Telcos checkmate net neutrality. Bring on the mesh (or I'll move to France)

Telcos checkmate net neutrality. Bring on the mesh (or I'll move to France)

Summary: Maybe now,  the citizens of the US will recognize a largely overlooked 2005 FCC ruling for what it was: the clever positioning of a bishop in a high stakes game of chess that looks to have ended today with a checkmate of Internet neutrality (aka "net neutrality").

TOPICS: Browser

Maybe now,  the citizens of the US will recognize a largely overlooked 2005 FCC ruling for what it was: the clever positioning of a bishop in a high stakes game of chess that looks to have ended today with a checkmate of Internet neutrality (aka "net neutrality").  In that ruling, broadband ISPs like AOL and Earthlink that needed right-of-way on one of the physical infrastructures (copper, cable, and/or fiber) that's owned by the local telco or cable company and that goes by just about every business and residence in US lost that right-of-way.  That Internet — the one where we were free to do as we please — may very well have just been ditched by Congress. Long term, even though right-of-way dependent ISPs can cut new deals with the Baby Bells and cable operators to continue service provision, the economics will drive out consumer choice and we'll be left with two or in some cases just one company calling the shots on how bandwidth gets allocated. 

Around the same time, Bob Frankston who champions preservation of the open principles on which the Internet was founded, wrote about the egads of bandwidth that's lying in our streets and how the Baby Bells are free to reserve up to 99 percent of it to compete against the cable companies with video on-demand services.  It's not surprising that they'd want to do this.  After all, the cable companies have been using their infrastructures to undermine the Baby Bells' traditional telephony businesses for years.  With whatever paltry connectivity is left, video over the regular open Internet -- an idea that could easily wipe out the Blockbusters, Netflixes, Comcasts and Verizons -- can go and choke to death.

I guess they haven't heard of Bittorrent or things like it. Sooner or later, time-shifting -- the it-can-work-over a-1980's-class-300-BAUD-modem TiVo-like practice of caching something locally and consuming it at your convenience -- will render realtime broadcast services useless. On the other hand, they (the Baby Bells) must have seen this coming because today, their lobbyists were successful at snuffing the lights out of a relatively promising net neutrality bill that would have prevented those Baby Bells from further controlling what we might do with whatever limited bandwidth they allow us to have.  Wrote IDG News Service's Grant Gross:

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee has rejected a proposal to strengthen provisions in a telecommunications reform bill that would prohibit broadband providers from blocking or impairing competing Web content and applications.

The Queen has arrived.  Checkmate. 

So, let's size things up.  Outside your office or home,  you'll eventually have one or maybe at most, two wireline Internet service providers.  It may not be collusion, but have you ever seen how airlines like to play follow-the-leader.  It isn't hard to imagine a world where (a) you're deprived of the full capability of the infrastructure at your curb, and (b) of what little capability your given, the provider calls the shots, and (c) how lack of anything that remotely resembles a free market for services leaves you with no options.  Spend a lot of time on Google? Well, maybe you'll pay more.  Or maybe Google will pay more.  And maybe Google will have to figure out a way to pass the cost on to  you to keep themselves in Wall Streets stratosphere? Oh, you want to use Skype? Bittorrent? Starz? Not so fast Buster.  With the Internet, you controlled the vertical and horizontal.  But that Internet -- the one where we were free to do as we please -- may very well have just been ditched by Congress. 

Who or what can save us now?  Maybe you can get together with your neighbors, build a wireless mesh network, and split the cost of the head end connection to the Internet.  Or, perhaps there's already a public WiFi or a WiMAX net floating around your home or business.  Or maybe you can stick a high speed EVDO card in your notebook or desktop, turn on connection sharing, and pump all of your house or business' traffic through Verizon Wireless or Sprint's network.  Or, you could move to France where the government sometimes stands up for its citizens rather than big business.  Yeah, this could get ugly.

Topic: Browser

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  • Glad we agree.

    Though since the issue was whether the telcos could charge large corporations more or had to get the money from the public, I can't get very angry about it.
    In fact, I'd rather have the telcos charge Microsoft and Yahoo and Google than me. They can afford it better.

    The one correction I would make is about wireless.

    Yes, muncipalities can go into competition with the local utilities. They have the (tax) money and don't have to answer to investors, so they can do what no private company would think worthwhile.

    But the telcos, which have already provided wireless service in various ways, can buy up the provider companies when or as necessary.
    They probably won't do so in rural areas. They've been hoping to avoid mandates to provide service to those places for years.

    Well, one other small disagreement.
    The telcos have to compete with cable, which is fast but expensive. The regular connections, the lw tier home pricing, can't be too slow or people will decide cable is worth the money.
    So you shouldn't claim that regular users will get only scruffy leftover capacity.
    Anton Philidor
  • Google, Earthlink, Intel & the electric co's need to step it up

    We need alternatives.
  • mesh is a good idea

    the answer is private backbones. put that fiber bvetween two houses (costs about nothing) or use laser beam (requires some money), open a WiFi router, amplify the WiFi signal (not legal in some countries, but US is land of freedom, right ?), let everybody to use the connection. connect to the ISP with business quality link like 155M OC3, charge a couple of bucks from every connected house.

    to keep filesharing in local network use cache heavy or just install video server and stream whatever people ask for. 90% of the traffic is the same popular title anyway.

    i read that in Canada they have non-profit organizations who provide internet solutions in the areas where telcos refuse to invest money. may it is time to start such companies in every corner or may it is getting late ?


    Where do you see P2P at in ten years...?

    Does your question imply, "What is going to happen with distribution of copyright works" ? I expect that in the next 5 years authorities in most countries will require ISPs to provide realtime access to the full logs. Statefull firewalls are going to be mandatory if the ISP wants to keep their license. It will greatly influence both P2P and content providers. I think that the process is going to be bidirectional. Content owners will reduce prices and distribute many more titles in attempt to monetize "tails" -the 60% of customers who are not satisfied by pop music. On the other hand law enforcement is going to be significantly more effective than it is today.

    If you ask about the legal applications of P2P, like Skype and Linux distros over BT it depends on how tolerant ISPs are going to be to the "parasitic" traffic. So far ongoing events do not provide many reasons for optimism. And if ISPs get access to the content at reasonable prices (think AOL/TimeWarner) there isn't any business reason to run P2P based distribution networks. Video server can stream the data as well.

    Another direction is grid networks. There are some other areas, but all of them are relatively small niches and I think out of scope of the question.

    Bottom line - traffic analyzers can be very effective. Enforcement of this or that policy is technologically possible today and getting cheaper and easier every minute. There isn't much money discovered in P2P applications, but there is plenty of money invested in the firewalls and NATs because of corporate networks.
  • Hmm, WiMAX huh?

    My year+ long "shilling" of the WiMAX Steamroller seems to be working! Meshing networks just make TOO much sense! Its like open-source networking - you buy a (WiMAX) router and allow others to traverse it while you get access to the MESH. Carry this through ad-infinitum and you can see that the MESH can trounce the Internet itself. No only that, but TRUE FREEDOM comes from the decentralized nature of the MESH. No FBI wiretaps, no ISPs, no restrictions whatsoever. It WOULD make things more difficult (read impossible) for law-enforcement to track things down over the MESH - but on the other hand, if all traffic was encrypted (it will be), those law enforcement agencies can USE IT FOR THEIR OWN NETWORK NEEDS. A big, safe, free and happy place for ALL people is what I am advocating, and all it takes is the purchase of a WiMAX router. NOTE: The ONLY way to derail this is by an act of Congress . . .
    Roger Ramjet
    • google it..

      Just let the google box come out... let them fund the hardware at the house, and make the google boxes all talk to gether with wireless or via encryption tunnels.

      If google gets to "big brotherish" for you... just hack the google box and they still fund the whole thing...

    • A mesh is fine and good, but...

      Mesh networks have mucho lag. Let's say each router has a minimum of 0.01 second of lag (that is a rather realisitc number), so 100 routers down the line, if each WiMax station was 20 miles apart (the max range is about 30 miles), ideally linearly, 2,000 miles down will have 1 second of lag for every packet. More realisticly, the lag will vary from station to station, due to varying weather conditions, varying load, power outages, placements of other stations, lost packets/interference... 2 seconds round trip from FL to Colorado would be enough (and unpredicatble enough) to aggrivate any user doing simple tasks, as well as kill any ntp timeset. It would equate in lag to satellite internet, and that has not become popular partly due to the lag (and price).
  • It won't get that bad

    The Threat is there that everything could be "ruined" but I highly doubt that that is what will happen. Simply because the Internet is a Service, in order for any SERVICE to be marketable it has to be efficient. And the MORE Efficient a Service gets, the more Marketable it is. The idea that the Large Telcommunications Companies are going to intentionally screw everything up just for a Joke is Ridiculous. While if they control the hardware of the Net, they will most definitely want to get paid, but the only one's who will suffer, are Cable TV, (because the Internet can Offer Faster, Better More Selection), People who make DVD players will suffer because The PC will become the DVD Player of the Future, as well as the Internet Movie and Music Entertainment System.

    In the Future you will not only have ONE Cable running from your House, you may have several, and in the distant Future everyone will go to Massive Capability Fiber Optic cables running straight from each person's home or Office.

    So while there may appear to be restrictions on the horizon, there are people working night and day around the World laying Cables to prepare for the Future. And the More Companies who Lay Cable and Setup Hardware the more Competitve the Market will become.

    The idea that any one Company is going to create a Choke hold on the internet is absurd. Why would they do that? How would they possibly Benefit from doing something like that? You think they would try to Charge us to the Moon for the Service? No Way, people simply won't pay. Then the Price will go down. It all hinges on Supply and Demand, and Marketablity of the Service. No one is going to Screw up the internet. The government has always wanted control of Everything, and that is the biggest thing you have to worry about. The less the Government is involved in the Internet the better.

    I think you guys get all amped up on Starbucks, then start dreaming of "Worst Case Senerios" that you can sensationalize to get people to come read your stuff.

    Why don't you do something Useful and report about the Quantum Computing Discovery and explain how that is going to affect Computers.

    Or explain to me that if I want to Record an Audio Track in 64bit/192 khz, how can that be Possible with a Soundblaster Sound Card that only does 24 Bit Audio?

    Give us something we can USE, instead all the Hype you dream up.
    • Whoa - that's NOT what I see

      [In the Future you will not only have ONE Cable running from your House, you may have several, and in the distant Future everyone will go to Massive Capability Fiber Optic cables running straight from each person's home or Office.]

      In MY future, you have NO cables (save for electricity) comming into my house. Either WiMAX/wireless or BPL will carry the IP traffic.

      [So while there may appear to be restrictions on the horizon, there are people working night and day around the World laying Cables to prepare for the Future. And the More Companies who Lay Cable and Setup Hardware the more Competitve the Market will become.]

      Pretty stupid from my point-of-view. Pay millions to lay a few miles of cable, or hook up a single WiMAX router . . .
      Roger Ramjet
    • Isn't alarmist D. B.'s job

      He is here to get us talking.. I didn't mind the article. It VASTLY under estimated how creative the intelligent Internet community can get, but I did not mind it.

      Speaking of intelligent Internet community... You didn't really ask the question about the bit RATE of mp3 encoding verses bit WIDTH of you sound card did you???? That just ignorant. Dave... don't bother writing/white boarding about that.. I'll flame you for patronizing an audience that's not really that stupid.
    • It already is in Australia

      Where Telstra controls the pipes
      tracy anne
  • Good Story

    Finally Dave B.!!! Do you hear the resounding sound of subtle golf style clapping resonating from your EVDO card? That's the sound of ZD readers clapping.

    Why? You nailed it with this article. 'Nuff said.

    Buuuuut... let's play devil's advocate for a second. Look at the Telcos shareholder's position. For years, they have been building out infrastructure and raising prices. Thus far, their only "cut" of the internet pie which they are the base of has been diddly sh*t. They want theirs. If you were a shareholder, wouldn't you? Be honest everyone!

    That said, where does the real answer lie? R. Ramjet and ordaj have the right idea. Others need to step it up. But I'd like to get more specific:

    THOSE guys have the right idea. Let's cover the world in a decentralized wireless network. Everybody put one of these routers in your home, and have a single [ahem, non-profit] company in the area that keeps an eye on the network and only charges the cost of the network trunk plus operating costs.

    There are dozens of other possibilities too, but who knows, maybe the American public will sit back and take it up the a** like they always do, as their choices and rights get sloooooowly eroded over time.

    Or maybe the Dems will kick the Repub's a**es in 06 and 08 and we make get some of our country back after all! (LOL... I can hear you repubs steaming through the ears!!)
    • FON huh?

      Use a WiFi router every 100 feet, or a WiMAX router every mile (30 miles?). Hmm, I WONDER which one I would choose . . .
      Roger Ramjet
    • Let's hope not!

      [i]Or maybe the Dems will kick the Repub's a**es in 06 and 08...[/i]

      We're just seeing the good effects of the Republican administration, why would you want to go back to the Clinton era Carteresque malaise that was prevalant in the 90's? Ignorance is the only reason that I see. "Take our country back".....WTF!?

      You probably refuse to believe it but the stupid "Net Neutrality" (misnomer) deal was the Dems idea. So you want the Gov regulating things? Not to mention that it is a certainty that they will raise taxes. You can always give YOUR money away, but leave mine alone.
      Spoon Jabber
      • DO you REALLY think

        that the Dems are all that much different from the Reps? GW spends money like a drunken Democrat! The three largest deficit spenders of all time are GW, GHW, and Reagan. That means that Reps can SAY they don't raise taxes - because the deficit spend.
        Roger Ramjet
        • Tremendously

          The idea of taxing the citizens to pay for gov waste and socialism is a terrible one. The Dems tax me and pay yolanda to lay around and have don't see that as a problem?

          The things that Bush, and others that you mention, spends money on are necessary, and can be paid for by cutting back on gov waste and inept welfare. That is exactly where we are, nearly, right now. But many people aren't willing to sacrifice just a little bit, for just a little while now to help eliminate the above problems, and others. It takes a few years to see the results of the policies of the administration, and no doubt our economy is at pre-Sept 11th levels. Evidenced by the airlines recent successes, the Dow levels, the jobless rates. Few are willing to give Bush the credit he deserves.

          So quickly many forget that the real problems are from the ineptness of the Dems running the country and trying to be "big brother" to every lazy f@c$ in the country. Socialism is what it is, and it doesn't work, never has, and predictably never will.
          Spoon Jabber
          • You say Potato

            There is NO DIFFERENCE between taxing and deficit spending - its pay me now, or pay me later - but you still pay.

            You don't think that paying SocialSecurity to millionaires is a waste? How about giving money to old people (Medicare/Drug Benefit). No welfare for the young, but pay up the @ss for the old? Seems I know who has better lobbists!

            I'm not fond of the welfare state either - but many working reforms were implemented - early in the Clinton years. Today, welfare is but a shadow of what it was - but it DOES still exist.

            I don't like taxes, but I believe you should pay for what you use - and not "stick" future generations with a mountain of debt.
            Roger Ramjet
          • Yes, but do you want the gov to cook it? I don't (NT)

            Spoon Jabber
          • Cooked Potato

            Have you done any thinking about what GW is doing and has done to our economy? Do you have any clue how out of balance our American economy really is? Do you have any idea what the actual unemployment rate is in this country? or the actual inflation rate is? I don't like the welfare state, and I don't expect to see any retirement that means much from the federal gov, particularly since the many-bloodsuckers (you know, poli-tics) in Washington couldn't leave the SS funds alone in the begining. How you can call what GW is doing a good thing is beyond me. Our government is spending money that has been created out of thin air, and their financial house of cards would have collapsed long ago if they were from the private sector.

            As far as your question about the government getting involved is concerned, I would prefer that there be a law keeping access to the internet on a level playing field that everyone can reach at some level. I'm not saying "Free internet" because the idea is crazy, but I am saying that no company should say who can send information after the connection fee has been paid.

            As for the economic questions, you might start your research at a site such as, which is called the Grandfather Economic Report. There are some other resources out there, some of which are links off of that page.

            Hope you find the info useful, and maybe somewhat illuminating.
          • Thanks for the info

            I don't know who this guy is, but the info seemed to be pretty unbiased.

            I notice that he seems to basically point out the facts of the Reagan policies, including tax cuts, and that they did indeed work, only to be ruined by Clinton.


            Aside from the increase in the national debt, this site also seems to say that Bush has done some damn good things for the country.

            But, I also do see that the government has grown too much and has become a problem. This site also seems to point out the lack of responsibility of people, and that alot of blame for problems are not Bush's (gotta wonder if the increase in gov dependance of people coincides with their declining personal morals....?)

            So, as a whole this site refers to alot of blunders in the 90's, but a little more iferring towards the current admin.

            But, good info, thanks. :)
            Spoon Jabber
  • Internet Greed

    Whilst this does not immediately affect me, it is clear that that the money grabbers are on the prowl. Why live on one million dollars, when you can get more, even if the need is not there.
    If this gets through, What Devious Scheme Will Be Next?