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Telcos Propose 2-Tier Internet

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the internets-plural dept.

Networking 414

cshirky writes "Boston.com is reporting that 'AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill for the right to create a two-tiered Internet, where the telecom carriers' own Internet services would be transmitted faster and more efficiently than those of their competitors.' The telcos basic fear, of course, is that the end to end design of the net (PDF version) will erode the telcos ability to use service charges to generate revenue for delivering video and voice; the proposed solution is to break end-to-end in order to protect pricing leverage over the users." We reported on this at the beginning of the month, when it was just speculation. Not any more.

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414 comments

Time for another breakup? (4, Insightful)

Scoth (879800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248267)

I admit to being a bit too young to remember the original, but maybe it's time for another breakup similar to the original Bell? Seems the current ones have gotten a bit too monopolistic, IMHO...

Re:Time for another breakup? (3, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248324)

No single company has the money to invest or support a seperate Internet over the long run. There are too many ISPs and backbone providers competing in the open market.

Telcos can try to create their own Internet, but how long would it last if users can't get to sites they've commonly accesses? Google and Slashdot and other popular sites can refuse to pay the telco premium charges, and the users will bail.

They should have tried this a decade ago. Too little, too late.

Re:Time for another breakup? (4, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248490)

You know, that's a comforting thought, but to the Telcos, it's just going to be another batch of obstacle they can whine about to Congress. The conversation might go something like this:

Telcos: "Waahhh, this is turning out to be too expensive! Please make the taxpayers pay for it instead of us!"
Congress: "Sure thing! Don't forget us during election time!"

On a related note, anybody wanna take a crack at defending capitalism anymore?

Re:Time for another breakup? (1)

Evil Closet Monkey (761299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248371)

Don't expect a breakup anytime soon. The "current ones" have just recently become that. All the "baby bells" have disappeared in, roughly, the last 10 years, being bought up by the larger companies such as SBC and now (once) cell only companies like Verizon getting into the mix. I started working for Lucent Technologies in 1998, when the term "baby bell" was still used around the office. By the time I left in 2002 we honestly didn't know who owned who and what to call what.

Keep in mind that the original breakup was done because you had one choice. AT&T. That was it. Although some of the companies around today may appear to be too big and powerful, you have a choice of which big and powerful company you choose to give your money too. Didn't have that when the Baby Bells were created.

Re:Time for another breakup? (5, Insightful)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248429)

I'm more than old enough, so here's how it was, in brief: AT&T fought the monopoly battle in court for almost ten years, lost in '84, then was broken up into multiple geographical companies, AT&T for long distance only, and Bell Labs became Lucent Technologies.

During the last twenty years, they've individually frozen out as much competition as they could, in a forward-guard holding action. And the last two decades have seen the installation of a lot of judges whose philosophies are decidedly pro-business with a jaundiced eye for monopoly regulation, as well as a large number of legislators and at least two Presidents, even three as Clinton wasn't exactly a flaming socialist, turning a blind eye and a curious lack of oversight as the Baby Bells merged together again.

Right now, the Justice Department has found itself stripped of monies to enforce antitrust law for the last five years. No money for investigations, no investigators. It's like repealing antitrust legislation without the messy bother of repealing the laws. (Ditto environmental laws, pollution, meat inspection, etc. ad nauseum).

So the last ones standing are AT&T and SBC. And they will merge very soon, so here we are again, with one monopoly dictating terms. And even if somehow a new set of enforcers come in after the next election, they will find a hostile Congress and court system slowing them down. Even in ideal circumstances, as we found with the original AT&T breakup and the Microsoft conviction, it takes ten years to get to the point of enforcing antitrust laws under a judge's supervision, and a lot can happen in ten years. A new Republican president can be elected, and the case dies. New technology can obsolete AT&T entirely in ten years -- if they let it happen (look at Philadephia and Pennsylvania trying to install municipal WiFi).

Every decade, the corporate powers grow stronger, more integrated with the government and the courts. The ability to enforce antitrust laws is decreasing hyperbolically with each era.

Re:Time for another breakup? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248484)

So I used to work for one of their equipment suppliers. I believe these companies are Evil (TM) but there is SOMETHING good about what they would like. They DO have the ability to control quality of service, end to end, and to use things like multicasting effectively. What this means to you and I is good quality media and let's say a very, very impressive Quake arena for all players and it could conceivably not be that expensive because they control the distribution equipment. It won't be cheap, but it COULD be, in a happier world, I digress.

Unfortunately, because they are Evil(TM), this is going to be lost in the noise of a "two tier internet", in which one tier isn't really the internet, and will be designed to dwarf the one that is. Further, they are once again in the position of putting THEIR equipment in YOUR house and leave you with no alternatives. Have you ever wondered about why Sci-Atlanta is working with Cisco? Why MS is so hell bent on IPTV (and why they show up at SuperCom?) I can give you any number of STB companies working with telco equipment makers, big and small. I used to build some of them and ultimately quit because I was being compelled to architect them such that they would take choice away from the consumer. They are designed to control your home network, forcing you to license or upgrade (depending on the model) your network if you want to add equipment. Got an XBox? That'll be $4.95. Want an inbound port? That's extra. They are designed to control your household 802.11, bluetooth (and others) and license connections to you, and set up your firewall for you, even if you don't want that. They don't HAVE to do it that way, although they will argue it's the only way to ensure devices don't compete, but it's part of the greed grab.

In the end, they probably have something that consumers might want to buy in one form or another, but they're going to try to shove down the monolithic 0wn1ng version by using the government as their weapon. We should resist this, even if they make it sound very attractive. The end goal should be the same: the bell's are bandwidth providers, nothing more. We should let them differentiate the types of bandwidth they offer, force them to compete to keep prices low, and forcibly separate them from the services layer. No video, internet or anything else from the bells. Just keep the wires working and let us purchase the types of bandwidth we want.

That's it! (5, Funny)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248494)

I'm making my own internet!

I've got a spare linksys and two pringles cans; who's with me?

Re:Time for another breakup? (1)

Widowwolf (779548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248517)

I admit to being a bit too young to remember the original, but maybe it's time for another breakup similar to the original Bell? Seems the current ones have gotten a bit too monopolistic, IMHO...

Actually they are not monopolistic at all, they are trying to get away with what they can to make as much money as possible, and seeing what the consumer, business and governmental breaking lines are. You don't like the way at&t (formerly AT&T and SBC) is doing things, most people have the choice to move to Verizon, Comcast, voip and other such things. DO you realize in 98% of major cities there are at least 3 types of telecommunications available. Look up Telecommunications in your local phone book, here in Sacramento there are over 6 pages of providers for service lines. Sure you are probably going to pay more with another company, but hey its competition.

As far as them making their own top end web, i do not agree with that. It will cause way to many probelms, and people whom are stuck in contracts will be the ones who pay.(contracts: Advertising contracts or DSL contracts) Me personally, I can't wait for the day to get Video over IP, so I don't have to go with Comcast(due to insurance liability, i would have to carry so much insurance where i live to be able to get satellite, and its not worth it)

Does this fall... (4, Insightful)

Spytap (143526) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248272)

Does this fall under the heading of "If we ask permission, it's not illegal anymore?"

Frosty piss is mine! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248273)

Another round for the whole room, bartender!

F off. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248275)

Just 1 thing I would like to say to then. ..!..

FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248276)

FP will hopefully help my finals score..

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248462)

You failed it.

oh yeah (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248280)

Good thing the american government^W^Wicann is in control of the internet so we are protected from things like this at the root level

Common Carrier? (5, Insightful)

mwsmith824 (638640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248283)

Wouldn't this go against the common carrier provisions? Wouldn't this sort of filtering and degrading things that they choose open them up to liability in other areas like P2P sharing that happens on their networks?

Wait... (5, Insightful)

Malacon (761384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248284)

So they want to break the internet to make more money for themselves?

Will anyone actually go for this?

Seriously, what ever happened to running a business on the merits of its product, not on cash generated by hidden surcharges?

Re:Wait... (1)

Scoth (879800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248352)

Never underestimate the power of a group of politicians being given money under the table. I've lost most hope of anything being impossible with either party. If they can get Congress to regulate such a thing, or unregulate things to the point they can get away with it, you bet they will without a second thought.

Having dealt with several ILECs as part of couple of competator companies being allowed use of their lines only by law, I can say their attitude towards competition is... not good.

Re:Wait... (5, Funny)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248401)

Will anyone actually go for this?

You must be new to the real world where enough lobbying and campaign contributions can buy just about anything.

Re:Wait... (1)

wiggles (30088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248403)

what ever happened to running a business on the merits of its product, not on cash generated by hidden surcharges?

That is so 1985! Don't you realize that businesses need to pick pockets these days with hidden surcharges and whatnot in order to keep the exec bonuses high? I mean, what would happen if you didn't get charged to get your own money out of the bank? The bank would have to rely on the money it makes from interest payments only, depriving the CEO of his new BMW. The CEO of AT&T will be living on food stamps if they're not allowed to charge their customers twice for the same service, while forcing competitors out of the market.

The real money is in controlling the bottleneck. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248437)

There's no money in just providing a service.

If you want to make money, you have to find or make a bottleneck for a desired product/service.

Then you make big bucks off of the bottleneck.

All they're doing right here is trying to build a bottleneck where one doesn't exist today. Whether they succeed or not is another question.

what will happen to /. (3, Interesting)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248286)

not like anyone reading this doesn't know already, but this would be the worst thing ever to happen to the internet. if you think they would stop by offering crap connections for competitors, you're blind. things like /. would be low priorities since they love to expose what big bells are doing to screw us.

Re:what will happen to /. (1)

killercoder (874746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248471)

Let me suggest an alternative where this could actually make sense. Would you object so strenously if they offered the same services they offer today, but also added a cheaper (say 12$ a month) option where partner sites are faster and they can keep their revenue model?

I honestly can't see this being the worst thing that could happen to the internet - anything that gets the poorer denizens of the world (and yeah - alot of those are in the US too) is a good thing. If they still offer me big pipe without restrictions for the amount I pay today - what does it matter?

Re:what will happen to /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248509)

I always thought the Internet would make me go blind from other things!

formalizing something that already exists (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248290)

Don't telcos do this already by customizing their BGP routing so that their own traffic takes the fast routes and external traffic that they carry takes the slow routes? At least by allowing multiple tiers of service they will be able to better accomodate QOS concerns by allowing external traffic to take the fast route if the owner of the traffic wants to pay for it.

Dumb Network (4, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248292)

Hmm, maybe we need to send these telcos over to World of Ends [worldofends.com] and remind them that the end-to-end or "dumb" nature of the Internet (in the sense that all the logic is handled at each end, not in the middle) is a big part of what's made it successful.

Not that that's ever stopped anyone from killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, of course...

Re:Dumb Network (1)

schon (31600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248461)

remind them that the end-to-end nature of the Internet [...] is a big part of what's made it successful.

That will only encourage them.

Their problem is the fact that the internet *is* successful. Reminding them of that fact won't discourage them in the least.

AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248294)

Google is fighting the proposal, along with other large Internet companies including Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. They fear they may have to pay telecoms millions of dollars to gain access to customers who use the premium Internet services. In addition, they argue, many small Internet start-ups would be unable to pay the fees, which could reduce consumer choice.

Ma' Bell strikes back!

Re:AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248431)

Ma' Bell strikes back!

And after they got rid of the Death Star logo, too...

Why ask Congress? (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248296)

It confuses me as to why Congress should have any say in companies creating additional networks. Interstate commerce clause? What a joke.

If companies want to try to create supernets for their customers to better access each other, I say allow them to. I can not imagine any supernet subverting the Internet in any way. If an ISP decides to slow down traffic to non-ISP destinations, you're going to see user backlash. I've changed ISPs over the years due to bad routing (or repeatedly failed routing) and I know some of my non-techie friends have done the same.

These supernets would just be a second backbone connecting their network together, correct? I think this is a great idea, especially for corporations that can not afford their own backbone connections for remote offices. If my companies could connect quickly through a secondary network at no additional cost (or lower cost), I'd jump on it immediately.

I just can't understand why Congress has any say in what companies do with their own property. They're already providing for the "public need" and they should be free to supplement the "public need" for what other users are demanding/needing.

Re:Why ask Congress? (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248355)

"If my companies could connect quickly through a secondary network at no additional cost (or lower cost), I'd jump on it immediately."

You can bet it would cost more -- whether in terms of actual operating expenses for your company, or in terms of less valuable service provided to your company.

Re:Why ask Congress? (2, Informative)

bwd (936324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248370)

Because both Bellsouth and AT&T operate under a monopoly status granted by the federal government to provide local telephone service. That is why they have to ask Congress if they are going to change the terms of the service.

Re:Why ask Congress? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248383)

If companies want to try to create supernets for their customers to better access each other, I say allow them to.

It isn't about them trying to create a supernet, it's about them breaking the current 'Net and inserting them selves between the end points. then they can prioritize traffic based on who coughs up the most money to them. No $$ = no access.

This isn't a suppliment to what has become, in essence, a Utility.

Unfortunately, with the current Administration's track record on pro-corporation, pro-Internet regulation, this proposal should look mighty juicy indeed. This will give them two things they always wanted. An easy wat to regulate/control the Internet, and more $$ for their friends.

Re:Why ask Congress? (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248422)

No matter how much control they receive through government force, they can't stop the process that billion of users are familiar with. Sure, the telcos likely control an enormous quantity of users' endpoints, but we will always have cable and dial-up (which isn't affected like DSL is as you can pick any ISP to dial into).

There just isn't the motivation of users for better service when many users can get 50K/s downloads over a $20 DSL or cable line. If they truly want to disrupt Internet connections to major endpoints and expect to blackmail or start some racketeering (with government approval), they'll find themselves losing users left and right.

The only way that U.S. Congress can facilitate a "total control takeover" would be to tax the smaller ISPs out of existance. Sure, this can happen, but I don't see 180 million users in the U.S. accepting a price increase -- even if it will help prevent terrorism or win the battle against the Communists or stop the Reich from spreading throughout Europe. There is no mandate from the market to break apart what works right now, and nothing government can do short of making themselves bigger tyrants will change that.

Re:Why ask Congress? (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248389)

this isn't about consumers. if they made a $10 premium for consumers who wanted faster connections, lots would do it.

the issue is that they will be slowing down connections for particular websites. some companies wouldn't be able to afford whatever premium they charge, some wouldn't be allowed at all since they are competition.

it would be the perfect way for bells to censor anything they want, like blogs that talk about how they are censoring blogs.

Re:Why ask Congress? (5, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248399)

I just can't understand why Congress has any say in what companies do with their own property.

Allow me to elucidate.

It's because they are a Monopoly. It's because you, the customer, doesn't have any other reasonable choice if you don't want to go with them. It's because in return for being allowed to be a monopoly that they have to play by different rules than the open market. You take your choice of monopoly or open market, but once you make it quit yer complaining about the rules you initially agreed to follow!

Clear now?

Re:Why ask Congress? (1, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248448)

It's because they are a Monopoly. It's because you, the customer, doesn't have any other reasonable choice if you don't want to go with them. It's because in return for being allowed to be a monopoly that they have to play by different rules than the open market. You take your choice of monopoly or open market, but once you make it quit yer complaining about the rules you initially agreed to follow!

Government is the only monopoly in this picture. They rent their monopoly powers to others, though.

How are the telcos a monopoly? I have a cable modem, my friend across the country has one. A little free VoIP software and we've forgotten about the telco. If they want to overregulate my DSL connection, I can go back to using a dial-up ISP seperate from them (and take advantage of the unlimited $20 package).

The freedoms the Internet reinforces are causing people to rethink the costs that used to be commonplace. Dialing your aunt long distance more than once a year was unheard of, now we can chat with her all day long for barely pennies. Sending an instant e-mail through FidoNet sometimes took 3 days for a reply, now it takes moments. Any company who thinks they can back-up the common actions of billions of users is in for a big surprise.

Re:Why ask Congress? (1)

PetriBORG (518266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248467)

If companies want to try to create supernets for their customers to better access each other, I say allow them to. I can not imagine any supernet subverting the Internet in any way. If an ISP decides to slow down traffic to non-ISP destinations, you're going to see user backlash. I've changed ISPs over the years due to bad routing (or repeatedly failed routing) and I know some of my non-techie friends have done the same.
Except that they wouldn't, not even that many people in IT could correctly figure out the problem, let a lone the general customers. When I was in university, there was a special router that directed all traffic from their customers to the university. One day this service went bonkers, I could still sometimes get to the university computers, but I could never successfully login because the university sshd would block all traffic coming from unsafe cable groups. It took me a week of complaining to the admins at the university and at the cable company before they would admit that there was even a problem instead of the "oh its the other guy" dance. Eventually I figured out the reason was because the packets weren't taking the normal route to the university and so I wouldn't be coming from a "safe" route, and thus all my ssh connections would be blocked.

Point is, if it took me a week and some to figure out why this was going on, how long do you suppose crap ass QOS problems would go unnoticed? Customer calls in because their internet is slow... Yeah, thats likely to get a proper responce from random customer service person that is being payed 7$/h and working off a script.

Re:Why ask Congress? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248478)

It confuses me as to why Congress should have any say in companies creating additional networks. Interstate commerce clause?

With formal backing of the government, it thus becomes "the law"

Why is the even a question. It should be rather obvious to anyone living in the US.

Re:Why ask Congress? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248497)

"It confuses me as to why Congress should have any say in companies creating additional networks."

Because the wires wouldn't have gotten run without eminent domain. Without government intervention (perish the thought!), you'd quickly arrive at one of the following extremes:
  1. You don't get any internet connectivity because your neighbor won't let the wire run across his property.
  2. In order to change service providers, you need a new physical wire run out to your house.

"Interstate commerce clause?"

Can you prove it's intrastate?

Is it possible to guarantee a connection, any connection, on the inernet is intrastate? The very fact that you can't is why we have this article submission to begin with.

"If companies want to try to create supernets for their customers to better access each other, I say allow them to."

Alright, but not on wires running across my property. How's that for "better access?"

"I can not imagine any supernet subverting the Internet in any way."

How not? You'd need new routing protocols (to distinguish between normal and "special" packets) and possibly a whole new DNS server structure (to tell which URL is in whose network). It has the potential to break IPv4 (at least) entirely.

"These supernets would just be a second backbone connecting their network together, correct?"

No. They want to do this with no new wires. It will use the existing network to carry proprietary traffic. If they wanted to run new wires, they likely woudln't have to approach Congress about anything.

"I just can't understand why Congress has any say in what companies do with their own property."

Because it wouldn't be "theirs" without eminent domain. Again: if the telcos can't force people to sell easements, there is no network, or at least none without obnoxiously high pricing (in order to all the prices asked for by the milllions of property owners nationwide).

Seriously, in your little anarcho-capitalist wet dream, I'm charging per packet to not put my shovel through the wire.

"and they should be free to supplement the "public need" for what other users are demanding/needing."

If that's what the public wants, they can ask for it themselves. Ma Bell ain't "the public" by any stretch of one's imagination.

Re:Why ask Congress? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248506)

I just can't understand why Congress has any say in what companies do with their own property. They're already providing for the "public need" and they should be free to supplement the "public need" for what other users are demanding/needing.

In a competitive marketplace, there's generally no need for Congress to get too involved with what companies do with their property, beyond various provisions to avoid fraud, theft, and people's safety.

Note the key words: "competitive marketplace". A monopoly is not a "competitive marketplace". A monopoly has immense power to screw people, and the economy. Thus, Congress gets involved, for the health and well-being of their nation.

As long as there's a telecommunications monopoly in *any* area, they must be held to strict standards to allow open communication. There's simply too much room for SBC to screw people, and the economy of the US to do otherwise. And, there's incredible financial incentive for them to do so.

Common Carrier Status (4, Interesting)

notNeilCasey (521896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248299)

Wouldn't this automatically end their common carrier status, if they're filtering blocking traffic from certain sources to certain destinations? Or is that something they hope the law they're lobbying for to address? The Telecommunications Cake Eating and Having Antiterrorism and Freedom Act of 2006!

Re:Common Carrier Status (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248413)

See my post from last time this was discussed on slashdot:

ahref=http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=169910&t hreshold=1&commentsort=0&tid=95&mode=thread&pid=14 162317%2314165101rel=url2html-32438 [slashdot.org] http://slashdot .org/comments.pl?sid=169910&threshold=1&commentsor t=0&tid=95&mode=thread&pid=14162317#14165101>

As long as they offer the same deals to everyone, without individualized contracts, they'd probably meet the nondiscrimination requirement of common carrier status.

Fedex does this, for example. Their volume discount is determined by formula, and can't be negotiated off of the formula. No matter who you are, you'll get the same deal based on your volume -- so Fedex can keep its CC status.

Re:Common Carrier Status (1)

BJZQ8 (644168) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248446)

I believe you need to get a catchy name for this bill. Right now the acronym is TCEHAFA...perhaps weaving children into the name would help too. Perhaps the Telecom Having Eatable Cake Antiterrorism Protecting (children) act, THECAP. It could be called "THECAP act of 2006!" "THECAP will protect us all from harmful mind-control beams from satellites!" I like the cut of your jib! You have my vote!

Re:Common Carrier Status (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248522)

Is it Common Carrier Status that these companies are worried about? Is that what prevents them from doing such a thing right now? If not, what laws do prevent them from creating some form of tiered internet right now? I didn't realize any laws would stop a company from *trying* to do this.

Well thank the gods... (1)

Audent (35893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248302)

the American Govt doesn't run the interweb, eh?

Oh, wait....

never mind.

Re:Well thank the gods... (0, Troll)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248443)

Tthe United States Government has always and will always regulate commerce in the United States. I'm sure you have a similar arrangement with your government down in the land of reverse flushing toilets.

So the internets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248311)

are not becoming more few?

This leads directly to fraud (hear me out) (5, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248313)

This means that common carriers will be essentially committing fraud.

If for example, I get a T1 from Verizon (I would never buy from them directly, we're going with an alternate provider, but hear me out) and AT&T has a dispute with Verizon. Were this thing to pass, data transfers between my T-1 and a customer's T1 (who happens to be an AT&T provider) would be downgraded. This means that my customer is not getting the full 1.54mbps bandwidth their SLA guarantees, and by effect neither would I. This is {potentially} interference with interstate commerce and is also discriminatory in deciding whose traffic goes where, not to mention breach of contract (violating the SLA).

Implementing this kind of policy should immediately result in the provider's losing common carrier status, as by advertising one thing and then providing a different service, they are carrying out a bait-and-switch on the customer - in short, fraud.

Re:This leads directly to fraud (hear me out) (0, Troll)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248470)

What makes you think they would advertise one thing and do another? If your SLA says you get x throughput that's what they'll give you. I've never seen an SLA that covered connectivity off of the provider's network, but it's possible that someone has negotiated one. In any case, most SLA's only apply to your traffic while it is in the provider's net.

Re:This leads directly to fraud (hear me out) (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248485)

I addressed that in the post you replied to. What I am saying is that my customer's provider would be violating my customer's SLA by degrading incoming packets destined for their T1.

And the simple answer is NO. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248314)

I pay already for internet access. If I go for DSL I guess it will have to look at Earthlink.
Maybe this will push Google into the ISP market so it can do no evil and make a lot of money.

Re:And the simple answer is NO. (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248501)

I pay already for internet access. If I go for DSL I guess it will have to look at Earthlink. Maybe this will push Google into the ISP market so it can do no evil and make a lot of money.

Unless Google lays their own wire (or fiber, whatever), BS or AT&T would still be getting your money when Google pays to lease their lines for you.

What a mess (3, Funny)

VaderPi (680682) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248315)

This has the potential to turn the Internet into a huge mess, especially as the telecoms continue to consolidate. I hope that Congress is not going to implement this. At least we have Google, Amazon, Ebay and Microsoft sticking up for us, because we all know that their interests are much more pure.

This will never happen (3, Informative)

borgheron (172546) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248316)

For one thing, it would require a radical change in how the internet currently works. TCP/IP was designed around the whole idea of having no central routing (note, I didn't say naming) authority. This is one of the features which make it resilient to damage, since the network can adapt to nodes which suddenly might go dark.

This, after all, was the whole purpose of it, since ARPANET was intended to be resilient to enemy attack if parts of it were taken out.

Write your congresspeople! (1)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248318)

For [insert favorite diety]'s sake, write your representative [house.gov] , and write your senators (both of them) [senate.gov] !

Tell them this is a bad idea. Make up some ideas - I'm sure there will be plenty of discussion here.

Write them a physical letter if you can bear to touch it - those go farther...even if you're talking 'bout the internet.

--LWM

Re:Write your congresspeople! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248428)

Write your congresspeople!

I believe the correct phrase is congresscritter

Re:Write your congresspeople! Non-physical (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248453)

Write them a physical letter if you can bear to touch it - those go farther...even if you're talking 'bout the internet.

Actually physical letters don't carry the weight they did even a few years ago. After the anthrax scares many avoid them now like the Plague. While I can't say what is most effective now: faxes, e-mail, telephone calls, personal visits, visits to their local offices, I do know that the gold standard that each actual letter represents this many other people who never quite got their own letters written is not what it once was.

Bloody hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248321)

Over my dead body.

Don't worry! (5, Funny)

Darth Maul (19860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248323)

"AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill..." ...But our politicians are elected to best represent the needs of their constituents (and we all voted, right?), so everything will work out just fine in the best interest of the individual citizen.

Whew. That was a close one.

www.digg.com PWNS SLASHDOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248332)

n/t

www.digg.com

What they mean is "screw the users"... (1)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248335)

when they use bullshit business terms like

the proposed solution is to break end-to-end in order to protect pricing leverage over the users.

I'm quite disgusted by these US businesses...they are probably the most unethical and immoral among all the developed countries.

Re:What they mean is "screw the users"... (1)

brouski (827510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248416)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that line is part of the submitter's commentary. That's a bit too honest for big business.

-1, Hopelessly confused knee-jerk reaction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248433)

Um, by "they" you mean "the article submitter" and by "bullshit business terms" you mean "the article submitter's own language which is already intended to present the telcos unfavorably." Gee how could you possibly arrive at the conclusion that telcos are bad from the submitter's implication that what they are doing is bad? Brilliant.

Telcoms (3, Insightful)

PetriBORG (518266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248339)

Just another example of greed? This is directly comparable to them being allowed to degrade voice service from another phone company. Its ridiculous for voice its ridiculous for the internet. See what happens when you stop considering them to be common-carriers where everyone is on a level playing field? It will lead to no good, thats for sure.

Already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248343)

I get free access to Verizon's news servers. Presumably, they can manage the expense by providing local servers that limit the bandwidth utilization to their local network (besides the peering to the outside world, of course). As long as they don't mandate I use their news server or add a mandatory surcharge for it or prevent me from using another premium news server, I'm cool with this. If they provided some version of a Verizon intranet, I would be cool with it, as long as it doesn't prevent me from getting to the outside world or mandating me to use their proxy, I am again cool with this.

capitolism at it's best. (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248345)


Fortune 500 mega companies massaging congress to get what they want so they can bill the shit out of joe average. why not the RIAA is trying to do it and has done it. Now it only makes sense that the Telcos try it. Since when did was business about control as opposed to service. I hate this but in reality thats how you build a business. Create a product then force the masses to use it. When an alternative is found then you buy out congress and legislate the hell out of them

Re:capitolism at it's best. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248511)

No, this isn't capitalism, but corporatism, an unholy mix of corporations and government.

Let them charge what they may (1)

flyingrobots (704155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248349)

Services only get better when free enterpise rules. It is expensive to keep up these networks. Congress shouldn't be allowed to regulate the internet. We can't have it both ways (regulation and no regulation). Look what happened to the cost of long distance when congress stopped regulating the telephones here...

Stop this Now! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248350)

This has to be stopped before it's allowed to ever get started. I hope everyone who is a customer of these firms immediately and loudly complains. If not, you'll find yourself owned by your monopoly carrier when it's you who are paying the bills to start with!

Exactly why does this need legislation? (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248357)

If they are transmitting their "own services" in their own network what is there to stop them from setting up their routers to mark packets from their own web (and other) servers with higher quality of service (TOS/Diffserv field)?

Of course these markings lose all meaning when the packet goes out of their AS, but if they want they can always set up peering agreements where the QoS is preserved..

Difference between this and Internet2? (2, Interesting)

Jeff Mahoney (11112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248365)

I'm not a fan of this proposal, but I'm curious what the real difference is between this and Internet2 connectivity that get people so incensed? Universities and corporations on Internet2 get higher bandwidth to each other than the rest of the internet, and for that they pay a premium.

It seems to me that the major difference is that it's the telcos coming up with the idea and that end users may actually get to use it. While I'd prefer everyone get access to the higher speed network, what's stopping backbone providers from continuing to upgrade services as they have been?

This seems quite a bit different than previous stories about telcos offering priority on the regular internet to services that pay up. That would definitely be questionable. This is using a completely separate network that they own and charge access to - why shouldn't they be allowed to do this?

Re:Difference between this and Internet2? IS!! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248481)

I'm curious what the real difference is between this and Internet2 connectivity

Well:

1: They can charge more for the premium service.

2: They can continue to degrade the basic serivce to force you to upgrade to the premium service and pay more.

Is this how you want to be treated by your telephone company?

An Old Issue (2, Informative)

One Div Zero (851169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248379)

This is an old issue - Lessig has been writing about it since 2001.

The idea pops up every few months, but in the end, it is economic suicide for a market that already has an open, neutral standard to splinter into a set of closed, preferential standards.

In short, the competition between providers will reduce their profit below the current 'tacit agreement' point it is currently at, thanks to the neutral standard. This is especially true as long as they are not offering any additional value with their service, and only destroying the value of the current network effects.

The economically feasible solution is to price discriminate (as much as existing customers hate it, it does reduce deadweight loss and increase revenue). Simply, charge by bandwidth provided, and charge less for 'preferred' types of bandwidth, such as traffic internal to their network.

[Recommended Reading: The Innovator's Solution (which addresses closed vs. open standards) and anything about Nash-Bridges Equilibrium (which addresses tacit agreement among competing parties).]

Isn't this what the cable companies already have? (4, Interesting)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248380)

Not to play devils advocate here, but isn't this the setup all cable companies currently have?

They have their own private internet for video services and a separate internet for normal IP traffic flow.

This allows them to send massive amounts of video with fairly reliable QOS.

Both sides (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248382)

There really are both sides to this issue. From the press release linked it sounds as it they want to offer video on demand and other services over the DSL line. This is almost identical to what comcast does with its video on demand. It run through a special channel that doesn't tie up your internet, and arrived much faster than regular internet video on demand. I see nothing wrong with DSL providers doing the exact same thing. ON THE OTHER HAND. If like google fears the DSL providers want to be able to charge random websites for faster access to their customers.. There is a definate conflict of interest, though I can't see anything obviously illigal about this idea.

Intense private negotations? (1)

kidtwist (726601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248393)

From the article:

Davidson has an ally in US Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Malden. ''I don't understand why we would tinker with the model that has been so wildly successful," Markey said.

Markey said he's engaged in ''intense private negotiations" with telecom companies and congressional colleagues in search of a compromise.


Why the hell a compromise? If the current model is so successful, why change it at all? Because the telecoms want it? Congressman need to be reminded that just because some corporations ask for something they don't need to leap into action.

Compromise? (1)

Tropaios (244000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248400)

Davidson has an ally in US Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Malden. ''I don't understand why we would tinker with the model that has been so wildly successful," Markey said.

Markey said he's engaged in ''intense private negotiations" with telecom companies and congressional colleagues in search of a compromise.


How about this for a compromise? No. Bad Telcos... you had yours.

All it takes is 2 people to screw up the internet (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248407)

The prospect of a tiered Internet with ''regular" and ''premium" broadband services is spawning fierce debate as Congress takes up a major overhaul of telecom regulations. The House of Representatives last month held hearings on a preliminary draft by two GOP congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan, that would give the telecom companies the freedom to establish premium broadband services. The telecom bill is due for action early next year.

Hmmm...I think I will do a search of these guys just to see what else they are involved with.

http://www.dccc.org/houseofscandal/members/JoeBa rtonTX-6.html
"Joe Barton voted to weaken the ethics rules in a move that many say served only to protect Tom DeLay."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story Id=4497035 [npr.org]
"All Things Considered, February 12, 2005 U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) has sponsored a bill in the House that would increase Federal Communication Commission fines for "indecent" broadcasts. He talks about the bill, which goes to the full House in the coming week."

I can see where this 2-tiered internet is heading, more political scandals and tighter regulations of the internet. No thanks.

Time for more legislation! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248414)

I'm not practiced in writing legal verbage, but in it's own way, it can't be much more difficult that thinking in program code... making sure there are few if no loopholes or problems with interpretation and all that.

But Damnit if I'm not tired of seeing law and legislation constantly being proposed to prop up older business practices in newer and changing environments. This *HAS* to be seen by our legislators as the quickest way to outmode our economy. While the rest of the world grows and changes with the times, we're letting law pass that essentially attempts to keep us in the 19th century.

The EFF is famous for defending cases and fighitng bad law, but how is it on attempting to introduce laws and practices? I'd like to see them write something that would essentially outlaw or limit the creation of new law to prop up failing business models.

No way Jose (1)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248421)

The feds (FCC, FTC, SEC) catch wind of this they will go ballistic. The House and Senate committes will grill the telcos until they are well done over QOS or priority packeting, filtering, depeering and email routing. They won't hear the end of it until they drop the bloody thing altogether.

You know it aint going to happen.

Forced to Innovate (1)

iMacorIBM (708902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248425)

This is just further evidence that Telcos have been over-charging their services. The market is for the carrier; People want bandwith and SLAs. The fact that innovative home grown solutions from third parties pose a threat to paid-for hosted services is no surprise. It will be up to the Telco's to utilize their size and leverage existing tools quickly. I prefer my homemade PVR to the one that comes at a subscription price, and deletes content X days later. It is cheaper too. I prefer my email gateway, web interface and spam protection to one that comes at a subscription price from a 3rd party. The Internet drives innovation. If a Telco is using the wrong technology, or does not have the brain pan to come up with profitable solutions, then it is time to find a new CTO, and whilst at it, write a letter to the previous CTO that forced old technology down the throat of willing consumers. The future is friendly .. as somebody once said, and another, copyrighted.

Telcos win, everyone else looses... (1)

freidog (706941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248441)

Create a premium service,
charge people more to access your network at 'fast' speeds. Ok no problem. That's sort of been going on for a while with tiered speeds for broadband connections.
Telco's provide content targeted at those premium accounts. Again, ok by me. Paying more generally entitles you to more.

So now other sites that provide streaming auido or video or just use lots of bandwidth are going to have to pay a premium or face serious degradation of quality of service. Welp, that's not good for those sites.
Hmmm... so now I probably loose a lot of choices when it comes to where I get my streaming media from. The Telcos price the competeing web sites out of buisness or force them to a vastly inferior product. That's not good for me now.

I can understand and even support the telcos wanting to provide some form of quality of service garauntees for customers willing to pay for it. But a second tier internet controlled by the telcos is likely going to end badly for people on both ends of the fiber.

Re:Telcos win, everyone else looses... (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248508)

The problem is the telcos want to be able to NOT offer pure transit to other ISPs.. they want to be the ones controlling the network at the IP level, and enforcing their own regulations. This would effectively put them in control of the internet.

Why is this so hard? (1)

volsung (378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248444)

I'm confused why they are asking or even need to "rearchitect" the Internet to do this. Can't they just use some QoS features of their router hardware to give packets for "partners" higher priority? Lower latency, more bandwidth, etc, etc. What other power is needed?

So? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248449)

Instead of paying for what I pay now, they'll want to put their own obnoxious content (which I never use) onto the faster pipes and make everything else suck??

As other people have pointed out, I hope this loses them their common carrier status.

Changing the network topology of the internet to make sure they can continue to sell me extra services/features/content is crap. Imagine getting an itemized bill charging you additional moneys for accessing stuff other than their content.

I mean, really, WTF does AT&T have that I want from the net?

Are we there yet? (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248452)

I'm not trying to troll here, but at what point can we just come out and say America is Facist? I mean let's face it, big corporations already control much of our lives beyond just salaries, there's corporate health care and pensions that many people count on to survive, corporate lobbyists influence massive policy changes and regulations. In many cases corps have much more influence (through political alliances and/or $$$) than any one citizen certainly, and even most citizen groups! And with the DMCA, FCC regulations (v-chip, broadcast flag, speech restrictions), etc. there's been a growing trend of business protecting profit margins by lobbying new laws agains the consumer rather than changing their business model and evolving. Hell, the EFF is suing a state government for allowing computer voting companies to sell their product without requiring then to even adhere to the state law to put their code in escrow. These are the tools that make democracy function we're talking about!

What is the last straw here? What is the textbook definition of facism and its 6 bullet points we need to check off before we can finally just call ourselves the United Facist Empire of Corporate America??? So now telcos and the like are seeing a previous revenue source dry up because of the nature of the internet itself, rather than finding new ways to utilize its very power they would (artifically) break the system through legislation to cover their asses. This is pathetic. Innovate or die corporate america, you've seen this coming for years, try to act like the founders of your companies and create a useful product and service use technology in new ways rather than crushing progress under your heel in the name of profit margins. (I know, many of the big corps founders used government sactioned monopolies and force to build and protect their interests, but some founders actually had an eye for the future and innovated.)

I forget the quote itself, it's probably been posted by now, but to paraphrase it (poorly) here: No investor or company should expect the law to turn back the hands of time to protect previous sources of profit.

Easy for telcos to priorize (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248455)

All they have to do, to give prioroty to their communication, is to quickly route anything that has the Evil Bit set to 1.

Maybe it's my fault for reading the article but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248457)

The article states the telcos want to prioritize packets for video and voice. Wouldn't this be similar to what cable companies do right now to priortize bandwidth for their digital video over cablemodem packets?

This sounds inevitable as everything goes ___ over IP. Can you imagine the troubleshooting nightmare of this?

example trouble call:

Grandma: I can't get Matlock!
Telco: Your grandson is downloading hundreds of pirated movies off bittorrent and using all your available bandwidth.
Grandma: Bandwidth? I just want my TV!!!


What other ways would the Slashdot crowd suggest to make sure HDTV or On Demand programming, separate from the internet data but using the same pipe, be assured 100% availability?

Also, I didn't read anything about service speed degredation. I saw info to the effect of making sure their services which were subscribed to by the customer are delivered in a high quality manner.

Translated (1)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248458)

The telcos basic fear, of course, is that the end to end design of the net will erode the telcos ability to use service charges to generate revenue for delivering video and voice; the proposed solution is to break end-to-end in order to protect pricing leverage over the users.

Translation of above paragraph...

The telcos basic fear, of course is that the end to end design of the net will further erode the telcos antiquated business model. The proposed solution is to use legislation to protect and keep their business model viable for many generations to come.

Corporate greed does it again (surprise surprise) (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248469)

Three points I got out of this:

From the article:
while rival firms' online video offerings would be transmitted at lower speed and with poorer image quality.
Meaning they're hampering their user's choices.

That could mean that a company like Yahoo might have to pay AT&T to send high-quality video to AT&T subscribers.
Read: Out-right extortion.

From the /. article:
in order to protect pricing leverage over the users.
I believe someone already rephrased that the way it should have read to begin with: screw the users.

Business as usual (1)

zero_point_energy (938534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248472)

This shouldn't surprise too many people. Around where I live, the politicians constantly forced a vote (around 20+ times) until people eventually got tired of voting "No", and stopped caring. Thus, it eventually passed.

The morale of the story should be that politicians (regardless of what they are "supposed" to do/be) are completely supported by corporations. When you consider the monumental amount of money that stands to be made (see "Google"), it should go without saying that corporations will find some way to truly cash in on the Internet, nevermind the "next" Internet.

I mean, get real. Imagine you are staring at (lets be conservative) 10 billion smackers in corporate revenue. Are you going to let that annoying attitude of "freedom of information" stop you?

Read any amount of political history to see countless examples of this type of nonsense.

ugh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14248473)

I am getting real sick of corporations influencing the law to create/stabilize/alter the market it order to preserve their desired business strategy instead of sucking it up like the rest of us and enduring competition for better or worse. The law should be preserving a market that encourages change and fair competition in order to hinder stagnation, why can't anyone uphold this very simple principle. The worrisome idea here is that if we keep allowing the corporations to push competition out through legislation we will only see more of this behavior...and I am afraid that leads to a world similar to our sci-fi nightmares.

What of common carrier status? (1)

dyfet (154716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248493)

So is it that the carriers now wish to disclaim that they are "Common Carriers" since they will no longer carry content on an entirely non-discriminatory basis?

Will Verizon fight this? (1)

Gabe Garza (535203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248510)

Is anyone else thinking that Verizon will side with Google, et. al., and oppose the other telcos in this effort? Verizon's big push, the on they're basically betting the company on, is their "FIOS" fiber-to-the-home initiative. If they control the fiber going in to the home, they can stick their video infrastructure in their own CO's and (where necessary) use private broadband circuits (owned by them) to transfer data. They don't need priority on the internet to deliver their product well. So it would seem that it's in their best interest to keep this from happening, because a 2-tier internet (with the telcos at the top) would level the playing field and negate the advantage they have with the infrastructure they're putting in now for FIOS.

Is this related to the other SBC story? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248519)

.. 2 weeks ago SBC mentioned they would intentionally cripple the internet with 1000 ping times and allow only 3 or 4 sites that would run regularly. The user would have the option to pay extra money for each site they want to run optimally.

So are they going to create a seperate backbone as an excuse for this project? Think about it? They can't let just any ordinary user use the fiber backbone right? Oh well I guess you have to pay extra $$ for a less than 500 ping time for your favorite quakeserver.

If you dont like it? Then roll out your own line? Oh wait we can't ... oh well.

SBC is fucking evil. They are the worst and most vehimingly opposed to any regulation at all. They are the ones who refused to light up dsl routers until state legislators deregulated them. Then afterwards they raised the rates of competing ISP and totally undercut everyone out of business. Now they are becoming a monopoly as more and more smaller ISP's go out of business.

With the republicans in office and the vast lobbying dollars you can bet they will win and get their way. Meanwhile the Koreans keep their $15 a month 100 meabyte pipes and laugh at us!

Hearings (1)

LISNews (150412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248523)

The House of Representatives last month held hearings [house.gov] on a preliminary draft by two GOP congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan, that would give the telecom companies the freedom to establish premium broadband services. The telecom bill is due for action early next year. If your rep. is on This List [house.gov] be sure to drop them a line.
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