Rather misleading, perhaps (was: Another huge lie)

The Google-backed coalition that’s trying to stifle the growth of America’s communication networks is at it again, lying their asses off spinning like dervishes on speed:

As of this morning, more than 1,500 blogs have taken up the cause, posting links to SavetheInternet.com or urging their readers to take action by calling on members of Congress to stand firm in defense of Internet freedom. And the Hill is hearing it.

According to these slimy bastards fellow citizens, every blog that’s posted a link to their site supports their wacky fascist regulations. But this blog has linked to them, and I don’t support their goals, and neither do the other blogs I’ve cited on this subject. In fact, a scan of the blogs that have been discussing this issue will show you that technical bloggers and free marketeers almost universally oppose the “net neutering” legislation proposed by Google’s coalition, while support is mainly concentrated in left wing blogs who actually are pushing for a government-funded and government-controlled Internet (but not exclusively; some right wing blogs run by people who don’t have technical knowledge — such as the Instapundit — have joined the fray on the wrong side.)

When governments and Google control the Internet, you get something like China. We don’t want that in America, we want market-based systems where experimentation isn’t hampered by fascist rules about how packets are forwarded.

Don’t be misled.

A good example of a thoughtful approach to the problem comes from Kevin Drum. Kevin’s a good, card-carrying Democrat who runs a highly-respected left wing blog, but he’s got some background in the video business so he’s not fooled by the hysteria Google’s astroturf alliance is spreading. Check him out:

Video-on-Demand is a market I know a little bit about (at least, I did back when I worked for a startup VOD company), and the bandwidth and service issues that face commercial VOD rollouts are quite real. You and I may or may not care about VOD, but a lot of people do, and when telecom companies say that they need to make substantial investments to support large-scale VOD, they’re right. When they further say that these investments will only be worthwhile if they can guarantee VOD service that works reliably and well, they’re right again.

The question, of course, is whether the only way to provide reliable VOD service over the internet is to offer a tiered service to video providers. I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s not transparently absurd to think that the answer might be yes.


Yahoo, Google, and Free Speech

From the illustrious Guardian we learn:

Yahoo appears to have kowtowed to the Chinese government yet again and passed details of a fourth dissident writer’s email account to the security forces, brightening the spotlight thrown on the dubious compromises that western businesses are making to operate within the world’s second largest internet market.

Doing business in China has always involved a heavy dose of realpolitik – a senior mobile phone industry executive, desperate to get into the world’s fastest growing mobile market, once described operating in China to me as akin to walking into a room and taking down his trousers. But what makes Yahoo’s flagrant co-operation and the recent self-censorship carried out by search engine rival Google so shocking to web users, is that the internet has been sold to the world as a tool for free speech not for maintaining or even strengthening the political status quo.

Google and Yahoo lecture the US Congress on free speech under the guise of “net neutrality” while helping communist China oppress dissidents. Who are they kidding?

Democrat fights fascism

Here’s the statement issued by Democrat Charlie Gonzales of San Antonio, TX, on the fascist “net-neutrality” nonsense:

“On its face, the Markey amendments seems fair, but the more you look at the implications of this legislation, the less fair it seems. Its most immediate consequence would be to exempt highly profitable companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google from having to pay to use another company’s cable
network. In essence, this would allow Internet giants to reap the benefits of operating a cable network with none of the risks or costs. Forcing cable providers to give a free-ride to companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google will ultimately work against consumers by undermining the financial incentive to develop the next generation of network technologies. It would also subsidize the efforts of companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google to expand their dominance of most Internet commerce and to use their brain power to force smaller companies to partner rather than compete against them.”

Excellent, at least one Democrat has his head on straight.

UPDATE: Let’s go over the issues again, as this post has been linked by Google’s people and it doesn’t have any context. The telcos are presently disadvantaged relative to their biggest competitor in the broadband market, the cable companies, on two counts: the cable companies have a technically superior cable plant (coax instead of telephone wire) and they’re less regulated. Cable companies don’t have to share ISP revenue with third parties if they don’t want to.

The telcos therefore would like to upgrade their cable plants to something better, most likely optical fiber, but they don’t want to do that until they’re on a level playing field with cable. You’ll notice the cable companies are pretty quiet on this debate, leaving Google, Yahoo, and the net Luddites to carry the water for them.

Cable companies have been able to install their wiring because they have several service offerings with which to pay for it, mainly analog and digital TV, but also voice services and cable Internet. Internet is basically a free-rider on this system, because it was paid for by TV.

So the approach that the telcos want to take to paying for their optical network is to offer television as well as voice and Internet, and that’s why they sought the COPE bill that the Congress just passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It grants federal video franchises to companies operating in areas where a cable TV franchise already exists. Are you with me so far? Google’s Save the Internet Coalition is butting into a debate over cable TV.

Now there are couple of things that could really sour the deal for the telcos where this financing plan is concerned, VoIP and Internet video. That is to say that it will be practical for people to drop their traditional phone service in favor of something like Skype or Vonage if everybody as a 100 Mb/s fiber going into their home, and it will also be practical for them to drop cable TV and just download TV shows off the Internet. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft want to be in the business to providing these services.

As the Telcos aren’t sure how much they’re going to be hurt by all this competition, they’d like to have the flexibility to ensure that their voice and video services work better than those provided by Google and Yahoo, the free-riders who didn’t have to pay for the network. It’s not clear that consumers are going to stand for that, so another option is to let the free-riders subsidize the users’ broadband bill out their ample advertising revenue.

One thing that is clear is that we aren’t going to get optical fiber installed all over America for free. Traditionally, the costs of television have been born partially by consumers and partially by advertisers. The plans that the telcos have for fiber simply continue that model, and they don’t really have any effect on the kind of web-surfing, blogging, and e-mailing that you’re doing today.

I know these things because I’m a network protocol engineer who’s been working in the area of video, the Internet, and local area networks for a long time (I designed the cable system Ethernet uses today, for example.) I’m not being paid by any telephone company, and in fact I’ve never worked for one or consulted with one. This is the straight scoop and I think you have the right to hear it from somebody who knows the issues and doesn’t have an ax to grind.

Google, Microsoft, Amazon lose

The faux grassroots Save the Internet Coalition funded by Google, Microsoft, EBay, Amazon, and Yahoo failed to convince the House Commerce Committee that their hysterical claims about the Impending Death of the Internet were well-founded today, and the Committee voted their Markey Amendment down by a 34-22 vote. True to form, they’re hailing this defeat as a victory:

The Markey Amendment failed in committee 22-34. Democrats Rush, Green, Gonzalez, Towns, and Wynn all voted no on the amendment and betrayed the netroots. The rest of the committee Democrats voted for the amendment.

Action now moves to the Senate.

The thing that annoys me most about this group is their total lack of integrity; I dislike that even more than the pie-in-the-sky insistence on getting a free ride from the Telcos. The fact that they can get the door slammed in their faces for a second time and call it “Victory” underscores the point.

Here’s a link to the bogus Markey Amendment.

Please Do Not Fix The Net

This is a real embarrassment to the high-tech community. A group of semi-monopolies have banded together to pressure Congress to freeze the architecture of the Internet where it is today. They’ve got a blog replete with hysteria and panic (nothing new there) and are running ads. The culprits include Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, and Amazon.

In a way, this all makes sense: if you’re a dominant player, you don’t want the market to change. And if you’re not, perhaps you do.

So let me just toss this out: does Microsoft want more competition in the OS business, or does Google want more competition in the search business? I think we all know the answer to that.

Voices of net sanity

Via Declan McCullough’s Politech mailing list, here are a few sane people opposed to Neutering the Net.

Telepocalypse by Martin Geddes: F2C: Network neutrality speech:

An open, free net is an emergent outcome, not an a-priori input to be legislated into existence. We need to capture and accellerate the experiments in how networks are built, financed and sold; and protect those experiments from incumbent wrath until the results are in.

But most critically, don’t fossilize the network in 2006 by adopting network neutrality.

Some more Martin:

So neutrality rules that entrench our “Internet Mk1” as somehow sacred, hallowed and for all time are just totally counter-productive. Better to allow Verizon to screw over their customers and make it worthwhile for someone to bypass them entirely using newer technology. Or just swallow your pride and copy the unbundling rules that work just fine over here. BT can deploy a two-tier walled IMS garden, if they like. Just they have no way to make me buy it unless it creates some compelling value.

The Only Republican in Frisco:

You should not be surprised that the loudest advocates of ‘net neutrality are those on the far left, including MyDD, Kos, MoveOn and Craig Newmark (lovely guy but hardened socialist). Their arguments are very much in line with things like McCain-Feingold and the old Fairness Doctrine….

The history of the Internet has told us we should imagine the unimagined. Let’s preserve the absence of inhibition that has gotten us this far. Keep it libertarian. No new laws.

(Put another way: think about what the FCC has done in the name of “decency”. Now expand it to private bits on private networks. That’s “neutrality”.)

Mark Cuban:

I would rather have little Johnnys grandma getting priority for her video checkup with the doctor at the hospital over little Johnny getting his bandwidth to upload the video of the prank he pulled on his buddy.. I would rather make sure that information from life support or other important monitoring equipment, medical or otherwise is finding its way without interruption, and without the end user having to pay for an off the net solution. These are the applications that make the net great. These are the applicatins that offer equal opportunity to those who are disadvantaged.

And check out Hands off the Internet, the Telco lobbying group.

Declan’s own take is quite reasonable:

Whatever you think of the desirability of Net neutrality, keep in mind what the legislation actually says. It would award the FCC the power to regulate what business models will be permitted on the next generation of the Internet.

And this from a guy who’s all for free downloads and that sort of thing.

Free Riders’ Rebellion

It’s rather difficult to find the actual text of the Save the Internet bill that our fuzzy-minded friends are complaining about as it’s not in Thomas yet. Not to worry, the Benton Foundation has posted the original text and the April Update on its web site. This is the section that they’re worried about:

II. Net Neutrality

The legislation gives the FCC authority to enforce its broadband policy statement and principles when it receives a complaint that the principles have been violated. On September 23, the FCC concluded that it has the jurisdiction necessary to ensure that providers of telecommunications for Internet access or Internet Protocol-enabled (IP-enabled) services are operated in a neutral manner. Moreover, to ensure that broadband networks are widely deployed, open, affordable, and accessible to all consumers, the Commission adopted the following principles:

* To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.

* To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.

* To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.

* To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

After reviewing a complaint, the FCC would be able to issue an order that a violating entity comply with the above principles.

In addition, within 180 days of enactment of the legislation, the Commission is to submit a study to Congress regarding whether the objectives of the broadband policy statement and principles are being achieved.

I frankly don’t see what the fuss is about. The Coalition’s complaint, at the end of the day, is that the above language isn’t strong enough, and that certainly appears to be a load of crap.

The underlying issue is this: When a cable company or Telco has deployed a cable plant that allows it to accelerate voice services such that VOIP is as good as the existing telephone network, can service providers such as Google and Skype use these enhanced facilities for free? The bill says that’s the Telco’s call to make, not the government’s, and I’m all for that. The Telcos need to make money in order to have the incentive to upgrade the cable plant. They’re not charities and they shouldn’t be forced to act as if they were.

Google is looking for a free ride not on the ordinary Internet, but on a new cable system that performs better than the ordinary Internet. They want Fedex service for the price of bulk mail, and that would be a no-go even if Google weren’t a dangerous monopoly that cooperates with the Chinese government to stifle free speech.

Don’t believe the crap about Telcos blocking web sites, the plain language of the bill prevents that. Read the bill and decide for yourself if it’s progressive or regressive.

For more information, see the Benton Foundation’s page and the Committee’s page.

Coalition of the wooly

Check out the membership of the Save the Internet Coalition and ask yourself why it’s all a bunch of pie-eyed world saviors without a single networking guru in the ranks.

Joining this coalition amounts to putting a big sign on your back saying “I’m an idiot.

Why? Simply put the Internet of the past is not so well-designed that it should be the Internet of the future. If we’re going to move serious amounts of phone calls and video programming over the net, the plumbing will have to change. Network neutrality is simply standing in the way of progress, and this coalition has consistently demonstrating abject ignorance about how the Internet works.

H/T Jeff Jarvis, who doesn’t get the fact that some resources really are finite.

Apple goes Windows

This had to happen:

Turning a decades-long rivalry on its head, Apple Computer introduced software today that it says will easily allow users to install Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system on Apple’s newest computers.

The software, Boot Camp, is available as a free download on Apple’s Web site and will be part of the next version of Apple’s operating system, Leopard. It works on Apple’s three lines of computer that run on Intel chips — the Mac mini, the iMac and the MacBook Pro.

I told you so (and so did John Dvorak).

So what’s happening here? Easy, Apple has realized they’re now an MP3 company and not a computer company. So it makes no sense to spend as much as they do on OS development for their computers when they have low-cost alternatives. One way they could go is to Linux, but it’s got so many warts it’s not worth the bother, so the default choice is Windows. Now what happens if Apple packages all their software for Windows, but it just works better on their hardware than anybody else’s? They sell a bunch of hardware, and they sell a bunch of software, so everybody’s happy, including Microsoft and Intel.

What’s the hang-up? It’s interesting to note that Media Center won’t run on the Apple hardware. That should be a gigantic clue to what comes next.