The Net Neutrality debate
This is amusing, in that McCurry knows what he's been told and Newmark know what he's lived through.
Should the Net Be Neutral?
May 24, 2006
The "net neutrality" debate has reached a fever pitch as Congress mulls legislation that would allow Internet service providers to charge Web sites for preferred delivery of digital content.
The Wall Street Journal Online invited Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and a net neutrality proponent, and former White House spokesman Mike McCurry, who heads a phone industry group, to debate the issue. Their exchange, carried out by email, is below.
Mr. McCurry begins: Our Hands Off the Internet coalition believes that the Internet of the future cannot carry the load we will put on it unless we substantially upgrade network facilities and capacity. Before too long, users are going to be streaming data-rich videos into the home, using the Web for online games, practicing telemedicine online, conducting voice conversations via [Internet telephony], you name it.
The current Internet is creaky and will suffer congestion if we don't invest in improvements. The network operators prepared to make those investments need to get a return and one way is to charge a premium for managing huge bandwidth content differently. Face it, most users trying to get video want packets of video data to assemble differently than regular email content.
So we say, let the current rules govern. Let's not impose a new and cumbersome set of regulations on the Internet that might thwart the necessary investments. We have no clear evidence that content is being discriminated against and we have no real problem with quality of service that cannot be addressed under current law. We think the advocates of regulated net neutrality have not pointed to a problem that needs a solution.
Mr. Newmark responds: Mike says "let the current rules govern" and that's what we're trying to do, trying to stop the big guys from changing the rules via the Federal Communications Commission. We're trying to preserve the level playing field. It's just fairness. Americans want to play fair, work hard and get ahead. That's what net neutrality is about.
Now, I've got to tell you where I'm coming from. My background is computer sciences and software engineering, and I still know a thing or two about network capacity, remembered from my lost youth. However, I do full time customer service, a very irregular 14x7 schedule, that's my gig. Over the years I've dealt with some thousands of people of all political persuasions, from the tens of millions of Americans who comprise our community.
Also, I've worked with a lot of people at mid and low levels at the big telecoms, handling matters of network capacity, and abuse, like scams or harassment. I also work with some of their engineers, talking about the way big telecoms operate and issues like network capacity. It turns out that they have lots of unused capacity for bandwidth, but the big telecoms have been very remiss in implementing the newer Internet protocols (IPv6) required for growth, due to bureaucratic inertia.
The telecom workers remind me that their companies are full of workers who really want to do the right thing. They're really good people who really want to serve, and they also want a level playing field. People at telecoms also remind me that they're aware that they're profiting from public property, like the airwaves and public rights of way... but that their bosses have forgotten that.
So, to preserve the level playing field, we need to prevent the powerful from paying people for special privileges. We're NOT talking about regulation, we're talking about preserving democracy.
Given my perspective, maybe the pivotal issue is trust? Given your own personal experience, say, with your phone company, what do you think? I can tell you what the telecom workers admit. You can also check out Walt Mossberg at The Wall Street Journal regarding this [and] cellphones.
Mr. McCurry: Look, the Internet is not a free public good. We all pay something to make it work right and that's the issue here. We pay federal taxes for interstate freeways but we charge 18-wheel semi-trailers higher taxes because they put a heavy burden on the road.
The Internet needs investment. That investment will be spread across the market and the big companies that provide content will help pay the cost and work that cost into their business models. Or the consumer will get stuck with the entire bill. And my mom who uses the Internet to email and read news will have to subsidize the guy down the street who wants to stream HDTV movies 10 times a day.
Having the FCC regulate net neutrality (and what exactly is the definition of "net neutrality" anyhow?) will dampen investor interest in building bigger, faster, smarter pipes -- Wall Street has already made that clear. The best protection for the "little guy" is a robust market with lots of competition that will force those with "power" to make the best deal available to the consumer.
Mr. Newmark: I agree, the Net ain't free. However, Google and YouTube and iTunes are already paying their fair share, a lot of cash. Their owners and consumers use the Internet, based on an underlying telecom structure based on public resources that we all own.
Do you believe Yahoo should be allowed to outbid Google to slow down Google on people's computers? That's the kind of thing that the big guys are proposing.
For that matter, the hard part of the infrastructure is already done: "The backbone was terribly overbuilt," says Fiber Optic Association President Jim Hayes [according to a September 2004 article published on StreamingMedia.com.] "Ninety-three percent of all the fiber that's been installed is still unused."
Mike, can I suggest some straight talk from your clients?
Ok, the problem is that Newmark is a perverted sex vendor, allowing people to hook up for perverted sex and McCurry represents the largest porn vendors in America.
Now, with that out of the way, McCurry doesn't understand the issue or who he's dealing with. His sneering at young adults set the tone and it wasn't a good one.
What he refuses to understand is that his paymasters are trying to hijack the internet and not enhance it. They want to set up toll roads online because they want the mystical pot of money to fall into their laps. They see Google and they see money that should be in their pocket, not Google. The fact that their plans only make sense if you want to destroy the internet and exclude millions from participating online.
If this bill passed, millions would be driven away from using the Internet.
posted by Steve @ 12:05:00 PM