DOJ comments on Net neutrality; Histrionics ensue

DOJ comments on Net neutrality; Histrionics ensue

Summary: The Department of Justice comments on potential Net neutrality regulations, indicates that broadband Internet providers can charge for premium services and the usual Armageddon chorus emerges. After all, it's just wrong to charge for faster speeds when you have spent billions to build a network.

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The Department of Justice comments on potential Net neutrality regulations, indicates that broadband Internet providers can charge for premium services and the usual Armageddon chorus emerges.

After all, it's just wrong to charge for faster speeds when you have spent billions to build a network.

Russell Shaw calls it an outrage. MoveOn.org calls for Net neutrality to become a presidential issue, according to a statement Russell posted. And other folks are just freaked out by the DOJ comment. Of course none of these other folks spent billions to build a network before. These things just magically appear.

But let's get real here. All the DOJ said is that imposing Net neutrality could deter investment in networks. If there's no profit motive why would you bother building a Wimax network, FiOS or any other broadband service?

The DOJ says in its filing:

The United States Department of Justice ("Department") submits this ex parte filing to respond to suggestions by some companies and individuals that the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC" or "Commission") adopt new regulations governing the transmission of traffic over the Internet--so-called "net neutrality" rules. The FCC should be highly skeptical of calls to substitute special economic regulation of the Internet for free and open competition enforced by the antitrust laws. Marketplace restrictions proposed by some proponents of "net neutrality" could in fact prevent, rather than promote, optimal investment and innovation in the Internet, with significant negative effects for the economy and consumers.

The public policy objective here is clear: a thriving and dynamic Internet capable of meeting the demands of consumers for fast and reliable access to a rich variety of content and applications. Many commenters in this proceeding agree that the best way to achieve this objective is through marketplace competition. Other commenters, however, have urged the FCC to consider imposing prophylactic "neutrality" regulations to prohibit what they regard to be undesirable differentiation in the provision of Internet services. Some of these proposals, for example, could restrict broadband providers from offering different levels of quality of service at varying costs to content and application providers in a manner that efficiently responds to market demands. Other proposals would require interconnection, open access, and structural separation of companies offering both Internet access services or transmission and content or applications deliverable over the Internet.

The Department submits, however, that free market competition, unfettered by unnecessary governmental regulatory restraints, is the best way to foster innovation and development of the Internet.

Any Silicon Valley capitalist pig really want Congress fiddling with your business models? But in la-la land this profit motive thing is forgotten.

Now I'm no huge fan of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, but the idea that these guys will block sites they don't like is ludicrous. They need customers just as much as any other company. And if these providers did block sites like Google just for giggles there are other means to put these folks in their place. There are antitrust regulations and other laws already on the books.

When it comes to Net neutrality repeat after me: Congress will screw it up--big time. It's a given. If anything you may want to follow Google's lead. Google has been spending a lot of time in Washington D.C. of late. That's why it has backtracked a bit on the issue. Google isn't dumb--it realizes Congress and technology can be a toxic brew. Trust the FCC and DOJ to do its job until proven otherwise. Fixing a problem that doesn't exist is a disaster waiting to happen.

And finally here's what would really alarm me about the Net neutrality debate: Presidential campaign attention. If MoveOn.org's statement is to be believed presidential candidates should vow for first year action on the Net neutrality issue. I think we have bigger fish to fry.

Topics: Browser, Google, Government, Government US, Security

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  • OMG!!!

    The government issued an intelligent statement!
    Erik Engbrecht
  • RE: DOJ comments on Net neutrality; Histrionics ensue

    "After all, it???s just wrong to charge for faster speeds when you have spent billions to build a network."

    Said by someone that dosnt understand it at all.

    They *already* charge for faster speeds.
    Its called bandwidth.
    You know, that bill you get each month?

    The more you pay for, the more you get.

    Consumers pay downstream, Webhosts pay upstream.
    ITS ALREADY PAID FOR AT BOTH ENDS.

    The ISPs have oversold themselfs and are now trying to double charge in order to live up to the claims they have been falsely making over the years.

    Its like blaming the customers and buisness for when a company overbooks its airplane seats.

    "But let???s get real here. All the DOJ said is that imposing Net neutrality could deter investment in networks. If there???s no profit motive why would you bother building a Wimax network, FiOS or any other broadband service?"

    They still get money from people, like PAYING FOR INTERNET access.

    gezz.
    Why does this get forgotten by magic that we already all pay.

    The profit motive is still there.
    Net Nutrality merely ensures everyones trested equaly.

    They are free to charge whatever they like for bandwidth, just like an electricity company is allowed to set their own prices for what you use.
    They shouldnt be allowed to charge more based on what you use if *for* however.
    Thats none of their buisness.


    I have to congradulate the ISP's how they can fool so many people so easily that companies paying millions a year in bandwidth costs are getting a ""free ride"".

    (incidently, look up YouTubes bandwidths cost they pay..free ride my arse.)
    twdarkflame
    • I agree

      I pay a $20 fee increase for more bandwidth. I am already PAYING for the bandwidth I use!

      Failure to put Net Neutrality into place will completely destroy equal access to the internet, cause higher prices, and all of this will eventually roll downhill onto consumers.

      But, I have to say, I would not expect anything different from a DOJ being controlled by the current administration.
      BitTwiddler
      • What are you complaining about

        You still get the same service. Your service will not be compromised.

        This is regarding Quality of Service which is an additional service.

        Let's consider Cellphones for instance. Anymore, you can buy the basic service and so many minutes. You also would buy more minutes if you wanted to use the cellphone more. Then if you wanted Text Messaging, you would buy that as well. Then you would also purchase additional features such as internet service or sending media back and forth.

        This is the same thing. Some one wants to pay to have a service connect at a lower latency instead of having all traffic have equal bidding.

        When I am using a voice chat enabled application, I want to have a continuous low latency chat. When I am transferring a file, the latency doesn't need to be as low. When I am gaming, I want the latency to be lower. When I am using instant messenger, I don't need the communication to be quite that instant.

        The point is. All applications shouldn't have equal access.

        Quality of service is like a traffic light and during rush hour with a sports car who can pay to push through the light faster because he pays more. Only we are moving millions of cars and that one car who pays more gets priority by a nano or two.
        nucrash
        • I don't think so...

          QOS is negotiated in the contract up front and the default contracts don't guarantee stuff like video are going to work flawlessly. If someone like Google needs those guarantees, they'll have to negotiate them, and pay more accordingly (not that one can really guarantee anything unless they provide end to end service).

          So, basically the QOS argument is another red herring. From what I've heard it's middle men providers like AT&T who are actually threatening to downgrade service to those that don't pay, and this is irregardless of QOS - it could be reading vanilla HTTP pages. Again the issue is not for the most part entry and exit providers (ie: edge ISPs) - they already charge based on bandwidth and/or QOS (and net neutrality isn't going to change this). It's the big boy intermediaries that want to charge more.

          As the net is currently set you cannot specify your routing traversal path (eg: source routing), thus the intermediate providers function as monopolies/utilities. In that case they need to be subject to regulation.

          Mostly I find the arguments against net neutrality as more corporate FUD. As the initial letter writer wrote, the bandwidth has already been paid for on entry and exit (and your ISP in turn pays the providers in the middle).

          I also find it funny how people are quick to say how the government will screw things up, but yet are happy to entrust nuclear weapons and other war paraphernalia to them. There's a bit of disconnect there. Somehow magically it gets run right when killing people is involved.

          Also if you've ever worked for a large corporation, I see no indication that they are any less inclined to screw things up. At least with the government you can vote the idiots out. Not, incidentally, that I'm suggesting that big government is a panacea to all that ails anymore than the current free market worship.

          PS: Another example of the sorts of issues in this story:

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/06/AR2007090602545.html?hpid=topnews
          Matt Fahrner
          • Thanks for your great example.

            My answer to resolve that problem.... Get a new provider. When you have some ISP that caps you as such, either figure out a way to get past the cap or drop the ISP if they won't work with you. My ISP also caps me. I can download at 3 mbps for so long, then if I break their magical limit, which is about 50 megs or so, I get dropped to 768Kbps. Sucks, I know. There is away around this though, I can upgrade to a commercial account and pay $20 dollars more a month and the cap goes away.

            Do I trust the government. No!

            Why am I okay with them handling things like nukes? Simple, the government is like a big child. Give them things like rocket ships and things that go boom, and they are happy. They can take their toys and go play in the desert and hopefully that will keep them pre-occupied enough to keep them out of our lives. The problem is when they decide they also want to control our lives. And when we give them our lives on a silver platter, then they start to screw things up.

            I would like to have a few freedoms back. I would like to jump on a plane without the fear of a anal probe. I know I might have to risk the plane being flown into a building, but that is a risk I am willing to take.

            What fun is sky diving when you know everything is going to land just right.

            I would like to live life with just a little bit of risk. Corporations on the other hand should be under a tight leash with regards to many things. But they should be allowed to offer difference services to different people at different prices.

            Everything at the same exact speed is like having four cars at an intersection all arriving at the same time and all trying to decide who goes first.

            I say that yes, we have allowed the internet to become a utility type monopoly and with the current setup, we are going to need more paths to get from point A to point B in order to allow the structure of internet to grow in such a manner.

            I am saying that we need more tubes!!!

            Large corporations screw up. I work for one. A very large one, but they usually try to focus on getting a return on their investment. Whereas I know how governments work and most of them that I know of toss great stuff away just because they ordered too much and don't have a use for it. Then they also don't care to be troubled with recovering their cost. The Public School system is great for having all sorts of money in some districts and other districts using books from when we still had 48 states in other lesser advantaged districts.
            nucrash
        • Re: What are you complaining about

          [i]The point is. All applications shouldn't have equal access.[/i]

          No, they shouldn't, and you gave some good examples. But in my view QoS falls into best practices, not an added feature to be doled out to customers who pay more.


          [i]Quality of service is like a traffic light and during rush hour...[/i]

          A better analogy: QoS is like the lights on an ambulance. When you need one, do you want them to charge you more to turn them on? Or do you think they should just turn them on because it's simply best ambulance practice?



          :)
          none none
  • RE: DOJ comments on Net neutrality; Histrionics ensue

    This has to be the least realistic argument that could still attempt to appear objective.
    "Now I???m no huge fan of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, but the idea that these guys will block sites they don???t like is ludicrous." is willfully ignoring the history that these companies all have of disabling services. The faux down-to-earth, common-sense appeals to shared scopes of reason make no attempts to even justify past violations of customer faith by these orginizations. Verizon disables features built in to cell phones so they can charge for the same, Comcast has repeatedly removed and altered controls from DVRs it rents and sent "secret bandwidth cap exceeded" letters, and so on. To charactarize the reactions to this as "histronics" is insulting to anyone with a memory span of more than one week as well as to women.
    afafasdfasdf
  • As a web site owner I will boycott all such extra charges.

    I already pay for my bandwidth. Our customers already pay for theirs. If their ISP throttles our traffic below what the customer and we are paying for, we'll just let the customer know their ISP simply isn't giving them what they're paying for and they should probably look into alternatives and/or complain to them.
    johnay
  • And what's with all this coming from the DOJ?

    Why the heck are they offering comments on economic development? This is just someone in the big ISP's back pocket using the department as one more means to pump out their PR spin. I wonder who.
    johnay
  • Free market in broadband? Yeah, right!

    If only there was free market competition for broadband service. In the vast majority of communities, there are at most two pipes into the home (cable and telco). Even if you add wireless (which I don't believe will ever scale up to challenge wireline services), that still makes three connections. That isn't competition.
    johndoe445566
  • RE: DOJ comments on Net neutrality; Histrionics ensue

    Yes, they wont get away with blocking google: its a prominent and highly used web tool. But what about the smaller sites, with more particular content, without the ability to send up a red flag when their larger competitors start messing with their access to bandwidth. Not to mention the free speech concerns inherit in allowing large organizations control the flow of information. Which is, all frittering about profit motive aside, the real point of the internet: the distribution and reinterpretation of knowledge. It is a slippery slope...
    pucklermuskau
    • The Elephant in the Room; multinational corporate influence on government

      The candidates would rather chat about net neutrality, campaign reform and immigration than address the real issue. This is so similar to the US when it allowed slavery. At that time candidates that could keep the topic of slavery out of the lime light were rewarded by funding through both parties.

      It took a civil war to resolve matters appropriately. I believe this nation has quietly entered a civil war and talk show host are now mentioning that apparent fact. Lets try to end the war civilly. Lets do it by national debate.

      If the candidates will not discuss this elephant lets get new ones. We already have rid the nation of many traitors who advance the cause of the multi-national corporation above the interests of US residents through there jobs in government.

      Lets recognize that corporations should be paying a fair share for road infrastructure and New Orleans dikes. The executives of multi-national corporations (like Microsoft) are influenced into seeking tax breaks for their companies because investors may not reside in country. Lets also recognize that through corporate tax and government regulations - the roads - both the highway and the information super highway are best able to provide benefit to the citizenry.

      Who is that guy Gore?

      Frank L. Mighetto CCP
      WiMax - its our democracy stupid
      mighetto
  • The three major networks...

    in this country that were built mostly by companies enjoying the benefit of being a government sponsored monopoly. Highly regulated and highly profitable - energy, phone and cable. Every monopoly company fought tooth and nail against deregulation and opening up the markets, arguing that they had bought and paid for the infrastructure and shouldn't be forced to share. I'd suggest that the network was the cost of being allowed to operate as a monopoly.
    jasonp@...
  • Censorship by network owners is commonplace, not theoretical

    AT&T has censored political speech before, and lied about it:
    http://news.com.com/ATT+censors+Pearl+Jams+anti-Bush+lyrics/2100-1026_3-6201759.html
    If you are not blinkered by an ideological belief market failure can never happen, it is easy to understand why corporations with big government contracts may be tempted to engage in suppressing free speech, and why it is a direct danger to democracy.

    Structural separation, i.e. banning carriers from investing in the content business and vice versa, as well as separating wholesale provision of the network from retail sales is the only way to prevent that, as network neutrality laws as they are currently proposed would be just as easy to work around by telco/cableco lawyers as the 1996 Telecommunications Act was. The FCC used to have rules preventing the 3 broadcast networks from owning their affiliates for the same reason.
    fazalmajid
  • RE: DOJ comments on Net neutrality; Histrionics ensue

    Larry, you're either unbelievably ignorant and naive, or you're a lying weasel.

    I'm inclined to go with the latter, since I can't imagine anyone smart enough to know how to spell histrionics is actually stupid enough to believe that broadband providers are just going to shut down their operations if they are prohibited from setting up information monopolies and sweetheart deals.

    "But the POOR ISPS they spent BILLYUNS" you whine...

    Pretty damn stupid of them to spend billions building networks they couldn't make a profit out of. If they are that incompetent, they deserve to fail. Oh, but wait. They're NOT failing. Guess you're wrong again.

    Point to one of these "freeloaders" you're complaining about. Point to EVEN ONE EXAMPLE. You can't because you're just lying.
    bmerc
  • RE: DOJ comments on Net neutrality; Histrionics ensue

    I have to say I agree with most people here. NONE of these companies have shown good faith towards what is best for thier customers, only what fills thier pocketbook beyond a reasonable amount (reasonable means covering expenses and eating a decently tidy sum). Verizon and thier cell phone shenanagans, ATT and the Pearl Jam block, Comcast and thier "secret bandwith" messages. Companies want max profit for miminum investment, intead of wanting good profit for decent investment.

    So no, Net Neutrality IS a requirement. Letting businesses run the net, and we will end up with net "in the corporate interest" instead of "in the interest of information exchange".
    ivanotter
  • Naw, they won't block anyone...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/06/AR2007090602545.html?hpid=topnews
    Matt Fahrner
  • Also not to forget..

    Much of the infrastructure of the Internet is government funded, we, the people the government is "by and for" do have the right to stick our noses in here...
    Matt Fahrner
  • Dignan channels Rush; by wmlundine

    This is not a personal attack on Dignan but this is not a straight piece. Is this an attempt to report on DOJ and NN or an attempt by Dignan to stir shite up (ala Rush)? First; Dignan is a journalist so it is absolutely no accident that he uses terms like "histrionics, Armageddon, capitalist pig, la-la land, screw it up?big time, etc. As far a the DOJ; is this the same DOJ we all know and love? AT&T not blocking...where has Larry been hiding? I for one am not buyin' it; in fact I'm glad I do not pay for this spew.
    wmlundine