Telcos: Laws governing our industry OK. They just need to favor telcos.

Telcos: Laws governing our industry OK. They just need to favor telcos.

Summary: So, there was a lot of important non-C3 Expo stuff that happened while I was in New York at C3 Expo wrestling with the limited connectivity (and it was wired, not WiFi.... go figure) to file something that was even remotely interesting (as you may have seen from my coverage, I decided that audio recordings of my show floor "walkarounds" were about the only way to extract anything useful out of the event.

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TOPICS: Telcos
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So, there was a lot of important non-C3 Expo stuff that happened while I was in New York at C3 Expo wrestling with the limited connectivity (and it was wired, not WiFi.... go figure) to file something that was even remotely interesting (as you may have seen from my coverage, I decided that audio recordings of my show floor "walkarounds" were about the only way to extract anything useful out of the event. Yes, EMC's acquisition of RSA is big news that I haven't fully digested yet.  As a security/storage company, EMC/RSA is now more aligned against Symantec/Veritas than ever (oh, and there was really bad news for Symantec.... it's apparently $1B in the hole with Uncle SamOuch!).  Then there was the recovery of the Veteran's Administration computer that had the personal information of 26.5 million peple (including a lot of people still on active duty) on it's hard drive.  According to reports, the database wasn't accessed.  Sorry, I'm not buying it until the goriest of details are released on just exactly how that conclusion was reached.  If those details ever actually surface, I'm sure the blogosphere will have a field day with it. 

A pretty big deal was made from the news that Microsoft's Office 2007 is delayed.  It's not nearly the big news that people are making it out to be (how many people do you know that won't be able to get their work done as a result?). Inside baseball always makes a good back up on slow news days.  Microsoft is better off taking its time getting the product right and it won't make too much of difference to the company's bottom line.  Long-term, as the rest of the industry moves to a subscription model and as Office competitors close the functionality gap (closing what little criticism remains) causing system manufacturers to preload free alternatives (to Office) the, Microsoft's hand will probably be forced to fall in-line with the rest of the industry's practice. The company already makes a boat load of money on support contracts (especially with its biggest customers) and offers subscription models.

But the setback that was dealt to net neutrality in the Senate is what most captured my interest.  Actually, it wasn't the decision as much as it was the FUD spewing (in my opinion) from paid telecom mouthpiece Scott Cleland who has been invading my inbox as of late. Normally, I don't waste any time deleting email from someone I've determined to be full of nothing but FUD.  But Cleland is like the Rush Limbaugh of Net Non-neutrality that I can't help but read what he sends me just to see how over the top it is.  The scary thing is that it's guys like him that affect lawmaking with stuff that's just pure imagination.  In today's email, Cleland wrote:

Net Neutrality is Regressive, Not Progressive Policy...Net neutrality is modern-day “Internet Luddism” - opposition to technological change.

  • Neutrality-Luddites are the Internet’s version of the 19th century Luddites, the British workers who rioted and destroyed labor-saving technology they feared would diminish employment.
  • Just like the original unsuccessful Luddites, neutrality-Luddites are driven by fear of technology change, competition and progress, because it threatens their status quo advantages.
  • Neutrality-Luddites seek government protection to insulate them from the technological change that enables more broadband competition and broadband convergence into ecommerce.
  • Net neutrality is “converge-aphobia” – an irrational fear of convergence and competition.
Sound familiar? It does to me.  Replace the word "Luddites" with "telcos" and suddenly, the shoe fits perfectly.  Or maybe I'm wrong and Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are most definitely driven by fear of technology change (man, I needed a good laugh today).  The third point about Neutrality Luddies seeking government protection to insulate them from broadband competition is quite precious.  Competition? What competition.  Any time there's any threat of someone else interfering with the status quo's control of the last mile (aka: competition), who is that gets their legal hackles up.  Lest we forget that it was Verizon back in 2004 that sought government protection in the form of a law that would prevent Philidelphia from rolling out city-wide Wi-Fi.

Or how about the way Bellsouth reacted when it found out New Orleans wanted to install  its own municipal Wi-Fi network to help stimulate the rebuilding of the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Bellsouth cited a law preventing the city from installing such a service -- but the job eventually went to Earthlink and now, the Senate want to clear the way for munipalities to install  Wi-Fi networks that do an end-run around the wired infrastructures that are currently in place.  In ZDNet's story regarding that news, Chris Putala, EarthLink's executive vice president for public policy is quoted as telling the Senate that a duopoly between cable providers, such as Comcast, and DSL providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, "does not provide sufficiet choice to drive innovation and preserve consumer freedom to use the services and applications of their choosing."

My point isn't that the cities are right or that the telcos are wrong in these an other cases.  It's that the telcos don't seem to have problem pushing for new laws or citing existing ones when those laws serve their businesses well.  But the minute somene else comes along and suggests a law that telco executives find offensive, the telco industry has a miraculous change of heart about laws governing the business they're in. 

Cleland's email goes on to spew more FUD than I'm willing to give him a forum for.  If you want to see just how much telco Kool-Aid this guy has injested, you can check out his blog.

Disclosure: In the spirit of media transparency, I want to disclose that in addition to my day job at ZDNet, I'm also a co-organizer of Mashup Camp and Mashup University. Google and Microsoft, both of which are mentioned in this story, are  sponsors of both upcoming events. For more information on my involvement with these events, see the special disclosure page that I've prepared and published here on ZDNet.

Topic: Telcos

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  • Banning the sale of QoS is NOT good for the Internet

    Net Neutrality is a lie; it is NOT about stopping blockage or degradation on the Internet. It is about outlawing the sale of QoS. Even Tim Berners-Lee says Net Neutrality does not mean you can't charge for better quality of service, but it's clear Tim hasn't read the Snowe-Dorgan proposal which seeks to do just that.

    Banning the sale of QoS is NOT good for the Internet. That's what the Net Neutrality people want. According to them, either everyone gets it for no additional cost or no one gets it. This is not what the Internet is supposed to be.
    georgeou
    • Uh-oh! Sounds like George has been sucking the telco kool-aid.

      [i]Quick! Someone stick their fingers down his throat and make him vomit. There's no time for hand-washing now, just stick 'em in!
      Now flush his system out with beer... stuff a few red pills in his mouth while your at it...[/i]

      Now that we've purged your system of the telco influence, let's see if we can put net neutrality in terms that you can comprehend in your brainwashed state.

      You believe that Net Neutrality is a QoS issue as opposed to a data-discrimination issue. The way I see it, the two issues seem to go together. Believe it or not, I can see some truth in your QoS argument. If a home user wants the same type bandwith his workplace has, he should pay the same rate his workplace does. The problem is, the telcos normaly don't offer that type of access for home users, but something slower while the Fortune 500-types are given volume discounts for those direct fiber-optic T1 lines, offten paid for with government subsidies at taxpayer expense.

      Now consider what happens when those data packets reach the telco's systems. Through what pipeline should those packets be routed? Logically, it should go through the largest pipleline that still has enough bandwith to accomodate it. Unfortunately, the only logic that telcos understand is money. The largest pipes will be given priority to the telco's biggest "contributor" and partners, the typical end-user will be squished into a narrow bandwith pipe even if the wider pipes can handle the data, and data from competing carriers will be stuffed into a virtual straw not even fit for dialup... assuming it's not dropped altogether.

      That leads to another problem: How would a telco know to/from whom a data packet goes without inspecting it, and what if it's from/to someone they don't like or are in competition with? Everyone has firewalls of some sort, and those firewalls have lists that can block or drop packets, sometimes the wrong packets. I can understand the telcos wanting to block child-porn, but the firewalls can be told to block packets from the wrong sites if the IP or URL in entered wrong. Firewalls can also block packets by deliberately entering an enemy's IP or URL, and that is where the problems come in, like when AOL was caught blocking DearAOL messages.

      If a conservative republican is disgruntled with Duh'byah's reign and posts his objections on his own website, should Duh'bya be allowed to block his site and emails? Of course not, that would be a first amendment issue. But, if a Verizon customer is unhappy with their service and begins to "shop around" competitor sites and sending emails to them looking to switch, does Verizon have the right to block those sites and emails? More importantly, how would Verizon know about this customer's dissatisfaction unless they were spying on him?

      Now we're talking about a virtual NSA, with our data packets under surveilance as if we need another domestic spying program without the NSA. We're looking at corporate intrusion into private lives, propaganda "marketing," and forced censorship skewed to telco corp-thinking. We're talking absolute control of the net at stake, with the telcos as Big Brother.

      That is what Net Neutrality is about; Stopping a telco Big Brother from ever emerging.
      Mr. Roboto
      • neutrality

        If the telco's want to be able to 'choose' which packets to drop and which to 'prioritize', then they should have to give back every dollar they ever got in subsidies and also agree that their monopoly is over..and that ANY company can basically install the same services they currently provide. If they agreed to this, then there wouldn't be an argument...any telco that even TRIED to block competitors or slow them down would find itself haemorraging customers faster than AT&T after the NSA disaster!
        geldo
      • Open your eyes, start reading, and stop the lying

        Here is the EXACT quotation from the Snowe-Dorgan proposal in the Senate you love so much:

        "(5) only prioritize content, applications, or services accessed by a user that is made available via the Internet within the network of such broadband service provider based on the type of content, applications, or services and the level of service purchased by the user, without charge for such prioritization;"

        There you go, now stop lying to the public.
        georgeou
  • telcos

    You make a fair point that telcos have a certain fear of change (I would if I?d invested billions in network infrastructure), but that?s probably the case all around. I do think, however, that the Luddite comparison is apt when referring to most net neutrality advocates, many of whom pine for the dial-up days when thousands of ISPs offering essentially the same service ? a local phone number by which you could access the Net. Differentiation occurred in the margins ? email accounts, other user services, and of course price ? but where was the real innovation? Broadband innovations at the network level is what?s enabled the true edge-of-the-network innovations we enjoy today.
    rug 33