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British ISPs Embracing Two-Tier Internet 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-speech-as-long-as-money-talks dept.
Barence writes "Britain's leading ISPs are attempting to construct a two-tier internet, where websites and services that are willing to pay are thrust into the 'fast lane,' while those that don't are left fighting for scraps of bandwidth or even blocked outright. Asked directly whether ISP TalkTalk would be willing to cut off access completely to BBC iPlayer in favor of YouTube if the latter was prepared to sign a big enough cheque, TalkTalk's Andrew Heaney replied: 'We'd do a deal, and we'd look at YouTube and we'd look at BBC and we should have freedom to sign whatever deal works.' Britain's biggest ISP, BT, meanwhile says it 'absolutely could see situations in which some content or application providers might want to pay BT for a quality of service above best efforts.' PC Pro asks if it's the end of the net as we know it."
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British ISPs Embracing Two-Tier Internet

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:07PM (#34970182)

    "a quality of service above best efforts."

    WTF does that mean? If they can do better, then the "best efforts" wasn't actually the best effort, was it?

    How can you have a level of effort above the best?

    • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:11PM (#34970218) Homepage Journal

      "Above best efforts" really means "above the best effort we are willing to put in, unless you pay us our extortion money."

    • "Best efforts" might mean "best effort getting that traffic through our really congested upstream transit provider".

      Something with higher quality might be a direct private peering.

      Of course, it's not unknown that ISPs engineer congestion on those upstreams to force a private peering -- and you can bet your bottom dollar it won't be a "settlement free" peering.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jimmypw (895344)
        It more likely means "the lines we aren't going to upgrade any more because we have people that sponsor their own lines". It annoys me. I Truly hope that no websites pay this ransom money.
        • by nagnamer (1046654)

          But there are always more than a few that will say "Yeah, I hope nobody pays this ransom money so I can pay it and beat them hands down." And it always turns out there are more than a few of those idiots.

    • by mikkelm (1000451) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:33PM (#34970378)

      "Best effort" in networking terminology is the priority given to traffic that isn't specifically prioritised or limited. There's nothing wrong with what he's saying.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by dangitman (862676)

        "Best effort" in networking terminology is the priority given to traffic that isn't specifically prioritised or limited. There's nothing wrong with what he's saying.

        Except for the fact that it doesn't make any sense. How can it be the "best effort" if something can be prioritised ahead of it?

        Just because "networking terminology" is stupid, doesn't mean we have to accept it at face value.

        • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @01:17AM (#34970894)

          Except for the fact that it doesn't make any sense. How can it be the "best effort" if something can be prioritised ahead of it?

          It makes perfect sense. When a QoS scheme is being designed; traffic is divided into classes, and (typically) each class is assigned to queues based on priority; each queue has a certain size.

          The class that is not associated with any priority queue at all is called "best effort". The reason it is called best effort, is, unlike other traffic classes -- there is no priority or reservation.

          Other traffic has priority in the form of something close to a guarantee; meaning, if prioritized traffic does not exceed the size of the priority queue, it is guaranteed to be delivered even in the face of congestion. Whereas the remaining traffic is just "best effort".

          The traffic that is best effort will be delivered if possible (in the face of congestion), but it might be dropped, best effort is weaker than guaranteed priority.

        • It makes perfect sense, both within QoS terminology and in plain english.

          Example:

          "I will put my best effort into helping you build a house. My very best effort, I'll use most of my free time to help you, and I might even skip work a day or too to help you out".

          "I have signed a contract with you to finish building your house by July 23th. I've already allocated the necessary resources to make it happen by that date".

          There you go, "best effort", and a contract, which is by definition "above best effort".

          Same

      • by KonoWatakushi (910213) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @03:09AM (#34971308)

        "Best effort" is what we had for years without a tiered Internet. Using that label for a second tier is seriously disingenuous. Before, effort was made to ensure that pipes had sufficient capacity, and that congestion was the exception, and not the rule--that is "best effort". No longer.

        Relegating all second class traffic to a permanently congested and insufficient pipe can hardly be considered "best effort". There is no incentive for them to provide sufficient capacity for Internet services which compete with their own services. In fact, quite the opposite.

        The reason that the Internet was such a powerful engine for innovation, is exactly because it had excess capacity, and the ability to support new applications. If all Internet traffic is now to be relegated to the scraps of bandwidth remaining from so called "managed services", it is dead for all practical purposes.

        Sure, it will hobble along, but a tiered Internet can never provide the rich opportunities for innovation, or even competition with established services. That is why it is crucial that this not happen. Under a neutral Internet, there is every incentive to provide sufficient bandwidth so that it works well for everyone. Once you start carving it up, those incentives disappear, and the incumbent monopolies will prevail.

    • by jamesh (87723) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:40PM (#34970414)

      It means they are going to give 110%

    • "a quality of service above best efforts."

      WTF does that mean? If they can do better, then the "best efforts" wasn't actually the best effort, was it?

      How can you have a level of effort above the best?

      (In my best Sheldon Leonard voice) Dat's a nice Internet you'se gots dere - shame if somethin'... happened to it.

      • by wisty (1335733)

        I'm sure it's nothing like this. Websites already pay (somebody) for bandwidth. This just changes the pricing structure. Offering a tiered approach will enable providers to offer lower fees to standard websites, and better service to the sites that need it.

        Assuming they actually offer lower fees, and better services, and don't just use the added confusion as an excuse to overcharge and underdeliver. Fucking confusopoplies.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061)

          It would be good if the bottom line wasn't pushed down, and if the upper classes were sold in a non-discriminatory way, at fixed prices. The problem is that it's not going to happen that way, it'll just turn into a sell-to-the-highest-bidder situation, where companies will be out-paying each other to get priority over each other's traffic. It'll be a way for ISPs to sell their stuff twice instead of increasing their capacity. Let's say now they charge you a dollar for 1GB of traffic through a 10mbps link, i

    • by Kitkoan (1719118)
      By outsourcing it to a company that is more capable then you?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      queue 0 - Best Effort
      queue 1 - Expedited Forwarding
      queue 2 - Assured Forwarding
      queue 3 - Network Control

      The way priorities work is you generally reserve a small % for Network Control messages. Usually this is between 1% and 10% of the link, depending on how big it is (obviously you don't want to use 10% of a 10gig link). This is for stuff like your routing protocols, which HAS to get through or else nothing works.
      Then you have three different priority queues. Queues 1 and 2 are reserved bandwidth queues, wh

    • There are their best efforts for the customers and the best efforts for themselves and the two aren't the same.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:09PM (#34970196)

    Didn't we elect them to make sure that the weak get protected so they don't get screwed over by those that could flex their muscles to browbeat them into submission?

    If governments do not serve that function anymore, why the fuck do they exist at all? I can let someone (financially, physically...) strong beat me up and make me surrender quite fine without paying a few dicks to keep a bunch of chairs from flying off planet with their fat asses.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:12PM (#34970228)
      Clearly, you are misunderstanding the purpose of 21st century governments. The purpose of your government is to ensure that corporations and their shareholders become wealthier.
      • Then it's time to get rid of them. They clearly do not serve the purpose they are supposed to and have to be replaced with a working product.

      • by shentino (1139071) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:06AM (#34970564)

        No, it's to ensure the people making them rich stay poor enough not to fight back.

        Part of being rich is being comparatively wealthy. If everyone became a millionaire, nobody would feel like one, because apart from the rampant inflation required to make such a thing a reality, part of the perk of being rich is having what other people can't. If everyone around you was just as wealthy, you wouldn't feel special.

        In a zero sum world where resources are finite, you cannot win without someone else losing.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        I think Heinlein writes in one of his stories that governments exist to facilitate commerce.
        It's a very cynical worldview, but not without merit.

    • Current UK Government, with its close ties to Murdoch and News Corp, is unlikely to be fighting for neutrality in this situation. They're not fighting for an equalities commission to look at the News Corp buy-out of BSkyB. I can't see them stepping in here either, even to protect the BBC.

    • by dorward (129628)

      Of course not. Tory governments have never been about that. We elected them because Labour was out of control after too many years in power.

  • Cheapest is Best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LilBlackKittie (179799) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:09PM (#34970206) Homepage

    This is what the drive to the lowest price possible gets you: a broadband that loses the ISP money in an attempt to get that TV and billboard price-point of £5.99 per month. How does the ISP make money and remain competitive? Answer: more bites at the cherry! Phorm, getting content providers to pay... etc...

  • Oof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prikolist (1260608) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:10PM (#34970208)

    Not only does this kill small companies' as well as individual users' chances at internet presence, but what a great way to kill off any p2p protocols by dumping them whosesale into the 'slow lane'.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      Everybody knows any P2P protocol is strictly used for pirating, so then it's alright!

      Those small companies and users are probably infringing something somewhere too, so they're all criminals anyways.

      • Re:Oof (Score:5, Insightful)

        by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@Nos ... t-retrograde.com> on Sunday January 23, 2011 @01:15AM (#34970882)

        Everybody knows any P2P protocol is strictly used for pirating, so then it's alright!

        Those small companies and users are probably infringing something somewhere too, so they're all criminals anyways.

        Yargh! Those lilly-livered scallywags wot call themselves "Producers" are pedalin' stolen wares foisted from real Content Producers under legal duress! Aye! The true artisans be shackled and made to slave away in concerts and promo gigs to make ends meat.

        I say we smartly keel-haul the dirty bilge rats! Nay, lay siege and claim the bountiful media booty, make like Robin Hood with the lot of it, then scuttle the lot of 'em!

        Avast ye thick skulled brutes -- Will not the art-slaves still earn a living prostituting at promo parties, late night shows, and musical venues?

        (A cutlass twice sharpened slices doubly)

        • Everybody knows any P2P protocol is strictly used for pirating, so then it's alright!

          Those small companies and users are probably infringing something somewhere too, so they're all criminals anyways.

          Yargh! Those lilly-livered scallywags wot call themselves "Producers" are pedalin' stolen wares foisted from real Content Producers under legal duress! Aye!

          This is pretty much correct.

          The true artisans be shackled and made to slave away in concerts and promo gigs to make ends meat.

          As is this. It's well-documented that recording industry accounting practices are designed to ensure that artists never succeed in paying back their advances, no matter how much revenue is obtained by the industry from "peddlin'" (n.b. spelling) their work.

          I say we smartly keel-haul the dirty bilge rats! Nay, lay siege and claim the bountiful media booty, make like Robin Hood with the lot of it, then scuttle the lot of 'em!

          For the sake of clarity, the Pirate Party UK endorses the former strategy, but not the latter.

  • Yes. You'll wake up tomorrow to a new internet, slightly different than todays.

    where we go from here, is up to you.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:15PM (#34970254)

    I think absolutely, ISP's should be allowed to provide faster bandwidth for sites where companies have agreed to pay for delivering content to the consumer at faster transfer rates. Those companies are in effect subsidizing higher levels of ISP service for some content; there's nothing at all wrong with that.

    The second issue raised, where potentially a company could fork over enough money to block some other service - that's really bad, but I don't see it ever happening despite scare quotes like the ones the article provides. There's simply no way customers would put up with it, and the company being blocked could easily sue the company paying for the block. So who would actually do that?

    Remember that you are being frightened in order to be OK with giving over more control over an inherently open internet, to those that want to control content. It's under the guise of protecting you but the first thing you should do when someone says "I'm here to protect you from a horrible danger" is to be very suspicious and ask a lot of questions to find out if in fact there's really a credible threat.

    • by sribe (304414) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:26PM (#34970312)

      I think absolutely, ISP's should be allowed to provide faster bandwidth for sites where companies have agreed to pay for delivering content to the consumer at faster transfer rates. Those companies are in effect subsidizing higher levels of ISP service for some content; there's nothing at all wrong with that.

      And how exactly do they do that? They do it by delaying the packets sent by those who don't pay extra.

      • Wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:42PM (#34970432)

        And how exactly do they do that? They do it by delaying the packets sent by those who don't pay extra.

        No, they locally cache the content providers data so that you don't have the round-trip of getting it over the "real" internet. Realistically it's far too much trouble to manage networks by doing anything to the traffic itself, which implies all kinds of expensive packet inspection. It's far simpler to improve performance by local caching or by QOS for traffic to specific destinations - that the user would want improved access for anyway...

        • by dangitman (862676)

          No, they locally cache the content providers data so that you don't have the round-trip of getting it over the "real" internet

          How do you locally cache content that is "live" or "streaming"? I think you are naively overlooking what they actually plan to do here, which is throttle content from non-partner websites.

        • wrong yourself (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:52AM (#34970790)

          I work for a company that is heavy involved (among other things) in just that sort of deep packet inspection technology. If you don't think that large ISPs are (or will shortly be) doing traffic shaping, you're a fool.

        • It's far simpler to improve performance ... by QOS for traffic to specific destinations

          And on a saturated line, QoS translates into special-group A having their traffic get through while neutral-group B having their traffic dropped, even if there's inherently as many requests for A as B (inherently in that if A or B were alone, they'd both generate the same amount of traffic).

          that the user would want improved access for anyway...

          Users can already get what they want with a neutral, best-effort packet network

        • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

          by Raptoer (984438) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @04:02AM (#34971464)

          They might also implement it via RED. As an outbound queue fills packets going into that queue start getting dropped. This is done to prevent TCP global synchronization, and is standard practice. But if you change the rules a little, saying that packets coming from payer X get into the queue more often than non-payer Y, you've effectively lowered Y's performance during congestion without impacting Y during non-congestion.

          Or it could be done via managing router queues. In order to route a packet you must inspect it anyways. Instead of having 1 outbound queue from a router you have two, three, or more. The outbound port sends from the high-priority queue more often, but still sends from the lower priority queues, or else to the hosts it appears to be congestion or a dead connection.

          It could also be done via policy based routing on the AS level. An AS is a set of routers divided from other routers by political divisions rather than any technological reasons (AT&T routers vs Verizon routers). Each AS communicates routes and speeds via BGP. You direct the payer packets towards the faster AS you're connected to, then send the non-payer packets over to the slower AS.

          There is no real way to speed up some packets without slowing down others, unless you literally build a whole new faster network, in which case why not put the other packets on there too?

        • by arkhan_jg (618674)

          BIg ISP's already have equipment to perform realtime deep packet inspection on their user's traffic - it's cheaper to put everything through say, sandvine DPI equipment to throttle the hell out of P2P traffic than to buy in more capacity. *Every* mainstream British ISP throttles torrent traffic at least for part of the day, and they all have quotas - again, managed as part of the same equipment.

          Yes, providing akamai caches inside the ISP network in order to speed up access is one thing, but that's not what

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:05AM (#34970560)

      ...companies have agreed to pay for delivering content to the consumer at faster transfer rates.

      Does this mean consumers no longer have to contend with bandwidth and maximum download caps as long as consumers are willing to accept variable speeds? Otherwise, what good does it do me if YouTube wants to pay extra to feed me uncompressed HD quality video in real time if my internet connection can only accommodate a fraction of the required bandwidth and download allotment? For example, my ISP has tiered services. Let's say I'm on the lowest tier. YouTube has paid to have its content delivered at the fastest possible speed. So for as long as I'm surfing YouTube, my connection behaves as if it's on the highest tier. Did I understand you correctly?

      That's all well and good except for the fact that every consumer ISP (at least in the US) has pretty much oversold its available bandwidth. It's a zero sum game. In order for my connection to be temporarily upgraded when surfing YouTube, my neighbor's connection will have to be downgraded when he's surfing Vimeo (which didn't pay extra for content delivery in this hypothetical scenario) which may violate my neighbor's minimum level of service (unless of course ISPs downgrade that somewhere in the small print). Because let's be honest here, the extra money that ISPs will be collecting for this prioritized delivery isn't likely to go into upgrading infrastructure because we all know what the US telcos did with the tax payers' money that was earmarked specifically for upgrading infrastructure.

      EDIT: lol... the captcha for my post is "extort"

    • by saleenS281 (859657) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:30AM (#34970672) Homepage
      If we allow this, it will effectively create yet another monopoly for those with the capital to be the highest bidder. I love google, but I also love knowing that they have to constantly be redefining themselves, or any college kid with a little bit of skill and luck can create competition from their dorm room. If the *next big thing* is so slow it's unusable because of the ISP's "preferential" treatment of those paying tariff's, it won't ever become the next big thing. And THAT will be yet another nail in the coffin of the downfall of mankind.
    • by Nemyst (1383049) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:33AM (#34970694) Homepage

      First, they say they'll speed up service for X and Y.

      Slowly, your Internet service degrades for other sites. Wondering what's going on, you contact your ISP. They say X and Y's customers are using a lot of bandwidth and thus the infrastructure's getting throttled a bit for others. Nothing they can do about it.

      After a while, they announce a grand overhaul of their services so that they can better provide access to sites... but they only speak of X and Y. Turns out the upgrade was done for those and the rest is still on mostly the same thing bar negligible upgrades.

      Fast forward a little bit and you'll end up with sluggish access to all the sites that didn't pay. No, they never actually cut off a site or slowed it down on purpose - they just dedicated all their resources to them and let the rest fall to pieces. They have the incentive, they'll do it if they can.

    • The second issue raised, where potentially a company could fork over enough money to block some other service - that's really bad, but I don't see it ever happening despite scare quotes like the ones the article provides. There's simply no way customers would put up with it, and the company being blocked could easily sue the company paying for the block. So who would actually do that?

      You underestimate the power of marketing. If you say it loudly enough, long enough, and with enough attractive models, you could convince people of anything.

      Remember that you are being frightened in order to be OK with giving over more control over an inherently open internet, to those that want to control content. It's under the guise of protecting you but the first thing you should do when someone says "I'm here to protect you from a horrible danger" is to be very suspicious and ask a lot of questions to find out if in fact there's really a credible threat.

      Tell that the the average man on the street. They'll tell you everything is fine and be perfectly happy. They will happily sign over control of their internet access and content because the people in charge "couldn't possibly do anything *really* harmful, could they?"

  • by ideonexus (1257332) * on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:19PM (#34970272) Homepage Journal

    The problem with a lack of net neutrality is that it takes multiple ISPs to carry the packets [ideonexus.com]. So if YouTube agrees to pay for preferential treatment, they're going to have to pay every ISP in the world for it. So one ISP got their check, but the one next door didn't, so they stifle the traffic. What happens when my attempt to ping Google gets bounced out to Europe as occasionally happens?

    If we don't get Net Neutrality, we will have a war between ISPs discriminating against each other's traffic, and they will beg for the government to step in to resolve disputes. Once that happens, instead of the simple single rule of Net Neutrality, we will get a patchwork of situational regulations dictated by corporations through armies of lawyers representing their best interests.

    • by toriver (11308)

      Not only that: Let's say some American content provider sends traffic across Comcast and pays them for the bandwidth. Comcast sends traffic further on to BT's customers and the networks involved are supposed to divvy up the cost between them.

      Now, if BT demands that the content provider (aka. Comcast's customer) should pay them when BT's customers request content from them, the concent provider is likely to argue that such payments should be deducted from what they pay to Comcast. Would Comcast approve? Me t

  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:21PM (#34970284)
    Like companies holding monopolies, the tipping point seems to be whether website owners pay ISPs to avoid getting slowed down. Here's hoping that affected sites put up an intro page on any ISPs that slow them down, explaining to the user that the site is slow not because of problems on the site's end, but rather that it's the user's ISP, the company he pays to get access to the internet, that is artificially slowing things down.
  • Already here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrsam (12205) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:28PM (#34970330) Homepage

    There's an Akamai server on my ISP. www.foxnews.com resolves to it, traceroute reaches it two hops off the router on the other side of my DSL bridge, and the homepage loads up blazingly fast.

    On the other hand, my packets to www.cnn.com wander around a series of various tubes, until they find their way to Atlanta. www.cnn.com is noticably slower to load. traceroute shows that about twice as much latency accumulates, until it stops at CNN's router.

    FOX news is paying my ISP, indirectly through Akamai, for a higher tier of service for my ISP's customers. Their competition does not, and their tier of service is noticably slower.

    I try my hardest, but I can't think of a damn thing that's wrong here.

    • Re:Already here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mikkelm (1000451) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:43PM (#34970436)

      The problem isn't really that content providers can have their applications hosted in end-user service provider networks. The problem is that the TalkTalk representative seems to be open to the idea of content providers paying them money to block out the competition entirely.

    • Re:Already here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by russotto (537200) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:49PM (#34970476) Journal

      Nothing's wrong with your scenario. Let's consider if the Internet were not a series of tubes, but more like trucks. Then your trucks to Fox News would get there, load up, and turn around faster because Fox News had a warehouse in your neighborhood. Your trucks to CNN take longer because they've got to get on the highway, head down to Atlanta, and head back to your neighborhood. That's not the proposal here. Suppose both NBC news and CNN were outside your neighborhood. The proposal here is that if NBC paid off your neighborhood association and CNN did not, any trucks coming into your neighborhood from CNN would be made to take the crappy two-lane road with traffic lights and a 25mph speed limit, whereas the NBC trucks would be allowed to use the highway.

    • Re:Already here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Toasterboy (228574) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:01AM (#34970532)

      Akamai is very different from a "two tier strategy".

      Akamai is all about having local data centers nearer to high traffic population centers. This has the side effect of relieving congestion on the main internet backbones by essentially doing local caching. You want the data, and it happens to be located on a server closer to you, which by coincidence does not have to bottleneck through the backbone as much, so you get better scaling and performance. This strategy is net positive because the internet as a whole benefits by reduced waste and the hosts can deliver content more efficiently with a better user experience.

      A two tier internet is something *very* different. That's taking the same pipe, and allocating priority to the rich and powerful at the expense of those who don't pay the premium; there is still the same amount overall of bandwidth available but they want to allocate less of it to you and more of it to companies that pay. How that will actually work is that those who pay more get internet hosting that works, and everyone else gets screwed with a broken, high latency, congested network. Oh, and the price for them will also go up while the service goes down.

      Everyone else should get really pissed off about this crap, once they figure out how bad the deal is for them.

      Let me put it this way: if this sort of thing is allowed, more advanced internet services developed over the next few years will only be possible when they are run by huge corporations with deep pockets, and all other innovators will be shut out in the cold. And that means you get to pay more for those services because there won't be any competion.

  • nothing says no like losing money.
    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Actually I was just wondering if I could block all access from their IP range and get other sites I know to do the same. Once enough site owners do this they'll reconsider the idea.

      Content providers take it up the ass too much from ISPs. Time to fight back, rally up people to stop this behavior by mass blocking of ISPs that attempt to do such things. All it needs is someone to organise the whole thing, provide information and a clear message to get people engaged.

  • Once again they pound in their lies about what neutrality.is.

    The notion that neutrality means being source neutral must never be mentioned. The reporter simply uncritically accepts and repeats the premise.fed him by an."executive director of strategy and regulation".

    Everything else in this article is just wrapper for that poisoned payload.

  • by ewhenn (647989) on Saturday January 22, 2011 @11:58PM (#34970514)
    They shouldn't be allowed to sell "Internet access" then. If I'm paying for service, and I can't get to a site because my "ISP" has it blocked, then they aren't providing Internet access. They should be forced to advertise the service as a "Restricted web portal". Yeah, they might not like it, but it would be a lot closer to the truth.

    Side note: "TalkTalk" sounds cutesy. I have another cutesy for them: "Bye-Bye", as I cancel my service.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:08AM (#34970580) Homepage

    If they start trying to gang up on the content providers, what's to stop the content providers from ganging up on them? Oh yeah you want to offer Internet... bring say the top 5 companies like Google (search, youtube, docs), Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and eBay on board and hand ISPs the ultimatum - don't charge us or put us on second tier, or we will all block your ISP from using our services. The customers will scream bloody murder and complain that what you're delivering isn't the Internet, but your call. In fact, once you've pushed them together in an alliance maybe they find that they are in a position to charge the ISPs, not the other way around. After all, many people have more than one ISP to choose from but there's only one YouTube and one Facebook.

    • >If they start trying to gang up on the content providers, what's to stop the content providers from ganging up on them?

      Why gang up when you can purchase like, say, Comcast did NBC Universal? Shhh....it will all be over soon. Just like ripping off a bandage over the info artery.

    • To some extent, that's not what I'm worried about. The end result of this will be that Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Ebay don't get charged. But everyone else will. They'll either have to pay the ISPs extra to be "On the Internet", or they will be relegated to a no-man's land that only people can reach who pay the ISPs extra.

      A la carte Internet access is coming, and it will be the death of the Internet. Kiss the next Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goodbye. Only the existing versions will b

  • by nashv (1479253) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @12:31AM (#34970680) Homepage

    This is going to lead to situations like : "YouTube recommends ISP X for optimal viewing experience". And high traffic sites will probably end up extorting money from the ISPs. I know Facebook isn't going to pay anyone for access, for example.

    And pretty soon, websites will form unions and the ensuing partitioning of the Internet will give us consumer choices "ISP X offers about 50% of the Internet at this price, while ISP Y offers 75% of the Internet for only a few cents more.". Competition between ISPs will spiral out of control.

    Things are going to end up more complicated for the ISPs themselves - and if they had a shred of intelligence to them, they'd stop this moronic talk."

    • by NoSig (1919688)
      You've got it backwards. That would be the absolutely best scenario the ISPs could ever in their wildest dreams imagine. They would all be selling a unique product and could charge for it as such. Right now they are all selling pretty much the same thing which there isn't much profit in. It's the difference between selling designer (=unique) handbags and plain plastic bags. The ISPs would love it all to be ungodly complicated because they can hire people to figure it all out, but their customers only have 5
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      This is going to lead to situations like : "YouTube recommends ISP X for optimal viewing experience".

      Ha. That cuts both ways. Thanks to the duopoly system ISPs have been supporting (because it reduces competition in their designated markets), its not possible for a website to pick a "preferred" ISP without alienating a large geographic region's worth of users that don't have the choice for a provider to begin with.

  • This is what happens when idiots who don't know what words mean convince you that laws and regulations promoting network neutrality are a bad thing.

  • If they do this, I would love to have it as an option via router or ISP for services I hate. I'd love to put facebook et al on the "really fucking horrible slow/strangle" option so I can get my employees time back!
    • I'd love to put facebook et al on the "really fucking horrible slow/strangle" option so I can get my employees time back!

      You know you can do that with a proxy server and appropriate port blockage at your company firewall, right?

  • by aegl (1041528) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @01:46AM (#34970994)
    I'd think that any company that advertised "internet access" and then blocked access to BBC iPlayer in favour of Youtube (or vice versa) would run into a wall of lawsuits from dissatisfied customers - who would win as U.K law takes a dim view of companies posting false or misleading advertisements.
  • by senorpoco (1396603) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @03:22AM (#34971346)
    How can a small courier compete if the big guys are able to pay to have the speed limit changed for their vans? As with content delivery, the internet has allowed small companies to compete because content delivery is a level playing field, when the big boys can pay to leverage the medium itself everyone who can't afford to pay has their content devalued.
  • by Tomahawk (1343) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @03:40AM (#34971392) Homepage

    I know us customers generally mean nothing to businesses, but surely even ISPs can see that they are primarily there to allow us poor users to use their service to access to the big bad Internet. And by that, I mean _all_ of out. I'm paying my ISP for access to the sites _I_ want to access, not access to the sites that they, out of the goodness of their profits, they'll allow me to access.

    Perhaps they can run this another way - 3 tiers. I pay for 8mb broadband, so I get 8mb to any site - after all, that's what _I'm_ paying them for. Or, I take their _free_ package, which is paid for by the corporations, and thus can only access (quickly) those that paid to allow me access - if I'm not paying, I can hardly complain. That way, everyone wins.

    Or am I just making too much sense for these guys to comprehend?

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @06:33AM (#34971848)

    Pause, and think about it for a minute. Does anyone REALLY think an ISP can afford to make 99% of the Web intolerable for its users, without immediately dying a horrible death in the market? No. It won't happen.

    This is just more irrational fear-mongering from those interests pushing for government control over the Internet under the guise of so-called 'Net neutrality', claiming power in order to solve a problem that doesn't exist under the guise of 'helping you'.

    The reasoning fallacy behind the promotion of 'net neutrality' is something like this: The market might be perfectly capable of providing everyone decent-speed, usable Internet (it's done a reasonably good job so far), but because it doesn't apparently recognize a legal 'right' to decent service, then "oh noes, panic, it means we won't get decent service". Wrong. The market will provide decent service because that is the very service they offer.

    Here's a car analogy. There are no laws dictating a car has to be able to go at least 50 miles per hour. But is there a crisis of car manufacturers trying to get away with selling very slow cars? No, not at all, in spite of such laws. How could this possibly be? Because if a car company started selling cars that could only go 30 MPH, nobody would buy them. "But, but, we need laws just in case they do! Government must regulate and control the whole thing!" ... nope. Calm down, relax, don't be taken in by such blatant hysteria-creating propaganda.

    • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @07:34AM (#34972034) Homepage Journal

      Pause, and think about it for a minute. Does anyone REALLY think an ISP can afford to make 99% of the Web intolerable for its users, without immediately dying a horrible death in the market? No. It won't happen.

      stop believing in the 'market' bullcrap. market is the foremost thing that is manipulated on this planet. there is more profit in tiering internet, and ALL isps will be doing it. there will be no problem of 'surviving' at all. it will just be 'standard industry practice', just like how things like these have been, in all other industries unless they were banned.

      as a simple example, you can look at how, for some reason, music album/cds are being sold from almost the same rates as records, despite technology changed a lot, manufacturing went to china taking the production cost to dimes, and many corporations seemingly competing in the field.

      where is cheaper music in the mainstream market ? where is the competition ?

      nowhere. this is what you will end up with internet too, if you keep believing that 'market/competition' bullshit. its something that doesnt apply in real world. it lives in econ 101, 102 books.

  • by cheeseandham (1799020) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @06:36AM (#34971860)
    Two Speed Internet [www.me.uk]
    I would have thought it would be difficult in the UK as there is more competition. If Fred Bloggs finds his ISP slows down BBC iPlayer then he can change ISP pretty easily. What's the problem?
  • by DaveGod (703167) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @10:22AM (#34973092)

    ISPs seem to be confused about who is en route to achieving monopoly powers.

    In the UK, consumers have a real choice of ISPs and negligible brand loyalty to any of them. iPlayer, Facebook, Google and YouTube on the other hand border on being a staple part of lifestyle. Most people I know also use iPlayer and I'm quite certain they'd all change ISP if theirs stopped delivering it. On that subject, TFA is on shaky ground about contract lock-in because ceasing to provide a significant service is a failure to deliver/material variation which renders the contract unenforceable, and, in my (limited) understanding of contract law, it is nigh on impossible to have valid terms in standard-form contracts to waive such rights.

    OK, ISPs could speed up certain companies and not others, and this could get to a point where they're not literally barring access but it's impractical for bandwidth heavy content to compete without doing so. But you're still going to have consumers who are more concerned about content and you're still going to have the 3rd party options like Akamai. The risk for consumers, as the article correctly points out, is the barriers that are created preventing new startups gaining traction.

    If it wasn't enough that people are already more bothered about the content than their ISP, all of those companies have various content-sharing and other agreements already, they are clearly not averse to forming agreements on other issues. The balance of power is forming overwhelmingly in the hands of the big content providers.

    ISPs should think twice. Some content providers are already showing signs of some monopoly power and by creating further barriers to competition the ISP is throwing itself towards an inevitable conclusion: the content providers charging the ISP.

  • by vanyel (28049) * on Sunday January 23, 2011 @02:11PM (#34974954) Journal

    How is this different from a protection racket? "we wouldn't want anything to happen to your packets now, would you? Pay us and we'll make sure they're safe..."

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