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Comcast: Destroying What Makes a Competitive Internet Possible

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the have-your-cake-and-stream-it-too dept.

Network 227

An anonymous reader writes "Vox has another in-depth report on the perilous state of net neutrality regulation, and how Comcast is attempting to undermine it. Quoting: 'In the bill-and-keep internet, companies at each "end" of a connection bill their own customers — whether that customer is a big web company like Google, or a an average household. Neither end pays the other for interconnection. ... ISP's typically do this by hiring a third party to provide "transit," the service of carrying data from one network to another. Transit providers often swap traffic with one another without money changing hands. ... The terminating monopoly problem occurs when a company at the end of a network not only charges its own customers for their connection, but charges companies in the middle of the network an extra premium to be able to reach its customers. In a bill-and-keep regime, the money always flows in the other direction — from customers to ISPs to transit companies. ... But when an ISP's market share gets large enough, the calculus changes. Comcast has 80 times as many subscribers as Vermont has households. So when Comcast demands payment to deliver content to its own customers, Netflix and its transit suppliers can't afford to laugh it off. The potential costs to Netflix's bottom line are too large.'"

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Sigh... (5, Insightful)

koan (80826) | about 5 months ago | (#46935077)

First they came for Netflix, and I did not speak up because I did not use Netflix.

Re:Sigh... (4, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 5 months ago | (#46935245)

Pretty much this, but not exactly. How many of the average consumers getting Comcast "Hot Deals!®" realize the penalty for the deal? Not many. Just like with so many other things the only way to fight is by consumer knowledge. Since the same people (I'm tempted to use an ad hominem for them, but won't distract) that own Comcast own all of the Mass Media, consumers are once again either ignorant or lied to.

EFF and others have been warning about this for years, hell we have debated this topic over and over on Slashdot. How do you wake consumers when you don't own any media? I guess we can hope that more of the SOPA type blackouts will occur, but I have doubts. It was effective once, but corporations hated it. Keep mailing those US House and Senate members, but also start tapping people on the shoulder. It's not like NBC is going to warn consumers of the dangers of monopolization.

MAFIAA (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46936743)

Since the same people (I'm tempted to use an ad hominem for them, but won't distract) that own Comcast own all of the Mass Media

This wouldn't involve an acronym for "music and film industry associations", would it?

Netflix is a terrible test case (2)

Scowler (667000) | about 5 months ago | (#46935431)

Comcast must be thrilled Netflix has emerged as the proxy case for Net Neutrality. Netflix, a company that commands a large double-digit percentage of all US traffic, with plans to aggressively push 4K streaming later this year. It's so easy to paint such a Goliath as needing accommodations, as a company singly adding bandwidth stress on its own.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (5, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46935487)

Comcast must be thrilled Netflix has emerged as the proxy case for Net Neutrality.

It doesn't matter though... as a user, YOU are "requesting" date from Netflix... and you have already paid Comcast for that bandwidth.

Another article today noted that carriers like Comcast deliberately let their nodes get congested so they can scream "bandwidth hogs!"

Shoot 'em down. Title II Common Carrier status for the lot of 'em. They've abused for far too long, and gotten rich in the process. Time to cut them down a notch, before they manage to throw their weight around so much they break everything in the room.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (3, Insightful)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 5 months ago | (#46935527)

As soon as that spineless fuck Tom Wheeler stops threatening to knock them all down to Title II and actually does it, we can only expect this to escalate.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46936391)

Tom Wheeler? You mean the one whose Wikipedia article is under Tom Wheeler (lobbyist) [wikipedia.org] . It sounds like his hands are as pure and clean as a new snowfall.

Prior to working at the FCC, Wheeler worked as a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry...

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#46936475)

He is most definitely not spineless. He has the balls to put forward regulations under the name "Net Neutrality" that basically say "pay for transit = net neutrality".

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46935723)

baby bells were common carriers and you had to pay them to terminate your phone calls on their networks

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (5, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46935799)

baby bells were common carriers and you had to pay them to terminate your phone calls on their networks

Yes, but...

Our Common Carrier telephone system, at least until the breakup, was the envy of the world. Rates were reasonable and closely regulated, they couldn't snoop, they couldn't pull bullshit tricks on their networks to get you to pay more, and local calls were a flat rate even if you talked all day.

In countries where competing companies were allowed to operate (instead of the U.S. "natural monopoly" setup), you had telephone systems that were fundamentally incompatible, mazes of wires, and sometimes you couldn't even call your own neighbor, because he was on a different system that was electrically incompatible with the one you used.

Now that many other countries have adopted more of a regulated "natural monopoly" system (even if not completely so), and the U.S. has gone almost all private, the tables are turned... we have among the worst service of Western nations while at the same time some of the highest rates.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46935851)

I should add that I'm not promoting Communism or anything. In many industries private competition is the only rational way to go. But communication is one of those things that has seemed to work best under the "natural monopoly" scheme. Which basically means Title II Common Carrier.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (0)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46935873)

you're insane. the rates were $100 in today's dollars for an average bill
you paid extra for caller ID and lots of other services
you paid per minute for local calling. higher rates for regional calls and crazy rates for long distance calls
there wasn't enough capacity for everyone and getting all circuits busy was normal, especially on long distance calls

and the bells double dipped by selling 800 "free"calling services to businesses

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (3, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46936049)

"you're insane. the rates were $100 in today's dollars for an average bill"

I believe you exaggerate, though the point that rates were higher is good.

"you paid extra for caller ID and lots of other services"

I actually miss that part. Because the corollary was that you could decline unwanted 'services.' Now any phone service you get has a dozen "services" that I do not want, must pay for anyway, and to add both insult and additional injury it's often impossible to even turn them off.

"you paid per minute for local calling. higher rates for regional calls and crazy rates for long distance calls"

It was possible to pay per minute for local calling, if you got the super-cheap phone service designed for those who would otherwise have no phone at all. With that lowest level of service you still got a number you could receive calls on all day every day, you only paid extra when you called out.

The normal mode was to pay slightly more per month and get unlimited local calls. Rates for long distance were certainly higher.

"there wasn't enough capacity for everyone and getting all circuits busy was normal, especially on long distance calls"

Not true, it happened but it was certainly not normal. Unless, say, you were trying to call Mexico City right after the news reported a natural disaster there - yeah, in that case, circuits would be busy.

So those are the down sides, and they are significant. What was the upside? If you were designing the system from scratch, why would you consider using a circuit switched network instead of a packet switched network?

In a word, reliability. Once you established a call, there was literally an unbroken strip of copper reaching from your handset right into the hand of the person you were talking to. There was NO packet loss, latency was very little above what the speed of light demands, bandwidth was constant and predictable.

With modern telephony being VOIP based, these things are no longer true, and telephone service is much less reliable.

With the old circuit switched network, when too many people tried to call Mexico City at the same time, a certain number actually got through. Each one of them got a good connection. All the other people whose request when through a moment too late got the message about all circuits being busy and try again later.

With the current packet switched network, when too many people try to call Mexico City at the same time, what will happen instead is that far more connections will be made, but they will not be reliable. If it's only a few too many, then maybe the audio quality goes down, a little delay creeps in, some audio artifacts... but you can all still keep talking. That's probably good. But when it's waaay too many, then no one will get a usable connection at all.

A packet-switched network is great for lots of applications but one can certainly argue that telephone service is not one of them.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46936425)

". . . an unbroken strip of copper . . ."

The amplifier preceded the break-up of the telephone monopoly by most of the monopoly's existence.

I work for a telco, and while I admit some of the out of country least-cost routing gets dodgy at times, I wouldn't impugn the performance of our SIP core. Traffic engineering works.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (1)

hxnwix (652290) | about 5 months ago | (#46936591)

VOIP uses approximately no bandwidth relative to Mexico city's landline connection, such that the drop in Netflix traffic concomitant with any easily observed or difficult to not observe event would afford more than adequate bandwidth for voice traffic. "Packet switched networks," as you say, does include GSM, which would certainly be jammed in such an event. Perhaps the old analog cell networks could fall under the circuit switched definition, but they'd be of less use than a 2 meter piece of wire you hang outside and use to tell your folks that you didn't die, but Jose and Linda are dead (just kidding, Dad, we were all outside lying on the big trampolene and smoking dope when the big one hit. It was actually kind of fun, except we got dusty when the house collapsed.)

I do generally agree with what you're saying, though. Fucking internet is bullshit; I hate this garbage too. Nobody reads these days. Time was, we'd blue box for hours ultra long distance about phreaking just because it felt good to tie up vital resources. And these electric cars! Useless in a crisis. Well, now that I think about that more, I realize it's also not true. But I'd agree with anyone who waxed philosophical about machining piston heads that you can't exactly build your own solar panel and so '68 mustangs outgun teslas in mad max eventualities.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (1)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46936713)

Are you a human being or an algorithm?

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935931)

Our Common Carrier telephone system, at least until the breakup, was the envy of the world.

I think that is what Comcast needs more than anything else, a little breakup.

Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (1, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | about 5 months ago | (#46936211)

Right, because the government did such a fantastic job setting up AT&T that way [mises.org] (PDF, pp 56-58), except it destroyed all competition in that sector for almost hundred years, preventing prices from falling and choices from being created, technology from moving forward, people from having freedoms as well, by the way, not that somebody like you would care.

According to this data from the Brookings institute, more businesses are shutting down than are being created [brookings.edu] and this is interesting, given the latest fake employment numbers by the government, which boasted that 288,000 jobs were created completely failing to mention that 234,000 of them were not actually created but assumed, because government assumed that new businesses started hiring last month, that's the so called 'birth-death' model. ASSUMED that 81% of the jobs were created, not counted them. That's in the month that saw near 1,000,000 people leaving the labour force, so now the labour participation rate in USA is lowest since 1978. This is on top of the 44+ BILLION USD / month trade deficit.

So now tell me, do you think that new businesses will be created in the USA with more regulations or will there be fewer businesses created (if any)? Do you think that more regulations will cause lower prices given what we know about government created monopolies, such as AT&T, which did by the way have the common carrier title? That was the POINT of creating that gigantic barrier to entry into the telecommunications business, creating that title to prevent competition from entering the field and from lowering prices.

Given what is going on with the USA economy, trade deficits, labour participation rates, basic inflation (money printing), I am wondering how can you not see that anything that you can come up with that government could do in order, supposedly to reduce your costs will only take the costs higher?

It's an interesting dichotomy, you are not looking beyond your nose and you are clearly oblivious to everything, history, economics, politics.

movies should not go over internet backbone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935835)

Repeatedly sending big, high def movie files over the internet backbone seems so wasteful. Netflix should have a bunch of local cache sites, and avoid sending most stuff over the internet backbone. Maybe Comcast recognizes this, and Netflix pays for a direct connection, for only a small fee.

On the other hand, "Every day I have someone come up to me and say 'Comcast came up to us asking for money,'" does not inspire confidence.

Re:movies should not go over internet backbone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935865)

Repeatedly sending big, high def movie files over the internet backbone seems so wasteful. Netflix should have a bunch of local cache sites, and avoid sending most stuff over the internet backbone.

Those who remember USENET poorly are condemned to reinvent it poorly.

Re:movies should not go over internet backbone (1)

theqmann (716953) | about 5 months ago | (#46936229)

Netflix does offer something similar to ISPs so they don't need to route all that traffic over the backbones, but since Netflix charges a fee to maintain the cache system, ISPs don't want it. Besides, if they did that, they wouldn't be able to complain and extort more money out of the backbone and edge providers.

Re:movies should not go over internet backbone (1, Interesting)

Camael (1048726) | about 5 months ago | (#46936421)

Netflix does offer something similar to ISPs so they don't need to route all that traffic over the backbones, but since Netflix charges a fee to maintain the cache system, ISPs don't want it.

Untrue. The CDNs are provided by Netflix for free [netflix.com] .

ISPs can directly connect their networks to Open Connect for free. ISPs can do this either by free peering with us at common Internet exchanges, or can save even more transit costs by putting our free storage appliances in or near their network.

The ISPs are refusing because many of them also operate cable companies/online services *cough*Hulu*cough* that compete with Netflix.

Re:movies should not go over internet backbone (4, Informative)

Duhavid (677874) | about 5 months ago | (#46936317)

My recollection is that NetFlix has such caching equipment, and that they have offered it to Comcast and Verizon.
CC and VZ did not take them up on that offer.

Re:movies should not go over internet backbone (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 5 months ago | (#46936607)

Repeatedly sending big, high def movie files over the internet backbone seems so wasteful.

Wasteful of what, exactly? Most of the costs in networking are fixed. You use a little bit more electricity to send more data but, generally speaking, most of the physical equipment involved doesn't really experience extra wear and tear when a connection is saturated versus being unused (some that's poorly designed might from, for example, overheating). In other words, if you graphed it, the real cost of bandwidth per unit is going to go down the more bandwidth is actually used.
Obviously you run into problems if the network is oversaturated, but it's not somehow a waste to actually use bandwidth once all the infrastructure for it is in place.

Not Likely (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 5 months ago | (#46935465)

I don't think there are a lot of people who don't use Netflix. At least, I don't know any.

Re:Not Likely (-1, Redundant)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 5 months ago | (#46935557)

I don't use Netflix. I'm a nerd. I do stuff. I don't watch other people do stuff. My wife uses Netflix, though.

Re:Not Likely (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46935769)

i know a lot of people who don't use netflix. i only use them for cartoons and i barely watch it myself. a lot of people are this way. very little on there worth watching

Kind of the opposite effect (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46935791)

Lets say you did use Netflix.

Why would you speak up? Netflix just arranged a deal with Comcast and from the user perspective, it got faster. So from external observation most Netflix users would think the situation had improved.

There's simply no way to explain to non-technical people why what is happening is bad.

Re:Kind of the opposite effect (2)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46936117)

"There's simply no way to explain to non-technical people why what is happening is bad."

You are wrong and TFA shows you how. Did you read?

You dont need to understand the technical side just the business side.

The way the internet works, I pay my ISP, you pay your ISP, and so far as we are concerned everyone is paid (the ISPs pay transit providers out of what they bill us but we can ignore that, it's not our responsibility.) You are Netflix, I paid Comcast, you paid your ISP, I am happily watching movies and you are happily cashing my checks, and so is Comcast. All is as it should be.

Then Comcast decides that since you are doing so well, they want a cut, and start interfering with *my* service to pressure you.

I think most non-technical people can still understand very easily that this is or at least should be criminal behavior, based on the business logic alone and with no need to understand the technical details.

Re:Kind of the opposite effect (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46936181)

You dont need to understand the technical side just the business side.

You are just trading one technical jargon for another.

Explain again how a normal non-technical person understands it is bad?

What the Netflix user sees is that they have Comcast, Netflix got faster, end of story. Any other words you use are pointless because the effect to them is not direct, the potential effect on the future too nebulous to understand.

Even if you frame it as you have, I'll bet 8% of normal people you explain it to would just go "eh".

Re:Kind of the opposite effect (1)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46936193)

"Even if you frame it as you have, I'll bet 8% of normal people you explain it to would just go "eh"."

92% response rate is fine, I'll take it in a heartbeat.

Re:Kind of the opposite effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46936279)

What the Netflix user sees is that they have Comcast, Netflix got faster, end of story.

No, not end of story. As a result of having to pay both their ISP and your ISP, Netflix must now raise your rate.

Re:Kind of the opposite effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46936119)

Because I can see further than the next fiancial quarter.

Say I told Comcast to fuck off. They'd cut me off. Sure, short-term revenues would go down because I lost all those customers. Long-term, though, I would win because those customers would not remain silent. I would let everyone know that I am quite willing to give them access, but it is their cable company that is blocking the service. Cut off from a service they want by an ill-behaving monopoly, they would kick up a fuss and - doubtless unwillingly - the politicos would have to regulate properly or they would lose their seats. Meanwhile, Verizon (or whatever the local competitor is) would also advertise the hell out of the fact that THEY aren't blocking Comcast, further hurting Comcast's revenues. The general public doesn't care right now because it hasn't had any direct effect on them. Sometimes they need a little spur. Let Comcast deny the public its circus. Eventually I'd get all those customers back and in the long term, I'd win because I won't be forced to pay an endlessly escalating rate to telecom companies.

It's time one of these companies calls the telecom's bluff. Without content, the Internet is worthless, and neither Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, Charter nor all of them combined can provide enough content on their own. And no content, no customers. The telecoms need the content providers far more the content providers need the telecoms.

Doesn't matter what you can see (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46936189)

Because I can see further than the next financial quarter

So what? My point is few of the MANY USERS of Netflix can understand the long-term implications.

It doesn't matter if a handful of people know better, because to actually change things would take a majority of Netflix or Comcast subscribers. And that cannot happen.

Re:Doesn't matter what you can see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46936297)

It doesn't matter if a handful of people know better, because to actually change things would take a majority of Netflix or Comcast subscribers. And that cannot happen.

I think you misunderstand my post. In it, "I" does not refer to me, "I" refers to Netflix. So when "I" tell Comcast to fuck off, and when "I" say that "I" will win because "I" would let everyone know that "I" am willing to give them access, I mean Netflix is doing all those things.

Won't happen (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 5 months ago | (#46936467)

Say I told Comcast to fuck off. They'd cut me off. Sure, short-term revenues would go down because I lost all those customers. Long-term, though, I would win because those customers would not remain silent. I would let everyone know that I am quite willing to give them access, but it is their cable company that is blocking the service. Cut off from a service they want by an ill-behaving monopoly, they would kick up a fuss and - doubtless unwillingly - the politicos would have to regulate properly or they would lose their seats.

I'm sorry, I don't have your faith in "the people".

Case in point- US consumers have been paying through their nose for broadband access for years [bbc.com] .

Home broadband in the US costs far more than elsewhere. At high speeds, it costs nearly three times as much as in the UK and France, and more than five times as much as in South Korea.

I don't see this rising tide of angry consumers you speak of. Most of them will shrug their shoulders and keep on paying. With Netflix cut off, they will just switch to cable.

That's why Atlanta (and other cities) ... (4, Informative)

loony (37622) | about 5 months ago | (#46935089)

... need google fibre. Its the opposite extreme when it comes to performance and openness...

Peter.

Re:That's why Atlanta (and other cities) ... (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 5 months ago | (#46935239)

Yeah, it's nice that -- in some perverse sense -- Google's interests are aligned with those of the customers. Google makes money off of you *because you use* the internet, whereas Comcast makes money because you pay your monthly bill.

Of course, advertising may not ultimately be in the best interest of the customer, but still...

Re:That's why Atlanta (and other cities) ... (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 5 months ago | (#46936001)

Google Fiber is a separate self sustaining entity... well... should be. We'll see in a few years. The main point is Google Fiber isn't meant to cost Google anything, it is meant to make money directly from its own value, not by added value to the main company.

Re:That's why Atlanta (and other cities) ... (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 5 months ago | (#46935319)

Or the FCC could declare internet a common carrier. Like the phone system is.

Re:That's why Atlanta (and other cities) ... (2)

tsa (15680) | about 5 months ago | (#46935701)

Doesn't matter. Even fibers will be saturated one day and then the whole process starts again.

Re:That's why Atlanta (and other cities) ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935957)

Peak photons?

Re:That's why Atlanta (and other cities) ... (2)

Duhavid (677874) | about 5 months ago | (#46936443)

No, peek photons

Comcast doesn't care (2)

jlgreer1 (888680) | about 5 months ago | (#46935093)

I live in a rural Virginia area. Comcast is my only choice. They don't care.

Re:Comcast doesn't care (3, Informative)

supersat (639745) | about 5 months ago | (#46935203)

It doesn't really matter where you are; there is no real competition in the US broadband market. Sure, DSL exists, but old copper lines can't handle nearly the bandwidth that coax can. I live only a few blocks away from the CO, but due to the age of the wires, I could barely get 1.5 mbps.

Re:Comcast doesn't care (2)

beatljuice (735526) | about 5 months ago | (#46935845)

There is something else wrong if you're close to the CO and you have copper from there to your house. At my previous job we had copper underground that was put there in the 1890s (no, that's not a typo). And we weren't close to the CO and had no trouble getting 5 Mbps unless it was raining really hard because the insulation was compromised and the wires got wet.

Re:Comcast doesn't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935211)

Get the government to run dark fiber to the nearest datacenter and charge all local ISPs "fair market value" for access to that link (with construction costs amortized over 10 years). Start an ISP at $9.99/mo base with metered access at 110% of those rates.

Comcast would be ditched quickly.

Re:Comcast doesn't care (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 5 months ago | (#46936491)

Get the government to run dark fiber to the nearest datacenter and charge all local ISPs "fair market value" for access to that link...

Stop right there. You know that will never happen because their lobbyists be will hard at work making sure that your elected representatives will kill any such plan in birth. Probably on the grounds of "less government", "capitalism" and "free competition".

Lets have more realistic solutions, please.

Re:Comcast doesn't care (2)

loony (37622) | about 5 months ago | (#46935215)

we just need google fibre and such in major comcast markets - cut off enough of their profits that they see the impact on their bottomline...

Re:Comcast doesn't care (5, Funny)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 5 months ago | (#46935227)

Comcast wasn't your only choice. You could have voted NO. Even a commie Russian gets to vote NO.
But Americans? Nope. Bend over and take it.
I've had dial up instead of Comcast. I've had nothing, for short periods of time. I've thrown Comcast out of every property I've ever owned.
Hell I even ordered Comcast just so I could return the equipment the next day and keep the batteries.
Comcast is the Edith Keeler of the internet.

Re:Comcast doesn't care (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 5 months ago | (#46935659)

Hell I even ordered Comcast just so I could return the equipment the next day and keep the batteries. Comcast is the Edith Keeler of the internet.

and you are the jack benny of slashdot.

(goml)

Re:Comcast doesn't care (2)

fermion (181285) | about 5 months ago | (#46935879)

And this is why Comcast has the power. They have spent the money to deliver a service. I do not live in a rural area. I live in the middle of the city. Where there is a dense population. And my only choice is comcast. ATT, Verizon, they don't care enough to build up service. They let comcast have the customers. If you want internet here, it has to be Comcast. Google was looking at us for service, but they are only interested in places that already have saturated service, not places that could benefit for the service.

Furthermore, I have lived places where ATT has broadband. You know what, it is more expensive for a slower service. So yes, the internet is dying. It died as soon as we said that the lines did not have to be shared. That killed the composition. What we have now are a few boys who have decided how to carve out the school yard.

You asked for it (0, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46935099)

You all clamored for a tightly-corperate-coupled government to control the internet.

Then it happened, the FCC decided it could do what it wanted.

So now instead of back-end interconnects being negotiated between an ISP and a content provider as had been the case, the government by fiat has declared the "winner" - the ISP.

What has happened is what was inevitable. If you don't like it, think more next time before you ask a government controlled by the highest bidder to control whatever you are wishing was more free.

Or just in general don't expect things that are more controlled to be more free, because obvious.

Re:You asked for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935185)

You all clamored for a tightly-corperate-coupled government to control the internet.

No, I didn't. I've been clamoring to get the private corporations out of government for longer than there has been an internet.

It's not my fault you didn't listen.

You all ignored the problem.

Re:You asked for it (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 5 months ago | (#46935195)

I think he is talking about the people on here who are far right, the ones that are ok with the citizen united ruling and the like.

Re: You asked for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935485)

No, he's taking about non-libertarians on either side. Both sides are bad for different reasons and both created this situation.

Re:You asked for it (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46935219)

No, I didn't. I've been clamoring to get the private corporations out of government

Which isn't going to happen unless government gets a lot smaller. So the only alternative is to not give them any more power.

When people give the government power over the internet, naturally companies will seek to control what the government does with it. This is why happened; it is what was inevitable.

Re:You asked for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46936275)

Which isn't going to happen unless government gets a lot smaller.

No, my small local government is even more in their pocket.

Re:You asked for it (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 5 months ago | (#46936553)

You all clamored for a tightly-corperate-coupled government to control the internet.

Then it happened, the FCC decided it could do what it wanted.So now instead of back-end interconnects being negotiated between an ISP and a content provider as had been the case, the government by fiat has declared the "winner" - the ISP.

Don't be obtuse. The government should have, but failed to, control the internet. That is why the ISPs are charging you and arm and a leg. One example- the FCC wanted net neutrality [fcc.gov] , which by all accounts most consumers want. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the ISPs however killed the idea [bgr.com] :-

Any semblance of net neutrality in the United States is as good as dead. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 order that imposed network neutrality regulations on wireline broadband services. The ruling is a major victory for telecom and cable companies who have fought all net neutrality restrictions vociferously for years.

You are doing the ISPs work for them. Every time one of you should "less gov'mt" and burn flags, they rub their hands in glee. Less government = more freedom in them deciding how to skin you.

Also explain to me how is it that you can get cheaper broadband in countries even heavier regulated than the US [bbc.com] .

Re:You asked for it (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46936639)

Don't be obtuse. The government should have, but failed to, control the internet.

You fail to understand what is happening. The GOVERNMENT has decided that content providers will henceforth pay ISP's. How is that government failing to control the internet?

They are controlling it quite well.

Good bye free internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935179)

This is disapointing in a big way and scary as well, i can only imagine its a matter of time before the same idea spreads to the UK, thats of course if we are not fully censored by brother by then.

Settlement-free peering and transit (5, Insightful)

gavron (1300111) | about 5 months ago | (#46935187)

These concepts were part of the commercial Internet circa the early 1990s
and were part of the reason CIX was so successful. Then PAIX then others.

In time, Internet exchanges were themselves bogged down and companies
did private peering. Those who connected to like-quantity produders of
content did so for free (settlement-free peering). Those who were unequal
paid for transiting the network (paid transit).

That hasn't changed in 32 years. All that's changed is the up and down of
who provides more traffic where. The dominant player in each interconnection
point ALWAYS demanded transit, and often did so with the "wherever our
two networks meet" even if elsewhere it was not the dominant player.

Comcast could be made to behave, but Netflix blinked and paid them money.
Now others will as well.

This CAN BE FIXED BY REGULATION but not the kind people are thinking
of. No, not net neutrality. Rather the elimination of the cable-company
monopolies on entire swaths of subscribers. Eliminate the government-granted
access to rights-of-way, towers, utility poles, and infrastructure. Let them not
have a "sole franchise" but rather be one of many competing in the market.

Remove Comcast and their ilk from their high post as the monopolistic "owner"
of all these households by fiat, and having to compete to keep them, and instead
of throttling their peerings to make Netflix users (THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS)
suffer... they'll get peering with netflix.

More government regulation doesn't solve a market-driven problem. Removing the
government regulation harming free competition is the key.

E

Re:Settlement-free peering and transit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935279)

Removing regulation, rather than writing proper regulation, would do nothing more than set all of us in the claws of Comcast-Warner
Free Competition is an illusion once some players get too big. Even the 'big guys' would never have lain down cable without significant subsidy, and expecting new little players to appear and do so is extremely naive.

If you remove all regulation, the only people still being regulated are small businesses... one way or the other.

Wrong (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46935821)

Removing regulation, rather than writing proper regulation, would do nothing more than set all of us in the claws of Comcast-Warner

Totally wrong, the fastest internet I had was a decade ago when a small company called Wide Open West was allowed to run fiber to the curb.

Comcast put a stop to that soon enough, they are gone as is that faster access.

I've already seen a looser regulation having a positive effect, and yearn to return to that state where someone COULD offer service to me besides Comcast.

Re:Settlement-free peering and transit (1)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46936233)

I think you are basically correct but the problem is that you cannot actually undo the damage at this point by simply backing out the regulations that caused it.

The best way to solve it, without giving the state any new regulatory powers, would be to require ISPs to be only ISPs. Don't let one company own the pipes and also own a bunch of other businesses that compete as users of the pipes - that's just a recipe for corruption.

Comcast and others like them could pull a nice bump in revenues by divesting themselves of the ISP operations entirely, and then going forward the new ISP operation would no longer have a vested interest in disrupting network operations, while their main 'content ownership' scam would no longer have the power to disrupt the network in order to prevent competition.

Monopoly extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935207)

What would constitute a smoking gun for regulatory investigation?

Make this an antitrust issue (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 5 months ago | (#46935231)

We simply need to forget the FCC and make this an antitrust issue. If an ISP is so big that they charge companies for the privilege of reaching their customers, then it is anticompetitive. If they start charging backbone providers, well... then the backbone providers will go out of business since their revenue stream will become an expense. I'm not sure how that would ever work.

comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46935249)

Netflix even said Comcast is charging them very little for the connections and its not material to earnings.
i've seen estimates of $.30 to $.50 per megabit per second which is A LOT less than standard transit prices and an estimate that the netflix will pay $18 million per year for this. out of almost $5 billion in revenues this year and a current tech budget which includes transit of over $100 million

this is another blogger crisis. they scream for better internet speeds and when a deal to enable this finally happens they scream fraud and extortion

Possible Two-Sided Sword (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 5 months ago | (#46935371)

Netflix also has a motive here -- to create a barrier to entry to keep other smaller businesses out of streaming movies and TV shows for profit.

Re:Possible Two-Sided Sword (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 5 months ago | (#46936567)

Comcast also has a motive here -- to get their customers to use Streampix [comcast.com] instead of Netflix or get Netflix to pay extra to get to their customers.

Tit for Tat and all of that.

Re:comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 5 months ago | (#46935395)

this is another blogger crisis. they scream for better internet speeds and when a deal to enable this finally happens they scream fraud and extortion

Um, just because the 'deal' make something better doesn't mean it's a good deal. I for one am not too pleased with this 'deal with the devil.' Netflix has kind of shot us all in the foot.

Re:comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (2)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46935585)

so why is it better for the sender of 30% of the internet's traffic to send their traffic through a third party network rather than directly to customers?

L3 and Cogent have done plenty of shady things in the past when they had the upper hand in the business. now they don't and are crying network neutrality

Re:comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 5 months ago | (#46936721)

so why is it better for the sender of 30% of the internet's traffic to send their traffic through a third party network rather than directly to customers?

L3 and Cogent have done plenty of shady things in the past when they had the upper hand in the business. now they don't and are crying network neutrality

These are all reasons we need heavy regulation and common carrier status for internet networking infrastructure providers, regardless of tier or business size. So they quit screwing US over with their shady backroom deals, cuz you know who pays for those deals. We do, the last mile customers. Weither in higher prices, degraded service or lack of customer support. And any combination of the three.

Re:comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 5 months ago | (#46936727)

This new thing with netflix is just showing big ISP's they can start milking content providers for 'better connectivity' to their throngs of last mile consumers. This is in no way a good thing.

And who's paying for it? Netflix customers. Did comcast lower their price? Nooo. Did Netflix lower their price? Noooo.. in fact they raised it.

Re:comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 5 months ago | (#46935441)

i've seen estimates of $.30 to $.50 per megabit per second which is A LOT less than standard transit prices

I've seen banner adverts from HE for transit at $0.80/mbps and I imagine big customers can get better deals than that. So it's probablly in the same ballpark as buying transit from cheap providers like cogent or HE.

What would worry me as a content provider would not be the immediate cost but that once it becomes established that buying "paid peering" or transit service from comcast is the only way to get decent performance to comcast users they could slowly tighten the screws on me.

Re:comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#46935573)

drpeering.net says $2.50 per megabit for small companies, less than a $1 for big ones like google and apple so netflix is getting a huge deal

there are dozens of content streaming companies out there. if comcast picks a fight they will have a lot of others against them. even then a strong streaming market is in their best interests because they pay a lot of money for their pay TV customers and want to decrease that

Re:comcast is charging less than Cogent and L3 (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about 5 months ago | (#46936051)

http://he.net/ Get BGP+IPv6+IPv4 for $0.45/Mbps!

$0.3/mbit for peering is EXPENSIVE. Since all of the equipment costs are already covered by their residential customer, that's a 100% net profit. Kind of like if Microsoft started subsidizing their xbox games to price the playstation out of the market. That's called monopolistic power for a reason.

The potential costs to Netflix's bottom line.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935295)

Unfortunately, that's really what the current fight over "net neutrality" really is.

I used quotes for a reason - no one in the industry really wants true net neutrality. What we're seeing now is a pissing contest between ISPs and content providers over how to split the revenue from the citizenry.

True net neutrality is a pipe dream because of regulatory capture [wikipedia.org] .

In short, our government is NOT a disinterested party with no skin in the fight between various powerful factions. And since the powerful factions such as Google, AT&T, Netflix, Comcast, etc. have organized lobbying efforts and can do things like hire ex-goverment workers to lucrative sinecures, we have a fundamentally corrupt government that is NOT going to be solving the problems of We The People.

God help us when that government gets its hands deeply into healthcare.

Re: The potential costs to Netflix's bottom line.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935497)

A little too late for that sentiment.

Get OFF your freaking duffs! (5, Informative)

stox (131684) | about 5 months ago | (#46935419)

You can still change this!

Start with filing your comment NOW at the FCC:

https://www.fcc.gov/comments [fcc.gov]

Click on 14-28 Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet

Here is a sample to give you some inspiration:

"It has become time to classify Internet Service Providers as Title II Common Carriers. The possibilities for abuse are just too great otherwise. Failure to do so will cripple the future economic well being of the United States, stifle innovation, and limit the freedom of consumers to choose the content they desire."

You already gave them the keys (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46935805)

That will do absolutely nothing, I refuse to waste the electrons.

You handed the FCC the keys to the internet. They get to drive it now.

They have no reason to listen to you any longer. Indeed you can't even vote against what they are doing, not really, because a government entity persists across any administration...

Re:You already gave them the keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935955)

please, why don't you just say plainly what you mean... "i'm jackin' off. i'm jackin', jackin', jackity-jackin'... smackin', smackin' smackity smackitin' my own goddamn dick off.. and i encourage you to do the same."

DEMOCRACY WILL NOT WAIT FOR YOU.

Re:Get OFF your freaking duffs! (1)

raind (174356) | about 5 months ago | (#46935807)

thanks - better than the petition at wh.gov

Re:Get OFF your freaking duffs! (2)

slykens (85844) | about 5 months ago | (#46935945)

"It has become time to classify Internet Service Providers as Title II Common Carriers. The possibilities for abuse are just too great otherwise. Failure to do so will cripple the future economic well being of the United States, stifle innovation, and limit the freedom of consumers to choose the content they desire."

You do understand that telephone carriers pay to interconnect with each other with the carrier terminating a call ultimately being paid for that termination? This is the exact situation we don't want to see with ISPs. (As a side-bar this is why there are/were so many "free" conference calling solutions in rural Iowa - a few of the carriers there were paid upwards of $0.02/min for termination, regardless of origin, and were willing to *pay* customer to receive calls!)

I support net neutrality 100% but what happened between Netflix, Cogent, and Comcast has nothing to do with it.

Re:Get OFF your freaking duffs! (1)

dislikes_corruption (3630797) | about 5 months ago | (#46936107)

Just to throw out a few other things that you can / should do:

A petition [whitehouse.gov] to sign.

An email address [mailto] that the FCC has set up for public comments on this issue.

Contact information for your congressional [house.gov] representatives [senate.gov] .

Just be clear about what your position is. As in the parent example - ask for ISPs to be reclassified as common carriers. If all you do is say that you're in favor of a neutral Internet, or network neutrality, they'll be free to interpret that any way they like.

Re:Get OFF your freaking duffs! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 5 months ago | (#46936321)

your whining to some unchecked inbox wont do a single bit of good

Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46935453)

I can only hope that the government replies to Comcast's attempt to corner the isp system is: FUCK COMCAST!!!

Only in America (1)

barra.ponto (879488) | about 5 months ago | (#46935605)

Money also flows one way for cell service in most of the world, except ... in the USA where both ends pay, so that's not unique to what Comcast is trying to do with internet service.
Remember landline service? One didn't have to pay to receive calls (not even from the telemarketers).

Re:Only in America (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 5 months ago | (#46936039)

That's gone away somewhat with in-network calling, and honestly since then I can't remember the last time I hit, much less exceeded my peak-minute allowance.

This only matters with huge data (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 months ago | (#46935983)

You can do all kinds of things which are not "huge data" and you won't have a problem.

Netflix pushed things very hard and changed the foundation of the "all the bandwidth you want" model.

Because previously the average customer downloaded a fraction of what they downloaded after netflix.

ISP's have the option of charging their customers more (maybe a lot more) or charging Netflix (and amazon prime and hulu) which can then pass that cost on to its customers.

Comcast are not nice dudes- but it's not all on one side.

Lobbyists are a HUGE part of the problem (3, Informative)

fightinfilipino (1449273) | about 5 months ago | (#46936083)

having lobbyists in government regulatory bodies HAS to stop

sign this and share it: http://wh.gov/lwhr8 [wh.gov]

Tom Wheeler and his ilk have empowered too much Telco/Cableco monopoly control and done nothing to help regular people

Re:Lobbyists are a HUGE part of the problem (5, Insightful)

OhPlz (168413) | about 5 months ago | (#46936183)

The current President lied in his campaign promises to not appoint lobbyists, but I'm sure an Internet petition signed by a bunch of geeks will change his mind.

Washington DC is useless to us.

I don't understand (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | about 5 months ago | (#46936255)

This whole thing doesn't make sense to me. If Comcast is intentionally degrading (or failing to upgrade, causing degradation) NetFlix stream, why doesn't NetFlix just let them? Put a message over the buffering stating that the buffering is caused by Comcast and asking the customer to contact them in order to fix it. Maybe put a short pre-roll PSA video, explaining the situation to all Comcast NetFlix users. I'm (luckily) not a Comcast subscriber, but if I was, and I couldn't do whatever I wanted with the net connection I bought from them, I'd be screaming bloody murder, and I'd sure want to know who was to blame.

RICO the bastards (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 5 months ago | (#46936413)

If the Executive administration wasn't such a bunch of spineless cowards they'd be pursuing RICO charges against Comcast for extorting Netflix and then miraculously eliminating their throughput problem less than a month later.

Re:RICO the bastards (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 5 months ago | (#46936623)

My thoughts exactly. This should be treated as extortion.

Can someone explain something to me? (1)

MasseKid (1294554) | about 5 months ago | (#46936453)

Can someone explain something to me, because I don't get it. If I want content, and netflix has the content, and I have a subscription to Netflix and an ISP, assuming neither has a monopoly, why does it matter if netflix or the ISP pays for the transmission of data? One of the two of them has to pay for it for my consumption. I understand this all changes if there's a monopoly by either netflix or the ISP, but without the monopoly, why does capitalism not drive this to cost+ a reasonable cost of doing buisness/profit margin? And if it does, why do I really care if I pay this money to either the ISP or netflix, I have to pay it to someone. Now obviously, this goes out the window if one or both has a monopoly. Also, please, I'm looking for a real answer as to why I should care, not "zomg, ISP greeeeed"

Re:Can someone explain something to me? (1)

PaddyM (45763) | about 5 months ago | (#46936631)

You just said it yourself. The problem is that Comcast is a monopoly, has abused their position, and other ISP/Content creator combos are planning to follow suit.

Title II Common Carrier status would force Comcast to not discriminate. It can't charge Netflix more than what it charges any other customer.

I suppose another solution would be forcing Comcast to split its lines of business, but that is not a task the Government tends to want to do.

Re:Can someone explain something to me? (2, Informative)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 5 months ago | (#46936705)

Can someone explain something to me, because I don't get it. If I want content, and netflix has the content, and I have a subscription to Netflix and an ISP, assuming neither has a monopoly, why does it matter if netflix or the ISP pays for the transmission of data? One of the two of them has to pay for it for my consumption. I understand this all changes if there's a monopoly by either netflix or the ISP, but without the monopoly, why does capitalism not drive this to cost+ a reasonable cost of doing buisness/profit margin? And if it does, why do I really care if I pay this money to either the ISP or netflix, I have to pay it to someone. Now obviously, this goes out the window if one or both has a monopoly. Also, please, I'm looking for a real answer as to why I should care, not "zomg, ISP greeeeed"

Basically, Netflix pays their ISP for bandwidth. You pay your Comcast for bandwidth. The traffic goes through Netflix's ISP, through the Internet backbone, to the Comcast network. Netflix's ISP is supposed to have a peering arrangement with Comcast where they agree to carry traffic to and from each other, usually for free. Normally both ISPs are close to being equal in the amount of data they exchange so this is fair.

Comcast has two arguments that they are using to charge Netflix extra to deliver their data to you:

1. Netflix data takes up a lot of bandwidth on the Comcast network and someone has to pay for that bandwidth. This is a total lie as you have already paid for this bandwidth through Comcast service fees, Netflix has already paid their ISP for this bandwidth, and tax payers have paid ISPs for time immemorial to upgrade their infrastructure, much of which has been just pocketed.

2. Netflix is using a small ISP to get a really good deal on their ISP rates and because their ISP is tiny, in comparison to Comcast, the peering agreement is unfair. Comcast does have a valid point here, but are going after the wrong party. Comcast should be charging Netflix's ISP additional fees as part of the peering agreement, which they would then have to pass on to their customers. Wait, you say, doesn't Netflix end up being charged more anyway? Yes, but this way the existing internet model is maintained and there is no prioritization of data based on who paid a toll or not. However, Netflix paying Comcast is a gateway to Comcast charging other companies for bandwidth even though their ISPs have fair peering agreements. Once this happens, any new internet business will have to have enough funding to pay Comcast for premium access or they would be at a severe disadvantage against the established companies.

Re:Can someone explain something to me? (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 5 months ago | (#46936707)

It's pretty straightforward. You pay for access to the Internet through your ISP, which may be Comcast. Netflix pays for access to the Internet through their ISPs, although their service providers are probably a different tier than the consumer level service you're getting. The way it's supposed to work is that you're both connected to the Internet, so data you send between each other is covered by whatever plan you have with your ISP. What Comcast is doing here is double-dipping. They want to charge you for sending and receiving data to and from Netflix and also charge Netflix for sending and receiving data to and from you. The effect of this is that Netflix basically ends up paying twice for bandwidth. You may shrug your shoulders and say "why should I care", but who exactly do you think ultimately pays for this? The answer is that _you_ pay if you're a Comcast customer who uses Netflix (or any other service they manage to extort this way).

This is basically a telecom finding yet another way to charge hidden fees to customers. Ever actually look at the bill from pretty much any telecom such as Comcast? Ever look at the fees section? Where they directly charge you for all the taxes and other fees that anyone charges them? Things that every other business rolls into the final price as part of the cost of doing business but telecoms somehow get a pass to do? It allows them to lie to you about the price of your service when you sign up. Ever try to ask them in advance what your actual basic monthly bill will be when trying to order service and they can't or won't tell you? They're scum, plain and simple.

As businesses that require extensive, distributed infrastructure (mostly situated on property acquired through eminent domain, variances, etc. for the public good) telecoms tend to be what's referred to as "natural monopolies". As natural monopolies, they're meant to be heavily regulated since they generally can't even exist without massive exceptions and exceptional favors being granted to them. Trouble is, as vast, powerful monopolies, they distort the market they exist in and capture the regulatory system. They should be forced to act as non-profits and run as public utilities considering the massive abuses they perpetrate constantly. Trouble is, that won't fly well in the US where too many people are severely opposed to that kind of regulation of "private" industry, completely blind to the fact that the industry in question only exists because it gets the benefits of being a public institution without actually being one.

Re:Can someone explain something to me? (1)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46936729)

"You may shrug your shoulders and say "why should I care", but who exactly do you think ultimately pays for this? The answer is that _you_ pay if you're a Comcast customer who uses Netflix (or any other service they manage to extort this way)."

Unfortunately it's much worse than that. You pay for this if you use Netflix, or any other service that pays such extortion, whether you are a Comcast customer or not.

Also screw Netflix. I am on their side on this issue only under protest and lacking any other option. If we could just let Comcast take their money without setting a precedent then I would be fine with it. But unfortunately we cannot. If Comcast can shake them down by threat of disrupting their own customers service, then they can do this to anyone and everyone else that needs to contact one of their customers as well, and that would mean the death of the internet, in all seriousness.
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