Save the Internet, indeed

Save the Internet is a campaign to protect net neutrality, “the internet’s First Amendment,” which means, in David Weinberger’s words, “that the people who provide connections to the Internet don’t get to favor some bits over others.” To do otherwise is just bad business.

The age of business models built on scarcity and on keeping your customers from doing what they want to do is over. Now we just have to make sure that Congress doesn’t try to keep it on artificial life support.

: Steve Baker asks for some context, please.

  • I’m all for equal rights. I don’t want any restrictions. But you bewilder me with your Apple stumping. It flies totally in the face of your Blog Boy persona.

    Apple is both a company that thrives on a business model of scarcity and closed-source, and pushes a two-tier model for free speech when it says that bloggers don’t have “journalists'” rights of publishing. How is that business model “over” when it has champions like you?

    Fight Congress and preserve net neutrailty – you betcha. Hate Dell for its lack of customer service – they deserve it. But hate Apple for its holier-than-thou rejection of free speech. Every time you shout out for Apple you dillute your core “First Amendment!” message.

  • james

    Way to mis characterize the Apple court case, legal eagle brett.

  • james

    Geez, you also pretty much miss the boat on mischaracterizing their business model as well.

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  • Here ya go, James.

    Read up, buttercup.

  • How does he mischaracterize the Apple stuff James? Just curious.

  • While equal access is the idea, it seems to me that more effort and talent is needed to show more equal benefits from access. What can be done to prevent the abuse of a few that stops up access for many? I am interested in the good ideas floating here — perhaps one of them could give the access where we now see more rhetoric that denies it for some. Thoughts/

  • james

    He mis characterized it by using ‘free speech’.

    Ogrady at power page put up a detailed drawing of a possible future product.

    The only thing different from company docs was that the do not publish trade secret type of watermark.

    Free speech is no the same as publishing trade secrets.

    That is all.

    And has nothing to do w/ net neutrality.

  • james

    The only thing different from company docs was that the “do not publish trade secret” type of watermark was missing.

  • Andy Freeman

    > What can be done to prevent the abuse of a few that stops up access for many?

    Is that actually a problem, or is it just a DSL advertising slogan?

    One of the interesting things about the net is that bits from A to B usually traverse several companies’ wires. Unless all of those companies give said bits preferential treatment, preferential treatment by any of them basically doesn’t matter.

    So, if AT&T is going to charge me to deliver better service from Google, the only way that they can actually follow through is to drop more of the packets that Yahoo is sending me.

    Or, they can simply lie and cash the checks.

  • ellenwebber,

    For $500 per month, with no installation fees and no additional loop charges and a router included, I can get a T1 (1.5MBit symmetrical) to my house complete with up to a class C (256 IP addresses) upon providing justification for the IPs. Now, let’s say that I wanted to become an ISP for some reason, but just providing connectivity. I could run wires to my neighbors’ houses for a small cost; let’s just say my four nearest neighbors so I could provide the connectivity wirelessly for a one-time cost of next to nothing (less than $1000, certainly).

    Now, I could promise each of these four neighbors to provide them with a 740kBit connection, and could set up a DHCP server with the 256 IPs I would have registered, and the odds are that I would be OK. Unless all four were simultaneously on, and a couple of them were using massive amounts of bandwidth, no one would notice that I was promising more capacity than I have. But let’s say that two of those neighbors are using Skype, and thus all of my bandwidth. Then you (a third neighbor) get on and find there’s not much left for you. At that point, am I at fault for over promising bandwidth/underestimating usage, or are the two “abuse[ive]” neighbors at fault for using what I sold them?

  • Oh, and Brett, this is not about charging you for “better access to Google.” It’s about charging Google for access to you.

  • Ack, I meant to address that to Andy, not Brett. Preview is my friend. Preview is my friend.

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  • It is interesting how you define neutrality here and while you make very good points I would still like to see more open discussion on the meaning of “neutral” and of “abuse” and of “control” so that we might begin to resolve the real problems underlying this move… What do you think?

  • Net neutrality is the most idiotic thing going today. The Internet’s architecture needs to change in order to support voice and video in the future, and this Coalition of the Stupid is simply getting in the way. Look at the membership and tell me who many network engineers you see among all the lawyers, consumer rights advocates, professional leftwing cause-mongers and other soft-headed utopians; I see exactly none.

    That ought to tell you something.

  • Andy Freeman

    Regardless of who is being charged, the only way for my local carrier to improve my Google experience is for said local carrier to drop my Yahoo packets more often than it would otherwise.

  • Andy Freeman

    > The Internet’s architecture needs to change in order to support voice and video in the future,

    That’s nice, but the proposals under discussion are about charging Google and the like, services that don’t need said change. The folks making these proposals say it’s because they’re owed a cut of the money, in the same way that they’re owed a cut of any deal made over the phone.

    The two-tier internet proposals won’t fund the infrastructure changes, so it’s silly to argue for them on that basis, no matter how needed said infrastructure changes are.

  • Not so much, Andy. The cable ISPs would like to offer tiered service to their customers, much like the postal service does to theirs. Currently, we all pay bulk mail prices and get bulk mail service, which allows some applications to ride free. Your neighbor who has a constant stream of video lapdances from his favorite port site takes bandwidth away from your music downloads, for example. As the ‘Net moves forward his application will be walled-off from yours, your net experience will be better, and his will be more expensive,

    There’s nothing wrong with that.

  • chickenlittle

    Aren’t ya’ll a little fearful of big government regulating the internet? Since the vast majority of consumers have a choice of more than 2 ISPs, doesn’t it stand to reason that the market will hash this out and consumers vote with their dollars?

  • Andy Freeman

    > The cable ISPs

    The cable ISPs are running a scam (advertising sync rates as bandwidth) and are incompetent. They don’t provision enough bandwidth to their head-ends and haven’t figured out that they can rate limit their customers with the routers that they have today. Of course, when they do so, they’ll get yelled at because they’re lying about their service (see “scam” and “don’t provision”), but ….

    They don’t need any money from Google to do this.

    Bennett confuses good things that one might do with more spending on the infrastructure with the actual proposal.

    Those folks think that they’re entitled to a cut of every transaction that crosses their wires using IP; that’s what they’re asking for, so it is absurd to suggest that that it has a different purpose.

    We don’t give them a cut of the biz that crosses in those wires in audio, so what makes IP different?

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  • You’re confused about what the bill does and doesn’t do, Andy, It specifically prevents ISPs from blocking access to web sites such as Google and Yahoo, but it doesn’t give these free-riders access to enhanced voice services for free; go read it.

    So the question is this: if a Telco invest massive dollars to enable VOIP to work as well as ordinary telephones do today, can a third party step in and use this investment for free? I say that’s a business decision that the Telco should be able to make on their own without government micro-management.

    I’m not a socialist, and this is the reason we differ.

  • pkp646

    The internet has thrived by remaining away from the destructive hands of government. Getting the government involved now would potentially be disastrous with grave and unforseen consequences. It is just foolishness to get the government invovled when no problem exists.

  • John Rice

    The “save the Internet” rhetoric is nauseating. In no other industry are businesses expected to invest in infrastructure and then prevented from recouping their investment. While I am no big fan of telcos, I am a fan of the proposed infrastructure changes that they intend to make. The improvements are necessary to support emerging Internet technologies and a good case can be made for requiring these new users to help foot the bill for the infrastructure they utilize. It is completely disingenuous of companies like Google to claim that the Internet is going to be destroyed by the lack of net neutrality regulations. Internet users will ultimately benefit from the infrastructure improvements and companies like Google will be required appropriately pay for their usage.

  • Andy Freeman

    Bennett is confusing one response (the bill) to the proposal with the proposal.

    The telco/cableco proposal was to levy fees on folks who make money on the internet; Google was specifically mentioned.

    Note that no one is forcing the telcos/cablecos to provide a network that supports VOIP. They’re perfectly free to not do so. Their customers may then decide to get their bandwidth elsewhere. If they want to keep selling bandwidth to folks who want voip, they’re going to have to actually deliver, and their proposal won’t make that happen.

    Note that the telcos don’t have the reach to make the service guarantees that Bennett would like. That’s why they won’t put anything other than “best effort” in writing for “internet access”. (Yes, I’m aware that they will write service guarantees for leased lines between a small number of endpoints, but that’s a different thing. Applications that I wrote transfer tens of terabytes/day cross continent. I also did traffic shaping for an application that uses 5-10 gigabits/sec 24/7/365.)

    > I’m not a socialist, and this is the reason we differ.

    I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that Bennett is making up stuff about me.

  • The telco/cableco proposal was to levy fees on folks who make money on the internet; Google was specifically mentioned.

    There is no such proposal, there is only a bill – COPE – which specifically prohibits the practice you mention.

    It’s best to deal with facts, not paranoid fantasies.

  • If the telcos need to raise money to roll out a new network, why don’t they raise their rates? Not only am I paying to have access to the Internet, but every company with a website is paying for bandwidth. Now they want them to pay for QoS, too?

    And let’s not forget about the billions and billions of dollers that was given to the telcos to roll out a broadband network in the 90s. Something that was squandered and wasted.

    The internet should be as free as the interstate highway system. I know I sound like a socialist, but I don’t care.

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  • Readers of this comment thread should know that “John Rice” and pkp646 look to be part of a tag-team of industry shills who invade blog comments on net neutrality to argue against any government regulation of the Internet. (Google “pkp646 and ‘John Rice'” and you’ll see what I mean)

    What they fail to point out is that Net Neutrality has been the rule that has governed access to the Internet since its inception. It’s the reason that the Internet has become such a dynamic force for new ideas, economic innovation and free speech. What they really want is for Congress to radically re-write our telecommunications laws so that companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth can swoop in and become gatekeepers to Internet content — in a way that benefits no one except the largest ISPs.

    I’d like pkp646 and “John Rice” to tell us how it is that they appear together (usually one after the other) spouting identical industry talking points across the blogosphere.

    What gives fellas? Are you being paid?

  • John Rice’s notion about the bells’ re-investment in infrastructure is a straw man argument. The telephone and cable companies are reporting billions in profits while receiving billions in tax credits for supposedly building out our nation’s broadband infrastructure (Meanwhile, USA has fallen from 3rd to 16th in national broadband penetration, according to ITU).

    Their repeated whining about lack of resources to improve access, speeds and services for customers comes across as disingenuous when one considers that both Verizon and AT&T have invested less in their networks than they take out in depreciation.

    Last year return of and on capital generated almost $15 billion in free cash flow that they took out of the industry.

    Over the past three years, they have taken out approximately $47 billion.

    Half of this resulting cash flow has been used to pay dividends. The rest has been used to pay down debt, increase cash on hand, and support the merger wave that is sweeping the industry.

    Recall that AT&T has a $67 billion offer on the table to buy BellSouth. And Verizon offered $38 billion to buy Vodaphone out of their cellular joint venture. These huge transactions tie up resources and diminish the ability to reinvest in the industry.

    To cover this financial shell game, they claim poverty, while throwing off cash and trying to get a free ride on the backs of the public.