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Cory Doctorow Draws the Line On Net Neutrality

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the preserving-the-next-google-from-cradle-strangulation dept.

Censorship 381

Nerdposeur points out that Cory Doctorow has a compelling piece in The Guardian today, arguing that network neutrality is not only crucial for the future of the Internet, but is what the ISPs owe to the public. He asks, "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?" "If the phone companies had to negotiate for every pole, every sewer, every punch-down, every junction box, every road they get to tear up, they'd go broke. All the money in the world couldn't pay for the access they get for free every day... If they don't like it, let them get into another line of work — give them 60 days to get their wires out of our dirt and then sell the franchise to provide network services to a competitor who will promise to give us a solid digital future in exchange for our generosity."

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I draw line on first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018585)

anyone after me fails it.

FIRST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018587)

PIZZ-OWND

Statist abuse (4, Funny)

Hugonz (20064) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018613)

"Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?"

Yes, a black flag in my case.

Re:Statist abuse (-1, Flamebait)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019049)

I'm still mystified why anyone gives a flying fig what Doctorow thinks about anything. The man is an irrelevant blowhard with a stupid website.

Re:Statist abuse (1, Redundant)

databyss (586137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019521)

Did he beat up you mom or something?

Seems like you're a bit too extravagant in your disgust for somebody else's opinion.

flag-waving? (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018641)

He asks, "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?"

No. I feel like marching in protest. That didn't make me feel more patriotic. It made me feel more willing to express my frustration with the telcos.

Unless he meant a white flag. In which case I have to say, definitely no. That did not make me want to surrender. Of course, I'm not a telco -- maybe reading that would make them want to surrender -- price-gouging surrender monkeys that they are.

Re:flag-waving? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018847)

He asks, "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?"

No. I feel like marching in protest. That didn't make me feel more patriotic. It made me feel more willing to express my frustration with the telcos

Uhh... Have you ever been to a protest?

I, for one, have waved the red flag [wikipedia.org] in several protests and would be willing to do so for this too, I guess. I have also seen a black flag [wikipedia.org] waved in some protests and am sure that it would fit in those too.

Not that there is an issue about net neutrality where I live. Government regulates companies enough that ISPs couldn't threat net neutrality without putting a lot of effort into making it very clear what it's all about and in such case the competition would take care of the problem.

Re:flag-waving? (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019597)

yes, but the generic term "waving a flag" is used to denote patriotism. At least that's how it's used in the US, generally...

(this offer null and void outside the US)

Fuck Republicans (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018653)

I will never vote for that country ruining party and neither should you.

Never again.

They fucked up the country, so don't vote for them ever again.

They fool the gullible with lies and half truths.

Don't get suckered in to voting for them.

Re:Fuck Republicans (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018789)

Right...because the Democrats aren't sold out to the telcos.

Re:Fuck Republicans (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018863)

The only sucker around here is the one that thinks that either one is better than other.

The both have sold out. Blasting one and supporting the other is height of foolishness.

Re:Fuck Republicans (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018949)

You're half right. If you had said "Fuck the Republicans AND Democrats" I could agree with you 100 percent.

Re:Fuck Republicans (0, Redundant)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019063)

Two sides of the same coin.

Re:Fuck Republicans (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019365)

I understand the sentiment, but the correct answer is "I will never vote for any politician who puts corporate interest ahead of the welfare of citizens and neither should you."

This covers many Democrats and all Republicans. Unfortunately, it also seems to cover most Libertarians.

Corporations are the enemy of Democracy. Not because it's a necessary part of doing business, but because they've have chosen that path.

The only solution is to take all private money out of the election process. There needs to be iron-clad, enforced limitations on campaign finance, with a Justice Department squad whose only job is to make sure that a brand new set of campaign finance laws are enforced without exception.

The notion (put forth by corporatist SCOTUS judges) that MONEY=SPEECH has been the single most destructive opinion put forth by the Supreme Court of the United States in our history. We will never again have fair elections, accountable office-holders or a strong middle class until we have reduced the influence of money in our political system.

Term limits aren't enough. Campaign finance "reform" isn't enough.

Re:Fuck Republicans (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019507)

I will never vote for that country ruining party and neither should you.
Never again.
They fucked up the country, so don't vote for them ever again.
They fool the gullible with lies and half truths.
Don't get suckered in to voting for them.

I didn't scan the title to your post, so I didn't know what party you were referring to. And a little part of me whispered, "How neat -- an apt commentary on the political system by launching partisan invective that could be aimed at either party" and then I chuckled because I've heard the same invective uttered about both major parties in the US.

And then I read the subject of your post and realized you're spewing meaningless invective at the Republican Party, and while I agree with you, there was absolutely nothing of meaning included in your post.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. :(

Just keep competition alive (5, Funny)

brasselv (1471265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018667)

As long as a competitive, free market is ensured, this won't happen.
If a ISP starts filtering, people will move to the next.

Of course, things may turn out very different if we allow dominant market positions to be built in the ISP market.

(But this won't happen, right? Just as we never let any dominant market position arise in the OS market, or in the microprocessor market. Now sorry, gotta rush back to my cave).

Re:Just keep competition alive (1, Redundant)

mellon (7048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018809)

You're kidding, right? The competition is already long dead.

Re:Just keep competition alive (4, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018823)

What competitive free market? In my neighborhood, there are two options for consumer broadband, just like everyone's, across the nation. Those options increase if you're willing to pay $300.00 for a T1, but the cable/telco duopolies throughout the US prohibit a truly competitive environment.

Re:Just keep competition alive (3, Informative)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019003)

Some parts of the country don't even have 2 options. The company I work for, we do tech support for multiple cable companies across the U.S. Some areas, speeds are as low as 256kbps down/128kbps, and that's all that's available. No DSL.

Re:Just keep competition alive (3, Interesting)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019177)

You think that's bad? Some of us have to use string and cans you insensitive clod!

In all seriousness though, some areas don't have real broadband at all, besides satellite. And in some of those areas the phone lines are so old and degraded they max out at around 24kbps down. (And of course, we can go really extreme and bring up the places that don't have any communication lines at all, but then those places usually don't have any other modern amenities either so they really don't count.) But sadly, the max 24kbps down is more widespread than you might think. In fact, where I call "home" right now (about 20 minutes from Columbus OH) up until very recently that was precisely the case. There's still no DSL or cable available, but someone was nice enough to set up a short-range (signal reaches up to about 3 miles or so) wireless ISP that is passably good.

Re:Just keep competition alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019133)

I'd love to get an E1 (the closest we get to a T1) but the last price I was quoted was just under $1,800 per month.
That doesnt include the $20,000 installation fee.

Re:Just keep competition alive (5, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019399)

In my neighborhood I have a last-mile fiber provided by a government-regulated monopoly, to which I pay a government-established fee (small).

The monopoly cannot provide uplink services; these are provided by a ton of ISPs over the monopoly's fiber. I know of about 5-6 such ISPs, and I am sure there are at least a few dozens.

I am paying a total of about $40 a month for 100Mbps.

Re:Just keep competition alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019543)

Excuse a Swede but.. if your phone lines are DSL capable, don't you have a choice of DSL providers?

I mean, the phone network has to be kind of vendor agnostic or how ever you might put it.

Re:Just keep competition alive (2, Interesting)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018831)

Of course, things may turn out very different if we allow dominant market positions to be built in the ISP market.

That totally hasn't happened.

Re:Just keep competition alive (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019153)

As long as a competitive, free market is ensured, this won't happen.

And other assorted Fairy Tales by Slashdotter brasselv, with an intro by Ayn Rand.

A free market is not possible anywhere at any time. Some markets are free enough to render this distinction not terribly important for the most part, but the telecom/ISP market is almost the polar opposite of those relatively free markets in this regard.

Where do you live that this is possible? (2)

shidarin'ou (762483) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019203)

Where do you live where it is possible to just "switch" to a different ISP?

Everyone I have lived (save one place) has only had one option for high speed internet. One cable company which was granted a sanctioned monopoly to service the area. If you didn't like the way they did business your options were limited. DSL for a majority of locations is not nearly as fast as cable- if you live close enough to the service station at all. If the only other option is dialup and you are protesting slow speeds on non-affiliated sites.. what's the point? The entire internet will be as slow as the original ISP throttling (if you do this solely to make a point to the ISP and can live with those speeds- kudos to you).

The problem is these ISPs have been given sanctioned monopolies over certain areas. The consumer does not have a choice. The unfiltered internet will not win because consumers cannot switch to it. The unfiltered internet can not win because it won't have the budget to break into those monopolies, because the monopolies will be collecting money from their affiliated preferred business partners, and the unfiltered internet will not be.

And finally, the unfiltered internet will not win because it will be more expensive than the filtered internet- and Americans refuse to pay an extra 2 cents for a safety airbag that will save their lives.

Re:Where do you live that this is possible? (1)

brasselv (1471265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019249)

Guys, I thought my irony was obvious by the reference to "free markets" like OS and microprocessors...

Re:Where do you live that this is possible? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019325)

Where do you live where it is possible to just "switch" to a different ISP?

From what I hear, in some big cities you have a dozen options to choose from, as opposed to the majority of the country, where if you live in a duopoly, you're lucky.

I wouldn't know either extreme, personally; I grew up in a built-up rural area, and moved to suburbia when I got a job. I've never had any better or worse than a duopoly.

Re:Where do you live that this is possible? (1)

shidarin'ou (762483) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019445)

Los Angeles here. Lived in 5 different places in this city and with the exception of the one I just moved into (which now gets FIOS and Time Warner) all have only had 1 option. Unless New York is someone the opposite, my experience hasn't taught me that :/

Re:Just keep competition alive (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019501)

As long as a competitive, free market is ensured, this won't happen.

See, this is the kind of silliness that has gotten us here.

The "competitive, free market" is code for siphoning wealth from the productive middle and working classes and giving it to anti-national corporations who are openly hostile to the very notion of Democracy.

It's a fiction that's been created by (guess who?) the corporate interests that are the only ones to benefit from the kind of lawless laissez faire we've been subjected to. They create well-funded "think tanks" like the Heritage Foundation to sell this idea using corporate-paid media voices on corporate-owned media outlets. They have even created the false notion that this fictional "competitive free-market" is the only solution to our problems even as it continues to destabilize societies and impoverish people. Of course, they can never point to a place on Earth where anything like a "competitive, free market" has been "ensured" but it doesn't stop them from selling this poisonous notion.

The damage being done to human societies by unfettered corporations dwarfs any threat by so-called "terrorists".

More Flag Waving (2, Insightful)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018669)

Not sure what kind of flag he's talking about, but I'm thinking a red one?

Re:More Flag Waving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018729)

It could be red, but it certainly wouldn't be a fedora flag.

Dirt Rental (5, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018713)

How about the opposite... how anout as municipalities, we band together and start charging them rent on our ditches and land that they are running the cable through. They want to screw us on the received end then we will screw then on the intake valve. If we stand firm enough, the fear of being charged billions to use their own lines will put the fear of some sort of ancient evil from beyond the stars into them.

Re:Dirt Rental (4, Informative)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018939)

Municipalities do charge them. We just charge too little, and don't ask for much service in return. The last time my city "negotiated" with the cable company, I don't recall it being big news, and I certainly don't recall there being much public debate over what the terms should be.

For me, it's 8 years until the current contract is up. And yes, I'm going to make a stink.

Re:Dirt Rental (4, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019037)

Instead, make infrastructure part of building codes and get community builders mandated to run decent fiber (not FiOS) drops to each residence.

Doctorow makes a great point about the abuse and monopolistic attitude that telcos have had for decades-- all bought and paid for at the Legislative Market. These stinking thieves do indeed put out capital for infrastructure, but they're only beholden to shareholders, not ratepayers in their captive markets.

Re:Dirt Rental (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019123)

Thats a nice idea in principle, but it won't happen. Currently few people are buying houses and property because of the media-led housing scare. Because of this scare, some people have simply stopped making house payments leading to foreclosure of many homes, this leads to banks being tight with money, this leads to few people buying houses.

Making places even more expensive is not the answer. Even with many homes and properties being sold at a loss there are still relatively few buyers. By mandating trivial things, it only hurts the free market.

Re:Dirt Rental (3, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019253)

Uh, no.

See several projects, including http://www.llccp.net/asp/Site/LLCCP/AboutLLCCP/Introduction/index.asp [llccp.net] among others.

And personally, I believe the 'free market' is a sham for 'do what I want cause I got the gold'. Utilities were granted many qualities in exchange for a monopoly. Now that monopoly has turned against us, almost uniformly.

Re:Dirt Rental (5, Insightful)

InspectorxGadget (1230170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019335)

And the monopoly the utilities have was in every case granted by the state. The free market doesn't enter into it. Arguably, some things are naturally best managed by monopolies. Online services, outside of maybe - and it's a stretch - the cables that carry them, are not best served by a monopoly. Every time someone argues that the free market is responsible for monopoly misbehavior, my blood pressure goes up ten points. Free markets imply competition, which is distinctly lacking in the telco context thanks to government intervention.

Re:Dirt Rental (5, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019471)

Oh that's BS and you know it.

Monopolies inevitably become excessive. Free markets are just another buzzword for leave me alone, I want to suck as much out of something as I can without regulation or pesky rules to get in my way.

The states comprised 47 different authorities that the monopolies had to deal with, so they lobbied moving things to a federal level so they only had one jurisdiction to bribe. Now the state utility authorities are almost toothless when it comes to regulating the re-formed giants that are Verizon, Quest, AT&T, etc.

These guys are very interested in TOTAL domination of their markets and they know they have the cost barrier points in their favor, signed-sealed-and-delivered by the FCC and the Congress. After all, they PAID FOR IT. Go ahead, check out the records of how much the utilities have spent on lobbying and campaign contributions (yes, legal bribes).

Re:Dirt Rental (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019001)

How about the opposite... how anout as municipalities, we band together and start charging them rent ...

If government stood for the general population rather than for businesses, we wouldn't have the DMCA, eternal copyright, overly lax banking regulation, or the inability to erase consumer credit card debt via bankruptcy court.

So as nice as your idea sounds, I'm afraid it's pretty much just fantasy.

Re:Dirt Rental (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019055)

Or -- and this is just me here -- we could try encouraging a way of doing business that *doesn't* screw *anybody.* The basis of trade is mutual profit, as in, both parties get more out of the trade than they lost. Each has what the other wants. Quid pro quo.

People are too ready to tear others down to get what they want. It's time to adopt the mindset of building each other up: the businesses and the customers alike. Things work better that way.

You can call me a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.

Re:Dirt Rental (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019467)

...and so your tv/phone/net bill each go up an extra 10% to cover the costs.

I'm curious how this would have ANY effect on net-neutrality.

Plus, if the costs get too great, the ISPs will either "ask" for more free taxpayer money [businessweek.com] or stop running wires anywhere but big cities.

The real question is why municipalities aren't running fiber along with power/sewage/etc. That would instantly solve the "last mile" problem.

Then, to serve the town, an ISP would only need to run wires to the town wire closet.

So simple... there must be a reason why everyone isn't doing it.
Oh, that's why [arstechnica.com]

A small town in Minnesota wants to build its own fiber to the home network. The local telco didn't want to do it, but it doesn't want the city competing with it, either. That means one thing: lawsuit.

Of course, this whole discussion has very little to do with net neutrality.

Re:Dirt Rental (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019503)

If we stand firm enough, the fear of being charged billions to use their own lines

Well, that's the thing. You're perfectly right of course but it shouldn't have been "their lines" to begin with. No company should be able to actually own them. I can't imagine what kind of drugs local leaders in the U.S. were on when telco and cable companies barged into town and said, "Hi there, we want string up wires on every single piece of private property and get the whole operation subsidized too. And then when it's done, we'll own it all and do whatever we like with both the lines and the services. Sound good?"

In my perfect little imaginary universe, the local governments would own the loops and rent them out to whoever wanted to use them. Use the proceeds to hire a company (who is not a carrier) to maintain the infrastructure. If carriers wanted upgrades, they could pay for them. Sure, there would still be some problems to work out since it adds a layer of bureaucracy but I can guarantee it would be much better than allowing one company to have monopolistic control over an entire city and its citizens.

Re:Dirt Rental (1)

Schuthrax (682718) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019523)

That's a tax the company will use to write off, and then turn around and pass the cost off onto us.

Amen (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018731)

No idea what the flag remark is about but I certainly applaud what he is saying.

Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anyway? (5, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018747)

Ridiculously high upfront cost, is a waste of resources to make multiple sets of them for each competitor, internet cables, like roads, seem like the perfect thing to have under government control. We can have private companies competing for the services they can provide over these lines.

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (0, Troll)

skydude_20 (307538) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018943)

because we would still be using telegraph if we had to rely on the government to improve communications infrastructure

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (4, Funny)

Daffy Duck (17350) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019009)

Whereas today's hottest technologies are texting and Twitter. Stop. Which are very different from the telegraph in... some way. Stop.

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019097)

>Whereas today's hottest *diversions* are texting and Twitter.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019235)

telegraphs didn't have message size limits.

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (2, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019423)

because we would still be using telegraph if we had to rely on the government to improve communications infrastructure

What about

The ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) created by ARPA of the United States Department of Defense during the Cold War, was the world's first operational packet switching network, and the predecessor of the global Internet.

Packet switching, now the dominant basis for both data and voice communication worldwide, was a new and important concept in data communications. Previously, data communication was based on the idea of circuit switching, as in the old typical telephone circuit, where a dedicated circuit is tied up for the duration of the call and communication is only possible with the single party on the other end of the circuit.

sounds like we'd still be using a glorified telegraph without the government to me.

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (0, Troll)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019045)

Because the government is terrible at managing things, has no competition, and little oversight.

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019369)

It's a matter of principle. If you let people realize that corporate controlled cables is a bad idea, then it is not long before the public begins to question other corporate domains too. Corporate banks? How is that mortgage crisis working out? Corporate health care? Um.. yeah. Corporate railways? Works fantastically in Britain. Corporate auto manufacturers? Which has to be bailed out by the state when no one buys their products?

Re:Why do we have corporate-controlled wires anywa (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019449)

It is the result of having a corporate-controlled government.

Opposing side? (2, Funny)

ComputerDruid (1499317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018749)

I don't think I've ever heard an argument that was serious for the other side of this issue. Am I just ignorant? Or is this a non-issue that people like to discuss?

Regardless, censorship is a scary thing. Fortunately, the internet is probably bigger than most blacklist-based censorship attempts, and I don't think we're in such a bad position that people would tolerate anything more restrictive (whitelists or graylists). The great firewall of china is obviously the exception to this.

Re:Opposing side? (1)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018805)

oh boy these Chinese ARE good at building Walls.

Re:Opposing side? (3, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019069)

The great firewall of china is obviously the exception to this.

Actually, it is not. Speaking as somebody that has been to China and seen the poorest parts, and the most affluent areas, I can assure you, that you are wrong.

The average Chinese person does not understand what the "Great Firewall" is. Those that do understand (which is a small percentage of the population), also know the ways around it. The firewall itself is largely ineffective against anybody with a reasonable level of skill. Personally, I think the firewall was created to maintain an image.

What is more effective, and instills more fear, are the government workers that are actively looking for undesirable (local) content and then "censoring" it. Of course, China's censorship can get pretty hands on.

Even with such hands on censorship being performed, the people are fighting back making sure the information is getting around. The milk contamination is a great example. Not only were people still able to get their hands on foreign articles, but there was movement inside the country to disseminate the information and confront the government. It took time, and you most likely did not hear much in the foreign news.

The Chinese people are not willing to "tolerate anything". If anything, the tolerance you speak of is just ignorance. Those that understand they are being censored, are by no means taking it lightly.

From my experience, for every regulation or law in China, there are 10 different ways to get around it. 100 ways if it involves bribes.

Re:Opposing side? (2, Insightful)

chefmonkey (140671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019089)

"I don't think I've ever heard an argument that was serious for the other side of this issue."

Over here in the states, the counter arguments generally run something like, "Good day, Senator So-and-so. Here's a pile of cash the size of Rhode Island. We would encourage you to let ISPs run roughshod over consumers. Sound good?"

Not that I'm against net neutrality (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018755)

Cory Doctorow is working his ass off to come out of obscurity.
http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/14/why-publishing-shoul.html [boingboing.net]

It's a shame that he's turning into a loudmouthed pundit rather than an author I'd care to read.

I drove down the highway today and was stuck in traffic for a long while. There were lots of cars zipping in and out, but the main problem was a group of long-haul trucks taking up a mile of roadway. The amount of road we have is finite, so the addition of these large trucks is fine for a few, but once you start getting more than a handful of trucks on the road, all traffic is affect.

But Net Neutrality is a tough issue. Yes, clearly, as users we want as unfettered a line as possible. However, the ISP also needs to balance the needs of all the users against the needs of certain special users.

If it weren't for some users flooding the network with massive filesharing packets, this would all be a non-issue. Actually, for most users it still is since most users are not affected at all by bandwidth strangling.

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018877)

the ISP also needs to balance the needs of all the users against the needs of certain special users.

As youtube and hulu and other online distribution sites like itunes or steam or the playstation store get more and more popular, "all of the users" need more bandwidth. Either that, or more and more users become "special".

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (2, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019127)

Either that, or more and more users become "special".

Until they're all special. And then we hug.

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (5, Informative)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018885)

That's not what net neutrality is about. That's QoS or usage tiers. What net neutrality is about is making sure that toll road owners are not charging more for trucks carrying company A's stuff than trucks driving company B's stuff. ISPs want to be able to degrade performance from certain internet services, such as Skype and Hulu, in order to "encourage" you to use their own services. That is, unless those services pay your ISP an extortion fee.

In other word, net neutrality is about not discriminating against the source of the traffic. It says nothing about discriminating based on the type of traffic and amount. Comcast should not arbitrarily degrade my Skype traffic because they prefer me to use their VOIP service and Skype refuses to pay them a kickback. I should be able to choose how I use my connection, so long as I am not infringing upon other users.

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019251)

That's not what net neutrality is about. That's QoS or usage tiers.

Dude. No surprise there. It's just Bad Analogy Guy living up to his nick once again.

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019387)

How many times must Slashdot be told: The Internet is Not A Big Truck [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (3, Insightful)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018899)

If it weren't for some users flooding the network with massive filesharing packets, this would all be a non-issue. Actually, for most users it still is since most users are not affected at all by bandwidth strangling.

So hulu, youtube, and itunes (not to mention spam) are going to go away if filesharing is turned off on the entire Internet? Riiiight.

Re:Network use will expand to fill the bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019027)

I think like clockwork the network use will more or less fill the available bandwidth. Add more bandwidth and you can add more customers but eventually they will saturate whats available, period. As more bandwidth becomes available, new tools will arise that take advantage of it.

This is just ISPs looking for one more way to scratch more money out of my wallet. Of course the MAFIAA/RIAA will be all over this since it would allow then ISPs to throttle any access to Pirate Bay or its cousins down completely. It gives commercial entities the ability to censor our access to information - and if a corporation can turn a buck then it will generally do so and screw the customers. I don't want my access on the web limited in any way should I choose to access something that Shaw Cable decides is undesirable (or which a competitor has paid more for superior exposure etc).

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018993)

If it weren't for some users flooding the network with massive filesharing packets, this would all be a non-issue. Actually, for most users it still is since most users are not affected at all by bandwidth strangling.

That's what contention ratios are for. That's not a network neutrailty issue (even though the ISPs try and sell it as one to make people like yourself think they have a point). Network neutrality is about the ISP not being able to pick and choose what data gets priority, with the line being drawn either by protocol or by content provider.

Re:Not that I'm against net neutrality (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019119)

If it weren't for some users flooding the network with massive filesharing packets, this would all be a non-issue. Actually, for most users it still is since most users are not affected at all by bandwidth strangling.

As much as I appreciate the bad analogy (you rule the field, my friend) "massive filesharing" is a drop in the bucket compared to malware.

I'd pay extra for a malware-free link. And the ISPs could provide such a link using the same hardware they currently misuse to prevent people from running servers (NNTP serving's been blocked for decades, and now SMTP and HTTP are being blocked, and next will be IMAP, then SSH because you can tunnel other protocols over it.) Just look at the traffic patterns, malware stands out like a freakin' sore thumb if you have even slightly competent network operators. But they are all too greedy and incompetent, which would normally cause them to lose the battle of the marketplace... except that only works in a free and far marketplace.

Seriously, if the US government was performing its duty of regulating interstate commerce, instead of getting embroiled in stupid foreign military adventuring and the like, we'd all have unrestricted traffic for a fraction of the current cost.

What about the Google monopoly... (1, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018791)

Didn't Google buy up all the dark fiber lines to build out a monopoly when the economy turns around?

Re:What about the Google monopoly... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019019)

Didn't Google buy up all the dark fiber lines to build out a monopoly when the economy turns around?

Labled as "troll", but what about it? Didn't Google buy up scads and scads of "dark fibre"???

Re:What about the Google monopoly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019087)

How is this possibly marked as a troll? Doesn't anyone see the fiber as an insurance policy?

http://news.cnet.com/Google-wants-dark-fiber/2100-1034_3-5537392.html

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/IT-Infrastructure/Google-and-Its-Continuing-Dark-Fiber-Mystery/

http://www.voip-news.com/feature/google-dark-fiber-050707/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/28/google_undersea_cable_two/

MODS! Can someone please fix this? (2, Insightful)

bornagainpenguin (1209106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019245)

Didn't Google buy up all the dark fiber lines to build out a monopoly when the economy turns around?

Parent was referring to the somewhat recent Google April Fool's joke, not actually trolling. See: http://www.google.com/tisp/ [google.com]

My God Slashdot, have we gotten to the point where people just mod as "Troll" anything they don't understand?

--bornagainpenguin

Re:What about the Google monopoly... (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019273)

No, Google bought a fraction of the world's dark fiber. Heck, even if they bought all of it, there are already a ton of competitive backbones. Google is hardly a monopoly in markets other than search and Web ads.

Beware (3, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018807)

This is ploy to sell shovels. The rumor has it that he's been piling up options on Ace Hardware shares.

End the Monopoly (1)

lousyd (459028) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018839)

If this is about phone companies, then I think I'd rather just end the monopoly they enjoy anyway. Asking a committee or government to decide what forms of Internet access are equal to others (and thus require neutrality) is just asking for trouble.

End the monopoly and let me pay my own way.

Bogus metering example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28018889)

Metering usage discourages experimentation. If you don't know whether your next click will cost you 10p or £2, you will become very conservative about your clicks.

And if we're talking about .0001p vs .002p? Same factor difference, but nobody cares about spending .002p.

A couple points to consider (4, Interesting)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28018903)

A few points to consider:

(1) If you treat Cory Doctorow like he's relevant, then he will believe he is.
(2) Yes, it is important to preserve NetNeutrality, but I'm surprised anyone is writing up an article so late in the game.
(3) "Finally, there's the question of metered billing for ISP customers." This has nothing to do with net neutrality. I don't see what the problem is. He's arguing that people don't know how much internet they're going to use. But, please don't try to fool us into thinking that we have *no idea* how much internet we use. The only way you're going to end up in the top 2% is if you're downloading massive quantities of information (not webpages!) Metered access to the internet isn't much different than cell-phone minutes. (Oh! We have NO IDEA if we're going to use 10,000 minutes a month, or 50 minutes a month - therefore telecoms can't charge us by the minute!) How absurd. I'd be pretty unhappy if they started changing a lot per MB, but in the real-world, I don't see this being much of a problem at all unless you're uploading/downloading Gigs of data. And, isn't this how companies pay for internet service anyway? A company's internet usage will vary significantly based on factors like "number of employees". So, they simply charge by bandwidth.

Another point to consider (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019017)

If you treat brit74 like he's relevant, then he will believe he is. Just saying...

Re:A couple points to consider (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019043)

(Oh! We have NO IDEA if we're going to use 10,000 minutes a month, or 50 minutes a month - therefore telecoms can't charge us by the minute!) You haven't met my wife, have you? She has been known to exceed her 1500 minute per month allotment and run up hundreds of dollars worth of airtime at $0.30/minute. The only safe plan for her would be the 43,200 minutes per month plan.

Re:A couple points to consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019395)

You assume every month has 30 days there - you'll get hit hard every odd months...

Re:A couple points to consider (2, Interesting)

lupis42 (1048492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019109)

Paying $/Gig is all well and good, but that usually isn't what tiered pricing is. Tiered pricing usually involves a minimum price that's unreasonably high for the amount of data included, and then very expensive chunks of overage. (Just like old cellphone plans, or the texting plans that are widely being objected to). Now if someone offered me unfiltered, unfettered, (meaning I can serve whatever the hell I want, for example) internet access, at 20/20 or better speed, with static IP, for $2/Gigabyte transferred/month, I'd be signing up right now. If I'm going to pay per use, than when I go on vacation and use nothing, I damn well better pay nothing.

Re:A couple points to consider (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019239)

Tiered pricing usually involves a minimum price that's unreasonably high for the amount of data included

THAT is a problem that arises when there is no competition. I absolutely believe we MUST move away from unlimited. It's insanity to keep it.

Businesses pay for their bandwidth in tiered pricing packages sometimes combined with metered billing. The difference is, there is PLENTY of competition. Colo A charges 180$ per Mb/s (symmetrical) on their bottom tier which is up to 10 Mb/s. Colo B charges 75$ per Mb/s up to 10 Mb/s.

Which Colo do you think I would go with, all other considerations being equal?

Now I don't have a problem with the bottom tiers (lower volume) being loaded with a higher profit margin than the higher tiers (larger volume). That is what discounts are about. They are trying to reach a set profit margin for their bandwidth.

Where it becomes unreasonable, is once again, where there is a lack of competition. So if we want to solve the problem, we have to increase competition first.

Re:A couple points to consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019135)

Regarding "we have no idea," that's precisely why I use an unlimited cell plan. I have no idea whether I'll use off-network minutes a month, or thousands. I've used over 2000 so far this month for work alone. At this point, I don't know if I'll be up over 5000 or 6000 by month end.

It isn't absurd.

They should do as the one municipality did -- make up whatever idiotic "rate plans" you want, then offer unlimited (with no rationing save for the 0.000001 most egregious, as even "unlimited voice minutes" plans do) at a higher price point.

Re:A couple points to consider (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019257)

"(Oh! We have NO IDEA if we're going to use 10,000 minutes a month, or 50 minutes a month - therefore telecoms can't charge us by the minute!) How absurd."

Almost everybody understands the concept of a minute and how long it feels like. If they use 100 minutes in a given day, they know it's not 15 minutes and they know it's not 500 minutes, even if they didn't time themselves. But most internet users don't have any idea of what it means to download a gigabyte or 100 gigabytes, if they even know what a gigabyte is.

Re:A couple points to consider (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019377)

please don't try to fool us into thinking that we have *no idea* how much internet we use.

We don't. I don't mean we don't know what we usually use in a month. I mean we don't know what the "next killer app" is going to need. By going with metered access you significantly reduce how many people are going to be willing to try out the "next killer app" when whatever it is, is still in its infancy.

You can be pretty sure that some of the best stuff yet to come is going to be bandwidth intensive. But if we move to metered billing that stuff may never get the opportunity to take root and become popular.

We've all seen the recent profitability reports from Comcast and others showing that internet service is their most profitable division and it just keeps getting more and more profitable. Maybe one day that will change, but until then, it seems pretty clear that there is absolutely no need for metered access and that adopting it would be a wholesale drag on innovative uses of the net.

Re:A couple points to consider (3, Interesting)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019555)

I don't know how many games I'm going to download over XBox Live, PSN, and Steam (and yes, I use all three) in a given month, and I don't know how many hours of Hulu I'm going to watch in a given month. I also used to use an MSDN account quite extensively. So no, I don't know how much internet I'm going to be using. The ISP doesn't really give me a convenient way to find out, either (since they'd rather hit me with overage fees).

My problem with tiers is that they're inevitably structured so that its inconvenient or impossible to use my connection for entertainment without hitting their overage fees. In other words, the point of the tiers always seems to be to prevent or discourage me from using services that compete with the cable companies', and that justifiably pisses me off.

Cory, you, sir are an idiot (3, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019015)

I dislike Cory. I hate Creative Commons. I detest copyright, public-use rights, public utilities, and anything related to non-market forces for real property. Intellectual property is a dying term, long dead in my dictionary (note, I am a writer and I get paid to write).

I want to see municipal allowances for duopolies destroyed. Let residents who own property rent it to whoever wants to take the time to rent it. Let competing companies, even at the local level, battle for access to the last mile. They'll get good international uplinks, they'll battle each other on service and price and performance.

Today, we have public funding across the board, regulations that restrict competition, and people afraid of seeing 500 internet lines over their house (note, they won't).

Cory should roll over and retire. He's a geek's dream, and a capitalist's nightmare. Capitalism will save the web, net neutrality won't.

Re:Cory, you, sir are an idiot (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019107)

And yet, he continues to be a successful writer and sought after futurist.

People pay money for his stuff. There's a market for Cory's works and thoughts. He's good at making it happen.

I'd say Cory is a capitalist's vindication -- he positions his stuff to build wealth from it, and doesn't rely on government intervention to do it. He uses his own methods and madness, and it works in the market he plays in.

Re:Cory, you, sir are an idiot (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019151)

Some of us *enjoy* reading what he writes. I do. I suspect I wouldn't read anything you write.

For Profit Corporations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019047)

From the article:

"Telcoms companies argue that their responsibility is to their shareholders, not the public interest, and that they are only taking the course of maximum profitability."

We really need to find a way to recharter these corporations as not-for-profits. This would take away the incentive to squeeze every dime out of the customers, while still allowing a private industry to provide a service instead of the government.

I've long thought that we could fix a lot of the problems with health care in this country by doing a similar thing to insurance companies. Since theoretically a corporation is chartered for the good of the public, we should consider that if a corporation is providing a critical public service is that service more important than the actual generation of new wealth? If the answer is yes (as in the case of health insurance or communication), then we should not let such entities become incorporated because they are actually dangerous to the smooth functioning of society as a whole.

Thoughts?

From the early days of ISP distribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019099)

As I see it. If an ISP has X customers with each having Y bandwidth but does not have XY of total possible bandwidth than ISP soled things it does not have. Selling what you do not have ... there is a name for that. now that people are catching on (the fraud was going on while ISPs sold early dial-up too) the ISP are trying to find a scapegoat for their own actions.

Umm, yeah (4, Insightful)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019115)

"give them 60 days to get their wires out of our dirt and then sell the franchise to provide network services to a competitor who will promise to give us a solid digital future in exchange for our generosity."

What generosity? The city owns the land they're using, not you.

In exchange for the huge capital outlay of installing the infrastructure, the city gives them certain rights. It's a win-win.

Let's see if I can summarize the gist of most Slashdot articles recently:

- Screw any internet provider that wants to cap any users or charge a lot more for heavy users.
- Screw any internet provider that wants to give more weight to some traffic over others.
- Give me my P2P

Sorry, something has to give. It's basic economics.

Cheap internet. Open internet. No usage caps.

Pick 2.

Re:Umm, yeah (2, Informative)

GeekWade (623925) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019339)

What generosity? The city owns the land they're using, not you.

I don't know where you live, but I OWN the property right up to the middle of the road. Just about everyone here with country road frontage does.

Re:Umm, yeah (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019587)

Cheap internet. Open internet. No usage caps.

Pick 2.

It seems like most of the major players are springing for usage caps (which seems to be fine by everyone as long as they're not ridiculously low like TW's 5GB cap), so we're done, right? Right? We'll get cheap internet, and companies will stop threatening to cut off Vonage and iTunes?

Re:Umm, yeah (3, Insightful)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019593)

Cheap internet. Open internet. No usage caps.

It's entirely possible to provide three. The actual triangle is "Cheap, fast, good. Pick two." In this case, I'd rather see "good" as a given, and let people decide between "fast" and "cheap". That way, the average consumer would have a cheap connection that's open and has no caps, but might be a little slow. Then if you want to use BitTorrent on that connection, it works, but it's slow. If you want 20Mbps speeds, to increase your BitTorrent performance, or enable faster NetFlix downloads, or upload family movies faster, or whatever, you pay extra.

This isn't about throttling types of traffic, this is about throttling based on the source of the traffic. To copy an analogy from up above, net neutrality isn't about tollbooths charging more for trucks than cars; this is about charging more for trucks owned by Staples than trucks owned by Office Max.

But They DO Negotiate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019167)

Cory, phone companies do negotiate for all that joint use. I know. I work for one. Get your facts straight before blathering away.

Neutrality in the early days of the net (4, Interesting)

InterGuru (50986) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019195)

In 1994 I worked for a company setting up an ISP. We called in the phone company to order 50 lines. (Dial up was all there was then ). The company was not happy, especially that we were ordering business lines, with a low cost, 15 cents for each outgoing call but no cost for incoming calls .

As an ISP we only had incoming calls. They had no choice, since phone systems had to sell lines to anyone ( oh the joys of regulation! ). Had the phone version of net neutrality not been in place, the phone companies would have throttled or taken over the internet - and we would not have the open net we have now.

Bookwormhole.net [bookwormhole.net] -- over 11,000 published book reviews.

I'm sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019229)

You lost me at "Cory Doctorow"

What ISP is blocking a site? (3, Insightful)

thule (9041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28019301)

Take filtering: by allowing ISPs to silently block access to sites that displease them..

Does anyone know of an ISP that is actually blocking a competitor's site?

ISPs would also like to be able to arbitrarily slow or degrade our network connections depending on what we're doing and with whom. In the classic "traffic shaping" scenario

Careful! Some QoS is good! I *want* my ISP to QoS VoIP traffic. If they QoS their internal VoIP traffic, but not traffic that goes outside their network, it that their fault? Will stupid laws prevent them from providing quality VoIP services within their network? What if the ISP routes VoIP traffic to special links? Is this a form of QoS that violates the spirit of the Internet?

Finally, there's the question of metered billing for ISP customers.

I think it is unfair for me to have to pay more for my bursty usage just because some guy wants to torrent 24/7. If you want more expensive Internet service, then by all means, pass a law that prevents capping. The funny thing is that a law like that will just help the big telcoms that have plenty of peering. The smaller, local ISP's will die because they won't be able to support the costs of their transit links.

I still don't get it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28019407)

I fail to see how a 'tiered' Internet is even possible, based on how it works now. If someone could explain it to me that would be great

My feelings are based on this: When I visit Google from My ISP (ISP A), the packets are routed by my ISP over to the network for Google's ISP (ISP B) as fast as possible (at the closest peering point). When Google sends me a reply starting on ISP B's network, it is routed back to ISP A's network at the first opportunity to make it's way to my house.

So... Say that Google pays their ISP (ISP B) for 'high priority' consideration. If I am in Boston and Google is in the Bay Area (over simplified I know!) the 'priority traffic' will help the tiny web request that I am making get from some peering point near Boston across the country to SF nice and fast. When Google sends me back a much larger reply, however, that packet is going to leave ISP B's control very quickly and most likely make it's way back to me on ISP A's network. How am I (or Google) going to see a benefit from the tiered approach? Wouldn't Google need to pay EVERY ISP to elevate the priority of their traffic for them to see a benefit for their customers?

Please explain this to me!

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