Thoughts on net neutrality ...

Thoughts on net neutrality ...

Summary: It seems popular to have a view about net neutrality, so I thought I might as well throw my feelings into the melting pot, not that I think that they are going to make any difference at all ...

SHARE:
TOPICS: Browser
13

It seems popular to have a view about net neutrality, so I thought I might as well throw my feelings into the melting pot, not that I think that they are going to make any difference at all ...

As I see it the Internet is growing at a phenomenal rate as is the amount of data that we The bottom line is that more content than ever is being pushed through the Internet, and eventually someone has to pay for itwant to push through the system.  People think this data is just simple text and images on websites, but it’s high-definition audio and video that sucks up the most bandwidth. 

The problem as I see it is that the Internet is already multi-tiered, not in terms of access to the "last mile" to your house, but in terms of the volume of content transported over the Internet.  At one end of the scale you have Joe Bloggs with his hobby website pulling in a handful of visitors a month, and at the other you have big corporations with billionaires behind them who want to fire hose everyone with masses of content.  They're both content providers.  The more I look at the arguments for keeping the neutrality status quo, the more I feel the dark influence of these small number of  Dot Com billionaires. The issue of whether the biggest bandwidth users should pay more has been turned into a public interest debate all mixed up with the idea of censorship, and it is ultimately hiding the real fact that these Dot Com billionaires want everyone else to foot the bill.  Their business models are based on the Internet as it is, and that makes them allergic to any change that could affect the bottom line.

Also, let's examine one of the keystones of the net neutrality argument, which Vinton Cerf, Google's [Updated: July 12, 2006 @ 3:23 am] Vice President and "Chief Internet Evangelist", summed up as follows:

"allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success."

Hmmm.  Those are emotive words and they stir up a lot of feeling, but I just don't buy it.  Even if some carriers did block the biggest bandwidth users, market forces would quickly sort sort things out.  After all, the people at the end of that "last mile" are still the customers and I don't think there are enough people willing to accept a cut-down Internet to make it a viable market.

The bottom line is that more content than ever is being pushed through the Internet, and eventually someone has to pay for it. The real danger is that if enough people start believing the kind of hyperbole being spouted by Cerf, then Joe Public will soon be convinced it'd be a good idea to chip in a few extra bucks each month to cover the cost, all in the name of freedom.  And the rich get richer ...

Topic: Browser

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

13 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • BitTorrent Goes Hollywood

    [url=http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6092296.html]FYI! BitTorrent Goes Hollywood[/url]

    So, with all the BitTorrent Obfuscation going on, it kind of makes it difficult for traffic shaping QoS, doesn't it now?

    Is Hollywood recognizing the potential of P2P???

    ;)
    D T Schmitz
    • Hmmmm

      Yeah ... so they sell you content, then your bandwidth is then used as required. In essence, you're paying for the content and then paying again to distribute it to others.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Streaming Content with PHE

        Streaming Content which bypasses QoS with Protocol Header Encryption is becoming more prevelant and P2P.

        As more streaming content providers come on-line, PHE and other methods of Obfuscation will be on the rise which is hard to throttle.

        So it's not so much filesharing as a potential new way to provide legitamite video streaming services via P2P BitTorrent technology.

        BitTorrent using PHE flys below the Radar of ISPs trying to enforce service level agreements for guaranteed QoS threshholds.

        It's happening.
        D T Schmitz
        • Oh yeah ...

          it's happening. The question though is, why?
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Where you went wrong.

    The large content providers DO PAY for their bandwidth just like everyone else. What part of that escapes everyone???

    Do you really think Ma Bell pulls a DS3 line in for free and doesn't make a boat load of cash from it every month?
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • But ...

      They pay nowhere near the same ...
      Example ... the Googlebot spider costs me more in website bandwidth costs than it costs them. You telling me the same doensn't apply across the board.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Everyone already pays for bandwidth

    You make it sound as if you and home and Google pay the same thing for internet access. That's flat out false. If you believe it's true, why don't you swap your bill with Google?

    That's the thing: the users of high bandwidth pay an awful lot for that bandwidth. Why do you think YouTube had to raise so much money? Their bandwidth bill is extremely high.

    So, your entire argument breaks down. The bandwidth is already being paid for. No one is saying that Google or YouTube shouldn't pay more for using more bandwidth. They already do that. What they don't want to do is have to pay twice -- the second time for the bandwidth that *you* already paid for.

    As for your second point, that consumers just wouldn't stand for a cut down internet, and how "market forces" will take care of it -- that only works if there are market forces at play. Unfortunately, too many people only have one choice or two limited choices in the broadband providers. There isn't enough competition for real market forces to play out.

    So, both parts of your argument don't actually stand up to scrutiny.
    mmasnick
    • I don't buy that ...

      "So, your entire argument breaks down. The bandwidth is already being paid for. No one is saying that Google or YouTube shouldn't pay more for using more bandwidth. They already do that. What they don't want to do is have to pay twice -- the second time for the bandwidth that *you* already paid for."

      And the price I pay doesn't take into account the overall demand for bandwidth? I'm not on a pay for what I use.

      "There isn't enough competition for real market forces to play out."

      In which case, how is that difference from a few content providers making the biggest demands on the bandwidth and everyone else picking up the tab? You're ignoring the downstream effect and choosing to believe that the big players are somehow subsidizing the downstream costs that the end user experiences.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • It's a power grab for the Internet.

    [i]The bottom line is that more content than ever is being pushed through the Internet, and eventually someone has to pay for it. The real danger is that if enough people start believing the kind of hyperbole being spouted by Cerf, then Joe Public will soon be convinced it'd be a good idea to chip in a few extra bucks each month to cover the cost, all in the name of freedom. And the rich get richer ?[/i]
    ... because the execs will only line their own pockets with the "fees" we pay for better access, and will never see. QoS my aunt fanny. :p Once the net has been hijacked by Veri$on, it will just be turned into a worldwide propaganda botnet and quality won't matter to anyone anyway.

    My home recently switched (I'm hesitant to say "upgrade") from DSL to FiOS fiber optic. I read through the ToS and, while less draconian than [url=http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ratcliffe/?p=155#comments]what Mitch Ratcliff blogged about Doc Searles' termination notice,[/url] there are a coulple of paragraphs that do give me cause for concern:
    [b]
    3.6.1 You may not resell the Broadband Service, use it for high-volume purposes, or engage in similar activities that constitute resale (commercial or noncommercial), as determined soley by Verizon.

    Attachment A: Acceptable Use Policy
    3. You may NOT use the service as follows: ...
    (n) to generate excessive amounts (as determined by Verizon) of Internet traffic, or to disrupt net user groups or e-mail use by others; [/b]

    The part about not reselling or disrupting I'm OK with, but the language of "high-volume purposes" and "excessive amounts of Internet traffic" (as determined by Verizon) raises red flags for me. Exactly what is "high-volume" and "excessive amounts of Internet traffic"? How much data/time-period is that? They don't give any specific numbers. If they did, no problem. As such, that amount is subject to interpretation and will change at a person's whim. For all I know, I may have already exceeded that amount on only my first full day with fiber. And why "as determined by Verizon," like a judge or law can't override them? What "guidelines" are they using? Do they have "experts" that can make such determinations?

    [i]"allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success."[/i]- Vinton Cerf
    Unfortunatly, they already have control of the high-volume pipes that data packets go through. What better place to control the net? You can route whatever packet through whatever pipe, and nobody is allowed to complain. You know what packets will be sent to which pipe, don't you?

    It's ultimately about control of the Internet. If Veri$on and the other broadband misers win, Joe Public loses. The Internet and the freedom of choice it gave us will be gone, and all we'll have is effluent comming through the wires.
    Mr. Roboto
  • Re: Thoughts on net neutrality ...

    I come down on the side of network neutrality simply because it best serves my interests. What better reason is there? The telcos, the billionaire-backed dot coms - they will pursue laws and regulations that advantage them. Period. All of them would offload their costs to someone else if they could, and do when they can, and fairness is nothing more than an ideal to which they can appeal to get what they want which usually isn't on the same planet as fairness.

    Why should the consumer play the patsy? Why should the consumer be the only party in a battle of interests to genuinely worry about what's fair?

    Don't go to a gunfight armed with a knife, and don't oppose net neutrality unless there's something concrete and tangible in its defeat for you.

    I suppose you did notice in all the communications lawmaking that while the Congress appears to be ready to give the telcos what they want there's no hint of asking something in return. In other words, while the telco supporters characterize the abuses people are worried about as hypothetical, they should bear in mind that any network upgrade or buildout is hypothetical too. The telcos needn't add capacity before they can implement paid QoS to milk more revenue from their infrastructure. Extra capacity is not a given. Higher costs for everyone is.



    :)
    none none
  • Vint Cerf works for Google

    "Vinton Cerf, Vice President and "Chief Internet Evangelist"

    That would be Chief Internet Evangelist of Google. Mr. Cerf works for Google and Google's interests. Back when Cerf worked for WorldCom, he said this.

    *****************
    Vint Cerf on Internet regulation (RFC 3271):
    http://tools.ietf.org/html/3271
    Internet is for everyone - but it won?t be if Governments restrict access to it, so we must dedicate ourselves to keeping the network unrestricted, unfettered and unregulated. We must have the freedom to speak and the freedom to hear.

    Internet is for everyone - but it won?t be if it cannot keep up with the explosive demand for its services, so we must dedicate ourselves to continuing its technological evolution and development of the technical standards the [sic] lie at the heart of the Internet revolution.
    *****************
    georgeou
  • Well said -- can't get something for nothing

    You get it.

    More and more content requires more and more bandwidth and differential offerings with differential prices and differential features.

    NN envsions a "Socialized-Internet" where in the name of equality everyone's freedom and service is degraded.
    scleland@...
  • MY thought on Network Neutrality is simple:

    Anyone who doesn't understand the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web should have a say on the issue.

    The assumption that the "Evil, Rich Telcos" ARE automatically both evil and wrong is silly.

    The fact is, if you have a computer (either a workstation or a server) that you want to attach to the Internet, you have to pay money to do so. You also should not be surprised that you will be asked to pay an amount commensurate with the use you will put the network to.

    Or have we decided to simply nationalize the private property that makes up the internet and dole it out to the general public?
    escher@...