si-blog

Network stupidity

Posted Jun 29, 2006 in Media, Politics, Technology.

A hypothesis...

I am a broadband internet provider. I have millions of customers who pay me because I provide a better service than my competitors (or I am the only service available in a customer's area). My job is to provide the means for unidentified “packets” of information to flow from the internet to my customers and back again.

A separate company begins to provide a service that allows customers to make and receive voice calls. Some of their customers use my broadband network, and those customers are very happy.

I decide to get in on the act, and setup my own service that allows customers to make and receive voice calls. I cannot afford to undercut the rival company, but I can offer a slight discount to my existing broadband customers.

In order to provide a better service for my customers, I begin examining the previously unidentified packets of information to see which of them are carrying voice data for the rival company. To make sure my voice customers get a better service, I start to favor the packets of my own voice network by throttling the packets of my rival. The result is that many of my broadband customers switch to using my voice service, instead of the service operated by my rival.

I feel good about what I have done, because I have given my customers a better service, and I've managed to make extra money from doing so. Everyone is a winner!

Right now, this is a hypothetical situation; however, thanks to the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act” working its way through the United States government, this will soon be a reality. And it's shameful. Despite the efforts of scores of businesses, organizations, and individuals, it looks like network neutrality will soon be a thing of the past.

Comments

  1. Gravatar

    Simon

    You are right to draw attention to the issue of net neutrality.

    I fear that, even though the concept is relatively simple, your average punter is not going to 'get it' until it's too late.

    Unfortunately it's a by-product of rampant corporate greed in a society of largely unfettered capitalism.

    On a similar subject (or should I say, hobby horse of mine), there was no doubt applause that Warren Buffet is to distribute some of his vast fortune. Whilst I'm sure there's some cause for celebration, one has to question a society in which an individual can become so proposterously wealthy.

    Have a fine weekend.

    Cheers

    Paul

    Posted by Paul on Jun 30, 2006.

  2. Gravatar

    "Unfortunately it's a by-product of rampant corporate greed in a society of largely unfettered capitalism."

    What's wrong with capitalism? It's a considerably better economic model than communism, socialism, or even the feudalism it replaced.


    "one has to question a society in which an individual can become so proposterously wealthy"

    Like Her Majesty The Queen, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, Bernie Ecclestone, Richard Branson, plus a host of other billionaires born and bred in the UK? There is nothing wrong with making money, or having money. Warren Buffet is rich mostly because of sound fiscal judgement and sage-like business predictions, rather than just being given it on a silver platter. I applaud the system that made it possible for him to become so wealthy.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jun 30, 2006.

  3. Gravatar

    ha ha

    simon. do you ever come out of binary mode? sometimes i wonder if you're not a bot. are you really an elaborate turing test?

    i said 'largely unfettered capitalism', i.e. capitalism without much in the way of controls imposed by the state.

    what's wrong with capitalism is that it's a system that creates winners and losers - and without state intervention you end up with the situation where the winners can't lose, and worse, the losers can't win.

    and your country becomes walmart-ised.

    i can't see a moral justification for an individual to amass billions of dollars in a country where 35 or so million people live below the poverty line.

    do you honestly believe that these people could buy themselves out of poverty with 'sound fiscal judgement and sage-like business predictions'? and should they go hungry if they do not have these skills?

    p


    Posted by Paul on Jul 01, 2006.

  4. Gravatar

    "do you ever come out of binary mode?"

    No. The world is black or white to me - MY WAY or the highway.


    "what's wrong with capitalism is that it's a system that creates winners and losers - and without state intervention you end up with the situation where the winners can't lose, and worse, the losers can't win."

    I don't like state intervention. It is just a euphemism for state control. I believe you make your own luck. If it was me in charge, most of the state intervention would be directed at giving everyone the very best education possible, so that everyone was equipped with what they needed to make their own success. Giving hand-outs to shirkers, crack-heads, and folks that can't stop having babies is not my idea of how it should be done.

    I'm sorry, Paul, but I have absolutely no time for socialism. It is true that capitalism is a flawed economic model, but it is light years ahead of socialism. Robbing from the rich to give to the poor might sound good to the romantics of this world, but it is inherently unfair. And that is what socialism is. What is needed is a modified capitalist system where investment in reducing poverty yields financial gain.

    In fact, I believe that the Gates Foundation is moving in that direction. Rather than just blindly giving out piles of money to the poor, it carefully targets its assistance to encourage higher standards of living, better healthcare, and better education. It is helping people who are below the poverty line get themselves into a position where they can afford to licence a copy of Windows!

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Jul 01, 2006.

  5. Gravatar

    errr... highway please :-).

    well. this is interesting. i hear you on the state intervention thing.

    i'm not sure i like the rhetoric; categorising anyone in the need of state help as "shirkers, crack-heads, and folks that can't stop having babies" does seem, well, a bit offensive.

    so presumably you don't want the state to intervene in the net neutrality debacle then? in a free market, surely the telcos can do what they want with the service they provide. the last thing you want is a nanny state intervening telling them how to run their business.

    Posted by Paul on Jul 04, 2006.