Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 15th Aug 2010 20:28 UTC
Internet & Networking Lots of talk on net neutrality this week, mostly due to the joint policy proposal from Google and Verzion. While many Americans are calling for government-imposed net neutrality rules, The New York Times' Eric Pfanner proposes a different solution - one that has been working wonders in Europe. And hey, what a coincidence - I'm European!
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Sweden
by Creap on Sun 15th Aug 2010 20:54 UTC
Creap
Member since:
2009-08-05

In Sweden there are dozens providers of broadband via the phone lines (ADSL), and if you live in a bigger city, you might have another dozen of cable broadband providers.

We do have some monopolish situations in some houses where one cable provider (Com Hem) own the lines, though. But of course you can still have another ADSL provider or 3G broadband.

Some smaller ISPs stress the importance of privacy and refuse to cooperate with Copyright enforcement agencies unless hit with a court order. Some even provide anonymous VPN services. Is the situation in the Netherlands similar?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Sweden
by wirespot on Mon 16th Aug 2010 10:22 UTC in reply to "Sweden"
wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

Please correct me if I am wrong, but switching ISP in Europe is not as easy as you guys make it seem. The fierce competition has made them offer long-term contracts only, with heavy penalties for early termination.

So yes, at first, when you are not yet committed, choosing a provider is easy. But once you do, you are tied for at least the first year, and to switch you have to either prove you are relocating outside their coverage or to wait for the contract term to run out. (Well, at least they accept relocation as an excuse. In the US you often can't get away with that and have to pay the penalty regardless.)

Or you pay the penalty, which is large enough to make it lucrative for the provider and unpleasant for you. I seem to recall hearing that often it is larger than the strict equivalent of the remaining months in the contract, which gives the provider a nice little bonus. Moreso if you consider the fact they will not, in fact, have any associated costs for that period.

It may be that some types of services, such as mobile telephony or satellite television, can be purchased on a "pay as you go" basis, without a long term contract. But anything that involves landlines is most likely going to require a contract, which is automatically a long term one.

So, while the services may be excellent and choice abundant, there's a downside, and Europe is not exactly perfect either when you get down to it.

Edited 2010-08-16 10:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Sweden
by Odisej on Mon 16th Aug 2010 10:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Sweden"
Odisej Member since:
2006-05-11

Well, you only pay penalty if you receive something additional, like a laptop or HDTV or whatever. In that case the contract lasts for up to two years. But if you only subscribe to Internet service there are no strings attached. At least it is so in my country. By law.

As far as this mantra of "free market works" goes. Be assured that European ISPs are following American debates very closely. And if there will be no additional laws guaranteeing net neutrality they will always follow the smell of money. It is in their nature. Regardless of where they come from.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Sweden
by olefiver on Mon 16th Aug 2010 11:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Sweden"
olefiver Member since:
2008-04-04

Please correct me if I am wrong, but switching ISP in Europe is not as easy as you guys make it seem. The fierce competition has made them offer long-term contracts only, with heavy penalties for early termination. So yes, at first, when you are not yet committed, choosing a provider is easy. But once you do, you are tied for at least the first year, and to switch you have to either prove you are relocating outside their coverage or to wait for the contract term to run out. (Well, at least they accept relocation as an excuse. In the US you often can't get away with that and have to pay the penalty regardless.) Or you pay the penalty, which is large enough to make it lucrative for the provider and unpleasant for you. I seem to recall hearing that often it is larger than the strict equivalent of the remaining months in the contract, which gives the provider a nice little bonus.

Worked for an ISP in Norway.
The cost for early termination of an one year contract (regardless of ADSL line speed etc, you where only binded for one year), was about NOK 1.000,-
Which on the smallest contract was around 3 or 4 months of monthly fees.

If you had an ADSL line from an ISP, there was generally no cost to change provider, provided the one year binding was over.

And the ISPs handled the provider change, generally no massive paperwork for the customer required to change ISP.

Though, all of the above only applied for ADSL lines.
ISP using coax/cable is a different story.

Reply Score: 1

what free market?
by TechGeek on Sun 15th Aug 2010 21:19 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

Competition only works when you have a free market. You don't have that in the US. We allowed the phone and cable companies to set up monopolies in exchange for them stringing the wire. On top of that we removed all oversight from these companies allowing them to buy or merge with media companies. As a result, most of the major ISP's are also in the position of selling content. And since they do, who's content do you think is going to get top billing on their network? The only way to fix this is separate the business of owning the wires from the business of providing content.

Edited 2010-08-15 21:20 UTC

Reply Score: 9

RE: what free market?
by Tuishimi on Sun 15th Aug 2010 23:12 UTC in reply to "what free market?"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

At some point the larger companies (phone) were broken up... but then they just allowed all the bits and pieces to remerge in various different ways. Bizarre.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: what free market?
by fretinator on Mon 16th Aug 2010 18:34 UTC in reply to "RE: what free market?"
fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

Did you miss the Republican revolution - even Democrats participated? It was all about deregulation. The government spent about 10 years taking their hands off of everything they could - the oil industry, the FDA, the EPA, and certainly the monopolies. Even Microsoft benefitted. Prior to the "new thinking", they were at risk of being busted up into smaller segments - OS, Office, etc. Oh well.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: what free market?
by Tuishimi on Mon 16th Aug 2010 19:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: what free market?"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

No, I am just commenting on the fact that we tend to flip flop in our ideas... Flop being the keyword in some cases.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: what free market?
by telns on Mon 16th Aug 2010 23:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: what free market?"
telns Member since:
2009-06-18

Things like breaking up Microsoft are entirely unrelated to the kind of monopolies in question here, which are much more closely related to public utility monopolies.

These monopolies did not just happen, they were specifically organized and granted by government (incidentally, so was the Bell monopoly). The initial poster had it spot on. In exchange for laying the wires (phone/fiber/cable) companies were given the exclusive right to provide services within specific areas, where they would be immune from competition. Most of those concessions are granted at the state and local level, and though Federal policies can play a part, they are not the primary influence.

Deregulation as you mention it has quite literally nothing to do with it, in that I've never once heard any politician of any party talk about deregulating those arrangements. They should, but they don't.

Edited 2010-08-16 23:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: what free market?
by telns on Mon 16th Aug 2010 00:53 UTC in reply to "what free market?"
telns Member since:
2009-06-18

The problem is not so much that the corporations desired monopoly (of course they want them), it is that the government granted them.

At one point it is very possible that a "natural monopoly" in these kind of services existed. That is, it might have made little economic sense to have multiple providers competing, because there were fewer benefits from competition than there were fixed costs incurred from with having multiple firms. The gigantic mistake in that came from turning what may very well have been a legitimate natural monopoly into a legal monopoly, where it was illegal to compete. There was no reason to stop even the attempt of competition. If it was truly a natural monopoly, the competitors would have gone broke for trying, but that is their chance to take.

The law is almost certain to outlive the conditions that produced the natural monopoly, not least of all because the concession holder will fight tooth and nail to preserve their position.

That is where we are now. There is no natural monopoly in these services now, but the legal monopolies persist. They should have never been granted in the first place, and they should be done away with.

Edited 2010-08-16 01:10 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ssa2204
by ssa2204 on Sun 15th Aug 2010 21:41 UTC
ssa2204
Member since:
2006-04-22

The article presents some nice idealism, however it is far from practical or reality to think that we can institute competition. The cable companies would fight this tooth and nail, and we would see this strung out in the courts for years. By the time we would have a final decision made, we would all be flying our jetpack cars to Mars and back. Believe me, there is nothing on this world I want more than to see the end of local cable monopolization. 40 years of cable has taught me one thing, and that is holding my breath for competition is akin to waiting for the Vikings to win the Super Bowl, or the U.S. to win the World Cup. May happen, just not in my lifetime.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by ssa2204
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 15th Aug 2010 21:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by ssa2204"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Well, if was possible in Europe to force cable companies to open up their network, so why not in the US? Since when companies > government?

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by ssa2204
by Pro-Competition on Sun 15th Aug 2010 22:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ssa2204"
Pro-Competition Member since:
2007-08-20

Since when companies > government?


Unfortunately, the answer is: when companies own the government officials / legislators.

Ultimately it is the public that is to blame. After all, votes are still cast by people, not dollar bills. But the result is very similar, because the public is so gullible.

I'm afraid that we (the USA) are another proof that hyper-affluence (even of the imaginary, borrowed kind) leads to stupidity. It's depressing.

Edited 2010-08-15 22:17 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by ssa2204
by bile on Sun 15th Aug 2010 22:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ssa2204"
bile Member since:
2005-07-08

Well, if was possible in Europe to force cable companies to open up their network, so why not in the US? Since when companies > government?


1. The US has different laws regarding business and an aura of private property rights.

2. Because that solution goes further down the road that created the problem in the first place. A lack of respect for private property and corporatism. If you want to fix the problem attack the disease not the symptoms.

3. Companies (businesses) should always be > than government. A business offers products and services voluntarily. Customers deal with those businesses voluntarily. It's a win/win. At least that's the way it's supposed to be. Government intervention changes that. Government forces individuals to do something they otherwise wouldn't have. It's a system where at least one party must lose and therefore create this tug of war between the public and special interests. You let government treat businesses as anything more than an individual or group of individuals you will create a system bound for corruption and abuse. Government at most is supposed to protect individuals and their property. By forcing companies which have already been given unfair advantages through government corruption to open their systems you merely temporarily mend a doomed social ideology. Get rid of the power and you get rid of the power struggle.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by ssa2204
by Karitku on Mon 16th Aug 2010 08:06 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ssa2204"
Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

Well, if was possible in Europe to force cable companies to open up their network, so why not in the US? Since when companies > government?

Almost all European cable companies are old goverment companies that were granted unfair monopoly. Same goes for postal services, etc.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by ssa2204
by wirespot on Mon 16th Aug 2010 14:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ssa2204"
wirespot Member since:
2006-06-21

Well, if was possible in Europe to force cable companies to open up their network, so why not in the US? Since when companies > government?


Have they? Been forced by the government?

Someone wise once said the best thing the rulers could do is to issue as little rules as possible. Because once you put down a rule you have to keep enforcing it, again and again, forever.

I'm not sure what you mean by "open up their network". If you mean requisitioning infrastructure created by the telecom companies with their own money without any compensation, I doubt that has happened.

Beside, I thought the whole idea of this article was to exclude the governments from getting involved, and that a healthy market will automatically solve the neutrality problem by sheer force of competition.

So why are we discussing governements enforcing anything?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by ssa2204
by artworx on Tue 17th Aug 2010 08:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ssa2204"
artworx Member since:
2008-07-21

"opening up the network" means the ability for a small company to rent the infrastructure of a big player at a predetermined rate.

At least that's how it was done in my country.

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Welcome to the United States. Enjoy your visit.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by - Vikings to win the Super Bowl
by jabbotts on Mon 16th Aug 2010 18:52 UTC in reply to "Comment by ssa2204"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

off topic.

I just had an image of Norse boats landing on the shore and ax wielding, Armour clad marauders storming a stadium filled with the home team and unsuspecting fans.

Reply Score: 2

Competition is better
by Praxis on Sun 15th Aug 2010 21:50 UTC
Praxis
Member since:
2009-09-17

I agree with the articles main point that competition is a better way to get what we want out of telecom companies. After all what we want is is for them not to cripple the successful thing we have going now in search of squeeze more profit out of us. So competition would be a great way to keep them in check, no one will sign up for a service that cripples their service after all. But real telecom competition springing up in American is even less likely the net neutrality legislation being passed. The major players are far too entrenched and have too many friends in high places. So the only hope is to go for the legislative solution.

Reply Score: 3

Competition
by zenarcher1945 on Sun 15th Aug 2010 23:00 UTC
zenarcher1945
Member since:
2010-08-15

I can only speak for what we have in small towns in Oklahoma, U.S.A. One cable Internet provider, DSL through the telephone company, or dial up. Some areas still only have dial up. DSL is not available everywhere and where it is, it's far slower than cable.

For cable, we have ONE choice. Thank local government for that. Bring up the need for choice and competition and you are told by the city how the cable company helps build parks and helps finance other city services. In plain terms, one cable provider pays off the city, thus eliminating competition.

What do we, the customers get in return? Whatever the exclusive cable company wishes to provide. Period. They have no reason to fear competition. We wouldn't know what to do with choices, but I sure would like a chance to see what competition would bring about. Probably the same reason we pay for 3G on our cellphones, but only have EDGE available.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Competition
by wocowboy on Mon 16th Aug 2010 10:46 UTC in reply to "Competition"
wocowboy Member since:
2006-06-01

I live in a small town in Oklahoma as well, and own & operate a cable system in this small town. The sheer size of this town/market dictates that it is probably economically profitable for only one provider to have enough customer base to make the business profitable. Same goes for internet service providers, grocery stores, any kind of business. If there were 12 cable companies available here, each one would only have 15-20 customers, not enough to make construction, much less operation, profitable. We don't have 12 grocery stores here either, there simply isn't enough people. We don't even have one grocery store, we must travel 10 miles to a larger town for that. Also to eat at a restaurant, buy a car, etc etc.

European governments have always been more hands-on than in the US. The fact that most picked one standard, GSM, for cellphones, makes it MUCH easier for customers to move from one carrier to another using the phone they like the most. And European governments have been much more active in requiring networks to be built to any size cities and towns. As you know, here in the US, the largest cities are now seeing 4G and LTE systems being turned on. Smaller cities have 3G, while those of us in small towns are stuck with EDGE and probably will be forever.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Competition
by ezylstra on Mon 16th Aug 2010 14:49 UTC in reply to "Competition"
ezylstra Member since:
2010-07-16

I can speak for Chicago. One DSL provider per area. One phone provider. Competition only exists across technology. DSL vs. Cable, etc.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Competition - similar here
by jabbotts on Mon 16th Aug 2010 19:00 UTC in reply to "RE: Competition"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Here in the big city; one cable, two isdn and the second isdn runs over the first's wires.

Reply Score: 2

So...
by Almafeta on Sun 15th Aug 2010 23:07 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

... the Internet in Europe works like the health care system in America?

Reply Score: 2

RE: So...
by evert on Sun 15th Aug 2010 23:14 UTC in reply to "So..."
evert Member since:
2005-07-06

thanx, no, internet access for most people is excellent, at least here in the netherlands.

health care for most americans is performing very poor, better not to compare with that.

the usa performs good on tax level, though.

Reply Score: 3

RE: So...
by Tuishimi on Sun 15th Aug 2010 23:14 UTC in reply to "So..."
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Don't be flip! ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: So...
by Soulbender on Mon 16th Aug 2010 01:08 UTC in reply to "So..."
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

No, the internet in Europe is actually functional.

Reply Score: 5

RE: So...
by Auxx on Mon 16th Aug 2010 06:11 UTC in reply to "So..."
Auxx Member since:
2007-04-05

I live in a small ex-USSR county called Latvia. Here we have an option to get fiber optics plugged right into PC limited to 200mbits (no other limits, 30mbps guaranteed 24/7) in most major cities. That costs about 35 bucks. There's also a 500mbit plan. I'm spending my summer in the county side near sea shore and have 10mbps DSL with no strings attached.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Sun 15th Aug 2010 23:36 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

the US is full of oligarchies. yes competition works really well. but only if there is competition. baby bell vs baby bell doesn't count.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Sun 15th Aug 2010 23:39 UTC in reply to "Comment by Luminair"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

gm vs ford and lockheed martin vs boeing hardly counts too. you see for yourself the manifestation of real competition in those situations: tesla spurred gm's organizational shift toward the volt, and spacex spurred boeing's cst-100. in order for competition to work, up-and-comers (disruptive competiters) must be allowed to exist, must be encouraged to exist, and indeed must exist.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Luminair
by ezylstra on Mon 16th Aug 2010 14:50 UTC in reply to "Comment by Luminair"
ezylstra Member since:
2010-07-16

Baby Bell vs Baby Bell only exists when one wants to acquire the other. They all have monopolies in the areas they operate.

Reply Score: 1

Australia?
by ba1l on Mon 16th Aug 2010 00:04 UTC
ba1l
Member since:
2007-09-08

"Across much of Europe, consumers can choose among dozens of broadband providers, offering faster and less expensive Internet access than is available to most Americans. The situation is similar in Australia and in some advanced broadband markets in Asia, like Hong Kong and Singapore,"


I wouldn't hold Australia up as an example. We seem to be somewhere between Europe and the US in this regard.

Our telecommunications infrastructure used to be government-owned. It was sold off a while ago, resulting in a company (Telstra) that owns all the infrastructure, and provides phone and internet services.

Since they're a public company they want to make as much money as possible, and they own all of the infrastructure, they have no reason at all to allow competing ISPs. Or phone service providers, for that matter.

So, they didn't.

The Australian government had to force Telstra to offer wholesale access to other service providers. They also had to force Telstra to price wholesale access below retail prices, because otherwise Telstra offered retail services for much less than they charged ISPs for wholesale access.

For cable internet, we have the same situation as in the US. There are two companies that laid cable - Telstra, and Optus (SingTel). The two cable networks do not overlap much, so if you want cable internet, you have no choice of providers.

So we have competition between ISPs. Kind of. But we seem to have only got there because of government intervention.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by _xmv
by _xmv on Mon 16th Aug 2010 00:37 UTC
_xmv
Member since:
2008-12-09

Competition won't work out.

Non neutrality will be enforced on all ISPs. It's only a matter of time.

In france they already are planning a law for this.
Labelled, legal content has a neutral processing.

Unlabelled, illegal or legal content is low priority processing (or eventually blocked)

The cover this as a "security to ensure neutrality" while of course it's breaking the neutrality by design, as labelled content (labels will be applied by lobbies as per usual!) will have priority over the rest of the net.

In Germany, several ISP rate limit all traffic to 100k/s, for example, the fiber optic ISP kabel deuschtland does this. It's nowhere in the main page, but all traffic is capped from something like 4pm to 8pm to 100k/s.. except HTTP.

The only persons using this ISP that I know of, are paying accounts on rapidshare and the like, to download illegal files at 100mbit/s. (so they pay really a lot to get illegal stuff at high speed.. how stupid if you ask me..)

Reply Score: 2

Physical Connections are Few
by ortcutt on Mon 16th Aug 2010 01:48 UTC
ortcutt
Member since:
2006-04-17

It's great to talk about dozens of providers but it's not economical to install more than a few physical connections to the home. I currently have two physical connection installed into my home, Verizon FIOS and Comcast Cable. That's it. We could pass legislation forcing Verizon and Comcast to allow competitors to use their physical connections (like we did in forcing RBOSs to open up to CLECs) but that is hardly laissez-faire capitalism. Let's face reality here, internet service is a natural monopoly or duopoly utility service. It isn't a situation of free competition. Regulation such as net neutrality is a reasonable way to deal with situations where there is not a competitive market.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Physical Connections are Few
by Soulbender on Mon 16th Aug 2010 03:38 UTC in reply to "Physical Connections are Few"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Let's face reality here, internet service is a natural monopoly or duopoly utility service.


Nonsense. In many countries there's a healthy free market when it comes to internet service.
Let's have alook at what my parents options are (in Sweden):
* Get internet from any of the numerous (xyz)DSL providers
* Get it from one of the cable tv companies
* Get internet line from any of the phone companies
* Get a 3G service from a phone company
* Get the internet service from a power company or just via the power grid.

There are a lot of options right there and they live in a small town on an island.

Maybe the U.S just need to catch up with the rest of the world.

Edited 2010-08-16 03:40 UTC

Reply Score: 4

ortcutt Member since:
2006-04-17

But I imagine there are two or so physical connections into the home, cable and telephone. It requires effective regulation to tell the owners of those physical connections that they must allow competitors to sell service over connections that they own. It's ridiculous to characterize the European approach as laissez-faire (as the article does) since the abundance of choices wouldn't exist without regulation allowing it to happen. It's competition by enforced regulation, which is a great model, but one which has already failed in the US. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 tried to do it with CLECs but within a few years most of the CLECs went bankrupt. The owners of the physical plant, Verizon and Comcast in my area, are the predominant service providers. Cable isn't even considered to be a telecommunications service in the US and thus Comcast doesn't have to open up its cables to other providers. We can try to pass another Telecommunications Act and somehow solve the problem that we couldn't solve in 1996, but I'm not optimistic. It's disappointing that Mr. Pfanner is apparently ignorant of the complete failure that the US has had in imposing physical plant sharing on incumbent carriers in the US. If carriers aren't going to share their physical connections. then net neutrality legislature is the only way to prevent abuses.

Reply Score: 3

coreyography Member since:
2009-03-06

Enlighten me: so in Europe, how exactly were the costs of building out the infrastructure covered for all these competitors? I mean, a cable company here in the US where I live won't run cable for even TV (in a new housing development, or rural area) if they aren't guaranteed some certain number of hundreds of households.

We actually have a few choices where I am: DSL (if you are close enough), cable (no DOCSIS 3 yet, though), 3G, and now WiMAX in a few areas with Clearwire. The wireless providers will probably throttle to preserve their backhaul bandwidth, and the cable provider is Comcast ('nuff said). That pretty much leaves the one DSL provider, who hasn't done any throttling -- yet.

Edited 2010-08-17 04:44 UTC

Reply Score: 1

v famalegoods.com
by famalegoods103 on Mon 16th Aug 2010 13:23 UTC
v famalegoods.com
by famalegoods103 on Mon 16th Aug 2010 13:24 UTC
Comment by jjmckay
by jjmckay on Mon 16th Aug 2010 13:36 UTC
jjmckay
Member since:
2005-11-11

I love where that the idea of competition is finally being discussed as an alternative to NN. I think it's the only real solution. There's a phrase, "You Can Lead a Camel to Water, But You Can't Make Him Drink." - this is what I think Net Neutrality would end up being, because the ISP's will find ways to circumvent NN regulations in various ways (like for DMCA reasons, etc).

Competition is the best solution, and I'm sure it is what the duopoly really fears. The real problem here is that local governments granted duopolies all across the country and severely limited consumer choice. The idea that we need more government (N.N.) to solve a problem that government created in the first place, to me, is backwards thinking.

I believe there's an element of corporate propaganda supporting Net Neutrality. The Open Internet Coalition is one example. These are business who, instead of demanding competition, want government a partnership in the form of NN to help their business model.

There's one more scary aspect to Net Neutrality that really bothers me. It has to do with what happened recently with WikiLeaks. The Pentagon and the Obama administration openly threatened them to not release more information about the failed war in Afghanistan. This same federal government is now supposed to be trustworthy to protect our Internet traffic while at the same time suppressing open criticism and discussion about what's really going on, including war crimes. I just don't trust the federal government enough to give them powers over Internet traffic in some sort of political 'fairness' doctrine which will likely end up being a political backscratching, corporate backed law that does little to help free and open communication.

Edited 2010-08-16 13:44 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by jjmckay
by Almafeta on Tue 17th Aug 2010 02:56 UTC in reply to "Comment by jjmckay"
Almafeta Member since:
2007-02-22

There's one more scary aspect to Net Neutrality that really bothers me. It has to do with what happened recently with WikiLeaks. The Pentagon and the Obama administration openly threatened them to not release more information about the failed war in Afghanistan.


The key word here: 'threatened'. All they can do is say things or ask for things; unlike in countries like the EU or Australia, where if you are undesired you make the secret blacklist and all attempts to access those sites are monitored, the US has no blacklist nor authority to create such a blacklist.

Reply Score: 3

ISP Competition good here
by amadensor on Mon 16th Aug 2010 14:35 UTC
amadensor
Member since:
2006-04-10

I live in the country outside of a "town" of 185 in Wyoming. I have 4 ISP's to choose from. The reality of our population density makes both cable and DSL not practical, so the ISP's are mostly point to point wireless. I get 4 Mbps for $40/month. Not bad for being in the sticks.

Name one thing the government does well, or one thing they have regulated that had the intended consequences, and maybe I will consider net neutrality. I am not against net neutrality, I just don't think government can effectively implement it. Do it through competition.

Reply Score: 1

RE: ISP Competition good here
by ssa2204 on Mon 16th Aug 2010 20:20 UTC in reply to "ISP Competition good here"
ssa2204 Member since:
2006-04-22

I live in the country outside of a "town" of 185 in Wyoming. I have 4 ISP's to choose from. The reality of our population density makes both cable and DSL not practical, so the ISP's are mostly point to point wireless. I get 4 Mbps for $40/month. Not bad for being in the sticks.

Name one thing the government does well, or one thing they have regulated that had the intended consequences, and maybe I will consider net neutrality. I am not against net neutrality, I just don't think government can effectively implement it. Do it through competition.


One thing they have regulated well? Are you serious? How about Glass–Steagall that would have prevented the economic collapse 2 years ago! That worked pretty damn well for 60 years. About when regulations are actually enforced we don't see the tragic deaths of miners? Oil workers? Or just about every god damn American who works in anything but a nice cushy office? How about regulation on S&Ls? That worked out wonders didn't it when that was de-regulated.

God the ignorance of the masses and their ability to self proscribe amnesia pills.

Edited 2010-08-16 20:21 UTC

Reply Score: 2

oelewapperke Member since:
2006-10-16

"Name one thing the government does well, or one thing they have regulated that had the intended consequences, and maybe I will consider net neutrality. I am not against net neutrality, I just don't think government can effectively implement it. Do it through competition.


One thing they have regulated well? Are you serious? How about Glass–Steagall that would have prevented the economic collapse 2 years ago!
"

Would it have done so ? I doubt it ... Besides it's an act that stops the flow of money, it can't last in the presence of short-term decision makers.

Nothing short of a king-for-life government could have preserved glass steagall until 2008.

That worked pretty damn well for 60 years.


No it didn't. Read up on history.

About when regulations are actually enforced we don't see the tragic deaths of miners?


Oh right ! fabulous ! Hmmmm, WHO failed to enforce them ? You know, just wondering.

Oil workers? Or just about every god damn American who works in anything but a nice cushy office? How about regulation on S&Ls? That worked out wonders didn't it when that was de-regulated.


So, what you're saying, more accurately, is that because a heavily regulated cooperative, which is controlled by a democratic-type government even when the actual government isn't interfering, because such a cooperative failed ... we need ... more ... regulation ?

I'm trying to dry myself off, come on, God, bring the deluge !

God the ignorance of the masses and their ability to self proscribe amnesia pills.


I would say you're a very good example of that.

Besides, your "cure" for "the (willfull) ignorance of the masses" is to give them MORE power to "self-prescribe amnesia pills". We live in a democracy, remember ?

Reply Score: 1

Canada
by sparkyERTW on Mon 16th Aug 2010 15:32 UTC
sparkyERTW
Member since:
2010-06-09

As a Canadian, we face much the same problem as the those in the US. Our infrastructure is controlled by an oligopoly of a few large companies - Bell and Rogers in the East, Telus and Shaw in the West (with some cross over). These companies also operate their own ISPs. While there are some requirements placed on them to lease their lines to independent ISPs at fixed rates for the purposes of competition, they have been making good headway into lifting this restriction as they develop new infrastructure. As a result, we are being left with a few companies with no interest in taking the time, money or effort to compete with each other.

I agree with all the comments who argue "it isn't that simple", but that doesn't mean it doesn't need to change.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by LB06
by LB06 on Mon 16th Aug 2010 19:34 UTC
LB06
Member since:
2005-07-06

As I see it, there are two things a government can (has to) do when the once healthy climate of competition is getting ill:

It can create laws and regulations to combat the symptoms that arise because of this 'condition'. It can limit the prices, set minimum quality standards or enforce net neutrality for example. Sometimes this is necessary, for example when the government wants to ensure a (near) 100% availability to the entire population, regardless of economic considerations (e.g. clean water, health care, a form of housing, electricity) or when the financial gains do not warrant the investment (dykes, road infrastructure).

But often (not in the cases mentioned previously) it is more efficient to leave it to the invisible hand to optimize pricing and quality. When the free market is becoming less free, the 'invisible hand' mechanisms will no longer perform as it should. It then is the government's job to make sure that the invisible hand mechanism returns to a state of optimal efficiency. One of the most important prerequisites is to define the rules to which the stakeholders on the market should adhere to. And to correct the situation if the rules turn out to be insufficient to guarantee a healthy market (eg when players violate the rules or when monopolies or oligopolies start forming).

In my opinion the problem regarding the telecommunications market warrants measures from both angles. As many have already pointed out: freeing the market won't be an easy job. Especially not in a nation that's so phobic about government interference. That's why I think enforcing net neutrality in the meantime is still a good idea. The ultimate goal should be an effective and efficient mechanism of healthy competition, but in the meantime the situation should be patched up with net-neutrality in order to not let the situation worsen.

Another note: the situation in NL may be (much) better than across the Atlantic Ocean, but it's not as perfect as you depict it to be. Major infrastructure types are: Fiber, Coax and DSL. Fiber is still only available on a few places because of the high investment costs of running glass fibers to all houses.

Coax based ISP's are still geographically bound to a certain region, so there's not competition with other cable vendors. There's still DSL and Fibre (and DVB-T/S and IPTV for TV), but it's still not optimal. I believe the situation is improving, however, with Swedish sheep entering the market ;) .

DSL used to be a state monopoly here and that's still visible. KPN is still be number one provider for DSL infrastructure. Other DSL networks (BBNed/Tiscali/Versatel?) are not widely available.

So there's still a lot of room for improvement. But we're not doing bad comparatively I guess. Currently I'm on 100/100 FttH for €17,50 per month (internet only) and DVB-C (HD) for €15. My parents have 30/3 + Telephone Europe (landlines to Europe are free) + DVB-C Royal + DVR for approximately €60. They can even upgrade to 120mbit if they would like to. Not bad, considering that they live in a village with only ~1800 inhabitants, but it's still a lot of money. More competition never hurts. That also goes for NL.

Reply Score: 2

organgtool
Member since:
2010-02-25

As an American with very limited broadband choices, I can't show enough support for more competition in the broadband market. However, this is unlikely to happen soon and it isn't necessarily going to resolve the Net Neutrality issue.

First off, the population density of the United States is much less than that of Europe. For example, I knew someone who moved to a farm in a semi-populated area. They had one choice for broadband internet and had to pay the phone company $15,000 to run the cable for their service. There is no way to instigate competition in these areas because no company wants to spend such huge amounts of money wiring houses that will take decades of service before they see a return on investment.

Now for areas where the population density is higher, they usually have a few choices - a couple of large companies and numerous smaller providers. However, many of the smaller providers lease their bandwidth from the large providers. This means that if the few large providers start throttling bandwidth to certain services, all customers of the smaller providers will be affected as well.

The reason there is such little competition in broadband in the U.S. is because our government screwed up. They gave several companies billions of dollars to lay down the infrastructure and allowed those companies to maintain ownership of that infrastructure. Instead, they should have CONTRACTED companies to lay down the wires and maintain them while the government retained actual ownership of those lines. If the maintenance contractors do a poor job, another company can be contracted to do a better job. This is a great mix of the public and private sector. Since the government owns the lines, they could allow anyone certified to run wires access to those pipes and hundreds of ISP's would be born overnight. But since the government didn't take that route, don't expect things to change anytime soon.

Finally, even if the free market governed Net Neutrality, it doesn't take a lot of thought to see how that would turn out. Given enough time, almost every market in capitalism comes down to a few big players. Once it's down to those few, they tend to collude together to make it difficult for smaller players to gain any traction. They also collude to enforce policies that they know are anti-consumer. Just look at the wireless telephone industry in the U.S. In the early days, many companies charged vastly different rates for voice, data, and text. I remember when text messages used to cost $0.15 per message on my plan. The competitors of my service started charging $0.20 per message and it wasn't long before my provider followed suit despite the fact that there was no logical reason to raise SMS rates. Competition only works in small, emerging markets until a few companies establish their dominance. Since Net Neutrality would only detriment the few dominant companies, they would all opt to throttle your service in a heartbeat if they could start charging the big web service providers money.

There really is no other way to frame it: if you oppose Net Neutrality, you support the ability of internet service providers to throttle your bandwidth to certain web services unless those web service providers pay an extortion fee! Without Net Neutrality, internet users lose (their bandwidth gets throttled), web service providers lose (their service gets degraded for no technical reason) and the only ones who win are the internet service providers who use their customers as a tool to extort the web service providers.

Reply Score: 2

The FCC should be off the internet
by ari-free on Mon 16th Aug 2010 22:34 UTC
ari-free
Member since:
2007-01-22

The last thing we need is to give the FCC a license to regulate the web. Before you know it, it will be just like broadcast TV and there won't be any difference between Google and Baidu.

Reply Score: 2

French ISP
by Augury on Tue 17th Aug 2010 16:11 UTC
Augury
Member since:
2010-08-16

Competition means competitor who want's to compete.

The french example, for 3G broadband, three providers, with barely the same price.
When a new competitor came, they all raises the spectrum of job cuts ...

Here's the iPad data example :
http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/07/ipad-users-data-chart/


Competition was fair in 90's for ADSL ISP, but not anymore for 3G.

Reply Score: 2