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Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the contortions-of-all-kinds dept.

The Internet 343

lpress (707742) writes "At a recent conference, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts rationalized charging Netflix to deliver content by comparing Comcast to the Post Office, saying that Netflix pays to mail DVDs to its customers but now expects to be able to deliver the same content over the internet for free. He forgot to mention that the Post Office does not charge recipients for those DVDs. The underlying issue in this debate is who will invest in the Internet infrastructure that we badly need? Comcast has a disincentive to invest because, if things bog down, people will blame content providers like Netflix and the ISP will be able to charge the content provider for adequate service. If ISPs have insufficient incentive to invest in infrastructure, who will? Google? Telephone companies? Government (at all levels)? Premises owners?"

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He also forgot to mention... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138541)

That everyone has to pay for access to the Internet, including Netflix. They've already paid, but Comcast arbitrarily expects them to pay even more just because their own customers want to use Netflix, which makes zero fucking sense.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (5, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about 4 months ago | (#47138619)

What's more, his analogy actually supports Comcast NOT charging Netflix, rather than the other way around.
Being a Canadian resident, if I want to send a letter to someone in Canada, I pay Canada Post to deliver it.
If, on the other hand, I want to send a letter to someone in a different country, say, the USA, or England, I pay Canada Post to deliver it. I do not have to pay the United States Postal Service or Royal Mail to deliver my letter sent from Canada.

In this analogy, countries and regional postal services are equivalent to ISPs. If I want to send a network packet (letter) to someone on a different ISP (in a different country), I pay my local ISP (postal service) to deliver it. Any ISP (country) beyond that is not my responsibility.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138709)

actually you do pay the foreign carriers, it's in the postage you have to buy for the letter.

You just don't get a detailed bill for it.

Re: He also forgot to mention... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138741)

Whooosh

Re: He also forgot to mention... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138961)

The whoosh is on you, I think. He is right and the original post, though marked insightful, is wrong. The analogy does not work at all.

Re: He also forgot to mention... (5, Insightful)

Namarrgon (105036) | about 4 months ago | (#47139073)

The point is that, in both cases, the sender/content provider has already paid. If there's an additional cost to transmitting the content across a boundary (different country or different peering service), then in both cases that has already been factored into the cost of sending it, and paid to the local provider (post office or ISP).

By Comcast's reasoning, the parcel sender should also expect a bill from any countries the parcel travels through, despite paying the full postage when sending. If Comcast wants more money for transmitting content, they need to take it up with their neighbour peering providers, not with the content producers or consumers.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (-1, Troll)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about 4 months ago | (#47138927)

actually you do pay the foreign carriers, it's in the postage you have to buy for the letter.

I hate to sound elitist, but if we charged more for the internet maybe it would keep inbred users to a minimum.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138981)

It's especially bad to sound elitist when you're wrong, but I'm sure that won't stop you the next time either.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (2)

VanGarrett (1269030) | about 4 months ago | (#47139039)

That's technically true, but cbiltcliffe also makes the point that it's not his responsibility. cbiltcliffe doesn't care about the US postal service's fee. The Canadian postal service has given him a price for delivery of his letter, and he pays said price. His end of the transaction is done, and whatever agreement the Canadian postal service has with the US postal service is, that is the Canadian postal service's problem, not his. Whether or not the Canadian postal service's fee includes the US postal service's fee is not guaranteed, and any additional fee for international shipping may indeed be considerably greater than the US postal service's fee to complete the delivery.

The Universal Postal Union (5, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 4 months ago | (#47138767)

I want to send a letter to someone in a different country, say, the USA, or England, I pay Canada Post to deliver it. I do not have to pay the United States Postal Service or Royal Mail to deliver my letter sent from Canada.

Postal settlements for delivery abroad are made peer-to-peer.

The Universal Postal Union (UPU, French: Union postale universelle) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates postal policies among member nations.

In 1969, the UPU introduced a new system of payment where fees were payable between countries according to the difference in the total weight of mail between them. These fees were called terminal dues. Ultimately, this new system was fairer when traffic was heavier in one direction than the other. As a matter of example, in 2012, terminal dues for transit from China to the USA was 0.635 SDR/kg, or about 1 USD/kg.

As this affected the cost of the delivery of periodicals, the UPU devised a new ''threshold'' system, which it later implemented in 1991. The system sets separate letter and periodical rates for countries which receive at least 150 tonnes of mail annually. For countries with less mail, the original flat rate is still maintained. The United States has negotiated a separate terminal dues formula with thirteen European countries that includes a rate per piece plus a rate per kilogram; it has a similar arrangement with Canada.

Universal Postal Union [wikipedia.org]

The Universal Postal Union (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139081)

The original analogy holds true, the sender only pays his ISP, his ISP then settles delivery charges with the carriers it touches.

Therefore it's not Netflix who needs to pay a second time, nor is it the home user. It should be a settlement between the major carriers, Comcast, Shaw, Verizon, Google fibre (Google as an ISP, not Google as SaaS provider), and not based on the end destination but on packets in vs packets out (the internet equivalent of weight from the postal service example). I'd be willing to bet this structure already exists anyway.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47138919)

What's more, his analogy actually supports Comcast NOT charging Netflix, rather than the other way around.

Which in my case, i do. I pay Comcast a monthly 'delivery fee'. what is delivered is of no business to them, just like the post office.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (2)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 4 months ago | (#47139171)

What's more, his analogy actually supports Comcast NOT charging Netflix, rather than the other way around.
Being a Canadian resident, if I want to send a letter to someone in Canada, I pay Canada Post to deliver it.
If, on the other hand, I want to send a letter to someone in a different country, say, the USA, or England, I pay Canada Post to deliver it. I do not have to pay the United States Postal Service or Royal Mail to deliver my letter sent from Canada.

In this analogy, countries and regional postal services are equivalent to ISPs. If I want to send a network packet (letter) to someone on a different ISP (in a different country), I pay my local ISP (postal service) to deliver it. Any ISP (country) beyond that is not my responsibility.

I made the same point back in March:

http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Re:He also forgot to mention... (1)

laird (2705) | about 4 months ago | (#47139231)

Exactly. This is a dispute between "carriers", where Comcast wants to stop buying transit from its bandwidth providers, and instead get transit for free from Comcast. Comcast wants Netflix to either buy transit from bandwidth providers or pay Comcast for the transit; By analogy to the postal service, imagine that you wanted to send a letter to someone in the US, but not pay either Canada Post or the USPS for it.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (0)

flappinbooger (574405) | about 4 months ago | (#47138745)

That everyone has to pay for access to the Internet, including Netflix. They've already paid, but Comcast arbitrarily expects them to pay even more just because their own customers want to use Netflix, which makes zero fucking sense.

It does on Comcast.

Comcast, not even once.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (1, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 4 months ago | (#47138759)

Err, thier customers get to use Netflix already by having the internet. The problem was that Netflix didn't give a shit about some customers because they paid the lowest bidder to be their bandwidth host. When my company was worried about delivering video game services where latency is paramount, we asked ourselves which datacenters have connections to which backbones so that we can choose the appropriate one, because we cared about delivering our product to our customers with the lowest latency possible. Comcast may be assholes, but they're not necessarily in the wrong position here.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138841)

I think you have this wrong unless I'm not understanding correctly what you mean.

If this was the case for you with your video game services then you already buying into some good data centers into the backbone and then later on some ISP's backbone link is congested they would then charge you extra to deliver your service to their customers even though you've already paid to be in the internet backbone in your data centers! It's ridiculous that any ISP thinks this is reasonable.
I've paid for my bandwidth, the service (Netflix in this case/your video game service) has paid for their bandwidth now Comcast is double dipping because it knows it can since it has a monopoly.

Have any ISP in any other country try this if there is competition I bet you they will not last long.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138917)

The problem was that Netflix didn't give a shit about some customers because they paid the lowest bidder to be their bandwidth host.

Concern with network issues is why Netflix has offered CDN appliances at no cost for more than two years [netflix.com] to ISPs. Comcast chose to refuse Netflix's offer to colo within their own DCs on their own internal network, which would have reduced latency and bandwidth costs to nothing. I tend to believe that Comcast is more concerned with Netflix's effect on their own content offerings, and pushing the additional costs to Netflix has the additional benefit of making *them* take the PR hit for any price increases that result.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138955)

If that were true, then Comcast wouldn't have a complaint about network congestion - it wouldn't happen.

Any congestion would only occur at the Netflix connection point. Thus, once again, Comcast doesn't have a problem.

If the congestion occurs at the COMCAST connection to the backbone, then COMCAST has a problem. Not Netflix. If Comcast wants to service their customers, they need to upgrade THEIR connection to the backbone - not force Netflix to pay a bribe to Comcast to NOT IMPOSE CONGESTION. This is commonly known as "extortion".

Re:He also forgot to mention... (3, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 4 months ago | (#47139065)

Comcast is peering with Cogent, and that is the connection that is saturated. This is why people can VPN around the problem, as there are many routes into Cogent's and Comcast's networks and anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of internet routing understands that routes change depending on source.

Re: He also forgot to mention... (5, Insightful)

poptix (78287) | about 4 months ago | (#47138975)

You're missing the fact that Netflix is in all of those data centers. The problem is that Comcast is intentionally degrading their peering in those data centers meet-me rooms in an attempt to get more direct customers.

Furthermore, if you're large enough Netflix will actually supply servers that you can plug into your network to provide the top x percentile of content -- for free.

This is purely a Comcast wants more money and hates video competition issue.

Re: He also forgot to mention... (4, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 4 months ago | (#47139173)

NBC/Universal should be separated from Comcast/Xfinity as a condition of any more mergers/acquisitions.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (1, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 4 months ago | (#47139003)

He forgot to mention that the Post Office does not charge recipients for those DVDs

No, Netflix negotiates with the Post office for a fixed fee, and the customer pays that fee both ways. Do you live in a country were private firms magically get money to pay for services they provide, or do most people live in the real world where the customer pays for services provided?

N>klcertain fee, and cannot negotiate outside of that construct. The courts have said so.

However the Comcast is a private firm, so is free to negotiate minimum service levels with customers. While this is obviously problematic, is does solve a basic problem with streaming video. That unlike broadcast which has minimal marginal costs as users increase, the marginal costs for the internet provider is pretty much linear.

One reasonable solution is to separate the data lines from those who are selling data plans over those lines. This is the way electricity is done. The challenges are that complete deregulation means that the resource can be scarce, as when some good old boys in Texas total crippled the California economy. Another problem is that in a significant event, like hurricane or earthquake, repair to the infrastructure is often paid for by additional fees to the end user. Also, there is no incentive for the firm that controls the physical infrastructure to move very quickly with repairs as they are not losing a great deal of money every hour. However, if we want free market solution that maximizes net neutrality this is probably the way to go.

Re: He also forgot to mention... (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 months ago | (#47139019)

Well it makes a bit of sense for the average ISP - their fees are based on presumed overcommit rates and it's possible to break those assumptions if everybody pumps enough traffic. Everybody is stuck on fixed-rate billing so the grandma doing webmail pays as much as the 10-meg-up-24x7 torrenter when the costs are way different. I even heard an ISP owner say that customers couldn't understand usage-based billing (these are people who pay electric bills). Insistence on fixed-rate billing will inevitably lead to bureaucrats central planning the Internet. If you put emotion before economics, you'll get exactly what you deserve. A libre Internet will eventually require per-packet billed routing (fractional shatoshi?) but if everybody insists on a gratis Internet they won't get the libre one.

Comcast's anti-competitive bullshit is a red herring in the neutrality debate if you understand that what's really happening is that the overcommit gamble is starting to no longer pay off and they're mostly looking to soften that blow to their failing business model.

Re:He also forgot to mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139107)

That everyone has to pay for access to the Internet, including Netflix. They've already paid, but Comcast arbitrarily expects them to pay even more just because their own customers want to use Netflix, which makes zero fucking sense.

He didn't forget to mention. He is using a marketing strategy called "controlling the narrative".

Re:He also forgot to mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139177)

Beta still sucks...Please don't default to it?

Classify net access as a utility? (5, Insightful)

Mr0bvious (968303) | about 4 months ago | (#47138547)

This may be an absurd suggestion, but given that internet access is somewhat required to participate in society today, perhaps it's time to class internet access as a utility like water and electricity/gas.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138581)

This may be an absurd suggestion, but given that internet access is somewhat required to participate in society today, perhaps it's time to class internet access as a utility like water and electricity/gas.

I doubt you would find anything that would lead to the destruction of Net Neutrality faster.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138629)

Um, the Republican party?

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138873)

Nope. You've made a fool of yourself again. Moron.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (0, Flamebait)

schnell (163007) | about 4 months ago | (#47138591)

No, not unless you would like your Internet access technologies refreshed and upgraded about as often as your water pipes or electric lines are. Which is to say approximately never.

The story is "slow news day" Slashdot click bait (see also Snowden, Assange, Android vs. iOS fanboy wars) that has been hashed and re-hashed endlessly. Some people think Comcast is right not to give free peering bandwidth to non-peers like Level3 and Netflix. Other people think it is incumbent upon Comcast to give free peering to Netflix or Level3 anyway because it will improve the experience of their paying subscribers. Both sides argue vociferously and neither convinces the other of anything. Move along, nothing to see here.

Your brain cells will thank you for reading just about anything else on the Internet, with the exception of foxnews.com or pitchfork media.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (3, Informative)

Arker (91948) | about 4 months ago | (#47138703)

"No, not unless you would like your Internet access technologies refreshed and upgraded about as often as your water pipes or electric lines are. Which is to say approximately never."

Which is what all the big 'telecommunication services' plan to do anyway. FIOS and its kin will be maintained where they exist already, a pathetic fraction of the country, but not expanded. The cable companies plan to continue making their money on cable tv, hobble their internet access to prevent the internet from competing (excepting possibly those like Netflix that pay them specifically, but watch! Netflix may still get screwed despite paying) and the telephone companies plan to continue building out new *wireless* services where they can charge premium per mb rates, but no one besides google is expanding conventional unlimited hardwired internet service in the US either way. Google may only be lukewarm on network neutrality but they are _not_ one that would flee the field rather than comply. So in this case the damage of regulation could approximate zero.

Land lines are a natural monopoly and it's not like these lines were laid out in the first place without subsidy and privilege from the government, at all levels. In fact the taxpayer has already paid for an awful lot of capacity that he never received and never will.

Getting the government involved is almost never a good choice economically, but the 'almost' is still important, and natural monopolies are the biggest exception.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (4, Informative)

schnell (163007) | about 4 months ago | (#47139227)

FIOS and its kin will be maintained where they exist already, a pathetic fraction of the country, but not expanded.

Well, frankly, yes. Verizon has said for several years that the cost of rolling out FTTH for FiOS was so high, and the adoption rate low enough, that they are done with expanding it for the foreseeable future. Verizon is a business, and FiOS just isn't making much profit. And that is with Verizon having no obligation to share its fiber with other providers, unlike the copper TDM network sharing requirements for UNE-P and DSL. If Verizon had to treat FiOS like a utility and/or line share, it would have been deployed in even fewer places or not at all. It sucks, but it's true.

To be treated as a utility generally means to be compensated in a "cost-plus" environment. You are allowed to charge consumers what it costs you, plus a little margin. Fair enough for water and electric, say, but those are industries where the infrastructure was built a long time ago and a need to upgrade customer-facing physical plant is not really an issue. Bu if you want to build a new power plant, or a sewage treatment plant, you have to go to a state/local Public Utilities Commission and ask permission to raise your rates to cover it, which can take a long time for review and approval. Imagine doing this every time you want to buy a new OC-3, refresh your CPE/modems, or install new wireless towers! Network upgrades will slow to a crawl. Being a regulated utility is good for steady state maintenance and uptime but bad for capital-heavy upgrades and investment.

People forget that even though the old "Ma Bell" phone network was regularly upgraded, that wasn't because of regulation. Ma Bell was actually a business with a regulated/utility portion (local phone service) and an unregulated portion (long distance and other services). For decades, the unregulated part of their business made enough money that it effectively subsidized the regulated local phone service infrastructure and upgrades. When Ma Bell was broken up, local phone service rates actually went up because the ILECs no longer had the unregulated, profit-making businesses to subsidize them. And it is entirely possible that the same thing would happen if ISPs were treated as utilities and were not using TV, phone or other high-profit services to subsidize Internet access.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (3, Informative)

laird (2705) | about 4 months ago | (#47139259)

Actually, if internet service were a regulated monopoly it could be much more efficient than it is now. Compare to water and power, which as regulated monopolies were required by law to continuously invest in infrastructure to provide service with good reliability and safety margins, in return for which they made a guaranteed profit. Then it was deregulated in many areas, but since the companies were still effectively monopolies, there was minimal competitive pressure so the companies slashed their investment in infrastructure, while jacking up rates, in order to maximize short-term profits. The result is worse service with higher prices because there's neither competition nor oversight. And high return for company officers and short-term investors.

For natural monopolies, competition doesn't force efficiency, so you have to have regulatory oversight. If you have neither competition nor oversight, you get screwed.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138779)

My water pipes and electric lines have been working perfectly 24/7 for several years now. I have never been unhappy with the speed and quality of the water coming from my taps.

Countries like Japan, S.Korea and Sweden seem to have no problem providing an internet service as high-quality as tap water.

Meanwhile, US citizens pay $80/month for access to the village well.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139045)

Compare the geographic size and population density of the US with Japan, South Korea and Sweden. The US has a much larger rural population and much more space to cover. I'm not saying internet access in the US isn't abysmal, which it is. But I don't think that is a useful comparison for the majority of the US.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (0)

zippthorne (748122) | about 4 months ago | (#47139051)

You also have fairly constant water usage from year-to-year, as has anyone previously living at your address, probably for the last hundred years (if you address has been around that long). In fact, there's a good chance that your water usage is less than previous occupants (assuming any), due to water-saving technologies that have been adopted over time.

Water delivery is a mature product. Data delivery is not yet one. There are still services an applications being developed that would not be possible at previous levels of supply. Current services are not yet at the level, I think, where most people would say, "yeah, that's enough, freeze it here and keep roughly that level of service forever"

Moreover, data delivery is unlike water delivery in another fundamental way - the data is an unlimited resource. There is no reason why anyone would be interested conservation projects. The only limitation to your usage of data is the network's ability to deliver it.

That said, if we want data delivery to behave like a competitive market, then we need to have a competitive market. I'm pretty sure that a condition where the companies serving the market are local monopolies separated by geography, "competing" only in the sense that residents may move to another service provider's area if they are dissatisfied with their service (and how bad would it need to be, really, for people to consider moving halfway across a continent....) does not constitute a properly competitive market.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (5, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#47138785)

No, not unless you would like your Internet access technologies refreshed and upgraded about as often as your water pipes or electric lines are. Which is to say approximately never.

In the past 10 years, I have never turned on my water tap and had no water come out. In the past 5 years (which is as far back as I have log files from my UPS), I've experienced 2 power failures lasting longer than a few minutes (I recorded 7 outages lasting less than a few minutes, but some of those were when I unplugged the UPS or turned off a breaker to do some electrical work), one was a regional power outage, and one was caused when a car accident took down a utility pole.

However, I experience regular internet outages, the last one was last week, and lasted for 3 hours, cable TV was fine, but internet (for me and a neighbor down the street) was out. It took 30 minutes to get someone at Comcast to realize that there was a problem, but they had no idea what was wrong, nor any ETA for a fix.

So I *wish* my internet connection was managed as well as water and power.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (1)

antdude (79039) | about 4 months ago | (#47139223)

Lucky you. I have had power outages that last for hours like a couple weeks ago. :(

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (2)

TClevenger (252206) | about 4 months ago | (#47138839)

No, not unless you would like your Internet access technologies refreshed and upgraded about as often as your water pipes or electric lines are. Which is to say approximately never.

Verizon hasn't seen fit to upgrade the maximum speed of the DSL in my old neighborhood from the 3Mbps that it installed sometime in the last century. How can it be any worse than that?

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (5, Interesting)

UPZ (947916) | about 4 months ago | (#47138625)

Perhaps a more ideal solution would be for end-users to own the last mile of fiber (maybe as a municipality tax?). That way, ISPs could feed into a local hub.

It would lower costs to entry significantly, allowing small start-ups to provide internet much in the same way that dial-up ISPs did.

Also, I think that bringing competition in his way would take away a lot of power that Verizon/Comcast/[insert major cabelco/telco] have. In this situation, net neutrality is almost inevitable as a byproduct of end-user demand, regardless of which corrupt FCC chairman is in power. Net neutrality is almost certain to create more competition among major TV/news networks, which takes away power from the likes of CNN/FOX/Msnbc/CBS/etc who currently dictate the course of conversation in this otherwise great nation.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 4 months ago | (#47138763)

That is not the issue.

The issue is you do not have free speech like the mega telecoms do with a fleet of lawyers, lobbyists, and rolodexes of your supposedly representatives. Free speech is something that can buy a lot of things that you and I can not afford. Notice I did not say money or bribery.

As long as we have a corrupt government we ARE FREAKING DOOMED.

We have corn with pesticides from genetically engineered crops whose pollen cross contaminates everything which in high enough doses causes infertility. We have roads and bridges falling apart. We have teachers who can be fired for not teaching creationism as science in the classroom alongside evolution. This issue is just one symptom of many.

DO we need a revolution next? I mean the Tea Party was kind of like this but the Koch brothers have their hands in that now and they are nte ones threatening any GOP politician they will lose their job if they even acknowledge global warming exists!

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (0)

flappinbooger (574405) | about 4 months ago | (#47138777)

This may be an absurd suggestion, but given that internet access is somewhat required to participate in society today, perhaps it's time to class internet access as a utility like water and electricity/gas.

Yeah, some day I could see it being a utility because ... I need to consume it every day to live and maintain sanitary conditions and shelter in the winter. Like the Telephone.

Oh, wait, Telephone isn't a utility. And the internet isn't either.

I don't want government providing me the internet, even local government. I don't think you do either??

Perhaps you should google "snowden nsa" or something.

Re:Classify net access as a utility? (1)

Mr0bvious (968303) | about 4 months ago | (#47138883)

It was an idea, not necessarily something I desire or believe in, but something that may be worthy of discussion (even if it's just to highlight why it's such a terrible idea)

Having said that, utilities are not necessarily defined as you describe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org] . I'm not in the US so my perspective may differ from yours.

Perhaps you should google "snowden nsa" or something.

I'm obviously aware of the NSA and Snowden. But in reality, this spying/monitoring/surveillance (or what ever you want to call it) is going to happen regardless of who controls the infrastructure, we've already witnessed that.

I certainly recognise that the idea of having it be a utility is suited to the utopian version of our world and while we're all living in a oligarchy it will certainly have its issues.

Shipping Pre-paid (1)

korthof (717545) | about 4 months ago | (#47138549)

Why has no one brought up the perspective that "we the people" are already paying $100/mo for the service?

Re:Shipping Pre-paid (2)

Shados (741919) | about 4 months ago | (#47138661)

Yup. The customers pay for downloading from their ISP to their home. Netflix pays for streaming from their CDNs to their provider(s). What happens in between is the problem of the ISPs.

Comcast wants BOTH the customer AND netflix to pay for the download part. Thats where it gets messed up.

I need more fiber in my diet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138555)

Google hurry the Fc*k and come to my city!!! Can't wait to ditch Comcast.

Govermental oversight (2)

philmarcracken (1412453) | about 4 months ago | (#47138559)

Just like water and power, internet needs regulation on a governmental level; a service utility provided at a fixed wholesale cost which the government
takes its share to maintain a standard contention ratio that ISPs can retail their services on top of.

Connectivity should not be left in the hands of corporations with shareholders to please.

Re: Govermental oversight (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138575)

It doesn't need regulation, it needs competition. Can't wait for an alternative to ditch fucking Comcast.

Re: Govermental oversight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138687)

Unfortunately, competition was regulated right out of the ring.

Re: Govermental oversight (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47138943)

Done right, regulation can increase competition.

And while we all hate Comcast and want them to be gone, what about who takes their place? Who says they wont be any less abusive of their customers, and perhaps even worse? Don't blindly wish for 'change', as you might just get what you are asking for, and regret it.

Re: Govermental oversight (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 4 months ago | (#47139059)

It's true that you can't get it by waiting. The question is how can we create the conditions which would result in it happening.

Well... (1)

Brennan Pratt (3614719) | about 4 months ago | (#47138571)

Of course, the free market will reward whoever has the best.... Haahahahaha! Aww, I made myself sad. :( How about this, the FCC puts out a quality survey that assesses quality based on dropped packets. This very public assessment of the companies might sufficiently shame them into upgrading. Also, companies with congested networks should be treated differently at the regulatory level. If we ever get into regulating cable leases, those providers with congested networks get to charge their leasees only 80% of cost.

treat Netflix like a television network (-1)

Bill Dog (726542) | about 4 months ago | (#47138589)

I don't pay CNN directly for their network, I pay TWC for their infrastructure and the availability of CNN on it, and they pay CNN for their content. Make Netflix et al. like movie pay channels.

Re:treat Netflix like a television network (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138615)

Yeah, that's fucking brilliant. Let's package Netflix along with 105 other online services we'll never use, all for only $125 a month.

Moron.

Re:treat Netflix like a television network (1)

CaptnZilog (33073) | about 4 months ago | (#47138639)

Yeah, that's fucking brilliant. Let's package Netflix along with 105 other online services we'll never use, all for only $125 a month.

Moron.

Sure, you can get Netflix - but that only comes in a package with 12 sites selling sex toys, 3 sports sites, and 5 online shopping sites (amazon not included, that's another package), for only $125/mo + applicable taxes. All other sites are blocked unless you pay for them, or pay for the $500/mo "unlimited" package that gets you all 300million websites on the internet.

Post office recipient *do* pay... (-1)

x0ra (1249540) | about 4 months ago | (#47138611)

He forgot to mention that the Post Office does not charge recipients for those DVDs

Post offices are publicly funded and thus, financed through taxation. So because someone does not pay *explicitly* does not mean they don't pay at all.

Post office recipient *do* pay... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138635)

Post office uses no tax money to run - thank you try again.

Re:Post office recipient *do* pay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138677)

Please don't contradict the lying liars when they're telling lies -- it upsets them.

Re:Post office recipient *do* pay... (0)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#47138911)

Well, they do get some tax dollars to subsidize international mail.

But the the USPS is currently losing about $8 billion per year, so it's just a matter of time before Congress has to bail them out.

Re:Post office recipient *do* pay... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138947)

That loss is completely due to the pension funding liability congress placed on them in 2006, which will expire in 2016, bringing them back into the black with pensions fully funded for the next 75 years.

Post office recipient *do* pay... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138653)

Have you not been following the USPS saga lo these many years? Of course they are not publicly funded. Publicly regulated, yes, but they don't receive a dime of taxpayer dollars directly.

So what can be done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138613)

Perhaps forbidding incumbent ISP's like Comcast, Time Warner, SuddenLink, etc funding and only allocating upgrade funding to non-incumbent ISP start-ups would have had provided an incentive?

After he's done with his foot... (0)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 4 months ago | (#47138617)

...tell him to insert my dick. Given the choice between dial-up and Comcast, I'll go for dial-up, every time. I'd rather have the New York Times crossword puzzle or a Ouija Board as my only source of outside contact than Comcast.

Re:After he's done with his foot... (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 4 months ago | (#47138697)

...tell him to insert my dick.

Haven't you heard? Don't put your dick in crazy.

Re:After he's done with his foot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138773)

Never promise crazy a baby!

Re:After he's done with his foot... (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 4 months ago | (#47138951)

Given the choice between dial-up and Comcast, I'll go for dial-up, every time.

+++ATH0

Backbone.... (3, Interesting)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 4 months ago | (#47138623)

We need backbone resources or other tricks...
Mostly we need legal legislative backbone.

The last mile is owned by local monopolies.
That is the sad reality. These local monopolies are
also content service providers and do what they to
do feather their own nest.

The congestion is the backbone owners and providers.
Multiple issues dominate the congestion problems.
Access, distance, hops and hubs.

The likes of Netflix need to embrace one or more
flavors of p2p networking. A local neighborhood
can cache and redeliver most video frames from a
modest cache with modern crypto tools to contain
theft of service.

I think the likes of Netflix would do well do develop
an enhanced DOCSIS 3.x modem that also contains
a p2p client/service that can recast content to other
like service devices a hop or two away. It can also
begin caching the top two products on a wish list.

Proxy and p2p services are underused or vastly abused.

Re:Backbone.... (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#47138877)

TWC, AT&T and Comcast are all so bad that Google doesn't seem to mind running their fiber network right alongside their 'natural monopoly' and busting their exclusives with better service at lower rates. Maybe they are on to something.

Re:Backbone.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138993)

I think this may have something to do with FCC part 68. Just call it a hunch...

Not free (1)

Casai (1011763) | about 4 months ago | (#47138669)

Netflix pays its ISP for the ability to send content. Comcast customers pay their ISP for the ability to receive content. I don't see the problem here.

Worse than lacking sufficient incentive (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 4 months ago | (#47138711)

Sounds more like they're actively disincentivizing [arstechnica.com] other motivated parties from solving these problems for their respective communities.

Google is Nashville's only hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138715)

Google. Here in Nashville everyone is chomping at the bits for Google Fiber. We are a "pay per GB" market for Comcast -- last month my household's Comcast service cost more than our electricity. Still can't run an HTTP server, still get inexplicable throttling of certain protocols.

It is absurd to charge both Netflix and end users for data.

Re: Google is Nashville's only hope (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138855)

The ability to run a server is an overlooked part of net neutrality. The debate now is motivated by content providers who only care about downstream parity with other providers â" but real neutrality would also allow consumers to run their own servers including mail and web servers. That would open up markets for plug servers and turn the privacy debate on its ear. In the long run, it might even prove more important than content provider equality.

Re: Google is Nashville's only hope (4, Insightful)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 4 months ago | (#47138977)

The ability to run a server is an overlooked part of net neutrality. The debate now is motivated by content providers who only care about downstream parity with other providers â" but real neutrality would also allow consumers to run their own servers including mail and web servers. That would open up markets for plug servers and turn the privacy debate on its ear. In the long run, it might even prove more important than content provider equality.

Just so. However, I'd go even farther than that. The last mile protocols (DOCSIS, ADSL, etc.) that have been developed mimic the Consumer (download)/Provider (upload) model.

This is a direct assault on free speech and free collaboration across the Internet.

Restricting servers is just another part of the process which limits the promise and potential of the Internet.

When everyone can have reasonable upload speeds, then everyone can host content, everyone can publish their creative output, each of us can share our thoughts and ideas with the world, the big content providers (including MPAA/RIAA, major newsotainment outlets, the eBays and AmazonMarketplaces of the world) will become less relevant, and we will become freer.

I know it's a pipe dream. But a fella can dream, can't he?

Re:Google is Nashville's only hope (2)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 4 months ago | (#47139165)

If your wanting to run servers, get a "business connection". It's a bit more $, but static IPs, not much RIAA monitoring, nothing blocked...

Comcast requires HBO for internet access (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 4 months ago | (#47138735)

I am pissed off. I am moving into a new apartment and my choices are centuryLink DSL which AT&T throttles or Comcast. If I go with Comcast I need to pay for cable TV with HBO tier to gain internet access for $99 a month. I do not even freaking own a TV??!@

Now I am still downthrottled on top of that!

Re:Comcast requires HBO for internet access (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | about 4 months ago | (#47138793)

I am pissed off. I am moving into a new apartment and my choices are centuryLink DSL which AT&T throttles or Comcast. If I go with Comcast I need to pay for cable TV with HBO tier to gain internet access for $99 a month. I do not even freaking own a TV??!@

Now I am still downthrottled on top of that!

What if you got the DSL and a good VPN like PIA?

Will they throttle it if they don't know what it is?

Up until a month or 2 ago I would have said go with Comcast and get internet only. But now that they are intending to cap at 300 GB per month.... meh.

What about a comcast business account? How much does that cost? Is it throttled?

The good thing about comcast is that at the end of the day, it IS fast.

Re:Comcast requires HBO for internet access (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139115)

I have Comcast business class and as far as I can tell it is currently not capped or throttled. The entry level account is not that much more expensive than the standard consumer account. You are also explicitly allowed to run servers (though they do ask you to notify them if you are running an SMTP server). There are some downsides, however:

1. The setup fees are a bit steep.
2. You get locked into a service contract for some period of time. (The longer you agree to, the less your setup fees though!)
3. If you need to move, it is a PITA and Comcast will try to rope you into extending your service contract.

Strange, but I've never heard of Comcast REQUIRING people to have cable TV in order to get regular internet. Maybe that's a new thing or something they do in limited markets?

we need to help ISP competition to return (1)

zr (19885) | about 4 months ago | (#47138761)

if ISPs could charge content providers the following things would happen:

a) start ups would get incentivized to go into the business of ISP

b) ISPs will be able to create very cheap basic service that will exclude few hight traffic services such as netflix, youtube, pr0n

c) obviously upon subscription to a service such as netflix the contents would become available, creating revenue for the ISP

d) youtube (and similar sites) would pay out of ad revenues, so no subscription is necessary; alternatively there might be tiered plans for the client that open access to free content sites like youtube. these models aren't incompatible.

e) ancle leo's fears are unfounded, indie shows would not be censored, ISPs aren't idiots they need to keep the basic service attractive

and, most importantly, this model accomplishes two important goals:

1) steady source of revenue that correlates to usage, which will fund infrastructure improvements

2) healthy competition, which is the ONLY way to keep comcasts of the worlds at bay without risk of stifling innovation

this is a classic sustainable win win. i don't understand why this isn't obvious to more people.

the alternative is playing straight into the hands of big monopolies. they'd MUCH rather deal with a government bureaucrat than competition. ask verizon of new jersey.

Re:we need to help ISP competition to return (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#47138893)

It takes a company the size of Google. Smaller companies the incumbents will pull out all the stops - door to door canvassers, wall to wall TV and radio ads, billboards, sports sponsorships and whatnot. The goal being to tie down so much of the population that the startup can't get traction and folds. That is how they got their monopolies in the first place. They can milk their other markets for the cost. As soon as the challenger is dead they can buy the assets for pennies on the dollar and go back to raping the local area to pay for the assimilation of another.

Re:we need to help ISP competition to return (1)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 4 months ago | (#47139199)

getting their offices burned down, anthrax sprinkled into their lawns, fake SWAT calls to their house, putting their address and phone numbers on Craigslist and Backpage...

Re:we need to help ISP competition to return (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138949)

You're leaving out one big detail.

Feasibility of being an ISP.

Please tell us how you're intending to solve that technological hurdle.

Re:we need to help ISP competition to return (1)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 4 months ago | (#47139181)

It IS obvious to most people, just like Tom Wheeler used to (and still basically does) work for Verizon.

CEO Brian Roberts Opens Mouth, Inserts Dick, Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138809)

That sound of Hoover Vacuum cleaners is the sound of Brian Roberts sucking hard on an penis.

Well. After all. "Gay" is the new "Latino" in Obama's Kenyan DC new world order.

Ha ha

Re:CEO Brian Roberts Opens Mouth, Inserts Dick, Su (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139119)

TBS, if it's his own dick he's sucking, well, good for him, now teach everybody else how, and no monthly fee for the knowledge!

Invest with all the money I pay you scumbags (5, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 4 months ago | (#47138827)

My Comcast bill is $57.99 for 10Mbps internet only. I just got a couple of "threat" letters saying that my "promotional" pricing is about to expire and I will pay even more for their lovely service. Never mind that my promotional pricing actually ended six months ago.

They are already making money hand over fist off their customers. They should use that money to invest in their own infrastructure improvements.

Who owns the pipes? (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 4 months ago | (#47138889)

It seems obvious to me that pipe owner has an advantage when it comes to deal with what and how can transit.

This can be solved by (1) regulation, (2) competition, and (3) public ownership of pipes, whether as personal property (in premise), associations, municipality, state or federal level

I see people dismissing first and third solutions because government involvement should be inefficient, but that is just ideology. Public service can be efficient and economically sound. Regulation can work. It just depends how it is done.

I hate federal involvement.... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47138903)

But this has got out of hand, and the government should be stepping in and slapping these people down, hard.

They are there to protect the consumer/citizen from abuse, and need to step up to the plate and start doing their job.

Just an fyi (0)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 4 months ago | (#47138905)

to anyone that didn't already know, but Comcast doesn't spend a dime on it's network. Like all major telecoms they get massive subsidies in the form of tax breaks. Basically they don't pay taxes on their profit from the monthly subscriber fees they collect. Verizon does this too. In fact the just got caught in New Jersey impersonating voters to push through a bill that exonerated them from building out the network they promised to build in exchange for 6 billion worth of tax subsidies. It worked out to something like $10k per resident paid to them for nothing. Oh, and that bill? It passed.

who will invest? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47138971)

Well Comcast is raking in billions, so why cant they?

Postal Usage Cap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47138973)

Judging by the millions of AOL CDs mailed out, I don't believe the Post Office has a usage cap.

Analogies have their limits. Neither the USPS, FedEx, or UPS ship piles of dirt to homes/constructions sites. (My parents ordered that one from the Home Depot. Came on a flatbed.)

None of those shipping companies really interfere with each others' operations either. FedEx will hand off packages to USPS for delivery even though they technically both compete in the package delivery industry. Comcast (through its cable division) competes with Netflix in content delivery. Comcast has decided to use its internet provider division to interfer with Netflix's business. This seems like anti-competitive behavior.

So there are two easy ways to handle this: classify Comcast as an ISP and limit their behavior, or break them up into a content creator, ISP, and content delivery companies. The content delivery part will not own any wires.

Truth in labeling, truth in advertisement law. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 4 months ago | (#47139017)

I don't know why people conflate it with net neutrality, internet etc. To me it looks like a simple case of truth in labeling, truth in advertisement laws.

If a restaurant advertises all-you-can-eat buffet, it must be all-you-can-eat. It can't say, "oh! no! every one is eating steaks and no one is eating my wilted lettuce, so they steak vendor must pay me money!". Comcast promised a certain bandwidth and unlimited content. It should simply deliver it. Or it should change the terms and meter the connection and charge by the gigabite of delivered content. It can't sell "unlimited" internet on one hand, and bellyache, bitch and moan when some customers actually take full advantage of the contract. We should go after Comcast using these old time tested laws and FTC.

Netflix and other content providers have nothing to do with it. It is a simple contract dispute between comcast customers and comcast.

I call BS (4, Insightful)

Comen (321331) | about 4 months ago | (#47139031)

The fact they like to make it sound like they need to invest so badly in bandwidth is BS, only the last mile to the home is so expensive, and with them dropping all analog channel to the home that frees up lots of DOCIS bandwidth going forward so that should help allot. They do need to spend allot of money to drop SDV and go completely digital but they still put that off because they love to rebuild the whole network every couple years on the edge anyway.
But all the backhaul and backbone fiber connections have been getting increasingly cheaper, most routers had a max interface speed of 10Gbit's, but with 100 Gbit interfaces becoming more common, and the fact that all DWDM optical gear are seeing jumps from 10 Gbit per lambda to 100Gbits per lambda by just swapping out some hardware that is not free but still utilize the same physical fiber but basically make it 10X more for a small upgrade cost.
I am convinced they only cry about bandwidth costs because that is what they really sell now, and are afraid that its just going to keep getting cheaper and cheaper, which it is.

This post forgot to mention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139089)

That tax dollars keep the post office running and that's even in a deficient. (Cause tax dollars are not suppose to cover it)

Re:This post forgot to mention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139225)

It didn't mention that because tax dollars haven't funded the post office in about 30 years.

The post office would be doing fine if the fucking Republicans didn't vote to make the USPS pre-fund its pension fund to an unprecedented degree. They want the USPS to fail so its function can be privatized.

Don't care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139097)

It's amusing that news-readers think people care what they think.

USPS is not a publisher. (5, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 4 months ago | (#47139197)

The Postal Service also doesn't publish a lot of material it mails for itself.

Comcast/Xfinity should be forced to separate from their content creation side. (NBC/Universal)

This is not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139219)

Comcast has a disincentive to invest because, if things bog down, people will blame content providers like Netflix

People blame the ISP most of the time, the other users some of the time and content provider rarely. The content provider's customer loss is just coincidental, assuming we are talking about a typical bog-down.

Brain Robots (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 months ago | (#47139255)

Would squeal like a stuck pig if the Post Office offered internet service. I'd much rather use the Post Office for internet service than his shitty company. The post office could charge half what they do for internet service and still make ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Just sayin.
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