyway...

So, as a user, you naturally gravitate to CNN because you don't have to wait as much, and Fox News flounders as users stay away.

...however, unbeknownst to many, the reason for the speed disparity has nothing to do with either of the websites themselves - rather, the ISPs have sold CNN faster traffic, and are artificially slowing down traffic from Fox.

...and that is evil.

RE: Ironic
By Reclaimer77 on 8/6/2010 7:56:59 PM , Rating: 1
No offense but you obviously have NO idea how the Internet works. It doesn't work that way. At all. Ever.

RE: Ironic
By Motoman on 8/8/2010 11:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
...except for when Comcast was throttling p2p traffic, etc.

I know exactly how the internet works...and if ISPs wanted to throttle traffic from/to any particular place, they could.

RE: Ironic
By Jaybus on 8/9/2010 9:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
Nonsense. Targeted traffic shaping can easily be accomplished with the iptables limit match under Linux, and the limit can be set differently for different IP network matches. As far as I know, no ISP is targeting network segments in this manner, but it is certainly possible. Hence the FCC's interest.

RE: Ironic
By Gzus666 on 8/6/2010 7:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
Do you have actual evidence of this happening? I know many engineers for carriers current and past (AT&T, Level 3 and so on) and I have yet to hear of this happening anywhere. Considering I know guys that were involved in backbone all the way to edge, I'm pretty sure it would have come up by now.

Do you think maybe it is possible they have different speed circuits? Servers are located in different geographic locations in relation to you? My god, I'm a network engineer, but I didn't think you have to be one to get the basics like this.

I know for a fact that carriers hate doing any of the shaping, policing and QoS as it consumes time and resources. Level 3 doesn't even add QoS to a circuit unless you request it and pay for it. If they were shaping their traffic, you would note an exact speed through the link every time, I would like to see actual tests depicting this.

RE: Ironic
By Motoman on 8/8/2010 11:43:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's not happening...yet. But the specter of this has been looming for a while. That's what this 'agreement' is about...and why it's so scary.

RE: Ironic
By nafhan on 8/6/2010 11:04:23 AM , Rating: 2
You and YouTube are both paying for a basic connection to the internet, you could both buy faster or slower ones without a problem. That's the same. However, network neutrality comes into play when network providers start charging a "protection" fee to make sure the data uploaded by the content provider with their already purchased internet connection is actually getting to you, the consumer. The network providers essentially want to charge content providers at both ends of the connection.
Larger providers, like Google/YouTube, can afford to pay twice. Smaller content providers cannot, and that's why network neutrality is important.

RE: Ironic
By Silverel on 8/6/2010 11:13:36 AM , Rating: 2
Ah.. if we can both pay for faster or slower service, shouldn't it be guaranteed anyway? At least to some degree. I can understand my 5Mb connection dropping a bit during peak times, but on the average it should be 5Mb. You're saying that ISP's are going to charge to make my minimum speed 5Mb?

I would pay for that.

Also, if I read correctly, they were just talking about wireless speeds anyways which are mostly EDGE/3g/4g service. In this case, aren't Verizon/ATT/Google acting as their own ISP? Is cell phone service now considered general internet?

RE: Ironic
By NaughtyGeek on 8/6/2010 11:28:57 AM , Rating: 5
I think by reading some of the comments that people's understanding of what the ISPs and large content providers are trying to accomplish is fuzzy at best.

Think about it like our roadways. They're basically trying to set it up where the Google/Youtube/Microsoft are free to travel the interstates for a fee where Ma and Pop's is relegated to the back roads unless they pony up for interstate access. You, Ma and Pop may all have the capability to upload and download data at 5 Mbps via your connection capabilities, but the routing equipment between you and them will only let it through at 128 Kbps to keep the high tier customers traffic pumping through at full speed.

Personally, I can't think of a better way to squash out the little guys than this. How successful would Google, Youtube, et all have been if they were being served to broadband customers at dial up speeds while companies like Microsoft/IBM etc saw the good ideas they had and could afford to pay for the priority traffic to actually make it work.

RE: Ironic
By Silverel on 8/6/2010 11:53:06 AM , Rating: 1
Google/Youtube/Microsoft are free to travel the interstates for a fee

So is it free or are they paying for it?

The only thing that's fuzzy to me is why it doesn't make sense that someone paying top dollar for a service shouldn't have priority over someone on the budget plan.

RE: Ironic
By Solandri on 8/6/2010 12:57:53 PM , Rating: 5
What's going on here is the ISPs are trying to double-dip. They want you to pay for a 5 Mbps connection, and they want the site you're visiting to pay for a 5 Mbps connection, even though they're not the ISP of the site you're visiting. If you've paid for 5 Mbps, but the site you're visiting hasn't signed up with your ISP, they want to only give you (say) 1 Mbps. If you think about it, this would create a huge barrier to entry for anyone trying to set up a web site. Not only would the web site have to pay its ISP, it would have to pay every ISP in the world to insure the site's content is delivered at a speed the customer has already paid for.

Net neutrality (at least in its original form, sometimes I don't recognize what it's morphed into) eliminates this double-dipping. If you pay your ISP for a 5 Mbps plan, you get 5 Mbps. if you pay for a 30 Mbps plan, you get 30 Mbps. If the site you're visiting paid their ISP for a T1 line (1.5 Mbps), they get 1.5 Mbps. If the site paid for an OC3 (155 Mbps), they get 155 Mbps. You pay for your connection, they pay for their connection, and the slower of the two determines what speed the site's content gets transferred to you. No artificial throttling just because the ISP can.

RE: Ironic
By DotNetGuru on 8/6/2010 6:38:30 PM , Rating: 2
EXACTLY! I was about to write an almost identical post when I found Solandri's. I'm truly amazed how many DAILYTECH readers don't understand how this works.

RE: Ironic
By raf11 on 8/6/2010 7:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
Solandri FTW!

No joke, Solandri is among the few posters at DT that actually has factually informed posts and knows what he is talking about.

What's sad is that by and large it seems people in general do not follow that suit, and are happy to not only take second hand information that they don't understand, but then also spread it, morphing it in turn again along the way. If you are to watch something like Jay Leno's Jay Walking you would think to yourself that they just happen to find particularly unintelligent people, but the majority of the populace seems to fit that bill.

It would also seem, in my opinion, that the people with the most twisted information are the ones who like to pass on information the most. So, thank God for people like Solandri that stand in opposition.

RE: Ironic
By YashBudini on 8/6/2010 10:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
If you pay your ISP for a 5 Mbps plan, you get 5 Mbps. if you pay for a 30 Mbps plan, you get 30 Mbps.

Apparently your aren't connected with Time Warner service. We pay for those "speeds," but we never see never see more than 1/5th of what they claim, and that's using the speed measurements from the site they recommend. And now the numbers have been up'd and it's a bigger joke than it was before.

RE: Ironic
By Gzus666 on 8/8/2010 7:07:35 PM , Rating: 1
This is the biggest load of crap I have ever seen. Once again, I know many backbone and edge engineers for many big carriers and none of them do this. Do you know what a logistical nightmare it is to go through and try to shape traffic from different sites all over? It is obvious that most of you people have no clue what it takes to engineer networks or you wouldn't be babbling on about this garbage.

ISPs are out to sell circuits, that is where they make their cash. On that circuit the customer signs an SLA with the carrier. If the carrier fails to meet the SLA, then the customer can proceed to break the contract or start demanding money back for the failure to meet the SLA.

If you think this crap is happening, prove it. It would be quite easy as shaping uses a token bucket algorithm, so it is very much consistent and predictable. Any other method wouldn't make sense, so don't bring them up (policing drops packets, which is pretty easy to see if a constant stream of TCP packets are needing to be resent and QoS markings are only invoked when the link is full and queuing is invoked). The simple test would be to send a constant stream of packets through to the site you suspect is being throttled to and check the throughput. Best method would probably be a trace route with different protocols, this way you could see if they throttle certain traffic,TCP 80 and 443 for instance and not other traffic like ICMP or RTP. If they throttle RTP, voice quality goes through the floor and everyone on a SIP product gets mad and complains, obviously not something a carrier wants to deal with so it makes for a good baseline.

The reality is you are a bunch of kooks with an improper understanding of how all this works. As a network engineer, I get to see it all day everyday. Until I see actual evidence to the contrary, I will point out the flaws in this insanity.

RE: Ironic
By raf11 on 8/8/2010 10:15:29 PM , Rating: 3
What is your take on Comcast throttling B2B traffic, then? I understand that from a logistical point of view, this would be easier than throttling specific websites that are accessed on the same port, but from what I recall, this is how the whole issue gained steam and support back in 2007. Isn't that the proof?

Also, I'm not familiar with SLA agreements for too many residential applications, although I have just became aware of them for business services (Such as dedicated or Ethernet internet), but maybe I have a misunderstanding. My parent's ISP is Windstream, and they only receive 20-30kb on average on a connection that was supposed to be 187Kb - but according to Windstream, there is no compensation or lowering of fees for residential applications because there is no guaranteed speed agreement, the advertised speeds are optimal. This doesn't pertain to Net Neutrality, just commenting on your comments below on SLA with the carrier.

RE: Ironic
By drew1059 on 8/9/2010 3:46:24 AM , Rating: 2
If you think this crap is happening, prove it.

I don't think he ever said it was happening; just that they want to.

RE: Ironic
By Kurz on 8/6/2010 1:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
There is nothing wrong with having the big important transactions happening in the main interstate. While the small corporations don't need that dedicated pipeline. If they do they'll work it into their budgets to get it.

Though one thing I would like to happen is the elmination of download Cap limits. Or they could throttle down you connection to say 5mb to 1mb after you pass your cap.

RE: Ironic
By Fritzr on 8/6/2010 7:50:46 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that even if the small site pays for a fast connection, they would also have to pay preferred provider fees to every ISP that implemented paid prioritization.

I'll pick on Comcast for the example

Let's say Arty's Custom Lamp Shades buys 50Mbps service from their local ISP, but do not pay Comcast to be a preferred provider

Comcast offers tiered routing preference. Tier 1 is blocked until no higher Tier traffic is waiting, Tier 2 pre-empts Tier 1 traffic, but waits on higher Tiers, Tier 3 preempts Tiers 1 & 2 and so on...

Now you bought the up to 20Mbps service from Comcast and are trying to buy a lampshade from Arty's. If there are a lot of people on Hulu (paid the fee), YouTube (paid the fee) and a few other sites you may see your throughput dropping to less than 1Mbps even though that hit TV show you picked off Hulu is running without any delay.

Because Hulu and YouTube (in this made up example) paid for priority preference routing, their traffic suffers little delay even when other sites get connection timed out errors.

It could even happen that neither you nor the site you are trying to log into are not Comcast customers, but your traffic is routed through Comcast servers which then impose the priority preference routing to the transient traffic.

They could make their own subscribers default Tier 2 and transient traffic Tier 1, thus giving their paying customer's traffic preference over non-customer traffic.

Unless the routing algorithms that decide the path your traffic takes around the world are aware of these prioritized routers, you can be sure of unexpected throttling as the traffic passes through random servers.

RE: Ironic
By Reclaimer77 on 8/7/10, Rating: 0
RE: Ironic
By nafhan on 8/6/2010 12:36:53 PM , Rating: 2
You're getting stuck on the "paying for internet service" part of things. Forget that, it has nothing to do with network neutrality.
What's happening is the network providers are prioritizing what you can get over the connection you are already paying for. Network neutrality means that everything that comes down your pipe to you is treated the same.
Example time! Let's say you're paying for a 20mb connection from Verizon. Google pays the "protection" fee and therefore gets priority access to YOU and other people getting their content. This "protection" fee is completely seperate from what and who Google is paying for their internet connection. Then you have, let's say, who has some content you would like to view, but they are not paying the "protection" fee. Even though you have a reasonably fast connection, and both Google and ESPN both have fast connections to the internet, only Google's content will get to you at full speed. ESPN's content will be degraded or possibly blocked.
Do you see what's happening? Both you and the content provider are already paying for a internet connection. The content provider is then being charged a second time in order to make sure their content isn't blocked from getting to you. This is not something that's conducive to the open and innovative environment that has existed up until now on the internet. Eventually, the internet would end up looking a lot like cable TV. You'd be choosing an ISP based on what content you would like to have access to or vice versa.

RE: Ironic
By Silverel on 8/6/2010 1:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not getting stuck on the paying for internet service thing at all.

If they're doing exclusive per-content-provider deals, then yeah. That would be bad, but it's not what I've read aside from comment sections full of alarmists.

If they're introducing a higher priority/availability/throughput tier of service I don't see a problem with that. Giving priority to the people that pay top dollar for it isn't a bad thing since they're likely going to be the ones providing a majority of the content anyway. The way I see it, this isn't being charged a second time, but paying for top tier service.

So what are the details? Are the ISP's selling directly to and, or are they offering a higher tier of service?

RE: Ironic
By nafhan on 8/6/2010 2:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
If they're doing exclusive per-content-provider deals, then yeah. That would be bad, but it's not what I've read aside from comment sections full of alarmists.
This is exactly the problem, and there is good reason people are alarmed about it:
A. The technology to do it exists and isn't expensive to implement
B. It would be very lucrative for network operators
C. There is a precedent with other forms of media delivery
D. It has been done on a small scale by various network providers
So what are the details? Are the ISP's selling directly to and, or are they offering a higher tier of service?
I know you're saying you'r not stuck on the ISP thing, but this makes it sound like you are. Presumeably, any company that does business online is already paying for the tier of service they need to do business online, and, hopefully, it will stay that way. The fear, again, is that they will need to start paying additional money to not have their business degraded.

RE: Ironic
By Reclaimer77 on 8/7/10, Rating: 0
RE: Ironic
By trisct on 8/6/2010 11:40:04 AM , Rating: 2
The other poison pill for FCC is that these extra fees would in effect prioritize the YouTube traffic, elbowing out other traffic if necessary.

That's not throttling, but it is preferential treatment of similar data across the network, which FCC wants to prevent. Every customer's IP traffic should be treated equally, in their view.

RE: Ironic
By MrFord on 8/6/2010 1:36:25 PM , Rating: 4
Or they could prioritize ads companies, eg. Google AdWords, or paid content on YouTube vs free content.

It's all about the money. They could slow down any traffic from NetFlix just enough so that it keeps buffering, or lowering the bitrate, unless you fork out more money for a "NetFlix/streaming package" from your ISP, and all the sudden, you get he whole 5/10/20Mbps you really have for that too.

Kind of like what AT&T was doing with Google Voice, you have a 3G data connection, it was unlimited, but they pick and choose what you can run on it. They elected back then to just block the service, but they could have offered a VoIP package @ $15 a month to enable it, and just throttle it for everyone else so that it keeps dropping calls.

It all comes back to the fact that they grossly oversell their bandwidth and now they're struggling to keep up with the demand when people start to use what they're allowed to, and adding bandwidth would cut into their profits. Add on top of that ISPs that are in the cable/TV business and see first hand the competition from online providers. It gets very tempting to mess up the delivery of their services unless you can get a cut out of it, either from the users or the company.

RE: Ironic
By acronos on 8/6/2010 10:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
Network neutrality is not about the size of you or googles bandwidth to the internet. It's about how that data is routed over the backbone. Service providers want to charge google for preferential treatment. So, even though google and bing might have the same bandwidth to the internet, your connection to google might be great but your connection to bing would suck unless bing coughed up more money to get preferential treatment too.

RE: Ironic
By SlyNine on 8/8/2010 10:15:57 PM , Rating: 2
It would be like Chevy paying pilot or 7-11 to fill their cars first and making owners of fords wait.

Big companies can still pay for faster internet, but they cannot pay major internet backbones and ISPs to prioritize their stream.

By FITCamaro on 8/6/2010 12:54:27 PM , Rating: 4
Anyone who trusts the FCC to look out for their best interests is an idiot.

This is the same FCC that allows b*tch to be said on TV but not sh*t. That enforced a "fairness" doctrine which limited free speech. That wants to regulate the internet like a utility thus taxing it more which we end up paying. Not to mention take down any content it deems objectionable just like on TV.

By nafhan on 8/6/2010 2:31:24 PM , Rating: 1
I certainly wouldn't trust the FCC to look out for my best interests or any other individual's interests, for that matter. Fortunately, that's not what they're doing here. I do think they will do a better job keeping traffic freely flowing on the networks than the telecoms and media giants would if they were left to their own devices. It's a lesser of two evils situation here.

By AntiM on 8/6/2010 4:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
Greed, corruption, and self interest. These are what will kill this country, maybe this planet. It's inevitable.

By FITCamaro on 8/6/2010 7:53:30 PM , Rating: 2
If left to their own devices, there would be far more competition than exists today. Government created the situation with a single ISP having a virtual stranglehold in an area around most areas of the country. Not the free market.

By nafhan on 8/6/2010 9:07:54 PM , Rating: 2
Generally, I agree about free markets, but I disagree with you in this specific situation. It would take a lot of effort and reforms to get to the point where a competitive market will be able to take care of this problem, and I don't think we have that much time. Worry about net neutrality first, and then work on making the telecoms a more open market.

By BigDH01 on 8/7/2010 10:41:06 AM , Rating: 2
There are other huge barriers for competition in the ISP arena. It happens to be one area not particularly suited for efficiencies that are supposed to arise from market economics. The barriers to entry are quite high and the transactional costs involved in laying new lines are also quite expensive. These aren't Coasian radio waves, these are physical lines that run across people's property. Even if some Coasian efficiency could be achieved, the lack of perfect competition means there will be a classical hold-up problem.

The existence of a perfectly efficient free market is predicated on more than simple lack of government involvement. It is based on a whole slew of assumptions which never exist in the real world. It is entirely possible that a regulated market or even public goods market is more efficient in allocating resources in some circumstances.

When content providers now team up with internet providers, they are attempting to raise the barrier for new competitors quite high. This is the antithesis of an efficient free market and a situation where government regulation can actually encourage more and not less competition.

By Reclaimer77 on 8/6/2010 7:45:26 PM , Rating: 1
Thank god someone else said it. I mean come on, think about it folks. The FCC has done nothing but fine, ban, censor, and cripple artists expression and content release since the 1930's. Suddenly they want to "look after" the biggest censorship-free and free expression zone in the history of mankind. A zone, by the way, that was built from the ground up by the very ISP's the FCC now says we can't trust.

The only way "Net Neutrality" gets done right is if the free market does it. But the FCC? It's pretty obvious what their motivation is.

By YashBudini on 8/6/2010 10:47:17 PM , Rating: 2
I thought Rupert Murdoch purchased every form of electronic communication known to man in this country. What the hell is left?

But hey, I'm sure it's good for small businesses!

Why is this even under debate?
By Jalek on 8/8/2010 5:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
We have one network of communications that functions with various speeds and services available to people, a common standard layer and then premium offerings are possible.

The phone system. Call the backbone a common carrier, make the carriers reopen their networks for ISP's to compete over, and perhaps they can focus on telecom traffic issues instead of ISP marketing and administration issues.

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