Sunday, August 27, 2006

Net neutrality, part six

6. on doing something

6.1. "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - neutrality made the internet what it is today

6.2. net neutrality is good for consumers

6.2.1. there are worse things than higher prices "I believe that it's better to have consumers pay more for service than to have AT&T picking and choosing winners on the network. Both are a cost to the economy, but the latter is a double cost. It creates costs that are passed on to consumers anyhow, and it also distorts competition between eBay, Yahoo!, and the like. Building networks at the expense of network applications has a logic O. Henry would enjoy, for it's akin to selling a painting in order to buy a better frame." - Tim Wu

6.2.2. network providers want to promote their own services and make the competition pay network providers want to charge somebody, and can't be sure that consumers will want to buy their in-house content and services "Having literally sunk their billion-dollar investments in the ground, the telecoms firms will need to get a decent return on them. But in their nightmare scenario, customers may simply sign up to their huge bandwidth and then use it not to buy the services touted by the telecoms firms but instead to obtain independent or web-based services, such as Skype for making calls or (when the service is launched) Netflix for downloading movies. Can the telecoms firms do anything to stop that? Stoyan Kenderov, an IPTV expert at Amdocs, a firm that makes back-office software for telecoms companies, says that the telecoms firms are building into their residential gateways new technology that will inspect the packets of zeros and ones passing through. This will let them identify traffic from third-party rivals, which might then end up at the back of the queue and thus be slow and patchy. The only hint that users might have of that going on, says Mr Kenderov, would be some very fine print on their bills explaining, in turgid legalese, that the provider guarantees the quality of its own services only." - The Economist, Jul 28th 2005, "Large phone companies are seeking payments from Internet companies for high-quality delivery of music, movies and other content that will move over their telecommunications networks, according to a published report." - CNN "How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! (YHOO ) or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!" - Ed Whitacre, CEO of SBC, quoted in Businessweek, November 7, 2005 - "Internet companies said Whitacre was stating what they have long feared -- that SBC and others may manage their networks to choke off access to Web sites or to target competing firms such as Vonage Holdings Corp. and Skype Technologies SA, which provide Internet-based phone services." - Washington Post "I think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network - obviously not the piece from the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in Internet access fees - but for accessing the so-called Internet cloud.. . . If someone wants to transmit a high quality service with no interruptions and guaranteed this, guaranteed that, they should be willing to pay for that," the AT&T chief said. "Now they might pass it on to their customers who are looking at a movie, for example. But that ought to be a cost of doing business for them. They shouldn't get on [the network] and expect a free ride " Ed Whitacre, CEO of AT&T, quoted in Financial Times, January 2006 "There's no such thing as a free lunch on the Internet, according to Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who said Thursday that providers of bandwidth-intensive Internet applications, including Google and Microsoft, should "share the cost" of operating broadband networks." "But how can we believe any of this when AT&T's CEO refers to the paths for Internet access as ``his pipes'' and he vows to make some users pay for access to these pipes? That sounds very clear to me and I find some agreement with one Internet expert who referred to this as the ``Tony Soprano business model.'' . . . the lack of net neutrality allows for the distinct possibility that the phone and cable companies could block or slow the sites and services of their competitors. I don't see in the phone and cable companies the kind of wide open competition that is present today on the Internet. And given that lack of competition in the phone and cable industries, I question the commitment to competition of its players and what that means for consumers under the provisions of this bill. " - Congressman Lois Capps Senator Wyden's bill "will assure that a company like Comcast that offers Internet access does not give preferential treatment to its own information bits compared to information bits from another company, like Yahoo." - Senator Wyden VoIP is particularly vulnerable to discrimination "Evidence of anti-competitive behavior is thin so far, but in March [2005] the FCC fined a small North Carolina telecom carrier for blocking Voice over IP (define) calls delivered by competitors to the telecom's own VoIP service. Madison River Communications of Mebane, N.C., which owns and operates four rural telephone companies in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Illinois, admitted no guilt but agreed to pay a $15,000 fine and promised to drop the practice. "This is the single-largest problem VoIP will face. It's critical not only to our survival but for all next-generation IP services," Jason Talley, CEO of VoIP provider Nuvio, told at the time. "Port blocking is easy to point out, but the other stuff [degrading the VoIP signal] is harder to prove." - Wifiplanet

6.3. let the marketplace not the telcos decide the winners

6.4. neutrality protects innovation

6.4.1. "what would happen if discrimination reigned on the Internet: a transformation from a market where innovation rules to one where deal-making rules. Or, a market where firms rush to make exclusive agreements with AT&T and Verizon instead of trying to improve their products." - Tim Wu

6.4.2. "Broadband providers are planning a two-lane Internet with a fast lane for their content and for the content of those who pay, and a slow lane for everyone else. Start-ups cannot afford the fast lane fees, and in the slow lane they cannot succeed. Innovation is at risk." Rick Boucher

6.4.3. "America's small businesses and entrepreneurs could be left in the slow lane with inferior Internet service, unable to compete with the big corporations that can pay Internet providers toll charges to be in the fast lane." - Nancy Pelosi

6.4.4. "But it is precisely this unbridled freedom on the Internet that has also brought us innovation on an almost unimaginable scale over the last decade or so. The explosive growth of everything from web-based businesses to politically-based sites to newsgathering sources has been nothing short of amazing. . . . First, it means that small players on the Internet will find it harder to use the world wide reach of the Internet to bring their new ideas to market. The danger is not to Google, but to the next potential Google. That new idea that might upend Google or MySpace won't get very far if it can't match the reach of those behemoths. The inability to pay phone and cable company fees for the ``fast lane'' will keep new ideas out of the market." - Congressman Lois Capps

6.5. the network companies are stupid and evil

6.5.1. the telcos are just plain jealous of the successful internet companies and want to get back at them: "What's really going on is the CEOs of Verizon, AT&T, Bell South and the other Telcos are looking at their margins going down month after month while the service providers like Apple and Google, who deliver their services to consumers over the Telco's networks, are watching their margins go up and up."

6.5.2. "how the telcos were granted all sorts of subsidies and benefits in exchange for promising to delivering high speed fiber to our homes -- something they've still never done." - Techdirt

6.5.3. “I look at what the phone company does and do the opposite.” Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist

6.5.4. ""We're the phone company. We don't care because we don't have to." Lily Tomlin, comedienne

6.6. network providers are already getting rich

6.6.1. "In the Internet world, both ends essentially pay for access to the Internet system, and so the providers of access get compensated by the users at each end . . . My big concern is that suddenly access providers want to step in the middle and create a toll road to limit customers' ability to get access to services of their choice even though they have paid for access to the network in the first place." Vint Cerf, quoted in Washington Post, 2/7/06,

6.6.2. "Another reaction is that "I'm already paying (a lot) for Internet access, and I don't want them to decrease my services." I suspect that if the ISPs are able to discriminate among content providers, then they will slip this provision into the consumer's terms of service, and most users won't even notice that their service has been decreased. Perhaps charging content providers would be reasonable if the company provided a free Internet connection to consumers -- but adding this discriminatory power to the current ISP system provides too much opportunity for unfair exploitation." - FreedomDemocrats

6.7. discrimination might not be so bad if consumers had a choice

6.7.1. "Consumers have little choice when it comes to high speed Internet. If they had more choices of providers, this wouldn't be such a dangerous situation." Paul Misener, Amazon

6.8. neutrality is good for free speech

6.8.1. "Network neutrality (and, before it, open access) are the best way to implement the goals of good information policy and democratic and free speech values." - Jack Balkin, Balkinization

6.8.2. "Bloggers, our citizen journalists, could be silenced by skyrocketing costs to post and share video and audio clips." - Nancy Pelosi

6.8.3. "A carrier could block access to a labor union site during a dispute. It could block access to a Web site after a special interest group makes a lot of noise about it. It could even block a political site to curry favor with the current administration. All that sounds far fetched, but the whole point is that there is nothing in place to stop carriers from doing it." - Paul Misener, Amazon

6.8.4. "Protection of free speech includes speech with which we disagree. If ISPs are allowed to become the gatekeepers of the Internet, everyone's speech is at risk." Caroline Fredrickson, ACLU

6.8.5. "Some advocacy groups, like the Christian Coalition and, worry that without explicit prohibitions in place, network owners could get away with blocking or degrading Web sites based on their religious or political content." Senator Demint

6.9. when discrimination becomes a problem, it will be too late for Congress to act

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