13-05-2014, 23:23 #1
[EN] The Net Has Never Been Neutral
Faltou lembrar que desde o 1o. dia da Internet comercial os sites dos provedores de acesso discado já possuiam vantagens sobre os demais sites e cada provedor de hospedagem sempre teve a possibilidade de alocar melhores/maiores recursos ao próprio site.
Sem dúvida que a Internet comercial foi inicialmente vendida com o argumento de competição perfeita e não faltaram estórias utópicas para boi dormir do Zé Ruela competindo com a IBM no mesmo nível de igualdade, o que jamais foi minimamente verdadeiro.
By Brendan Sasso
May 13, 2014
The Internet is about to mutate from an egalitarian utopia into a corporate hellscape.
At least, that's the argument from some people rallying opposition to the Federal Communications Commission's proposal for weaker net-neutrality rules.
The argument goes that the Internet has always been a bastion of equality, a level playing field where all websites load at the same speed without having to pay any "tolls." And the FCC is about to throw all that away.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is pushing new regulations that would allow Internet service providers to charge websites for special "fast lanes," subjecting any website that can't pay to worse levels of service. The proposal would create a two-tier Internet where rich companies can deliver higher-quality videos and other content than everyone else, the critics warn.
"The genius of the Internet is that it allows innovation without permission, not innovation only after cutting a deal with the ISP and receiving the FCC's blessing for it," a group of 11 Democratic senators wrote in a recent letter to the FCC, urging the agency to enact stronger net-neutrality regulations.
"Sanctioning paid prioritization would allow discrimination and irrevocably change the Internet as we know it."
But the truth is that the Internet has never been the level playing field that some seem to believe. Big websites have always been able to pay for faster service—and the biggest ones are already spending billions to get it.
For example, just about all major websites pay for content delivery networks, or CDNs, to carry their traffic. Those CDNs (companies like Akamai and Level 3) build networks of servers around the country to store website data.
That way, a Facebook user in New York City trying to watch a friend's video clip doesn't have to retrieve data all the way from Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Instead, the user is actually connecting to a much closer server owned by a CDN that Facebook has hired.
A worldwide network of servers helps to speed up websites, ease congestion, and is better able to handle cyberattacks.
"They are a commercial service you have to pay for," Christopher Yoo, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, explained. "And it's good for the Internet."
It would be impossible for someone to start a high-quality video streaming site in a garage without paying for some intermediary to handle traffic. The site would grind to a halt as soon as a significant number of people tried to use it.
Small start-ups are nearly always at a disadvantage—and the Internet is no exception. For example, skyrocketing bandwidth bills reportedly contributed to YouTube's decision to sell itself to Google in 2006.
Many of the largest companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft build their own data centers to ensure a smooth service for their users, investing billions of dollars to give their websites an edge over the competition.
The Internet's existing inequities are acknowledged both by advocates and opponents of net neutrality regulations.
Kevin Werbach, a business professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Phil Weiser, the dean of the University of Colorado Law School, are both supporters of net-neutrality regulations. But in a recent Huffington Post op-ed, they emphasized that there's nothing new about companies paying for better Internet service.
"Saying the FCC action will 'force companies to pay tolls' or 'create a two-tier Internet' makes it seem as though companies such as Netflix and Google currently use the Internet for free. They don't," the professors wrote. "They pay access providers; they pay intermediaries called transit providers; they pay CDNs; and they pay to build or buy their own infrastructure."
Paying to ensure fast service isn't the only way that some websites have an advantage over others.
Search engines, particularly Google, are the main tool that many people use to find information online. Websites at the top of a search page have a huge advantage over sites buried under pages of results. Slight tweaks to Google's search algorithm can make or break a company.
Critics of Google (such as Microsoft and Yelp) argue that the government should impose "search neutrality" to bar Google from favoring its own services—such as Google Maps, Google+, and YouTube—in search results.
Google faced a nearly two-year investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into its search practices. In early 2013, the FTC concluded that there was "some evidence" that Google manipulated its search results to highlight its own services. But the commission chose not to bring charges, saying that in many cases, Google's changes improved the "user experience" by reliably producing more useful results.
The idea of total neutrality is especially absurd for people who access the Internet on smartphones and tablets.
Apple has absolute power over what mobile apps are allowed in its store. Apps can reportedly be banned for being offensive, using too much data, being too glitchy, having small font sizes, infringing on trademarks, or numerous other reasons.
In a recent interview, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, said the Apple App Store is more of a threat to the openness of the Internet than potential abuses by Internet providers.
"We just need to look at the Apple App Store … where everything that runs on your iPhone or iPad has to be approved by Apple, with them taking a huge cut of the revenue at every step, with no real competition in sight. Consumers should be very worried about that," Wales said.
Although the Internet has never been perfectly neutral, that doesn't necessarily mean the FCC's attempts to police Internet providers are futile—or that the equality gap couldn't grow.
Companies like Comcast exercise enormous power over our access to information because they own the "last mile" of cable into our homes. Controlling the on-ramp to the entire Internet makes them a much more powerful gatekeeper than a search engine or a social network.
"The question isn't whether the Internet treats everyone equally—because it doesn't already," said Harold Feld, the senior vice president of consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge. "The question is whether adding a new level of discrimination in the last mile is the critical difference."
The FCC first enacted net-neutrality rules in 2010, but a federal Appeals Court struck them down earlier this year. Wheeler is now trying to rewrite the rules in a way that can survive court challenges.
His proposal would still bar Internet providers from blocking websites. The providers would, however, be able to charge sites for faster service as long as the agreements are "commercially reasonable."
Wheeler has said he plans to crack down on any arrangements that are anticompetitive, bad for consumers, or infringe on free speech. Providers would not be allowed to favor traffic from an "affiliated entity"—so Comcast couldn't boost content from NBC (which it owns). Internet providers would also not be allowed to degrade their overall level of service to make the "fast lanes" more appealing.
Wheeler's proposal, set for a preliminary commission vote on Thursday, has prompted an outpouring of public anger. Critics argue that any "pay-for-priority" schemes on the Internet are an abuse of market power by broadband providers and are inherently bad for consumers.
But regardless of what happens with the FCC rules, even the worst-case scenarios won't be creating inequality on the Internet—only expanding it.
14-05-2014, 11:19 #2
Fast Lanes Do Not Have to Affect Internet Speeds
An ISP’s bandwidth is not fixed at current levels: As MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors) shift to all-digital infrastructures, they have significant capacity to dedicate a larger portion of their “pipes” to broadband, which can meaningfully increase bandwidth available to consumers from today’s levels.
Think of bandwidth as a highway: If an entirely new lane is added at the ISP’s expense, that does not harm anyone riding along on the preexisting highway. We struggle to understand why enabling an extra HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane is bad policy that requires government regulation.
One should not simply assume that the creation of fast lanes of dedicated bandwidth forces everyone else who chooses not to pay ISPs, or cannot pay ISPs, into slow lanes. While those lanes may be slower than the fast lanes, they were slower with or without the fast lanes.
And if bandwidth-heavy traffic that would have traveled over the open Internet (adding to congestion) is offloaded onto a separate fast lane that does not impair the preexisting pipe’s bandwidth capabilities, it should actually ease congestion on the existing lanes, rather than create slow lanes.
The regulatory question is whether ISPs are intentionally harming the overall health of the preexisting pipe to force an increasing number of bandwidth-heavy content sites to seek paid fast lanes. If we end up with fast lanes occupying far more of the pipe because ISPs stop investing in the core “non-prioritized” pipes they provide consumers, the government will clearly need to revisit this issue.
Net neutrality proponents continue to write that there is no way to create fast lanes without creating slow lanes. We fundamentally disagree with fast-lane skeptics. In fact, we suspect that many fast-lane skeptics have actually been using fast lanes and did not even realize it: ISPs across the country are delivering managed or specialized network services.
Managed service “fast lanes” are how VoIP works today on cable systems, and net neutrality proponents never complain. Beyond VoIP, Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Comcast all have live, linear IP-video products that are delivered in the home as managed or specialized network services to a variety of devices.
For example, Time Warner Cable dedicates distinct bandwidth for its in-home TWC TV apps, no different than when it needed to allocate bandwidth years ago for HBO HD or MTV HD. Time Warner Cable is not harming or taking bandwidth away from its Internet product at all. What is happening is that the 6 MHz channels that historically were used for analog video are being repurposed in an increasingly all-digital environment, freeing up capacity for other uses.
The TWC TV content flows from Time Warner Cable’s digital center in Denver directly to households across their footprint on Time Warner Cable’s proprietary backbone, the TWC TV app‘s content never touches the open Internet (no peering, no interconnections). As a managed service, the TWC TV content can be delivered more reliably and in higher quality without impairing the Internet in any way.
Complaints over managed service (fast lanes) last reared their head in 2012, when Netflix’s Reed Hastings called out Comcast’s Brian Roberts on his public Facebook feed for net neutrality violations.
Conceptually, if Netflix or any other company wants to pay Comcast or any other ISP to create a dedicated channel for their IP-based service that never touches the actual Internet, we have a hard time understanding why the government needs to impose regulations to prevent that. How can the government decide that adding VoIP is okay, or adding HBO Ultra HD is okay, but adding a dedicated Netflix IP-channel is bad?
14-05-2014, 11:29 #3
Why Reverse Blocking Should End the Net Neutrality DebateOpen Internet proponents believe that once a consumer has paid their monthly fee to an ISP they should have high-quality access to every website that is not behind a paywall. In other words, ISPs should not be able to “double-dip” and ask certain content providers/websites to pay them on top of what ISPs are paid by consumers (everyone points to the recent Netflix Comcast peering/interconnection situation).
If you are a CableOne broadband-only customer in Sherman, Texas right now and try to watch “The Ex and the Why” you are greeted with the following screen embedded to the right (same story with Teen Mom 2 in the second screenshot embedded on the right). Essentially, Viacom is blocking all CableOne broadband subscribers from accessing any of their websites because CableOne has not reached a new programming deal with Viacom. The industry term for this behavior is “reverse blocking.”
While we could potentially understand Viacom blocking CableOne subscribers who also pay for video service, broadband-only subs are simply trying to access what is a free and open website. In fact, if the CableOne sub turned off their in-home broadband and used an LTE hotspot from Verizon, Viacom’s websites would work perfectly, despite Verizon Wireless not having compensated Viacom for these very same websites for which CableOne is being asked to pay.
A similar battle played out last summer when CBS blocked all Time Warner Cable broadband subscribers from reaching CBS.com, regardless of whether those broadband subscribers were also TWC video subscribers.
The key takeaway here is that subscribing to Internet service does not give you access to every website without an ISP pay wall. Content owners have the ability to block any ISP from accessing their content unless the ISP pays them a fee. In turn, why is it okay for a website to demand payment from an ISP (as we see in Viacom CableOne dispute), but it is against open Internet principals for an ISP to seek payment from a website to reach an ISPs consumers (such as Comcast did with Netflix)?
Either allow both forms of blocking with the expectation that the free markets will balance behavior or prevent both forms of blocking. Regulating in only one direction appears to be a major mistake, especially as leverage could shift notably over the next several years.
21-05-2014, 18:41 #4
Wheeler expresses concern about programmers blocking websites during carriage fightsMay 21, 2014 | By Daniel Frankel
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Tuesday told congressional lawmakers that the trend among programmers to block access to their websites during carriage disputes with pay TV companies is "something we should all worry about."
Wheeler was speaking to representatives at an FCC oversight hearing conducted by the Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications and technology. As the Los Angeles Times noted Wednesday, programmers are now regularly blocking access to subscribers who get their video and broadband services from pay TV providers, for which carriage agreements can't be reached.
For example, Viacom is currently restricting online video access to MTV and Comedy Central for customers of Cable One, which is at a negotiating impasse with the media conglomerate over fees.
"Cable One has chosen to no longer carry Viacom programming and, as a result, it is no longer available to Cable One customers in any form," a Viacom spokesperson told the Times.
And last summer, CBS blocked Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) broadband subscribers--even those who didn't pay TWC for cable service--from accessing its sites
Fox was the first programmer to employ the strategy five years ago, when it blocked Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) customers from viewing its online content during a carriage dispute. Fox eventually caved to pressure from media watchdog groups.
Separately, Wheeler received somewhat of a grilling from the lawmakers, concerned about his pending mandates for net neutrality, pay TV consolidation and spectrum auctions.
For example, California Democrat Anna Eshoo noted that Wheeler's recently published proposal for revising Internet neutrality laws--which include controversial allowances for peering--will enable "some giant company blocking content."
Meanwhile, Texas Republican Joe Barton quipped, "The question before the committee today is, are we soon going to be calling him Mr. Wheeler Dealer?"
Amid the barrage, Wheeler tried to hold his ground. "When the consumer buys access to the Internet, they are buying access to the full Internet; and that's what our rules attempt to protect," he told the subcommittee.
21-05-2014, 18:49 #5
TV networks blocking their websites during fights with broadband providersFederal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler expressed concern during a congressional hearing over the growing practice of programmers blocking access to their websites during fights with pay-TV and broadband providers.
Asked by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) if such incidents are a sign of the "cable-ization" of the Internet, a reference to the television blackouts that often occur when networks are unable to strike new distribution agreements, Wheeler said it is something "we should all worry about."
Wheeler made his remarks during a House Energy & Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications and technology oversight hearing on the FCC.
Programmers argue that if they are blocking subscribers from getting their channel because of a contractual fight with their cable/broadband provider, it only makes sense to also make sure there is no end-around to that content via the Internet.
The practice of blocking consumers from websites if their cable/broadband provider is in a distribution fight is believed to have started a few years ago when Fox and Cablevision Systems Corp. were in a spat. Fox briefly blocked Cablevision subscribers who were also broadband customers from accessing its websites. After there was a backlash from media watchdogs, Fox stopped.
Last summer, when CBS signals went off of many Time Warner Cable systems, the network also blocked the cable company's customers from accessing the network's websites. CBS went so far as to block all Time Warner Cable subscribers access to their sites, not just those in the cities were there was a feud.
Currently, Viacom is blocking access to some of its online content to customers of Cable One, a pay-TV distributor it is having a fight with over regarding fees for its networks, including MTV and Comedy Central.
“Cable One has chosen to no longer carry Viacom programming and, as a result, it is no longer available to Cable One customers in any form," A Viacom spokesman said.
Where the issue gets complicated is when a programmer is blocking access to content that anyone can get for free from their website regardless of whether they have a subscription to a pay-TV provider.
Viacom noted that it isn't shutting down its entire site to Cable One customers. It just isn't making full episodes of shows available to them since the cable and broadband company currently has no contract to carry the channels.
One of the unintended consequences of this strategy, though, is that such blocking can also prevent a consumer who has a different pay-TV provider from getting access to a network's website merely because they have the wrong broadband provider.
In other words, a person who gets their TV from DirecTV or Dish but their broadband from the cable company could find themselves blocked even though their pay-TV provider is not engaged in any feud over channel fees.
Última edição por 5ms; 21-05-2014 às 18:59.