Spinning wires

I’m in Washington and so I’m seeing different commercials here: spin aimed at a few hundred legislators and regulators. And boy, oh boy, are the telcos spinning on net neutrality.

I saw one commercial urging a vote against neutrality ending with this punchline: “They call it net neutrality. We call it sticking it to the consumer.” This from the folks who know all about sticking it to the consumer: phone companies (and their friends). Here‘s their website.

Later, I saw another commercial arguing that the current legislation embodies Michael Powell’s four freedoms for the internet and so that’s plenty and anything more would be dreaded government regulation. Their site is here.

It’s all transparently opaque: They don’t say what they’re up to but they’re trying to hard it’s obvious they’re spinning.

: At the Union Square roundtable about net neutrality, copyright, patents and such last week, I argued that apart from a blogging campaign, the net neutrality folks are doing a terrible job presenting the case to the public. Someone else said that the folks who came up with monikers like “the death tax” would never call a cause “net neutrality.” Tom Evslin says they should be calling it “America’s Antiterrorist Network.”

: I wish someone in D.C. would record and share the commercials that run only here so we can all get a window on how the lobbyists are spinning their webs around our government.

: LATER: I missed it the first time I heard the commercial above but just saw it again: They are using Google as the bad guy. Big, bad Google is trying to make you pay for the internet, they say. Their logic is missing a few links but it’s fascinating that they can paint Google in a dastardly role. Maybe they have research to show falling trust in Google. Maybe they just think that big is bad and now Google is bigger than they are.

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  • Their spokeswhore was on NPR this morning, giving the same opinions. Net neutrality is bad for the consumer; Google, Microsoft and other evil empires are trying to make you live with more government regulation.

    Craig Newmark will rebut tomorrow.

  • Big, bad Google is trying to make you pay for the internet: That’s exactly what they tried to tell me when they cold-called me a few weeks ago – apparently to write up a tally of consumers who disagree with their obscured arguments. Here’s a rough transcript of the call:


  • Sorry, I meant agree with their arguments. But my fingers disagreed. My bad.

  • The net neutrality clan lost their most powerful argument yesterday when Craig Newmark finally admitted that Cox Cable wasn’t really blocking his site after all.

    Before the week is out, they’ll have to manufacture a new “outrage” to scare the liberals.

    Look, Jarvis, the reason net neutrality has no traction is because it’s a bogus cause based on nothing but fear and ignorance. There’s nothing wrong with an improved Internet with richer transport services, and it would be best for America if the know-nothings would kindly pipe down about it.

    At some point, it may become necessary to add new regulations to ISPs but we’re nowhere close to that point today.

    Until there’s some abuse, we don’t need new regulations.

  • Tim Schneider

    Know nothings? Vint Cerf? Tim Berners-Lee?

    Your arrogance is a liability to your cause.

  • I’ve discussed the proposed regulations with Tim Berners-Lee and he tells me he doesn’t approve of them; Cerf works for Google.

    Like I said, this is an issue fueled by fear and ignorance.

  • Andy Freeman

    There are two opponents of net-neutrality.

    (Substantive) Bennett is an example of one type. Who wouldn’t want great new services and “more money, more bandwidth”. This is basically cost-based differentiation – services that are more expensive to host pay more.

    The other opponents are proposing something very different. They say “Google makes money by sending bits over the internet, so I should be able to get a cut or keep google from getting to ‘my’ customers.” That is what the telcos are actually proposing. This is value-generated differentiation.

    One important difference between the two is that the “value-added” folks are the ones who are actually making the proposal. We might get some cost-based differentiation, but the actual proposal is value-generated.

    The cost of a three minute call from NY to CA is basically the same regardless of how much money is at stake. Why should the cost of 1k of HTTP data be any different?

  • Value’s not the issue and never was.

    There are two kinds of service enhancements ISPs want to sell, and they’ve been conflated because the neuts are ignorant of modern network architectures (I include Cerf in that camp because he’s not been a practicing engineer for 20 years.)

    A. Quality of Service enhancements, which reduce packet latency and jitter. This is not a bandwidth supplement, it’s achieved by reorganizing outbound traffic queues.

    B. Bandwidth enhancements, which offer more overall throughput.

    ISPs would like to be able to sell both enhancements either to their customer directly or to a third party who uses them to communicate with their customers. I don’t see this as especially evil, but it is a departure from past practice. Not a departure from “laws of the Internet”, just a departure from convention.

    Meanwhile, in the real world we’re seeing content producers demanding payment from ISPs for their services, such as ESPN360. The neut movement is totally unaware of this practice. See George Ou for the lowdown.

    Worried about a balkanized Internet? Fine, stop fighting yesterday’s war and fight the one that’s actually happening today. Or don’t, as the case may be.

    I accept the fact that the world changes.

  • Andy Freeman

    > Value’s not the issue and never was.

    Bennett continues to ignore what the telcos actually say.

    They say “Google is making a lot of money using our pipes and we deserve our share.” Google isn’t making that money on payloads that require special treatment – they’re just sending boring HTTP that can be adequately served with “best effort”, just as it has been for years.

    As far as bandwidth goes, no one is arguing that a 10MB pipe has to cost the same as a 1MB pipe. Heck, the Telcos are free to charge by the bit (ISDN anyone). Of course, it would be nice if the pipes honestly reported their services. (I’m referring to folks who advertise “unlimited” and then throttle customers who download “too much”. Is it really too much to ask for them to say “6Mb and up to 6GB/month”?)

  • Andy Freeman

    > A. Quality of Service enhancements, which reduce packet latency and jitter.

    Note that telcos, especially in a hot-pototo world, have limited ability to actually provide that.

    Why? Because most packets traverse multiple vendors and actually delivering those things requires end-to-end coordination.

  • If it’s impossible to provide QoS, it’s unnecessary to prohibit it in regulation. The debate is over your head, Andy.

  • Andy Freeman

    My point was that the QoS argument is a red-herring. Bennett and I both want to be able to buy QoS when it’s useful. (The difference being that I understand the difficulties in actually providing it and spend a lot of time building relevant systems.)

    The pipes (telcos etc), on the other hand, are demanding something else, namely a cut of Google’s ad revenue. They’re not suggesting that they’ll provide more valuable service in exchange for said cut.

    And, something in the above will prompt Bennett to call me a socialist.

  • Andy, I have patents pending on QoS techniques for TCP, WiFi. and UWB. The chances of your knowing more about this than I do are extremely slim.

    And more importantly, I’ve read the Markey and Snowe bills and I know they ban QoS.

    You’re talking about another issue entirely, bandwidth-on-demand, a service offering that one Telco said they’d like to offer. I happen to thing that would be a good service too, because it might allow small servers to reduce the RTT gap with Google and Yahoo.

    The Internet, you see, isn’t a level playing field today, because the guy with the fattest pipes and the best-located servers wins the RTT battle.

  • Andy Freeman

    Note that Bennett continues to ignore what the telcos say that they want and are (supposedly) entitled to, namely a slice of Google’s revenues.

  • I didn’t find the remark about charging Google for the use of AT&T’s pipes was all that alarming; CEOs say crazy shit like that all the time. Bill Gates, the man who invented the Personal Computer, once said he wanted a cut of every banking transaction on the Internet.

    I do too, so what?

  • Andy Freeman

    The difference is that the pipes are successfully pushing legislation towards that end.

    BTW – Bennett seems to believe that anyone who opposes the pipes on this necessarily supports certain landgrabs by other parties. He’s wrong.

  • The “pipes” don’t need legislation to do that, they could have done it all along.

    You seem blind to the fact that Google games the net by caching their data all over the place and buying super-fast pipes. The AT&T scheme would partially nullify Google’s gaming, and make the Net more fair than it is today.

    We can’t have that, can we?