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We all know that as technology empowers us to do more, it carries with it all manner of problems. But one of our biggest pickles tends to slip right by us: We're not free.
So argues Tim Wu, law professor, author of The Master Switch and recent appointee to the Federal Trade Commission. In the face of corporate control of the Internet, Wu's concept of "network neutrality" – the notion that networks should be equally accessible by the people using them, and that the people who own the pipes can't place restrictions on access to it or on the content that passes through it – has sparked nothing less than a philosophical war over the future of how we communicate.
I have said it many, many, times . . . "freedom is an illusion". Tim wu is absolutely right about How apple conducts its businesses. To Apple "CONTROL IS PARAMOUNT!". That is the reason why there are no more swappable batteries in MacBooks, no hard drives to change, and no memory to upgrade. And if "cloud storage" is any indication, tech giants are looking to gain complete and utter control over information.
Yes Apple's product model is tightly controlled, but that doesn't mean you aren't free to buy from their competitors. The philosophy driving "net neutrality" is similar to the misguided egalitarian ideas of universal health care, the Occupy Wall Street crowd and Karl Marx. Stated simply, the internet should be "free" and everyone should have equal access regardless of how much they slow down system resources for others because of their excessive bandwidth use. Because they consider it a "common good", having high speed internet access is elevated to a basic human right, even though it didn't even exist 25 years ago. In their minds, the huge capital investments and risk undertaken by entrepreneurs shouldn't allow those people to recoup their investments and profit from it, and they certainly shouldn't be allowed to throttle usage in the most fair way mankind has invented for consuming resources: by having people pay more for more use.
Apple is a toy manufacturer... a bastardized toy manufacturer.
I wouldn't buy one of their products with someone else's money.
Wow laurenra7 You really showed your narrow-mindedness there.
Let's see, internet designed and built by military using taxpayer money. Majority of content on the internet created by users of the internet and private entities not involved with the ISP's. Hmm, yeah, I can see where that makes it ok for ISP's to throttle the content that doesn't belong to them on the system they didn't invent so that they can profit more.
Right. Get a clue.
Hmmm...phoenixamaranth, I'm guessing that you think all that internet content arrived in cyberspace magically. A little clueless perhaps about computers, servers, networks, switches and routers, optical fiber, and the trillions of dollars of infrastructure that it takes to deliver that content to you, all built by private industry, not the government? Now you know.
The ARPANET was designed by private industry under government contract from present day DARPA (used to be ARPA, hence ARPANET). The ARPANET only connected a few research labs and universities, and that is where the government dollar stopped.
Fast forward to today's internet that larenra7 describes, and you'll find that the transcontinental fibers connecting continents, wireless transmissions links, data centers, routing hubs, and all the expensive servers, routers, switches, repeaters, and transmission equipment that goes into them have been manufactured, purchased, installed, and operated by private industry. This has mostly been done using their own capital.
As for the content on the internet, who cares who made it? No one is paying for your YouTube videos. The vast majority of internet content, though user generated, is worthless. More than that, companies like Google spend exorbitant amounts of money to store all the worthless videos of kids falling off skateboards and hitting each other in the groin with rakes, and the user hasn't paid them a dime for any of the server space or upkeep costs of their system.
The SERVICE of the internet carries the vast majority of value as I see it, and that service is owned and operated by private enterprises who spend their own capital to maintain, operate, and expand the service. Someone has to pay for that. Right now the majority of revenue raised on the internet is advertisement generated, which the infrastructure community rarely sees any of, though they pay the vast majority of upkeep costs for the internet.
Not saying I support some of the taxation schemes coming out of the EU and international panels (thankfully we still own most of the root servers), but the internet
First off, I work in IT and have worked on the backbone of the internet in multiple countries. Those devices from Juniper, Adtran, Cisco, etc. were all developed by those private companies not ISP's like ATT, Verizon, ComCast, etc.
Again, yes, the internet was developed at Universities under ARPANET which as you said is now DARPA. It was government funding. That means TAXES. The modern internet is built on the foundation from taxpayers. ISP's wouldn't have a business model without taxpayers.
You know the facilities that hold the backbone of the internet are not owned by ISP's? Yep, they are separate companies as well.
Again, the majority of internet content was not created by ISP's.
So why is it those ISP's who only have a business because of the hard work of all those other companies, taxpayers, and individuals believe they have exclusive rights to control the internet? It's absolutely insane to claim such nonsense. You might as well be claiming divine rights over a population.
As for the ISP's infrastructure, that's paid for by their customers. They didn't build anything out of the goodness of their hearts. That's why the US has so much land mass not covered by broadband. They built it for profits and profit they have. If they weren't profiting they would be out of business.
I do think that we are not inherently free on the internet. I don't wear a tinfoil hat, but I think everything we send out is listened to by big brother. Ever heared of a black room? No, you haven't, and that's the way they want it.
All in all, the internet is basically clay. A big friggin' thing of clay with a sign that says, "Come play with me!!!"
I don't think that netproviders should create any kind of censorship, or any form of blockages. As for laurena7, private sector is a friggin b1tch, huh?
Pheonixamaranth, ARPANET was for data backup, man. A little communication here and there, but mostly for data backup.
And thank's I thankfully knew most of the stuff you talked about. Didn't know you were goin so well in EU though
Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
You can look up the timeline of progression and see that ARPANET developed from a packet switching experiment into a full blown network designed to link various universities together through the efforts of various private contractors, university students, and military personnel. MILNET was the military version that was built at the same time for military only use. It was used primarily for command and control from remote locations.
I'm aware that there are different companies developing infrastructure v.s. providing service. I wasnt limiting the discussion to ISPs when i was discussing service. The infrastructure developers are part of the service side. Obviously there are production companies creating the equipment as well.
I don't disagree that there are many more stakeholders in the game keeping the internet running, and each takes their share in different ways. Equipment developers make profit on their equipment, leasing fees, and service/maintenance contracts. ISPs charge the consumer directly.
If you want to argue against ISP ability to control data flow through bandwidth caps and so on based on humanitarian concerns, I can agree to that. I'm most certainly a proponent of 'net neutrality'. What is less clear is when you have some kid running a server farm in his dorm downloading 10 video games and ALL the movies, do you expect the ISP to leave the rest of the users high and dry to accommodate those excessive users? There will obviously be a gray area between enterprise level users and individuals, but there cant be equal bandwidth priorities on a limited system. I dont see the humanity in bumping out a guy trying to upload a resume to a company to feed his family because his neighbor needs to download more porn.
You'll either pay for priority on the service side, which will ration unreasonable use, or you'll pay higher service fees to cover infrastructure improvement. The end user pays either way.
As for arguing that the public has any hand in the ownership of the current internet based on initial tax funding for the ARPANET, that is absolutely ludicrous. Not only does it only pertain to American citizens and exclude the rest of the world, the idea that because a technology was initially conceived on tax dollars relegates it to the public domain is asinine. Once the government dollar stops, everything made after is in the private domain, unless the technology is OWNED by the government (which in this case, it is not).
Fortunately there are many many ISPs available that are more consumer friendly (I know at least 5 or 6 other than the big names in southern NH where I live).
Also, want to specify... There should be a clear divide between censorship and bandwidth capping. Under no circumstances should an ISP block data service. But there should be some level of reasonable use over which an ISP can begin throttling the transfer unless additional fees are paid.
Laurenra is right on the money.
The contributions made to the internet by the government were paid for by business and individuals through taxation.
Not allowing a business to charge based on usage is criminal at best and short sighted. Why should I invest more in infrastructure if you're going to punish me by dictating how much I can charge?
This will slow down the internet for all of us.
Unmentioned is that the govt. is giving away free internet access to rural areas and we are paying for this.
To begin, there is not a great mass of telecommunications companies giving people a large choice in providers. Outside of major cities the public's options usually drop to two: the phone company and the cable company. If, like in my region, each cable company and phone company has exclusive rights to a set geographical area that means there is no competition because there is no alternative in most areas.
Let's go back to when this really began with Comcast in 2007. Until DSL came along cable companies didn't offer speeds near T1 (1.5mbps) to regular consumers, only businesses. After the phone companies got involved with DSL at 1.5mbps standard, cable jumped to 3mbps offerings. This is where it really started. Comcast sold customers 3mbps bandwidth but then throttled them BELOW that limit when they actually used the bandwidth they were sold. Customers had to go to court over it. Comcast lost but argued that these few bandwidth hogs were slowing everyone down. The reason they lost is clear: they sold the customer a product at a specified rate and then didn't deliver. There is a clear difference between throttling and capping. The cap was 3mbps and the customers knew that but that's not what they received.
As for infrastructure, cable companies claimed they couldn't keep up with DSL at the time yet they quickly have jumped to offering customers 60mbps and even greater. Clearly, they have the infrastructure or they wouldn't have made such an enormous jump in service in just 5 years.
Most infrastructure is actually paid for by businesses who buy service from providers. Right now, my company just paid about $200,000 to have ATT run a main fiber line to an area they didn't go before. Once complete, ATT will use this line to service other businesses and consumers even though we paid for the initial infrastructure. Cable companies do the same thing. Cable for my house would cost $6000 to bring the line 300'. If I paid, my neighbors would then be able to get service thanks to my buying the infrastructure.
Net neutrality also addresses another serious issue. Many companies have proposed limiting the internet to only webpages that directly pay them money. Yeah, think about that. You only get access to sites that paid them. Pretty much how cable tv operates now. So when you're restricted to one geographical area with one provider and they no longer have PopSci, Youtube, Google, etc. what will you do?
@Frank62, I haven't seen anything about the gov't giving away free internet. The FCC has proposed a tax on internet service to pay for more rapid expansion of broadband service throughout the US because we are lagging behind other nations.
@iambronco, I never said the public had ownership, but they certainly have a say. Most telecommunications lines are on public land and most telecommunications companies are sold exclusive rights to an area by federal, state, and local governments. That means their decisions directly affect the public.
phoenixamaranth is right these companies are over playing their hands and just showing how evil they are at the smae time. if they get their way the internet as we know it we die and be replaced with something that will be used to crush us not empower us as it has shown to do in the last few years.
dex drako, maybe you don't know how the free market works. If an internet service provider starts charging excessive fees, guess where its customers go? To their competitors. It's the way the Internet has been working for the last 25 years with NO need for government regulation whatsoever. So if it has worked so well so far, why on earth do you want government to step in now and change the way it works?
phoenixamaranth, you get the details right, but you keep missing what it all means. It's like the Microsoft customer support joke about their information being technically correct but completely useless. I understand your personal anger about having limited choice locally, but that's only because your market doesn't have much competition yet. It will change, maybe not as quickly as you would like. I'll bet 15 years ago your complaint was that you didn't even HAVE internet service in your area; that 10 years ago you had it but it wasn't fast enough; that now it's fast enough for browsing and doing 90% of what most people do, but it's not fast enough for streaming HD movies. Did it ever occur to you that your bandwidth usage has gone up exponentially over the years, just like everyone else, but the cost of that bandwidth per Mbps has gone up comparatively little?
As with virtually everything the government intervenes in, the misnamed "net neutrality" regulations would actually slow down the growth of Internet infrastructure. You can make regulations til you're blue in the face, but if those regulations stymie innovation by the private market because they impede rather than sustain the natural incentives (profit) of the free market, then as sure as death and taxes, you will see a slowing of innovation and expansion. Is that the price you're willing for everyone else to pay so you can have as fast a bandwidth as, say, a server farm that pays hundreds of thousands of dollars a month for their ultra-wide bandwidth?
I'm not exaggerating about the number of providers out there. Play with the maps and see coverage for yourself.
I live in a university town on the edge of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US. We've always had internet, but as I said, there are only one or two providers per service area. One is the phone company and one is the cable company because here, like in many states, service areas are licensed to one company of a type only. You can't get Charter cable in a Comcast area. For DSL your choice is ATT or an ATT reseller. That's it. There are no competitors to go to. There isn't this vast free market. Note I'm not talking just my town. My company is statewide and for a large portion of the state there is only one provider.
As for the price, dial up was $10 a month in the 90's. DSL was $20. Charter was $20 for 3mbps and now is $50 for 6mbps speed in most areas or more. Same with Comcast. No wireless providers are less than $50 a month for spotty service. The price has definitely gone up.
What you are ignoring is that just like with cell phones, there are so few providers that the market prices and levels of service are easily set and controlled. Look at ATT and Verizon phone service. Both used to offer unlimited data for $30. Now both only offer low tiered data for $50. They are even being investigated for price setting by the gov't.
Net neutrality isn't about the gov't getting involved in anything. It's about corporations not censoring or limiting their customers access to the internet. If you're afraid of gov't involvement just look back to the 1996 bill that actually DE-regulated telecommunications companies in the hopes more internet providers would pop up.
You need to accept that the internet isn't just this fun little idea anymore. It is a principle foundation of society now. A large part of the economy runs on it and a lot of people depend on it now. A private for profit provider has no right to try to extort that for more profit or personal agenda.
By the way the pricing for a T1 (1.5mbps) line for a business is still about $3000 per month. Just because home internet seems relatively cheap don't think ISP's are making a fortune.
The other side of the coin, permissionless access by unknown third, forth, or fifth parties at key level as well as supercookie domination of info gathering without permission conbined with the fact that it's considered illegal for me to kick someone's bum butt outta my computer and yer gettin a bit closer, Wu.