• http://brianwill.net/blog BrianWill

    Thanks for the link! Only started blogging two days ago and already I get a big name link. To be clear, the electricity analogy originates with dburrows, though I’m quite suprised I hadn’t heard or thought of it before, as it seems pretty apt: the electric company doesn’t tell you what to plug in to your wall-socket.

    btw, being new to blogging, I’m a bit confused about trackbacks. I assume the trackback is how you found my post, but I don’t see the trackback showing for the post of yours to which I linked. Are you personally filtering trackbacks you get for spam? Hope I don’t have to start doing that.

  • three blind mice

    Imagine that your power company decides that it wanted to open a line of supermarkets. At the same time, it sends out an announcement that supermarkets (due to their refrigeration requirements) are particularly heavy users of the electrical system, and as a result, the power company will add a 15% surcharge to the power bills of any building that it deems to be a supermarket. Of course, the power company’s own supermarkets are exempt from this fee. When the existing supermarkets complain, the power company says that they’re asking for special treatment and trying to get electricity “for free” and that if they don’t like its terms, they should buy their power from someone else.

    you do know there are places where this IS happening today BrianWill?

    yep, here again in Sweden, the electricity grid is owned and managed by a company called Fortum, but consumers can buy their electricity from any number of electricity suppliers, including Fortum. some of these suppliers *horror* expect us mice to pay MORE for electricity that is generated using renewable resources into which the provider has invested significant sums.

    when the existing customers complain that their electricity bill is being raised to pay for the power company’s pet project – and that they should only have to pay the cost corresponding to the existing coal-fired production – the power company says that they’re asking for special treatment and trying to get electricity “for free” and that if they don’t like its terms, they should buy their power from someone else.

    so to speak.

    and you know what? if we don’t like the way one supplier does business, we can change to another.

    the bastards. do you have any idea how much EFFORT it takes to call Fortum and instruct them to change our supplier. why, last time we did this, we had to wait on hold for FIVE minutes.

    seriously. next time you want to make an analogy, why not throw something in about the Telco’s support of NAMBLA.

  • http://brianwill.net/blog BrianWill

    TBM:
    1) The analogy I quoted (and you quoted) is saying that the telecoms are trying something we wouldn’t accept from our electrical utility. You’re saying you’re actually experiencing the same unacceptable practice from your electrical utility. Where’s the disagreement?

    2) No one said that the fact that your ability to choose your supplier is greatly by artificial obstacles is not good.

    3) I don’t see how your beef with Fortum has anything to do with this: the supplier is forcing your country’s production industry to adopt more expensive but less polluting tech, and it’s forcing the costs to be shared such that no one can cheat by opting for the cheaper, dirty electricity. So you’re the one guy in Sweden who hates socialism. The reason you shouldn’t be allowed to freely contract directly with someone willing to give you coal-produced electricity is because your society has decided that there is a societal cost in allowing people to do so that it doesn’t want to bear. Regardless, I still don’t see what your story has to do with telecoms charging more for a commodity based upon what end-users do with it. Your story is about government regulation effectively phasing-out a kind of product for the sake of the greater good.

    (p.s. LL, you seem to have linked to the post’s category page rather than the post itself; I’m sue people can copy with that, but you never know. The correct link is http://brianwill.net/blog/2006/10/21/net-neutrality-the-electricity-analogy/)

  • three blind mice

    The analogy I quoted (and you quoted) is saying that the telecoms are trying something we wouldn’t accept from our electrical utility. You’re saying you’re actually experiencing the same unacceptable practice from your electrical utility. Where’s the disagreement?

    sarcasm sort of looses it effect when you have to explain it.

    we three blind mice are totally cool with the way electricity is delivered here in Sweden. allowing grid suppliers to innovate and differentiate is a good thing. a very good thing indeed.

    So you’re the one guy in Sweden who hates socialism.

    actually, one of us three is a bit bolshie. the other two of us are (along with the majority of voters in this country who recently tossed out the socialist government) quite firmly right of center.

    Regardless, I still don’t see what your story has to do with telecoms charging more for a commodity based upon what end-users do with it.

    that’s because the analogy is strained to begin with.

    Your story is about government regulation effectively phasing-out a kind of product for the sake of the greater good.

    please read it again. out story is about CONSUMERS phasing out one sort of power and replacing it with another. the government is simply ensuring that consumers have a choice.

    that’s what this is about: consumer choice. currently U.S. consumers have too little of it. this whole debate really concerns the last mile connection. “network neutrality” is a rovian obfuscation which more accurately should be termed “last mile neutrality.” there are those (such as our respected professor lessig) who want government to force all last mile providers to provide exactly the same, application neutral, service (albeit with different speeds).

    there are others, such as we, who think that it makes perfect sense for last mile providers to offer differentiated service for different applications. let’s call it “last mile differentiation”. where you have last mile differentiation, “the network” will give priority to the last mile provider’s applications (such as VoIP).

    by tying applications and the last mile connection together, we see the creation of incentives to invest in last mile connectivity that do not exist today. it’s pretty much as simple as that. more choice for consumers.

    the problem is that for companies like google, who do not provide last mile connectivity, nor contribute in any way to the bit carrying capacity of the internet, might see their application given less priority than VoIP. c’est lá viè.

    when the problem is connectivity – or the lack thereof – google’s service is already degraded. (strangely enough, all those allegedly smart people who work for google can’t seem to see this.)

    as last mile connectivity improves and consumers are given a choice between providers – a choice that for most US households does not exist today – those who want an “application neutral” connection will be able to buy it (assuming there are enough of them to create a market).

    soviet solutions such as “network neutrailty” will only produce soviet results.

  • http://brianwill.net/blog BrianWill

    by tying applications and the last mile connection together, we see the creation of incentives to invest in last mile connectivity that do not exist today. it’s pretty much as simple as that. more choice for consumers.

    QOS schemes, generally, are about divving up a limited resource, and they do so by adding complexity (and the attendant frailty) and overhead, so they actually reduce the overall reliability and throughput of the network. QOS as a solution makes sense on a network when 1) you have control of the whole thing 2) you won’t/can’t upgrade the raw capacity.

    Because QOS is just about prioritization, not increasing overall capacity, it therefore has nothing to do with preparing the Internet for mass, instant-on video consumption. It will work at first when only a minority pay for priority, but then as the rest of us see our service degrade as our packets get de-prioritized, eventually everyone will be paying for priority, and the priority prices just go up. It’s an arms race in which no consumers win: everyone’s paying higher prices to no benefit.

    This is, of course, market economics–consumers are competing with their money to buy up a scarce resource–but I don’t see how this incentivises investment in increasing end-of-the-line capacity. If anything, it encourages local monopolies to reduce capacity because it creates artificial scarcity and just drives up the profit taken per unit of service.

    I agree that competition is the best solution here, but I’ve not heard any suggestion of how we get there wtithout some kind of regulation.

  • three blind mice

    Because QOS is just about prioritization, not increasing overall capacity, it therefore has nothing to do with preparing the Internet for mass, instant-on video consumption.

    right now, the bottle-neck for most people (in the U.S.) is in the local loop (the last mile.) there’s plenty of unused capacity in the backbone networks. of course as the local loop capacity increases the backbone will have to be built out, but, the backbone bandwidth is so large that most of it will remain unused for many years to come. guaranteeing QoS for certain applications connected to the last mile isn’t really going to have an impact… and long before it does become an limitation, more fibre will be laid out.

    case in point: 3G. on the other side of the mobile network’s switching center, all the traffic is carried over IP. the 3G operators have agreements with the backbone networks in order to provide guaranteed QoS to 3G users. in other words, the same fibres carrying Google’s YouTube are also carrying voice/video traffic from the 3G networks – the 3G traffic has reserved space because without it, 3G doesn’t work. the 3G voice and video codecs don’t like delays and lost packets.

    not only has the introduction of 3G offered an alternative to DSL, cable, and dial-up connectivity (with mobility to boot), it also provides ncentives to build out the backbone in certain areas.

    what is the difference between 3G and VoIP? one is carried over radio the other over copper wires of cable. 3G provides guaranteed QoS, the others don’t. when your neighbor downloads from bittorrent, your VoIP connection goes to hell because network neutrailtiy would make it illegal for your ISP to prioritize one set of packets over another. even if the backbone network capacity is infinite, your VoIP or IPTV application suffers because of the present limitations in the local loop.

    your 3G connection isn’t shared in the same way – you get guaranteed QoS over the last mile and throughout the network. all that the opponents of network neutrality want is the ability to provide the SAME commercial conditions to wire and cable as presently exist for wireless.

    would network neutrality kill 3G? quite possibly. if it becomes illegal for backbone networks to enter into QoS agreements with 3G operators, 3G becomes a lot less attractive.

    the cellular network in America (like the broadband connectivity) is already far behind the rest of the world, network neutrality would very likely keep it so.

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