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Virgin Media CEO Says Net Neutrality Is Already Gone

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the it's-not-your-internet-sonny dept.

The Internet 378

Virgin Media CEO Says Net Neutrality is "A Load of Bollocks". Anyone here been shaken down by their Internet Service Provider? "The new CEO of Virgin Media is putting his cards on the table early, branding net neutrality 'a load of bollocks' and claiming he's already doing deals to deliver some people's content faster than others... If you aren't prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he'll put you in the Internet 'bus lane.'"

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That sound you hear... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23056862)

...is every one of his Slashdot-using customers running to cancel their accounts and find 'net access elsewhere - even if the data gets sent down a wet piece of string.

Re:That sound you hear... (2, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056938)

Unfortunately, his Slashdot-using customers probably wouldn't make a dent if every one of them dropped him. Furthermore, many of them won't, because the ISP will be the only one available in some areas.

Maybe his bombastic words will provide good ammo to use against others like him, at least.

Re:That sound you hear... (4, Interesting)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057020)

Just FYI - whilst Virgin have the cable market in the UK sewn up, we're lucky enough to not have a situation whereby ISPs are limited to any particular area.

Of course - the only other alternative for digital TV would be freeview (limited channels) or Rupert Murdoch's Sky.

However, if enough people got wind of this, it would be possible to give Virgin a bit of a kicking financially.

Re:That sound you hear... (5, Insightful)

gigne (990887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057054)

In the UK Virgin Media represent the largest cable company, meaning that most people have the option of a BT line and ADSL.

I personally use Virgin cable, and although it is throttled its still 2x faster than any ADSL provider. I really don't like the idea of people messing with my packets, but when the only other option is DSL providers, who don't tell you that they mess with your packets, cable still makes sense. At least they are up front about it.

Re:That sound you hear... (2, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057308)

How fast is it?

I have 24Mbps service from bethere.co.uk

Sure, it suffers from real speeds bein anywhere from 13 to 20, but that's still a good chunk.

Re:That sound you hear... (3, Informative)

gigne (990887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057362)

I am currently on the 50Mbps trial, but most places get 20Mbps. The contention is fairly high so it seems to max out at about 14-6mbps at the quietest times.

You will regret that. (4, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057552)

It's only faster until they decide to shake down your favorite site or service. Then you might as well have dial up.

Their brazen admission of these practices is not better than alleged shameful practices. Both are wrong and both lead to the same place if the other companies are determined to rip everyone off. The practice can't be hidden for long, so what you have is a choice between ignorant leadership that may be evil or plain evil. Both suck.

Re:You will regret that. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057568)

Love that sig. Nothing says "please ignore me" like that lame dollar sign.

Re:You will regret that. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057612)

Nothing says "please ignore me" like that lame dollar sign.
And nothing says "I'm a Windows using wiener" like criticizing the lame dollar sign.

Re:That sound you hear... (2, Insightful)

Lobster Quadrille (965591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057268)

I don't like what he's saying, but at least he's straightforward about it.

That is a breath of fresh air.

Re:That sound you hear... (5, Insightful)

Le Jimmeh (1086671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057542)

So it's all right what he's doing, as long as he's honest about it?

Honestly, it annoys me that someone can do something as bad as this and be honest about it yet receive no repercussions. I don't know whether this says more about Western civilisation in general or British ignorance towards the internet. Internet neutrality seems like a much bigger deal over than than here.

Re:That sound you hear... (4, Interesting)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057610)

Well, it makes it considerably better. It seems far more nefarious to be perpetrating these acts against paying customers in secrecy, than doing it in the open. You know exactly what you're paying for, when it comes to this guy...

So it's all right what he's doing, as long as he's honest about it?

Re:That sound you hear... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057358)

the ISP will be the only one available in some areas.
What happened to the American spirit?

Was a time when the idea of a single provider of anything in a given area was considered an opportunity.

Re:That sound you hear... (3, Insightful)

Le Jimmeh (1086671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057520)

Well, considering it's a British Company the "American spirit" was never really there. Regardless, it's not that we're treating the lone provider as an "opportunity", but rather we have no choice. What do you expect us to do, make our own cable company?

Re:That sound you hear... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057582)

Duh, yes.

You say this like it is impossible. How do you think the cable companies got started? One cable at a time.

Never mind that there are other technologies available now.

Re:That sound you hear... (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057378)

This is actually a really good thing. Now every case that needs an example of the need for net neutrality can just point to this. It's like a precident present! All the BS about how it's not needed goes completely out the window since you can just point to this. So I for one say thanks and hope he tips the boat over for all the other ISPs out there that have lobbied and bribed their way out of this for so long. Now all those arguments that sounded like responses to chicken little are gonna get crushed by the tiered service "sky" falling.

Re:That sound you hear... (3, Informative)

jbb999 (758019) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057004)

So go find an honest ISP like this one [aaisp.net] . Yes they have some limits on how much data you can use in a month but they don't secretly block or throttle stuff are completely up front and honest about it and don't pretend you can get unlimited usage when it's a complete lie like most ISPs.

Re:That sound you hear... (3, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057168)

Unless I'm reading something very wrongly, holy crap they're expensive! I know you have to pay for good service, but those per GB charges are insane. You'll certainly pay more for a 'real' connection than you would if you went with TalkTalk or Sky, but you don't have to take it to the extremes of what these people are charging.

Re:That sound you hear... (1)

levell (538346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057208)

Those per GB charges are during office hours, I'm at work during them so it's not a problem for me. A&A have given me absolutely excellent customer service, I can't recommend them highly enough (if your net usage pattern is like mine).

My previous ISP (Tiscali) on the other hand were absolutely abysmal, if Virgin are pulling stunts like this, it wouldn't surprise me a number of other dubious ISPs are too.

Re:That sound you hear... (2, Funny)

FoolsGold (1139759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057406)

Don't be hating the wet string, it probably will have more bandwidth than what Virgin Media provides.

Re:That sound you hear... (3, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057454)

Already have done - After Virgin Media decided to unlaterally drop Sky One and Sky News from their channel selections, 44,000 subscribers switched to Sky. Others like myself decided to cancel their premium rate channel subscription, and pay only for broadband service. The first sign of trouble was when Virgin decided that they wouldn't "bamboozle their customers with technical details", but instead to refer to all service options using S, M, L, and XL.

Digital Spy forums [digitalspy.co.uk] have in-depth discussions about Virgins financial status. In particular "Virgin Media TV channels have posted a loss for the past two quarters." [digitalspy.co.uk]

Not surprisingly, Virgin are in the process of increasing their service fees (a +1 pound/month surcharge for paper bills), and an increase for daytime telephone calls, (from 3.25 pence/minute to 4.00 pence/minute) for anyone doesn't have an XL service.

Trying to extract some revenue from their content producers seems to be the next moneymaking scheme.

Re:That sound you hear... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057486)

Here in the uk you have a choice, DSL or Virgin Media. DSL has and always will be an extremely variable pile of crap over here thanks to BT's wise decision to use something cheaper than copper for alot their phones lines. What choice do we have? When you bring price into the matter you've got Virign Media which on average charge you less than £20 for both phone and internet (and the tv which they basically shove in your face for free even if you don't want it) or you've got any other service which insists you have a bt line (generally £15 as a minimum) on top of the price of their internet connection. Contrary to other views in this post, Virgin Media is held back by where they are available because of the fact that they own and lay their own network, whereas BT were here first and are everywhere. They admit they do these things, (they claim) they haven't done any secret testing with such things as phorm but they are up front about the fact that they are interested in it. This is not to say I like Virgin Media but sometimes you have to choose the lesser of evils.

Its the wrong term of reference (5, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056866)

The point is not whether companies can get higher bandwidth by paying more. What has people angry is the idea that their cable provider might deny them the full bandwidth that they paid for when they connect to certain content providers or use VOIP.

Re:Its the wrong term of reference (5, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056982)

I don't know about other people, but it angers me greatly that an ISP that has already been paid by me for the bandwidth I use, gets to turn around and extort money from the providers that I access. Overselling bandwidth and net neutrality are two separate issues. I can deal with the overselling of bandwidth for longer, because overall it doesn't limit the amount of content available to me, it just makes me wait a little longer. Allowing ISP's to charge providers for a transaction that has essentially already been paid for is dangerous and downright wrong. It's not unthinkable that this could lead to payment disputes between companies where some major providers are only available on certain networks, in fact it's probable that this is the end result.

Make no mistake, what this guy is talking about makes me very angry.

Re:Its the wrong term of reference (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057354)

I don't have a problem with what the Virgin guy says because in the UK there is a competitive market and as you point out you do have a choice. In most of the world, 'network neutrality' is not an issue at all. There will be budget ISPs that try to work a business model where the content providers subsidize the cost of distribution. Again, nothing wrong with that, if I am distributing a movie to a customer who only pays for a 1mb/s connection, seems fair enough for me to be able to pay a dollar to temporarily boost the connection speed to 10mb/s and make a sale I otherwise could not have (passing the cost on to my customer).

The problem is in the US market where there is no competition in the local loop and the cable companies have a long history of behaving badly - as the shareholders of Adelphia know only too well. The consumer does not have effective choice and the Bush administration has consistently backed the interests of corporations above all. Cable companies do not rank quite as highly as oil companies but they come close. Attempts to introduce local competition that were introduced under the Clinton administration were terminated.

I think that the real risk in the US is actually that the cable companies and telcos will overplay their hand and there will be a backlash of sharp and savage proportions that will end up being a long term liability. The US legislative system suffers from an overhigh gain. Then the result will be used to 'prove' how regulation is always undesirable and so on.

Part of the problem here is measurement. We don't have good statistics to tell us whether the ISPs are in fact delivering the service they promise. Is Verizon DSL any better than Comcast here in Medford? Which is consistently faster, which has higher outages? I really don't know because nobody has two connections to try against each other.

Is it a problem though? (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057440)

The problem is in the US market where there is no competition in the local loop and the cable companies have a long history of behaving badly - as the shareholders of Adelphia know only too well. The consumer does not have effective choice and the Bush administration has consistently backed the interests of corporations above all.

Is it really a problem though? Let's face it, there's a lot to be said for net priorities over net neutrality that makes it a lot more consumer friendly. A modest move towards charging content providers for customer access would have the effect of getting rid of a lot of marginal or crappy content that clogs even google these days.

I mean, I honestly, at this point, would be very happy if my ISP filtered out link farm sites, or, better still, if they just went out of business because the ad revenue was no longer sufficient to make them profitable.

Similarly, I might like it if ISP, in doing so, also had better bandwidth and pipes to specific service providers. I really like watching back episodes of shows on NBC's web site. Now, if my ISP cut some sort of deal with NBC to throw off a bunch of pirated stuff from other sites, like PirateBay, and that in turn brought me the original episodes of the A-Team at original film resolution, then, hey, that could be a winner.

The bottom line is, net neutrality is a feature, and while, it sounds good in principal, it also stands to reason that having a non-neutral internet makes possible offerings that might be more attractive to people than a merely neutral internet. Sorry if that bothers people's anti-corporate sensibilities, but a lot of people do actually eat Big Macs, because they like them, and a lot of people are going to like a net that isn't neutral.

This coming from Virgin...! (2, Interesting)

openfrog (897716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057416)

This coming from Virgin, a brand whose business model and valuation depends entirely on its coolness factor... I am speechless...

Napoleon used to say: "I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets."

I hesitate between thanking this guy to state openly what the other ISP's have worked hard to disguise and warning him to watch the speed at which his brand will disintegrate...

Because, indeed, as the parent implies, Virgin's scheme means the end of the Internet as we know it, and we are really, really, not going to be happy about it...

This is Hilarious (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056868)

Literally, I was JUST about to switch my broadband over to virgin, becuase I'd heard they were quite good and reasonable. Net neutrality is already dead? So either they're lying or they've been lying to their customers for a while now. Sticking with BT now atleast, they may not be any better, but they haven't shown they hate their own customers yet, and their service is quite good.

Re:This is Hilarious (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23056962)

Have you missed the whole Phorm issue, where BT have essentially admitted to illegally intercepting thousands of customers' data and giving it to an ex-spyware company?

Which they now plan to roll out across the board, with an opt-out clause that essentially says "we'll be collecting all the data anyway, but promise not to give it to anybody".

Re:This is Hilarious (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057494)

No doubt, there will be some proxy web sites which allow users to connect to a search engine using a shttp proxy server. And there is always the option of having a random search engine keyword submitter which runs in the background.

Re:This is Hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23056976)

Try an Entanet reseller. Everyone on my ISP's forums seems to be recommending them after the ISP was bought by Pipex, and then Tiscali last year, and run into the ground.

Re:This is Hilarious (4, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057056)

I'm pleased overall with my Entanet DSL. All the resellers seem to offer the same price packages, so I use UKFSN [ukfsn.org] (no association with them other than as a customer) who use all of their profits to fund UK free software projects. The business packages are reasonably priced and seem to be the closest thing you can get to a direct, neutral, non 'managed' connection these days. They also offer genuine unlimited packages, although the prices might be a bit of a shock to people used to the so-called unlimited offerings from other ISPs.

The one thing that I would fault them on is their data transfer allowance system. Basically the penalty fees for going a few GB over the limit will add about 50% to that month's bill.

Re:This is Hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057424)

Basically the penalty fees for going a few GB over the limit will add about 50% to that month's bill.
Do they send out an email if it looks like you will be going over the limit?

Do they rate limit you after the limit to reduce your fees?

Their ADSL max limits seem really quite fair to me, for an overnight downloader or non-intense user. However iPlayer, etc, will change that, as people will watch that, streamed, in peak hours.

Re:This is Hilarious (3, Informative)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057036)

Mr Rose, check out www.bethere.co.uk they hump everyone else on price(bang for buck) at 22 per month for up to 25mb down and 2.5mb up! they also do not have limits on downloads. swapped to them last november and am loving it HUGE they also have 24 hour tech and customer support. they truly kick ass. hope your exchange has their equipment bud. luckily i stay close to my exchange so and pretty near full tilt!

Re:This is Hilarious (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057238)

Virgin media service quality is basically a postcode lottery. Because of their 60:1 contention ratio you will only get decent bandwidth if you happen to share your connection with a lot of light users. My guess is that the reason he's saying this is because his company is completely incapable of delivering the 24mb connections that they advertise. They hugely oversell their capacity and now they're trying to make excuses for not being able to provide it.

I currently live in the area around Bradford university and found their 24mb service to run at about 256k most of the time. The highest I ever saw it reach was about 5mb, at around 7am. Apparently all the tech students in the area are heavy bandwidth users and never sleep. Granted this is probably a worst case scenario.

I refused to sign the contract they sent me, and fortunately they wont charge you if you cancel within 30 days, so I guess I had a lucky escape.

Re:This is Hilarious (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057484)

Virgin DSL is worthless, it's terrible, and anyone who does more than zero investigation into their potential DSL provider will find this out.

Virgin Cable on the other hand seems quite happy to give you 1MBps at peak hours, although presumably this isn't true in all areas of the country.

I don't want my iPlayer viewing (on my Wii, it's not great quality but it's good enough, watched yesterday's Dr Who earlier tonight) crappified because the BBC rightfully say that it's the ISPs lying to their customers about capacity that is the problem. On the other hand, I understand that capacity is oversold otherwise it would be £250 per month. I can understand rate limiting users who just bittorrent during peak times so that other people don't have nothing, that is only fair. I also know that networks can have DiffServ or a modern variant thereof, to provide quality tiers. These should be paid for by the user.

Re:This is Hilarious (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057526)

Virgin DSL is worthless, it's terrible, and anyone who does more than zero investigation into their potential DSL provider will find this out.
It has just struck me that this comment has an altogether different meaning, yet is still true.

Unfortunately... (2, Insightful)

woot account (886113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056872)

it's not a battle we're going to win. This is the United States, where the corporations control the government, entertainment controls the people, and the people control nothing.

Hell, ask the average Joe Sixpack if they'd like to have their American Idol episodes download faster at the expense of a bunch of pasty faced nerds not being able to access Slashdot at the same speed, I'm sure they'll be quite happy about it.

Re:Unfortunately... (5, Informative)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056932)

Actually, old bean, this is the United Kingdom we're talking about in this article :-)

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057628)

Give him some slack, many people believe that Britain is the fifty first state...

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Kavorkian_scarf (1272422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056948)

As far as i know the average Joe in the US doesn't have a six pack. What i would like to know is what exactly is being offered if you agree to pay more. Right now i pay an additional 10$ for increased bandwidth and i say it was well worth the money.

Re:Unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057024)

It's a sixpack of beer, not muscles. Unless you're implying that average Joe can't afford beer anymore?

Re:Unfortunately... (2, Informative)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057030)

I believe "Joe Sixpack" commonly refers to the common practice of selling beer in packs of six.

To answer your question, this guy is talking about charging content providers for faster throughput. Which implicitly is saying that they're going to slow down service for the majority of sites that don't pay the toll.

So while I am sure your $10 is appreciated, it's not going to help with this kind of tiered pricing.

You are right - we can't win. (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057444)

The fact of the matter is, most people have absolutely no idea what route their data takes to get from its origination point to them, and vice-versa.

All they know is that "Gee, the internet seems slow today." They might even call and complain to their ISP, but it might not even be their ISP causing the throttling delay. So in the end it's going to become a big finger-pointing game, and the customer at the end of the day will still have no idea where the bottleneck is or who is responsible.

All the wire owners know this. So they are going to accept bribes for preferred data rates and keep mum about who is getting put into the "bus lane".

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057480)

Yup, companies produce what the consumers want to buy, not specifically what you want. Shocking, isn't it?

What's wrong with that... (1, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057606)

and the people control nothing.... Hell, ask the average Joe Sixpack if they'd like to have their ....expense of a bunch of pasty faced nerds not being able to access Slashdot at the same speed, I'm sure they'll be quite happy about it

What you are really saying is that the you do not have control over the vast majority of people want. In America, corporations cater to what people want, or they die and die quickly. Consumers are fickle and they want what they want. So, if Americans want an internet, which exists so that people can watch back episodes of American Idol and follow all of the winners, that is the internet that ISPs are going to bend over backwards to get. What you are asking for, in net neutrality, is for ISPs to ignore mountains of market research, essentially polling as to what people want, in favor of an internet that does what you want it to do, and you want the government to impose that. That's not net neutrality, that is net tyranny. Just because they tyranny works for you, doesn't make it not a tyranny.

nice (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23056878)

Sir Dickhead Branson

Meanwhile... (4, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056882)

An anguished, collective shout of horror and surprise emanates from Virgin Media's PR department: "Nooooooooooo!!!"

Bus Lane? (5, Funny)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056892)

"If you aren't prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he'll put you in the Internet 'bus lane'."

Let me see if I've got this right - if I don't pay him money, he'll put me in the subsidized lane that contains no other traffic?

Errm, OK. Much obliged!

Re:Bus Lane? (1)

Pandare (975485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057380)

No no, it's a clever reference to Monty Python [158.130.17.5] I mean, he's got to know something about rackets, or else he wouldn't be heading a company.

Re:Bus Lane? (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057626)

You're already at +5 funny, otherwise would've modded you up. Funniest comment I've read for a long while, thank you.

Bus lane analogy (3, Funny)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056894)

If you aren't prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he'll put you in the Internet 'bus lane'.

Isn't the whole point of bus lanes to keep the buses moving in rush hour traffic? Not the best analogy for a Virgin wannabe-mobster to be using to coerce content providers to cough up.

Re:Bus lane analogy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057032)

He's a wealthy CEO. He owns a big condo near the corporate office and uses a limo between them. His other home is in the country. He may never have even been on a city bus.

Speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised it its true.

Re:Bus lane analogy (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057534)

I think he's referring to the publicly usable curb lane on streets that do NOT have reserved exclusive bus lanes, the ones which are soul destroying to be in, because the bus in front of you stops every block to pickup/dropoff people, and moves much slower than the lanes to the left which aren't plagued by busses constantly parking.

Virgin? (4, Funny)

Soko (17987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056896)

I doubt it.

"You wanna do it without a condom? It'll cost you..."

The bus lane? Thanks! (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056908)

So, if I don't pay up, you'll put me in the bus lane, i.e. a lane with restrictions on who can be in it, therefore allowing it to move faster? Thanks!

Hey, how much faster can you send me data if I kill your cat?

Checklist for Slashdot (4, Funny)

OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056918)

Ok, summary and title have virgin, internet, balls (bollocks), and media in it. Alright, all we need is MS, conspiracy and goatse before we have and uberstory.

The answer? Same as always: (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056924)

Malicious routing will only get them so far. If we have packets we want delivered, we will pay whomever is willing to do it fastest and with the least hassle.

Finally, some honesty. (4, Informative)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056928)

Finally a company is honest enough to admit that net neutrality doesn't exist. Here in Canada, almost every ISP is throttling torrents, throttling DSL 'nodes', circumventing advertisements for their own, prioritizing certain web pages, and worse. This is rarely publicized until some intelligent people discover it and bring it to light and since there's no rules or laws, it's perfectly acceptable by everyone but the consumer.

Who Else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23056944)

Interesting that I acually posted my comment that I belive that my company may be doing the same thing about 10 mins ago.

A Translation, Me Hearties- (3, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056946)

Virgin Media CEO Says Net Neutrality is "A Load of Bollocks"
"The best we can do with p2p is try to slow it down."

...he's already doing deals to deliver some people's content faster than others...
IANAL, so does anybody know if these kinds of deals might have the effect of invalidating an ISP's 'common carrier' protections?

If so, I vote we prosecute him for downloading child porn, as a modern-day equivalent of walking the plank, and a warning to the other ISPs...

Yarrrrr!

Re:A Translation, Me Hearties- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057286)

IANAL, so does anybody know if these kinds of deals might have the effect of invalidating an ISP's 'common carrier' protections?

Not when the FCC purposely sits on its hands, and is appointed with politically connected Corporate insiders. Fat chance of getting the FCC to do anything for 'the people', when its purpose is to 'control' an industry that barely acknowledged its existience in the first place.

Refreshing (2, Interesting)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056950)

In one way it is refreshing to hear a CEO describe in truth what is going on whether one agrees with him/her or not. Usually a CEO stands behind innuendos and words with double meanings to avoid a head on collision. Not so with this one apparently.

It happens that I believe that all should have equal access but then I do not run an ISP. It seems clear that multiple levels of service can be commanded by varying levels of payments. Sort of like steak or hamburger.

It will be interesting to see how all of this finally works out.

Re:Refreshing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057442)

Yeah, it's really refreshing that CEO's have gotten to the point where they don't have to lie about what they do anymore, because it doesn't matter. At least when they are lying to us, it lets us know they care enough to protect us from themselves. Now they don't care anymore, the honeymoon is over.

Bus lane? (1)

tsvk (624784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056956)

I don't get the reference to the "internet bus lane"... He said: If you aren't prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he'll put you in the Internet 'bus lane'.

But should it not be the other way around? Paying separately gives you the privilege to ride the congestion-free public transport lanes where each full bus frees up several tens of cars from the streets, while not paying forces you to keep tugging along in the traffic jam of private motorists?

Re:Bus lane? (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057070)

I suspect this corporate bigwig has a smug feeling of superiority every time he crawls past a bus that is stopped letting people off as he commutes alone in his Chelsea tractor. This feeling is so powerful to his CEO ego, that he misses the 5 buses that drive past him seconds later as he sits in typical London traffic going nowhere. No doubt he is looking forward to the £25 congestion charge in the same way that he believes content providers should be looking forward to paying him for the privilege of carrying their traffic on his oversubscribed network.

Re:Bus lane? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057622)

No doubt he is looking forward to the £25 congestion charge in the same way that he believes content providers should be looking forward to paying him for the privilege of carrying their traffic on his oversubscribed network

No, he just will relocate his corporate offices out of London. What's the point of investing in a city if it costs more than 50USD just to get to it. I mean, is London really worth 50USD a person? Probably not!

So Virgin Is the Enemy (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056958)

This blatant confession by Virgin Media is the best news yet for the Net Neutrality movement. Because the main argument of the enemies of Net Neutrality (who are therefore the promoters of Net Doublecharge) has always been that "equal access is never threatened", while usually contradictorily also saying "unequal access will be necessary to pay for increased capacity". Now Virgin Media is just admitting that's all a bunch of BS, and they're so hellbent on destroying the equal access for everyone that they already do it.

This is an industry claiming we don't need our equal access protected. And now, at the same time, telling us that it's gone, and we're whining too much because they've already destroyed it.

The enemy has blinked. There now should follow a backlash that will guarantee that we don't continue to give away our most profitable, most strategic global asset, that the public paid to invent, and build and promote, to those crooks who will say anything to steal it. And evidently are now so arrogant that they'll even admit they've already stolen it. Even though they haven't, or at least not so much that we can't take it back.

grow up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23056994)

stop pretending you are fighting ww2. this is a large tech compnay deciding how it deals with other tech companies. if you dont like it, start your own fucking ISP.
Its a free market.

Re:grow up (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057150)

I paid to invent and build that Internet that Virgin Media is now holding hostage for charging ransom against the billing model that made it worth holding for ransom. That's not a "free market", except in the corporate handouts you "Libertarians" love to pretend is "free" because you'd love to be the next ripoff artist yourself.

So I'm not "fighting WW2", a ridiculous comment from yet another Anonymous Libertarian Coward. I'm trying to keep some corporate interloper from ruining something that's too important to ignore. And as a trivial side skirmish, I'm slapping down your nonsense about a "free market" that erupts across an open Internet only because it does have equal access.

Re:So Virgin Is the Enemy (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057106)

There now should follow a backlash that will guarantee that we don't continue to give away our most profitable, most strategic global asset, that the public paid to invent, and build and promote, to those crooks who will say anything to steal it.

Hah! You must be new here.

There will be no backlash. The amount of apathy in the general population increases in proportion to the number of reality-tv programs being broadcast.

Re:So Virgin Is the Enemy (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057188)

I was cynical enough to believe that myself, that "Net Neutrality" would die an obscure inside baseball battle in which telcos easily rolled over a few geeks with a sense of history, economics and fair play. But then it turned out to be surprisingly popular and accessible to the public at large. I don't know how it happened, but it did.

It doesn't hurt to underestimate the public's attention span and insight into its self-interest, because it's usually absent, especially in the face of distracting entertainment. Unless by underestimating you ignore when it's available as a powerful ally. In Net Neutrality, this has somehow turned out to be the case. Let's not pass it up.

No, I'm New Here (2, Funny)

New Here (701369) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057336)

No, I'm New Here

Interesting marketing move (1)

plumby (179557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23056968)

Berkett then turned on the BBC and their iPlayer service, telling them - and other public broadcasters like them - that if they don't pay a premium to gain faster access to Virgin Media's customers, their service would be put into "bus lanes".

Assuming he means "slow lane", this seems an odd decision to take. "Join Virgin Media and get iPlayer running slower than anywhere else". Can't imagine many ISPs holding on to too many of their customers when it's explained that their favourite services will be crippled because the suppliers wouldn't bribe the ISP.

Isn't it the other way around? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057008)

The net is not neutral when it comes to different ISP customers, you pay for a 20/1 contention ratio, or less on the 50/1, or your own leased line.

I thought the net neutrality was about content providers being shoved in the slow lane unless they pay up too. So if fancy media site X doesn't pay your ISP, there movies get put in the same bit bucket with the bit-torrent downloads.

Re:Isn't it the other way around? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057170)

I thought the net neutrality was about content providers being shoved in the slow lane unless they pay up too. So if fancy media site X doesn't pay your ISP, there movies get put in the same bit bucket with the bit-torrent downloads.

That's exactly what this CEO is talking about: "deals to speed up the traffic of certain media providers". I wonder how long before "paying for priority data to your customers" becomes "paying for any data to your customers", especially if enough companies decide not to play the game. Alternatively, how long before enough youtubes and itunes type places sign up that the "priority channel" gets soaked (as if they're going to spend a dollar/euro/pound of this on upgrading) and nothing gets through?

Re:Isn't it the other way around? (5, Interesting)

teh moges (875080) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057672)

I see this as one area where Google, MS and Yahoo can show some real leadership. Don't hand over any extra money, and if the customer's ISP is a known throttler, then place a message at the top of each page stating "The page you have requested is being slowed down by your internet provider. Click here to find out why and what you can do about it". If the three biggest websites and their other websites (remember that Google owns YouTube and Yahoo owns Flickr) all put this message on, the backlash against the ISP would be way too big. Remember that speed is relative, especially when downloading webpages. Telling the user to expect the pages slower then usual will give the user the impression it is, even if the ISP hasn't yet started throttling.

WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057012)

Yeah I'm sure his legal department is none too happy about this. If Net Neutrality legislation does pass this guy just hung himself...

Billing your competitor's customers (5, Insightful)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057018)

Net neutrality means you can't bill your competitor's customers. This is absolutely essential to a free market.

See, there are actually four parties involved. The end user, Bob, buys a connection from an ISP, CableCo. Meanwhile, example.com, buys a connection from a different ISP, ExampleOnline. CableCo and ExampleOnline are competitors, but they have a peering agreement, which means that they agree to share the costs of a connection which lets Bob visit example.com. What's happening here is that CableCo is trying to get money from example.com. But example.com is ExampleOnline's customer! If ExampleOnline's customers are generating traffic which CableCo can't handle, then they need to renegotiate their peering agreement, not go after ExampleOnline's customers. That's unethical and possibly illegal.

Re:Billing your competitor's customers (1)

FromellaSlob (813394) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057566)

In the case of the BBC, there would be no other ISP involved. They peer directly with the major UK ISPs.

shortbus (1)

agent (7471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057022)

Do you have to be a virgin to work for him?

But the "bus lane" is a good thing (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057104)

If you aren't prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he'll put you in the Internet 'bus lane.'

That'd strike me as a rather weird turn of phrase, since the "bus lane" is a desirable place to be. Indeed, you can get fined if you're in it during rush hour, as it's the lane with the least traffic so that the buses can get people into town quicker.

You know, I wasn't going to say this.. (1)

kris.montpetit (1265946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057108)

..But these last few stories make me very happy that i live in Canada..Albeit Bell tried/is trying to do the same thing. At least here they are taking a lot of government and public flak for it

The wrong way round (3, Insightful)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057110)

he's already doing deals to deliver some people's content faster
Typical bit of marketing here - this shouldn't be allowed to stand. Deals aren't being done to deliver content "faster" - deals are being done to deliver other content slower. Bandwidth is a zero-sum equation.

Assuming (since I am not an expert on this) that the prioritisation of content is being done by some sort of prioritising of packets then it is a mutually exclusive situation. The line is only so fast - the line contains only so much bandwidth. If all providers pay to have their content prioritised then nothing moves any "faster" than it is with neutrality. If only one pays to have their content "faster" then all they are doing is degrading all other traffic.

ISP provisions need to be revolutionised - the current crop are perfectly happy as a hegemony of providers - do what they like, charge what they like. There is "competition" in only a very superficial sense.

Re:The wrong way round (2, Informative)

jschen (1249578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057472)

he's already doing deals to deliver some people's content faster
Typical bit of marketing here - this shouldn't be allowed to stand. Deals aren't being done to deliver content "faster" - deals are being done to deliver other content slower. Bandwidth is a zero-sum equation.
But bandwidth isn't a zero-sum equation. New bandwidth can be added. I have no clue what size deals we're talking about, but what if it actually is enough to financially justify the cost of additional bandwidth?

A market solution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057124)

What if Google stopped responding to requests from Virgin customers? I think Virgin would cave in pretty quickly.

Re:A market solution (2, Interesting)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057254)

What if Google stopped responding to requests from Virgin customers? I think Virgin would cave in pretty quickly.
Isn't this more or less the same thing that we're fighting against? And the same thing that Microsoft did to Dr DOS?

In all seriousness though, I would love to see Google sneak in a special version of their adwords. Every time a Virgin ISP user is served a Google ad, make sure one says:

Attention Virgin Media Customer
Your ISP is slowing your connection down to extort money out of you! Click here for more information!

Service (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057142)

I'm sure the CEO was trying to be really witty with his remark that Net Neutrality is "bollocks", but I have a more factual comment, Virgin Media customer service is a load of bollocks. Pay an arm and leg for shitty customer service and shitty internet experience in general - no thanks. There are other choices for ISP's in the UK.

Is he trying to out-do Ratner [wikipedia.org] for attracting customers (read 'The Speech' section).

Ready... Aim.... (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057220)

"The new CEO of Virgin Media is putting his cards on the table early, branding net neutrality 'a load of bollocks' and claiming he's already doing deals to deliver some people's content faster than others... If you aren't prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he'll put you in the Internet 'bus lane.'"

Well, it's always nice when the idiots paint a nice big "Class Action Lawsuit Bullseye" on their foreheads, ain't it?

Re:Ready... Aim.... (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057256)

>Well, it's always nice when the idiots paint a nice big "Class Action Lawsuit Bullseye" on their foreheads, ain't it? I'm not sure we have those in the UK - I've certainly never heard of one.

Re:Ready... Aim.... (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057280)

Damn, forgot to put the break in - my comment starts 'I'm not sure...'

USA = POLICE STATE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057222)

The US and UK have become police states. Laws have been changed to allow mass round-ups and executions. Prison camps are built and waiting to be used.

http://home.comcast.net/~plutarch/PoliceState.html

Virgin's shaping - poorly executed (3, Informative)

The Mutant (167716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057274)

We're on Virgin ADSL. About one month ago, someone hacked our WEP and started leaching. It was all my fault - I'd replaced a router, didn't lock down by MAC address, and they locked on.

We noticed slowdowns / issues but didn't call Virgin until my wife determined these always happened after 4PM. This was after some three weeks of slowdowns.

Called Virgin's "pay as you go support", where a technician cheerfully told us we'd been capped due to a violation of AUP.

Ok. Someone had leached our connection. Our fault. But it took TWO weeks to get uncapped.

All this after several weeks of leaching - which impacted ALL customers on our local net mind you - no email, no call, nothing. Until we incurred expense calling their "pay as you go support".

Virgin's shaping is poorly executed, and heavy handed.

New great decisions (1)

JackassJedi (1263412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057296)

For a while there (1999-2007) I had the impression everything about the net is said, done and closed file, but people watch it were back to the big decisions. Now that everyone can have 30MBit/s connections (i pay about $60 a month for it, 40 EUR that is, but my ISP throttles BitTorrent!) it's not about the speed, the reach (except some areas but it's all coming), the software (just download Ubuntu and you get software for really all you can just do on the net), it's about things like net neutrality.

This isn't going to just pass by the courts, at least not where i live (the EU), and it's going to set important milestones for net access for decades to come!

The downside is that before the decisions will really be made we're going to wade for years through molasses, with ISPs doing all sort of weird things with their customer's access until someone puts the hat back on.

This is so sad (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057310)

I used to be a customer of Telewest which became Blueyonder bfore Virgin took them over. Back then it was a great service. I used to laugh at my usage capped ADSL using friends with their flaky connections and bandwidth that went up and down while my Cable went flat out 24/7 downloading as much as 200Gb a month. The TV box was great too - better picture than Sky Digital, neat facilities etc. I was really gutted when I moved house to an area that didn't have Blueyonder cable and reluctantly signed up with Sky for TV, BT for phones and a rapid succession of crap ADSL providing goons.
Two years on, I'm with Zen ADSL who provide a great service and Sky is OK but when when I visit friends who are still on Virgin, the TV is now terrible - jerky, freezing, grainy and the broadband? WTF happened? Very, very sad. That said, Blueyonder were billions in debt afer investing in all the infrstructure so I guess they were too generous but it was great while it lasted.

I will not buy Virgin's services or products. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057322)

In the future I will not be buying or using Virgin's products or services. Way to go slime ball.

since when does a CEO know fuck all ? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057422)

CEO's don't know jack shit about the technical aspects of the business they work for, they also twist the truth a hell of a lot. if he is talking about peering arrangements then this isn't a bad thing.

Message to Virgin Media's CEO from BT (1)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057428)

Message to Virgin Media's new CEO from British Telecom:

Mr Neil Berkett, CEO, Virgin Media

Dear Neil,

Many thanks for your honest thoughts. It's just what we needed at BT for our next meeting with Oftel.
Yours sincerely,

British Telecom.

Life is good.

internet bus lane? (1)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23057596)

"[quote]he says he'll put you in the Internet 'bus lane.'"

I'd love to put him in a bus lane.

Re:internet bus lane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23057682)

And when everyone starts paying the big bucks for faster content we'll all be in the bus lane. Then what?
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