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British ISPs Embracing Two-Tier Internet

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the free-speech-as-long-as-money-talks dept.

The Internet 305

Barence writes "Britain's leading ISPs are attempting to construct a two-tier internet, where websites and services that are willing to pay are thrust into the 'fast lane,' while those that don't are left fighting for scraps of bandwidth or even blocked outright. Asked directly whether ISP TalkTalk would be willing to cut off access completely to BBC iPlayer in favor of YouTube if the latter was prepared to sign a big enough cheque, TalkTalk's Andrew Heaney replied: 'We'd do a deal, and we'd look at YouTube and we'd look at BBC and we should have freedom to sign whatever deal works.' Britain's biggest ISP, BT, meanwhile says it 'absolutely could see situations in which some content or application providers might want to pay BT for a quality of service above best efforts.' PC Pro asks if it's the end of the net as we know it."

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"above best efforts?" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970182)

"a quality of service above best efforts."

WTF does that mean? If they can do better, then the "best efforts" wasn't actually the best effort, was it?

How can you have a level of effort above the best?

Re:"above best efforts?" (4, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970218)

"Above best efforts" really means "above the best effort we are willing to put in, unless you pay us our extortion money."

Re:"above best efforts?" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970452)

Steve Jobs died this afternoon. His name has been withheld pending notification of next of kin.

R.I.P.

Re:"above best efforts?" (4, Funny)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970582)

No no, that's all wrong. Let me show you how it's done:

"I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Apple co-founder/CEO Steve Jobs was found dead in his California home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular computing. Truly an American icon."

Sheesh, trolls these days.

Re:"above best efforts?" (1)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970742)

Why would you try to start a fake rumor like this on a weekend? If you shorted Apple, I would think it would be much more effective when the markets are open. Even if you did manage to freak the markets out enough to make an impact on share price, by Monday morning, everyone will have realized you're full of crap.

Also, even though you posted AC, I think the SEC is one of those organizations that probably has enough pull to get some information about your identity. (Slashdot values privacy, but they do keep some records, and they do have to comply with government subpoenas)

Unless, of course, you took a LiveCD of Ubuntu to a library nowhere near your home (after first making sure there were no surveillance cameras) and posted AC from that computer. Then you should be fine. Unless you make some real money. The SEC is pretty efficient at following money trails.

Re:"above best efforts?" (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970898)

He was probably just trolling. I seriously doubt he was trying to manipulate the markets.

Re:"above best efforts?" (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34971062)

It might have been because Steve Jobs has gone on medical leave again. It's presumed to be related to his Pancreatic Cancer [myhealthnewsdaily.com] which was diagnosed in 2004. Pancreatic cancer has a very low survival rate averaging between 4.6 percent [emedtv.com] to 6 percent after 5 years of being diagnosed. Steve Jobs is now on year 7, beating the odds.

Re:"above best efforts?" (2)

LilBlackKittie (179799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970224)

"Best efforts" might mean "best effort getting that traffic through our really congested upstream transit provider".

Something with higher quality might be a direct private peering.

Of course, it's not unknown that ISPs engineer congestion on those upstreams to force a private peering -- and you can bet your bottom dollar it won't be a "settlement free" peering.

Re:"above best efforts?" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970814)

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Re:"above best efforts?" (5, Informative)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970378)

"Best effort" in networking terminology is the priority given to traffic that isn't specifically prioritised or limited. There's nothing wrong with what he's saying.

Re:"above best efforts?" (2, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970662)

"Best effort" in networking terminology is the priority given to traffic that isn't specifically prioritised or limited. There's nothing wrong with what he's saying.

Except for the fact that it doesn't make any sense. How can it be the "best effort" if something can be prioritised ahead of it?

Just because "networking terminology" is stupid, doesn't mean we have to accept it at face value.

Re:"above best efforts?" (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970894)

Except for the fact that it doesn't make any sense. How can it be the "best effort" if something can be prioritised ahead of it?

It makes perfect sense. When a QoS scheme is being designed; traffic is divided into classes, and (typically) each class is assigned to queues based on priority; each queue has a certain size.

The class that is not associated with any priority queue at all is called "best effort". The reason it is called best effort, is, unlike other traffic classes -- there is no priority or reservation.

Other traffic has priority in the form of something close to a guarantee; meaning, if prioritized traffic does not exceed the size of the priority queue, it is guaranteed to be delivered even in the face of congestion. Whereas the remaining traffic is just "best effort".

The traffic that is best effort will be delivered if possible (in the face of congestion), but it might be dropped, best effort is weaker than guaranteed priority.

Re:"above best efforts?" (2)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970960)

It makes perfect sense, both within QoS terminology and in plain english.

Example:

"I will put my best effort into helping you build a house. My very best effort, I'll use most of my free time to help you, and I might even skip work a day or too to help you out".

"I have signed a contract with you to finish building your house by July 23th. I've already allocated the necessary resources to make it happen by that date".

There you go, "best effort", and a contract, which is by definition "above best effort".

Same thing with the mail. Regular mail is "best effort". We'll do our best effort with the current resources to deliver your letter ASAP.
Priority mail, OTOH, means dedicated resources to get certain subset of letter to their destinations within an allocated time.

Not that I agree with this situation, just pointing out that language wasn't an issue.

Re:"above best efforts?" (4, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970414)

It means they are going to give 110%

Re:"above best efforts?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970706)

It means they are going to give 110%...

You forgot the most important part

"...to our profit margin."

Re:"above best efforts?" (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970736)

"a quality of service above best efforts."

WTF does that mean? If they can do better, then the "best efforts" wasn't actually the best effort, was it?

How can you have a level of effort above the best?

(In my best Sheldon Leonard voice) Dat's a nice Internet you'se gots dere - shame if somethin'... happened to it.

Re:"above best efforts?" (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970772)

I'm sure it's nothing like this. Websites already pay (somebody) for bandwidth. This just changes the pricing structure. Offering a tiered approach will enable providers to offer lower fees to standard websites, and better service to the sites that need it.

Assuming they actually offer lower fees, and better services, and don't just use the added confusion as an excuse to overcharge and underdeliver. Fucking confusopoplies.

Re:"above best efforts?" (3, Insightful)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970986)

It would be good if the bottom line wasn't pushed down, and if the upper classes were sold in a non-discriminatory way, at fixed prices. The problem is that it's not going to happen that way, it'll just turn into a sell-to-the-highest-bidder situation, where companies will be out-paying each other to get priority over each other's traffic. It'll be a way for ISPs to sell their stuff twice instead of increasing their capacity. Let's say now they charge you a dollar for 1GB of traffic through a 10mbps link, instead of increasing their capacity to sell you 10GB over a 100mbps link at $ 0.7, they'll just charge $1 for 1GB through a up-to-10mbps link, then charge you another dollar to prioritize your traffic over all the torrents and other crap, and then another dollar to prioritize you a bit more. They will be essentially charging you several times for what you are already getting now.

Of course, they'll manage to screw over some people even worse, particularly anyone in need of low-latency communications (think VoIP, etc).

Shouldn't governments impose balance? (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970196)

Didn't we elect them to make sure that the weak get protected so they don't get screwed over by those that could flex their muscles to browbeat them into submission?

If governments do not serve that function anymore, why the fuck do they exist at all? I can let someone (financially, physically...) strong beat me up and make me surrender quite fine without paying a few dicks to keep a bunch of chairs from flying off planet with their fat asses.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (5, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970228)

Clearly, you are misunderstanding the purpose of 21st century governments. The purpose of your government is to ensure that corporations and their shareholders become wealthier.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970238)

Then it's time to get rid of them. They clearly do not serve the purpose they are supposed to and have to be replaced with a working product.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970496)

Are you suggesting that it is okay to shoot corrupt people who refuse to step down?

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970530)

Yes.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (5, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970564)

No, it's to ensure the people making them rich stay poor enough not to fight back.

Part of being rich is being comparatively wealthy. If everyone became a millionaire, nobody would feel like one, because apart from the rampant inflation required to make such a thing a reality, part of the perk of being rich is having what other people can't. If everyone around you was just as wealthy, you wouldn't feel special.

In a zero sum world where resources are finite, you cannot win without someone else losing.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970992)

In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970708)

I think Heinlein writes in one of his stories that governments exist to facilitate commerce.
It's a very cynical worldview, but not without merit.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (1)

LilBlackKittie (179799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970248)

Current UK Government, with its close ties to Murdoch and News Corp, is unlikely to be fighting for neutrality in this situation. They're not fighting for an equalities commission to look at the News Corp buy-out of BSkyB. I can't see them stepping in here either, even to protect the BBC.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (0, Troll)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970516)

Capitalism naturally weeds out situations that are unsatisfactory to the consumer. If you don't like your ISP with its two-tier Internet approach, use another. If there are no other options, assuming there is no government-imposed monopoly in place, then petition companies to start offering service in your area. If enough people get pissed off with poor service then other companies will jump at the chance to fill the void.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970632)

If there are no other options, assuming there is no government-imposed monopoly in place, then petition companies to start offering service in your area. If enough people get pissed off with poor service then other companies will jump at the chance to fill the void.

This is tremendously naive. Realistically, the chances of this happening are slim to none. Most consumers will just accept their fate and do nothing (despite the efforts of people trying to get them to stand up), leaving everyone else doomed.

Why do I believe this? I've been stuck with a single ISP for years. If this truly happens, it does not happen in a reasonable amount of time, and I'd rather have a competent government do something about it than wait for a miracle.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (3, Insightful)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970656)

Capitalism naturally weeds out situations that are unsatisfactory to the consumer. If you don't like your ISP with its two-tier Internet approach, use another. If there are no other options, assuming there is no government-imposed monopoly in place, then petition companies to start offering service in your area. If enough people get pissed off with poor service then other companies will jump at the chance to fill the void.

99% of people are ignorant. When they see YouTube videos loading at dial-up speeds, they won't realize it's because it's being throttled - the media certainly won't tell them, especially NBC (now a subsidiary of Comcast). They'll just assume Google's servers suck and decide to instead watch some corporate-approved content at Hulu or something.

The 1% of internet users who are savvy enough to know what's going on are an insignificant speck to capitalists. The costs of building last-mile Internet infrastructure are huge enough to ensure that no business will ever try to get in there unless they can expect to control a big fraction of the market.

Capitalism is vulnerable to tyranny of the ignorant.

Re:Shouldn't governments impose balance? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970674)

Well, if no other ISP is willing to give "Net Neutrality," and the ISPs can make more money by not offering it, why would any of them.

If this happens, then the Net will become the next cable TV company.
What you pay for is what they decide you will see.
So much for freedom of expression and leveling the playing field.

To recap, once one ISP can do this, they all will.

Cheapest is Best (5, Insightful)

LilBlackKittie (179799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970206)

This is what the drive to the lowest price possible gets you: a broadband that loses the ISP money in an attempt to get that TV and billboard price-point of £5.99 per month. How does the ISP make money and remain competitive? Answer: more bites at the cherry! Phorm, getting content providers to pay... etc...

Oof (5, Insightful)

Prikolist (1260608) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970208)

Not only does this kill small companies' as well as individual users' chances at internet presence, but what a great way to kill off any p2p protocols by dumping them whosesale into the 'slow lane'.

Re:Oof (2)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970666)

Everybody knows any P2P protocol is strictly used for pirating, so then it's alright!

Those small companies and users are probably infringing something somewhere too, so they're all criminals anyways.

Re:Oof (5, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970882)

Everybody knows any P2P protocol is strictly used for pirating, so then it's alright!

Those small companies and users are probably infringing something somewhere too, so they're all criminals anyways.

Yargh! Those lilly-livered scallywags wot call themselves "Producers" are pedalin' stolen wares foisted from real Content Producers under legal duress! Aye! The true artisans be shackled and made to slave away in concerts and promo gigs to make ends meat.

I say we smartly keel-haul the dirty bilge rats! Nay, lay siege and claim the bountiful media booty, make like Robin Hood with the lot of it, then scuttle the lot of 'em!

Avast ye thick skulled brutes -- Will not the art-slaves still earn a living prostituting at promo parties, late night shows, and musical venues?

(A cutlass twice sharpened slices doubly)

Re:Oof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970942)

Funniest post of the day.

So does this work for everything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970210)

How much does it cost for you to NOT be a douchebag?

I wonder if i can use that too... Hey goverment ijits... I'll stop breaking the law if you pay me.

They keep using that phrase (0)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970222)

'absolutely could see situations in which some content or application providers might want to pay BT for a quality of service above best efforts.'

I do not think "best efforts" means what they think it means. If it was their "best" effort, there would be no room for improvement.

Re:They keep using that phrase (2)

Rennt (582550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970878)

Don't be so quick with the witty movie quotes - "best effort" can mean different things. In networking "best effort" service comes with no guarantees. Above that you have your service level agreements.

In common usage "best effort" is also something of a euphemism for "I'm not promising anything", so that fits too.

it's the end of the net as we know it? (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970252)

Yes. You'll wake up tomorrow to a new internet, slightly different than todays.

where we go from here, is up to you.

Two very different things (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970254)

I think absolutely, ISP's should be allowed to provide faster bandwidth for sites where companies have agreed to pay for delivering content to the consumer at faster transfer rates. Those companies are in effect subsidizing higher levels of ISP service for some content; there's nothing at all wrong with that.

The second issue raised, where potentially a company could fork over enough money to block some other service - that's really bad, but I don't see it ever happening despite scare quotes like the ones the article provides. There's simply no way customers would put up with it, and the company being blocked could easily sue the company paying for the block. So who would actually do that?

Remember that you are being frightened in order to be OK with giving over more control over an inherently open internet, to those that want to control content. It's under the guise of protecting you but the first thing you should do when someone says "I'm here to protect you from a horrible danger" is to be very suspicious and ask a lot of questions to find out if in fact there's really a credible threat.

Re:Two very different things (4, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970312)

I think absolutely, ISP's should be allowed to provide faster bandwidth for sites where companies have agreed to pay for delivering content to the consumer at faster transfer rates. Those companies are in effect subsidizing higher levels of ISP service for some content; there's nothing at all wrong with that.

And how exactly do they do that? They do it by delaying the packets sent by those who don't pay extra.

Wrong (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970432)

And how exactly do they do that? They do it by delaying the packets sent by those who don't pay extra.

No, they locally cache the content providers data so that you don't have the round-trip of getting it over the "real" internet. Realistically it's far too much trouble to manage networks by doing anything to the traffic itself, which implies all kinds of expensive packet inspection. It's far simpler to improve performance by local caching or by QOS for traffic to specific destinations - that the user would want improved access for anyway...

Re:Wrong (2)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970686)

No, they locally cache the content providers data so that you don't have the round-trip of getting it over the "real" internet

How do you locally cache content that is "live" or "streaming"? I think you are naively overlooking what they actually plan to do here, which is throttle content from non-partner websites.

wrong yourself (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970790)

I work for a company that is heavy involved (among other things) in just that sort of deep packet inspection technology. If you don't think that large ISPs are (or will shortly be) doing traffic shaping, you're a fool.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970896)

Are you a little fucked in the head or something? Or just honestly retarded?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_delivery_network

Just in case it's the second case for you. These have existed since 1990s!!

or by QOS for traffic to specific destinations

I take it back. You belong in the first group I mentioned.

Re:Wrong (2)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970952)

It's far simpler to improve performance ... by QOS for traffic to specific destinations

And on a saturated line, QoS translates into special-group A having their traffic get through while neutral-group B having their traffic dropped, even if there's inherently as many requests for A as B (inherently in that if A or B were alone, they'd both generate the same amount of traffic).

that the user would want improved access for anyway...

Users can already get what they want with a neutral, best-effort packet network. Such a network of user desired is already reenforced through regular router reconfigurations and companies buying up use of caching networks. The latter of which, btw, already places enough of an advantage and self-feeding loop that the idea that content providers can or should buy even further lock-in to maintain their position or effective lock-out to take bandwidth that would otherwise have gone to extant user demand is disgusting, at best. At worst, it's tantamount to rigging the self-correcting free-market nature of the internet. How is that remotely acceptable?

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34971030)

No, they locally cache the content providers data so that you don't have the round-trip of getting it over the "real" internet.

Ah, but for a cache to be maximially effective it has to hold the most popular data given the goal of minimizing fetches over the real net. The only motivation for anyone to pay the ISP is to boost their footprint in that cache above what simple popularity should indicate. Therefore, an ISP that skews their cache priority based on money rather than popularity will actually *increase* the amount of data they need to fetch from the 'real' internet.

If a content producer pays enough that all their content is in cache and almost none of their competetors is it won't take long for the consumers of that type of content to migrate to the producer with the low latency... that's not a level playing field for the content producers nor does it encourage variety/choice/competition, all of which benefit the consumer greatly. We need to think beyond 'net neut' and think 'cache neut' too as this caching thing will quickly become an end run around net neut.

Re:Two very different things (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970366)

The second issue raised, where potentially a company could fork over enough money to block some other service - that's really bad, but I don't see it ever happening despite scare quotes like the ones the article provides. There's simply no way customers would put up with it, and the company being blocked could easily sue the company paying for the block. So who would actually do that?

You are dead wrong on this. We know that consumers will put up with a lot of crap. All it takes is for a few of the greedy ISP monopolies to start doing this and the customers will feel like they simply have no alternative and accept it as status quo. Secondly, you speak like every single entity on the internet is some company who has the time and resources to sue. I don't know how courts are in the UK, but here in America the guy with the most money to buy the best lawyers always wins. What happens when a small non-profit organization website is blocked by a larger corporation? Or what about some of the more socially unacceptable websites (ie. 4chan, porn sites, etc) are blocked by a company with some conflicting interest? We all know how these law-suits would turn out, and that is not in favor of freedom of the internet.

Who would actually do that? The answer is obvious - someone with something to gain by doing so.

Re:Two very different things (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970458)

You are dead wrong on this. We know that consumers will put up with a lot of crap.

Citation?

We know from example that people will gladly pay extra for systems or services with crap removed. They hate the crap as much as we do, and are not technically able to fix the issue. But consumers ALSO know how to complain.

here in America the guy with the most money to buy the best lawyers always wins.

I have a number of friends who are lawyers and know for a fact that is simply untrue, as much as you might like to believe it.

What happens when a small non-profit organization website is blocked by a larger corporation?

And why praytell, would a large organization care to actually spend money to block that small non-profit? That's a totally unrealistic example, as are any the scare-mongers try to fill you with fear over something that HAS NEVER and WILL NEVER happen. If it were at all likely it would have happened during the dot-com boom... companies don't have the money to be flinging around to block sites they don't care for and open up a huge can of lawsuit worms in the process. Remember (and again I do have friends who are lawyers) companies are FAR more afraid of exposure to lawsuits, than actual suits.

Re:Two very different things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970548)

Take a look at the current state of ISPs. In many areas there is only one available ISP, and consumers simply accept their crap because there is no alternative. Want access to the internet? Pay our ridiculous prices for our poor service or no internets for you.

Also, as far as small orginizations vs larger corporations, wikileaks comes to mind. I think there are quite a few companies and governments that would jump at the chance to have wikileaks blocked.

Re:Two very different things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970800)

And why praytell, would a large organization care to actually spend money to block that small non-profit?

If that small non-profit is WikiLeaks, then there are a lot of corporations and governments that would gladly pay every ISP in the world to block that site. Julian Assange most certainly would not be able to overturn an American ban with a lawsuit, and he'd have to file separate law suits in the UK, Germany, France, etc.

Re:Two very different things (1)

gilroy (155262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970474)

Plus, of course, the idea that you could "sue" if blocked depends on a legal consensus that common carriers have to, you know, carry you. If two-tiered internet is OK, then why shouldn't an ISP be allowed to block those who won't pay up?

We really need to get back, or get to, the idea of ISPs as common carriers, disallowed from discriminating among packets based on content or, worse, on payor.

Re:Two very different things (5, Interesting)

Imrik (148191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970812)

I say we offer them the choice, they can be classified as common carriers and thus carry everything equally or they can discriminate and be responsible for everything that they carry.

Re:Two very different things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970536)

There's simply no way customers would put up with it, and the company being blocked could easily sue the company paying for the block.

If they want to access the internet at all they will. In my area, there is a single ISP. One. Just one. My job depends on having an internet connection. I do not want this favoritism to be allowed. It is not in the best interest of consumers. It is in the best interest of giant corporations that are making more than enough money already, however (even though they'd like you to believe that they are broke).

Re:Two very different things (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970560)

...companies have agreed to pay for delivering content to the consumer at faster transfer rates.

Does this mean consumers no longer have to contend with bandwidth and maximum download caps as long as consumers are willing to accept variable speeds? Otherwise, what good does it do me if YouTube wants to pay extra to feed me uncompressed HD quality video in real time if my internet connection can only accommodate a fraction of the required bandwidth and download allotment? For example, my ISP has tiered services. Let's say I'm on the lowest tier. YouTube has paid to have its content delivered at the fastest possible speed. So for as long as I'm surfing YouTube, my connection behaves as if it's on the highest tier. Did I understand you correctly?

That's all well and good except for the fact that every consumer ISP (at least in the US) has pretty much oversold its available bandwidth. It's a zero sum game. In order for my connection to be temporarily upgraded when surfing YouTube, my neighbor's connection will have to be downgraded when he's surfing Vimeo (which didn't pay extra for content delivery in this hypothetical scenario) which may violate my neighbor's minimum level of service (unless of course ISPs downgrade that somewhere in the small print). Because let's be honest here, the extra money that ISPs will be collecting for this prioritized delivery isn't likely to go into upgrading infrastructure because we all know what the US telcos did with the tax payers' money that was earmarked specifically for upgrading infrastructure.

EDIT: lol... the captcha for my post is "extort"

Great way to stifle innovation (4, Insightful)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970672)

If we allow this, it will effectively create yet another monopoly for those with the capital to be the highest bidder. I love google, but I also love knowing that they have to constantly be redefining themselves, or any college kid with a little bit of skill and luck can create competition from their dorm room. If the *next big thing* is so slow it's unusable because of the ISP's "preferential" treatment of those paying tariff's, it won't ever become the next big thing. And THAT will be yet another nail in the coffin of the downfall of mankind.

Re:Two very different things (3, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970694)

First, they say they'll speed up service for X and Y.

Slowly, your Internet service degrades for other sites. Wondering what's going on, you contact your ISP. They say X and Y's customers are using a lot of bandwidth and thus the infrastructure's getting throttled a bit for others. Nothing they can do about it.

After a while, they announce a grand overhaul of their services so that they can better provide access to sites... but they only speak of X and Y. Turns out the upgrade was done for those and the rest is still on mostly the same thing bar negligible upgrades.

Fast forward a little bit and you'll end up with sluggish access to all the sites that didn't pay. No, they never actually cut off a site or slowed it down on purpose - they just dedicated all their resources to them and let the rest fall to pieces. They have the incentive, they'll do it if they can.

Re:Two very different things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970702)

Die. Just go kill yourself. You have no value to the human race.

Re:Two very different things (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970852)

The second issue raised, where potentially a company could fork over enough money to block some other service - that's really bad, but I don't see it ever happening despite scare quotes like the ones the article provides. There's simply no way customers would put up with it, and the company being blocked could easily sue the company paying for the block. So who would actually do that?

You underestimate the power of marketing. If you say it loudly enough, long enough, and with enough attractive models, you could convince people of anything.

Remember that you are being frightened in order to be OK with giving over more control over an inherently open internet, to those that want to control content. It's under the guise of protecting you but the first thing you should do when someone says "I'm here to protect you from a horrible danger" is to be very suspicious and ask a lot of questions to find out if in fact there's really a credible threat.

Tell that the the average man on the street. They'll tell you everything is fine and be perfectly happy. They will happily sign over control of their internet access and content because the people in charge "couldn't possibly do anything *really* harmful, could they?"

Net Neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970256)

Good thing we in the USA have net neutrality to keep things like this from happening! Oh wait....

Wheee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970258)

I always enjoy it when my double payed (monthly and tax dollar subsidy) ISP decides what I can and can not see on the internet unless websites also pay twice (or three times).

Is it time for the revolution yet? I can hand out pamphlets.

Welcome to the Communications War (5, Insightful)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970272)

The problem with a lack of net neutrality is that it takes multiple ISPs to carry the packets [ideonexus.com] . So if YouTube agrees to pay for preferential treatment, they're going to have to pay every ISP in the world for it. So one ISP got their check, but the one next door didn't, so they stifle the traffic. What happens when my attempt to ping Google gets bounced out to Europe as occasionally happens?

If we don't get Net Neutrality, we will have a war between ISPs discriminating against each other's traffic, and they will beg for the government to step in to resolve disputes. Once that happens, instead of the simple single rule of Net Neutrality, we will get a patchwork of situational regulations dictated by corporations through armies of lawyers representing their best interests.

Thats the opposite of net neutrality (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970276)

What's the point in having ultra high speed internet if most sites are slow by your own ISPs admission ???
The most absurd is this happening when 10 gigabit backbone connections are the norm, 40/100 gigabit backbone connections are starting deployment.
Fiber optic cable and accessories at an all time low.
Linux and Free BSD competing for lower cost router solutions.
Truly absurd. Competition is the only answer. Switch to the smaller ISPs. If customers leave those greedy bastards in significant numbers, this idea will die.
Thanks god I live in a city with 4 broadband options (two ADSL, two TV cable).
Can somebody tell us how much a 10 gigabit link with an international internet carrier costs this days in the US ? And in other countries. Those large ISPs buy multiple 10 Gbps links. Each can supply about 1 million users at a low quality level, or 100k users at an excellent quality level. I believe those links don't cost US$ 100k / month in the largest metro areas.

No Wikileaks (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970280)

Any and all subversives will be zapped out. Like in the good old days.

Tipping point: whether websites buy into this (3, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970284)

Like companies holding monopolies, the tipping point seems to be whether website owners pay ISPs to avoid getting slowed down. Here's hoping that affected sites put up an intro page on any ISPs that slow them down, explaining to the user that the site is slow not because of problems on the site's end, but rather that it's the user's ISP, the company he pays to get access to the internet, that is artificially slowing things down.

Re:Tipping point: whether websites buy into this (3, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970344)

Here's hoping that affected sites put up an intro page on any ISPs that slow them down, explaining to the user that the site is slow not because of problems on the site's end, but rather that it's the user's ISP, the company he pays to get access to the internet, that is artificially slowing things down.

That tells the user you can't afford life in the fast lane. That you are strictly second tier.

Re:Tipping point: whether websites buy into this (3, Informative)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970462)

No, it tells the user that their ISP is using Mafia tactics and saying "Pay us for speed protection or something unfortunate might happen".

Re:Tipping point: whether websites buy into this (1)

Musically_ut (1054312) | more than 3 years ago | (#34971014)

That is the route MegaUpload is taking [torrentfreak.com] for some French ISPs who were caught doing it [slashdot.org] .

Isn't it past time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970328)

...for the internet to route around damage like this 2-tier system? Seems to me if enough systems refused to route traffic to ISPs that do this, and I'm not talking backbone DNS, I mean grassroots mom and pop places, it might be a step. Time for the revolution! (or at least a fork of the internet).

So the answer to fragmentation. . . (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970782)

. . . is *more* fragmentation?

Already here (3, Interesting)

mrsam (12205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970330)

There's an Akamai server on my ISP. www.foxnews.com resolves to it, traceroute reaches it two hops off the router on the other side of my DSL bridge, and the homepage loads up blazingly fast.

On the other hand, my packets to www.cnn.com wander around a series of various tubes, until they find their way to Atlanta. www.cnn.com is noticably slower to load. traceroute shows that about twice as much latency accumulates, until it stops at CNN's router.

FOX news is paying my ISP, indirectly through Akamai, for a higher tier of service for my ISP's customers. Their competition does not, and their tier of service is noticably slower.

I try my hardest, but I can't think of a damn thing that's wrong here.

Re:Already here (4, Insightful)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970436)

The problem isn't really that content providers can have their applications hosted in end-user service provider networks. The problem is that the TalkTalk representative seems to be open to the idea of content providers paying them money to block out the competition entirely.

Re:Already here (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970476)

Nothing's wrong with your scenario. Let's consider if the Internet were not a series of tubes, but more like trucks. Then your trucks to Fox News would get there, load up, and turn around faster because Fox News had a warehouse in your neighborhood. Your trucks to CNN take longer because they've got to get on the highway, head down to Atlanta, and head back to your neighborhood. That's not the proposal here. Suppose both NBC news and CNN were outside your neighborhood. The proposal here is that if NBC paid off your neighborhood association and CNN did not, any trucks coming into your neighborhood from CNN would be made to take the crappy two-lane road with traffic lights and a 25mph speed limit, whereas the NBC trucks would be allowed to use the highway.

Re:Already here (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970570)

The proposal here is that if NBC paid off your neighborhood association and CNN did not, any trucks coming into your neighborhood from CNN would be made to take the crappy two-lane road with traffic lights and a 25mph speed limit, whereas the NBC trucks would be allowed to use the highway.

To flesh out the story, remember than NBC, CNN, and the end-user all pay their taxes as well, so they've all paid for the roads already, it's just the gated community the user lives in that is delaying CNN's trucks because they haven't paid extra.

Re:Already here (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970492)

Akamai is very cost effective. The only reason CNN doesn't use it is due to its AOL ties. Bandwidth is probably almost free for them using AOL.
Here in Brazil most serious sites host with Akamai that avoid the trip all the way to the USA/Europe. Akamai's value is huge for users outside the US-Europe area. Just normal fiber (speed of light) latency from Brazil to USA is around 100ms. Real ping ranges from 130ms to 250ms.
But still then, my ISP has very decent performance when accessing normal http/flash/light video non Akamai content in the USA.
Things get dicey when you try to access a movie site that offers DVD or higher quality content. Content that requires 2-3Mbps throughput can get past 1Mbps in peak hours.
Even then, not all sites are the same, sites with direct connectivity to Global Crossing reach full speed without trouble.
Why all this technical detail ? For instance in my case, the bottleneck seems to be the sites in the US that are not using the premium worldwide backbone providers instead of my ISP in Brazil.
Not all ISPs are doing this.
My ISP is actually a nationwide carrier, just not one of the huge main three. It's the same in the US, avoid Comcrap, Verizon and the other 4 largest ISPs and you might get good quality access. Of course this isn't always possible.
Things got so bad for the countryside that the government is bringing it's own nationwide IP backbone to provide with an economical alternative for a small city ISP.
This isn't a premium content thing, in those cities a small ISP needs to pay 3x-4x more per Mbps than in the cheapest market.

Re:Already here (5, Insightful)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970532)

Akamai is very different from a "two tier strategy".

Akamai is all about having local data centers nearer to high traffic population centers. This has the side effect of relieving congestion on the main internet backbones by essentially doing local caching. You want the data, and it happens to be located on a server closer to you, which by coincidence does not have to bottleneck through the backbone as much, so you get better scaling and performance. This strategy is net positive because the internet as a whole benefits by reduced waste and the hosts can deliver content more efficiently with a better user experience.

A two tier internet is something *very* different. That's taking the same pipe, and allocating priority to the rich and powerful at the expense of those who don't pay the premium; there is still the same amount overall of bandwidth available but they want to allocate less of it to you and more of it to companies that pay. How that will actually work is that those who pay more get internet hosting that works, and everyone else gets screwed with a broken, high latency, congested network. Oh, and the price for them will also go up while the service goes down.

Everyone else should get really pissed off about this crap, once they figure out how bad the deal is for them.

Let me put it this way: if this sort of thing is allowed, more advanced internet services developed over the next few years will only be possible when they are run by huge corporations with deep pockets, and all other innovators will be shut out in the cold. And that means you get to pay more for those services because there won't be any competion.

Re:Already here (1)

Toasterboy (228574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970566)

Also, what people don't realize is that the internet is already a loose confederation of networks owned by only a few corporations who have peering deals with each other, and they already throttle each other under the table.

There have already been incidents where the Internet experiences massive failures when these companies get into pissing contests with each other and shut off each other's access to influence negotiations.

a quality of service above best efforts? (1)

nigeljw (1968314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970410)

Clearly their best effort should be the service we currently pay for with hard earned cash, not some multitiered bastardization of the internet...

Cancel your talktalk account (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970478)

nothing says no like losing money.

Re:Cancel your talktalk account (1)

kronosopher (1531873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970774)

I can't possibly agree with this more. This kind of mafia mentality needs to be strictly prohibited. The only thing that consumers can do is vote with their dollars(or pounds).

Article's flamebait is misdirection. (1)

jthill (303417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970480)

Once again they pound in their lies about what neutrality.is.

The notion that neutrality means being source neutral must never be mentioned. The reporter simply uncritically accepts and repeats the premise.fed him by an."executive director of strategy and regulation".

Everything else in this article is just wrapper for that poisoned payload.

IBM anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970502)

Once upon a time, a company created the first Personal Computer. They could have patented it and become the sole producer and seller of Personal Computers, but they realized this device had huge potential and could evolve into something big. But for that to happen, there had to be competition. There also had to be lots of buyers, therefore prices had to remain affordable.

So the company did not patent the Personal Computer. Other companies started producing their own and soon the competition forced them to improve their products. Here we are today, with very powerful computers all because the manufacturers had an incentive to improve the first Personal Computer design. Had IBM patented the first PC, we might be discovering the first 3D First Person Shooters only about now.

ISPs who force websites to pay them or be throttled/blocked are decreasing the content their network offers to their costumers. As the original article explains, you could one day be unable to access Facebook just because your ISP blocks it.
These ISPs say that this is business and makes them earn money. WRONG! The Internet is popular today because we can access any website. The moment we can't access all websites, the moment 2 hyperlinks out of 10 don't work because your ISP blocks them, people will stop relying on the Internet. They'll just think "I don't need a big subscription with lots of bandwidth since half of the websites I want to visit are blocked. I'll just get the minimum I need - enough to send e-mails" (and that's assuming domains/websites aren't blocked when it comes to sending e-mails. Imagine being unable to send an e-mail to someone using hotmail because your ISP blocks hotmail...).

ISPs will loose money in 2 ways:
1) People will stop using the Internet entirely or will learn to use it less and go for the cheapest and smallest offers.
2) Just like the Personal Computer evolved so much and so quickly because everyone could contribute to it and make their own (and usually, improved) computer parts, the Internet grows because people who have a cool idea of a website can create that website and make it available to the entire world. The day websites have to pay a fee to every single ISP, new websites will no longer be made or only by the biggest and richest corporations of the Internet, like Google.

If an ISP is stupid enough to throttle or block websites, then let them do it. They'll go bankrupt and make place for true professionals who understand what the Internet is and that it is built on neutrality.

By the way, I already got rid of the TV since I must pay extra to get more cable channels and since no single channel has programs I like 24/7. I can only watch one channel at the time anyway, so why should I pay more simply for more options? So if any ISP out there thinks I won't stop using the Internet the moment I'm limited in the content I can access with it to the point that the Internet is quite useless to me, they should snort 5 lines of Reality.

Rename the product then... (3, Insightful)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970514)

They shouldn't be allowed to sell "Internet access" then. If I'm paying for service, and I can't get to a site because my "ISP" has it blocked, then they aren't providing Internet access. They should be forced to advertise the service as a "Restricted web portal". Yeah, they might not like it, but it would be a lot closer to the truth.

Side note: "TalkTalk" sounds cutesy. I have another cutesy for them: "Bye-Bye", as I cancel my service.

Great example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970518)

Let them make BBC iplayer unusable at peak times and watch customers go elsewhere, this is a terrible problem for small companies who don't already have the mindshare, their websites performing poorly will only further hurt them, but iPlayer? The moment it becomes apparent to people that their ISP is deciding to stop them from catching up on eastenders, and watchdog may well make it apparent to them at some point, TalkTalk are going to be in serious trouble.

The ISPs are playing a pretty ballsy game (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970580)

If they start trying to gang up on the content providers, what's to stop the content providers from ganging up on them? Oh yeah you want to offer Internet... bring say the top 5 companies like Google (search, youtube, docs), Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and eBay on board and hand ISPs the ultimatum - don't charge us or put us on second tier, or we will all block your ISP from using our services. The customers will scream bloody murder and complain that what you're delivering isn't the Internet, but your call. In fact, once you've pushed them together in an alliance maybe they find that they are in a position to charge the ISPs, not the other way around. After all, many people have more than one ISP to choose from but there's only one YouTube and one Facebook.

Re:The ISPs are playing a pretty ballsy game (2)

Polyphagic (1820108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970876)

>If they start trying to gang up on the content providers, what's to stop the content providers from ganging up on them?

Why gang up when you can purchase like, say, Comcast did NBC Universal? Shhh....it will all be over soon. Just like ripping off a bandage over the info artery.

Cory Doctorow must be feeling sheepish (0)

it5complicated (1951824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970654)

I've heard that he campaigned for Lib Dems. Ho Ho!!

Ah, capitalism at its finest (2)

nashv (1479253) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970680)

This is going to lead to situations like : "YouTube recommends ISP X for optimal viewing experience". And high traffic sites will probably end up extorting money from the ISPs. I know Facebook isn't going to pay anyone for access, for example.

And pretty soon, websites will form unions and the ensuing partitioning of the Internet will give us consumer choices "ISP X offers about 50% of the Internet at this price, while ISP Y offers 75% of the Internet for only a few cents more.". Competition between ISPs will spiral out of control.

Things are going to end up more complicated for the ISPs themselves - and if they had a shred of intelligence to them, they'd stop this moronic talk."

Re:Ah, capitalism at its finest (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970916)

Maybe... maybe not... just because someone asked them if they'd be willing to consider that deal does not necessarily mean Youtube will go asking for that deal.

I think the best thing for the internet right now, would be for anyone trying to make a deal like that to be exposed publicly, so the public can choose whether they still want to patronize that web site.

Re:Ah, capitalism at its finest (2)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970954)

You've got it backwards. That would be the absolutely best scenario the ISPs could ever in their wildest dreams imagine. They would all be selling a unique product and could charge for it as such. Right now they are all selling pretty much the same thing which there isn't much profit in. It's the difference between selling designer (=unique) handbags and plain plastic bags. The ISPs would love it all to be ungodly complicated because they can hire people to figure it all out, but their customers only have 5 minutes on a Wednesday to choose their ISP. You don't actually think that it would have to be so hard to figure out which mobile phone company would be the better deal, do you? It's complicated exactly to prevent you from figuring that out and this would be the same thing.

Yeah, it is (-1, Offtopic)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970690)

It's the end of the "it's all free all the time to everyone" and it's back to the much more reasonable and sensible "you pay for what you use". Sure it'll expose a demographic that could never pay for anything as one that now won't be able to pay for internet access. Welcome to luxuries and succeeding in what you do. It's not food, it's not healthcare. It's something that easily lived without. And your employer will provide appropriate access to you. And I'll provide appropriate access to my employees -- just like now I provide transportation and mobile phones and computers. And it's not because I'm being nice, it's being commercial-grade things are outside of the reach of my employees, and their consumer-grade carp just isn't good enough.

And as a result, no providers will be forced to carry crappy customers. And that's called freedom. Freedom for those companies. And that's the point.

Now you can complain, and you can whine that everybody owns something and you own nothing. And you can start your own company whenever you want to. And odds are that if you're reading this, in your country, you can start a business with $50 and nothing else. And then you'll find out what real work really is. Until then, you'll have no idea.

Re:Yeah, it is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970928)

and it's back to the much more reasonable and sensible "you pay for what you use".

Except for the internet, that isn't reasonable (or even close to necessary). What you end up with is a piece of garbage that costs a fortune to use fully that all of the technologically illiterate imbeciles just accept.

It's something that easily lived without.

Tell that to people who make money because of the internet (yes, I know, impossible).

And that's called freedom. Freedom for those companies. And that's the point.

And this is called regulation. It is to prevent widespread abuse to consumers everywhere and society itself.

Until then, you'll have no idea.

"It doesn't take a chef to taste bad food."

It's frightening how there are actually people who believe some (or all) of what you said.

Re:Yeah, it is (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970966)

Wow, you'd prefer to see the internet destroyed rather than have the serfs enjoy it. That's either a mediocre attempt at trolling or a deeply sad level of misanthropy. I pity you either way.

they are taking tips out the DDOS playbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970950)

nice website you have there, shame if "something" was to happen to it

Network neutrality (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970958)

This is what happens when idiots who don't know what words mean convince you that laws and regulations promoting network neutrality are a bad thing.

mod uP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34970972)

facebook - maybe a good thing (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970982)

If they do this, I would love to have it as an option via router or ISP for services I hate. I'd love to put facebook et al on the "really fucking horrible slow/strangle" option so I can get my employees time back!

U.K. consumer protection laws ... (2)

aegl (1041528) | more than 3 years ago | (#34970994)

I'd think that any company that advertised "internet access" and then blocked access to BBC iPlayer in favour of Youtube (or vice versa) would run into a wall of lawsuits from dissatisfied customers - who would win as U.K law takes a dim view of companies posting false or misleading advertisements.
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