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October 16, 2009

Will Net neutrality end unlimited bandwidth?

Posted: 09:48 AM ET

Net neutrality policies that prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from managing network traffic based on content may end the age of unlimited Web use. Without the ability to intelligently manage their networks, ISPs are increasingly using data caps, often as low as 5 GB per month, to preserve bandwidth.

A year ago the FCC was breathing down Comcast's neck for throttling Internet traffic related to BitTorrent, the file-sharing protocol. With the threat of Net neutrality regulations looming, Comcast and other ISPs, agreed to drop BitTorrent traffic-management programs and generally treat all Web traffic as equal.

However, the Net neutrality concession wasn't free for consumers. AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner all rolled out monthly data caps shortly after the agreement.

Without neutrality, ISPs are allowed to manage network traffic by restricting content. They may do so intelligently, or they could slow streaming video, disrupt P2P services and even block rival Web sites - which would be highly anti-competitive. Though frustrating, the data caps allow ISPs to conserve their limited bandwidth without relying on network-management techniques that violate net neutrality.

Now the FCC has its sights on mobile broadband providers. FCC Chairman Julian Genachowski is a strong supporter of net neutrality and believes it should also apply to mobile providers. But with much less bandwidth available in the wireless spectrum, net neutrality could mean sluggish speeds and far more restrictive data caps.

In a Washington Post interview, Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Professor David Farber argues net neutrality isn't practical: "We've always said the Internet has infinite bandwidth, but the economics of running a network don't allow you to do that."

Net neutrality policies haven't crippled terrestrial Internet in the way Farber fears, but mobile broadband is not as plentiful. Wireless carriers may have trouble complying with neutrality regulation.

If every smartphone customer suddenly began to take advantage of his unlimited data plan with bandwidth hungry applications like VoIP calls or streaming video, and wireless carriers are not allowed to manage this sudden demand for content, the network would suffer.

Gizmodo thinks net neutrality will eventually cause smartphone users, like those with the iPhone, to lose their unlimited broadband:

You will pay for every ounce of data that you use. And if you're "crowding" the network by downloading a bunch of stuff, you're gonna get slowed down because that's the easy "net neutral" way to keep users in check. How much better is that, really?

Proper network management would be ideal, but there is no guarantee ISPs will manage our internet traffic effectively and fairly. So are you willing to give up your unlimited bandwidth for Net neutrality, or do you trust your internet provider?

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Filed under: computers • Internet • iPhone • online video • smartphones

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DH   October 16th, 2009 10:03 am ET

Sounds like we have a Hobson's choice here. Either pay for use or let someone else decide what content we can see.

Jason from California   October 16th, 2009 10:37 am ET

All the ISP's need to do is to stop overselling thier bandwidth. If someone buys a 768kpbs up and 1.5mbps down connection the ISP needs to ensure that they have enough bandwidth for all of thier customers.

If they have enough bandwidth for 1500 customers @ 1.5 stop putting 2500 customers on that connection. So again the only reason this is a problem is that the ISP's are too greedy and/or are not pricing thier service so that they can adequately support the number of customers they have.

We should not have to decide between neutrality and data caps.

PJ   October 16th, 2009 10:54 am ET

It's pretty much how this Country works in general – 5% of the population has the money, resources and power. On the Internet, about 3-5% of users are incredible, staggeringly, mind-blowingly greedy bandwidth pigs. Shut 'em down. Boot 'em out. What is their contribution to the Internet and the Human Race in general? ZERO. They consume and consume and consume and give nothing back. Beam 'em into the engine room...

l.e.   October 16th, 2009 11:05 am ET

I am a big fan of Linux distributions, and to try a new distribution you usually need to download a 700MB live CD. I usually don't download that much data, but I am afraid that my ISP will impose a cap and I will accidentally go over it. Will they cut off my Internet for the rest of the month? In today's world, this is unacceptable.
If only the ISPs invested their money in ways to transmit more data at a time via fiber optic cable instead of piggybacking on cable and phone lines.

John   October 16th, 2009 11:31 am ET

I love how this article goes about saying net neutrality is bad... I'm sorry, net neutrality is what keeps the large amount of people visting this website to keep coming here. No company is telling them where they can go and what they can see. The limiting of information by the removal of net neutrality and incorporation of business could even extend to sites the company "doesn't want to be represented by." This could mean the removal of information people should or want to know about and limiting most's scope on the world. I don't beleive that– even with data limitations– net neutrality should be abolished. Do whatever else is nessecary, I'd rather my information be free and un-biased by big business.

Ricky   October 16th, 2009 11:42 am ET

The problem with this situation is that ISPs need to invest more in their infrastructure to support the growing bandwidth requirements. All of this doomsday talk about running out of bandwidth and the net coming to its knees is baloney. ISP profits are immense and they will do anything to prevent having to actually upgrade their network and spend their wads of cash. As with the healthcare debate, there are tons of lobbyists swarming to spin this in their favor. The reality, however, is that there is no competition to drive down costs and consumers have one or two choices for Internet access. Do the research and look through the garbage they're spewing.

Andrew   October 16th, 2009 11:48 am ET

This isn't a problem that the user's should suffer through. Like the other blog poster, if you guarantee a certain bandwidth, then you should make sure that, even if every subscriber is using that bandwidth, the guarantee will stand. If it doesn't, then that shouldn't be the fault of the paying customer. Also, couldn't usage caps be construed to be anti-net neutrality. Think of it this way. If you are checking email, you are using very little of your allotment. If you happen to stream video or download via bittorrent, you will use up alot of your allotment. So, by creating or lowering caps, ISP's are effectively stopping bandwidth hungry applications from being utilized.

Wes Finley-Price   October 16th, 2009 12:06 pm ET

@John I was not attempting to discourage net neutrality. I personally do not trust AT&T to manage my Internet usage and I believe neutrality regulations are necessary.

The article was meant to show the real world consequences of Net neutrality and allow the reader to make up his own mind.

Allen   October 16th, 2009 12:18 pm ET

For those who are saying 'don't sell more bandwidth than you can provide': This is standard practice across many industries! Examples: Airlines overselling flights, hotels overselling rooms (counting on no-shows), etc. ALSO: You electic company and other utilitiy companies do the same thing! The typical house (at least in my neighborhood) has 200 amp sevice provided. However: if everyone in the neighborhood suddely tried to use all 200 amps provided, it would overload the system! Brownouts in California anyone? The reason for this in the case of the utilities is that they know that, in general, not everyone will use all available resources all the time (in fact its probably an average of well under 10%). So, since the customers do not want to pay for resource provision that would mainly stand idle (in the electric company example this would be like 10 more power plants for each one we have now), they come up with expected average usage figures and provide that level of resource plus a cushion for unexpected events. Where the companies run into problems is when something new comes along and suddenly the average usage figures increase [example: air conditioners putting extreme demands on power companies]. So unless we are willing as customers to pay a substantially higher access fee (and not just a factor of 2 either) the service providers (of all types) will always be using usage average techniques as a method of cost control.

John Doe   October 16th, 2009 1:17 pm ET

Net Neutrality is not needed.

It's just another long-term implementation/project for the control of the masses, and to shift benefit to the less fortunate.

Justin   October 16th, 2009 1:34 pm ET


You are exactly right. The main issue is that ISPs in the US are for-profit commercials organizations. Their main goal, as with any for-profit business, is to maximize profits. They purposely throttle people back and hold off on upgrading because upgrading network infrastructure is very expensive. They might as well just limit the amount of bandwidth their users can use and hold off on upgrading until everyone who uses that ISP gets speeds comparable to dial-up.

The US is rated somewhere around 25th in the world for broadband speed and availability – and we freakin invented the internet (or Al Gore did, one of the two...)! In the US we get a FRACTION of the bandwidth compared to users in other countries where the industry is nationalized – heck they're getting up to 40-50mps speeds; when have you seen your ISP offer anything even remotely close to that? I know it makes me sound like a commie, but maybe nationalizing the broadband industry wouldn't be a bad idea, or at least impose some regulations to mitigate all these restriction the ISPs put on us.

Rural Oregon   October 16th, 2009 1:50 pm ET

Allen stated the issue nearly perfectly. I manage an ISP in a rural part of Oregon. The bandwidth costs us money to get internet out here then the costs have to be passed on to the consumer.

Jason from California your idea just is not feasible. It would be impossible to have a 1 for 1 ratio of bandwidth to customer. For us to do something like that in rural America we would have to charge customers hundereds of dollars a month just to break even on the cost of recieving that said bandwidth in the first place. So to keep costs down for the consumer there are some fine balances that must be maintained. If the ISP purchases to much bandwidth they end up loosing money an eventually failing. If on the other hand the ISP purchases to little bandwidth then they end up with unhappy customers due to slow speeds. Normally maintaining that balance is fairly easy. Now, throw in a handfull of customers that abuse the service by using thier service at its max rate 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That hand full of customers degrade the over all service for everyone. By all rights the ISP should be allowed to curb the usage of a few abusers to improve the overall service for the majority.

I for one believe there should be at least some control allowed over our networks even if there are regulations stating what is and is not acceptable. With no management things will only continue to get worse. If ISP's have no control I do forsee them using bandwidth allocation with limits of usage per month becoming more common. I for one do not desire to see that happen. But, ISP's do have overhead costs and throwing more bandwidth wont solve the problem due to the cost being a major restriction.

Ryan   October 16th, 2009 2:13 pm ET

Net Neutrality should be written into the constitution as a first amendment right.

I don't want a ISP to filter my content based on what it is, or how big it is. Its tantamount to a library saying you can't read that book in the corner because it has too many "a" letters in it, and its too large to get down off that top shelf.

Data caps, are coming quickly. Get ready for them. However, just as the senate is questioning text messages, those telecom companies imposing 5GB caps a month are doing something criminal and should have to testify to why their network sucks so badly they have to impose such an extreme limiting of traffic.

However what the story didn't mention was what the average data cap is. They gave us the extreme of that situation but not what the average person could expect, and that makes this story come off as bias in my opinion.

But the best part of this story, is how almost no one on capital hill wants to talk about it. I personally can't wait until we have a nationwide internet crash, all trunk lines down. The next day five telecom CEO's will have to explain to eight senators why they can't get their internet porn fix and have to go pay a stripper.

Mike   October 16th, 2009 2:19 pm ET

Net neutrality is necessary to prevent ISPs from over regulating what we access. It starts at illegal file sharing and moves onto throttling websites that don't pay the ISP for premium service.

I'm not too worried about bandwidth caps even for things like downloading an MMO like EVE online that is 2Gig since the caps I've heard would require you to download something that large about ten times a day to go over it. If I were using that much data I would be more than happy to pay for it.

Chad Boudreau   October 16th, 2009 2:25 pm ET

I can't believe whoever wrote this article has a job.

I appreciate dissenting views on the issues of net neutrality, but please.

You give the example of the FCC having breathed down comcast's neck, and shade that fact as bad. THEN you say "Without neutrality, ISPs ... could slow streaming video, disrupt P2P services ...which would be highly anti-competitive."

Mr. Finley-Price, that is exactly what comcast was doing. They were disrupting p2p services, and possibly slowing streaming video, which WAS highly anti-competitive.

I am OK with network administrators shaping their networks IF the owners of those networks do not gain unduly from that shaping. If I want to stream HBO from using the Comcast network I am paying to use, as opposed to buying HBO through Comcast cable, then I should be able to do so... or COMCAST SHOULD NOT make that choice.

Chad Boudreau   October 16th, 2009 2:38 pm ET

I apologize for double-posting.

1. Cell phone company's do not own, they lease, the frequencies their networks operate on from the government.

2. Some company's license their property such that you would be able to legally access it through different arms of a cable/internet company. For example, Funimation charges a dollar per episode for anime watched over Comcast's On Demand service, where those same episodes are licensed by other companies which stream them, legally, over the internet for free. Thus, I can use my ps3 to access on my TV for free the same material as Comcast wishes to charge me a dollar for.

Without net neutrality, Comcast can essentially decide, by slowing or interrupting my streaming video, where I watch the show.

3. FYI, Long long ago AT&T received a HUGE tax cut for the express purpose of giving everybody fiber optics. For the most part the extra profits reaped from that cut went out as dividends, and AT&T paid lip service to their obligations by buying bankrupted companies who'd invested in fiber optics during the internet boom. Recently ('06-'08) AT&T went back to congress to try and get 20-30 billion to aid them in in doing that which they'd already been paid to do.
Not sure, but I think they got the money.

Jason from California   October 16th, 2009 3:29 pm ET

Rural Oregon,

You say that customers that use thier max bandwidth 24×7 are hurting everyone but I would argue that they are getting thier money's worth. They are paying for a dedicated broadband connection which is availible 24×7 @ whatever speed. If the ISP cannot handle that than they shouldn't be selling it.

What it boils down to is the ISP's need to meet thier contractual obligations. If a 1 to 1 bandwith is not feasable don't sell that much to everyone. If I was paying 24.95 a month for a connection that was capped at 10GB per month (which is more than most people need) than that is fine, but if the data is unlimited than stop complaining if I use it like that.

It's shady business practice to sell something to someone that you don't have.

To sum up, Network neutrality is not the problem here, it is business trying to compete using shadow games.

Josh   October 16th, 2009 5:09 pm ET

It's just a sad fact that the U.S. isn't leading in internet speed to it's population. What I wouldn't give to have South Korea's internet.

"As of 2009, most apartments and houses are able to subscribe 100 mbps internet connection for less than $50. So far, there are no limits in these services." -Wikipedia

I know South Korea has a smaller population that the U.S. and a smaller geographic area to cover but I'm still envious. I hope our ISP's will get their act together and catch up.

Kevin   October 16th, 2009 7:41 pm ET

I have a few points to make on this topic.

1) Much of the bandwidth I experience is based on unwanted advertisements, and "fake" websites (ones that are simply there to generate ad revenue while mirroring others content). This is not content I asked for and would not be willing to pay for the capped bandwidth usage of this content.

2) Part of the reason why the ISP's such as Comcast and Time Warner might want to control the bandwidth usage of particular content and promote bandwidth caps is that their main form of profit, cable packages, is being threatened. More and more people are obtaining their entertainment from services such as Hulu and online video streaming and dropping their cable packages which cuts into their bottom lines.

3) I completely agree that if these companies invested the money to upgrade their networks, this would not even be an issue. Network Usage is only going to increase as more and more services are offered online, and more users subscribe. If these companies invested a quarter of the funds their executives are stuffing their pockets with we could have the best infrastructure in the world.

John   October 16th, 2009 9:01 pm ET

I am avg 7.5 Gig an month now and I do not DL movies. I would have a hard time under a 5 gig cap at these prices

Thom, Denver, CO   October 16th, 2009 10:56 pm ET

If the ISPs try to pull this crap the federal government should finally give all Americans free WIFI and just tell these smug jerks to sit on it.

The insurance companies are sticking it to us by using their vast wealth to manipulate the government, are we going to let all of these rich corporations continue to steal from us with impunity?

Kyle   October 17th, 2009 1:14 am ET

The internet should remain neutral at all costs. This is the reason the internet has become a cultural and business phenomena since it's inception. To give companies the ability to decide what type of traffic deserves attention would destroy this. Cellular networks on the other hand, are more limited, and don't really perform all the downloading and uploading of home PCs anyways, so it might be feasible to get rid of net neutrality in regards to cellular networks. However, technology is increasing rapidly, and what is a foreseeable problem now should not be hastily fixed with legislation when it could be fixed by future innovation.

Jan   October 17th, 2009 2:15 am ET

Let me explain the issue of network bandwidth management with a more familiar example.

Let’s say customers pay you $30/month and you give them each 5 movie tickets. You only sell as many tickets as you have seats in the theatre, so you are not overbooking. Some of those customers will not be able to use their 5 tickets in a month, so before the movie starts, you let customers without tickets sit in the empty seats. As long as lots of customers don’t use all 5 tickets, this works ok, and lots of people get to see more than 5 movies a month, basically for free.

So now let say one month, every customer uses all 5 tickets. All the customers who got used to going to the theatre and sitting in empty seats without a ticket, and were not let in this time, are angry. Do you think its fair the theatre didn’t let customers without tickets in?

This is EXACTLY what happens at an ISP with data traffic when the ISP throttles bandwidth. Even though for months you perhaps got to see 20 movies a month for $30, you only could do so because some customers didn’t use the tickets they paid for. Is anybody arguing that the theatre should just open the doors, and let customers in until it fills up, with or without tickets? The result would be some customers who have tickets, are not allows in. Is that fair?

To me anyway, the fair thing is to let customers in who have tickets, and have a standby line for customers without tickets, but who would like to see the movie. At the last moment, you let as many of the people in the standby line in as there are empty seats. This is a huge win-win for everybody, as every customer who paid for a seat get’s in, and some customers get free seats.

Currently, the large bandwidth users are getting free seats from their ISP, and would suggest they might consider appreciating how much bandwidth they do get for a low cost.

ISP’s need to be a litle more honest about this too, like by not using the word unlimited bandwidth in their marketing. It’s not unlimited, but at any moment, is way larger than the amount guaranteed for each customer. ISP’s might be required to disclose the committed per customer bandwidth, and some information on how the dynamic bandwidth is used.

ISP’s do have a slightly more complex problem, especially with P2P networking. The problem is like people who want to see the movie will just show up at the theatre, and as a result may crowd out customers with tickets. One solution for the theatre is to require customers without tickets to call ahead and ask if there is space available. My understanding is last year Comcast attempted to intelligently modify the data flowing between P2P clients to prevent this crowding effect. Many kinds of Internet traffic already have what’s called congestions control, which is exactly this kind of calling ahead to ask if there is space. I would have to believe P2P clients did not respect these congestion control systems, and continued to flood the Comcast network with data. To allow the people with tickets to get into the theatre, and keep the people who didn’t have tickets away, Comcast had to set up barricades on the roads leading to the theatre. Does it seem unfair that Comcast went to great lengths to assure that ALL customers were getting a fair share of the available bandwidth? Even if it meant setting network barricades for the customers trying to get empty seats that didn’t exist?

I think it’s important to separate net neutrality from bandwidth throttling. Letting a customer use their 5 seats they purchased in any way they want seems important, and is very different that turning away the customers who are hoping to see the movie for free.

We ALL will be worse off if the only way ISP's can fairly share the network is by limiting the bandwith of every user to the committed amount. This is like letting the half empty theatre sit half empty during the movie and not letting customers withough tickets fill those seats.

J R   October 17th, 2009 2:22 am ET

This article is epic fail. CNN taking money to post industry propoganda now?

aaron   October 17th, 2009 7:49 am ET

What's even worse is these mobile broadband companies constantly "upgrading" their networks requiring you to upgrade your smartphone when in reality all of these upgrades are done as software changes and not hardware!

Obviously they can't lock you into a new long term agreement so they pretend there is an actual evolution in technology instead. Demand the same standards that are on your cable/dsl modems, until then I'm holding off my purchase and you should too. Why buy something that's going to be "obsolete" in a year.

Darren   October 17th, 2009 7:50 am ET

I do not trust the providers – go net nutrality!!! The market will adjust, the content will adjust as needed. If the providers continue wiht their threats relating to net nutrality they will kill the market and we all know there is too much money in this for that to happen. Once there is a common rule for nutrality innovation will ensure the ballance of cost/capabilities works out.

mrlewish   October 17th, 2009 8:51 am ET

Unlimited bandwidth? Who the heck has unlimited bandwidth? This is a straw man argument. Simply put what ever internet speed you contract for should be on 24/7 period regardless of usage.

I think it's time to look at these cable companies franchises.

Jesse   October 17th, 2009 10:06 am ET

The large companies mentioned in this article have been taking advantage of consumers' desire for more bandwidth. When things first started rolling out, they gouged consumers with the guise of "we're building more infrastructure for future use." Now that people are wanting & needing the Internet more & more, their choice is to limit the use.

While not everyone needs or uses the data hungry services, these companies want to punish everyone for the use of the few. It is my belief that this small "heavy user" group is a minor percentage of the bandwidth used on their networks.

Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner just want to line their pockets more, now that their monopolistic controls over their respective markets are being threatened more and more by other service providers such as Verizon's FiOS service and satellite service.

Bill   October 17th, 2009 10:54 am ET

In Chattanooga, TN the epb (Electric Plant Board) is rolling out "fiber to the home". 50 mb speeds. What was Comcast's reaction? Litigation after litigation. While finally building up their infastructure to at least come closer to what epb's will provide. Every location that has had something like this talked about to offer some competition to the cable companies are always threatened with lawsuits calling it unfair competition. Maybe if the cable companies had a little competition we wouldn't be 22 in the world or whatever in internet services. Instead of targeting certain types of traffic I don't see why when the system is maxing out all traffic could not be slowed until the overall usage backs off. I remember several years ago when the local phone company tried to go to usage based pricing for local service. It was a joke then and it is a joke now. Let the market rule as long as there is competition such as the electric company. If it's a virtual monopoly treat it like one and regulate them like the power company or the water company. Whatever it takes, we cannot allow the rest of the world to be this far ahead of us and still retain our place in the world. Everything possible to foster competition should be done. These little towns that effectively get a kickback from the cable company for the right they sell to them to allow them to provide the service works to prevent competition. I saw that first hand in Bowling Green, KY where the electric company attempted to provide cable service and it was shot down by the city/county. Afraid of losing that kickback. Well, that type of thinking will come back to haunt them eventually. Chattanooga is the largest city in the nation with this sort of fiber rollout. And it's been a long and drawn out battle with Comcast trying to maintain their monopoly. Yes, I know it's not strictly a monopoly, but it might as well be.


Hunter   October 17th, 2009 10:59 am ET

1. Net Neutrality has nothing to do with the Internet – it has everything to do with ACCESS to the Internet.

2. Internet Protocol (IP) is not the Internet.

What is the Internet? Where is the Internet? Does any one single company own the internet?

Answer these questions and you are on your way to solving the riddle.

The Internet is a collection of networks (access, backhaul, ISP) and content (data on servers in hosting facilities). The content has an access component and the eyeballs (people watching/interactiving) have an access component. Both access pieces are typically controlled by a carrier, or ISP of some type, but those access connections at the core are mostly fiber-based. Whoever owns the fiber is KING. They are the landlords. Everyone else is a tenant.

The Internet is a system, similar to a human body. There are massive arteries that control flow. In the Internet these are calling Peering Points, or Exchange Points. They are in specific buildings in specific cities in the US and around the world. That is "where" the Internet is. Public and Private Peering are services that have been around for many years. ALL of the major ISP's peer in one way or another, but they do not do so through other carriers, or ISP's, they do so through direct, physical fiber "cross connects" at the peering points.

No one owns the Internet. Those that own and control access to it want you to believe that they own it though.

So as an ISP of any size, what is the best way to control costs, provide the highest level of bandwidth/service/quality possible at the most reasonable price? Procure your own fiber in to one, or more of these Peering Points and establish fiber connections directly to other access networks and also the content sources themselves. BYOA – Bring Your Own Access.

As an end-user what can you do? Do not leave yourself subjected to only having one choice. If you do, you will find that they can tell you what you can see, do, hear, etc and at what price.

Greater geography = greater disparity between networks.
Disparity = higher costs and inferior service.
Close physical proximity between a multiplicity of networks facilitate direct interconnections and thus reduces costs and improves service and performance.

IP Networks – Get to the Peering Points!
End Users – Get on a network that has a physical presence in the peering points!

Bob 32222   October 17th, 2009 6:14 pm ET

I hear from friends that the internet runs faster in foreign nations and without limits. What's the problem?

Beemer   October 17th, 2009 6:37 pm ET

The author of this article needs to be fired. There's bad reporting out there but this article is ridiculously far from reality.

Net Neutrality is, and *always* has been, about preventing *anyone* from blocking, prohibiting, or otherwise impairing the flow of *any* information on the internet.

Net Neutrality does not, in any way, shape or form, prevent Internet Access providers from managing their network traffic.

If they have a user that is 'hogging' the bandwidth, they are well within their rights to throttle *that user* in order to ensure a smooth flow of bits across their network.

The reason major ISP's are against Net Neturality is that they want to be able to throttle not particular users, but particular *pieces* (or destinations) of the Internet.

For example, Comcast, a cable TV as well as Internet Access provider, would like to be able to slow down (or even interrupt) access to something like YouTube while at the same time, making sure that access to their own theoretical website (that could be steaming TV content) remains great.

Without Net Neutrality, Internet Access providers could limit or even prevent your access to parts of the Interet that the provider feels is in competition with a service they provide.

Net Neutrality ensures that *all* content on the internet is accessible to everyone and that all content is treated with a 'best effort' attitude in regards to getting it from sender to receiver.

It's unfortunate when people like this article's author have no real clue about what they are reporting and don't bother to check the facts given to them.


LennyP   October 17th, 2009 7:13 pm ET

As long as the size of Microsoft and other companies critical updates - as in security patches - remain humongous any attempt to charge by the bit would be disastrous. Either the number of people downloading and installing these patches would fall dramatically or the companies issuing the patches would be required to pay for the bits sent downstream for each and every patch.

Robert   October 17th, 2009 8:47 pm ET

Really guys, I laughed so hard I think I broke something.

Another fine example of corporate propagnda being presented as balanced "news". I particularly like the fake comments made by concerned citizens. "Gosh golly, Net Neutrality is ~EVIL~ (Scary music plays.) It must be a Communist plot like Flouridation."

"I need to call my congresscritter and tell them to end Net Neutrality so that poor, sad, widdle, abused multi billion dollar corporations like Comcast won't have to try to compete in the marketplace."

"With only yearly revenue of only $30,898,000,000.00, how can Comcast possible compete against tiny startup companies."

(and protect our precious bodily fluids.)"

Really guys, Astroturfing at its finest.

Anonymiss   October 18th, 2009 12:09 am ET

"Unlimited bandwidth" doesn't exist, and doesn't have anything to do with net neutrality. Every cable, every computer, and every network has a finite amount of "bandwidth". The issue at hand is not "bandwidth", but the amount of data being uploaded and downloaded on the network at any given time by users on the network. Some ISPs offer plans with data caps that restrict how much data you can download in a given period (usually one month), some ISPs put no caps on the amount of data you can download. This is not "unlimited bandwidth", but "unlimited ACCESS" for a set price each month. If I am paying for "unlimited ACCESS", then my ISP had better not put a cap on the amount of data I can download or upload, or use "throttling" to slow down certain web sites or services. Doing so would be limiting my access, and not delivering the service I am paying for.

Mike   October 18th, 2009 2:27 am ET

How much money are the ISP's losing????????
This whole stupid debate is nothing more than CEO's trying to squeeze every cent out of the American Public. Comcast is trying to stop content from interfering with their cable TV packages. If everyone watches on the net instead of cable they lose their ability to gouge the american consumer for access to the Home Shopping newtork and QVC. Don't belive anything a corporation says..

Haseo Yamazaki   October 18th, 2009 2:33 am ET

ok, The FCC is purely retarded, 80% of what they have changed will push the technology advancement by several decades. As long computers get more advanced so should their internet connections. If I could I would just get rid of the FCC.

Jay   October 18th, 2009 6:24 am ET

I feel like I need to defend the "Abusers" so called by "Rural Oregon." Since when is someone who uses a legally purchased service an "abuser" That just doesnt make sense. Because those "Abusers" probably paid the highest price for the fastest package available from their ISP. They paid that price so they could use it the way they wanted. I for one, am an online gamer. My wife likes to download movies and TV shows. This stuff is available legally on the internet and we pay the highest price for the best package in order to not feel the ristrictions of low speeds. So are we ruining the internet for everyone else? Of course not. We are simply using the services we paid for.

I think that data caps will happen, and I dont think they will be that big of a deal. Simply put, you will have the speed you paid for and a download cap of say 20gb or 50gb or however many gb comes with your contract. When you surpass your cap your speed will slow down not cut off. In Belgium they had that system, and if you surpassed your download cap, you spent 5 more euro for 5 more gb of download and your speed went back to normal. it wasnt restrictive for those that dont "Abuse" the internet. And those of us that use what we pay for just had to pay a little more, and not download anything terribly large for the rest of the month, or keep topping of our download cap.

Jeff Martin   October 18th, 2009 7:20 am ET

This article is obviously written by a lobbyist for AT&T and Comcast. We're smarter than that and please spare us the insult.

chris   October 18th, 2009 11:17 am ET

Explain to me again why unlimited bandwidith is a bad thing to Uncle Sam?
Screw the FTC! What the heck are the whining about here? Is this just their attempt to control the internet even more? You know what IS going to happen when the US gov't finally can control your internet access right? It means you might one day find a fine in the mailbox, and the days of internet freedom(probably the last true free realm) will be officially over.
Big Brother get the hell of the net!

Yeah   October 18th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

shoot i average anywhere from 100-200 gb a month. 5gb a month, geez it would take me nearly 4 years to get what takes me 1 night. Comcast are greedy sons of.. well you know.

John   October 18th, 2009 2:39 pm ET

I do understand that cable companies have a problem with companies like Netflix selling movies over the cable,s network. I have a problem with it too, they do not invest in the network but use up great deals of the capacity of it and slow my usage down. If you are going to watch movies over the net you should have to pay for extra capacity. As I pointed out earlier I use on the avg 6.5 gigs an month some times as high as 9.5. I am retired and spend a lot of time browsing, it is hot in Houston in the summer.
Maybe a graduated scale is needed but if so those that use less than the 5 gigs I hear thrown out should get a huge price cut.

Greg   October 18th, 2009 11:25 pm ET

For the most part, the core of this discussion is based on marketing and media "territory" issues and not the technical limitations of a given network. The technology is available to provide relatively huge bandwidth to nearly every household within a few miles of the nearest fiber feed. The REAL problem is that the people who provide the bandwidth are also trying to make money through the sale of content, which inevitably leads to conflicts of interest. Back in the "old days," before the cable and telecom companies started buying the content providers, there was no concern about this sort of thing. I think there should be a discussion about regulating these media conglomerates to the extent that they cannot interfere with the healthy growth of the nation's networks. Let them compete in the arena they're designed to compete in: content.

Stan   October 19th, 2009 12:22 am ET

There are (essentially) three parts of an IP packet that ISPs can use to decide to filter or slow down that packet:
the source
the destination
the port
The source is where the data originates. The destination is where it is headed. The port is the type of data (www, VOIP, streaming, email, etc.).

Slowing is (essentially) done by pushing "lower priority" packets to the back of the queue...and if packets take too long to be transmitted, they are dropped. However, if the queue isn't too long, because the network isn't congested, all packets get through quickly.

Filtering or slowing by port means P2P, VOIP, streaming, email, and other applications can be stopped or slowed down. However, for sophisticated users, faking a port translation can remedy enforced port slowing or filtering.

Filtering or slowing by source and port means that an ISP can stop or slow down packets coming from competing streaming companies, or other such nefarious deeds.

Strict net neutrality means NONE of these items in the packet can be used to filter, limit, and/or slow down internet access.

If the problem is simply individual end-users who use too much bandwidth, then a potentially better solution (though maybe not as lucrative to the ISP's) is to push the "offenders" into a lower class of service (Hughs Satellite Services does this - overuse your bandwidth, and for 24 hours your access is severely slowed down). However, strict net neutrality will mean this is not a legal solution.

I very much like net neutrality on the port.

I very much like net neutrality for source/destination for backbone carriers.

I very much like net neutrality for source/destination for ISP's, except for the IP addresses of end-users.

ISP's should not be required to be neutral regarding packets originating from or destined to their end users. This is a powerful and useful tool for controlling bandwidth over-utilization by their customers.

Franko   October 19th, 2009 6:16 am ET

Utopia - Horn of Plenty –Free Lunch - Midas Touch - Communism - Equality in law enforcement –Rich also have a right to sleep under the bridge - Net Neutrality

JeffC   October 19th, 2009 8:36 am ET

This is so transparent. The providers can easily develop more bandwidth. This is about protecting cable tv revenues now that everyone can download movies and tv's to their computer. More cable providers money grubbing.

Rich   October 19th, 2009 12:16 pm ET

How about the fact that I just had to download a 98Mb QuickTime update and 14 "critical" security patches for XP?

chad boudreau   October 19th, 2009 12:43 pm ET

I like this.

"hey, let's sell unlimited access to the internet, cry foul when people actually use what they buy, and then laugh our way to the bank when people like Franko call demanding a free market contract being upheld communism!"

This is how the net neutrality argument started:

The internet providers decided that content providers (google, yahoo) should pay extra to be allowed to transfer data through their networks at the same speed as users (you, I, an others) paid to download. Thus, even though google doesn't use AT&T to access the internet, AT&T could force google to pay them extra, and if google didn't, then you wouldn't get your search results quickly.

Once that was squashed (essentially the provider would be charging someone else so that you could access the internet at the speeds you were paying the provider to receive), they turned to other tricks to extract extra money.

I'll be honest with you, monopolies are anti-capitalist, and so anybody who suggests that keeping these companies from exercising their power unduly is a communist is ill informed.

That means you, Franko, Jan, and Haseo.

Ryan in Silicon Valley   October 19th, 2009 1:00 pm ET

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. I've seen a lot of people here comment on how the providers need to upgrade their infrastructure and they're absolutely right. If AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc, all spent a solid percentage (more than 2%, try 30-50%) of their profits annually on upgrading their networks, we wouldn't be in 20 something place in average broadband speed as a nation. It's depressing to see how greedy these corporations are.

DiogenesRedux   October 19th, 2009 2:00 pm ET

The single best solution for starting to deal with capacity bottlenecks is the separation of Content and Infrastructure.
Forcing the monopoly cable, telco and wireless companies to concentrate on the efficiency and capacity of their delivery infrastructure by forcefully separating their Content would provide many more Content providers with reasonable access at reasonable cost.
Prices would drop rather than go up continually.
The Infrastructure owners would then have to offer tiered cost structures and business models for access, including metered bandwidth that truly does "level" the Content delivery system.
Want "Premium" Content? You will, and should, pay more than for just Email service, or Home Page Browser access.

Years ago, it was suggested that metered bandwidth would eliminate the Mass Marketing Email (AKA Spam) problem.
Separating Content from delivery, as we did with T.V. in the seventies, led to much more Entertainment (Content) choices by independent producers, the creation of additional "networks" and with Cable better Content quality.
There really is no other choice if we want more Content, better Content, greater bandwidth capacity, and an improvement from our lowly 15th-20th ranking in Broadband capacity and reach compared to other countries, including some considered second, even third tier countries, like Korea and others.

Meh   October 19th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

I want my money for nothing and my chicks for free.

Peter   October 19th, 2009 2:51 pm ET

Caps are certainly better than losing net neutrality, however, some consideration needs to be given to users who's habits use a large amount of bandwidth, but do so in a non-disruptive way.

For instance, I am a gamer, and during the day/early evening I use a small to moderate amount of bandwidth when playing games or streaming video on Hulu/YouTube.

At night, I use programs like Impulse and Steam to legally download games I've purchased through those portals. Some of these games could easily exceed an entire month's cap, yet I download them while 90% of the other customers are asleep.

A cap could still maintain net neutrality without harming legitimate use if they'd only count data downloaded during certain times of day. Something I download at 2am, will not interrupt your browsing at noon the next day!

Phil   October 19th, 2009 3:42 pm ET

The solution to overloaded networks, lack of money to pay for infrastructure, spam, and piracy is to charge postage on every single packet you cause to be sent or received on demand. People will have to watch how much service they demand, easing congestion and discouraging frivolous use (spam, pirated movies/CDs, nightly software downloads). You don't send your snail mail for free, your cable TV isn't free, and your phone calls aren't free (even with toll-free lines, /someone/ is paying for the service), so why should your Internet access be free? Find a mechanism for charging postage on every packet, and the market will resolve all the problems.

Paul   October 19th, 2009 4:20 pm ET

Okay a couple questions...

As said before, the major players were GIVEN tax credits to upgrade the infrastructure in order to deal with an increase in use. What happened?

If the ISPs want to add caps (fine) are they also going to block or provide credit for all the pop-ups, adds and other content I DON'T want? What about the packet overhead? What about pop-ups, advertisements and other stuff? For the ISPs who have added caps, how do I get a refund for the content I did NOT want? Do I get money back if I don't use the bandwidth? You can't have it both ways.

Finally, this article is pure hubris. It completely ignores that the major Telco's already promised (and received funding) to deal with increased usage. If they want to change the game now, perhaps they should be forced to refund all the money they took?

Jason L   October 19th, 2009 9:22 pm ET

Well there are a lot of good points made in these comments. Is Net Neutrality entirely bad? No. Is the way that it is being managed bad? Yes. With anything that is government related, it is going to take time to hash out the kinks in the system. Red Tape.

Now, on to those people disgusted with the US being so low on the Bandwidth-coverage area/speed lists. Look at how small the countries are that are in the top 10. It is much easier and less expensive for them to cover their country with fiber optics that it is for the US-based companies. The fact is, companies in the US are upgrading to fiber optics, but they are doing it for their largest markets first. This totally makes since on the business front. It also, is not a process that is fast. It takes time, permits, and man power to put these systems in place.

Just some things people should consider.

Dennis from CA   October 20th, 2009 12:07 am ET

@Ryan in Silicon Valley:

Ryan, try 130+% of their profit for AT&T this year. They are investing $19B on infrastructure alone this year and they only had $12B in profits last year. I think there is hope but as it is, this net neutrality thing is going to hinder that progress is what I hear. Kick 'em when they are down is not the solution if you want a fast and good internet like ppl get in foreign countries (yes, I lived majority of my life abroad and I know how wonderful that is). FCC right now is trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist. Ppl that say we shouldn't listen to corporations like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, I have a question for you: Soooo.... this Google.... is not a corporation?!?!? We should listen to them, advertisers on the cab billboards, rather than owner of the cabs (ISPs)? Since when do we own the infrastructure of ISPs??? Get real please... If you would like to invest billions of dollars each year for infrastructure and provide me high speed internet, feel free but since only ISPs are doing that, I will be happy.

Oh and here is my 2 cents: Since when porn is considered information? If the net neutrality is about information, it should not affect porn. There is nothing educational about porn. It just takes up bandwidth (which can be used for something more purposeful such as education children that are going to schools in our failing education system). So when will people will stop being greedy with internet? Think about that... I am so tired of hearing about how not being able to access porn sites is a violation of their constitutional rights. There you have it. You are stepping over others' constitutional rights for your own greed and that opens the door for others to do the same. Solidarity and teamwork is what made this country great and greed is the only thing that can take it down. So don't be greedy and think about others....

Darrin   October 20th, 2009 8:43 am ET

Don't sell me a watermellon and give me a plum!
If an ISP offers bandwidth of 10MB at 40 bucks, then I better get that speed. If they sell unlimited data, then try to knock that down, I better be able to cancel at no cost.

Where are we, China? They are going to block (or slow down) where I can go on the internet?? Sure, let Washington take over the US internet. Knock all these ISP businesses out of the the billions they make off us.
If they'd put half of that money back into the infrastucture instead of their pockets, we wouldn't have any problems.

Dutchman   October 20th, 2009 11:10 am ET

Yeah, this is a ridiculous mis-representation of things. I would go nuts if i got a monthy cap. I live in a very small rural community and only have 1 ISP I can realisticly get access from. Imposing a cap on us would be stealing, because we'd still have to pay for it, and if i still want to be able to play online-games there is no way i can go sattelight. So they pretty much have me at there mercy. But I have no real reason to bash on Mediacom, they just upgraded my internet speed for free, because they were UNDER charging me :P.

Chad Boudreau   October 20th, 2009 11:57 am ET

Dennis from CA: Yes AT&T is spending a ton of money this year to upgrade their networks...
1. They already received 40 billion + over a decade ago to do this.
2. much of their current upgrades are going to their 3g wireless system, which is for cell phones, not wired internet for the home. Actually, they are in the process of getting the pants sued off of them for promising 3g speeds to their iphone users and being unable to deliver.

Jason, let's look at those countries by size and population, factor in how much the people pay for their connections, and scale it to the US...

Finland's internet is on average 4 times faster than in the US.
Finland has 3.6 million internet users spread over 1/30th the land mass of the US...
but the US has 250,000,000 internet users, about 69 times as many as finland. Therefore, since we have 30 times the landmass, but 60 times the users, it should cost us 1/2 what it cost finlanders to access the internet at comparable speeds.

IF the finnish ISPs are profitable, then we should have 4 times our current speed at half of their cost and our ISPs would still be profitable. In 2005, it cost an average of 46 euros to access the internet, and the steadily increasing competition in that market suggests that it is profitable.

Oh...wait...I'm sorry. Most finlanders get the highest speed, which is 4 times our highest speed, but many americans do not. Many americans don't even have access to these kinds of speeds. In fact, on average the internet for americans is almost 10 times slower than in finland...

By the math above, since 46 euros = 68 dollars, americans getting the highest level of american service should be paying 1/8th of that (our market:land mass ratio is twice as large as finland, so we have two times the customers in a given area of land, which means you should get twice the customers for installing infrastructure). Half the costs to the customer (twice the customers for a similar cost), makes the internet cost 34 dollars, to get finnish speeds. But wait! At best we get 1/4 the speed of finnish people, at average 1/10th, so on AVERAGE our internet WOULD cost $3.40 a month, if proper investment by the ISPs had been made, and for our best current speeds, it WOULD cost $13.60 a month.

That means that if the ISPs had invested the money they were given by the government, as well as a decent portion of their profits, your ISP, no matter where you live, could give you the best speeds available to home users of our country for 13 dollars and STILL make a healthy profit.

How much do you pay for the internet?

B G   October 20th, 2009 12:43 pm ET

Dutchman, You chose to live in a rural area and one consequence of that choice is restricted internet access. I am so tired of the rural folks sponging off the urban. 90% of our transportation money is spent on rural roads while 90% of our traffic is urban... You chose to live in the sticks then you live with sticks. I not pay for your stupidity.

Franko   October 20th, 2009 1:33 pm ET

Net neutrality is the ultimate prejudice
Even Microsoft Windows has process priority

Near top priority should be VOIP, downloading movies, near the bottom

GreyGeek   October 20th, 2009 5:20 pm ET

In the mid 1990s my city began pushing cable and telcoms to string fiber optic so that the Internet would have enough bandwidth for everyone in the city to enjoy, at an economical price. The cable and telcoms sat on their thumbs so my city began laying fiber optic themselves, to set up a public ISP at affordable rates. I watched city workers bury a fiber optic cable in my yard, and looked forward to the improved service at an affordable price.

My city was just following in the steps of other cities that got tired of waiting for the cable tv and phone companies to leave their copper wires and join the 20th century. But, when the cable tv and telcos saw that the Internet was taking off they whined to congress about "unfair competition".

For most of my 68 years we've had the best Congress money can buy, and after enough bribes, a.k.a. "campaign contributions", rolled in the Congress agreed. The cable and telcos agreed to bury the fiber optic cable in their cities for a mere $200 Billion. Congress agreed again, and passed laws enabled the funding and outlawing cities from "competing" against the cable and telcos. The only problem with that legislation was that it had no performance guarantees or penalty clauses. An oversight that, without a doubt, was funded by the lobbyists bribes. (That's the same way the health insurance companies snookered Congress and Nixon into legalizing the current health insurance ripoff. Congress may be greedy but they aren't stupid - they set up their own private health care coverage that pays everything with no deductible until the day they die. They ate the steak and tossed the bones to us.)

As a forecast of what has happened with the banking system in the last year, those unethical, immoral corporations took the $200B and ran. The fiber optic cable buried in my yard could be feeding me and my neighbors 40Gb/s bandwidth at under $50/month. Instead, I have to pay $72/m for 10MB/sec connection. The only good part was a written guarantee that I would not be capped.... if they'll continue to honor it.

Meanwhile, those SAME CROOKED CORPORATIONS are now conning media outlets into saying that capping is necessary because their old Copper wires can't carry the load. Whose fault is that? It's THEIR OWN GREEDY FAULT.

IF Congress had any morally redeeming value, and TRULY represented the people who elected them, it would pass legislation requiring that the cable and telcos repair and connect at their own expense the fiber optic already buried and replace existing Copper wires with fiber optics to bring the USA into the 21st Century. No increase in rates. A few less Golden Parachutes, stock options and other beneies to management should cover the bill. If they can't afford to do it then entire Internet system in the USA should be nationalized and treated like a public, not-for-profit utility. If I am going to be stuck using an antiquated, capped technology, and pay premium prices for the privilege, I'd just as soon pay public employees managed by folks accountable to the ballot box.

The electric service in my community, Lincoln, NE, is a publicly owned utility and it continues to offer electricity to every home in my city for under 8 cents per KW, which is about 1/3 to 1/4 what private companies charge in other areas. The folks managing it are doing a terrific job during a time of energy uncertainty. Managing an ISP should be even easier be the current Internet bandwidth scarcity is ARTIFICIAL and only a result of greed and incompetence by the Cable TV and Telcos.

Enoch   October 20th, 2009 7:24 pm ET

It's just more corporate greed disguised as doom and gloom: "If we can't limit your freedom, you're going to regret it." If a market is hungry for unlimited bandwidth, somebody is going to figure out a way to provide it. Remember 2400 baud modems and how the telecoms wanted to meter them? It was for pretty much the same reason (greed).

Tim   October 21st, 2009 10:13 am ET

There is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth- the ISPs want to throttle to unofficially impose a cap. If they can't throttle, they have to be up front about how limited their "unlimited" service really is. Either way this goes the ISPs will find ways to profit, but at least with net neutrality the ISPs will have limits to how bad they can make it for us.

This article suggests a lack of net neutrality rules magically makes true unlimited service possible. Thankfully the well-informed comments seem to make up for the article.

Tim   October 21st, 2009 10:32 am ET

Just read Jan's theater analogy. The problem with throttling is it just picks certain types of traffic. It would be like the theater only allowing people wearing black shirts to watch the first 15 minutes of a movie, with or without a ticket.

If there were monthly bandwidth quotas, with low-prioritized bandwidth after the quota, it would be like spending your 5 tickets, then being at the mercy of whether other people use theirs.

I agree that people who use a lot of bandwidth should pay for what they use, but if they are told they get unlimited bandwidth, they should not be penalized. Bandwidth caps that stop these users from overburdening the network should not affect the typical user, so such caps should not be used as a scare tactic, unless of course they are used as another profit source, which would be the ISPs fault, not the government's.

GreyGeek   October 21st, 2009 12:02 pm ET

Your analogy reminded me of when I was a kid. I saved 25 cents from my paper route and every Saturday afternoon went to the "Pioneer" theater to see two movie features, a serial feature (Flash Gordon or the Green Hornet) Lowell Thomas read the new while the first Pathe video news clips played, and one or two LoonyTunes cartoons. If the second showing didn't fill up I'd often remain and watch everything again. The Pioneer had a split timber facade out side and inside were 10 rows of folding chairs, 15 to a row, with an isle down the middled, facing a large with cloth tacked to the wall. You bought tickets at the door so there was no possibility that you couldn't get a seat.

A theater is not like an ISP because there is no fixed number of features with fixed starting and stopping times so that customers can be herded in and out to a definite schedule. The Internet is open 24/7/365 and the venue is almost a bottomless pit. For the customer the difference is in how they access the Internet, how fast that connection is, and how much it costs.

The theater analogy does not address one salient fact: the "theater" was paid by the "city government"t to enlarge and improve its capacity, it took the money, but failed to build the facility it promised to build. Now it wants to profit even more on the increased customer base by raising rates based on scarcity of resources, a scarcity it artifically created by failing to spend the money it was given to build the Fiber Optice infrastructure and putting it into THEIR POCKETS instead.

The only solution is to DEMAND that the Cable and Telcos take the money out of THEIR OWN POCKETS and deliver on their promise at NO FURTHER EXPENSE to the taxpayer or with any increase in user rates.

To allow them to continue to "cap" the antiquated Copper wire service is to continue to condone their THEFT OF TAXPAYER MONEY. In most civil societies thieves are NOT rewarded for stealing, unless they are in Congress and they use the money to bribe voters with temporary jobs on the "road to nowhere" or the "airport with only one plane a day" so they can get reelected. That voters refuse to learn the lessons of history and continue to fall for this vote buying is testimony to power of the entertainment industry to keep their attention diverted and the worthlessness of our educational institutions.

Franko   October 21st, 2009 4:05 pm ET

IPv6 has 8 Priority bits - Your application could set the desired priority - you could buy higher priority from your provider - each router could process according to priority

Getting what you pay for is the priority, the motivation.

GreyGeek   October 21st, 2009 7:25 pm ET

@Fannko: " could buy higher priority from your provider"

The number of IPv4 addresses are close to exhaustion, or at least they were before the current financial woes. The IPv6 protocol was designed to allow even MORE people and servers to connect to the Internet by providing a larger IP address range. It is a STANDARD, it is NOT the property of the ISPs that they may use to "sell" access levels or otherwise use to multi-track users so they can continue to charge more and more for the same Copper wire technology that Congress paid them 200 Billion dollars over a decade ago to replace with fiber optic.

The only way Copper wire can give faster access to a few is by restricting the access to others. The Internet was created by taxpayer money and everyone is entitled to equal access to it. It is not the private domain of the rich, while everyone else is restricted to the digital slums.

Matt   October 21st, 2009 8:13 pm ET

I think the headline for this article is misleading and even dangerous. It's general premise seems to be "if we prevent them from ripping us off one way, they'll rip us off another, so why bother, down with net neutrality!" That's not a sound argument. It also fails to mention the wrongdoings and ripoffs already taking place that net neutrality seeks to (and should) end. If internet companies did choose to find other ways to rip us off, as you suggest, certainly, they'll lose their business to competitors who won't.

Mike   October 24th, 2009 12:29 pm ET

This was inevitable. Expect metering in much the same way long-distance telephone use to work. If you read the fine print they say "Up to x.x Mb of down/upload." That doesn't mean you should expect x.x Mb.

This is the drug-dealer's marketing model. The first hit is free, after you are hooked you will pay through the nose.

Craig   October 24th, 2009 3:14 pm ET

Even without net neutrality ISP will still eventually implement caps. This is another example of big business trying to have their cake and eat it, too. Perhaps the major telcos and cable providers should cut into their profit margins a bit and add more bandwidth. Maybe the CEO's will have to find a way to live without $18 million bonuses.

Nobody has sympathy for this kind of corporate whining in this kind of economy.

Bill in Ann Arbor   October 25th, 2009 1:37 pm ET

So what's next, the cable companies only let us watch TV 3 hours a day then cut it off because you 'over-used' it? PLEASE!, over-use of an unlimited service like cable tv is a joke & I'll explain later. The problem with net neutrality is people on both sides can sway it either way. On 1 hand ISP's should not be able to control what you get from where but on the other hand ISP's should be able to shape traffic to protect their network especially during busy times of day. It boils down to HOW they are shaping that traffic and WHY. Back to my original point.. When you pay for a service such as cable TV you expect to be able to use it when you want, how you want. Same is true of telephone, cell phone or internet. Each company has their own method of managing use of the service such as charging for extras like HBO, charging a fee per call, limiting how many minutes you talk per month then applying overages or letting you pick the speed at a certain price point. So THERE is your implied throttling and the reason there shouldn't be a need for the ISP's to argue against net neutrality because of a so-called need to limit or control so-called DATA HOGS, which in itself is a joke. If you pay say $39.99/month for UNLIMITED internet at 2mbit speed vs $59.99/month for 10mbit speed *that* is the ISP's control on how much data you can transfer in a give month. (Simple calculation shows 24×7 @ full speed 2mbit will transfer 1/5th as much as full speed 10mbit) BUT they are not charging 5x as much for that service! THERE lies the problem: OVERSELLING by the ISP's. I'm not suggesting all ISP's jack up the pricing for higher-speed customers but they can't cry the blues about so-called data hogs when they are just using the service they pay for! And I'm not suggesting people be forced into slower connections they can afford. In my opinion the best solution is net neutrality so that ISP's cannot selectively control data hopefully preventing monopolistic abuse (essentially anonymous only controls EXCEPT their customer's total usage and their PEER's total usage without any regard to type of traffic or the remote non-customer-end destination) but ISP's should be more up-front on the fact plans not only limit speed but also implicity the amount of data they can transfer. An added bonus would be if the ISP's provided a neutral form of bursting. Then they could sell unlimited 2mbit service for $39.99 that goes at say 10mbit UNTIL the user's average daily usage exceeds what their 2mbit allotment would be & throttle them at an ever slightly slower rate to keep them at the 2mbit amount. That might be tough to grasp so a simplified example: If you were signed a contract where you got 1 marble per day per month for $30 you get 30 marbles total in a 30 day month. It is up to you to get 1 a day or wait until the last day & get all 30, either way you get your share of marbles. The problem with letting you get all 30 at once is there might not be 30 marbles available, especially if everyone did the same thing & demanded all of their marbles on the same day. But the market better have 1 marble per person available since that is what they agreed to provide, otherwise they are overselling. If the market did a decent job of managing their stock they should be able to not only give each person their 1 marble as promised but also let people get more than 1 marble per day when available. So the ISP guarantees you get the 2mbit you pay for but will let you get up to 10mbit at times when it's available, such as off-peak times of the day.

Chad Boudreau   October 26th, 2009 1:08 pm ET

Paragraphs Bill, Paragraphs.

You're right though. Of course, to allow a person 10 mb/s speeds until they reach the level of download that they would have gotten with 2 mb/s speeds, then throttling them down to 2 mb/s, would allow a person to max out their 10 mb/s allotment in the beginning of the month, and then using 2 mb/s speeds for the other 4/5 of the month, which would be like allowing a person to have a 3.6 mb/s connection all month.

How dare a person use that much!

Also, if you look at the net neutrality guidelines that the FCC put out to mold their future rulings, it's OK for an ISP to shape their network, but that ISP has to be transparent about it, or be slapped down.

In other words, under their new guidelines, comcast can slow down P2P services IF they tell their customers they can do so. ISPs can cap users, IF they tell the users what those caps are. That is vitally important of course, because companies like Verizon (who lobbied for these open internet rules) are putting a TON of money into their networks specifically so that they will not have to shape it, or impose caps. 4G cell phone towers, capable of transmitting 20mbps data at the edges of the network, and their fiber optics to the home network (fios) is what they are focusing all of their efforts on.

AT&T and Comcast (and many others I'm sure) are instead putting their time and effort into 3G cell phone networks, and copper connections to the house... The reason I believe AT&T is so up in arms about transparency is that they may feel that if they have to disclose caps, network shaping, and actual speeds, then Verizon will have a huge market advantage, thanks to their investments.

I mean seriously, "up to 10mbps" vs. "up to 25 Mbps" (or whatever fios is) doesn't SEEM like too much of an upgrade, worth the extra cost, but if companies are forced to tell customers ACTUAL or average speeds, then "400 kbps" (the average speed my aunt gets with AT&T) vs. "15 mbps" is HUGE, and seems worth the extra cost.

*note, 15mbps is a made up average connection via verizon fios, I don't have the service...
Hey Verizon, PLEASE come to my town!!

**double note for verizon love: when the bush administration sent letters to all the telecom companies asking/demanding access to all their customers data, including call and internet history, Verizon is one of the few companies who refused. AT&T is not one of those companies...

GreyGeek   October 26th, 2009 2:21 pm ET

" mean seriously, "up to 10mbps" vs. "up to 25 Mbps" (or whatever fios is) doesn't SEEM like too much of an upgrade, worth the extra cost, but if companies are forced to tell customers ACTUAL or average speeds, then "400 kbps" (the average speed my aunt gets with AT&T) vs. "15 mbps" is HUGE, and seems worth the extra cost."

Of course 10Mb/s to 25Mb/s is a modest increase and probably not worth the investment. HOWEVER, the facts are that while Copper wire has a tough time going above 10 or 15Mb/s, Fiber Optice has no problem reaching 40 or 50 Gb/s. Did you see the "G" in Gb. That's GIGAbytes, which is 1,000 times "broader" than Megabytes.

Another fact is that YOU have ALREADY paid $200 BILLION to the cable and phone companies to install FIBER OPTIC cables, but they took the money and ran because Congress was too stupid to add performance and penalty clauses to the law, or they were bribed ("campaign contributions") not to do so. So, the cable and phone companies stole tax payer money and paid themselves nice bonuses and stock options instead of keeping America's internet infrastructure in the 1st world.

And you're happy because they'll toss you a CAPPED 25Megabyte bone?

@Mike - your drug dealer marketing model is right on target but instead of drugs it is pron.

@ Chad – 'How dare a person use that much!" My connection is 10Mb/s for which I pay $72/month. Japan, Europe and most other 1st and 2nd world areas pay 1/3rd to 1/4th as much as I do for 4,000 TIMES the bandwidth I get. That is the effect of price fixing, collusion, and stealing $200Billion from US taxpayers and then failing to uphold their end of the bargain and installing the Fiber Optic cable they agreed to.

Chuck   October 28th, 2009 9:26 am ET

I don't know how Comcast thinks it's going to advertise up to 50 megabit downloads and then put a 5gb monthly cap on the service.... A customer could easily exceed that in just one day.

Chad Boudreau   October 28th, 2009 11:36 am ET

@chuck the 5 gb cap was an example I doubt would ever happen at a major company like comcast (I hope). I mean, the Ratchet and Clank demo over the playstation network was a startling 2.5 GB, and that was worth what, 20 minutes of entertainment?

@grey geek: you are absolutely right. If you look at one of my early comments, I did the math on what we should be paying to access the internet, using Finland as a model. I mean when we talk about japan, the "but they are so much smaller and denser than we are!" rings true, but with finland, the inverse is true: we have twice the internet population density as finland. 13 dollars a month is what we SHOULD be paying, in that model, for our average highest tier home internet service, which would preserve healthy profits for the ISPs...

I don't pay anywhere near 13 dollars a month for internet. You?

PS3Guy   November 2nd, 2009 6:07 pm ET

@ GreyGeek, look up your info. Mb = megabits, MB = megabytes, Gb = gigabit, GB = Gigabyte.

They are not giving you Megabyte connections, it is megabits. 100Mb is 12.5 MB a second not including network overhead.

I cant stand when people act like they know something when in fact they do not.

Want to know how much bandwidth cost per megabit, you can get it for $4, that is the price an ISP would pay to purchase bandwidth from fiber network providers. The bigger the pipe you buy the cheaper it gets.

PH   November 19th, 2009 1:36 pm ET


I don't believe he doesn't know what he's talking about, i believe it was a common mistake when speaking about internet speeds. Half the people you speak to that represent the company don't say MEGABITs they say MEGABYTES. I do, however, agree with all of Grey's points and you really didn't make any other than what a bulk bandwidth provider charges an ISP but with no supporting data it's hard to really agree or disagree isn't it?

GreyGeek   November 19th, 2009 5:04 pm ET

You "can't stand when people act like they know something"?

Listen, sonny, I coded for 40 years before I retired. Another thing that comes with getting old is arthritis. Sometimes normal but minor movements of the wrists and fingers cause such pain it stops you in your tracks. At times it makes typing difficult. You'll notice that I mixed Mb and MB. Big deal. People knew what I meant. So did you, but you don't address my points. You seem to think my typing troubles mean I don't know anything.

Do people who jump to conclusions bother you too?
How about when people are shills for the cable and telcos? Does that bother you? Using your logic I could jump to the conclusions that YOU are a shill for a cable TV or telco. Are you?

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BARRY DENNIS   February 3rd, 2012 2:29 pm ET

With more and more Internet User demand evolving from wired connections to Wireless, and the use of MAAO (Multiple Applications Always On) through Convergence AAA devices (AnyThing, AnyTime, AnyWhere) the need for wireless spectrum is growing much faster than wired/FIOS.
Years ago I noted that eventually, "metering" would have to be included in spectrum management, absent the FCC's spectrum re-prioritizing and re-allocation through auction or re-licensing of unused/low value and "parked" spectrum licenses obtained through licensing, but unused or underutilized.
The priority must be much more Wireless spectum if Convergence AAA is to realize it's potential. Within that priority there is lots of room for market and pricing transparency, IF a competitive marketplace for spectrum is enforced.

Laay   April 1st, 2012 5:15 am ET

net neutrality is unadfmentally a question of democratic modern communicationthe internet was designed to be a generic mode of communication, generic meaning it could be used for whatever one wanted to use it for. this is democratic, which itself just means power to the people. well if the owners of the internet infrastructure are allowed to do whatever they want to YOU when you use it, meaning not letting you use it for whatever you want, then that is not democratic. that is not a neutral net. that is like air that only vibrates some voices, or water that only wets some throats.

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