Forget about Net Neutrality; the Net isn’t neutral now, nor will it ever be

“Nearly everyone, it seems, wants to prevent the FCC from allowing some companies to have internet ‘fast lanes’ while others toil at slower speeds,” Robert McMillan writes for Wired. “The only trouble is that, here in the year 2014, complaints about a fast-lane don’t make much sense. Today, privileged companies—including Google, Facebook, and Netflix—already benefit from what are essentially internet fast lanes, and this has been the case for years. Such web giants—and others—now have direct connections to big ISPs like Comcast and Verizon, and they run dedicated computer servers deep inside these ISPs. In technical lingo, these are known as ‘peering connections’ and ‘content delivery servers,’ and they’re a vital part of the way the internet works.”

“‘Fast lane is how the internet is built today,’ says Craig Labovitz, who, as the CEO of DeepField Networks, an outfit whose sole mission is to track how companies build internet infrastructure, probably knows more about the design of the modern internet than anyone else. And many other internet experts agree with him,” McMillan writes. “‘The net neutrality debate has got many facets to it, and most of the points of the debate are artificial, distracting, and based on an incorrect mental model on how the internet works,’ says Dave Taht, a developer of open-source networking software.”

“The real issue is that the Comcasts and Verizons are becoming too big and too powerful. Because every web company has no choice but to go through these ISPs, the Comcasts and the Verizons may eventually have too much freedom to decide how much companies must pay for fast speeds,” McMillan writes. “We shouldn’t waste so much breath on the idea of keeping the network completely neutral. It isn’t neutral now. What we should really be doing is looking for ways we can increase competition among ISPs — ways we can prevent the Comcasts and the AT&Ts from gaining so much power that they can completely control the market for internet bandwidth. Sure, we don’t want ISPs blocking certain types of traffic. And we don’t want them delivering their own stuff at 10 gigabits per second and everyone else’s stuff at 1 gigabit. But competition is also the best way to stop these types of extreme behavior.”

Much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Castlebuono” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Is the FCC the wrong agency to handle net neutrality? – June 21, 2014
Obama backs away from ‘Net Neutrality’ campaign promises after U.S. FCC vote – May 16, 2014
U.S. FCC vote on ‘net neutrality’ will kick off long battle – May 13, 2014
Mozilla proposes new version of net neutrality rules – May 6, 2014
FCC to propose new rules for so-called ‘Net Neutrality’; would allow broadband providers to charge companies for speed – April 23, 2014
FCC plans to issue new so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 19, 2014
U.S. federal court strikes down FCC’s so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations – January 14, 2014

19 Comments

  1. Talk about somebody who doesn’t understand the issue. Keeping Net Neutrality will PREVENT companies like Comcast from choking off website they don’t like while charging more for sites they want us to go to. Keeping Net Neutrality forces the ISPs to constantly upgrade to meet all customer demand, not stagnate, slow everything down while they sit on obsolete technology and rake in the money at higher and higher rates.

    1. If you believe Craig Labovitz, his point is that “net neutrality” does not exist now and probably has not existed for quite some time. Just as the big investment companies have closer, faster ties to Wall Street computing assets, big tech companies have closer, faster content delivery ties to the major internet backbones through AT&T and Comcast.

      If you agree with him, then the solution to maintaining a functional internet is not attempting to legislate some form of artificial “net neutrality” but, rather, to focus on increasing the degree of competition at all levels of internet service, especially at the level of AT&T and Comcast.

      The forced breakup of AT&T happened when I was growing up. When I was young, you rented your phone from AT&T…you could not “own” it. The breakup was somewhat painful at first, but the benefits of that action became clear over time, including more cost-effective long distance and local service and the availability of new phone designs that AT&T had no incentive to develop.

      The internet backbone is consolidating to an oligopoly. And, the same is true at the consumer end. If you want faster internet service than ADSL, then many people have either no choice (AT&T / Comcast), or very limited choice (AT&T or Comcast). The situation is already bad, and we do not want the trend to continue until we finally reach the point at which we have to take action to counter the concentration of market power. It would be vastly preferable to avoid that scenario.

  2. How about the government gets better at doing all the shit it already handles, then they can increase their portfolio to include Net Neutrality and all the other new crap people think up every year. Make sure all Veterans get good health care whenever they need it. Secure the goddamn border. Do stuff like that first, and worry about Net Neutrality and Iraq and Common Core later. Iraq can burn to the ground for all I care.

    1. Sit down and be quiet.

      As someone who is a veteran AND remember the days in active duty when I was as likely to get spit upon as offered a handshake (You do remember there was such a thing as the “Vietnam War” don’t you?) I know first hand how horrific veterans have been treated, not just by our healthcare system (which was even worse back then), but also by the U.S. citizenry. I was in during the period when the administrations tried to balance the budget by giving the military raises that were at times less than a third of the inflation rate (thus giving us what was in effect a cut in pay year after year). I remember getting out early in the Regan era to a decent job only to have that company fold within three months — then only to find out that the Regan administration pushed through a law making it so that my years of service could NOT be used for unemployment! So no job and no unemployment. Thanks, GOP. Way to “support our troops”.

      It is just in the last dozen years or so that the U.S. population has had a fixation with the politically correct requirement to “Support Our Troops” — sometimes to ludicrous levels.. In the last few years I was on a business trip and using one of those ride-share vans at the airport. As we were about to pull away the driver specifically stopped and waited for a full bird colonel get her stuff together and get out to us. As she climbed aboard virtually everyone in the van loudly proclaimed to the colonel that they didn’t mind waiting as the colonel was doing such a great service for our country. — Then this full bird colonel pulled out a paperback book to read — with the cover ripped off. (Other than the cover being ripped off the book appeared to be in perfect condition, and the colonel was just into the first few pages of the book.) It was all I could do not to ask the colonel why she was reading a stolen book. Certainly a full colonel could afford to buy a paperback book. But, from the effusive support the colonel received, I likely would have had to take on the whole van to get my point across.

      As far as “securing our boarder”… which boarder? You do know more illegal technology trade goes through Canada than any country in the western hemisphere, right? You didn’t? Maybe you should investigate how the ITAR is routinely circumvented by companies going through Canada. Such technological losses by the U.S. far outweigh any loss due to a farm hand crossing the Rio Grande.

      And Common Core? Do you even understand the underlying concept of trying to bring education into the 21st century? Do you even understand that some organizations would rather teach superstition than actual science and math? Do you even know that such individuals have, in the past, gone so far as to propose bills at the state level that require anyone dealing with the state to recognize that pi is *exactly* equal to the square root of 10? Do you not recognize that the rest of the world will surpass the U.S. if the U.S. does not get its math, science and technology act together in the classroom? Or are you really one of those people who still thinks the world if flat and that man was walking side by side with dinosaurs?

      As far as Iraq burning to the ground… would you have said the same of Europe during WWI or WWII or Korea or Vietnam? During WWII a small minority took control of Germany when no outside force opposed it. Then it gathered more strength and annexed other countries. Then it forcefully invaded countries. Would you propose the same fate for the region of the world in which Iraq exists? Do you even know what ISIS is all about? Do you even know that the resolutely reactionary Iran opposes ISIS as a group that is too extreme even for them? That’s right, let ISIS and groups like them take over that entire region — then see how much you like paying $10 a gallon for gas.

      Sorry everyone. I know I should not feed the trolls, but this one just got to me this time.

          1. Are you peddling that equivalency formula again?

            Yes, both had weak points and irresponsible failed policies.

            But don’t insult our intelligence that it is falls neatly 50-50.

            To use a gun analogy: Dubya was a BB Gun and O a Drone.

            Got it? Good. 🙂

            1. Who came up with the term ‘equivalency formula’? Is that a new Neo-Con-Job talking point attempt to make the sheeple forget G.W. Bush and D. Cheney are criminals of the highest order?

              You ‘ditto heads’ really are robots, right? You can’t have human brains. It’s just not possible.

              Meanwhile: Good luck getting sanity out of the Democraps.

              Shot by both sides
              On the run to the outside of everything.
              Shot by both sides
              They must have come to a secret understanding.

              – Howard Devoto

              Victims
              – We The People

      1. Shadowself!
        You are beside yourself posting so eloquently!!
        In my book, you can eloquent away to your hearts content, you’ve earned it many life times over.
        RESPECT!

      2. Shadowself, I’m not old enough to have been to Vietnam, but my uncle was. He did 2 tours. Don’t know if he ever got spit upon when he returned, but he certainly got his share when he developed brain and lung tumors at the same time. Of course, we instantly think Agent Orange. After he died, people came and asked his wife what latitude and longitude he was at on certain dates. How the hell would she know that? He may not have. And to cap it off, no one represented the service at the funeral. And yes, this was about ’88 or ’89 maybe ’90.
        The thing was, my uncle served and knew that it meant sometimes going to war. He didn’t expect everyone to proclaim him a hero because he did the job he signed on to do for more than 20 years.

      3. Great post, Shadowself! Too many people on this forum have a fixed mindset and are unwilling to consider other viewpoints. Far too many of them live on soundbites and labels, content with labeling, deriding, and discarding anything contrary to their precious, comforting beliefs.

        Well, the world isn’t that simple. Complex problems require debate and compromise. The gridlock caused by the opposing political extremes in Congress are gutting our country. It is easy (and wrong) to believe that “everything would be so much better if just this one thing changed…” The current rallying cry of the GOP is to blame everything on Obama. Earlier this century, the tables were turned and the Democrats did the same for Bush. But the problems are too big and rooted in decades of political change to be attributed to one person. If you believe that this country is of, by, and for the people, then look to yourself, first, for someone to blame. Strident complaining online is no substitute for real action.

  3. Yes, the author is someone who does not understand the issue in the least. Peering is a totally separate functionality from ‘Net Neutrality.

    Peering does not guarantee a “fast lane” and not peering does not guarantee you can’t pay for a fast lane. As of today it is the service provider who chooses whether you pay extra for a “fast lane” or not.

    The issue ‘Net Neutrality tries to address is that for the major carriers the situation must be a bit is a bit is a bit and they must all be treated the same. If I’m a information provider that distributes information through one of these carriers it must not matter if my information is video based or graphic based or text file based. I should pay that service provider the same per bit for my information to get through their system.

    If I have servers hosted at that specific service provider then I pay a fee for that whether they want to call it “peering” or call it “hosting” or whatever. If I chose to host elsewhere and run my data through that service provider the cost per bit to send my information through them must be independent of whether I’m hosting with them or not OR whether I have information that competes with one of their own services or not.

    1. Idealistic thinking.
      Think oranges for a Minute .. Orange is an orange js a orange.
      But the price of the orange will be very different if i buy a thousand tons vs a a i pound bag !
      Volume gets u discount! Always!

      Imho.. Best approach is preventing monopoly ( prevent Comcast / time warmer type mergers.. Encourage more completion… Give consumes and content providers choice … Something that is non existent now… That is the culprit ! )

      1. Yojimbo007 is another mans Majimbo!
        He doth protest too much!

        Spoonfeeding mode:- Look up the meaning of the word Majimbo, why would you call yourself Yojimbo? If not being a close relation of the butt of your insinuating critical remarks!

      2. When you buy an internet service plan it is for bits, not an ala cart selection of sites, which would be a situation in which you might expect to pay more per bit from small sites vs large. To top it off, its the large sites that the ISPs are trying to double charge – the opposite of a volume discount. So your analogy makes no sense in this situation.

        Here is one that does:

        If you buy the right to transport cargo across a road to your factory but then the road owner sneakily starts slowing down traffic from popular suppliers unless they pay them additional fees on the side, the road owner is both double charging and not delivering the service they already sold to you.

  4. I HATE THIS ARTICLE.

    His premise is to give up and let the corporate rats ruin the Internet, as if it’s ruined already. NO IT’S NOT.

    So please STFU Robert McMillan who writes for Wired. Stop licking the boots of Verizon, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable ad nauseam in PUBLIC. It’s disgusting.

    And no, I’m not interested in arguing about it. I just want this Mr. Thomas Wheeler puppet pawn OUT of my government while ALSO keeping his boot licking habits to himself.

    The QUISLING Phenomenon:

    quisling
    n 1: someone who collaborates with an enemy occupying force. [syn: collaborator, collaborationist, quisling]

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