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WEB/DIGITAL Save the Internet

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by BLSH, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. BLSH
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    BLSH New Contributor

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    Hello all,

    For a while I have been thinking about posting this here but didn't because it might violate the forum's no-politics rule. But after thinking about this for a while, I think that this needs to be discussed because:
    • It affects a majority of people that visit this board.
    • Most people haven't heard about it.
    Moderators/Owners: if after reading this, you all still feel this is inappropriate, please go ahead and delete this thread.

    The issue is widely known as "Net Neutrality" and you can find out about it more here.

    http://www.savetheinternet.com/=faq

    The reason this is important for everyone here is because up until now everyone has equal access to the internet -- to buy and to sell. Just imagine what would happen if the Telecoms/ISPs succeed in their push to become free from being neutral.

    The most affected by this would be:


    Small businesses -- The little guy will be left in the "slow lane" with inferior Internet service, unable to compete.

    Innovators with the next big idea -- Startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay Internet providers for the top spots on the Web.

    Bloggers -- Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips -- silencing citizen journalists and putting more power in the hands of a few corporate-owned media outlets.

    Google users -- Another search engine could pay dominant Internet providers like AT&T to guarantee another search engine opens faster than Google on your computer.

    Ipod listeners -- A company like Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service it owns.

    Online shoppers -- Companies could pay Internet providers to guarantee their online sales process faster than competitors with lower prices -- distorting your choices as a consumer.

    Telecommuters -- When Internet companies like AT&T favor their own services, you won't be able to choose more affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, Internet phone calls, and software that connects your home computer to your office.

    Parents and retirees -- Your choices as a consumer could be controlled by your Internet provider, steering you to their preferred services for online banking, health care information, sending photos, planning vacations, etc.

    Political groups -- Political organizing could be slowed by a handful of dominant Internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay "protection money" for their Web sites and online features to work correctly.

    Nonprofits -- A charity's website could open at snail-like speeds, and online contributions could grind to a halt if nonprofits don't pay Internet providers for access to "the fast lane."

    Source: http://www.savetheinternet.com/=threat#examples

    On Feb 12 th of 2008 a bill “Internet Freedom Preservation Act 2008†(HR 5353) was introduced by Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R-Miss.).

    http://markey.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3268&Itemid=141

    Currently the FCC is reviewing this issue and if you believe that the internet should remain neutral and should be available to each and one of us without discrimination, I ask you to let them know how you feel by clicking the below link.

    http://www.savetheinternet.com/comcast.php/#1


    Sincerely,
     
    Jeffs07 likes this.
  2. taichijedi
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    taichijedi Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    This is a serious issue that really could have disastrous ramifications if left unchecked. Not that people should be swayed one way or the other, but I whole heartedly agree. Consider it signed.
     
  3. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Kinda fits in nicely with the "Fall of Democracy" that I posted in the Responsibility thread. Special interest groups already control the media and now they are trying to rope in the internet. Disturbing.
     
  4. Jeffs07
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    Thanks for helping to bring this issue to light. The great thing about the internet is the ability it gives anyone to express their thoughts and ideas. What these companies are trying to do is not only unethical, its counterproductive to our growth as society.
     
  5. Bilgefisher
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    Bilgefisher Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I'm not sure how easy they will have it though. To many small business's depend on the internet. Not to mention the computer generation is quickly becoming of age to make a difference in politics. (I'm hopeful at least)
     
  6. BLSH
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    BLSH New Contributor

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    I don't think the corporations care about our growth as society and why should they? By definition, their sole responsibility is to take care of its stakeholders via delivering maximum profits. So when they behave in a manner that does that, we shouldn't be surprised.

    All we can do is participate in the process that exists. The process is that corporations & SIGs use lobbyists etc. to preach their side of the story to our elected officials. So if you believe against it, then you also lobby yourself to your elected officials/FCC. FCC is currently reviewing this and if enough people take a stance against this, we can preserve the neutrality of the internet that fosters innovation and facilitates entrepreneurship for people without the means to put their ideas in action.

    Is the deck stacked against the little guy? You better believe it.

    I doubt AOL, Time Inc., Turner Broadcasting System & CNN will give the coverage this deserves because they are all owned by Time-Warner which includes Time Warner Cable. This ISP division will profit huge amounts from this.

    Look at what Comcast did. They started discriminating against bit-torrent traffic which their customers weren't able to share -- no matter whether they are legal/illegal. This caused lawsuits by Comcast subscribers who claim the company discriminated against them for using bit-torrent. This triggered the FCC to investigate. A lot of people made a grassroots effort -- ironically, mostly via the internet -- about this and FCC held public hearings on Feb 25th 2008. So what does Comcast do? It admittedly paid people to take up room in the hall where the testimony was held. These weren't people that were on their side and needed a bus-ride to get there. This was done just to SILENCE THE dissentors who were then turned away and some of them were even caught dozing during this proceeding.
    I tried to embed this here unsuccessfully, but check out this video. It shows the founders/inventors of the world wide web/internet trying to stop this from happening.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP_3WnJ42k[/ame]

    So is it unethical/immoral for corporations to do this? You can argue both sides all day long.

    And while the arguments continue, the game goes on. The bills get passed; the hearings are held; the illusion of democracy is preserved; the super-rich become ultra-mega-super-duper rich; poor become more poorer; the game takes the taxes from the middle and upper-middle class to pay for the poor so they dont revolt; the middle upper-middle class now hates the poor class because every pundit on Nightly News says how the poor are leeching from those of us more fortunate; the poor people who have no jobs or prospects hate the rich more and picket the houses of more CEOs; everyone has enemies that occupy their minds and discussions; meanwhile the hearings/bills continue and the cycle continues.

    What these companies are trying to do may seem unethical to you -- but to me, its not that different than our inaction. Who was it that said?
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do ..."

    (p.s. Okay, I feel better that I got that out -- as you can probably tell, I love the net and the possibilities it offers and how it has leveled the playing field a bit. Now I go to bed; have to join the rat-race early am.... :smx4:)
     
  7. JScott
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    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I'm not trying to start a philosophical argument here, but this is one of those technology issues where it's very easy to make a few blanket statements to get people who don't fully understand the impact of the decision being made to take a certain side. If people really understood all the implications, I'm guessing they wouldn't be so quick to vote in favor of full network neutrality regulation.

    As someone who has spent a good part of a career designing technology that impacts and is impacted by net neutrality regulation (I've worked in the packet-based protocols, IPTV and VoIP spaces for 15 years now), it's easy to see how people would be scared of the potential implications of anti-net-neutrality regulation. But in reality, net neutrality causes just as many problems as it solves, and it's not clear that the regulations being considered today would do more good than harm.

    Here are a couple areas where I think net neutrality regulation could hurt the consumer:

    - To put it in relatively simple terms, by passing net neutrality regulation, we are disallowing the Internet to do what it was designed to do. And that's to allow certain applications to prioritize the transmission of their data over other applications.

    - Let me give an example: Let's say you're connected to the Internet from home and you're simultaneously reading email and watching the Super Bowl live via a streaming video feed on ESPN.com. Would you rather the network treat email and that live video stream as equally important? If the network doesn't have enough bandwidth to support both applications, would you rather the network delay getting you an email for a couple seconds, or interrupt your video for a couple seconds? Most people would rather the email be delayed a couple seconds as opposed to the Super Bowl being delayed a couple seconds, but with net neutrality regulation, by definition the network would have treat the email as the same priority as the video stream.

    - This is called Quality of Service (QoS) and it's basically the ability for applications on a packet-switched network (the Internet) to prioritize certain types of data higher than other types of data. This is inherently a good thing, because certain types of data (video, music, phone calls, real-time medical imaging, etc) *are* more important than other types of data (email, Google searches, etc). If you're going to have a half-second delay in receiving data, you'd rather it be an extra half-second to get your Google search result than a half-second hiccup in a phone conversation. Again, with net neutrality regulation, all traffic is treated the same, even though it's not.

    - Would you pay an extra 50 cents a month to your ISP to ensure that your Skype phone calls were always high-quality and never had hiccups or delays? Would you pay a dollar a month to ensure that the live streaming video feeds you got from ESPN.com was faster than your basic Internet service that you're paying for now?

    - If you read the above and thought, "No, I shouldn't have to pay extra for those things," (like a lot of people who support net neutrality) keep in mind that you already have the option to pay different amounts for different levels of service from your cable or DSL company. You might pay $40/month for a certain amount of bandwidth (say 250Mb/sec) and $90/month for more bandwidth (say 750Mb/sec). I assume this doesn't seem unreasonable, as this is the way things work today. But, when you pay for that higher level of bandwidth, you're basically paying just as much for your emails to be delivered faster as you are for better streaming video. And do you really care if your emails arrive 1/100 of second faster? No, you mostly care about the fact that your streaming video is faster and more reliable. So, why not just pay for that specifically?!?!

    This is what Net Neutrality has become about:

    The concern that cable companies and telephone companies that supply Internet service are going to allow content providers (Google, YouTube, etc) the ability to pay to get their service to work better than their competitors.

    The problem I see with this is that by creating net neutrality regulation, you're also outlawing very real scenarios (like all the ones above) where net neutrality *hurts* the customer. Additionally, it's not even clear that the scenario that everyone is so concerned about (Internet providers giving special treatment to specific websites) is even technically feasible; many people think it's currently not!

    Look, I'm not in favor of allowing the big Internet providers the ability to create monopolistic practices for themselves or for other Internet content providers, and I'm also not in favor of anti-consumer practices that stifle technical innovation. But I do have a problem with lawmakers creating blanket legislation that will likely do as much harm in terms of innovation and consumer protection as it intends to protect against.

    In other words, while I'm all for legislation that protects us from the bad aspects of non-net-neutrality, they should be written intelligently enough that they don't hamper us the way pure net neutrality would. But unfortunately that's not how the regulations are currently being discussed. Solve the problem in a way that doesn't just keep consumers from getting hurt, but also helps them...the two shouldn't be mutually exclusive.

    Just my $.02...
     
  8. Jorge
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    Jorge Bronze Contributor

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    Great post JScott!!

    I'm with you, but was too lazy to write a long post like yours LOL
    About QoS, isn't that already implemented from WinXP?

    Rep++
     
  9. JScott
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    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    There are all types of QoS in various layers of the protocols used on the Internet. While Windows certainly has the ability to leverage QoS features provided by applications, the net neutrality issues are around whether companies are allowed to charge fees for applications to take advantage of the QoS features of the basic Internet routing protocols (like TCP).

    In other words, are Internet providers allowed to charge you extra to ensure that your Internet phone calls get handled more real-time than your web surfing. In the current regulatory bills, they're not. So, you can't have service guarantees for things like voice, video, etc over the Internet.
     
  10. BLSH
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    BLSH New Contributor

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    JScott, I appreciate your input, I liked learning about the more technical aspects of this issue. When you say current legislation might do more harm, is it the one I mentioned? or there are others like it out there that I am unaware of?

    The idea of the post was to inform first because most people I bring this up-to, don’t even know about it - you & I seem to be in a minority. Then one can do their own research and make up their own mind. And arguments aren’t necessarily bad, some like this can be very productive too.

    In your view, its about possibility of better internet experience and QoS implications whereas in my view its about the negative antitrust affects it will have on the entrepreneurs -- not unlike the ones that come here -- with an idea, a dream and a dab of gumption and not much capital.

    I think if you weigh how good a technological advancement offers the masses vs the negative antitrust effects it will have.

    You are talking about the technical hardware limitations whereas I am talking about the concept & idea of the internet. If you watched the video, you might have caught Tim Berners-Lee who invented the internet and also opposes net neutrality along with a whole lot of others

    You make good points about the limitations of our current infrastructure; but doing away with net neutrality won’t fix that. There are already technology available to deliver a better QoS like Fiber Optics vs. Traditional Cable/DSL which is what most consumers use (FiOS Packages offer up to 30 Mbps downloads and 5 Mbps uploads (and even higher depending on your location).

    The question isn’t whether you should deliver a better experience -- everyone would agree to that (except maybe the Amish - j/k). But Why not do it in a way that doesn’t stifle competition for the little guy?

    And if you are really looking out for consumers, you are going about it the wrong way. Economics tells us the way to get better services and pricing for the consumers is not by restricting entry into any industry. Remember how much long-distance used to cost per minute?

    BusinessWeek rated US # 15th on the list of most connected countries -- 3 spots lower than last year. Where will we be if we keep up barriers?

    "The U.S. fell further in the rankings. Experts say that's at least in part because high-speed connections are a lot more expensive in the U.S. than elsewhere. U.S. users pay more than 10 times the amount being paid by users in countries with the highest rates of broadband penetration."

    The real concerns and the glimpse of the future without neutrality are outlined in the lawsuits against Comcast. For those of you not familiar with the lawsuit, its about a file-sharing protocol called Bittorrent. It is used widely by the Open Source Community to share software like the ones listed here.

    These are softwares that run Yahoo, Google, Wikipedia, etc. and also this very bulletin board. Free for anyone to use, without serial numbers/activation and other limitations.

    So Comcast indiscriminately started throttling the bit-torrent technology -- whether or not the Comcast Subscribers were sharing legal, open-source software, bibles, royalty free music, and everything in the Library of Congress that belongs to the people of the US and can be shared however the people like.

    So I am a Comcast subscriber and I use bittorrent to share my legal files, but you won’t let me even though I pay for your service every month? Not only does it not seem fair, it might be illegal. That’s what we wait for the FCC/Courts to decide.

    I know what you mean about long posts, I have been staring at this for 3 days and only now got a chance to respond!

    But since this is one of the few places on the net where I can learn about new things consistently in a respectful manner. And that too from a wide-range of experienced people & perspectives – it makes it all worthwhile. ++ Thank you MJ for hosting ++ ...

    Best,
     
  11. JScott
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    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    My guess is that if we sat down and discussed this for an hour or so, we would find that we're in complete agreement on this issue...

    In my opinion, the problem with the current discussion around net neutrality is that it's presented as a black and white issue -- you either think it's good or you think it's bad. But, like most issues, it's not that cut and dry. Certain aspects of net neutrality are clearly good (you already know that), and certain aspects of net neutrality are clearly bad (I'm pretty sure I could convince you of that if you don't already believe it).

    So, the real issue is creating legislation that preserves the good aspects of net neutrality while protecting against the bad aspects of it. I certainly agree that we need to protect against monopolistic practices by ISPs, but at the same time we need to provide a framework by which the Internet can continue to innovate and provide better and better user experiences.

    Unfortunately, most of the legislation I've seen so far goes too far in one direction (it protects against monopoly), but at the same time not far enough in the other (it's so concerned about preventing monopolistic practices that it stifles innovation); that's why I disagree with it.
     

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