Strategic CIO // Digital Business
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7/17/2014
09:06 AM
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Net Neutrality: Let's Move Beyond Class Warfare

The Hatfields say consumers will suffer if we prioritize Net traffic. The McCoys say we're headed for communism if we don't. They're both wrong: The problem is lack of broadband competition, not lack of openness and equality.

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Tony A
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Tony A,
User Rank: Strategist
7/18/2014 | 6:39:37 PM
Re: The Bandwidth Wars
I can see he's a city CIO from his bio (which I tacitly acknowledged in my reference to "water main neutraltiy", if you will, in Asheville). City CIO's can have any background whatsoever, he could be a city CIO and have spent time at the Cato Institute or Goldman Sachs or lobbying for cable companies, who knows? But that is not the main point. You don't have to be a registered libertarian, or lobbyist, to believe in this rosy view of capitalism where competition and the free market solve all problem by punishing the evildoers with loss of market share. Nice vision, possibly believable in 1750, about up there with phlogiston and Bigfoot today. Because there are so many counterexamples to this notion, and because the author offers no real arguments for why it works any better as an alternative to Net neutrality, I can only surmise that he has another agenda, driven either by ideology or some financial interest. And if not, then so be it, let's just say he has no convincing arguments after putting his perspective in writing numerous times. "Hatfields and McCoys", "emotional issue", etc etc - this is not an argument. Where's the argument? It's not there. Read the article, it's a lot of hot air with no more argument than his previous articles, just a pulpit from which to tell everyone not to worry about Net neutrality.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
7/18/2014 | 4:05:09 PM
Re: The Bandwidth Wars
Many lobbyists are speaking to Net Neutrality -- but Jonathan is not one of them. He is a city CIO.
dried_squid
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dried_squid,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2014 | 3:49:48 PM
internet business outside the urban cluster
Class warfare? Competition? Net neutrality?


I wonder, have any of the experts looked at the business of the internet with respect to the continuing urbanization across the globe? If the citiies are where the money is, what happens to the country?

 

Who was it who promoted "Thinking out of the box", maybe we should also consider "Thinking out of the city" in terms of the national defense, equal opportunities, and the pursuit of happiness.
Tony A
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Tony A,
User Rank: Strategist
7/18/2014 | 2:43:28 PM
The Bandwidth Wars
Mr. Feldman has now written about half a dozen different articles trying to tell us that everything is fine, why we shouldn't worry about the federal court ruling on net neutrality, how the free market will solve any problems on its own, etc. This is usually a good indication that someone has a lucrative consulting or lobbying contract with a cable company or consortium or some other interested party (like a libertarian think tank). But lacking direct evidence of that let's just say that he uses a good variety of rhetorical tricks to divert attention from the obvious. Characterizing objections to the microcontrol of network packets by interested ISP's as "class warfare" is a cute way of dismissing the ire of the Internet communicty at the idea of putting wider pipes up for sale (or holding them hostage to competing interests). Maybe chain restaurants should get a larger piece of the water main than Joe's Diner? Good fundraiser for Asheville, I would think! But that is not the way a democracy works. The Internet is in effect a public utility and needs to be regulated. But Feldman thinks competition is going to solve the problem, a point that is de rigeur for any libertarian, and thus more a piece of ideology than a fact of economics. So just what is his evidence anyway? That he has two choices for broadband at home and four at work and he gets better response time at work! (Bring the kids to work to play those video games, Jonathan.) Question: what else is different at work for Mr. Feldman? Because whether four ISP's or forty ISP's are able to sell bandwidth to Netflix or ESPN or whomever, none of them are going to pass up that opportunity in order to let Riot Games or, say, Vimeo, open a similar pipe if they're not going to pony up. None of them are going to tell Netflix to go ahead and compete with their own paid content. In any case deregulation always results in less competition and more monopolization; cf. bank deregulation (a well-known marvel of free market economikcs). So I think Mr. Feldman is at best contradicting himself, suggesting that deregulating net neutrality is fine and that competition will solve any problems.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2014 | 2:17:37 PM
Of course...
...the very same people who have the most to gain from the abandonment of net neutrality will fight the the hardest to retain their privileged positions in the consumer broadband market (ones that would have been impossible without the municipal franchises that were deregulated by the Telecommunications Act).  In a competitive market, net neutrality wouldn't even be an issue because it would be to the benefit of ISPs and customers alike, but we don't have that market and aren't likely to get it unless Congress intervenes.  In the mean time, I think a short, simple net neutrality mandate makes sense, but we probably won't get one.

 
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Strategist
7/17/2014 | 5:01:29 PM
Re: An oversupply of fiber with an undersupply of competition?
Charlie, the dichotomy is because:

- Generally, incumbents own the middle mile fiber

- Some limited access to middle mile fiber is offered, at reasonable rates, but only for those in the "incumbent provider" club. Any new entrant to the market must pay a premium.

- The last mile is almost never shared. The telcos are using a different technology from the cable companies, anyway, so this wouldn't make sense... UNLESS there were other competitive telcos or cable companies in any given market. And, as we're seeing, there's more industry consolidation than there is competition.

Therefore, no competition. The concept of forbidding those who service middle mile networks from also servicing last mile is called "unbundling," and it has demonstrably worked in Europe. That's another thing we could do: force providers to choose which one they provide to. That would create a marketplace of last mile providers.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
7/17/2014 | 4:19:47 PM
An oversupply of fiber with an undersupply of competition?
For years there's been an oversupply of fiber optic cable in the ground, but there's an undersupply of competition in providing broadband. That's because the cable already in the ground doesn't infiltrate every neighborhood and it takes a cable supplier to provide the last mile to consumers? Someone explain the oversupply/undersupply dichotomoy to me.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/17/2014 | 12:40:05 PM
Re: Related update
Laurie, I saw this. More polictical pandering to corporations at the expense of the public. Hopefully the senate will strip the provision.
lkeyes70
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lkeyes70,
User Rank: Strategist
7/17/2014 | 12:16:31 PM
Re: Related update
More competition? Well, that would help for a start, but the trend has been toward consolidation, and the Comcast-NBC merger makes it worse, as content and delivery are mixed together. 

We really need to go back to the common-carrier model; neutral fiber, with competiton and corporate offerings available over them with a level playing field. 

Experimentation? Sure, great idea, but we already have a couple dozen successful municipal FTTH operations, which provide high-bandwidth connections at half or less of the cost of the cable and telco - provided offerings. Congress and the FCC seem to be doing the best that they can to kill them. And fiber when provided by Verizon FIOS seems to have been a wonderful idea but they stopped deploying it. 

Look, broadband is the infrastructure of our time, the Interstate Highway of the 21st century. It is being hijacked by a few large corporations. It should be provided as a government service, just like highways,  for the benefit of everyone.  

And don't get me started on mobile. How stupid can you get to have multiple overpriced mediocre systems which are incompatible, and which tie handsets to a specific network, and prevents them from talking on a the other network, thus requiring redundent towers in profitable markets and spotty or no access in rural areas?  

 As Susan Crawford states: "First, the relevant market for everyone is (or should be) high-capacity, low-latency, symmetrical fiber connections to homes and businesses of at least 100Mbps. That's what they have in South Korea, Japan, Sweden, and (soon) Australia and China. Right now, the vast majority of Americans are stuck with the cable guys' product, which is very expensive (three or four times as expensive for the same download services as in other countries) and second-best (because it doesn't provide symmetrical, or equal, upload capacity). It's not fiber, and it's under the complete price/service control of individual companies that, again, are subject to neither oversight nor competition and have no incentive to make the upgrade to fiber."
anon0163842212
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anon0163842212,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/17/2014 | 11:47:49 AM
Re: Related update
Yes I agree with Jonothan's statements.  Prioritization is a cold hard reality on all broadband, internet, and communications networks.  It has been in service for as long as I have been working in the industry, and will continue to be.  Just as Jonothan points out, Businesses have access to a much wider range of Broadband Network providers versus homes, and Businesses get much better quality of service because they are paying extra for it too.  We pay for Cable/IPTV video services, more than double what we pay for broadband in most cases, and that is delivered with prioritized quality of service.  We pay for Mobile and Fixed Voice service from the Mobile and Fixed network providers, and that is connected and managed with prioritized dedicated quality of service as well, and we pay as much for that as we do for broadband in most cases, using a tiny fraction of the network bandwidth to talk!  Broadband networks, up until now, have not had the optional technology enabled to set up quality of service paths across network providers to application servers and other consumers end points.  Now with the latest versions of international Mobile 3GPP standards, we do have that option, across all networks, Cable, Telco (DSL/Fiber) and Mobile.  This means that broadcast channels and individual user sessions may be set up end to end on demand.  This means that new ways (commercially and technically) of subscribing to cable "channels" and users content may be brought to the market.  If the US Government, or any government for that matter, blocks the commercial agreements from even having any opportunity to be made over web site (interenet) connections to Consumers, then it will effectively eliminate any incentive for any broadband providers to change their Closed Walled Garden ANTI-Competitive ways.  The networks need to be more open to options, commercial and technical, options that allow for more competitors ... like this website (InformationWeek) to gain access to onDemand high speed quality bandwidth for things like Video to be delivered with consumer satisfaction.  
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