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Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

2:05 PM -- If you thought net neutrality was a tricky issue before, it's gotten even more convoluted over the past few weeks.

First AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) tried to drag the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) into the fray, citing work done in the 90s to develop DiffServ as a way of enabling the Internet to handle the needs of different traffic differently, as proof the Internet was always intended to offer different tiers of service.

That prompted an angry response from the Free Press and other pro-neutrality groups, and even a denial by IETF Chairman Russ Housely, who later clarified his denial and probably now wishes he'd stayed out of the whole thing.

Now comes the Tea Party, backing the cable and telco giants in the name of preventing a government takeover of the Internet.

This is exactly what this debate doesn't need: more inflammation. There are rational issues to be discussed and rational solutions to be found, and inflamed rhetoric on all sides is not helping.

AT&T will take a hit on this one as well, as the company is allegedly donating to Tea Party coffers, along with spreading money around Congressional coffers, but net neutrality proponents have been fanning the flames for years, claiming that any attempt of an ISP to manage traffic on its network amounts to discrimination.

There is room on both sides for folks to take a deep cleansing breath and try to remember the ultimate goal that benefits everyone is an Internet capable of supporting the new video-laden applications, an Internet accessible to all, and -- here in the US -- for ISPs to be able to make a reasonable profit on their service offerings.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:23:55 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

It won't be long before someone proposes building a huge set of firewalls stretching from Brownsville, Texas, to Chula Vista, California.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:23:54 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

rj,


 


Got a question for you.  Let's say China, Germany and the US all pick different policies on the spectrum of questions that you have asked.


How do these get adjudicated?


 


seven


 

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:23:54 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

QoS is but only one aspect of the NN "debate."  Per Noam, the full gamut of issues include:

<ul>
<li>No different quality grades ("fast lanes") for internet service</li>
<li>No price discrimination among internet providers</li>
<li>No monopoly price charged to content and applications providers</li>
<li> Nothing charged to the providers for transmitting their content</li>
<li>No discrimination on content providers who compete with the carriers' own content</li>
<li>No selectivity by the carriers over content they transmit</li>
<li>No blocking of the access of users to some websites</li>
</ul>

A reasonable discussion would address all of these issued in a comprehensive manner and stop singling out one issue to justify not addressing the others.


paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:23:54 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

&nbsp;


Duh,


"Simple Policy Tussle"....okay WHO's policy tussle?


&nbsp;


seven


&nbsp;

Duh! 12/5/2012 | 4:23:54 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

The first Intserv framework, RFC 1663 was published in 1994, and predated the first Diffserv RFC, RFC 2474 by about 4 years.&nbsp;&nbsp; And TOS bits were intended to provide a simple traffic prioritization consistent with the DoD's multilevel precedence and preemption. That was in the original IP specification, RFC 791.&nbsp;


And, in any event, the ARPANET, which begat the Internet, was designed as a science experiment.&nbsp; The first thousand or so RFCs were not chiseled onto stone tablets by anybody's favorite deity; quite to the contrary, most of them were the equivalent interoffice memos and meeting minutes.&nbsp; The whole idea of the ARPANET project was to encourage implementation of novel ideas, as well as learning from the inevitable mistakes. There has always been a significant minority opinion in the IETF that service differentiation was unnecessary.&nbsp; However, it should be noted that the community as a whole, including many of the graybeards (like two of the authors of RFC 1663), have been supportive of these efforts.


In any event, this ought to be a simple policy tussle, mostly over matters of little practical significance, with a regulatory and technological solution that consists of dividing the baby.&nbsp; It's a shame that the forces of ideology-driven ignorance have turned it into a political battle.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:23:53 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

I'd probably start with a U.S. policy that enabled our own society and then hope other societies would catch on - kinda like a free press, democratically elected representative republic, etc. &nbsp; One example of what not do is what we did with the financial sector where Wall St. justified our (lack of) financial regulation/oversight with the rational that in order for the U.S. financial sector to be competitive that it had to exactly equal that of London (with respect to regulation.) &nbsp; Look where that took us - a race to the bottom.&nbsp; In that regard, I'm not sure I'd model China when addressing free press type issues.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:23:53 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

&nbsp;


Cool, so we can expect Chinese policies to apply!


Not to worry then about any kind of content issues.


seven


&nbsp;

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:23:53 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

In the legal system(s) of course ;)

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:23:51 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

&nbsp;


This like all other things on this topic are one person's opinion. &nbsp;Opinions are like anal orifices - everybody has one and most of them stink.


&nbsp;


For example, everybody points at Korea as a shining example of building a broadband infrastructure. &nbsp;It did so by giving the carriers a chunk of the content revenue.


Suppose we make it the other way around and make last mile pipes free to the users and paid for by the content owners. &nbsp;Sure would make the value prop change, but it would still be neutral. &nbsp;The idea of free content flowing is definitely as slanted as the other way around.


So, again it is Who's policy that matters here. &nbsp;So, think for a change rj - anybody who pushes content (Light Reading for example) has incentive to make pipes free for them. &nbsp;Not because they are good, because it is in their economic best interest. &nbsp;Just like it is in the carrier's best economic interest to charge. &nbsp;Don't be so tied up in ideology.


seven


&nbsp;

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:23:51 PM
re: Politics Meets Technology, Chaos Ensues

If you read the article by Noam you could get an answer to your question.&nbsp; Here's the snippet:


To do so, one needs to break down the problem into its components.





Last-mile pipes. This is the traditional core of market power for the pipes. Right now, there are at most two major pipes &ndash; the telecom and the cable pipes. They have significant market power towards the end-users, and even more so towards content providers, for whom they are the only way to access an end-user. To deal with this situation requires the following principles:


&bull; Incentives to increase the number of pipes. (allocation of spectrum to competing wireless providers, unlicensed spectrum, encouragement of municipal and electric powerline provision, temporary tax benefits to all broadband pipes, and access to public rights-of-way.)


&bull; Only end-users pay for use of the last-mile pipe, there is no charge by pipes to content providers to send packets to those end-users.


&bull; Packets from providers can access the end-user's last-mile pipe at its initial point.


&bull; Pipes are free to offer different quality and price packages to end-users.


&bull; Users are free to choose a quality or price package, to access any lawful provider, and to connect any device.


Middle-pipes. Here, there would be only no restrictions. For those pipes, competition exists, and content and applications providers could find ways to bypass restrictive middle-pipes, directly or through resellers, as long as they could access the last-mile pipes. The following principles would apply:


&bull; Pipes are free in their pricing and quality offerings.


&bull; Pipes cannot limit resale by a customer to other parties such as content and applications providers.


&bull; Where pipes discriminate in favour of their own content or applications provision and hold market power, they are subject to fast-track regulatory and antitrust laws.




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