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ISPs Race to Create Two-Tiered Internet

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the guess-which-tier-you'll-be-on dept.

The Internet 612

An anonymous reader writes "The ISP race toward a two-tiered Internet is picking up speed. This article from Michael Geist points to a wide range of examples involving packet preferencing, content blocking, traffic shaping, and public musings about premium charges for faster content downloads. ISPs are now reducing access to peer-to-peer applications, blocking Skype, and, scariest of all, lobbying Congress to let them do it."

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Two word solution! (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291686)

De. Regulate.

Real deregulation has nothing to do with Congress making laws, changing laws or getting rid of a few old regulations that actually don't affect communications. True deregulation means getting rid of ALL laws that affect communication, including ones that were set up over a hundred years ago that we still have to follow.

In my opinion, the interstate commerce "clause" in the Constitution was not intended to control communications, set up an FCC, or regulate costs or services. It was intended to prevent taxation and tariffs (exactly the problem we have today!) I'll grudgingly accept the argument for the regulation up to maybe 1995, but after that, we saw an unregulated quantity of computers magically connect without major subsidies (I'll grant you that ARPA was originally tax paid, but how big did it get during the government years?). The fact that so many people got online without excessive regulations aimed at driving the Internet leads me to believe that the best form of our beloved Internet IS anarchy (not chaos).

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ...

My speech is free to go where I sent it. For Congress to say that 2 or 5 or 10 big companies know better than thousands of little ones is typical nannyism. Who knows best? The People. We choose ISps that meet our needs. The system works. Some ISPs go under. Some combine into one ISP. Some fall apart into seperate smaller ISPs. This is how the free market works. We're going to see more free WiFi ISPs (my small town has 3!). We're going to see faster cell phone bandwidth (my EDGE network gets 150kbps downloads). We're going to see less reliance on the phone companies and the cable companies. This isn't happening because of regulation.

As to the two-tiered Internet, I'm all in support of the system if it isn't regulated. Without regulations, the ISPs must compete with one another. This means that the two-tier system could actually be of benefit to the end users. I have customers with offices all over the country who have to maintain expensive T1 lines. With a two-tier system that gives customers on the same network preferential treatment, I think we'll see lowered costs for corporate WANs, meaning lower prices for consumers of those corporations' products. Every dollar saved is some money passed on to the consumer.

Yet these two tiered systems can, overnight, become a mess if Congress decides to set rules and restrictions and requirements. Instead of promoting more bandwidth between same-network customers, regulations will push less bandwidth for different-network customers. If the little guy is pushed out (as regulations tend to do), the big guys won't have any reason to stay competitive. It isn't AOL versus MSN versus Comcast versus SBC that lowers prices and raises bandwidth. It is the thousands of smaller ISPs that are like mosquitos, constantly biting the big elephants and causing them to make changes to their service. For years I used Speakeasy and converted dozens of my customers. I still prefer Speakeasy, but they've been cut off in my market -- by SBC and Comcast that lobbied my local government and state government. REGULATION killed off Speakeasy in my area -- deregulation gave me years of amazing performance and price.

Don't believe the hype -- anarchy in communications has led us to a smaller world and a brighter future. Regulations have led us to 90 years of excise taxes on our phone bills that won't go away, even if the reason for the taxes is antiquated or ancient. Yes, we're still paying taxes on our phone bill that were set up in 1898 and for World War I costs. [] And you continue to support those leeches by voting for them?

Re:Two word solution! (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291768)

Your idea of two-tier internet and the ISP's are completely different.

Your new two-tiered ISP charges you 1.99 per download from itunes, plus the cost of the music, but if you download from their sponsered service they only charge you for the music.

Think Cell phone bills. The data charges on Cell phones are stupid high. They charge you per byte, plus minutes while online. Try downloading a ringtone sold by sprint on a verizion phone. It doesn't work. Not because the song isn't compatible but because they will put up money road blocks into the way to force you to pay.

I am sorry But I want the internet my way. Not the way some company wants to force me to pay Dollars extra for things they get for literaly pennies.

Re:Two word solution! (1, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291796)

My cell phone bill is under $100 per month. I get over 5000 minutes (2500 anytime anyone), unlimited SMS and unlimited EDGE wireless networking (150kbps). I used almost 1 gig last month in bandwidth on my cell phone and PDA and laptop, over T-Mobile's network. $20 for unlimited wireless Internet, $10 for unlimited SMS and $70 for nearly unlimited minutes (although I do go over from time to time).

My cell phone provider is competitive BECAUSE of competition. Your provider is trying tooth and nail to hold onto the regulations that let them gouge your downloads.

Oh, and my Samsung t809 cell phone uses MP3s for ring tones. I don't pay $1-$2 for ringtones, why do you?

Re:Two word solution! (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291920)

Not the way some company wants to force me to pay Dollars extra for things they get for literaly pennies.

Almost right, they want to charge you dollars for things you already bought for pennies.

Re:Two word solution! (1)

radixvir (659331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291791)

Are you kidding? This will make things much worse. Large companies will control all the lines and force smaller ones out of business. Large ISPs control the backbone and would have to rent it out to smaller ones. Having many companies compete is exactly what the bigs guys DONT want to see. They will purchase the smaller companies or refuse to lease the lines to them. This is why deregulation is BAD is many cases. I think it will create the opposite of what you wanted and actually drive prices up. What we need is stricter rules if companies are trying to pull this crap.

Re:Two word solution! (-1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291881)

I'm sorry, you're right.

It was de-regulation that caused every hamburger chain to combine into one.

It was de-regulation that caused every big box consumer store to combine into one.

It was de-regulation that caused every candy bar company to combine into one.

It was de-regulation that caused every shoe company to combine into one.

Oh, wait a minute. You're talking about regulating so that we're protected from all these competitors trying to drive each other out of business? I guess Congress knows better than consumers what is best for the country.

Re:Two word solution! (4, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291792)

This is a complete load of bollocks.

Complete deregulation in the telecom field wouldn't lead to "thousands of little companies". It'd lead to one company.

With no regulations whatsoever, telecom companies would be free to merger and reverse-merger and acquisition themselves into a recreation of Ma Bell. Shit, they're already halfway there.

From what I've heard (I'm too young to remember it directly), things weren't too bad under the Ma Bell monopoly the first time around. Ah, but times have changed. It's 2005, and quaint, antiquated notions like "the customer is always right" have gone completely out the window. You know the old Saturday Night Live line, "We're the phone company, we don't have to care"? Substitute "a Fortune 500 company" for "the phone company". I could tell you horror story after horror story of how I've gotten jerked around by existing ISPs and telcos. Once they congeal back into a single monopolistic entity (as they were before), this will only get worse.

And you free market religionists will be to blame.

In the absence of regulations, things turn into a monopoly. No, "the system" doesn't work. It doesn't work because Joe Sixpack is ignorant, and the telcos like it that way. Capitalism, like democracy, assumes a well-educated and informed populace, and we do not have that.

Re:Two word solution! (3, Informative)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291848)

This is a complete load of bollocks.

You're referencing the rest of your comment, right?

In the PC world, there is no regulations on the cost, quality or performance of PCs. We have hundreds of companies selling products -- big boys like Dell and HP, small guys like Ram's PC Shop. Guess what? Prices have fallen even against inflation.

In the automotive world, we have heavy regulations -- steel tariffs, union requirements and other government mandates. Car prices have risen, faster than inflation.

In the soda world, we have almost no regulations (except for some USDA/FDA ones). Soda prices have fallen against inflation, and generic versions taste as good as the real ones in some occasions. I can buy a 2 liter of diet cola for US$0.49 versus US$0.99 a few years ago.

In the medicine world, we have excessive regulations, and prices have climbed beyond inflation.

In the clothing world, we have few regulations (some tariffs on cotton and other materials). I can buy a nice, quality hoodie for US$10 at H&M. A few years back they were over US$50 at the mall.

Tell me again how regulations help and anarchy hurts?

Barriers to entry (5, Insightful)

klubar (591384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291905)

You're missing the piece about barriers to entry.

Where the entry cost is low, competition works well (joe's computer shop, asmet's sweatshirt shop, even beverages). Where barriers to entry are very high (telecom, drugs, automobiles) regulation is needed to prevent monopoly powers.

Re:Barriers to entry (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291969)

Preach on, brother. Wish I had mod points for you. Since I don't, I'll take this opportunity to point out that the music industry feels like another (slightly non-standard) example of high barriers to entry to me, due mostly to the costs of promotion.

Re:Two word solution! (4, Insightful)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291978)

It has been shown time and time again that competition in physical goods works as expected, but not in services like internet access or phone markets. The problem arises because there are very few ways to get a foothold on the requisite "last mile" or radio spectrum in order to compete. Without being able to come in and "set up shop" without being subserviant to the companies that you are competing against there is no REAL competition.

Re:Two word solution! (5, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291893)

Or, let me put it even more simply: Contrary to what libertarian dreamers like yourself would like to believe, in the absence of controls on the powerful, the powerful get more powerful (and the powerless get more powerless.)

This concept seems so ludicrously obvious, yet you completely don't understand it.

Even as things presently stand, the advances made by "the little guy" (E.g.: The rising influence (for better or worse) of bloggers) are the exception and not the rule. They are like those "human interest" stories you see on the evening news where a firefighter saved a precious cat named Muffins from a raging fire. Awww, how nice. Meanwhile, AIDS is still killing millions in Africa, and people are still being blown up in Iraq.

Loony Libertarian "to make the powerful less powerful, we'll remove all restrictions on them!!111" thought would only make the situation worse. It amazes me to think that there are those who cannot comprehend this.

Since when do you reduce the power of an entity by removing all restrictions on them!?

And please, spare me the lecture about how "with no regulations, barriers to entry in the [X] market would be lowered". It doesn't fucking matter. Little companies could enter the telco market-- they'd just fold inside of a year, since no one can compete with the marketshare and "mindshare" of the established carriers.

I'm starting to think that the entire libertarian/Libertarian movement/party was secretly funded by Fortune 500 companies seeking to grow their influence through eradicating all checks and balances on their nearly-limitless power.

Re:Two word solution! (0, Troll)

Caspian (99221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291921)

For that matter, it's starting to make sense why so many libertarians/Libertarians are also Christian. It takes a mind capable of swallowing "God loves humanity, but he'll send most humans to Hell" to swallow the idea of "to make the market more open to little players, we'll let the big players do whatever they want".

This is complete Orwellian doublethink, and utter nonsense to boot.

Re:Two word solution! (5, Insightful)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291923)

Complete deregulation in the telecom field wouldn't lead to "thousands of little companies". It'd lead to one company.

I agree totally. There's a natural tendancy for companies to consolidate, when growth cannot be achieved without consolidation. Economists theorize that in a normal environment, businesses consolidate, raise their prices, and when those prices rise, the incentive for new business to start is better and those businesses will be competitive.

They expand on that theory to point out that when economies of scale are reached, the barrier to entry is too high, and big fish will swallow the little fish because of it.

I'd like to draw attention to Fido and Clearnet in Canada.

At one time we only had two Cell providers in Wester Canada - Telus and Rogers and they hosed us on the rates. It was an oligopoly, where the incentive to keep rates high was better than the incentive to compete. So two new cell providers came to play: Fido and Clearnet. Fido offered amazing rates that were highly competitive - 200 mins for $20/mo. So did Clearnet - unlimited incoming calls for $29/mo. And they did this without a 3 year contract. All of which was unheard of before.

Telus bought clearnet, Rogers bought Fido.

Do you think they bought those cell carriers to compete, or to increase margins?

The barrier to entry for the cell market is very high now. We probably won't see a new cell providor in Canada for a long time now, and rates will stay where they are.

Re:Two word solution! (4, Insightful)

aeoo (568706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291825)

Every dollar saved is some money passed on to the consumer.

You're wrong about that and you know it. Most saved dollars in fact do NOT pass onto the consumer! At best, they pass onto the shareholders or are reinvested into business, but more likely they are used for golden handshakes and exorbitant executive salaries and benefits (such as special loans, stocks and other such things).

Re:Two word solution! (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291900)

And of course, you know this because everyone knows this, right? It's obvious! Only a fool would doubt the common knowledge of the people. POWER TO THE PEOPLE, RIGHT ON!

Re:Two word solution! (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291948)

SEC guidelines have made it easier to pay corporate managers profits rather than pass them on as dividends. You can blame SEC regulations for this one (I know, I used to consult to some of the biggest broker dealers in the world).

In a free market, competitive companies that realize cost savings pass on these savings as increased profits. When the trend of increased profits stays stable, competition always causes companies to try to low ball their competitors -- decreasing prices to consumers.

Competition allows a guy with a better idea to bring it to the market, upsetting the big players. I see it all the time in the businesses I am in (skateboard retail, paintball retail, engineering IT consultant, contract outsourcing) -- some kid with a good idea and low overhead comes into the market to undersell the big boys. Sometimes the kid profits and succeeds, sometimes the kid runs out of cash and fails. Whatever the case, the prices drop to compete -- and if the kid goes out of business, a few months later someone else replaces him with the same idea or a better one.

Competition does not create megacorporations -- Congressional regulations and SEC mandates create megacorporations.

Re:Two word solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291834)

Yes, we're still paying taxes on our phone bill that were set up in 1898 and for World War I costs.

That's not unreasonable: if we assume Last-in-first-out accounting, we still haven't paid off the debt from those wars. These taxes will just have to continue until those wars have been totally paid for.

Re:Two word solution! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291854)

I still prefer Speakeasy, but they've been cut off in my market -- by SBC and Comcast that lobbied my local government and state government. REGULATION killed off Speakeasy in my area -- deregulation gave me years of amazing performance and price.

Huh? It was regulation that mandated that Speakeasy be allowed to sell services using wires they didn't even own. De-regulation is what allowed SBC to quit letting Speakeasy offer DSL over those wires.

Re:Two word solution! (1)

speed-sf (721339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291943)

1) You do not live in a country with a Free Market. 2) The so called 'free market' begs to be regulated, so it can pursue courses of action like the two tiered internet. As well, regulation maintains some semblance of stability. The 'Free Market' lead to the depression. 3) The government does not agree with you, it thinks 'the people' are a witless stampede of chaos that must be controlled so that large scale corporations can make short term profits. It takes people like you to correct this misnomer. 4) I firmly support your views on communication anarchy, this is what the internet should be. The people need to unite and disrupt corporate profiteering, only then can we have any real power. Unite, network, and change.

Go time (4, Interesting)

panxerox (575545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291689)

If there was ever a time for slashdots to be active politically it is now, this is a wake up call that the Internet as we know it is in jeopardy. What this new ISP movement really is all about is to remold the Internet into what Gore invisioned originally, that is a wholly owned and controlled network primary based on cable technology.

Favoring content delivery over customer participation, the original concept for the "information super highway" was basically a one way street from the providers to the customers with the consumers having very little control. The Internet is not what he and the corps envisioned and they are pissed that they can't generate decent income streams from it (at least the majority of corps the innovators like google are able to but being an innovator is to hard for most corps).

As for liability the isps had better think about this real hard before they leap into content control, I'm sure the lawyers are licking their chops as the possibility for massive waves of lawsuits dance in their heads. From the article

"The network neutrality principle has served ISPs, Internet companies, and Internet users well. It has enabled ISPs to plausibly argue that they function much like common carriers and that they should therefore be exempt from liability for the content that passes through their systems. "

Imminent death of the Net predicted (1, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291708)

Film at 11.

Re:Go time (2, Insightful)

FriedTurkey (761642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291866)

What this new ISP movement really is all about is to remold the Internet into what Gore invisioned originally, that is a wholly owned and controlled network primary based on cable technology.

Yes, because Al Gore has so much power these days. The original lawmakers creating the Internet, Al Gore being one of them, had a vision of the Internet created for the military expanding to academic purposes. Somewhere along the line it was controled by corporations and now corporations want to expand thier power and the current adminstration is taking the the bribes (lobby money) and giving corporations full control.

blocking Skype? (1)

ATeamMrT (935933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291872)

blocking Skype

I don't understand how they can block Skype.

Imagine if AOL decided to block all porn. People would be outraged. The ACLU would sue.

I wonder if more than 2 ISP's blocked the same website, if the people could sue claiming the ISP's are violating anti-trust by working together to kill a third party?

Re:Go time (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291941)

Yup, we should be politically active... ...and we should be lobbying to make it so that ISPs, end-users, whoever, can do whatever the fuck they want on the Internet as long as it doesn't violate any other (non internet-specific) laws.

It's funny how one moment people are screaming because regulations are going to limit what they are allowed to do online, and the next they're screaming because some law is going to remove the regulation that's preventing somebody else to do whatever they want online.

ISPs should be allowed to have however many tiers they want. You're free to choose whatever internet provider you'd like, aren't you? If the market doesn't like the multi-tiered model, they'll buy from other providers. The quote you have at the end of your post spells it out pretty well. It's the best argument for why very little bad can come from any legislation that de-regulates ISPs.

Re:Go time (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291958)

Yep, you're free to choose whichever of the two area ISPs/carriers you like. Kind of like how we're free to choose whichever political candidate we like!

Vote with your money (1, Redundant)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291691)

If your ISP does this, find a better ISP, cancel your subscription with the former.
When ISPs get enough of it, they'll come around

Exactly. (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291740)

ISPs may well want to sell crippled service, but there's no reason for non-idiots to buy same. They will soon discover that their investments have been a complete waste.

Re:Vote with your money (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291747)

Exactly. It's not like everyone has a constitutional right to unlimited-bandwidth free internet access.

Moreover, there's nothing wrong with charging more for premium service. You want faster internet service -- pay more. In fact, why not make it like cable? Group TCP channels into packages and serve them separately. Put HTTP,HTTPS,SMTP,POP3,IMAP,TELNET,SSH etc in the "basic package". But you pay extra for the ports used by Skype, IRC, or BitTorrent. For technical reasons, this would be a bad move, but if the ISPs want to try it -- let them.

Re:Vote with your money (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291883)

Put HTTP,HTTPS,SMTP,POP3,IMAP,TELNET,SSH etc in the "basic package"

And that would be when we all start to tunnel everything through ssh. Then it goes back to how much bandwidth is being used.

Re:Vote with your money (5, Insightful)

Jeff Mahoney (11112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291751)

A lot of ISPs have caught on to customers talking with their feet and now lock in subscribers.

Re:Vote with your money (2, Interesting)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291912)

That is true.

But they generally can't just spring it on you:

It's like cellular phone contracts, I signed mine a long time ago and have a very good rate, which DOESN'T include lots of the new service fees.

However, if I ever want to change my phone for a newer model, my contract will not be renewable.

I found this out the other day.

When the salesman asked "so what model do you want?", I replied, "never mind - I'll go to your competitor and see if they have a better deal or I'll cancel my service if they don't"

Granted, most people will groan a little and bite the bullet, but I feel we have more options today, and the only way to ensure that is by either boycotting, cancelling or changing providers.

rigged election (5, Insightful)

mapmaker (140036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291799)

Unfortunately, most people have either one or two choices for broadband internet service - the cable company and if thy're lucky also the phone company. It's hard to vote with your wallet when there's only one candidate running for office.

Re:rigged election (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291945)

Ever heard of WiMax?
It won't take long for someone to come along and offer the disgruntled clients a better solution/deal.
Protectionism and other artificial methods never win in the long run.

Re:Vote with your money (1)

RelaxedTension (914174) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291806)

That's fine for those that have a choice, but a very large number of people have only one choice for high speed in their area, and are at the mercy of the local provider.

I can see this becoming a selling point for some isp's though, that they don't discriminate between data types/origins and provide the same throughput for all types. I certainly would be looking for that in a new isp if I went shopping for a new one.

Re:Vote with your money (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291814)

If your ISP does this, find a better ISP, cancel your subscription with the former.
When ISPs get enough of it, they'll come around

to be able to do that, you have to have a choice... a lot of people have no choice at all... they only have the one ISP that they can connect with. and that's usually tied with their cable or phone connection.

Re:Vote with your money (1)

mano_k (588614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291828)

True, but:
You will to that, I will do that, most people here at /. will do that, but will the majority of costumers?
If the ISPs give them cheap access, fast pron download, what will Otto Normalverbraucher (Joe Normal in Germany) care about some blocked ports and other (to him) fairly esoteric stuff?
And when some big enough ISPs have made the web their playground, how will it look for those with small, fair ISPs?

Re:Vote with your money (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291934)

you got that right, the day i can not download the latest ISOs of GNU/Linux via a torrent i will call them and tell them to either unblock it or cancell my subscription!!!

Re:Vote with your money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291959)

For the Nth time WE CAN'T. Where I live there are precisely 2 choices: Time Warner Cable & SBC. They behave identically, are priced nearly identically, offer the identical shitty services, and same shitty customer support. If it weren't for the commercials and news stories talking about how the two were competitors, I'd almost believe they were in cahoots. It's like this in many places in the US.

There is no alternative, trust me, I've looked everywhere.

Re:Vote with your money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291971)

No, they won't come around. They big fish all want this. If a smaller fish offers an unencumbered internet, and start to pick up steam, they will be bought out quickly, and you will find yourself a customer of the same company you left.

Re:Vote with your money (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291980)

And if the carriers downstream from your ISP discriminate? Having an ISP that doesn't discriminate on their network won't matter much if the carriers and ISP on the route to server/peer side of your connection do.

I wonder how long Europe will take to do the same (1, Insightful)

the_leander (759904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291696)

It seems that they copy everything else the US does, usually with prettier language to make the shafting we are about to recieve that much more acceptable...

Let me guess... (4, Insightful)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291701)

The ISPs are going to submit it to Congress as the "Keep the Children Safe from Porn and Stop Content Theives."

Re:Let me guess... (1)

netkid91 (915818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291766)

And the stupid judicial branch Bush appointed will say, "Yup, it doesn't go against the constitution" I call BULLSHIT, they have no right to do this. The internet is a place of our oppinions and thoughts and denying us these services violates our rights. Anyone wanna organize a protest with me???

Re:Let me guess... (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291957)


And then we'll have a music jam, and show them we aren't going to take this lying down!

And online petitions!

They can't violate our constitutional right to have the internet service we want!

Re:Let me guess... (1)

netkid91 (915818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291974)

I was talking about freedom of speech and press, but that should work too.

I suspect.. (1)

peculiarmethod (301094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291704)

that other customers, like myself, will opt to move over to ISPs who refuse to act in such an evil manner. Sure, it will make them money putting a pricing system like that in place, but if its at the cost of all your customers, then they will be likely to shift backwards. All it takes is a few ISPs who want to keep their customers happy to kill an idea like this.

They will only do it if it makes money (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291763)

If customers don't opt for the "new and improved" service, ISPs will drop it fatster than a hot potato.

./ed (1)

Raelus (859126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291709)

Can't see the article, though from the summary, I have this to say:

If the ISPs think they can just limit our usage however they want, they're sorely mistaken. People will continually bitch, piss, and moan over it. And if that doesn't do anything, they'll always have a fallback: circumvent their evil systems.

Re:./ed (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291744)

That's ok, it's a dupe. You're not missing much. If you want to see the old one again, look here [] .

Re:./ed (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291844)

Can't see the article, though from the summary, I have this to say:

Since when has reading the article been a prerequisite for posting a comment on Slashdot? You must be new here.

Re:./ed (2, Funny)

Namronorman (901664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291846)

You can't see the article because they don't want you to see the article!

doesn't happen in europe (1)

drownie (901913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291720)

seems like an american idea ... so before you are all gone could we europeans have slashdot ? haha our data traffic doesn't get blocked they are just watching it...

Re:doesn't happen in europe (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291862)

I love this.

Three weeks ago, every American pinhead was in here screaming

"Why would the rest of the world not want the US to be the sole master of the Internet, we are the bastion of freedom, and would never restrict Internet freedom, unlike those lefties in Canada and Europe"

This is exactly why. The US WAS the bastion of freedom. You have become nothing more than a new facist state. Your policies, and beliefs are way out of line with the rest of the world, and no one looks to the US system as a model of anything, except rampant corruption.

Is it time to edit some old quote?

Information wants to be free, except in America, where it wants to be $52.75 a month.

Re:doesn't happen in europe (1)

drownie (901913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291960)

rtfc ... I hate it when all the irony gets lost in 2 minutes.

Well... (4, Funny)

aug24 (38229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291721)

...something's blocking access to the story. (Millions of other slashdotters most likely.)


Re:Well... (0, Troll)

tgd (2822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291749)

Its all the people clicking to it who read it on Digg a couple hours ago.

Just like the /. story just before this one.

Re:Well... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291981)

To all the people who need to feed their self esteem by going into a forum and saying " had this story three days ago", you are a sad, sad lot. If is so very great, why are you here? And what is the view like from under your bridge anyway?

I hope not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291723)

Seems like network neutrality is simply going a different direction in favor of greedy money grubbers. Although I remember suggesting this idea to a comcast executive a while back of increasing the speed of transfer inside the comcast network.

let's just disconnect them (2, Interesting)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291728)

if they're not going to follow protocol, why let them on the net?

Re:let's just disconnect them (1)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291785)

Who is this "we" you speak of? Or rather, what can you, "Lord Bitman" specifically do to prevent such an action? Nothing. You can, of course, play an activist on slashdot and pretend you are taking a stand by writing a two-line essay that is ill-conceived. Good for you.

/.ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291729)

So, with filtering of unwanted content, will this fabled second tier be more able to withstand a landslide of slashdotter HTTP requests?

Two Tier Highways (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291738)

This idea of having two tiers for the information superhighway makes about as much sense as having two tiers of regular highways. Could you imagine what would happen if we had two "tiers" of highways, one for everyone to use, and another where you had to pay money in exchange for limited access and faster travel? I mean, come on. This whole argument that faster, more efficient systems will get built years earlier than if they were funded solely through tax dollars is just a load of BS. Everyone knows that "highways want to be free".

Re:Two Tier Highways (3, Informative)

velkro (11) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291917)

Actually, we have that in place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Highway 407 charges per km for usage, and takes you the same place the 'free' highways take you. They just sell it as 'faster' (even though the speedlimit is the same) as it's suppose to be less congested.

The government built it, and then sold it to a private company to run. They make millions off it.

Re:Two Tier Highways (1)

DHR (68430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291987)

Same thing in Melbourne, Australia. Citylink costs money, but gets you there quite a bit faster.

Come on guys (1)

Viper Daimao (911947) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291758)

At least change the title [] when posting something from digg. We gotta keep up our Digg vs. Dot [] score.

Re:Come on guys (0, Offtopic)

Displaced Cajun (20400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291798)

That is how it works, if you wanna get a story submission.

1. Read
2. Submit story to slashdot
3. ???
4. Profit?

When will the Billy G wins Time's Man of the Year story hit slashdot?

Re:Come on guys (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291880)

Actually this topic was on Slashdot just last week before Digg had it.

Circumventing ISP filtering (5, Interesting)

CCMCornell (930509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291762)

How do the ISP's block or attenuate traffic speeds for certain services? Do they actually look at the contents of packets or is it simply by port? If by port, can't many applications like p2p's be set to use non-standard ports? For a few years now on Time Warner Cable/Road Runner, I've noticed that sometimes default settings for P2P's yield very slow results and sometimes no connection to the tracker/server and connections to very few peers. I've simply changed those port settings. I guess some applications can't be changed either because of lack of customization in the program or a required standard port.

Ouch! (0)

cortana (588495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291769)

I guess Micheal Geist didn't pay his protection fees to Comcast/SBC?

Yay!! (5, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291770)

Yay! They're trying to gain more of our business by limiting what we can do no the intenet and making things suck.

As a "consumer" that exactly what I look for. I wouldn't want the greedy telcos to have to actually price stuff based on a competitive market.

I look forward to a few years from now when Japan and other countries in Asia will have cheap, and abundant bandwith (at least 100Mb/s, probably wireless to boot) and I'll still have a 1.5Mb/s DSL line and be paying MORE for it. Yeah, that'll be great.

If the telco's succeed in this we (US internet users) will be relegated to a second class status on the net.

And that doesn't even take into account the chokehold they'll have on innovation in the IT sector. Then we'll get passed there too.

Don't get me wrong its not a US and them internet, the net is a global endeavor. It just that in the future being from the US I'd like to participate in it and not get blown past because increasing our bandwidth has take a back seat to Telco profits.

Re:Yay!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291925)

It will never happen.

As soon as the bw is increased to 100MBps then you will download more p2p. Because you're all a bunch of content sucking whores with little or nothing to donate except the content you're whoring.

The internet needs QOS to protect it from bw clogging content whores as yourself. If the internet was a public vegetable garden, (bandwidth not content) most of that garden's area would be consumed by the same vegetable.

Sharing also means sharing bandwidth.

Re:Yay!! (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291930)

I agree completely. While I was reading your post I had a thought: What if the "extra" services the ISPs wanted to offer were, let's say, the "Nanny" plan. That would be marketed to people who don't want ANY way, what so ever, to access porn, or any other "objectionable" material, for whatever their reasons are. And let's also add that these folks do not want to be bothered with installing software on their machines, or do anything else to their systems on their own. They just want to sign up for the "Nanny" plan, pay extra, and be done with it. If it's an "opt-in" censoring, I can't really be against it. Then again, it'll never work that way, will it?

Re:Yay!! (4, Funny)

JWW (79176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291931)

Could worse grammar and speling I had in that last sentance?

Sorry about that. Grammar Nazis need not reply, I know that was horrible.

Re:Yay!! (1)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291977)

Part of the problem with the competitive market is that a lot of the populace is going just go ahead and follow whatever lead they're given until the impact on them is dramatic enough and happens quick enough to be useless (think SWG Combat Upgrade).

Right now, I pay about $35/mo for my 3.5m / 768k Verizon DSL link. It's fast, speedy, and largely unrestricted. If something like this two-tier model goes through on VZ, then there's nothing stopping Charter (the cable company around here) from doing the same...or anyone else who owns the pipe.

To get the same download speed from a non-bullshit provider like Speakeasy is going to require at least the installation of a single T1...for half the speed and an order of magnitude in expense most people are not likely to line up and pay every month.

It has already started: (4, Funny)

acoustix (123925) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291776)

"Firefox can't establish a connection to the server at"

See, they're blocking me already!!!!


sad truth (3, Insightful)

podRZA (907929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291779)

The sad truth about something like this is that is will go larely unnoticed by the tech-saavy-less public. It will be advertised as a "more reliable, more secure, more parental-control friendly" internet connection, and will succeed. Most people only want the internet for email and web surfing and so if that is still possible, people will go for it.

Re:sad truth (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291939)

Ah, but when people can't get their pr0n... All of a sudden Joe Sixpack is going to care about a free internet.

Then we need to create the 3rd tier (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291782)

Tunnel exactly everything through HTTP. What will the ISP's then regulate, control or block?

E-gads it's really simple. As long as they provide a medium we can use it. Blockade, veto and blacklist their tactics by subterfuge, really.

I think it's fantastic in a way (5, Interesting)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291811)

Just in a way. I'm all for freedom of speech.

I think this plan will backfire on ISP's. They presently do not filter content, so they are held excempt from liability of the content. Plenty of court cases have backed that.

However if they are filtering content, controlling what an end user can and cannot access, then won't the courts hold them accountable for this behaviour?

This will be a splippery slope, one where a few ISPs will get burned from it.

Two Tiers? (2, Interesting)

tronicum (617382) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291819)

It is so stupid to even think about having laws that have two (2) tiers. The internet IS already split to all the big transfer ISPs (level3, mci/uunet, cogent, etc) and giving them some room to legally limit transfer will leed to crazy rules within their routers (if they can overall do it with their current routers).

Of course access to your mailbox is faster if its your ISP. But if MSN starts slowing down Gmail, Google limits it Wireless (and more to come) *SP routes to Hotmail customers will ask, "do you limit my bandwith".

Customers rule to a creatin level and hey.....
We speak about America.

They researched the internet but it is not a reason to think some stupid bill will change the world. Just go to an canadian ISP (or server farm) than. Or Mexico. There are countrys with no cable internet at all.

Give in. We're screwed. (5, Insightful)

kid-noodle (669957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291829)

Not to be cynical - but we're essentially screwed here.

Nobody else will give a damn. AOL are the most popular ISP in the world, and we all know they suck - doesn't matter. Vote with your wallet, fine. Nobody else will. They'll believe the hype - the megacorps will win, they will be convinced that this means they get a safer, faster internet. They'll be pleased.

Even then, it won't matter - your escape options will vanish, because every major ISP will do exactly the same thing.

We're losing the internet to the Bad Guys, the battle is half over already, and on balance, they're winning it. I have no idea what the solution is - we're under attack from the politicians on both national and international levels, the corporations on a global scale... I don't see us winning this fight. Best we can hope for is a draw.

Two tier internet (3, Funny)

thewiz (24994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291831)

Sounds to me like they want our virtual lives to reflect our real lives: rich vs. poor.
And who said we have a classless system?

Re:Two tier internet (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291896)

And who said we have a classless system?

Uh, in a free market economy, no one. Isn't a classless society is generally the goal of a socialist system? It doesn't work there, either, BTW.

HEY WHATS THE PROBLEM!!!???!?! (0, Troll)

bazmail (764941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291860)

Who cares!!!!! when we got freedom and democracy.
So much in fact we are exporting it.

Good ol days (2, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291863)

So in 20 years are we going to be looking back on the good ol days when all the information was free and on one Internet?

Just like any other great thing that comes along in history, bureaucracy is getting its hands on it and making it a mess.

So ISP:s found out about the article. (1)

JollyFinn (267972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291877)

Whats next? slashdot?

Define the "Internet" and then sue (4, Insightful)

rcpitt (711863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291882)

If someone sells me access to "the Internet" and blocks ports defined in RFCs then it isn't "the Internet" it is something else.

Back when AOL and Compuserve were BBSs (networks unto themselves with minimal/no connection to other services) their customers demanded access to Internet E-mail and got it; eventually bundled in as opposed to for extra charge.

The ISPs will have to realize that there are ways to circumvent their blockages and all it takes is one person to come up with it and the whole world knows.

How about "port knocking" as a data transport? I hesitate to list some of the other methods our group of gurus has discussed over the past few years, but you can be assured that there are lots, and the black hats have been using them for some time now.

How about someone providing a service that tunnels other traffic via an unblocked port? Unencrypted there would be not much extra overhead - encrypted it would be proof against almost any blocking since the tunnel service provider can use any port they want and the ISP can't block them all or what's the use of calling it a network. Port 80 sounds like a good choice.

And if the ISP blocks the service's address block, how about something that does a shared-bandwidth service such as bittorrent does now?

Pretty soon the ISPs will get it through their thick skulls that blocking ports isn't the way - providing lower latency for similar service (to that provided by someone farther away by net) or making partnerships (franchises, etc.) with the data/service/application providers is really the only way to differentiate.

Using the routers is easy - but it will not prevail.

Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291899)

The Search for Net Neutrality
Appeared in the Toronto Star on December 19, 2005 as Dangers in ISPs' Bid For New Tolls

The Search, a popular new book by John Battelle about Google and the search engine industry, provides a revealing look at how in its early years Google's founders were unsure of how to channel their enviable position as intermediaries between Internet users and the search for Internet content into a viable business model. The answer ultimately emerged as advertisers' willingness to pay for visibility in search results became the basis for the multi-billion dollar paid search market.

Analysis of the Internet service provider business suggests that it has engaged in a similar decade-long search. Although providing Internet connectivity is certainly a profitable enterprise, ISPs have understandably sought to identify how they can leverage their role as intermediaries to generate additional revenues.

In the 1990s, many ISPs focused on providing both connectivity and content. Large ISPs such as America Online developed a wide range of exclusive content, though they ultimately failed to match the breadth of what developed freely online.

Meanwhile, companies such as BCE pursued convergence strategies, buying up television networks (CTV) and publishers (the Globe and Mail) with the view of combining connectivity and content. More recently, the industry has relied on bundling, de-emphasizing the content and connectivity combination for the opportunity to cross-sell Internet services with cable or satellite television as well as with conventional phone and wireless services.

While some consumers resent the bundling approach, there is the far more troubling strategy unfolding that involves the creation of a two-tiered Internet. This strategy, threatens to upend the longstanding principle of network neutrality under which ISPs treat all data equally, would enable ISPs to prioritize their own network traffic over that of their competitors.

The network neutrality principle has served ISPs, Internet companies, and Internet users well. It has enabled ISPs to plausibly argue that they function much like common carriers and that they should therefore be exempt from liability for the content that passes through their systems.

Websites, e-commerce companies, and other innovators have also relied on network neutrality, secure in the knowledge that the network treats all companies, whether big or small, equally. That approach enables those with the best products and services, not the deepest pockets, to emerge as the market winners.

Internet users have similarly benefited from the network neutrality principle. They enjoy access to greater choice in goods, services, and content regardless of which ISP they use. While ISPs may compete based on price, service, or speed, they have not significantly differentiated their services based on availability of Internet content or applications, which remains the same for all.

In short, network neutrality has enabled ISPs to invest heavily in new infrastructure, fostered greater competition and innovation, and provided all Canadians with equal access to a dizzying array of content.

Notwithstanding its benefits, in recent months ISPs have begun to chip away at the principle.

Internet telephony (often referred to as Voice-over-IP or VoIP) provides a classic illustration of this trend. As each major ISP races to offer their own Internet telephony services, some have begun to use their network position to unfairly disadvantage the competition.

For example, Canadian cable provider Shaw now offers a premium VoIP service that promises to prioritize Internet telephony traffic for a monthly fee. The potential implications of such a service are obvious - the use of competing services will require a supplemental fee, while Shaw will be free to waive the charge for its own service.

Other ISPs have gone even further. Quebec-based Videotron has expressed great hostility toward third party Internet telephony providers such as Skype, labeling them "parasitic" and foreshadowing the potential for future action. In the U.S., at least one ISP briefly blocked competing Internet telephony traffic until the Federal Communications Commission ordered it to cease the practice.

While ISPs once avoided content intervention, earlier this summer, Telus blocked access to Voices For Change, a pro-union website. The company has since indicated that it was a one-time event, though in the process it also blocked more than 600 additional websites hosted at the same IP address and cut off entire communities from the controversial content.

Most recently, customers of Rogers, Canada's largest cable ISP, have speculated that the company has begun to block access to peer-to-peer services such as BitTorrent as well as the downloading of podcasts from services such as iTunes.

While Rogers initially denied the charges, it now acknowledges that it uses "traffic shaping" to prioritize certain online activity. As a result, applications that Rogers deems to be a lower priority may cease to function effectively.

Moreover, blocking services, websites, and certain applications may not be the end game. Some ISPs see the potential for greater revenue by charging websites or services for priority access to their customers.

In the U.S., BellSouth Chief Technology Officer executive William L. Smith, recently mused about the potential to charge a premium to websites for prioritization downloading, noting that Yahoo could pay to load faster than Google. In fact, reports last week indicated that BellSouth and AT&T are now lobbying the U.S. Congress for the right to create a two-tiered Internet, where their own Internet services would be transmitted faster and more efficiently than those of their competitors.

These developments should send alarm bells to Internet companies, users, and regulators. While prioritizing websites or applications may hold some economic promise, the lack of broadband competition and insufficient transparency surrounding these actions will rightly lead to growing calls for regulatory reform that grants legal protection for the principle of network neutrality.

Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at or online at

Dec. 18/05

American consumers need to stop this (1)

komodotoes (939836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291915)

Although I live in Canada, where broadband coverage is pretty high and I get a 7mb/s connection for about CAD$56 per month, I would be suprememly P.O'd if my ISP suddenly decided that they liked but not, and I got crippled connectivity to a second class site. I would think that even here in the land of complacency consumers would be outraged with this stupidity to the point of saying something out loud or possibly writing a letter. I hope that American consumers stand up for themselves and squash this trend ASAP, because if the U.S.A. approves it, every country in the world is going to follow suit. Besides,you would think that the ISP's would be more concerned with increasing broadband penetration, rather than devising new ways to cripple customers' connections.

hmmm... why lobby congress? (2, Interesting)

cballowe (318307) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291918)

It's a free market right? If providers start limiting things, consumers will be heard as they scramble for a provider that has the features that they want. If anything, the lobbying should be from the consumers in the form of a desire to have full disclosure of what services are being limited by the provider. It's hard to do a feature comparison between vendors if they're not up front about their practices and are allowed to change them on the fly.

If I sign up for a service because it advertises that it allows anything I want to do, and the next day I find them blocking or choking services that I use, I'm going to be pissed -- and not want to be tied to a service contract.

That's really the only danger I see.

Internet over Power Lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14291933)

This is why i can't wait for internet over power lines because, if it works, it'll be faster, and probably unencombered cuz the utilities are less regulated than the telcos, and will be so new to the game they'll be more concerned with making their network function than in filtering it

Get your T1 lines here! (1, Offtopic)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291938)

It is interesting to note that this is the top ad that appears on the comments page:

T1 Lines as Low as $240 for 1st 3 Months
Get a Covad T1 line for as low as $240 per month for the first 3 months.
Free installation. Keep your business a step ahead.
Check availability now. (for it may be regulated later)

Its time to return the favour (2, Interesting)

Brittix1023 (933994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291942)

I think that it is time to start returning the favour to the ISPs that engage in these unsavoury practices.
I would propose making normally free web services (services similar to Slashdot, Reddit, Digg, etc) unavailable to customers who connect to the Internet through these ISPs (SBC / Comcast, etc), or available only as a payed-for subscription service.
This may cause customers who value these services to switch to more reasonable internet providers, thus ensuring a steady supply of business for them.
Given the size of the organisations who intend to balkanise the Internet, fighting them head on would be difficult. Perhaps the best way to handle in this situation is to ensure that our side has a say in how this is done.

- Brittix

Suggestion (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291950)

Although it seems difficult for the slashdot editors to know the content of their site by reading it, reading their email, or searching it, if there were a way for us paying subscribers to make suggestions, at least I would appreciate it. Maybe others as well.

This is a borderline dupe [] or trupe [] , or maybe a logical continuation of a topic.

Other media that I have read, watched, or listened to call these things a "series", and they preface the stories as such. Is it our job to make almost 100% of the content, suggest the stories, and correct them too with our comments?

Content Systems coming back (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291968)

I knew this was going to going happen eventually. The internet will be split into three tiers eventually:

* Standard/Free Class: Which is what most people, only with P2P port blocked. Think CB/Ham Radio in features
* Premium Class: Everything will be wide open. Almost every service under the sun will be open to you, including VOIP and special content wrapped into a nice GUI ala AOL. Think G3 Cell Phone in features
* Business Class: Premium Class with larger pipes and you don't have to use a GUI system, but the GUI system will be strongly encouraged. Think Satellite phones in features

A lot of people will move to the Premium Class because of the speed while a hard core group will make lean protocols that will run well on the 'Standard Class' pipes. This in the long run this will be a good thing because it will force someone to come up with a new 'killer app' which will either use the basic internet much better or create a whole new system outside the current internet.

Personally I see either a mesh network or a new cell phone base network as the next big thing in data communications. Completely bypass the current land line networks that we have now.

++"service-ware" (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291975)

Does anyone else wonder why the timing of this is coinciding the with .NET initiatives and other "subscription-based" solutions?? Once non-techs get "convinced" that "wow, isn't it great to have MS Office running on a server somewhere", the ISPs will effectively control the distribution method of this type of software, and will be able to "extort" (for lack of a better term) end-users with preferential packet-priorities and the such.

These multinationals are constantly looking for ways to suck more dollars from us, and in most cases our "best-government-money-can-buy" leaders just follow along.
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