This is what started it all

FYI, here’s the article that but a bee in the bonnet of the special interests who’re trying to shackle the Internet with their so-called net-neutrality regulations:

William L. Smith, chief technology officer for Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., told reporters and analysts that an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc.

Or, Smith said, his company should be allowed to charge a rival voice-over-Internet firm so that its service can operate with the same quality as BellSouth’s offering.

Network operators can identify the digital “packets” of content moving through their wires from sites and services and can block some or put others at the head of the stream.

But Smith was quick to say that Internet service providers should not be able to block or discriminate against Web content or services by degrading their performance.

The complaint from regulation-happy special interests is that the telcos want to make the Internet like cable TV, to which I will simply say that the Internet has already internalized that model, and quite successfully. The dominant web services companies make their money the same way TV does, from a combination of ads, subscriptions, and pay-per-view. Google sells ads just like ABC does, iTunes is pay-per-view, and the New York Times sells subscriptions to Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd. So where does all this high-and-mighty “we’re so much better than TV” crap come from, some delusion that Internet access is a gift from the Easter Bunny?

There’s a real public benefit to an accelerated service offering inasmuch as its a cheap way to level the playing field between rich incumbents like Google with fat pipes and server farms all over the net and startups with lean budgets. If people like Gigi Sohn were really the friend of the entrepreneur — and had even a basic knowledge of how the Internet actually worked and not just a sentimental fantasy about a democratic net — they would applaud Bell South’s ideas.

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5 Responses to This is what started it all

  1. aessa says:

    “The complaint from regulation-happy special interests is that the telcos want to make the Internet like cable TV, to which I will simply say that the Internet has already internalized that model, and quite successfully.”

    The Internet is and is not like cable TV. You haven’t fixed on the relevant difference and, therefore, what the argument about net neutrality is all about.

    Let’s start with the two elements which are common to both the internet and cable tv: the pipe, on the one hand, and content and on the other. For cable tv the company that provides the pipe also controls the content. Comcast, for example, determines what content that they will deliver and at what price. Until now the internet has worked differently. The pipe providers don’t control the content. The two are completely unbundled. That has been built into the architecture of the internet from its inception and many of us are going to fight to keep it that way.

    One might ask what is the harm in turning the Internet into the Cable TV model? Cable TV is based on a model where a single entity makes all the choices in terms of the content that is available to the end user. The Internet, however, is based on an interactive many-to-many model where any user can be a broadcaster and any user also has infinite choice in terms of the content they can receive.

    The internet model is the most COMPETITIVE model ever conceived for distributing content. When it comes to content (data or applications) any single user is on a level playing field with the biggest companies. Because there is almost infinite competition for content there is huge innovation going on in both content and applications. (Case in point: some blogs now have greater readership base than traditional publishers; on the application side we have the overnight growth of applications such as MySpace.com).

    So, if you are for competitition and innovation you will come out on the set of net neutrality.

  2. Richard says:

    Until now the internet has worked differently. The pipe providers don’t control the content. The two are completely unbundled. That has been built into the architecture of the internet from its inception and many of us are going to fight to keep it that way.

    Huh? If you don’t like cable TV, you can put an antenna on your house and receive all the programming that’s broadcast loud enough for you to hear it. This is more or less the way the Internet was designed.

    If you have cable TV, you have all the same stuff the antenna gets, plus some extra stuff that comes from far away. This is an expansion of consumer choice.

    I’d like to see more choice in the operation of the Internet. It’s a very fine network for “content”, but not so fine for communication. The new network will work at least as well for “content” as the old-fashioned Internet, plus it will provide some communications options that don’t exist today.

    That’s a victory for consumer choice in my book.

  3. Pingback: Successful Blog - Net Neutrality 6-03-2006

  4. directorblue says:

    I’d like to see more choice in the operation of the Internet. It’s a very fine network for “content”, but not so fine for communication. The new network will work at least as well for “content” as the old-fashioned Internet, plus it will provide some communications options that don’t exist today.

    Laughable. What are communication mechanisms like blogs, torrents, wikis, personal data sharing tools, Skype, instant messaging, blah blah blah… all opened up for business by net neutral IP traffic?

    What you allude to, I suppose, are high-speed video and audio links that have been promised by the telcos since the ’80s. Remember this golden oldie from a telco annual report in 1986?

    At the forefront of new technology is ISDN. Scheduled for commercial availability in 1988, ISDN will revolutionize day-to-day communications by allowing simultaneous transmission of voice, data and images over a single telephone line… With ISDN customers will have the potential to access videotex, telemetry, alarm services, sophisticated calling features, teleconferencing much more economically than they can today.

    Yep, ISDN was a mass-market success, wasn’t it? Just like the massive fiber rollouts that the telcos promised taxpayers over the last decade or so.

    Trusting these jamokes with the keys to the Internet is like handing your credit-cards to Art Schlichter for safe-keeping.

    Let’s have the telcos prove they can get IPTV and its kin working in one community first… before we let them tamper with net neutrality.

  5. Richard says:

    Actually, Doug, ISDN has been widely used by American businesses for several years now for videoconferencing.

    I see that you have the traditional baby-boomer’s grudge against the phone company, so you probably hate your daddy too, right? That’s all fine and such, but it’s best if you keep your personal problems off my Internet.

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