May 17, 2006 6:10 PM PDT

Hardware firms oppose Net neutrality laws

The political debate in Washington over the concept known as Net neutrality just became a lot more complicated.

Some of the largest hardware makers in the world, including 3M, Cisco Systems, Corning and Qualcomm, sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday firmly opposing new laws mandating Net neutrality--the concept that broadband providers must never favor some Web sites or Internet services over others.

That view directly conflicts with what many software and Internet companies have been saying for the last few months. Led by Amazon.com, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, those companies have been spending millions of dollars to lobby for stiff new laws prohibiting broadband providers from rolling out two-tier networks.

"It is premature to attempt to enact some sort of network neutrality principles into law now," says the letter, which was signed by 34 companies and sent to House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "Legislating in the absence of real understanding of the issue risks both solving the wrong problem and hobbling the rapidly developing new technologies and business models of the Internet with rigid, potentially stultifying rules."

The letter even goes so far as to applaud a committee vote in the House of Representatives on April 26, in which Net neutrality proponents--largely Democrats--lost by a wide margin. "We are pleased that the committee rejected attempts to add so-called 'network neutrality' provisions to the bill," it says.

Even though many of the letter's signers are suppliers to telecommunications companies, it still is likely to help stall efforts to advance Net neutrality--which a Democratic senator said last week would be debated in the Senate.

Net neutrality proponents say the legislation approved by the House committee doesn't go far enough to target possible errant behavior by AT&T, Verizon Communications and other broadband providers, and could try to add amendments during a floor vote. A "Save the Internet" coalition has even been created and boasts members such as the left-leaning Moveon.org, the American Library Association and the libertarian-conservative group Gun Owners of America.

The groups say the Federal Communications Commission must be given power to regulate broadband providers that might want to do things like charging content providers extra for the privilege of faster delivery or other preferential treatment.

For their part, major broadband providers have repeatedly pledged not to block traffic or censor Web sites. Instead, they say, it will only be economically feasible to invest in higher-speed links if some bandwidth can be reserved for paid content. Also, they argue, the FCC has already taken action against violations of Net neutrality, so no new laws are necessary.

See more CNET content tagged:
Net Neutrality, broadband provider, House Majority Leader, 3M Co., Qualcomm Inc.

31 comments

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Self serving
Of course they oppose it. They stand to make a bundle of money
off of equipment which tracks and prioritizes network traffic.
Forgive the tired analogy, but they want to build the toll plazas on
the Information Superhighway.
Posted by jimothyGator (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hmmm.
Well, I'm not sure the "toll on the superhighway" analogy helps
here. First off, why should we care whether Google has to pay a
so-called "toll"? Further, why should we want governmental
regulation to ensure that they do not have to pay a toll? Remember,
governmental regulation of the industry effects ALL of us. It opens
the door to regulation of everything we love about the Internet. Do
we want to sacrifice this at the altar of Google? Not on my watch.
Posted by tpwk (6 comments )
Link Flag
Hmmm.
Well, I'm not sure the "toll on the superhighway" analogy helps
here. First off, why should we care whether Google has to pay a
so-called "toll"? Further, why should we want governmental
regulation to ensure that they do not have to pay a toll? Remember,
governmental regulation of the industry effects ALL of us. It opens
the door to regulation of everything we love about the Internet. Do
we want to sacrifice this at the altar of Google? Not on my watch.
Posted by tpwk (6 comments )
Link Flag
Says it all right here...
"...many of the letter's signers are suppliers to telecommunications companies..."

Bring in the big guns...

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer says he wants to be a champion for the Internet.


"While New York has a vast transportation infrastructure to move people and goods, we don't have the broadband infrastructure to move ideas and information. If you're a kid growing up in South Korea, your Internet access is ten times faster at half the price than a kid growing up in the South Bronx. New Yorkers are at a competitive disadvantage that is simply unacceptable."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.danablankenhorn.com/2006/05/a_champion_for_.html#more" target="_newWindow">http://www.danablankenhorn.com/2006/05/a_champion_for_.html#more</a>
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gee, that's surprising. I wonder what kind of HW they're selling...
...to the carriers? Could it be the Cisco Service Exchange Framework, for which the marketing literature almost comes out and giggles over the ability to rein in third-party content providers (Google, eBay, whatever)?

Giving Cisco SEF to the telcos is like handing the keys to a Porsche and a fifth of Jose Cuervo to a teenaged boy.

You can read about SEF here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2006/02/network-neutrality-what-cable.html" target="_newWindow">http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2006/02/network-neutrality-what-cable.html</a>

And then go to:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.savetheinternet.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.savetheinternet.com</a>
Posted by directorblue (148 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That would be right....
These guys want to fuel the fire under which net neutrality boils away. I have no respect for Cisco anymore, and will probably look elsewhere when I start my business. They really are making themselves out to be the "sell your own grandma for a buck" kind of business, only they're selling out the general US public. Slimy if you ask me.
Posted by fireball74 (80 comments )
Link Flag
Exactly. Unable to sell a feature? Pass a law!
Or in this case, lobby against laws that would prevent the use of your technology to abuse consumers.

Basically, Cisco and others are pushing the same old "quality of service" (QoS) hogwash that they were unable to in an open market. You see, QoS doesn't work. It's proven on large University networks. Favoring any packet inherently disfavors other packets. It's plain 'ol discrimination at the packet level. Bandwidth/latency/etc. is always limited. Favoring packets of "favored" (e.g. wealthy) clients will diminish service for all the others.
Posted by chassoto--2008 (71 comments )
Link Flag
Net neutrality a must
Here's what is really happening. Hardware manufacturers see a profit opportunity by creating a device which controls and allocates access. The "sell content" model isn't working, so by creating hardware that allows the provisioning of faster services for those who pay for it, they are forcing the content providers to "downstream" charges to informationm users/readers. That's all it is.
They are answering the question, "How can we find a way to make some money off of what is essentially free?"
As I have noted in the past, the Mass Marketing Email (AKA Spam) "problem" could be solved overnight with a per-email charge that Mass Emailers (AKA Spammers)would find so expensive that 98% of Mass Emailing (AKA Spamming) would stop immediately. AOL, MSN and other ISP providers could accomodate consumers with 2,000-3,000 emails included in their account, and say, .01 for each "overlimit" email. The technology exists, and so there would be little additional cost to the ISPs.
There is already a "non-neutral" Internet with the marketing of different bandwidth speeds at higher prices for braodband that for dialup and DSL.
Providing hardware manufacturers with an excuse to offer faster processing hardware just gives the ISPs, including the cable companies, more reasons to charge more for an allready too-expensice, monopolistic pricing regime supported and encouraged by the FCC and humongous political contributions by the cable and telecom companies.

Diogenes
Posted by bdennis410 (175 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not so fast . . .
The idea of network neutrality is most appealing, but I trust market forces to provide it much more than I trust Congress to. For years, we've eschewed the idea of using the blunt force of government to regulate the Internet. Sure you want to open that door now? Once it's established that Congress regulates the Internet, what principle will we invoke to keep them from establishing a "reasonable" tax structure?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Market forces are moot when its a monopoly
What market forces are you referring to? Do you happen to know of another internet backbone that isn't owned by AT&#38;T, Verizon or any of the other companies pushing to tier service levels? The only choice the market would have is to not use the internet at all, and that is completely unrealistic.

The internet backbone is a monopoly simply because with all things being equal(net neutrality) a monopoly serves the citizens of a country better than having 10 or 15 companies putting wires up on poles or laying fiber in our streets.

Taxing the internet is a different issue altogether. I certainly appreciate your fear of Govt stepping in with a "reasonable tax structure" but that is not automatic if Net Neutrality Laws are passed. We'll debate the internet tax when that issue is on the table.
Posted by headstash (1 comment )
Link Flag
Never fear...
The Dems will be taking over Congress next year and I think, or maybe just hope, they will put the kibosh on this kind of extortion.
Posted by El Kabong (100 comments )
Reply Link Flag
my senator says..
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding H.R. 5252, the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act (COPE Act). I appreciate hearing from you.

I understand the importance of quick and affordable broadband service to Georgia's small businesses, homes, and schools that will enable us to share information in a global market, enhance our lives through technology, and communicate more effectively in an ever changing world. As you know, the internet is a critical communications tool for millions of Americans.

The COPE Act has been introduced before the House of Representatives to promote the deployment of broadband networks and services. There is currently no Senate version of this bill. Be assured that I will continue to support fair market competition, the protection of consumers, and lower prices in any legislation regarding broadband that comes before the Senate.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up
via my web site at: www.chambliss.senate.gov. Please do not
hesitate to be in touch if I may ever be of assistance to you.




Sincerely,

Saxby Chambliss
United States Senate
Posted by iupetre (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Are there 2 "net neutrality" wars being fought
The net neutrality I read about relates to the principle - YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. An idea that on the information superhighway, the semi pays more than the bicyle. That a new Ferrarri cost more than a new Geo.

Of course, there is some net neutrality already - I pay the same for my cable broadband access, whether I get 1Mb or 100Kb download speed (whaever happened to that wonderful 4Mb/sec speed the pretty lady talked about on TV.....eh, what do you mean UP TO ;-) Why shouldn't I be paying some sort of KWH fee - pay for what I get ?

Why should "my grandfathers" information purveyor - now he's ditched Gopher in favour of this new-fangled WWW ("it'll never catch on, ya know")- pay as much for his text as MTV/CNN/ABC/etc. for their loudashell in your face HD realtime streaming videos ?
Posted by DryHeatDave (79 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Keep the Internet Free
Well thank goodness some in the high tech world are standing up and fighting to keep the Internet what it is - a free and open space for technology to thrive and innovation to move us forward!
Posted by Luv2Box (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Keep the Internet Free
Well thank goodness some in the high tech world are standing up and fighting to keep the Internet what it is - a free and open space for technology to thrive and innovation to move us forward!
Posted by Luv2Box (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free?
Since when was the Internet ever *free*? Have you looked at your cable or DSL bill lately? (or do your parents pay that bill for you?)

FYI - It was never free .. someone always paid for the bandwidth, whether it be the DoD (ie, taxpayers) back when it was a research project, the university you attended, the company you work for, or yourself for access from home.

Also, it isn't free for Google either. Just like you, they have to pay for Internet access.
Posted by tsreyb (2 comments )
Link Flag
Do you want the Internet to evolve?
..then STOP waving the Net Neutrality flag!!!

In order to implement the various new Internet applications people desire (real time multimedia, VoIP, IPTV, gaming, etc.) then the broadband providers MUST be able to reserve high speed, low latency, ephemeral network resources for these applications. They have to give preferrential treatment to these applications simply because they will *NOT* operate reliably without it.

So you can hop on your Net Neutrality, anti-corporate bandwagon, but don't complain when in 5 years the Net looks pretty much as it does today. Don't worry, be happy!
Posted by tsreyb (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I want the net to evolve freely
The net will not evolve to fit our needs if we don't ensure net neutrality at some point. You're talking about the need to provide more bandwith for things like VOIP and gaming, but if net nuetrality is not enforced, we will all get to keep the crappy infrastructure. The telcos will simply reduce the traffic on the networks by charging competitors higher rates to have extra bandwidth instead of investing into the infastructure to create more bandwidth. Plus they can give their own VOIP and gaming services advantages over other companies' who will have to pay extra to access the lines. If I use your example of VOIP, not having net neutrality will annihilate new companies like Vonage and Packet 8 and allow Verizon and AT&#38;Ts VOIP packages to flourish at the prices and minute packages they set. And when they own all the available lines and they own all the available services, they can set those prices as high as they want.

If we ensure net neutrality, the telcos will have to build infrastructure to supply that bandwidth to keep their customers happy. Then customers can choose whether or not they want to pay for better access to get those services with higher bandwith packages. Keeping the choices in the hands of the consumer is always the goal of a free market society and will allow the internet to evolve according to the users need, not a corporation's. And by the way, free-markets aren't some liberal bean-counter anti-corporate swill, but the true blue American way.

Incidentally, net nuetrality is already enforced right now and the moratorium that is allowing it is set to expire.
Posted by laramaral (5 comments )
Link Flag
Interesting
So basically it's Google and Moveon (paid by Google) vs.
economists, hardware providers, Internet providers, and just about
everyone else. Nice to know that most people understand that the
lack of governmental regulation is precisely the reason the Internet
has thrived. Let's hope our legislators have the good sense to keep
it that way.
Posted by tpwk (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It Says A Lot
It says a lot that other Internet-related companies are now coming out in opposition of net neutrality. It shows that not every technology company will be benefited by proposed regulation.
Posted by Net Chick (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
opposition of net neutrality
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/saturn_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/saturn_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ipod Apple (152 comments )
Link Flag
Brilliant
<i>"Legislating in the absence of real understanding of the issue risks both solving the wrong problem and hobbling the rapidly developing new technologies and business models of the Internet with rigid, potentially stultifying rules."</i>

Exactly.
Posted by MollyFranks (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Brilliant
I wouldn't exactly call that BRILLIANT. Either way this thing goes the Internet isn't going to melt down. But really I'd rather not have my ISP, or the Backbone for that matter, dis-allow where or how fast I can go. "He can't go there, because neither he, nor that Internet host paid premium". Someone tried to do that awhile back with DNS lookup failures. Instead of giving you the normal "Not Found" results, *they* decided where you should go, to their site. Noone trusted them with that. And I don't trust anyone with telling us how fast or where we can go based on if we paid a premium for it. We should get the normal expected path and quality we've always gotten... and if anything they should provide over-and-above bandwidth for those that pay a premium for more. We should not in any event get any less than what we get right now. Of course proving that will be fun.

stul·ti·fy (definition #2 on dictionary.com):

To cause to appear stupid, inconsistent, or ridiculous.
Posted by aspicer (3 comments )
Link Flag
No Regulation
This article just supports my suspicion that net neutrality has nothing to do with consumers. This is a battle between corporations, and the only way I can see the consumer losing is if we give the government control over the situation. If we let the different corporations duke it out, I bet we'll find that the situation balances itself in a way that benefits the users.
Posted by watcher0123 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It is Not the Time
This article points out the key problem that I have with net neutrality. There is not a problem yet. We should wait to see the results of these companies buying their own bandwidth before we call for legislation to stop it. The government would be better equipped to deal with an internet problem once it exist, but at the current time, further government involvement is not needed.
Posted by mrt122178 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Freedom to set up tollboths
There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what Net Neutrality does. There are groups out there spreading mis-information to suggest that net neutrality will create the very problems that it is in place to prevent.

What does is prevent companies from asking for extra money for good service.

On the internet, when viewing a particular website, the data from that website will usually travel between a number of computers to get from the website to your computer. Lets take news.cbsi.com as an example. I ran a traceroute to news.cbsi.com and it showed the data passing through 15 computers to get to mine.

You can try this yourself. If you are using Windows, open a command window, and type "tracert news.cbsi.com" or whatever domain you want to check out. If you are using Unix, Linux or Mac OS X, the command is "traceroute"

Anyway, imagine what it would be like if news.cbsi.com had to pay an extra fee to the owners of each of the 15 computers through which the data was routed before it got to my computer, and if they don't pay the extra fee, then each router will go out of their way to delay or slow down the transfer of data to the next point, even if there is no other traffic on said router.

Maybe news.cbsi.com has enough money to bribe all the routers on the internet. Imagine being a regular person with a personal or small business website, and in addition to paying their ISP to host their website, they had to pay a fee to lots of different companies the route data on the internet?

Going to a mundane example, it is like companies going to the government, and asking them to make it legal for companies to set up tollboths all over the place on public roads that were paid for with your tax dollars.

Do you want this?

Net neutrality is what pevents companies from going out of their way to slow down internet traffic. It has been an aspect of the internet from the beginning, and it should not be removed so that backbone providers can extort content providers.
Posted by aGoth (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Freedom to set up tollboths
&gt;Net neutrality is what pevents companies from &gt;going out of their way to slow down internet &gt;traffic. It has been an aspect of the internet &gt;from the beginning, and it should not be &gt;removed so that backbone providers can extort &gt;content providers.

It won't just be backbone, it will be the foreground as well, meaning the Edge, meaning your ISP will start making content based decisions on your traffic before you even get to the backbone. (If they don't already.) (Some have reportedly already blocked Vonage calls.)Some ISP's are backbone as well. All have their own network structure at some level.
Posted by aspicer (3 comments )
Link Flag
this is silly
The root of the problem of NN is that there is no problem. Are you telling me that Congress has nothing better to be spending it's time on in the world we live in today than a possible future problem with the internet? (Especially when even if a problem did occur, market self correction would be the best course of action as it always is). Let's keep government out of this.
Posted by lemon_lyman (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
net neutrality is curently enforced
That's the reason there is no problem. The moratorium is set to expire. We are actually trying to maintain the current situation of freedom on the net.
Posted by laramaral (5 comments )
Link Flag
Yes, we are trying to maintain our current situation of freedom on the net and our president has a similar mindset so i think we are safe for now. I think with our current situation we will continue to have a NN. I don't see a restriction happening because there are to many loop holes in order to make this monitored.
Posted by cciraolo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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