The poison pill bill

Droolin’ Jim Sensenbrenner, chairman the House Judiciary Committee, has joined hands with his Democratic buddy John Conyers to introduce a bill banning Quality of Service on the Internet. The bill, HR 5417, would make it illegal for an ISP to manage high-priority queues. They would be bound to treat any packet marked for low-jitter service the same, regardless of size or origin. That sort of thing defeats the whole purpose of QoS, which is to provide a quick-check lane on the Internet where shoppers with little baskets don’t have to wait behind an endless stream of other shoppers with cartloads of stuff.

With Republicans getting on the grandstand and moronic religious nuts joining up, things are looking bad for the evolving Internet. Google has created an advantage for itself by building an unregulated private network that places servers close to everybody, and if the Internet changes this advantage will be nullified for voice and video delivery. Unless we get our act together, these mobsters are going to win.

22 thoughts on “The poison pill bill”

  1. This is a deeply flawed bill. First, it makes all NSPs and ISPs into “broadband network providers” even if they don’t supply residential Internet services, because it defines broadband as two-way Internet services at 500 kbps or faster. Second, as you point out, it requires that if you provide a higher class of service to anyone, you must supply it to everyone, without charging more for it–you can’t offer a higher class of service or charge more on the basis of application or content–but then it apparently contradicts itself and says that if you do offer classes of service based on “type” of data, you must offer that class of service for that “type” of data for everyone, apparently including non-customers located elsewhere on the Internet. Thus, if you offer VOIP interconnection to your own VOIP infrastructure over a higher class of service, you have to allow your customers to interconnect to other VOIP providers over your own VOIP infrastructure, even if those providers aren’t your customers. Third, it prohibits blocking, impairing, discriminating against, or interfering with the ability of any person to use the service “to send, receive, or to offer lawful content, applications or services over the Internet”–which means that the spammers who currently say “You’ve got to sell me service, because I comply with CAN-SPAM” can no longer be told, “but you don’t comply with our AUP,” they’ll have to be sold service. Fourth, it prohibits all restrictions on what devices users can connect to the network except on the grounds of physical harm or degrading the service of others. This seems to imply that if you offer a specialized network service for which you only support one set of vendors, and a customer wants to use it with a vendor you don’t support, you have to come up with a way to support it. (Well, technically, I guess it just means that you have to let them connect it and not necessarily make it work–but I could see this, if it became law, used to try to force support for unsupported devices.)

  2. Correction, it defines broadband as providing two-way Internet at 200 kbps or greater speed in at least one of the two directions.

  3. Well when you have zero competition and lots of money to spend, what do you expect? It is great that Microsoft and Google have been so successful, but clearly they have forgotten where they came from….nothing. The beauty of the Internet is that it is an open source. Open to competition, which leads to innovation and better technology and who would be against that? Only those who have majority control over the Internet!

  4. I believe it’s 5417, not 5217. [editor’s note: thanks, typo corrected] No doubt, 5417 has plenty of warts. I don’t care. Until there is competition at the last-mile, tiering should be forbidden.

    And, tell you what, let’s make that restriction also last until VoIP works correctly on the majority of private network, MPLS-style WANs.

    Perhaps you don’t get to hear about the horror stories of getting private, voice-only networks (segregated even from analogous private data networks) to work correctly. I do. Some very large companies are suffering from sporadic VoIP outages, echo, static, pop, and about every other problem you can imagine. Underpublicized, as you might imagine, but very real nonetheless.

    So, let’s see, the telcos are all going to get HD/IPTV to work correctly, from multiple content-providers (who, by the way, must connect their data-centers to every major carrier) to the last mile, so they can compete with cable?

    Right. We’ve got a better chance of Carmen Electra getting named Pope.

  5. It is because of competition that Google has thrived. This is the same competition that Google is trying to put a halt to. Tiering is a step in the right direction and should not be forbidden.

  6. “Tiering is a step in the right direction and should not be forbidden.”


    So, two guys in a garage — who can’t afford to pay the tiering tarriff to each and every telco and cable company — won’t invent the _next_ Google.

    And those four nerds down the street, the ones with a brand-spanking new AJAX-enabled Web 2.0 auction service? Well, they’ll never get any venture funding because eBay can afford to pay the tarriffs and effectively block upstarts.

    Oh, and that peer-to-peer company that came up with a new VoIP alternative to challenge Skype? Well, they’re dead in the water because that treads on the telcos’ turf.

    Until there is true competition for last-mile services, the carriers _must_ be prohibited from tiering. Long live network neutrality.

  7. Tiering doesn’t affect any of those people, blue, it only affects real-time services, voice and video, that can’t tolerate jitter and loss. And this brings us to the central problem the net neutrality folks have: they don’t understand what the phone companies want to do, let alone why.

    Google has a private network that places server farms at all the key locations on the Internet, where they have direct access to the major population centers. It would cost a fortune for VoIP company to have to build a comparable network to compete with Google Messaging, but that’s what they have to do today. It would be a lot cheaper for a hypothetical startup to purchase QoS from the ISPs than to build the kind of unregulated network that Google has.

  8. I don’t think the guys in the garage need worry about tiered access, they need worry about burndensome regulations imposed on an industry that few of the intending regulators understand.

  9. There seems to be a disconnect, then, because these hypothetical start-ups are on the same side as the companies (Google, Skype, eBay, etc.) that they’re supposedly going to compete with someday. And something tells me that Google doesn’t have the interests of the 2 Guy Garage VoIP in mind when they come out in support of NN…more likely they’re looking after their own bottom line and trying to cement their market share against the very same up and comers that will supposedly benefit from NN.

  10. I just don’t like how this is being handled. Since when did, REM and Moby become experts on the Internet? Net Neutrality may POSSIBLY be a good thing, but it needs to be discussed by those who know what they are talking about, not government!

  11. I love the “two guys in a garage” line. As though all Internet innovation eminates from some storage shed in a forest, independent of any sort of business cycle. The truth is, once we allow government to decide winners and losers in issues such as this, we are opening the door for further restirctions of the free market. Rest assured, thsoe restrictions will do nothing to help our nation’s garage-bound prodigies.

  12. “So, two guys in a garage — who can’t afford to pay the tiering tarriff to each and every telco and cable company — won’t invent the _next_ Google.”

    The tiered plan as I understand it does not force people who refuse to pay off of the Internet. If you pay for priority service, you get increased reliability. If you don’t pay, you remain on the current “best effort” system.

    How is innovation of these garage startups hindered by not giving them the fastest possible internet connection? If their services are good enough, people will flock to them regardless of a slight difference in speed. And once they have enough interest and they want to upgrade to priority service, they have that option.

    How is tiered access to the Internet a bad thing, when preferred rankings and tiered service levels at Content providing websites are not? It’s the same principle at different areas of the Internet.

  13. And let’s not forget that a tiered internet already exists. Wi-Fi, dial-up, and different speeds and prices of broadband…I don’t understand why the sky is falling all of a sudden.

  14. After years of multiple failures to implement QoS (using both reservation and priority-based (e.g., DiffServ, VLL) model on Internet2, I found this quote from the after-action report (Why Premium IP Service Has Not Deployed (and Probably Never Will)) fascinating:

    …in a Premium service world, making a customer that otherwise doesn’t pay you directly switch from “free” (for transit customers) best-effort service to paid Premium service and have some money dribble through the payment system into your coffers seems too obvious a trick not to play… We expect that if Premium were deployed, providers would begin to treat the best-effort traffic of non-customers worse than the best-effort traffic of their customers.

    The erosion of best-effort service would lead to a completely different world where all serious work gets done over Premium service and users are generally expected to make virtual circuit reservations for most of what they do.

    Can I get an ‘indeed’?

  15. This is simply speculation, isn’t it? It’s built on the same slippery-slope logic as the rest of the neutrality hysteria, not on network engineering principles.

  16. Highly respected technology companies are coming out saying net neutrality is not good for anyone. Are we to take the words of Moby and REM as the voice of reason?

  17. Moby and REM? Who knows. I’d go with the guys who’ve created a trillions dollars in market value — Google, eBay, Skype, and every Internet startup on the planet, who back strongly worded net neutrality legislation.

    Or you could go with the the telcos, who haven’t created a single Internet innovation at layers 4-7, who now want to control the keys to those layers.

    Throughout history, successful organizations have found that they have to “move up the value stack” in order to be successful. Pity the telcos never figured that out.

  18. Bluey, do you forget that under your regulation-happy view, the telcos would be forbidden by law from innovating at the higher layers of the protocol stack.?

    All the practicing network engineers I know oppose new regulations on the Internet. They’re the people I listen to, not the Bubble-rich stock swindlers who would be in prison if the Justice Department were doing its job.

  19. I oppose net neutrality for many reasons. First and foremost is my distaste with regulation. I find it to be bad for business and the internet. I also don’t see how such regulations would actually be necessary as no one is violating net neutrality.

  20. The only way that google and microsoft got to the point that they are at was through the competition of the free market. Now, they want to regulate the internet because somebody else is offering a service that is better than theirs. I do not want give control over the internet just so these companies can stay on top. If they want to do something, they should stop bugging Congress and start developing new products.

  21. Y’all have been busy since I was last here…while I’m skeptical of all sources, I don’t trust Google, et al vis-a-vis the telcos because they’re all out for one thing and one thing only: a profit. This is a business matter, not a government matter. The engineers and hardware manufacturers that are coming out against this carry a little more cachet with me than these corporate giants.

  22. Great Post Luv2Box………..bringing up the fact that a regulated internet would have not allowed the creators of Google and others prosper, and now they are forgetting where they came from. This is clearly a free market argument, cut and dry, and it is imperative to keep the government out.

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