Video: Crowder on Net Neutrality

posted at 8:45 am on May 24, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Steven Crowder finally delivers his long-awaited video on Net Neutrality — and it’s worth the wait. Steven traveled to Austin for the annual SxSW convention to hear the arguments for government intervention in Internet bandwidth allocations, and comes away less than impressed. It’s a debate drenched in technobabble, but the basic principles are clear and unmistakable. Who gets to control the operation of private networks — those who own them, or the government?

This is a debate drenched not only in technobabble, but analogies as well. That’s because it’s difficult for most people to grasp the technical details, and so both sides have to rely even more on argument by analogy than we usually see in politics … and that’s saying something. Steven’s analogy to the postal service is the most apt in this video. Net Neutrality, if applied to postage and shipping, would force the USPS to treat a 50-pound barbell the same as an envelope of less than one ounce. That’s what’s meant by content neutrality.

But the analogy is incomplete; thanks to its quasi-governmental role, people more or less expect Congress to control USPS policy. The better expression of this analogy would be that not only would the USPS have to charge the same rate for the barbell and the envelope, but so would FedEx, DHL, UPS, and every private shipping company and courier service in the country. That’s Net Neutrality, which dictates network management policies to private owners of the networks.

That is why the analogy used by the Net Neutrality supporter who engages with Steven is inapt. Government sets speed limits on highways because government owns the highways.  Governments don’t set speed limits on private roads.  Furthermore, government charges those 18-wheelers a lot more money to operate on the highways than it does normal, non-commercial drivers in different ways, such as licensing, fees, regulations, and taxes.  They do that because the big trucks incur more cost to the government, thanks to wear and tear on the roads, enforcement costs, and safety concerns.  So why shouldn’t private networks have the same options, even if (as Steven points out) they’ve never used them in the past?

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8 comments or bust!

Bishop on May 24, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Man, he was down here and I missed it!

Sekhmet on May 24, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Just another case of the Man trying to hold us down.

search4truth on May 24, 2011 at 9:10 AM

The instances where there has been teergrubing, or restrictions of non-preferred traffic, it has always fallen either into the category of SPAM or file-sharing of what is usually pirated content. I’m surprised nobody mentioned Time Warner’s teergrubing incident, done to discourage file-sharing, that was affecting legitimate traffic, like iTunes downloads.

Even under Net Neutrality rules, there will still be users who would like SPAM-free inboxes. And the owners of the networks are still under legal obligation to be sure they make piracy as big a PITA as possible. You can’t have a serious reduction in illegitimate traffic without running afoul of Net Neutrality laws. And those who are abusing their internet access would love having laws like Net Neutrality to hide behind.

In short, the bad guy isn’t some big corporation. The big corporation wants to keep receiving your money for internet access. They can’t do this if you get sick of slow speeds, SPAM, and if the company gets sued by intellectual property owners every other week. They are far more worried about these things than restricting access to a rival company’s website.

Sekhmet on May 24, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Liberalis love using the word “jingoistic.” Makes their smarmy asses feel very smart.

blatantblue on May 24, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Steven Crowder ’12!

This guy is like a nova.

Is he a regular on PJTV?

maverick muse on May 24, 2011 at 9:15 AM

blatantblue on May 24, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Heh, “jingoistic” referencing Bo Jangles in a bad way?

maverick muse on May 24, 2011 at 9:17 AM

I’m fairly knowledgeable about the web and about economics. After watching this video, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have a clue what net neutrality means. I used to think I knew, but I now I think I was mistaken.
I fairly sure that net neutrality isn’t an important issue, because competition among internet service providers will prevent the worse abuses of non-neutrality, if such abuses exist. But I started thinking about complex issues that are important. Are we screwed?

thuja on May 24, 2011 at 9:18 AM

I’m sorry, I was pulling my hair out on this one. This further confuses the issue of Net Neutrality, which granted there is a lot of that going around across the entire political spectrum.

The analogy of a barbell and a letter is completely inappropriate for the internet. It’s all 1′s and 0′s, the only different is the amount of 1′s and 0′s being transmitted. If you are Netflix, it’s a lot of 1′s and 0′s, if you are some new start-up video service it would be much less.

The highway analogy is one of better ones, but this is how I describe it.

The highway is owned by a private company for which you pay a toll to drive on. As you get on the road, the toll company ask what you destination is. You say big video streaming company (which unbeknown to you is paying the toll company money to maintain priority access), which then they set you speed limit to 100mph. Another person comes on the highway and says their destination is new video company (which does not have the money to pay off your toll company) and their speed limit is set to 30mph. That to me is the essence of the net neutrality issue.

The internet is becoming the most expansive and dynamic marketplace out there. Does this mean that private networks can’t control their networks? No, as long as they are doing it in a way is not tilting the market place. If a network is being swamp by traffic and needs to throttle, then it should throttle everything, regardless of source.

To me, this is a marketplace issue. We would probably be having the same discussion if all of the roads in the USA were privately own.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 9:19 AM

This is all so important sounding and confusing, we’d better let the govt handle it.

Akzed on May 24, 2011 at 9:24 AM

NO gubmint regulation of the private internet. Period.

petefrt on May 24, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Exit Convo = Epic Win

Rusty Shackleford on May 24, 2011 at 9:26 AM

The fat lady spokesperson surely showed the bleeding heart liberal antipathy for the independent American nature, requiring her to extinguish it before it spreads. This is the political power enforcing our taxes distributed to illegal aliens, but denying care to a citizen because he thinks “wrongly” in terms of maintaining independence from government control. “I won’t pay for your hospital care”–so much for her support for Obama’s supposed universal health care provided for everyone except those designated as undesirable CITIZENS who dare to not conform to group-think.

maverick muse on May 24, 2011 at 9:30 AM

NO gubmint regulation of the private internet. Period.

petefrt on May 24, 2011 at 9:25 AM

+1

maverick muse on May 24, 2011 at 9:32 AM

petefrt on May 24, 2011 at 9:25 AM

+ One trillion. I may not understand all that I should but I know that anytime the government wants to get involved, ultimately it is the wrong move.

Cindy Munford on May 24, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Steven Crowder ’12!

This guy is like a nova.

Is he a regular on PJTV?

maverick muse on May 24, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Actually, the videos are just on my independent youtube channel these days. Vids every Thursday + bonus videos like this one.

StevenCrowder on May 24, 2011 at 9:45 AM

I once had Hughesnet because it was the only non-56k service available where I lived. They had this thing called a Fair Access Policy (FAP). This policy set daily caps on the amount you could download. I was paying $60/mo for 1.0mbps with a max daily allowance of 275mb. Once you went over that limit your speed was reduced to below 56k. This was to make the bandwidth usage fair for everyone. The company could only do this because they had a monopoly in the area.

Well, net neutrality is basically a nation-wide, government-run FAP that caps bandwidth instead of MB/day. It boils down to the same thing though. I couldn’t visit some websites because of the DL cap (you can’t watch much video w/ only 275mb).

Pattosensei on May 24, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Oh boy…if nobody watches the entire video, at least fast-forward and catch the last 8 to 15 seconds. Nicely done Steven.

Youngs98 on May 24, 2011 at 9:46 AM

ChipDaddy is exactly right. ISPs should be free to charge more for higher bandwidth, should be able to throttle bandwidth, as long as they don’t discriminate by preferring traffic from one website over another. That’s the real essence of net neutrality, not the caricature promoted by the broadband companies.

And really, the best way to encourage net neutrality is to offer safe harbor: If a broadband provider discriminates based on website or content, they can be sued for the content they allow to pass. If they allow everything to pass, without discrimination, they wouldn’t be liable.

Michael Bates on May 24, 2011 at 9:46 AM

The last exchange with the Canadian guy about socialized medicine was priceless! Poor dreadlocked Canuck looked poleaxed. lol

Crowder, as always, comes off like a harmless everyday Joe… then turns into a guy who can pull facts out of his butt at will. You could almost feel sorry for the poor hippies. Almost.

Murf76 on May 24, 2011 at 9:48 AM

To me, this is a marketplace issue.ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Ding Ding Ding. Most of what this administration sticks its big fat over-sized ears into can be solved by an unfettered marketplace.

search4truth on May 24, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Great vid.

Good Lt on May 24, 2011 at 9:56 AM

Actually the Fed-Ex or UPS analogy isn’t bad if it’s tweaked. Basically these people want to be charged the same for next day air as 3-day ground. They want the organ being shipped for transplant to get the same It is less a bandwidth issue and more of a QOS (Quality of Service) issue.

The problem with these people is that they believe all internet traffic is equal and should be treated equally. It isn’t and can’t be. I’m Director of Engineering for a fairly small, regional ISP with mainly small to medium businesses as customers. And yes we charge some customers more for giving certain traffic precedence on our Network because certain traffic (ie VOIP) needs higher precedence. And we in turn pay our upstream providers (the big boys of the Net) higher prices for treating our traffic the way it needs to be treated. I won’t get too technical but a monkey with a CCNA book could probably properly route traffic but when you started getting into QOS the equipment and knowledge needed to make it happen rise exponentially.

Still the amount of bandwidth that isn’t even being utilized on the Internet is immense.

This whole thing is just another power grab, plain and simple. If the companies who route the traffic can’t charge more for specialized services they will simply charge everybody more. Where have we heard this before?

SittingDeadRed on May 24, 2011 at 9:59 AM

This whole thing is just another power grab, plain and simple. If the companies who route the traffic can’t charge more for specialized services they will simply charge everybody more. Where have we heard this before?

Exactly.

StevenCrowder on May 24, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Carpool lane!! I wish we could have seen how she tried to respond to that one.

sammypants on May 24, 2011 at 10:11 AM

ChipDaddy and Michael Bates: Its all 1′s and 0′s? That Barbell and Letter are all protons and neutrons. Quantity DOES matter.

Why shouldn’t the company be free to prioritize what it delivers? I could see an argument that it shouldn’t prioritize its OWN pages over others, even though I don’t think I would accept it, but you cannot ignore cost and timeliness issues. Throttling VOIP could ruin the call.

I cannot see why they shouldn’t be the ones deciding that slowing up only file sharing services or YouTube or whatever is better than than slowing up everything. If some viral video is bringing their net to its knees, Slowing down just that one stream may be the best way to keep all their customers happy. And if not, they will start losing those unhappy customers.

And I LIKE the idea that content providers could pay extra for Priority delivery. Should we ban overnight delivery because some companies can’t or don’t want to pay the extra cost over First Class Mail?

I’d be in favor of metering is it would increase bandwidth and lower costs. But I don’t use that much.

OBQuiet on May 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

What’s the Problem Here?

Discrimination: The Internet was designed as an open medium. The fundamental idea since the Internet’s inception has been that every Web site, every feature and every service should be treated without discrimination. That’s how bloggers can compete with CNN or USA Today for readers. That’s how up-and-coming musicians can build underground audiences before they get their first top-40 single. That’s why when you use a search engine, you see a list of the sites that are the closest match to your request — not those that paid the most to reach you. Discrimination endangers our basic Internet freedoms.

Double-dipping: Traditionally, network owners have built a business model by charging consumers for Internet access. Now they want to charge you for access to the network, and then charge you again for the things you do while you’re online. They may not charge you directly via pay-per-view Web sites. But they will charge all the service providers you use. These providers will then pass those costs along to you in the form of price hikes or new charges to view content.

Stifling innovation: Net Neutrality ensures that innovators can start small and dream big about being the next EBay or Google without facing insurmountable hurdles. Unless we preserve Net Neutrality, startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay for a top spot on the Web. On a tiered Internet controlled by the phone and cable companies, only their own content and services — or those offered by corporate partners that pony up enough “protection money” — will enjoy life in the fast lane.

We already have real world examples of Comcast surreptitiously inserting themselves into their customer’s bit torrent traffic breaking the connection. They denied it until they were shown the hard evidence. Then they admitted it and apologized. What if Comcast, a monopoly in broadband in many areas, decided to put Hot Air on the slow track or decided to charge it to access Comcast customers like they are currently doing to Netflix? What is Comcast decides they don’t like customers using competing VOIP providers on their broadband connections and start blocking phone calls?

Non local monopoly ISPs should be able to do whatever they want with their networks so long as it’s all fully disclosed. If they want to keep their monopolies they should expect to not change the fundamental model the Net has operated under from the beginning to today.

TheBigOldDog on May 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Every post I have seen on this subject has it WRONG…

It has NOTHING to do with Web SITE traffic.

And everything do with other services, IP-TV, VoIP, and other new Technologies that are transported over IP.

Comcast for example would prohibit or slow down vonage phoen service in order to force people to buy Comcast Phone Service, or Corrupt data packed from Netflix in order to boost there own VOD services…

No one is saying that someone might slow down a web site, web site traffic is nill compared to emerging technologies like IP-TV, Steaming Video, and VoIP….

On the Flip side, the Liberal do not have a good solution to this possible problem, the current NEt neutrality is not the solutions.

Personally I would favor Metered services for Residual lines, but everyone is addicted to this fantom “unlimited” service which does not really exists.

the_ancient on May 24, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Do you really want the dimwits in congress to make rules for stuff they could not possibly understand? aka Harry Reid, Maxine Waters, Barbara Boxer? well they did craft obamacare…so I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising. This whole net neutrality sounds like a very large telco or 2 lobbying for a rule that would benefit it and crush out the small guys. I bet there’s republicans supporting this crap too.

maineconservative on May 24, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Why shouldn’t the company be free to prioritize what it delivers? I could see an argument that it shouldn’t prioritize its OWN pages over others, even though I don’t think I would accept it, but you cannot ignore cost and timeliness issues. Throttling VOIP could ruin the call.

I cannot see why they shouldn’t be the ones deciding that slowing up only file sharing services or YouTube or whatever is better than than slowing up everything. If some viral video is bringing their net to its knees, Slowing down just that one stream may be the best way to keep all their customers happy. And if not, they will start losing those unhappy customers.

And I LIKE the idea that content providers could pay extra for Priority delivery. Should we ban overnight delivery because some companies can’t or don’t want to pay the extra cost over First Class Mail?

I’d be in favor of metering is it would increase bandwidth and lower costs. But I don’t use that much.

OBQuiet on May 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

You good sir, are awesome.

StevenCrowder on May 24, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Still the amount of bandwidth that isn’t even being utilized on the Internet is immense.

This whole thing is just another power grab, plain and simple. If the companies who route the traffic can’t charge more for specialized services they will simply charge everybody more. Where have we heard this before?

SittingDeadRed on May 24, 2011 at 9:59 AM

The Problem is the Last Mile Providers, not the Backbone, both on total bandwidth, and access.

I pay comcast ALOT of money for both my Home and Business net access, I have the top level packages from both home and commerical comcast.

But I do not use any of Comcast more profitable services, like Phone and VOD, I use Online Alternatives. Nothing is stopping Comast, espically in areas like mine where they have almost not competition for Last Mile Services, from throttling their competitors even though I paid for access.

My only option is to switch to DSL which is so f’in slow and old that I might as well switch back to dial up…

the_ancient on May 24, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Just to be Clear, I dont see any of the current “Net Neutrality” Plans as the solution, nor do I want the FCC to be involved, but there is a hypothecal problem today, one that I outlined, and I am 100% sure that will turn to a real problem with in the next 5 years as more and more “offline” items are moved to be directly connected to the web creating even more burdens on the net.

When the Last Mile Providers Bread and Butter (Cable TV and Phone Services) are really threatened by Online Alternatives you will see what they will do to protect their business models… and it will not be pretty

the_ancient on May 24, 2011 at 10:36 AM

The “greatest Canadian poll” referred to, in the last minute of Crowder’s video, about socialized medicine in Canada, should be taken with a large grain of salt. Pretend MSNBC conducted the polling….

I heard Don Cherry was the real winner.

George_Canada on May 24, 2011 at 10:38 AM

It is like this… If I build my own Network. I have my own server and I link computers around my house to it. Next, I run a line to my neighbors’ houses so that everyone on my street can access the same data and we can share stuff between us.

Now the govt comes in and tells us how to run our networks.

This is about freedom. If Verizon built the Fiber Optic network, then it is theres. The govt should butt out!

jeffn21 on May 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM

OBQuiet,

The barbell distorts the reality. There is nothing intrinsically “more difficult” to delivering Netflix data as opposed to another video service. What if we were to break the barbell down to into little bit and send it in about 100k envelopes. Should the cost of those envelopes go up.

The other problem with comparing to USPS, UPS, and Fedex. No one pays to be on a UPS route for delivery.

Perhaps I boiled it down to much in my first comment. I believe that the core Net Neutrality would be fine with priority for time sensitive traffic, like VOIP, as long as all VOIP is treating the neutrally.

Companies can now spend the extra money to get better delivery, by getting multiple storage locations so that a location is closer to you. That doesn’t violate Net Neutrality.

When I reference the marketplace, I’m looking at the global marketplace beyond the your relationship with a ISP.

Let me use Netflix as an example how not having Net Neutrality can (and I believe will) obscure the marketplace. Let’s say that Netflix traffic is being charged more, (where now, it’s not charged at all beyond Netflix’s own ISP) Netflix’s cost go up. But it’s only going up because Netflix has customers on a certain ISP. That is affecting all Netflix customers that have different ISP that is not charging a toll for Netflix. How does Netflix price that in the marketplace? If you are a comcast subscriber than you Netflix subscription is $5 more. What if your home ISP is Comcast but you watch Netflix on your phone, or a local coffee shop, now how does Netflix charge you?

The above scenario confuses the larger marketplace, which to me means a less efficient marketplace. How can you be fine with a company not being able to prioritize it’s own data but it can for data it’s being paid for? I’m more concerned about the ability of the larger market to remain clearly competitive versus most of the my conservative brothers have what sometimes feels like a knee jerk reaction to protecting ISP’s.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM

The problem with the net neutrality debate is that there is not a free market for ISPs. Most people have access to one broadband provider. At most, there are two providers in a given area.

Conservatives shouldn’t be “private networks” when that term is merely a euphemism for “government granted monopoly.” Choosing the status quo here is not a conservative principle.

There is no good choice in this debate. History shows that government intervention hurts consumers. It also shows that monopolies or oligopolies hurt consumers too.

What we need are more disrupters, like Wilson, NC who put in a municipal system that had more speed for less cost than the cable ISP provider. Sadly, Time-Warner lobbied for a state law that killed the project to protect their monopoly. This is another example of why the “private network” argument is not accurate in this debate.

semperjase on May 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Municipalities should simply operate their own networks, in the same way that they operate or control those who operate electrical grids.

ernesto on May 24, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Let me throw one thing in there. Because I think there is a legitimate place for Net Neutrality does not mean I support the FCC overstepping it’s authority. This needs to go through the right legislative process.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 10:54 AM

What we need are more disrupters, like Wilson, NC who put in a municipal system that had more speed for less cost than the cable ISP provider. Sadly, Time-Warner lobbied for a state law that killed the project to protect their monopoly. This is another example of why the “private network” argument is not accurate in this debate.

Semperjase, makes a huge point. Conservatives should be yelling to the sky about this.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM

It is like this… If I build my own Network. I have my own server and I link computers around my house to it. Next, I run a line to my neighbors’ houses so that everyone on my street can access the same data and we can share stuff between us.

Now the govt comes in and tells us how to run our networks.

This is about freedom. If Verizon built the Fiber Optic network, then it is theres. The govt should butt out!

jeffn21 on May 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM

First, you really ought to read about the history of the Internet. It started as government networks linking labs and universities in the 60s through the 90s. It was government owned. So, you’ve already paid for the basic infrastructure through your taxes.

Second, broadband networks like Comcast were built under monopoly protection licensed by local governments in most cases.

Third, if you are paying for a connection to the internet with a contract that says you get 15Mbps download speed and 5Mbps upload speed, why would you allow the ISP to decide what you can access and what you can’t, especially if they haven’t disclosed it up front? Why would you want them to have that kind of power over you? What if Soros buys Comcast and decides to throttle a conservative blacklist?

Think people. This is like the fairness doctrine in that any change to the current rules of the Net is likely to hurt conservatives and more importantly, true freedom. If give them any power to discriminate you will likely live to regret it.

TheBigOldDog on May 24, 2011 at 11:12 AM

The subject of piracy comes up a lot in these discussions…too bad we can’t erase that talking point by dealing with them like we dealt with the pirates of yore. I’m against throttling, but I do feel that torrent-type traffic should be allowed to be banned. Let’s face it people, 99% of the users are thieves. It’s no more of a rights violation to block it than to block spam.

Uncle Sams Nephew on May 24, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Crowder sure enjoyed being paddled with that paddling machine at the convention.

Conservative Samizdat on May 24, 2011 at 11:24 AM

I’m more concerned about the ability of the larger market to remain clearly competitive versus most of the my conservative brothers have what sometimes feels like a knee jerk reaction to protecting ISP’s.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Ditto here.

The instincts of resisting government regulation are good, and I can respect that. But some of the hysteria from conservatives is just plain bizarre vis-a-vis net neutrality. “The free market will be infringed upon if there is any modicum of regulation of government sanctioned quasi-monopolies!!”

BocaJuniors on May 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM

A 100% Guaranteed way to kill something:

Allow the government to control it and make it “fair”.

Prediction: The first thing the government will do if “Net Neutrality” is ever implemented, will be to shut down web sites which disagree with or criticize the Administration.

landlines on May 24, 2011 at 11:43 AM

The problem with the net neutrality debate is that there is not a free market for ISPs. Most people have access to one broadband provider. At most, there are two providers in a given area.

Conservatives shouldn’t be “private networks” when that term is merely a euphemism for “government granted monopoly.” Choosing the status quo here is not a conservative principle.

semperjase on May 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Exactly.

Question for slightly older conservatives: What was the prevailing strain of thought in the movement during the breakup of AT&T? Did conservatives argue against government involvement in meddling with AT&T’s private property back then?

BocaJuniors on May 24, 2011 at 11:53 AM

The details and nuance of FCC regulatory “Net Neutrality” policy is much less important than authorizing FCC regulatory power.

Kenosha Kid on May 24, 2011 at 12:01 PM

ugh: details and nuance … is are

Kenosha Kid on May 24, 2011 at 12:02 PM

The problem with the net neutrality debate is that there is not a free market for ISPs. Most people have access to one broadband provider. At most, there are two providers in a given area.

There may be only a couple of large, well known, ISP’s (Time Warner and Comcast) in any given area, but there are plenty of other, lesser known providers as well. In my area, i can get internet through different cable companies, different satellite companies, dsl through the phone line, newer ISP’s that work through the power lines, ISP’s that offer 4g service and i’m sure if i looked in the phone book i’d find more. This idea that there’s a monopoly with providers just isn’t true.

My folks live in a very rural area where the big ISP’s haven’t made any investment so dial up was all people could get for a long time, but a smaller company saw the need and stepped in to provide dsl to the area and people flocked to it, if there was a monopoly they obviously couldn’t have done that. Yes, the big providers take up a huge chunk of the market, but there’s plenty of other choices if you just take the time to look.

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Talk of the market is nice and all, but the reality is quite different on the ground. Competition can’t solve ISP issues for a significant number of people. I live in a small town, just under 20,000 people. We have only one broadband internet provider — the local cable company. No DSL service providers.

If the local cable company decides to shut down traffic to certain sites, I can’t switch providers without: a) switching to ancient ass dial-up, or b) quitting my job and moving to a larger city.

AngusMc on May 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Steven, what companies were you referring to here at 6:45 in the video?

“…the big corporations support it, the mid-tier and lower business are against it because they would be buried under the costs.”

As I understand it, there are big corporations on both sides of the issue.

The big corporations that support net neutrality are those who achieved their dominant market position through competition (Google, Microsoft, etc), while the big corporations that oppose net neutrality are government protected quasi-monopolies (Comcast, Verizon, etc). Right?

BocaJuniors on May 24, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Vids every Thursday + bonus videos like this one.

StevenCrowder on May 24, 2011 at 9:45 AM

Nice job, Steven. Especially the roast of Franken.

Best question: why do the biggest companies, like Google, support net neutrality? Riddle me that, joker.

“Or as we call them in the States: hospitals.”

John the Libertarian on May 24, 2011 at 12:34 PM

If Net Neutrality is implemented, in addition to the issues Crowder points out, you’ll also see less bandwidth in the future. If a company doesn’t have control over the infrastructure it invested in, and pays to maintain, it will NOT invest in more internet infrastructure! What’s the point of doing so if you cannot recoup your investment and make a profit? So there will be LESS bandwidth available at HIGHER prices — so with the zombie-corpse hand of government we’ll have LESS choice, SLOWER speeds that cost MORE than today. We’ll also have stifled the most amazing communications and commerce tool since the invention of the printing press.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM

A 100% Guaranteed way to kill something:

Allow the government to control it and make it “fair”.

Prediction: The first thing the government will do if “Net Neutrality” is ever implemented, will be to shut down web sites which disagree with or criticize the Administration.

landlines on May 24, 2011 at 11:43 AM

\

You’ve got it 100% backwards.

TheBigOldDog on May 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Exit Convo = Epic Win

Rusty Shackleford on May 24, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Best political comeback I’ve seen in ages! Great job, Steven! (I’d love to see Mr Dreadlocks response to all that!) As for the rest of the topic, this was a great explanation (including by HA commentators) of the Orwellian term “Net Neutrality”. That said, I already know if Al Frankin is for something, even without any information, I should probably be against it….

Renwaa on May 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM

It’s hard to argue solutions when we can’t even agree upon the problem.

Who is the ISP’s real customer, the content provider or the consumer?

If it is the consumer, then the ISP needs to deliver any content requested by the consumer regardless of its source.

If it is the content provider, then the ISP shouldn’t charge the consumer.

For them to charge fees to both parties demonstrates a conflicted set of loyalties.
They try to hide this conflict from view and will never disclose all their agreements with content providers

Combine this with local monopolies and it is difficult for the forces of the market to chastise ISP’s whose loyalties are not with the consumer.

hatespam on May 24, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Ed did a very poor job of explaining this. As ChipDaddy said, the barbell analogy is completely wrong. It would cost the USPS (or FedEx) much more to transport a barbell than a 1 oz envelope. It costs Comcast the same to transmit 1 GB of data from Netflix as it does to transmit 1 GB of data from somewhere else, but Comcast wants to charge more for transmitting Netflix. This problem is made worse by the fact that Comcast is a quasi-monopoly.

The general problem is that ISP’s may (and have started to) deliver slower rates from certain sources (such as companies they don’t own), totally independent of cost of transmission. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if there were plenty of competition for ISP’s, but the reality is that these big ISP’s (that own or are affiliated with other companies that they might grant preference to) are close to monopolies. It’s simply not true that there are plenty of ISP’s in all locations and that there’s plenty of competition.

This allows for the large ISP’s to distort the market and hurt customers, and I don’t see why conservatives should support that. One of the reasonable times for government regulation is with monopolies or near-monopolies distorting the market and hurting customers.

tneloms on May 24, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Highway analogy is probably the worse example, and not realistic. Because the government controls the roads, speed limits, and like a car pool lane which is always empty, and like toll booths which clog the highway; government regulations are just another word for big speed bumps.

Kini on May 24, 2011 at 1:21 PM

tneloms on May 24, 2011 at 1:17 PM

So basically you think FedEx should be required to use their planes and trucks and fuel to carry packages for USPS, and they better be damn sure those boxes get there at the same time as their own customers’ packages and FedEx better not even think about charging for it.

Ronnie on May 24, 2011 at 1:41 PM

It costs Comcast the same to transmit 1 GB of data from Netflix as it does to transmit 1 GB of data from somewhere else, but Comcast wants to charge more for transmitting Netflix.

No, because they had to invest in the bandwidth to do so and must continue to invest money and resources to maintain quality of service for that bandwidth (through redundant capacity, backups, security, equipment upgrades and replacements, trained staff, etc). Without that investment they could only transmit letters, and not barbells so to speak. And it’s a constant process, not like a road that only needs maintenance every few years, a network needs constant ongoing attention or its QoS suffers and fails.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM

So basically you think FedEx should be required to use their planes and trucks and fuel to carry packages for USPS, and they better be damn sure those boxes get there at the same time as their own customers’ packages and FedEx better not even think about charging for it.

Ronnie on May 24, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Huh? I don’t see what that has to do with anything I said. Of course I don’t think that, nor do I think anything similar should be required of ISP’s. I think that if FedEx had a monopoly on postal delivery, then it shouldn’t be allowed to preferentially deliver to its favorite places if it’s unrelated to cost. Do you think it’s wrong to regulate near-monopolies in this way?

tneloms on May 24, 2011 at 2:04 PM

No, because they had to invest in the bandwidth to do so and must continue to invest money and resources to maintain quality of service for that bandwidth (through redundant capacity, backups, security, equipment upgrades and replacements, trained staff, etc). Without that investment they could only transmit letters, and not barbells so to speak. And it’s a constant process, not like a road that only needs maintenance every few years, a network needs constant ongoing attention or its QoS suffers and fails.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM

I don’t understand what you’re saying, or at least how it relates to what I said. You’re saying it costs Comcast more to transmit 1GB of Netflix data than it costs to transmit 1GB of data from a different company? I don’t see how that’s true.

tneloms on May 24, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Huh? I don’t see what that has to do with anything I said.

tneloms on May 24, 2011 at 2:04 PM

I knew you wouldn’t.
And I knew you wouldn’t understand the next comment either.

Ronnie on May 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

You’re saying it costs Comcast more to transmit 1GB of Netflix data than it costs to transmit 1GB of data from a different company?

I only have to invest “X” to provide email quality services. But I may have to invest “5X” to provide that high bandwidth service that lets you download movies on demand. So it costs more to provide 1GB of bandwidth than say, 1MG or a 100MG regardless of who is using it.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 2:28 PM

You’re saying it costs Comcast more to transmit 1GB of Netflix data than it costs to transmit 1GB of data from a different company?

I only have to invest “X” to provide email quality services. But I may have to invest “5X” to provide that high bandwidth service that lets you download movies on demand. So it costs more to provide 1GB of bandwidth than say, 1MG or a 100MG regardless of who is using it.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 2:28 PM

True, then you charge your customers more money because they are using more of your bandwidth. This would be consistent with Net Neutrality. N-N does mean you can not operate your network at a profit.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM

I knew you wouldn’t.
And I knew you wouldn’t understand the next comment either.

Ronnie on May 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Why don’t you try to explain it anyway. Does it cost Comcast more to transmit Netflix’s data than another company’s data — not just the cost of actual transmission, but taking into account the costs that allow the transmission in the first place? Are you saying that initial investment costs are driving Comcast to charge more to Netflix than others? Why Netflix? What is your stance on the prospect of a company like Comcast giving preferential speeds to companies it owns or is affiliated with regardless of the cost of transmission?

tneloms on May 24, 2011 at 2:48 PM

This would be consistent with Net Neutrality. N-N does mean you can not operate your network at a profit.

I meant to say:
This would be consistent with Net Neutrality. N-N not does mean you can not operate your network at a profit.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 2:51 PM

I meant to say:
This would be consistent with Net Neutrality. N-N not does mean you can not operate your network at a profit.

Really? Which version? Which bill? And do you really think when a company can no longer control its own pipe that it’s going to invest in further infrastructure?? So you’d force a company that built the infrastructure to give non-preferential treatment to *it’s own download service* and thereby give an unfair advantage to another one? Let’s use Netflix as an example. It didn’t build the infrastructure its service is carried on, so it has a lower sunk cost to deliver movies. It doesn’t need to invest past it’s own storage and router systems — somebody else is paying for all the Info Highway systems it benefits from. Comcast does in this case, yes? So why should Netflix get the same bandwidth deal that Comcast’s internal service gets? IIRC “Net Neutrality” means that Comcast must charge Netflix the same bandwidth rate it charges for its own internal service. What’s fair about that? If Comcast gets too big, break it up under existing anti-trust laws, or deal with it through laws against anti-competitive practices. If Netflix wants to compete, let it get more and better content and deliver better specialized services than Comcast does. These market forces are already in place, they are working, why do you need to have the government intervene to solve a problem that hasn’t yet occurred???

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 3:02 PM

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 3:02 PM

+1000

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 3:04 PM

response to EasyEight:

Comcast doesn’t charge Netflix anything, they charge their customers now. That’s the issue. Comcast would be double charging for bandwidth if they are allowed to charge Netflix for bandwidth that Comcast’s customers are requesting (and already paid for). Then if Comcast can charge Netflix, then yes Comcast has a competitive advantage beyond being closer location wise and so would the small video delivery service that no one has heard about and therefore not on Comcast’s radar for charging. Comcast would now be titling the market place at large.

Net Neutrality means that Comcast must not imped traffic that one it’s customers is requesting because Comcast wishes to discourage the customer from using it. To me Net Neutrality is better than anit-trust laws. Comcast can get as big as it wants, and provide as many services as wants as long as it doesn’t degrade competing services on the internet. The point of N-N is that competing services and products on the internet can actually compete on their merits not a person having the right ISP that allows access.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 3:18 PM

You still miss my point. This is only (maybe) becoming an issue as more and more consumers are demanding more and more high bandwidth intensive services, so infrastructure & services companies like a Comcast *may* move to a model where they may differentiate and charge based upon different levels of bandwidth to ensure the appropriate level of service based upon that, and to recoup their infrastructure investments.

Why? Because COMCAST builds the Info Highway, and NETFLIX just drives on it. I don’t see why Comcast has to charge itself the same rate it charges competitors to drive on the highway that IT built?? Now I’m not a great Comcast fan, being a customer of theirs is not without headaches (and I could get a similar deal now from AT&T, Verizon and others for home services), but either you let the market work or you decide you know better than the aggregate decisions of millions of people every day acting in their own “enlightened” interests or not. Without fail, everytime, as in always, when the government decides to set service terms and pricing levels we get rationing, degradation of service, higher costs, and less innovation. Why is this time supposed to be different??

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Love how around 5:00 he wins over a liberal at The Metaphor Game. Hate to break it to you, liberals, but clever-sounding metaphors don’t make for convincing arguments.

Aronne on May 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Let me respond to the charging Netflix issue first (again).

Comcast is not now charging Netflix anything. (yet) I believe because there is still enough social pressure to maintain net neutrality. I believe that social pressure is losing it’s grip. If Comcast can place a additional toll on data that a Comcast customer request that will greatly muddy the economic waters. The ISP’s talk in terms as if Netflix is invading their networks and forcing themselves upon Comcast customers.

I am all for metered internet services because I believe it will make it easier for consumers to compare ISP services, leading to greater competition between ISP’s. If ISP’s start hiding the cost of bandwidth where the consumer can not easily distinguish, then competition is reduced.

Now about … is it a problem yet. Not in the US, yet. Again, I believe there has been enough social pressure to maintain net neutrality. If that’s only issue, then can we agree that Net Neutrality will be good policy onces it becomes a problem and we all can then support it. I believe that are small examples of N-N violations but I believe there will be many more when it becomes clear that N-N will not become government policy.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 3:50 PM

For me, it comes down to opportunities. A lot of my friends LOVE the idea of net neutrality. And it does have some good potential points. But they seem to ignore the opportunities that will arise if some of these big ISPs start throttling. If such a thing were to start to happen, how long would it be before a new geek run ISP pops up with no throttling on it, and a minor increase in price over the other ISPs. Heck, I’d pay an extra $5-10/month for increased bandwidth to Flickr, Netflix, and Steam.

dscherck on May 24, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Most ISP’s already offer their bandwidth in tiered levels and there’s nothing wrong with that, you want more data, you pay for more data, why should the person who uses a couple of gb’s a month be charged the same as the person who uses 10gb’s or more a month? The whole push behind Net Neutrality is based on what if’s so where does government intervention stop? Should the government step in to make sure McDonalds continues to offer Big Macs? Sure, they’ve never stopped offering them before, but it may become a problem in the future. As i mentioned before, there’s plenty of providers out there if you just take the time to look, and there will only be more in the future. Instead of hitting the panic button and giving government control of yet another aspect of life, why not just sit back and see what happens for once.

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 4:03 PM

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 3:50 PM

I’m a self admitted technomoron, and haven’t given NN much thought, but maybe you can answer me on this:

If the ISP built, runs, and operates the network, why should the government be involved in regulating it? There is no public safety issue with NN, right? There’s no revenue generation for the government, right? (Please tell me this isn’t some way for the gov’t to start taxing the web.) So why should the gov’t be involved?

Abby Adams on May 24, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Abby,

No public safety issue. If liberals are allowed to control the issue then who knows what else will pushed in with NN, like taxes or censorship.

Contrary to what some people are saying, it is not an easy thing to start your own ISP to bring more competition to the market. Look at your own situation. How many cable companies do you have and how many phone companies do you have. If it were easier to start ISP then NN most likely would not be needed.

I see NN as a macro-economic issue. I want the larger market place to remain as free and unfettered as possible so that the virtual world can continue to drive innovation and that companies providing services and information on the internet can compete on their merits alone not how much Comcast may like them.

Yes, the pipes for the internet are almost all private. We have the modern equivalent of if all roads were privately owned. What if the government had build no roads and all were privately built. Would there be legitimate government/national interest in seeing that commerce can take place freely without the road owners getting in the way? I believe so.

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 5:13 PM

@ChipDaddy — you may talk about keeping the market free, but the bottom line is you want other companies to pay for high speed internet infrastructure, but NOT to be able to charge differentiated rates in any way.

So I build the barn, but you get to house your cows for the same price I do.

So I build the roller coaster, you ride for the same price I do.

So I build the internet, and you get to ride on it for the same price I do.

That’s not free market, that’s called PRICE CONTROLS. The result is natural, simple and predictable. Once the pipe BUILDERS not longer own their own pipes, guess what — they ain’t building any more pipe!!! So you will not get “unfettered” innovation. You’ll get stagnation, decay and higher prices for lousier service. When this *inevitable* result ensues due to government access/price controls, then we’ll see ANOTHER fix to ensure high speed access for all, and when that fails more and more intervention, price controls, centralized power/control and you will long for the good old days before Net Neutrality. Bank on it.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 5:57 PM

I’m not saying it’s easy to start an ISP, i’m saying that the providers are there, all you have to do is look. And as i mentioned before, providers are just now branching out beyond cable and phone into wifi only and power line transmission. And i’m not sure why anyone would think government intervention would impede the monopolization of ISP’s when the past decade or so has shown us that government is actually pretty eager to allow the bigger companies to gobble up the smaller ones, AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile being the latest example.

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Got it!

Net Neutrality = Rent Control for the Internet.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 6:16 PM

@EasyEight

I’ve never said that ISP’s couldn’t charge differentiated rates, I’ve in fact said the exact opposite.

Netflix is paying their own ISP for access to the Internet, you are paying your ISP for access to the Internet. That’s the way it should stay. If you want to steam Netflix six hours a day, that’s not Netflix’s fault that is your choice. If you are sucking up your ISP’s bandwidth then that is an issue between you and your ISP, not between Netflix and your ISP.

@clearbluesky

Your example of AT&T and T-Mobile is one of the reason, I believe, for NN. Another company that could provide another alternative as a ISP is soon to be swallowed up. If NN is in place, then I don’t care if there only 1 ISP, the larger internet marketplace can continue to grow. Yes, there are potential technologies that could lead to more competition, how long do we give them before we say enough is enough and there is simply not enough competition?

ChipDaddy on May 24, 2011 at 6:33 PM

Everything the Government touches goes to sh.. keep hands off

old war horse on May 24, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Your example of AT&T and T-Mobile is one of the reason, I believe, for NN. Another company that could provide another alternative as a ISP is soon to be swallowed up.

Yes, and there are laws in place that would have allowed government to block the merger and they didn’t, what makes you think more laws will make them block future mergers? And if government won’t step into that situation to protect consumers, what makes you think they’ll step in to protect consumers if there’s only one ISP provider, especially if that provider is nothing but a proxy for the government? The answer isn’t to lessen competition and heap regulation after regulation onto a small number of government approved providers, the answer is competition so people can have a choice and that’s what we have now, Net Neutrality kills competition as Easy Eight pointed out, it tells private companies that there’s no reason to get into the game because there’s nothing in it for them.

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 6:59 PM

the answer is competition

Should be “more” competition

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Yes, there are potential technologies that could lead to more competition, how long do we give them before we say enough is enough and there is simply not enough competition?

Are YOU unable to get the services you want? Have you been blocked from getting content? The internet is ALL about competition, which is why it has developed like wildfire on a dry prairie. People demand more access in more places, which is why you watch a dang movie on your iPhone now. I don’t get it, you’re talking as if we’re all information age peasants huddling in our drafty huts, faces grimly lit by the faint glow of our “you’ve got mail” notice. There is no internet scarcity — yet. Putting Net Neutrality aka “Web-rent Control” in place is the surest way to make your fears come to fruition. It’s counter to what you think — a dynamic, diverse free economy will guarantee what you want, whereas the centrally controlled remedy to your fears guarantees your fears will be realized.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 7:18 PM

The best protection consumers have is the knowledge that they can take their business elsewhere.

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 7:51 PM

I see alot of people talking that have no technical knowlege of out computer networks actually work, how the Pricing for network access works, and what the real issues behind this are.

People need to educate themselves before replying… Analogies like Fedex, Highways, etc only show your ignorance of the internet and is akin to comments such as “interwebs”, “It’s a series of tubes” and other gaffes that show the ignorance of the people commenting on a rather complex and technical topic.

Also there is a major illusion that Comcast, the Baby Bells and other Last Mile Provider have built their network 100% with their own money, FALSE…. you know much federal state and local money has been spent on Fiber Roll outs over the last decade or more to Last Mile Providers? How much property has been seized under eminent domain by the local governments, do you know how many miles and miles of government easements these companies have been given FREE access to? Do you know about Local Service Franchise Monopolies? If you have not educated yourself on these issues please do before commenting on Talking point.

The FCC is not the solution, but zero regulation is also not the solution

the_ancient on May 24, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Ohh and the next time someone says that 4G, Satellite or other Emerging Wireless Net Access is competition to Traditional DSL, DOCSIS or FTTH access I am going to scream. (and if you do not know those acronyms you have no business commenting on the subject).

//I was going to try for an analogy but like all of the others none fit, there is nothing to describe something that is 100X slower, less reliable and still costs 50X more.

the_ancient on May 24, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Ohh and the next time someone says that 4G, Satellite or other Emerging Wireless Net Access is competition to Traditional DSL, DOCSIS or FTTH access I am going to scream

Since i’m the one who said that, go ahead and scream because they are competition for dsl and cable. No, they’re not as fast as dsl and cable but they give people a choice and choice is competition.

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 8:20 PM

@clearbluesky

so you think $60/mo for 6/1Mbps with a 2GB cap on a unreliable mostly inaccessible network (ATT 4G) is a true competitor for Comcast 30/6Mbps with a undisclosed 250 GB cap on a very reliable DOCSIS network for the residential and small/med commercial internet market.

The “wireless” networks are designed for mobile devices, not for real internet use

the_ancient on May 24, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Yes, i realize they’re meant for mobile and yes, they’re true competition. Just because they’re not a first choice doesn’t mean they’re not competition, my first choice is the 20/1mbps i’m getting with Time Warner right now, but if TW started pulling any of the things that people here are worried about i’d gladly switch. At&t isn’t the only provider of 4g, in my area there are two other companies that offer unlimited data over 4g. Sure, my streaming video might buffer every now and agian if i had to switch, but i think i’d live.

clearbluesky on May 24, 2011 at 8:52 PM

The “wireless” networks are designed for mobile devices, not for real internet use

For someone posing as a techie you are misinformed. The drive to have on demand, anytime, anywhere access is leading to ‘real’ internet access undreamed of a few years ago — UHF frequency being repurposed for high bandwidth mobile, new satellite ventures, new wireless protocols. And what special power do you have to declare what “real” internet use is?? And your solution to the non-existent internet access problem is to give control of it to the same guys who have brought us Medicare and Amtrak??

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 8:55 PM

@EasyEight, hence the quotes around “wireless” which to the lay person means the cellphone network, However I do not look the UHF to make much impact on the available offerings for wireless internet since ATT controls most of the bandwidth now and will not do anything with it until they are forced to by another company, which all other competitors are decades away from viable alternatives at a competitive price point. Mainly due to ironically the FCC…

@Clearbluesky, there is no “wireless” akak cellphone provider that offers unlimited data usage, dont look at marketing materials, look at TOS, NONE of them offer real unlimited usage. Most either charge for excess or throttle you WAY WAY back in speed after 2-10GB

the_ancient on May 24, 2011 at 10:34 PM

However I do not look the UHF to make much impact on the available offerings for wireless internet since ATT controls most of the bandwidth now

Wrong. Verizon has bought spectrum as have satellite companies who are COMPETING for high speed enterprise-class internet service to provide unified communications/Voip services to businesses. And that’s because right now the government doesn’t enforce rent control style regulations on the internet. Honestly, why do you think the government can possibly advance internet development and access through market and price controls?? I don’t get it.

EasyEight on May 24, 2011 at 10:59 PM