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Congress tries again to keep the Internet a fair playing field; telcos oppose

The topic of Internet neutrality continues to boil in Congress this week as congressional members debate over a new bill called the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. The new bill is a refined version of last year's mostly failed petition that did not gain majority house support due to Verizon and AT&T lobbying the stance that net neutrality is a non-issue. Content providers like Google feel differently, saying that a law must be passed to prevent network access providers from charging for prioritized network speeds and access. In fact, Google has taken its stance very strongly, previously announcing that it would take any network provider to court for anti-net-neutrality practices.

The new Internet Freedom Preservation Act proposes the same laws that many members of Congress feel American consumers want: no prioritized access to specific content providers and that all content providers should be treated equally. The new bill takes a step further and requires that network access providers allow purchasing of network services without requiring the purchase of other services.

Despite its incarnation as a new bill, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act faces the same challenges as its predecessors. Network service providers have begun lobbying against the act, claiming that Congress is wasting time fighting a problem that does not exist. Verizon for example, determined through a corporate funded survey that most Americans do not even know what net-neutrality is, nor are they concerned with it. Most people indicated on Verizon's survey that they were more interested in getting better programming for TV.

In an interview, Senator Bryon L. Dorgan said that he supports net-neutrality to the fullest and believes that without such a law, consumers would be hurt. "The success of the Internet has been its openness and the ability of anyone anywhere in this country to go on the Internet and reach the world. If the big interests who control the pipes become gatekeepers who erect tolls, it will have a significant impact on the Internet as we know it," said Dorgan.

Most service providers disagreed with Dorgan's statement, indicating that without corporate ability to charge for different tiers of network access or speed, it would impede and discourage network upgrading. This in turn would harm consumers in the end.

Despite the ongoing battle, a non-partisan group called Free Press is working to increase public awareness of net-neutrality and is also trying to involve public influence in law and policy making in Congress. Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press, told press reporters that he fully supports the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. "The American public has an overwhelming interest in seeing this bill pass into law, ensuring that the online marketplace of ideas remains open and vibrant," said Scott.


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RE: No s**t
By masher2 (blog) on 1/15/2007 10:17:03 PM , Rating: 0
> "The telcos want to basically charge twice for using their networks...."

Where do people get this stuff? The telcos want to develop new, more advanced services...and charge customers premium rates for them. Those customers who actually want them, that is. As opposed to force feeding them (along with their higher costs) to everyone, like it or not.

Everyone is so hung up on the horrifying possibility of Google being able to pay extra for its site to load half a second faster, they can't see the forest for the trees. Additional capabilities such as guaranteed QOS, ultra-low latency highspeed netowrks are good things. For consumers and businesses both. If telcos aren't allowed to charge extra for these, they simply won't offer them. Not until they're so cheap that anyone and everyone is willing to buy them. That means you and I.

Personally, I like the thought of the Fortune 500 subsidizing the cost of a whole new Internet. Sounds a lot better than me paying for it myself.

People used to respect freedom in this country. Someone chooses to offer a service; someone else chooses to accept it. Or chooses not too. Free choice. Its what made us the most powerful nation in the world. Not thinly-veiled socialistic regulations.



RE: No s**t
By qdemn7 on 1/15/2007 10:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The telcos want to develop new, more advanced services...and charge customers premium rates for them.
"Advanced services"? Crap!!! All they want to do is charge money for THEIR version of Google Vids, YouTube, etc. Why the hell should I pay money for AT&T / Yahoo / Verizon / Comquest or whomever version of something I can already access for free?

What I want is a fast dumb pipe from my ISP, I don't want any extra crap from any of them. I am NOT going to pay $$$ to D/L a movie to my PC, then have to burn it to DVD to watch it on my TV, if I'm even allowed to do that.


RE: No s**t
By masher2 (blog) on 1/16/2007 6:51:44 AM , Rating: 2
> ""Advanced services"? Crap!!! Why the hell should I pay money for AT&T / Yahoo / Verizon / Comquest or whomever version of something I can already access for free?"

If you feel this way, you certainly don't want Network Neutrality, as it removes your ability to choose. It prevents providers from offering those services as higher-cost options. If it passes, those services will eventually show up anyway. But they'll be delayed years...and when they do arrive, we'll all be forced to pay for them, as federal law will require each and every one of us to have them-- want it or not.

Seriously, what sort of idiocy is it to pass a law requiring that every single byte of spam email on the Internet has to be delivered at exactly the same speed as, say, live telemetry data for a remote medical operation? People that need things like guaranteed QOS and ultra low-latency pipes should be able to get them...and they should have to PAY extra for them.


RE: No s**t
By jak3676 on 1/16/2007 11:22:58 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
...live telemetry data for a remote medical operation...

The problem is that people like this won't be paying for better servic, there's more money to be made in spamming I'm sure.


RE: No s**t
By masher2 (blog) on 1/16/2007 12:23:19 PM , Rating: 3
> "The problem is that people like this won't be paying for better servic, there's more money to be made in spamming I'm sure..."

Are you seriously suggesting that spammers will pay big bucks to send their billions of emails a fraction of a second faster? But that a remote medical operation costing say $300,000 wouldn't spend a few extra dollars to ensure a good connection, when it might mean the difference between life and death?

Do people not think anymore?


RE: No s**t
By jak3676 on 1/17/2007 11:56:38 AM , Rating: 2
Just saying the internet isn't always run by mainstream business. If you look at the companies that are pushing the technological edge with the internet it’s the pr0n industry, black-market & pirated DVD's.

Yes, there are plenty of better uses for this type of technology. But look at some of the packet counting programs out there and you'll see that they report more P2P and torrent activity than anything else. That is followed by other media sites (youtube, itunes, etc.) There is actually relatively low http/https type traffic. Other types of traffic are a really low %.

If/When this type of technology is released it will be used by those with the most $ to profit from it. That's not going to be university research, medical practices, or some other benevolent activity.

Do some research before replying - it may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.


RE: No s**t
By masher2 (blog) on 1/17/2007 2:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
> " look at some of the packet counting programs out there and you'll see that they report more P2P and torrent activity than anything else...."

Of course. However, you've forgotten why people use those P2P programs. To get free stuff. Do you honestly think someone is going to pay a stiff per-byte charge to download a ripped CD or DVD, when it winds up costing them ten times what buying the original would? And the only benefit is slightly lower latency, that barely affects the overall download time?

> "Do some research before replying..."

Do some thinking before replying. No one is going to pay $200 to download the latest Britney Spears album. Advanced QOS services will be used by those who have a real need for them. At first, that means video conferencing, remote medical imaging, and other similar services.


RE: No s**t
By Mithan on 1/20/2007 10:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
...live telemetry data for a remote medical operation...


They can already pay extra to get this over dedicated lines.


RE: No s**t
By Tamale on 1/16/2007 11:30:24 AM , Rating: 2
you sound like you work for AT&T lol

just keep telling yourself that these will all be 'optional'. I'm sure the networks won't charge more for the things that people are already used to getting once 'the other guy' starts doing so </sarcasm>


RE: No s**t
By masher2 (blog) on 1/16/2007 11:37:26 AM , Rating: 2
> "just keep telling yourself that these will all be 'optional'"

You have to remember that "no net neutrality" is the situation we are in today. The notion that, if we don't suddenly pass a few laws, telcos are suddenly going to start doing something they've been able to already do for years, but haven't, just doesn't wash.

Why do you think a telco would different than every over business? They offer a base service, and optional packages to raise the price. Why? It's the best thing for the consumer...but it also makes them the most money. Try to force a consumer to buy something he doesn't want, and he just goes to your competition.


RE: No s**t
By gramboh on 1/16/2007 1:02:44 PM , Rating: 4
The issue is with traffic shaping.

What will likely happen is that certain ISPs will partner with certain content providers, say Yahoo with Comcast, to deliver priority traffic or probably throttling down non-partner content. So you will end up with slower access to competing site/ISP partnerships. It is a stupid idea but one that ISPs will certainly do to earn more money.



RE: No s**t
By Locutus465 on 1/15/2007 11:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
If that's all it was, I wouldn't care... However the major Telco’s have already expressed their wish to charge content providers extra for the services they receive on the notion that somehow You-tube is going to destroy the internet as a whole (ok, not just them but high bandwidth content in general). I believe this to be flawed, and am personally convinced they just want to scrape out fatter profit margins.

And if you think this won't affect you, please take a moment to consider the likelihood that content providers will just eat the extra cost and spare the consumer...


RE: No s**t
By Ringold on 1/16/2007 1:35:05 AM , Rating: 2
It couldn't possibly be too bad on the consumer end; market forces wouldn't allow it.

If net neutrality was erased tomorrow, presumably by the failure of this bill, would the telco's costs be higher than they are today? No, they would not be. Would competitive pressures remain identical? Yes, they would.

In other words, without busting out game theory in every individual market across the nation, prices would continue a downward trend either in nominal terms or in terms of % of overall income. They'd be rather unsuccessful in trying to push through a price hike; if a competitor in the same market decided not to, it'd be a wreck. And if the competitors came together and agreed to make a move in tandem, that's collusion, and people go to jail.

There could be, on the other hand, premium services with premium price tags made available, with prices that would over the course of time become mainstream and drop in price themselves.

This seems like a move by congress to score political points by seeming to address a problem when really it's just fighting the next phase of the telecom markets natural evolution. Typical.

I used to be concerned about telco's trying to play political games with campaign websites speed or whatnot, but I think if the public found out there'd be outrage. Any other concerns of mine are completely overriden by the (healthy) fear of letting government advance its control.

"Liberty is never in more jeopardy than when the legislative branch is in session." Neal Boortz said Sam Houston said that, but for the life of me, can't confirm it. Therefore, I credit Boortz.


RE: No s**t
By xphile on 1/16/2007 5:24:17 AM , Rating: 5
Sorry, but no. What happens is the services and products you are used to getting as standard in part become "premium services" disguised by the addition of new crap "services" nobody cares about.

To get back your old service minimum you have to now pay to become a premium service user. And when you do the Telco trumpets in their defence that their new products are extremely popular.

It's standard business practice and every telco in the world has done it with land lines, tv services and mobile services for years as their networks get stretched. Broadband is not going to escape the same fate all by itself, especially not with the standard memory loss suffered by Joe Public.


RE: No s**t
By gramboh on 1/16/2007 1:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sorry, but no. What happens is the services and products you are used to getting as standard in part become "premium services" disguised by the addition of new crap "services" nobody cares about.

To get back your old service minimum you have to now pay to become a premium service user. And when you do the Telco trumpets in their defence that their new products are extremely popular. It's a matter of companies trying to increase profits without spending more money (e.g. getting more out of what they have).

It comes down to a question of whether internet is a public utility or not.

It's standard business practice and every telco in the world has done it with land lines, tv services and mobile services for years as their networks get stretched. Broadband is not going to escape the same fate all by itself, especially not with the standard memory loss suffered by Joe Public.


This is exactly correct. If you know anything about the telcom/mobile industry you know this, in fact you should have seen it personally with mobile services in the last 5-6 years.


RE: No s**t
By Ringold on 1/16/2007 10:28:30 PM , Rating: 2
Then both of you are ignoring two things.

My cable broadband now costs about the same as AOL cost me in the 90s, and that was dial-up. There were lower cost options, like a 14.95 service I used for a while. Adjust it not just for inflation but also the rise in income since the 90s and now for approximately the same amount you get cable, and for less, you can get "cable lite" and dsl "lite" services -- which still beat the crap out of dial-up.

That supports my argument that "premium" simply trickles down to "standard" service levels. Of course you pay more; inflation ticks along at 3% or so a year. That 25 or so for AOL in the mid 90s is equivalent to 33-37 now, which is in the realm of "lite" services, and alllmooosst there for $45 I pay for cable. About $10 short, but about a hundred times faster.

I can't see how any argument against that could have any legs to stand on. Service has trickled down, and every passing year broadband becomes closer to a commodity.

As for cellular services, thats a little more strange, though for 500 minutes a month I haven't had any *serious* changes in price/service level for five or six years.

As for if it should be a commodity; it absolutely should not be. Verizon is laying down fiber not out of charity, but out of profit motive. The government could be doing that but at a cost of billions; a price EVERYONE would be paying wether they wanted the service or not. Not to mention, it's practically beyond all reasonable expectations for a government agency to manage a roll-out of such a service efficiently.


RE: No s**t
By masher2 (blog) on 1/17/2007 2:28:13 AM , Rating: 2
> "Service has trickled down, and every passing year broadband becomes closer to a commodity..."

And let's not forget the even more dramatic drop in long distance rates. I remember paying nearly $3/min for long distance. Then deregulation came along, and now most people are paying a few cents a minute. Many have unlimited long distance for a few bucks a months. In a few years, you'll get unlimited calling free with a Happy Meal.

This happened because the government took its nose OUT of the long distance market. Even though telcos were allowed to keep prices the same (or even to raise them), prices dropped, and dropped fast. If a company didn't drop prices and offer better call quality, its competitors were more than willing to. There was such a frenzy in fact, that telcos lost billions of dollars in the 1990s, trying to keep up with each other.

For you and me, that was FREE MONEY. Telcos wound up selling us services cheaper than their own cost. The immense traffic capacity of the Internet that we use today was mostly built in that period. And it was financed through those losses. Not with our tax money. That's what a free market does for you.

In the local market, though, the government kept control though, with the RBOCs allowed to retain control, competition denied, and tons of regulations to "help the consumer". Seen much of a drop in your local phone bill the past couple decades? Now you know why not.



RE: No s**t
By Hawkido on 1/18/2007 1:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
I'm an IT manager for a half billion dollar bank. I just had a meeting with AT&T about our WAN pricing. Here's what I heard.

#1 Over the past 10 or so years, the telecoms have been forced to sell their backbone bandwidth at cost to their small compititors (local telco's and such) This governmental regulation has recently been lifted (Notice how the telecom's are gobbling each other up?) plus now they can charge what the market will bear. Expect internet charges to increase over the next few years, till this pans out.

#2 Our internet backbone hasn't been upgraded since the 1990's (the move to fiber). Because the people who own the backbones aren't making any money off of it. Ever notice how the internet hasn't really gotten any better? Where's IPv6? Only your connection speed to the internet has improved, and local circuits have been upgraded (these are things owned by the local co's, the ones making the money selling someone else's product at cost with a hefty markup). I know youe are saying that the Internet most certainly has gotten better, but the backbone is still the same only the routers and transcievers have been upgraded. The backbone hasn't grown. Look at the UUNET map. It looks the same as 5 to 10 years ago. No new trunks have been added. No IPv6 with built in QoS and Streaming voice and video.

#3 The telco's are trying to make a profit *GASP* but they have been restricted for so long, if a major event happened to the backbone (natural disaster, etc) the telecoms wouldn't have the massive capital needed to repair it. A bundle of OC48's costs a pretty penny to splice in. Plus you have to buy rights to all the land your bury under, then re-buy rights to dig it up and repair it. No local telecom has the capital to create these backbones, let alone maintain them.

I agree, no legislation is the best legislation. Don't enact prohibition, till you know what the situation is. If the voters aren't complaining, then let it lie. However I beieve that the backbone needs to be ran by a seperate entity, then all the services (companies) that capitalize on it will have to pay to that entity it's entitlement. The end users should only pay their local connection fee. The content providers should pay for their bandwidth consumption. Massive pipes should be a combo of monthly plus consumption. Pretty much the way it is now.

Someone is being stratigized... By whom I don't know. I suspect the US House is the Dupe, because they really aren't there long enough to know or care, or if they are there for term after term then chances are they are in someone's pocket. An honest man (or woman) cannot make the majority of the people happy for more than 2 or 3 years. They either have to sell out and become dishonest, or stick to their guns and go down in flames. That's beside the point. I think the Telecoms are planing how to make their final goal happen. Make threats and watch Congress respond. Cleverly craft a threat and watch them pass a bill that creates the law you want, all you need is one or two dupes on the inside to write it.


RE: No s**t
By hubajube on 1/16/2007 12:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where do people get this stuff? The telcos want to develop new, more advanced services...and charge customers premium rates for them. Those customers who actually want them, that is. As opposed to force feeding them (along with their higher costs) to everyone, like it or not.
I think he makes a great point so I decided to quote the whole deal. Mod me down if you want, I'll just repost it.


"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer














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