May 8, 2006 2:56 PM PDT

Smaller cable firms take aim at Net neutrality fans

WASHINGTON--Young, wealthy Internet companies like Google shouldn't expect to get "special favors" from network operators that have sunk billions of dollars into fiber investments, the head of a smaller cable company said Monday.

Rocco Commisso, CEO of New York-based Mediacom Communications, delivered the latest commentary in the ongoing Net neutrality fray at an annual Washington, D.C., summit organized by the American Cable Association, a lobbying group for small and medium-size independent cable companies. Mediacom, which bills itself as the nation's eighth-largest cable television provider, counts 1.5 million basic-cable subscribers across 23 states, according to its Web site.

"I think what the phone industry's saying and what we're saying is we've made an investment, and I don't think the government should be coming and telling us how we can work that infrastructure, simple as that," Commisso said during a panel discussion about issues faced by companies like his, adding, "Why don't they go and tell the oil companies what they should charge for their damn gas?"

The remarks indicated it's not only the nation's largest broadband players, both in the cable and the telecommunications sectors, that have voiced public opposition to what they refer to as unprecedented governmental regulation of the Internet. They've said repeatedly that without evidence of a problem, there's no need for new laws.

Net neutrality, also called network neutrality, is the philosophy that network operators should not be allowed to prioritize content and services--particularly video--that come across their pipes. Proponents have launched a campaign to enact detailed regulations barring such practices, and so far they've won over some congressional Democrats.

Network operators counter that they deserve the right to charge premium fees to bandwidth hogs in order to offset their vast investments in infrastructure and to ensure the quality and security of their products. Mediacom has made $1.7 billion in capital investments over the past decade, according to Commisso.

"It's incredible that a company like Google that's got market capitalization bigger than the combined value of the cable business....these guys just started five, 10 years ago, and they're asking for special favors already," Commisso said.

His statement conjured up earlier admissions by telecommunications power players, including one Verizon executive who cautioned that Google should not be entitled to a "free lunch."

Net neutrality advocates--which include Google, Microsoft, and a medley of mostly left-leaning consumer groups--argue that such a business model would lead to increased costs for Web surfers and would assault the Internet's historically open architecture.

Their rallying cry--and their very selection of the term "Net neutrality"--is nothing more than a "very, very clever D.C. campaign," charged Tom Might, CEO of Arizona-based Cable One, which has customers in 19 states with large rural populations. Politicians, he suggested, "don't know what it is, but they're afraid to be against Net neutrality because it sounds so wonderful, like Mom and apple pie."

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Net neutrality fans
The reason your company can charge 1.5 mil customers a fee for getting on the net is sites like google and the others you mentioned content from other sources must be paid for googles content is free so you can aquire 1.5 million customers. Web content is the compelling reason and the people you want to charge for content maybe should be charging you to provide it.
Posted by Paninteas (18 comments )
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This talkback format is useless
I'd like to read some of the comments on this subject, but I've
got better things to do than load comments one to a page. Two
sentences then I've got to wait for the next page to load. C'mon,
CNet can do better than that. Can't they? I hope so. Til then, I'll
read my comments elsewhere.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Link Flag
Net neutrality fans
The reason your company can charge 1.5 mil customers a fee for getting on the net is sites like google and the others you mentioned. Content from other sources must be paid for by you. Internet content, like googles content, is free so you can aquire 1.5 million customers and charge them for the bandwidth they need to download what they want. Web content is the compelling reason. Google pays some entity for the bandwidth it needs to get on the net. Bandwidth want to charge for content which cost them nothing. Maybe internet sites should be charging you to to carry it.
Posted by Paninteas (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Net neutrality fans
The reason your company can charge 1.5 mil customers a fee for getting on the net is sites like google and the others you mentioned. Content from other sources must be paid for by you. Internet content, like googles content, is free so you can aquire 1.5 million customers and charge them for the bandwidth they need to download what they want. Web content is the compelling reason. Google pays some entity for the bandwidth it needs to get on the net. Bandwidth want to charge for content which cost them nothing. Maybe internet sites should be charging you to to carry it.
Posted by Paninteas (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Net Neutrality
The reason your company can charge 1.5 mil customers a fee for getting on the net is sites like google and the others you mentioned. Content from other sources must be paid for by you. Internet content, like googles content, is free so you can aquire 1.5 million customers and charge them for the bandwidth they need to download what they want. Web content is the compelling reason. Google pays some entity for the bandwidth it needs to get on the net. Bandwidth providers want to charge for content which cost them nothing. Maybe internet sites should be charging you to to carry it. Who wants the "Special Favors"?
Posted by Paninteas (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
These people are arrogant
> "I think what the phone industry's saying
> and what we're saying is we've made an investment,
>and I don't think the government should be coming
>and telling us how we can work that infrastructure,
>simple as that," Commisso said during a panel
>discussion about issues faced by companies like his

Well it doesn't matter what you think Mr. Commisso. The fact is that the American taxpayers financed the development of the Internet, so if you want to make any profit off of it, we have a right to tell you what the rules of the road will be. You represent an outdated dinosaur of an industry, and if it weren't for the government telling AT&T in 1979 what they could do with their "investment", we'd all still be using dial up lines and be forced to lease our phones from AT&T.

Google is the future. You are the past.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe if Gas worked like their plans...
Well, maybe if gas worked as a very tiered structure like an Anti-Nuetralist (wierd to say) would have it, then the government would step in.
What I mean is, if the Gas Co's started selling "Ford Exclusive" or "2006 models Only" gas and charged higher rates depending on model types (we're excluding gas mileage in this example) then maybe the government would dictate prices.
Posted by Tomcat Adam (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The whole idea is silly
What the providers fail to recognize, is that Google is already paying. They pay their backbone provider quite a bit of money for bandwidth. Now those same providers also want to whine about the type of traffic that is going through those lines. It's called, having your cake and eating it too.
Posted by Siege24 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
we already pay for service
If the physical network companies (telcos, cable operators, etc.)
are permitted to charge content providers for delivering their
content and are permitted to include guarantees of delivery, it
would be like allowing the phone companies to charge
telemarketers for delivering their messages and guaranteeing
the delivery, in spite of any opt out instructions they might have.
End users already pay for internet access. We are not paying for
someone else to have the right to determine what we get or
must receive. Of course, the companies have made an
investment and have a right to try to earn a profit - from us, the
end users. We are their source of revenue and we expect them
to stay out of content control.
Posted by skeese2 (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Common Carriers
One thing that cable companies and phone need to be reminded about: they are common carriers. They cannot discriminate against anyone as long as they offer their networks out for hire to the public.

Their suggestion is like charging more for buses than for passenger cars on toll roads, even though we all pay taxes when we buy gas to support the roads. Everyone is charged the same on the road.

And lets face it, Google, MS and the others are already paying for a T1/T3 somewhere. That's high bandwidth they've already bought and paid for.

But now the carriers want more because Google is an easy target.

Shame on them. It's got more to do with externalizing their costs than anything else. Ultimately, the consumer will pay for it and they know it.

Posted by schroedinger (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Be sure to vote out any representatives
...who support the telecom/cable cos. Pay attention.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is the solution (vote out)
Indeed, pay attention to this comment. Vote out representatives who fall on the side of the telecom companies on the Net Neutrality issue. You pay the taxes that build the internet and the telecoms want to charge you again for the costs you already paid. They want to charge Google twice too. It's no different than W*lmart moving in town on tax breaks and driving out the competition, then raising prices and lowering wages. It works. This is when we need government--by the people.
Posted by devodave (3 comments )
Link Flag
See how your rep. voted
You can see how your representative voted by going to the link below:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Now make sure you vote them out of office because clearly they are trying to rob you of your freedom
Posted by Tawani (27 comments )
Link Flag
No more common carrier status
The minute network providers start degrading services to consumers, like voip, searches, etc. is the minute they become content providers.
Common carriers have said they can identify voip packets and make selective service degradation.

Since they can do that, they can STOP (intercept/degrade) child porn data transmissions.

It would be interesting legal dispute. The argument would be "if they can degrade legal services then they can degrade illegal services." They could no longer hide behind the "common carrier" exemption.
Posted by icesun (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
They give to me, take away. Me, the end user. Not Google, YouTube, etc.
My on-line connection gets faster year after year. Currently, with my Comcast cable modem I'm on a 384k x 6MB connection. Speeds I never dreamed of less than 10 years ago as I reached 56k. Back then that 56k was exciting as I started BBS'n when 1200 baud was king.

The cable/DSL companies giveth, I started using the services available to me with such powerful connections. But now they want to take it away? I had Vonage VoIP for a while. Then I went with a multiple extension Packet8 hosted PBX solution using VoIP. It all worked great until a couple of months ago. Now my extension here has a very significant delay in the calls. A split second, but enough where a caller and I too often talk over each other. When I inquired about it via e-mail to Comcast tech support I got this for a reply:

"Most Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers such as Vonage and AT&#38;T CallVantage use the public Internet to transmit your calls. Comcast Digital Voice service does not; we use this technology to transmit your calls over our advanced broadband network."

The message goes on and on about how great the Comcast network is for providing Comcast VoIP services. But...did someone miss my question? I was complaining about VoIP performance on this line. It was great for over a year, now it sucks and I'm being told they can provide VoIP services only if it is Comcast VoIP? This is what Net Neutrality is about people. Companies like Vonage pay their dues with the connections they have, for the bandwidth they use. Don't go charging me for the connection and speed I have, and then tell me how I can use it. I'm confident Comcast is intentionally using Quality of Service settings to degrade other VoIP providors. If this is allowed to happen companies like Vonage don't stand a chance. I'm going to take the time to send this story to my representatives from the state level on up. I suggest if you care you do the same.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey could you PLEASE.....
post the entire contents of their reply? I would love to send your story to my friends and family, as well as to my 3 elected pols in DC....


PS if everyone else here did the same then that would be a good start to showing that anti-net neutrality is REALLY ABOUT double dipping their charges and hence their profits. Make ME pay for the pipes TO MY HOUSE, make ME PAY FOR MY BANDWIDTH and then make me PAY AGAIN (because seriously the additional charges these companies will incur WILL be passed to the consumer) to USE the bandwidth I'VE ALREADY PAID FOR IN THE MANNER I WISH TO USE IT!
Posted by The user with no name (259 comments )
Link Flag
Let's not bail-out these network short-changers
Small cable firms--and large ones too--were fully aware of what the Internet was and is when they freely chose to enter the business of being ISPs. Trouble is, these firms have always built lesser systems than are really required, depending on most users to never use the actual bandwidth they pay for. This is guaranteed in practice only by the ISP's sneaky habit of casting real Internet users as bandwidth hogs, then limiting their access in order to avoid having to actually build networks with real capacity to serve real usage.

The Internet was and is an open network where the presumption is that one can send and receive whatever one wants (End User agreements that throttle and punish such actual use notwithstanding).

The real problem here is that cable firms are running underbuilt networks on what is essentially a fitness club concept: Here in Canada fitness clubs commonly sell so many memberships that if all members regularly used them there would not be enough space in the club.

Bandwidth wise this is the issue cable firms are trying to work around now by fighting net neutrality--because net neutrality threatens their bandwidth overselling and may force them to build networks that can really serve the full as-sold bandwidth.

Let net neutrality rule and let the cable firms build out their real networks to match the actual usage they are selling their custiomers.
Posted by PolarUpgrade (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well, this guys comments are a bit out of line. Google doesn't get a free lunch, the consumers pay for the bandwidth to download the content. We cant download any faster than our provider will allow us, so there is no overhead. Now if these ISP's were leaving their bandwidth uncapped, well then yah, there are going to be bandwidth hogs.

However, if I remember correctly, this all started because some ISP's were going to charge extra fee's for access to premium content. They would allow this content higher access rates than normal sites. This would be easy to do via IP routing. How is this an infringement on the end consumers right as long as it does not affect or degrade their regular service? Now, I could be wrong, and if I am, please forgive me.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I recently read this article that I thought was pretty good on this issue. <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
They aren't talking about downgrading service, but offering new options and we have to pay for it? Thats ok by me. As long the current level of service I have remains the same and I can opt for new expanded service? I agree with tanis, whats the problem?
Posted by esteini (1 comment )
Link Flag
These guys are anti-American...
Let's intersperse a few cold, hard facts into the equation:

1) The current state of the Internet is network neutrality. The FCC has come down hard on any carrier who violated it. Neutrality has resulted in massive value creation (think Google, which emerged from nowhere as a competitor to Yahoo... or Vonage or Skype).

2) Cisco and other networking vendors are ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> ) hawking hardware to the carriers that is utterly ominous in nature. It appears designed to analyze, filter, meter, and/or otherwise meddle with Internet traffic to financially benefit the carriers. In fact, they almost come right out and chortle over their ability to degrade applications competitive to the carriers.

3) The carriers contend that prioritization is required in order to deliver high-quality voice and HDTV streams to consumers. But that argument is bogus. Recent experiences with the high-speed network backbone called "Internet2" clearly shows that "best effort" packet delivery over high-speed networks results in ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> ) more than acceptable performance for HDTV streams and other rich content.

In reality, theres pretty clear evidence emerging that the carriers plan to eradicate neutrality is already stifling Internet innovation. America's technology leadership position is at risk here. Go to <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> and take action.
Posted by directorblue (148 comments )
Reply Link Flag
These guys are completely American
These companies see an oportunity to make extra money and increase revenue from there existing investment. What is more American than capitalism? The problem is they have every right to use their networks and deliver what ever service they want, they paid for their equipment they should be able to offer any service you are willing to pay them for. Unfortunately the alternative is more compitition which is expensive. Other companies need to build networks and advertise "hey, buy Internet access from us and we guarantee net neutrality". Then consumers can deside to buy services from them rather than the companies that limit bandwidth to the site you want. The only other option is for the government to step in and regulate it and that is anti-American.
Posted by mb_96_net (15 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
US Today...
Why make your own money when you can squeeze it out of other companies? Maybe if ISP/Phone/Cable providers acually concentrated on actually RUNNING internet connection, they might be able to be just as successful. But rather than improve my service, so its WORTH the price I am paying, they would rather restrict my content and squeeze money out of the sites I visit.

But, of course, we are just customers, so what do we know?
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Reply Link Flag
can't wait til google puts these ...
... outfits out of their misery. it's overdue, really. if google does buy earthlink which they can do out of petty cash, just watch cable dsl and wireless quality skyrocket and prices come sharply down. the telcos/cable providers really are begging for a shift kick in the butt to remind them that we live in the future and not in their ancient past. google is the outfit 2 show them the way by stealing huge share away from them once and for all.
Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Without Google/MS Where would they be?
These so called arbitrators or service delivery people want to tax Google and Microsoft and other players for using their services/lines/pipes....

I wonder if they could afford to maintain their competitiveness if none of the services that Google or Microsoft provide were available to their client base...

I suggest that if they really sat down to look at their business model....they may come to realise that they actually need Google and Microsoft more than the other way around.

Secondly, with the advancement of technology like wifi and wimax...these telcos and cable providers are not going to be able to stop the winds of change.

By stifling technological advancement through greed...they will likely endure such a backlash from their customer base that they will never recover....then will they compensate those long-time clients who were not to blame for their failings....i think not!
Posted by dangur (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Taking Dangur one step further - the value of a broadband connection is the content that is accessible. Currently, broadband providers (cable, DSL and others) generate billions in revenue for providing broadband services to consumers. Currently, broadband providers don't pay for the content that makes their services valuable. This has been a remarkably successful symbiotic relationship that has resulted in incredible growth for both industries.

I don't think the broadband providers should be allowed to change the rules of the game, but if they go down this path then broadband providers should pay for the content that makes their service valuable, i.e., Google, Yahoo, and the myriad of other sites visited by consumers. This might require a trade association or some other entity that can negotiate on behalf of all the content providers, but this isn't much different that the standard cable TV model.

This is a MAD (mutual assured destruction) solution, but both sides are providing value and generating revenue from that value. Content without access doesn't have value and access without content doesn't have value, so we are back to the age old stand-off - which if we are lucky will keep both sides in check.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
Don't just gripe and vent - do something!
One of the psychologies of having a talk back or gripe page is a pressure relief for those of us who are disgruntled by the wrongs the world imposes on us. The theory goes if we vent on these pages then perhaps we won't go Postal and eliminate the immediate sources of our problems with an AK 47, or the more primitive equivalent - the baseball bat. Unfortunately, once vented most of us set back and think we have done our part to correct the problem and that isn't true. Building consensus is meaningless unless definite action is taken to impose consensus. Its quite obvious that most of the IT technically astute can see the greed and the avarice of the phone and cable companies. Only an idiot would review the past or present customer service and product quality records of phone and cable companies and conclude they have anything but contempt for their customers. If you really want to stop these parasitic bastards - cable and phone companies you can do a few things that will collectively be very effective and affective:

1. Write your elective representatives and don't just say "Save the Internet." Reason with them in the technical terms these parasites understand. Tell them to save their own ass because you and most other internet users are watching how they vote on this issue and come next election they will be remembered - regardless of their party.

2. Stop watching cable. Rent your movies either from a bricks and mortar store or off the the net. First of all you will be relieved of most of those insipid commercials - every 5 minutes that last 5 minutes that you thought you paid the cable company to not to have to watch.

3. Let every cable advertiser know that you will no longer be seeing their ads on cable - because you aren't there - you are on the internet.

4. Support the transition to internet TV from cable TV.

5. Write Google and other profitable big internet players and encourage them to become a dominant part of the common carrier system and provide their own carrier and ISP services and eliminate our dependency on the phone and cable companies.

6. Encourage all the internet users that you know to support internet neutrality by accomplishing the above items.
Posted by masonx (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well said
Excellent post, I completely agree. Unfortunately doing nothing is easier and I'm lazy, so I'll gripe then take my lumps and watch my commercials. I hope you motivated folk take up the cause though, Im rooting for you!
Posted by mb_96_net (15 comments )
Link Flag
just isnt fair
I pay out the rear to get access to sites ie google so i see it as double dipping. like charging the person who makes a phone call as well as the one who receives it. greedy jerks the telecoms are. this will ruin the internet as we know it. for one thing once a company online decides not to pay a certain telecom everyone on that telecom's service will no longer receive service for which they pay for.
Posted by fredblotnic (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mole in sheep's clothing
Of course what this does not reflect is the larger telcos and cable companies vested interest in having this fail. If net neutrality does not succeed, the larger companies can offer the same (or similiar) services as a Google or MSN and give it better performance on there network. Then, they could turn around and charge Google or MSN to offer the same service. A good example of this would be the recent attempts made by some cable companies that offer internet phone services to block competing services from accessing their networks.
Posted by jd0323 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Gun Owners: Net neutrality Preserves the Free Market Essence of the Interne
The Gun Owners of America argued the conservative case for internet freedom. Its very much worth reading:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Tawani (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hear hear! This isn't a left vs right issue. It's a freedom issue.
Go to <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> and make your voice heard.
Posted by directorblue (148 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I will bring popcorn
If you thought peering wars were fun, you just just see the content vs. access wars. If a cableco/telco tries to make people accessing google suffer, Google probably won't really notice.

What I want to how long the cableco is going stay in business when as a reply google just drops access to the customers of a cableco instead displaying a little

"We are sorry, your cable company does not think you should be accessing this website. Switch to XYZ Co and have access to the Entire Internet"
Posted by Alex Yuriev (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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