Net Neutrality

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SonicVanguard, Jan 13, 2007.

  1. SonicVanguard

    SonicVanguard Audio/Video Expert

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    It's a rather fun topic on campus right now - we're looking at it from many policy points of view. Some places around the world look at a 10Mbit connection up and down stream as slow, and yet we in the United States get an average of 1Mbit down and 1/3 of that up. Consumers in the United States also pay 300% more per megabit than any other industrialized nation that offers broadband.

    So...what do we do? Legislate, reform, re-map, over-build, re-build....

    Here's some info on one particular case we're looking at (invloves Fiber to the Home or F2H):
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/net/neutrality.html
    http://news.com.com/2100-1033_3-5792387.html
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2005-01-10-broadband-bellsouth-our_x.htm
    http://www.njtelecomupdate.com/lenya/telco/live/tb-VDWW1123617858885.html
     
  2. mbossman2

    mbossman2 I am, in reality, a moose Staff Member

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    there is a lot to this debate: political, social, geographic, technological.

    IMO it boils down to: is the web transport akin to a public utility, regardless of the fact that unlike water, electricity or sewer, there are, at least, 4 distinct (currently) ways of delivering this service to the enduser?

    Other countries have taken a risk and thrown their government weight behind one (or more) technology which, while accelerating the penetration and adoption of that specific mode, places them at risk of ending up having to support an older, inefficient (and firmly entrenched) technology as a new technology goes zipping on by.

    I personally believe that the "marketplace of ideas" that the capitalist system offers, while sometimes slower (due to market fragmentation), offers a better long term solution as no one specific technology is crowned "the one to rule them all" by the government and when a new technology does arrive, while there is some backtracking, it is not a forklift, nationwide upgrade and for a country as large as the USA that would be a truly massive undertaking.
     
  3. Floppyman

    Floppyman Administrator Staff Member

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    While I agree with that for the most part unfortunately what happens that some still end up getting the shaft. That is to say, the upgrades and offerings (newer and faster service) are not evenly distributed across the whole country -- rural areas still draw the short straw for the most part. When I consider that I wish there were more government intervention, however, you make a valid point and we should let the capitalist system take its pace so that new technologies continue to be developed and implemented quickly. I just wish it were done more evenly across the whole nation (yes I wish I had FiOS too....:)).
     
  4. SonicVanguard

    SonicVanguard Audio/Video Expert

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    Part of the problem with the 'marketplace of ideas' model is abuse. Take New Jersey for example. When regulators agreed to allow SBC to take earnings and not pump the dollars back into their infrastructure (deregulation circa 1998) SBC promised to have 6 million homes wired with fiber optics by 2006. 2006 has come and gone and not one home in NJ has F2H. Yet in that time SBC has rasied some services as much as 1200% in that time. In 1998, New Jersey customers paid $1.20 for caller ID (a $.05 service to SBC - but the remaining $1.15 less 20% went back into the infrastructure) - now NJ residents pay around $6.00 for the same service.

    So...do we look at bad regulation, corrupt regulators, poor business model by SBC, illegal actions by SBC/regulators....I just don't buy the idea that a purely capitalistic market will work. France is a prime example. French Telecomm owns the infrastructure and French telecomm law really favor them, but laws also require French Telecomm to privide right of way to all competitors - those competitors come in and provide better, cheaper services. Whereas in the past French Telecomm was the only provider (like AT&T, Cox, Comcast...) and people got very little.
     
  5. mbossman2

    mbossman2 I am, in reality, a moose Staff Member

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    the slow adoption out in the more rural areas is really no different than the adoption of the telephone in those same areas - they had basic connectivity but things like autoswitching equipment didn't arrive until well after the rest of the country (I think the last switchboard operator for a phone company disappeared in the 70's or 80's.

    the USA has a difficult problem: namely that there are places in this country where there millions in a small area but there are also 100's of square miles with 2 and getting service to those isolated people is a daunting and expensive task, especially with anything approaching cutting edge high speed (read: expensive) technology. Couple that with the feeling that everyone should have everything, when they want it and how they want it that seems too prevalent today and you run into an issue.
     
  6. mbossman2

    mbossman2 I am, in reality, a moose Staff Member

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    you pointed out 4 problems, 3 of which involve incompetent and corrupt government regulators...hmmmmm

    the balance needs to be struck between regulation as guidance (to reach a desirable goal) and regulation as control for control's sake. many regulators, being appointees of elected political officials espouse certain political/economic philosophies and those philosophies are the driving forces behind socio/economic/political financial decision making. For example, one party is driven by an anti-corporate, business as exploitation philosophy so their regulation and taxation policy (in reality one in the same thing) are driven to correct these perceived inequities by generating tax revenues to fund various governmental social/economic program and more superficial topics are used to drive this agenda. the other side, OTOH, is driven from a pro-business stand point and their policies reflect that: policies that generate increased revenues for business which is then, in turn, turned back into the business creating jobs and more revenue and more growth etc etc.

    one pure system is doomed to failure (how long that failure takes is open for discussion - - - better at www.forumclick.com) regardless of philosophy: for example see the Wall street crash of 29 and resulting Great depression as well as the fall of the USSR, both economics driven. an admixture of systems needs to be found. I think the USA has found a nice balance in the changing political leadership over time....the change keeps everybody nimble and on their toes and prevents the stagnation of complacency from setting in.

    enough socio/economic theory and lecturing.

    political ideological agendas need to be set aside and certain realities need to be faced and addressed:

    the web needs to grow for the economies to grow.
    companies that provide data transport must continue to generate sufficient revenues (or allowed to retain more profits) to fund the necessary, sustainable, planned and orderly growth.

    to do so, some, cherished and traditional ideas of who, what and why may need to be challenged and people MUST look at these issues with an open mind and not immediately reject an idea because it doesn't fit their paradigm of "fair". the extreme opposite solution to the current situation probably is NOT the best solution but, IMO, the current situation probably isn't either. the best solution is somewhere in the middle but if all we here are activists screaming "Complete and total net neutrality is the ONLY choice" please see my comment above on one pure system.

    remember folks, the internet ain't free....it costs money...billions upon billions of dollars, rubles, euros, yen, kopeks, pesos etc to make it all happen and these funds don't just mystically and magically appear out of thin air...they come out of each and every person's pocket, whether you know/realize it or not. IMHO, the People, as individuals, have a better sense of how to use their funds than any bunch of elected bunch of officials and their flunky bureaucrats
     
  7. mbossman2

    mbossman2 I am, in reality, a moose Staff Member

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    a couple of other things:

    net neutrality wants to ensure that all web content is treated equally. the reality of the situation is that this is not true now so the argument is really a strawman.

    the telecommunications IP infrastructure already has prioritization built into it (otherwise why was 802.1p developed and implemented?). this prioritization takes place on many levels and to understand how and why requires a quick crash course on telecommunications network structure and design.

    all ISP's, from the smallest to the largest all have their own, internal, private networks, which may or may not transit the large public infrastructure via a private network set up (like a frame relay or point to point set up). now these ISP's pass off their traffic to larger service providers (who have their own private networks) until one of those eventually touches the "backbone" telecommunications structure. Now, not only does internet traffic transit these networks, but so does traditional voice traffic as well as some video traffic. so the structure kind of looks like a giant tree.

    Now the traffic on most major (and many minor) providers have become an admixture of not only non-latency sensitive internet traffic but also latency sensitive traffic (VoIP traffic, "traditional" voice and the like).

    having said all of that, back to prioritizing traffic.

    Currently most service providers who offer more than traditional data services by offering specialized content and services (Comcast, Cox, TWC come to mind) all prioritize their own customer's traffic within their own networks to ensure the most positive customer experience and they take that even one step further by prioritizing voice traffic over traditional data traffic.

    Second form of "preferential treatment":
    as data hits the backbone providers, they too heavily prioritized latency sensitive traffic over non-latency sensitive traffic as well as prioritizing "private" network traffic over internet traffic to meet certain SLAs (remember, the backbone lines carry more than just the internet, they also carry private WAN traffic, voice traffic and the like).

    third form:
    The internet 2. there is a current consortium of colleges and universities who could not obtain what they felt was the appropriate level of bandwidth necessary for their needs (IOW they couldn't negotiate preferential treatment) because of the pedestrian commercial traffic cluttering up the internet. So they went out and formed the "internet 2", something that still utilizes the public telecommunications infrastructure (albeit far closer to the backbone than their size would normally warrant) but is heavily restricted as to who can access that network. Of course since this is used from something as noble as academic research as opposed to something as base a profits (altho some of the largest copyright infringement suits have stemmed from folks leveraging the huge bandwidth available on I2), this kind of gets swept under the carpet.

    Exactly why, right now, this issue is such a huge topic is open to speculation, but it is IMO that the telcos realize something (from an economic point of view) that the average man/woman on the street does not: the bandwidth availability must increase at a much higher pace than it has ever had to as voice, video and data have converged with mobility and then become coupled with mass interest and content availability to, for the 1st time, really place huge strains on the existing infrastructure. Upgrading and widening the availability of this infrastructure will cost huge sums of money and that money has to come from somewhere and that can only mean increase in profits. telcos are facing dwindling revenues (and profits) from their traditional revenue streams so they need to figure out how to get those monies so they can make those upgrades.
     

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