Net neutrality loses another round

Net neutrality loses another round

Summary:  Declan McCullagh reports on the latest twist in the Net neutrality saga. In this episode, the Democrats efforts to protect consumers and businesses from overreaching by network operators, such as charging content providers additional fees for faster delivery, were turned back by a  House Energy and Commerce Committee vote.

TOPICS: Browser

 Declan McCullagh reports on the latest twist in the Net neutrality saga. In this episode, the Democrats efforts to protect consumers and businesses from overreaching by network operators, such as charging content providers additional fees for faster delivery, were turned back by a  House Energy and Commerce Committee vote. Yesterday, the CEOs from Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, IAC and eBay sent a letter to the co-chairmen of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation with the following  plea for neutrality:

We are writing to underscore the importance of an open Internet and to seek your leadership in enacting legislation that preserves the fundamental and critical nature of the Internet.  

The open marketplace of the Internet, or what has become known as “network neutrality,” empowers America’s citizenry, fuels our engine of innovation and is central to our global leadership in Internet technology and services.  The rules of the road that preserved openness were eliminated last summer by the Federal Communications Commission, and it is critical that Congress moves quickly to reinstate them. 

The Internet has succeeded precisely because of these rules, which have prevented network operators from using their control over Internet access to dictate consumers’ Internet experience.  Likewise, innovators large and small, as well as investors, have relied on market and regulatory certainty coupled with their own ingenuity to develop new and better online offerings.  This “innovation without permission” is, from our perspective, the essence of the Internet.

We call upon you to enact legislation preventing discrimination against the content and services of those not affiliated with network operators and thereby preserve network neutrality.  It is our understanding that Senators Snowe and Dorgan plan to introduce legislation that would ensure the Internet remains open and neutral.  We commend their effort.  We encourage you to include such language in any telecommunications legislation.

Absent such safeguards, the fundamental paradigm of the Internet will be irreparably altered and that most worthy of preservation will be lost.  American consumers will lose basic Internet freedoms, the engine of innovation will be hobbled, and our global competitiveness will be compromised.

We look forward to continuing to work with you and other Members of the Committee to re-establish longstanding net neutrality protections.
The Internet is built on a "public interest model" and funded by taxpayers, according to Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who is sponsoring an amendment to throttle the power of network providers. The opposition thinks that Markey is overrotating--the network operators say they won't surcharge the delivery of content and services over the Internet, but at the same time they say they need to allocate some bandwidth in a pay model so that they continue investing in a higher-speed build out.

What's clear at this point is that the Republican majority and telco/cable lobbyists have the upper hand, and the well-heeled club of high-tech CEOs advocating more firm declarations in the law regarding Net neutrality need to regroup. Grassroots efforts, such as the Net Neutrality Coalition, have an impact, but now the requirement is deeper involvement in helping to elect officials sympathetic to their causes and lots of lobbyist money. Often, it's the money, not the ideologies, that win the day. Just as in the electoral system--big war chests help win votes.

Topic: Browser

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  • So Microsoft, Google, Yahoo et al...

    ... were unable to push the telco bills they incur onto the consumer through an action by Congress.

    I'm a consumer. Those making money from using extra resurces should pay for them from the extra profits received.

    I don't want to pay large corporations more than I must.
    Anton Philidor
  • And the Public Wins.

    [i]". . . charging content providers additional fees for faster delivery"[/i] is like charging more for premium gas than for regular. Since the bandwidth a carrier can offer is limited, it would be unfair [b]not[/b] to charge bandwidth hogs more than us average Joes.
    • Really?

      What makes you think they won't start charging you for [b]using[/b] that bandwidth? Or as they'll call it... you can subscribe to premium access speeds for a fee.

      Let's think about this... how many speeds of DSL does Bellsouth offer? Three. They range in price from $25 a month to $50 a month. Also, for that $50, they block access to certain ports so you can't do certain business functions from your home office (e.g., port 25-smtp). You have to upgrade to "business DSL"-- which is no faster and costs $80 per month, to get that access. Mind you, they don't even guarantee the speeds they advertise, and in almost every case I've ever investigated, the speeds are not what is promised.

      So let's see. They are already charging customers in a tiered fashion... and now, they want to charge providers in a tiered fashion too? Will they guarantee speeds for the money they collect? Probably not. But think of it this way, I the consumer get to pay for premium service, only to watch google's incredibly light page, load in about 2 minutes.

      Sounds awfully close to double taxation to me... and we all know how that works out.
      • Google, MS, and Hollywood

        It seems that the biggest yelper's are the ones with a lot of cake in their mouths. It is odd that I cannot get my website listed first in Google's searches without throwing them money. I couldn't get my add on the frontpage of PC Mag without money. MS does nothing without money and Hollywood, we don't even need to go there. A fact of life is that there is nothing for free and everyone is yelling about something that has not even happened. To many Chicken Little's.
    • Not How it Works

      That's not how telecommunications businesses work.

      True: The bandwidth of any one provider is always limited.

      To get around this comms companies use small print. They advertise 1Mb/s - knowing that you will never actually use this 24 hours a day. In addition, they use 'Traffic Shaping' - which is a form of communication session detection and classification. Once they know that you?re downloading a vidcast, they choke back the bandwidth available to that one session so that you can't hog the cable to your neighborhood during a busy hour.

      This means that they force regular gas on you without telling you. This is in addition to 'terms and conditions apply' - where time limits and/or download limits, and/or port access limits are used to create false justifications for service 'price packages'. Increasingly, these price differences are further hidden by mixing Net access with telephone, cellular, and other services (TV will be another).

      Now, in addition to cutting costs by cutting your service, they want to:
      - Charge media companies for premium sips from your cable;
      - Create a class-based structure on the Net; and
      - Reserve a fast lane [mostly for themselves, but they will offer the above sips as a way of saying: ?Look, a level playing field!?].

      If the telcos weren?t so busy trying to put unnecessary complexity into the Net they could invest in straight bandwidth.

      The telcos are saying that they need to find bigger margins, and create a class-basis for the online community, to invest in bigger bandwidth. This is what is technically know as; A straight lie.

      I?ve said many times in the past at ZDNet ? look out for telco execs, their margins are low. They are incentivized by their shareholders to look for a way to improve their margins. Competition in telco markets often garners complaints of little real progress. But, the pain the telcos are currently feeling is reflected in their stance on this issue. These people are simply serving their own best interests.

      That said, we have laws to stop people bumping of their aged relatives ? no matter how much the early demise of your Grandmother is in your best interest, it is evil.

      Creating a Net that is anything less than completely open may be in the best interests of telcos ? but it is still, morally, socially, and economically, a very bad thing.
      Stephen Wheeler
  • You get what you pay for.

    I work in a company making and selling long-haul telco infrastructure (submarine cable, FTTx, and related terminal equipment). Believe me, these are NOT cheap. It quite literally costs multi-millions to build these digital highways.
    Truckers are charged premiums per load weight and rig size since they place more wear and tear on the public highways than your station wagon. Why should the Internet be different? If you feel you need to do more than email and surf the web and want to indulge in higher-bit-rate services than that, it is only reasonable that you pay for it, since you are going to be using a lot more bandwidth. Higher bandwidth translates into more expensive payout by the telco companies, and they are not public charity institutions, but commercial enterprises selling a service for which you are expected to pay. Deal with it or walk away from it, but don't cry about not getting something for nothing.
    Everyone complains about the amount of spamming and other junk that floods your mailbox - perhaps if these digital telemarketers had to pay more for using the Internet to bother you, some of their B.S. would be reduced, freeing up the web for the rest of the public who just wants to allow their kids to research their homework or keep in touch with family.
    The Internet was never meant to be a commercial user free-for-all, but was opened up as a 'gratis' path to free information for the public and educational institutions with the spare bandwidth available after the uses it was initially built for (military logistics tracking, etc. - at least that is what I have heard was its original use).
    Enterprises selling streaming entertainment have to pay a lot for the bandwidth they use, it is only fair that the same be applied to high speed users. If you want to see a movie on the big screen instead of your television, then you don't cry about having to buy a theater ticket, do you?
    Here in Japan, we can choose about 6 or 7 levels of DSL from 1.5Mbps (~$43/mo) to 47Mbps (~$46/mo), and they all cost different rates. You want VoIP? Add $4. SPAM and Virus filtering by your ISP? Add another $2/month. Oddly, optical fiber (with different rate plans depending on how many users share the 100Mbps for apartment installations) is actually cheaper than DSL above 12Mbps.
    I have optical access, limited to no more than 8 'best effort'/sharing users (guaranteeing me no less than 12.5Mbps), VoIP, SPAM and Virus filtering, an extra 200MB mailbox capacity, and my total monthly bill (including a LOT of international telephone calls using VoIP) is about $50-$60/mo. For this I get everything I want, streaming video, movies, video messaging with my children in the USA, and I have no complaints paying for these different services I enjoy.
    That's the way the world works - you want it, you pay for it. If you don't want to pay for it, then do without it. Nothing is free. It's your choice. You expect to get a Ferrari for the same price as a Toyota? Dream on.
    • Not Impressed

      Sure, we can all rationalize why telcos need to make money.

      But can you justify a non-neutral Net?
      Stephen Wheeler
  • RE: Net neutrality loses another round

    We all lose when government is involved. What in the world do our political parties have to do with the internet. Everything government does fails (US goverment anyhow. I know one thing, if I was in the position to control a large network, the more government I heard getting involved, the more i'd chose to segregate our portion of the network AWAY from big brother.

    Theres only a few reasons why the US government involves itself in anything. 1. they see a way to make money off it, doh they already do with telco traffic. Or the corporations look to government to help pay for their business ventures. The poor monopolies that run everything want tax payers to maintain the network that has allowed them to monopolize the industry.