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back to article Google, Verizon offer net neutrality proposal

Google and Verizon have hammered out a joint proposal for the FCC and internet industry in the hopes of ending the roiling network neutrality debate. It won't. "Crafting a compromise proposal has not been an easy process, and we have certainly had our differences along the way," wrote Google director of public policy Alan …

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ha ha hahaha

Google isn't an internet provider, why are they in this to begin with?

Perhaps because they have other interests where paying for internet connectivity would be something they would rather not do.

Google already directly peers with a number of internet exchanges, probably more than Verizon does since UUnet/Verizon sucks to begin with.

Verizon peering was worthwhile in the dialup days but it's worthless at this point.

The world doesn't revolve around google. If their ad system died google would disappear practically overnight.

Verizon is being ran like the postal service losing money each day it operates since it's union and we can only look to GM to see how unions run companies.

Verizon pays union techs assumingly a good bit of money all the while outsource tech calls to india.

Google will never provide you with any kind of customer service. Contacting google is like contacting the whitehouse.

Fortunately im confident these two idiots 'google/verizon' will go no-where in these efforts.

Service providers have obligations to provide good service. Google is not a service provider.

Far as I know Verizon FIOS is still cherry picking it's neighborhoods claiming going into urban areas and apartment complexes isn't possible/easy yet Comcast doesn't seem to have issues with it.

When is Verizon Fios's customerbase going to be neutral?

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Actually...

Google is offering a public DNS service and trialling fiber to the home.

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Silver badge

Who does Google and Verizon represent?

Somehow this proposal comes across a bit like all "interested parties" getting together to draft a proposal for the criminal code. I'm not sure that these companies should even be involved in this kind of thing.

Good article.

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Big Brother

Google has a director of public policy?

That just says it all, right there.

Naturally, his work is the top hit on Google, too.

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"Die on the vine."

The free and open internet to become to the future as usenet is to us today? What a horrifying picture. This strikes me as smacking of people wanting to create “tiers” like cable packages.

In tier 1 you get access to the hoi-polli: blog, not for profit websites, government services.

In tier 2 you get access to basic entertainment/media services. Youtube, trailers for upcoming movies, and perhaps the dedicated television/websites/phone server ices of your ISP.

In tier 3 (HELLA EXPENSIVE) you get access to entertainment/media/phone/websites etc. from anyone anywhere.

I guess what I fear is a sort of creeping “financial censorship.” Only the well off can afford an uncensored/limited internet. This makes it easier for the gatekeepers of the internet (ISPs and megacorporations like Google) to control the flow and generation of information.

I add these links as relevant to my internets:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/12/how-the-robber-barons-hijacked-the-victorian-internet.ars

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2007/09/att-threatens-to-disconnect-subscribers-who-are-critical-of-the-company.ars

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Five years of Chicken Little scares, and...?

Trevor, your links show why the Neutrality campaign ran out of steam. Since Madison River in 2005, the only "abuse" anyone has been able to illustrate is Comcast "blocking" Torrents, and that turned out to be a temporary cock-up, not a conspiracy.

So no real abuse has been proved here, in five years of (well funded) Chicken Little anxiety about the sky falling in.

Before passing any legislation (eg, dangerous dogs) you do need illustrate harm has been done, you need to calculate the cost, and allow us to judge why the benefits would outweigh the disadvantages. NN was a little pretend campaign against general corporate evil by people who couldn't understand how the internet works. It was like wearing a ribbon.

How neutrality locks in the web's 'Hyper Giants'

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/09/neutrality_new_net_hypergiants/

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The freetards will save us from that

@Trevor_Pott

I do not believe that the consumer will be paying for priority traffic any time soon, especially not for the services you suggest. Quite simply, it's not worth it. There is no way on earth I would pay any more than wear and tear on my monitor, to browse to youtube.

There will always be the free sites that offer such services, and Google will be one of them (if not the only one given their actual intentions). Look at what has happened to the times online now they charge. Google don't want you to pay with your wallet, they want you to pay with your eyeballs.

In many ways this is why it is a much more insidious issue. If ISPs were charging us to go to sites there would be near to front page stories, politicians jumping on the publicity bandwagon, and someone would add the suffix "Gate" to whatever they called the story. However when people like Google want to pay on our behalf for us to get a faster load time for their site, we don't really pay much attention. Then as previous articles have pointed out, we get a Microsoft style monopoly, in which new competitors simply don't have the funds to get into the market.

So I don't think it will cost us, but I also wish that GooglePayingForPreferentialInternetTreatmentGate would be a bigger story. Maybe they need a snappier title.

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Whitewash

Andrew, your description of Comcast's antics minimizes what happened. If not a 'conspiracy,' why did they pay people to sleep in the seats at a Boston FCC hearing? Charity for the homeless or blocking criticism?

As for no harm yet, the reason l'affaire Comcast made a stink, is it is now not done — whether by rule or custom. I refer you to the man who jumped out of a skyscraper window and said, at every floor, "So far, so good."

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Boffin

Comcast didn't just "cock up"

They specifically said that they were doing 'traffic shaping' and went as far as equating their forging of RST packets with 'busy signals'. In reality, what they were doing was altering the packet traffic, sending bogus RST packets which in fact is more like 'cutting the phone line' instead of 'busy signal'. I think that behaviour is even considered illegal as it is interfering with comms, probably a federal crime as well.

Traffic shaping and QoS may be bad, but what Comcast was doing was outright evil.

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@Andrew O

Why should we have to show harm before legislating? Citizens have been slowly losing the right to the presumption of innocence, in no small part because these very megacorporate entities want to make a buck off of sell our privacy, or some new scare or whatever. I am generally not a great believer in witch hunts, but neither do I remotely trust any megacorporate entity. (The citizens going on the offensive for a change would be nice.)

I wholeheartedly agree with you that the vast bulk of the net neutrality campaign is utter bollocks. Pointless fear mongering of the worst kind…but I’m from North America. It’s part of the culture here. Everything is a great big fear campaign.

When I look at the net neutrality issue, I see on the one side a bunch of people who don’t want to pay for the cost of the service they use. On the other I see a bunch of fatcats who only want to take energy out of the system without ever reinvesting in anything. Neither side is sustainable.

I will put this as bluntly as I can: content provision and content ownership absolutely, completely and forevermore need to be separated. He who owns the pipes MUST NOT own the content. The potential for conflict of interest is simply too great. If you want to prioritize real-time traffic over web traffic, I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is any arrangement whereby Company A’s traffic is suddenly considered more important than Company B’s traffic /when both are the same protocol/.

Let me be doubly clear on this: I don’t have a problem with protocol discrimination; I consider it a necessary part of network management when we have limited bandwidth resources. What I have a problem with is a company being able to pay for higher priority of their traffic (of the same protocol) to be delivered to their customers. It is an issue of a level playing field; I am enough of a socialist to despise barriers to entry in any market. It’s the kind of thing that megacorporates do when they decide it’s cheaper to prevent competition than to innovate, and I seriously wish that something terrible would happen to every single individual involved in such decisions.

Worse, a company that owns both content and content provision may decide that they will provide the content they own cheaper or at a higher priority than the exact same kind of content from a competitor. Maybe you feel that’s all fine and good, but to me this start screaming “barriers to access,” something I believe to be morally and ethically objectionable.

You say that we have to wait until decades AFTER the megacorporations involved have decided to filter, alter, control or price out of reach access to information.

I say that we should learn from our past and act preemptively to prevent such a thing. I don’t object to paying what needs to be paid for access to the information required. I do object to being able to get access to more information than my buddy down the street just because I make more money than him.

If that makes me a tinfoil hat paranoid in your books, then you are welcome to believe that of me. I’ve been burned enough times by large greedy corporations simply to not trust them. I don’t accept the concept “this is how it is and so we must simply smile and accept it.” I may never be able to elicit the kind of change I want in this world, but I will continue to try until the day I die.

In this case, the potential of the Internet is awesome and frightening. Unlimited information available to all and sundry at the click of a button. Yet who controls the flow of that information, whether through outright filters or by pricing access to it out of reach controls EVERYTHING. Control the information the public receives; the commentaries, diagnosis, etc and you control the public itself. You see “net neutrality” and “open access” as different issues. I don’t. They are two overlapping circles, and where that overlap I would rather act preemptively than reactively.

The thing that I have never seen from you Andrew, or form anyone else who has done anti-net-neutrality analyses is an explanation of exactly why these megacorporates won’t try to lock down the internet? There are plenty of fantastic business cases to controlling access to information, creating barriers to entry and charging as much as is humanely possible whilst basically tossing the bottom few % of people to the wolves because you can’t get enough money from them.

You argue that none of these companies have made huge moves towards controlling the flow of information. I say: yet. It’s in their best interests to do so. This is why legislation is so very important: as a society we need to ensure that it is NOT in their best interests to lock the net down.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

@Trevor

"I say: yet"

OK, we're agreed it's not a problem. That's more than some people will admit. Some people have imaginary friends. Others need an imaginary problem to fight...

I'm in favour of both competition regulation and consumer protection - I think that's enough to deal with the problems you envisage, and you certainly haven't made the case that we need technical regulation for the first time. Luddite legislation that forbids network engineers experimenting and innovating is about the stupidest idea I've ever heard.

"The thing that I have never seen from you Andrew, or form anyone else who has done anti-net-neutrality analyses is an explanation of exactly why these megacorporates won’t try to lock down the internet?"

"Anti-net neutrality" ?

That's like being anti-unicorns - the net has never been neutral. No such explanation is needed. Things may change, and but why not find something else to get worked up about? I'm guessing we've cured malaria, and I just missed the news...

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Eh?

@ Identity: "If not a 'conspiracy,' why did they pay people to sleep in the seats at a Boston FCC hearing? Charity for the homeless or blocking criticism?"

Whether people were paid to sleep or not at the hearing is irrelevant. The question is whether Comcast's network management was justified, and if not, whether it justifies technical regulation.

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@Andrew O

Again, it is a matter of proactive versus reactive. The net has always been neutral in that access to information has not (with very rare exceptions) been prevented. Companies can and do discriminate traffic based on protocol, but the traffic will eventually get from point A to point B.

The exception to this has always tended to be filtering illegal traffic: cutting off spammers, or prevention of individuals within a country from access information their government deems wrong.

The issue at hand is whether or not to allow the corporations that own the pipes and own the content to block you from accessing parts of the internet. I don’t give a rat’s if they want to discriminate based on protocol. So long as there are least two ISPs in a given area to chose from, there should be enough competition that they will eventually get into a war based on who will filter your traffic less.

If we allow ISPs to own content, or to form deep alliances with content owners then we enter entirely other territory. There is now suddenly a business case for preventing (or at the very least deprioritising) access to services offered by rival cabals. There may even be reason to prevent access to blogs, media outlets or what-have-you that deliver a message contrary to that which the cabal in questions wishes it’s customers to have access to.

You say that we should not legislate against this until after it has happened. I call that bizarre and dangerous. It seems we are at a complete impasse here; our opinions will likely never be reconciled. The ability to charge different rates based on the ORIGIN, DESTINATION or ACTUAL CONTENT (not PROTOCOL TYPE) of traffic is my beef. That is net neutrality to me; keeping the access to information 100% open, and preferably enshrined in law.

Enshrined as a human right, if at all possible. I do not believe that it should be a human right to have X Mbit internet access or free access to the latest episode of Survivor. But it damned well should be a human right to consume any freely available information without prejudice, and to have the opportunity to pay for and receive any information behind a paywall without prejudice.

If I pay for HTTP traffic, I should receive all HTTP traffic from all sources without prejudice or prioritisation. If my ISP is partnered with NBC they should not be preventing or deprioritising traffic to/from the BBC. Similarly, if my ISP is partnered with FOX, they shouldn’t be preventing or deprioritising my access to left-wing websites or anything that actually provides access to provable facts or scientific research.

Has anyone done this yet? No. It is however only a matter of time. If any corporation in the position to do thinks for a fraction of a second it can “generate revenue” but doing so then it will be done. Corporations don’t have morals; they have only the pursuit of the almighty dollar. The possibility that corporations will prevent or deprioritise access to information in order to either gain competitive advantage or shape public discourse is a threat. It should be dealt with accordingly.

Nice redirection with the malaria thing though. It’s nice to know what our societies must obviously solve problems in an arbitrarily defined hierarchy. “Don’t worry about this problem, that problem is far worse!” Personally I believe that preventing any entity, from governments to corporate cabals from controlling information in such a way as to effectively control the public at large is THE most important issue in the entire world. You will never convince me otherwise.

If the rich and powerful have total information control then nothing will ever be solved. Why? They became rich and powerful because of how things are; any change at all is a direct threat to them.

This then is why I revered good investigative journalists growing up. The ones who didn’t let their stories get killed, and who stood up for telling the truth regardless of who wanted what parts cut. I was lucky enough to know a few growing up, and frankly it’s why I like reading The Register. There are the rare folks around here who “speak truth to power” even when it’s inconvenient.

Personally, I will not stand idly by while there is any potential threat to the free flow of information. Access to information needs to become more open, not less. We certainly don’t have completely free access to information now, but that should never be used as an excuse to allow further restriction.

It needs to be used as a reason to identify areas where access to information is restricted and fight those barriers with everything we as citizens can bring to bear. (With acceptable barriers for individual privacy. I don’t believe corporations or governments should have the rights of individuals, and so in all honesty I don’t believe in corporate or governmental rights to privacy.)

I’m sorry if you feel I’m a whackjob for believing that, but that belief is part of the very core of who I am, and has been for as long as I can remember. I also believe in being proactive about threats, from computer maintenance to corporate malfeasance. Placing an outer marker on information control and manipulation isn’t the equivalent of corporate pre-crime. It’s letting everyone; from corporations and governments to individuals know where the line is, and establishing penalties for crossing it before someone tries.

If you were starting up a new country, would you wait until the first murder before outlawing it? Or less alarmist; would you wait until the first town/university/church group tried to censor access to information they didn't like before you declared such activates illegal? If you wouldn’t, they why wait until after access to information on the internet has been curtailed before declaring such activities verboten? At what point do we start learning from the past and proactively working to better our collective future?

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WTF?

@Eh?

And just how do you propose we regulate, if necessary? Our system requires hearings to get the facts. When those hearings are blocked by bad acts it seems prima facie evidence that the actors are doing something wrong they don't want to get out or be challenged. If, indeed, their so-called 'network management' is justified, legal and in the interest of the public, it shouldn't be hard to prove that in a public hearing. Why are you defending Comcast?

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Megaphone

Dodgy Exceptions

These definitely need to be taken out.

I can see why broadcast medium networks don't want protocols which saturate bandwidth. I really don't want the 3g spectrum flooded with torrent traffic when I'm desperate for help from google maps, but this can and should be handled with download quotas. It's mostly a usage habit issue - you probably won't run torrents over a tethered iphone, if your quota is never enough to complete a major download.

If google or anyone else builds their own network and peers with various isp's, there's really nothing which can sensibly be done about it, any more than anything can be done about a company with an Australian, American and European webservers can be stopped from using ISDN to replicate data between them. If anyone wants to co-locate servers at an ISP, I see no reason to stop them. What I would object to is Apple's music traffic being prioritised over some small label's music at an ISP level. That sort of negotiation and discrimination is only open to the big boys.

I also object to traffic type prioritisation. Do you think telcos wouldn't let voip traffic "die on the vine" if it could get away with it? Of course, if I request my prioritisation on my ISP link, that's different. Perhaps I do want to slow torrent traffic and speed up voip.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

@Trevor

You make a lot of good points above, yes: most of the rhetoric is "utter bollocks" and "fearmongering". I agree. You also highlight why it's now a Dead Duck:

"Why should we have to show harm before legislating? "

- and -

"You say that we should not legislate against this until after it has happened. I call that bizarre and dangerous."

That's too bad: it's just how rational societies work, and there are very good reasons why it is like that. Once upon a time the King or High Priest would issue prohibitive laws according to what he had for breakfast. We have moved on since then.

So that's a generality. More specifically, business isn't regulated unless there's a market failure. There is no market failure here. There is no evidence of harm. Google and Verizon's document shows where they agree, and where they agree to disagree.

If I were you, I'd get used to it!

"Personally, I will not stand idly by while there is any potential threat to the free flow of information."

Well that's lovely, but what the Dickens else are you going to do? Jump up and down on spot until the threat passes? Set yourself on fire?

Remember, Trevor, that discrimination-by-content affects us at El Reg much more than most people commenting. If a carrier decided to block El Reg, for example, jobs would be put at risk.

"The ability to charge different rates based on the ORIGIN, DESTINATION or ACTUAL CONTENT (not PROTOCOL TYPE) of traffic is my beef. "

Well, when that happens, we'll have a look, shall we? It's already happened aplenty, without anyone complaining - a gaming ISP with low ping rates is A Good Thing. QoS is A Good Thing. Paying to see an new release movie streamed to you is something you have a beef with too, that isn't "harm" or "abuse" or a cause for additional state intervention. Ofcom, the Competition Commission and the OFT can already intervene when content providers monopolise distribution channels. They do all the time (regulators like to keep themselves busy) - it's why Kangaroo was axed, remember.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/03/project_kangaroo/

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Why should we trust these corps to act in our interest?

I get that it can make sense to differentiate traffic/packets/services as they travel over the internet.. and that we may be able to make better/optimised used of the infrastructure by using such prioritisation methods.

However, anyone proposing a set of rules to govern this needs to be very clear in what they say (i.e. no ambiguity) and assume that we (everyone else!) inherently distrusts them and will need a *LOT* of convincing that they are not our to negotiate something to their own advantage (their competitors disadvantage).

Inserting a clause saying anything like:

"Prioritization of internet traffic would be presumed inconsistent with the non-discrimination standard, but the presumption could be rebutted."

Is exactly the *opposite* of what they need to do if they wish to be respected and trusted by us (everyone else) as appropriate people to be suggesting rules.

Anyone feel like they should trust these guys on this - based on this proposal as reported here?

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The future is not wireless

"The future is inarguably a wireless one..."

I disagree - the future will almost certainly be a mixture, just as it is now. I defy anyone to come up with a sensible spectrum plan that will allow all the traffic we have over fixed wires (access network, backhaul, cable broadcast TV etc) to be totally replaced with terrestrial wireless.

Wireless will continue in the mix, doing the things its good at, as will all the other IP transort media

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Just an excuse . . .

. . . for tel-co's to not have to invest in increasing the available network bandwidth.

I pay to have an internet conection; I also pay to have data of various kinds hosted elsewhere (for personal and professional reasons). Why should there be a third (and inevitably fourth) cost to get the traffic at a faster speed than something else ?

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Adversaries - yeah, right.

This meeting is portrayed as a couple of adversaries dragged to the table to hash out some sort of deal neither one of them like. So why do I get the feeling they met, spent five minutes agreeing on something that was already decided months ago, and then talked about their kids for the next eight hours?

Something's just not quite right here, and I would bet good money both sides got exactly what they wanted, with consumers getting whatever was left.

Next, Google and Comcast have a "fight".

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drawing a box

It's simple. These companies want to put the internet today, and everything that's on it, in a box, and not devote any new resources or bandwidth to that box. Instead they'll develop new ways to deliver content over digital networks, and provision those services with new investment and equipment, and charge whatever they want for it.

We'll still have the internet - or rather, the internet as of today - but it will stop evolving and growing because it won't get any new bandwidth.

These corporations have one, and only one, motivation and we all know exactly what it is.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Actually...

"We'll still have the internet - or rather, the internet as of today - but it will stop evolving and growing because it won't get any new bandwidth."

Quite the opposite. Most of the capacity built isn't in use today because it isn't profitable to use it. If you have profitable businesses, then the capacity will meet the demand. FiOS and the growth of CDNs are good examples.

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Ahem

"As is true with everything these days in the good ol' US of A, it all comes down to politics"

You could just take out all the words between "everything" and the subordinate clause and be just as accurate or possibly substitute it with "with humans." Seriously, find me anything in the world that matters at all that does *not* come down to politics. Even in supposedly pure practices such as math and science, politics still rears its ugly head; why should this be a surprise when dealing with the Internet, which affects billions of people?

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