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« Tech Ticker: The Game Changer | Main | Tech Ticker: Why Everyone Works So Hard in Silicon Valley »

February 25, 2008


Jimmy Daniels

Hey, maybe he was confused from the Internet is a bunch of pipes guy and thought the gas analogy sounded good. He's obviously too busy to actually check the facts to see what net neutrality really is.

Rob Eamon

Thanks for the link, Nick.

That's a much better article on the topic than is the one here. It's almost as if they were written by different people. The one here is awful on many counts.

The point in the link above about how net neutrality legislation most likely won't be anything like what most posters here want to be was interesting. As with so much legislation it seems, a law will likely have the opposite effect than what was intended.


An article that contradicts itself, but I particularly love this bit of self-immolation: "Cable modems work by taking away a TV channel or two and using them for data, at $59 per month for 4.5 megabits per second and $69 for 8 meg (while 100 meg in Japan is $30/month)."

Here's a link to a Washington Post article from last year talking about Japan's internet industry, which contains this tidbit: "Japan has surged ahead of the United States on the wings of better wire and more aggressive government regulation, industry analysts say."


You, sir are either an idiot or a shill for the telecom companies.

The sad state of competition in connecting to the internet comes not from Net Neutrality. It comes from the fact that the telecoms in the 90's conned the government into giving them hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks on the PROMISE that they would provide fiber to the home.

Instead they bought all the small companies that were providing access, or drove them out of business, then re-conglomerated into the new AT&T. Your world, delivered to the NSA.

Wake up, old man. You know nothing about technology.

Will Woodard

I'd like to hear Mr. Kessler respond to the points raised in these comments, please.

Jared Hansen

What on Earth would you do with a 100mbps internet connection, anyway? You'd be completely occupying at least one corresponding server to do it. I don't think you understand how expensive (and how absurdly limited the market is) for that kind of bandwidth, now and for the foreseeable future. Even video on demand doesn't need anything close to that. If you want it, go ahead and buy it now - it's called a pair of T3s. Have at it.

And fiber optics don't need to be upgraded every 10 years. Only the transceivers on each end need to be changed! (which is a "cheep" upgrade that effectively happens on it's own anyway in the form of replacing failed equipment).

Net Neutrality comes in a lot of different forms, but to simply say that ISPs cannot limit bandwidth based on server source is a no-brainer. This is saying the equivalent of "Comcast can't block Google or a whole Google sub-service." This doesn't require a bunch of regulation. It would be easy to identify it when it starts to happen en-masse. However, ISPs do and should have the right to say end-customers can't run a high-bandwidth server on a consumer line. They ought to disclose these policies more clearly, as well as define what they are going to do when congestion occurs, but they ought to maintain the right to simply manage their networks. This isn't some dark privilege. To say that is to say the electric company can't install circuit breakers!

It's important to note that cable and wireless delivery mechanisms are much more limited in their overall bandwidth than direct technologies like Fiber and DSL. Comcast CAN deliver up to 8mbps speed at times, but they can't deliver it to everyone, all the time. That's a limitation of their technology. You, the consumer, are responsible for understanding what you're buying. If you want consistent speeds, get DSL! I've used Comcast and AT&T DSL and work in the IT industry - I need a certain amount of bandwidth. I can tell you that the differences in actual speeds is negligible in almost all cases except for very large downloads from very well-hosted sites (just because you might get up to 8mbps downloads doesn't mean the servers you're downloading from are going to deliver anything close to that - and almost universally, they don't). When is the last time you downloaded something that took 1-2 hours? For 99.99% of Americans, the answer is "almost never". Or the question, "If you had the choice of paying 3x more for being able to download something in 2 hours instead of 6 hours, while all other services stay the same, would you?" 99.99% of people will probably "No."

Therefore, there is competition (I'd like more, but...), and the insistence that we need ever-marching bandwidth really isn't founded in reality. One good idea, however, would be to have a single physical pipe along the "last mile" that anyone can slide their cables or wires into. The pipe is owned by the city, not any individual company, and companies pay a mild rent on the pipe. The first company to dig also puts in the pipe but gets reimbursed for the expense. That way, we stop wasting so many resources installing redundant infrastructure, lowering the barriers to entry and facilitating new-comers and competition.


This is a copy of a letter I sent to the FCC and also posted on John Dvorak's forum.


Good Afternoon,

I am writing to you about two current issues that are both closely related to one another. I am referring to the practices of cutting off service to so called "Bandwidth Hogs" and the practice of interrupting particular types of network traffic, also to stop bandwidth hogs. With so many new technologies hinging on open Internet access, it would not be in the best interest of consumers, or for the country as a whole, to allow individual ISPs to decide what traffic they will or will not allow. The USA, once the undisputed technology leader of the world, is falling behind in nearly all aspects of technology. Much of this is because of established industries trying to protect their business models. The Cell Phone industry and Internet access speeds are two examples of the USA falling behind other world nations. Our falling behind is not due to inability, it is due to corporate greed.

Comcast is currently using deceptive practices to limit what they call "bandwidth hogs." Comcast says it is doing this for the benefit of all users, but it is really doing it for its own benefit. Any other type of business has to increase its capacity to accommodate its customers. Isn't it illegal to sell a service that one cannot provide? If I sold 1000 concert tickets for an event being held in a 500 seat hall, wouldn't I get arrested for fraud? What about a restaurant that controls ketchup usage by only have one bottle to be shared by every table. (It's not our fault you have to wait for the ketchup, Sir. That hog over there is using too much.) Comcast was happy enough to sign everyone up, but now that there are so many more services and activities available online, they do not allow their paying customers to use the service they are paying for. To cover this poor business practice, Comcast is saying they are doing it to "protect" the other users in the neighborhood. That is nonsense. It is an excuse to avoid upgrading their infrastructure to provide the service they have already sold to their customers.

I have been online researching IPTV. That is, to be able to watch TV from anywhere in the world on my PC via the Internet. It is available in other countries. Apparently, from what I have read online, American ISPs block Internet TV from geographical regions other than one's own. This is to stop users from accessing free content that could compete with the products they sell. I feel this is monopolistic behavior, and illegal censorship. This should not be allowed under any circumstances. Most high speed ISPs are either phone companies or cable TV companies, both of which are trying to compete in both phone and TV content markets. Should Verizon or Comcast be allowed to send reset packets in the middle of Internet phone calls to "protect" the other users in the neighborhood? If a paying user is downloading or receiving streaming movie content from another service, should the ISPs be allowed to send reset packets, or block it entirely? If Comcast were to buy public stock in Microsoft, should they then be allowed to send reset packets to anyone attempting to use Google's free online office programs to "protect" other users in the neighborhood from those "Google using Hogs"?

Another aspect of what Comcast is doing is cutting off service to paying users that "use too much" of the service they paid for. Comcast is charging approx. $45 a month for Internet access. Most users check their email, and surf the web a little. They do this for maybe an hour or two each evening, and much of the bandwidth is idle while email or web pages are being viewed. With web browsers caching most of the elements in web pages, rather than re-downloading them on each visit, the actual downloaded data is further reduced. I doubt the average user actually consumes 1.0% of the potential bandwidth available. (Actually, I doubt the average user consumes 0.1%. I looked at a breakdown of bandwidth usage at work several years ago, and it was well below 1%!)

I feel that in order to get my money's worth, I need to have a continuous stream of data going up and down my wires. In other words, I need to use 100% of my potential bandwidth. Then, and only then, would I be getting 100% of my money's worth. Due to the overhead involved, I doubt even the "Bandwidth Hogs" are using 50% of their potential bandwidth. And this is on top of the fact that one rarely, if ever, actually sees the "Max" speeds that have been (falsely?) advertised. Comcast is claiming downloads of up to 12 Mb/sec. That equals 1.5 MB/ sec. Multiply that by 60 sec/min, times 60 min/hour, 24 hours/day, and that equals a potential of 129,600 MB day. Comcast has disconnected users for 1000 MB/month. That is 0.0078% of thier potential. Who is the real Bandwidth Hog? Comcast, that's who. Comcast wants to get rid of the hogs and keep the "1 percent-ers" at full price. If they were to go to a "pay what you consume" format, they would have to provide detailed usage reports, and people could see what they have actually used. Rather than charging the "Hogs" more, Comcast would have to refund the 1 percent-ers 99% of their money.

Right now, we are looking at the age old question of "Where do we draw the line?" How much cheating do we let slide? How much corruption do we ignore? How much unfairness is fair? The only fair place to draw the line is at ZERO! I am personally not concerned with foul language on the radio or nudity on TV. I am able to change the station myself. I need you to focus on important issues. Important issues like Net Neutrality, and affordable unfettered internet access for all Americans. By upholding Net Neutrality, and forcing ISPs to be opened and honest in their business practices, American consumers will be better served, and the new technologies appearing right now and in the future will be available for us to consume and expand upon. Otherwise, the USA is doomed to being a backwater nation in world technology. Please do not let this happen.


Michael P. Lashinsky

cc: John Dvorak, PC Magazine

Bill Kleinebecker

It seems this whole discussion can be focused on the residential "last mile" market. We have competition and the abundance it brings about in the national backbone and, in large cities, the metropolitan networks.

There are two camps in these discussions: tightly regulate broadband to the home because there is a duopoly in most localities and let there be competition, however cut throat. (Hey, unless you want to make this a national priority, which I've heard nothing in the general press about. What's different in these practices that is different from other fine print put in by vendors ward against have a "hog".)

There is a third way and that is to encourage new competitors based on new technologies that don't have barriers to entry like the cost of digging up neighborhoods. My faves of such technologies is Wi-Fi Meshes, WiMax, and Broadband over Powerline.

Mike Fitzgerald

Mr Kessler, perhaps you like having brownouts in the middle of a summer heatwave? The power companies can and do cut your power flow when needed to preserve the greater good, but at least there are fairly strong regulations in place to keep this type of action from being capricous.

Comcast's actions in traffic management are a response to selling more capacity than it currently has or is willing to invest in near-term. Bait and Switch? No, because the consumer knows what s/he's getting; the contract clearly states so. False Advertising? No, the fine print shows up just fine on TV - can't everybody read 6000 words per minute?

Maybe it's high time the deregulated utilities get called to the carpet by some reasonable Representatives and some new reasonable regulations.

D Hicks

I have found in life the following - The greater the education can mean a larger idiot, "Too bright by half".
Long live corp. welfare.

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