April 18, 2008  ·  Lessig

I was asked to give some overview testimony at the FCC’s “Network Neutrality” hearing at Stanford yesterday. Here’s the testimony.

One panelist, George Ou, was particularly exercised about what he perceived to be a policy by Free Press and EFF to push for “metered access.” I don’t speak for the Free Press or EFF, but my view is simply that tiered access for consumers does not violate “network neutrality” principles. Obviously I’d prefer a world of flat rate, fast service. And if we actually had any meaningful ISP competition, we might get to that. But the narrow question I’ve addressed here is whether it would violate neutrality principles for ISPs to offer different bandwidth commitments for different prices. I don’t believe it does.

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    >> But the narrow question I’ve addressed here is whether it would violate neutrality principles for ISPs to offer different bandwidth commitments for different prices. I don’t believe it does.

    Absolutely 100% agree! The argument that everyone should pay the same price regardless of their Internet connection and/or that content providers shouldn’t have to pay more to gain bigger pipes to pump the content through has nothing at all to do with Network Neutrality. If I consume more, I pay more. That’s a pretty simple concept that *MOST* people understand and agree with. But for some reason various folks have attempted to cloud the issue — that of ensuring open pathways exist between any two points on the Internet — by suggesting that the speed of everyones connection is what truly matters.

    When I read posts such as @http://torrentfreak.com/virgin-media-ceo-says-net-neutrality-is-a-load-of-bollocks-080413/ it really makes me wonder if anyone truly understands what the argument for NN is all about. Glad to see you’ve been able to bring clarity and focus to the real problem at hand!

  • http://www.ibiblio.org/studioforrecording Tom Poe

    Aside from the network neutrality issue, any discussion about tiered service must have an assumption that all tiers will be available in a competitive market place. We are talking about our airwaves, the airwaves we own, right?

    So, where do you see any competition being offered in the United States? It sure isn’t here in north-central Iowa.

    Of course, there’s AT&T’s handy dandy Fios in Minneapolis for $150 a month. Is that what you mean by tiered service? For some of us, network neutrality is indeed clouded by access, period. We can’t even get to a point where we can complain about pricing for tiered service. Remember, back when the Internet was getting started, dial-up plans invariably included monitoring and throttling and being taken off-line by ISP’s to manage their networks. Those issues were supposed to have been resolved years ago. Why would we still have to battle with thugs, today? When you get time, please address the above. Better, please address them at your next appearance on our behalf.

  • http://www.paisleychick.org Beatrice M

    Thank you for giving a presentation to the FCC and for posting this video for all to watch. Can you please provide a download link via BT or archive.org or something like that? I’m trying to access this from Argentina and it’s really jumpy and makes it hard to watch.

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    @Tom Poe,

    What you are referring to is market availability of broadband, which has nothing to do with the focus of Net Neutrality. Mixing the two as if they were one in the same only confuses the more important of the two issues, that of guaranteeing that regardless if you are on dial-up connection in the US and your friend on his/her personal OC3 (which is basically what they have over there) connection in Japan, you can still communicate with one another. That’s it. And that’s all it should ever be about, else we find ourselves in a world where we are regulating everything from the price of a car, regardless of how fast it can go or the gas mileage it gets, to the price of a computer, regardless of how many cores and how much memory it contains.

  • http://gnuosphere.wordpress.com Peter Rock

    The tiger analogy was excellent. For anyone wanting to look at this in more depth, I recommend The Corporation – both the book and film provide an abundance of case studies.

    Thank you Lawrence, for this. I’ll be fitting this presentation into my Technology in a Global Society class when we look at the e2e (aka NN) argument. This is rich stuff.

  • http://www.bärwolff.de Matthias Bärwolff

    Two comments, one on equating end-to-end with a free and open market, and a second on equating end-to-end and net neutrality

    First, “the market” is, of course, a fiction, a helpful metaphor if you will. In actual fact, there are loads of markets around, each different from the other, and the important thing being that making markets is itself a competitive process. It takes effort and risk to “make markets”. Why would I want to mandate which items a shop has to stock, and whether or not to discriminate between suppliers? Now, as for monopolies, there is always an element of monopoly in virtually every part of an economy as Chamberlin has pointed out in the 1930s. This may be seen as something bad (as Smith did in the late 18th century, bear in mind the historical context of his writing, though!) (the tiger analogy is fun, though), but it may with equal plausibility be seen as something that incentivises production and risk taking in the first place. Conceiving the internet as a natural monopoly, as a well defined infrastructure where no such incentives are required is IMHO a shortcut that simply serves to avoid the trickier questions ahead. (And, the linking of low broadband coverage to lack of net neutrality regulation is an assertion, not proof of the link.)

    Second, you equate end-to-end (in the sense of Saltzer, Reed and Clark 1981, I suppose) to net neutrality, that is, a “neutral” network, “open”, and “competitive”. While is is possible to interpret end-to-end to mean neutral, the original paper never said anything like that. It said that functions should be put with the ends rather than the network, and the network should be kept free of functions that are not essential to its functioning lest future apps may be hindered. Now, you cannot keep an internetwork, a network of heterogeneous interconnected networks, free from any functions at all. You can do that with a small Ethernet, but not with the internet. Thus technically speaking a network cannot be neutral. Think packet sizes, think reliability, think routing in general, think congestion by UDP which will make well behaved TCP connections suffer, etc. It’s just not possible to have it all. Designing networks is an exercise in trade-offs much like anything else in the world.

  • http://www.RagingGrannies.com Raging Grannies

    Prof. Lessig’s presentation at the FCC hearing was delightful and straightforward. The Raging Grannies (many of us Stanford alums) are of an age where we rely on our kids and grandkids to help us navigate the mysteries and wonders of the internet, but as frequent users of it we came to voice our opinion for internet freedom with songs and chants.

    We also were taken aback by George Ou’s incessant hammering away at http://www.FreePress.net folks on what he perceived to be their policy on “metered access”, a distraction from the real issue at hand, as you hint at above. Two of the Grannies who remained until the bitter end met with Democratic FCC commissioners who thanked us graciously, yet George continued to hammer away at the tiered access issue, going so far as to call the Grannies “bllind”. Not a nice thing to say to someone on a disability scooter!

    Prof. Lessig you are one of our big heroes. Thank you for posting your presentation and we will be forwarding it far and wide. The greater peace and justice community has a need to understand the issue. Ironically, we Grannies found the panelist from the Christian Coalition to be among the best speakers making the case for net neutrality. We are at polar opposites on most political issues with her but found solidarity with one another on this position.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I agree with Matthias that Lessig’s equation of e2e with non-managed networks was fundamentally deceptive.
    The partial quote from Gerry Faulhaber was similarly dishonest (see: http://techliberation.com/2008/04/18/what-did-he-say/#more-10673)

    It appears that nobody can make a case for new regulations on the Internet can do so without lying.

    And BTW, the Grannies shouted Ou down before he started speaking. They should have been expelled.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    ” … Grannies found the panelist from the Christian Coalition …”

    My mind boggles.

    I shouldn’t say any more.

  • http://www.RagingGrannies.com Raging Grannies

    Grannies responding to Richard Bennett comment above:

    Not true that we asked “Who sent you, Comcast?” before Ou even spoke. We didn’t even know who he was (only found out later in the day) but his introductory statement and his demeanor were strong indication of what/who’s position he was taking. Also, the FCC had just a few minutes earlier announced that “although all the ISP’s we contacted declined to come, they suggested people for the panel”.

    Furthermore, immediately after Ou spoke, someone from the FCC said, “as just asked by someone in the audience, and with all due respect to our panelists, it would be a good time for everyone to state whether they have accepted any payment of any kind, including subsidizing of their travel here today…George?” So the FCC obviously has their concerns on this matter.

    When you are at Stanford you are in Raging Granny territory. We will never be expelled, as you suggest should have happened.
    http://www.RagingGrannies.com

  • http://www.lanarchitect.net George Ou

    “But the narrow question I’ve addressed here is whether it would violate neutrality principles for ISPs to offer different bandwidth commitments for different prices. I don’t believe it does”

    “Bandwidth commitments” is code for “Volume caps” which is a form of “Metered Internet”. It’s the same when Free Press say “Charge for usage” in their complaint to the FCC over Comcast.

    Whenever you say “bandwidth commitments”, you’re talking about a volume cap like they have in Europe or Australia where if you go over say 2GBs of pre-paid bandwidth volume, you start paying by the megabyte after that. I just love how you speak in code and say how while you don’t like metered Internet that you think it’s a necessary evil.

    It’s obvious that it goes over your audience’s (primarily Raging Grannies and Poor Magazine) heads. Apparently it also goes over the Press’ heads too and I’m sure you’re well aware of this.

  • http://www.lanarchitect.net George Ou

    “We also were taken aback by George Ou’s incessant hammering away at http://www.FreePress.net folks on what he perceived to be their policy on “metered access”, a distraction from the real issue at hand,”

    I find it comical that you Raging Grannies cannot see that Lessig is pushing for Volume Cap pricing RIGHT HERE IN THIS BLOG ENTRY when he says “different bandwidth commitments for different prices”. His colleague Barbara van Schewick even said that we should be more like Europe and have volume caps which are just a less extreme form of Metered Pricing since there’s a flat cap for the first few gigabytes. His other Stanford colleague Gregory L. Rosston said that while he doesn’t like Metered Internet, he doesn’t like Metered Gasoline either.

    “Not true that we asked “Who sent you, Comcast?” before Ou even spoke.”

    No, you people just started shouting me down as soon as I said my name on the panel. It’s obvious your buddies at Free Press or their friends told you to attack me as soon as I speak. You people are an embarrassment to Stanford.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    With a certain amount of trepidation … I believe Ou and Lessig are talking past each other here. The issue is the difference between 1) starting from a first principle that metered pricing is a good idea, and 2) having metered pricing be what comes out as a result of other axioms assumed.

    I think Ou believes it’s case #1, while the situation is really case #2.

  • http://www.RagingGrannies.com Raging Grannies

    George, George, George: We have to stop meeting like this~
    Sounds like we are having a Rashomon experience when it comes to recalling who said what/when at the hearing. Meet us for tea and cookies? You know where to find us.
    When we have different outlooks from people we are happy meet for discussion. Notably Marine Corps recruiters in Belmont who are unfailingly polite to their elders….you could learn from their example.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Given that the status quo (5% using 70% of b/w), the question is what’s the best s0lution?

    George wants prioritization and perhaps a services subsidy (i.e., HSI gets more capacity as a result of a build-out TV services in a triple-play combo), while Lessig wants tiered pricing and/or taxpayer subsidy. Lessig’s plan is bad for the elderly and infirm on fixed incomes, of course.

    But it’s hard to say what Lessig really wants because it changes from day-to-day.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    If we reckon age emotionally or cognitively, the RGs are toddlers.

  • http://www.lanarchitect.net George Ou

    “With a certain amount of trepidation … I believe Ou and Lessig are talking past each other here. The issue is the difference between 1) starting from a first principle that metered pricing is a good idea, and 2) having metered pricing be what comes out as a result of other axioms assumed.”

    No Seth. We’re not talking past each other. I’m the only one not talking in code. I was the only one consistently arguing before and during the Stanford FCC panel AGAINST any kind of Metered Pricing. I believe we consumers should be able to download as much as you can get away with at hopefully close to peak advertised speeds. The “as much as you can get away with” part means that the ISP should prevent someone from taking a larger piece of the pie than other people who want bandwidth. I believe that consumers who don’t use high volume should get high priority bursting or people who do use high volume should be lower priority than people who don’t use high volume. The only way you achieve this is with a well managed intelligent network

    Free Press in their complaint to the FCC said that “charging for usage” would be a better alternative. Free Press’ Marvin Ammori and Media Access’ Harold Feld also stated that metered Internet would be better on a vontv debate and I wrote in from the audience criticizing them saying that Metered Internet is a bad idea.

    Larry Lessig in THIS BLOG is arguing for Volume Caps like his two other Stanford Colleagues on the panel yesterday. That’s why when Lessig says “But the narrow question I’ve addressed here is whether it would violate neutrality principles for ISPs to offer different bandwidth commitments for different prices. I don’t believe it does.”, he’s saying he supports volume caps as a necessary evil due to the lack of competition in ISPs. I’m saying that any kind of metered pricing including volume caps or “different bandwidth commitments for different prices” is a BAD idea.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    I took Lessig’s phrase “what he [George Ou] perceived to be a policy by Free Press and EFF to push for “metered access.”" to mean that Lessig thinks that Ou perceives Free Press/EFF/Lessig want metered pricing as a policy goal in and of itself, and they aren’t saying that they want metered pricing for its own sake.

    I don’t believe FP/EFF/Lessig are disputing they’d take metered pricing as a necessary evil. Then I think you [George Ou] are misreading what Lessig wrote as a denial of support by Lessig of metered pricing as a necessary evil, and hence writing extensively that they’d take metered pricing as a necessary evil.

    That’s what I mean by “talking past each other here”.

  • http://www.lanarchitect.net George Ou

    Raging Grannies said: “Sounds like we are having a Rashomon experience when it comes to recalling who said what/when at the hearing.”

    It’s easy to miss for someone like yourself when you have your mind made up and your instructions to shout me down on first contact. But it’s obvious that Lessig’s words right on the top of this page in this blog entry is beyond your comprehension. But I’ll put up a reminder here for everyone else’s benefit.

    Go to the video archived at http://www.vontv.net/events/080417/default.cfm?id=9667&type=wmhigh
    At 1:22:50 Lessig argues for metering and the opportunity to buy metered service.
    “I agree on George on the history of Metered access, in fact there’s a history of strong consumer rejection, but it’s my view that if you’re going to create an incentive to build broader infrastructure, just as modems use to create an incentive, people would buy faster modems to get faster connections, providing a way for people to provide a signal that they want to be high bandwidth users versus low bandwidth users I think is an important way to do it. I would love to be in a world of gigabit Internet access, where assuming the video doesn’t swamp everything and you don’t actually have to worry about it, so too cheap to meter as what they expect a nuclear power to be, they were wrong about that too. But we’re not in that world; we’re in a world where right now I think we need the opportunity to opt up”

    As with the blog posted here, Lessig refuses to actually say the words “I’m for volume cap pricing” – though Lessig’s colleage Barbara van Schewick explicitly said it – so that it goes over the heads of his mindless followers like the Raging Grannies.

  • http://www.lanarchitect.net George Ou

    Seth says: “I don’t believe FP/EFF/Lessig are disputing they’d take metered pricing as a necessary evil.”
    I don’t either, but their followers and the press aren’t perceptive enough to catch that part. FP/MAP/EFF/Lessig all state that Metered Pricing is better than what Comcast is doing today and I disagree with them. Lessig goes further to say in his Thursday testimony as well as this blog post that because we don’t have enough competition to spur on super fast broadband connections, some form of metered pricing like Volume Caps (though he’s careful not to use those words) is a necessary evil. I happen to vehemently disagree with FP/MAP/EFF/Lessig that metered pricing or volume caps that convert to metered pricing are a good idea or a necessary evil.

    So no Seth, FP/MAP/EFF/Lessig and I not talking past each other and I understand their view point very well. I don’t care if FP/MAP/EFF/Lessig “aren’t saying that they want metered pricing for its own sake”; I’m saying that FP/MAP/EFF/Lessig just pushing for any form of metered pricing as the better (less evil) alternative is dumb and bad for consumers and it’s bad policy.

    FP/MAP/EFF/Topolski also state that no network management (using the existing TCP standards) would be better than what Comcast is doing with TCP resets today. I vehemently disagree and think that would result in the 10% of the population (using P2P software) oppressing 90% of the population by leaving them with 25% of the resources.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Ah, it turns out the Raging Grannies were catspaws of Tim Karr/SaveTheInternet. Wow. Just … wow …

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/04/16/18493241.php

    “RG” – this is an impertinent, but very serious question: Would you personally care if you’re being used? I mean, if I were to say to you that you’re being manipulated as cannon-fodder in a fight between two sets of big corporations, would you be open to that possibility? I get into trouble for doing things like that question, but I’m fascinated as to people’s motivations.

  • http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/ Seth Finkelstein

    Sigh … looks like I asked a stupid question …

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/04/18/18493824.php

    “The FCC announced that big telecom DID, however, suggest speakers for the panel. One George Ou, who is most certainly on the payroll of big telecom (we hear it’s AT&T) was on the panel and was heckled with: “Who paid your way, George?” The FCC asked the entire panel shortly after that interjection if any of them were paid, even if just for travel expenses. Mr. Ou answered, “I drove myself here”, avoiding the question as best he was able. Later in the day, one of the Grannies and George Ou got into heated discussion outside the hearing and things looked dicey until Granny defender Byrd Hale of KZSU told Ou, “Don’t mess with the Raging Grannies if you know what’s good for you,” to which the Grannies added, “That’s right, when you are at Stanford you are in Raging Granny territory.”

  • http://www.lanarchitect.net George Ou

    Seth, indybay.org is libeling me just like Free Press’ Marvin Ammori slandered Richard Bennett on Capitol Hill by saying Bennett was brought in by Comcast at the Harvard hearings. Indybay.org can’t even quote me correctly. I didn’t dodge any question, I told FCC Commissioner McDowell no I didn’t get paid and I drove there with Richard Bennett.

    I have never taken a dime for any political or policy activity from any telecom or cable company and my last employers were CNET Networks and Fujitsu where I worked as Technical Director and Sr. Network Engineer respectively. I wouldn’t doubt that SaveTheInternet.org (Free Press) has a hand in this attack against me because I’ve seen Marvin Ammori call Richard Bennett a Comcast shill on Capitol Hill first hand. That’s the way these people operate since it’s inconceivable to them that someone would do policy work for free.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Sorry for posting that item without thinking more carefully.

    It seemed to me so ranty that it reflected badly on the subjects, not you.

  • http://www.RagingGrannies.com raging Grannies

    Raging Grannies speak for the people! Always have, always will. And yes we are in solidarity with orgs working for NN. We also align with NARAL/Planned Parenthood others for pro-choice. We are a multi-cause group.
    NOT ONE person in the FCC public comment period spoke up for the ISP’s. The PEOPLE have spoken and we shall leave it up to the techies to debate the science of how it is to be done.
    Signing off the internet, as we are back on the streets tomorrow, actually on campus with students for free speech at Stanford and later on the streets of SF with the ILWU. So go at each other guys and enjoy your debates.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    I take it that was a “no” – as in, you don’t care about being used.

    [I'm not cut out for politics, I'm really not.]

  • http://www.lanarchitect.net George Ou

    Funny the grannies mention NARAL and Verizon. It’s even more pathetic that Larry Lessig continues to mislead the public and repeat the lie that “Verizon blocked text messages”. Verizon NEVER blocked a single text message; they had a one-day bureaucratic snafu that prevented NARAL from obtaining a 5-digit short code (like a shortened phone number) and they have apologized for it. Yet Larry Lessig and Tim Wu continues going around saying that Verizon is blocking NARAL text messages when not a single text message was ever blocked.

    I guess the grannies can’t help themselves from being brainwashed on this matter, but it’s rather pathetic that Larry Lessig and Tim Wu resorts to this kind of made-up propaganda.

  • three blind mice

    It’s even more pathetic that Larry Lessig continues to mislead the public and repeat the lie that “Verizon blocked text messages”.

    if our provider blocks text messages from the National Mice Rights Action League, all we need do is choose among the the dozen or so others who do not. for here in stockholm we have the choice of three ISPs that offer DSL, or the three ISPs that provide service over cable, or the three ISPs who provide 3G wireless access… or we can go to one of scores of WiFi hotspots.

    what is pathetic is that this “debate” (are you people really still talking about this?) seems to miss the point that there is a pathetic lack of compettion in the United States for all communication services – not just broadband. competition and choice is the solution, not burdensome regulations that destroy competition by forcing ISPs to offer the same one-size-fits-all access.

    we mice remain hard-pressed to see how imposing the burdens of “net neutrality” and/or unmetered access is going to encourage build-out and competition – because it isn’t. it will only keep that poor person in Iowa tethered to his third-world communication link while the rest of the world marches furher ahead.

  • amanfromMars

    Hi, Lawrence, [Cool Captcha, too, and QuITe Perfect for NIRobotIQs]

    Just thought I’d post the following, which is relevant and well ………… RevolutionAIry2. Do not do yourself a disservice and dismiss it, without first Proofing its Contents. That just wouldn’t be Cricket, Old Bean. :-) for the dDepth of its IT ProgramMIng knows No Bounds to Man who Boldly Go……

    And it traverses Space and Temporal Locks/Router Switches and Editorial Commitment to be Displayed here/there, too …. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/21/fcc_net_neutrality_stanford_hearing/

    Gentlemen, Choose urWeapons.
    By amanfromMars
    Posted Tuesday 22nd April 2008 06:28 GMT

    “”The FCC has failed to make it absolutely clear that the network owners that are building the internet need to build it neutrally. It is this failure of clear policy that makes us wonder why exactly Comcast is doing what its doing at the network level.” ……

    Of course, it is unclear, Darling, because for them to articulate on how to build a Utopian Neutrality for Web leaders/ISPs/Programmers/Semantic Web dDevelopers, would have them collaterally expose the Present day “Real World” Infrastructure and its Lead Institutions to …….well, critical Peer Review which they are not going to survive, is putting it mildly…… for it will reveal that they are as bugs and trojans and worms and virii in the System, masquerading as the System. Although quite whether their inability to clarify on certain matters is a reluctance born of such knowledge as would crash the old analogue Established/Establishment Belief Systems with Organised Religions and Promisory Note Profit Businesses/Banking and Trade for Money, rather than the Sharing of Wealth with Mutual Benefits to eradicate Divisions and Educate Ignorance, being the Immediate and Catastrophic Losers [and you may like to ponder on papal visits to capital created lands in such a Time as now, as sees the Money Markets discovered to be feeding on themselves, for lack of Intelligence and Investment Opportunity to make them Money from Nothing, without everyone knowing exactly what it is they are doing] or an Abject Ignorance of such Matters, as has Wealth and Power and Control conjured up and put in place from Nothing, or just a Plain General, “We don’t really know about Virtual Reality and ITs Clouds Network InterNetworking Java and AJAX, but we just think that we oughta jump in and bluff our way into putting Controls on it for our friends who are threatened by all this Information and Knowledge zipping around the Globe in seconds.

    But all of that is the least of their worries, whenever there are NINJA RobotIQs into Java and AIJAXXXX, Embedded and Embedding Real dDeep Colossal Crack Computed Coding Controls for Virtualised Realms in Powerful Command and Immaculate Territory Control with Special IntelAIgent Speech Communications …… for Full Disclosure Transparency of Semantic Intent with IT Content.

    And before anyone would wish to waste their breath and disagree, rather than XXXXPlore, a simple Google of C in its various stages of development, C++, C+++, C++++, C+++++, C++++++ [and Wow, do some of the dDeeper Ones get right to their Point of Being, and this is an interesting page for Global Operating Devices :-) ... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/27/gov_boffin_nerve_gas_dirty_bomb_simulation_in_london/comments/

    And it is a crying shame that, for whatever reason, “XXXXStream Feeding the Animals …. Taking Good Care of the Eggs.” Posted Sunday 20th April 2008 09:49 GMT to http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/04/18/oducat_sells_hdd_kit_to_mystery_vendor/comments/ …… didn’t make the Cut, as it would expand and add further clarity to the Lead Position that AIR&dD Registered in and/or on these Virtual Spaces/Digital Pages has. However the missing link can be viewed here, … http://jamesstgeorge.proboards32.com/index.cgi?board=UKdomestic&action=display&thread=16187&page=2#301420 …. for Peer Review and Comment with regard to Mr Lessig’s Parallel Dilemma as aired on these Pages/Spaces.

    There is a Parallel Relativity, in the XSS ZerodDay Trade, which in AI Virtualised Environment, has a Registered CyberIntelAIgent Bourse Created …… and Open for Business.

    MeThinks/Meknows that that will make El Reg Hacks, Rich beyond their Wildest Dreams when they can Play their Cards Right Royally.

    Happy Birthday El Reg. You deserve IT for keeping the Faith and pushing against the Barriers that Bind and Bound/Confine and Confound? And all at the Expense of Nothing more than Sharing Alien Thoughts in this Space/on a Page visited by Fellow Travellers Searching for ITs Knowledge.

    My apologies for the somewhat tome nature of the post, but a sound-bite just would not cut the mustard this morning.

  • http://technoflak.blogspot.com/ Alice Marshall

    You did a great job at this morning’s Seanate hearing. I think it is obvious the opponents of net neutrality are going to try to win by confusing the issue. Phrases such as “price flexibility” to describe access discrimination, and conflating the price difference between dial up, DSL, and broadband, with pricing for content access are going to be the order of the day.

    I love Justine Batemen’s phrase “corporate tax” to describe what ISP’s want to charge content providers. For what it is worth, I Twittered much of the hearings http://twitter.com/PrestoVivace

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    @George Ou,

    You really are an arrogant prick. Regardless of whether or not I agree or disagree with your points, your ongoing comments such as,

    “so that it goes over the heads of his mindless followers like the Raging Grannies.”

    … suggest you are of the obvious belief that you are far superior to any one and everyone who doesn’t agree with your view point.

    Do you honestly believe that people will respond to you with respect when you continually showcase the fact that you have none for them?

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    I’d say to cut George Ou some slack, being that the Raging Grannies did indeed heckle him during his presentation, are unapologetic about it, and are obviously bandwagon-jumpers (tedious anti-strawman: All statements converting this to some form of “Huh, you think ALL PEOPLE WHO …” are categorically denied – I claim THESE PEOPLE ARE, got it?).

    It’s extremely frustrating to do activism on your own, and to be confronted with political attackers who simply throw mud and hope something sticks. Look up this group if you doubt my characterization of them. They’re not exactly advocates of rational informed debate.

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    @Seth,

    >> I’d say to cut George Ou some slack, being that the Raging Grannies did indeed heckle him during his presentation, are unapologetic about it…

    It’s tough to cut George any slack when he continues to cut-down the intelligence of everyone who disagrees with or contends directly against his viewpoint. It would be one thing if it was a single remark. Though still not justified, at least it could be seen as a one off rant, as opposed to a true representation of his character. Unfortunately, he has continued on throughout most of his follow-up posts to cut down the Grannies at every opportunity,

    e.g. >> It’s easy to miss for someone like yourself when you have your mind made up and your instructions to shout me down on first contact.

    e.g. >> But it’s obvious that Lessig’s words right on the top of this page in this blog entry is beyond your comprehension.

    e.g. >> I guess the grannies can’t help themselves from being brainwashed on this matter,

    My point is that it’s difficult to take his comments seriously when he continually uses the “Well, I wouldn’t expect you to understand because your simply not intelligent enough.” card as his defense.

    @George Ou,

    If at all possible, please present your views in a format that doesn’t use contention and/or slander and/or derogatory comments and/or statements pertaining to other peoples intelligence as the backbone of your argument. Something similar to,

    “I believe that X is a [good|bad] thing because of Y+. Here is some additional information you can use to better understand my position.”

    … would be really helpful in better understanding your overall stance, something that is difficult to understand when it’s clouded with trash talk about other peoples intelligence and/or intent.

    >> It’s extremely frustrating to do activism on your own, and to be confronted with political attackers who simply throw mud and hope something sticks.

    Fair enough. I can certainly understand the frustration in this regard.

    >> Look up this group if you doubt my characterization of them. They’re not exactly advocates of rational informed debate.

    /me is researching…

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    >>>> Look up this group if you doubt my characterization of them. They’re not exactly advocates of rational informed debate.

    >> /me is researching…

    I guess maybe I’m missing something, because the only thing I have come across is examples of women who — while obviously passionate (that’s not a bad thing!) — believe in their cause and are willing to go out on a limb to bring notice to what they believe in. The questions that keep popping into my head with all of this is,

    > Why are they so passionate about their cause?

    > Why is George Ou continually patronizing them?

    From the outside looking in, my immediate impression is not “You know, George has got a point.” and instead “Wow, he really is an arrogant prick.” Maybe my impressions are wrong, but that’s the way things appear, which leads me to the same two questions from above.

    Why?

  • http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/ Seth Finkelstein

    “Raging Grannies” doesn’t have “a cause”, except perhaps in a very general sense of that term. Do a e.g. Google News search for their name, and read their blog on Yahoo, and you’ll see they show up on a bunch of hot topics, garnering media attention. The key thing to realize is that these people are not interested in the specifics of any issue. It is not that they lack the raw intelligence to comprehend it – but, bluntly, they don’t care and they aren’t going to listen. The most charitable description of these types is “performers”. There are some common less-charitable descriptions.

    Now, if you’re going to say that liberal/intellectual codes of conduct require someone to try to patiently reason with a PR flack, I would say you’re mistaken. One thing an activist has to learn to be effective is when you’re wasting your time and energy with a person who is just there to make political attacks. These kinds of people do exist, that’s reality.

    George Ou is annoyed at them because they hassled him and they’re obviously “performers”. That’s the answer to the “Why?” (again, saying someone should be saintly in this situation is not really achievable by average people).

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    FYI, for George Ou’s presentation material, follow the links he has on his 4/19 blog post at:

    http://www.lanarchitect.net/

    (this should not be taken as an endorsement of all that’s written in said blog post)

  • http://www.ForMortals.com George Ou

    To Mr. Peterson,

    I did present hard data, so why don’t YOU stop referring to people as “pricks”? Despite your name calling, I’m going to refrain from doing it back to you.

    I presented all the data here
    http://www.formortals.com/Home/tabid/36/EntryID/3/Default.aspx
    That has my presentation and my letter to the FCC.

    You’re so focused on me attacking the Grannies but I was just telling it as I saw it. Those old ladies attacked me as soon as I spoke my name on the panel and they attacked me personally outside after the event. I’d never met these ladies in my life and I had never said a single nasty word to them.

    As for that audience, nearly half of them were literally bused in from “Poor Magazine” who came in there to knock anything corporate or seen as corporate.

    As for the media, they failed to pick up on Larry Lessig’s support for the need on “bandwidth commitments” AKA “volume caps” AKA “metered pricing” and they were fooled by Larry’s subtle wording. The Grannies here are still insisting that Free Press and Larry Lessig are against metered pricing when they’re saying they think metered pricing is a better alternative. It’s 100% obvious they’re not picking up on the subtle support for metered pricing and they’re slamming me when I’m the one that’s actually in support of their position which is against all forms of metered pricing. So it’s quite obvious we’re dealing with people playing with less than a full deck of cards in the intellect department.

    As for Larry Lessig, he MISLEAD the public again repeating the lie that Verizon blocked text messages. That’s a fact which you seem to be willing to ignore.

    As for Jon Peha, Richard Bennett and I took him to task for knowing little or nothing about P2P or BitTorrent. The man’s testimony was so filled with errors that he was plastered when Richard and I corrected him before and after the panel.

    As for this event, let’s stop pretending it was some sort of fair and civilized debate. You had one side getting 10 times the amount of time to speak and everyone that didn’t agree with Lessig and Free Press were essentially outnumbered and weren’t given nearly the same amount of time to speak.

    George Ou
    http://www.formortals.com

  • Stephen Fitch

    It seems free market capitalism is lost from the USA – there really is no choice – only Telco or Cable.

    It would seem the USA has lost its way leading capitalist innovation.

    A sad state of affairs.

  • Interested Bystander

    The fundamental problem with a non-neutral internet and metered service as well is the Atificial Monopolies created for communication services in the US. If anyone could provides their own infrastructure and in turn provide service to customers without being blocked by negotiated monopolies at the cit, state and even national level there would be competition.

    Noone other then Comcast is allowed to lay cable and provide service in my community and nobody other then AT&T can run local copper. This together with the fact that they are no longer required to share their infrastructure at a reasonable rate allowed them to kill any and all broadband competition. The have become a duopoly that is every bit as flawed as the old Ma Bell was and like any public service monopoly need to either be very strictly regulated to ensure that the Public is best served or their monopolies need to be eliminated by allowing free and unfetered competition. In addition require that contracts all be month to month to prevent the bait and switch vendor lockin that is rampent in the industry and you will finally have a true free market for these services.

    Once this occurs customers will be free to deal with issues such as content throtling/blocking and bandwidth limits/caps by voting with their feet/dollars by changing suppliers. This is what will drive infrastructure buildout and improvement by allowing those who do to offer a superior product and reap the benefits from doing so. At present there is no incentive for the entrenched monopolies to do much beyond setting up more and more barriers to switching providers.

  • http://www.wirelessbeehive.com Chuck McCown

    Only choice is telco or cable?
    I beg to differ. There are thousands of companies delivering high speed internet (10 Mbps in my case) via high speed wireless. We do it at $29.95 per month. These companies are called WISPs. Don’t think that telco and cable are the only choices, most of the nation is getting blanked with WISP activity.

  • DB

    There is currently a bill working its way through the California legislature (SB 1438) to implement the precise type of non-neutral electricity grid network management that you cautioned against in your presentation:

    These “smart grid” technologies include:

    “Development and incorporation of demand response, demand-side resources, and energy-efficiency resources.”

    “Deployment of smart technologies, including real time, automated, interactive technologies that optimize the physical operation of appliances and consumer devices for metering, communications concerning grid operations and status, and distribution automation.”

    The bill’s sponsors have not met the ridiculous burden of proof which you recommend, yet most people recognize that a neutral electricity grid is wasteful and inefficient. Why shouldn’t we embrace new technologies to save energy and ensure better service and lower prices for all?

    The bill passed committee with unanimous bipartisan support. Where do you stand?

  • X

    I agree with the views presented in the talk, they make economic sense both for businesses and consumers. However, I think “volume caps” are a dangerous business practice that can leave ISPs free to jack up the overlimit charges, advertising one lower rate in very large print, and then adding the higher overlimit rate in very fine print. Sure, it is a form of metered access, but is it good for consumers? I say no for this reason. I’m sure no consumer likes the sometimes outrageous overcharges that cell phone companies enforce for going over your minutes.

    Another point against this type of metered access is the consumer’s concept of their own consumption. With other commodities, we can accurately judge how much we will need, ie: “I think I’ll only eat X # of apples this month”. We can’t accurately judge how much bandwidth we’ll use over a given period of time, which I think will allow the “tigers” out there to feast on consumer’s wallets, and take advantage of them. Why would this happen?

    The main answer is: Lack of Competition. Without adequate competition in the market, companies will be free to jack up prices and encourage low volume caps and high overlimit charges, therefore resulting in a lack of abundance. Consumers will have no choice but take the only offer out there if they want access, which many of us do nowadays. How to fix this? The barriers to entry in the ISP market need to be broken down. One way this can be done is through new technologies. Cables and fiber are expensive to deploy, wireless is not. There have been some progressive initiatives in this area to acquire free wireless internet in some cities, but which are being stifled for strange issues being brought up such as their being used for pornography and other things. That’s a whole other can of worms though. I think that’s a step in the right direction for the market.

    In conclusion, if we are to allow metered access, a form of speed regulation in price tiers is the way to go. Consumers benefit from the choice of different speeds with no limit to how much data they push at that speed, companies benefit from more adequate allocation of network resources to those that want or need them. The question of network regulation due to congestion is not due to consumption over time, it’s due to too many people consuming data all at the same time at the highest speed they can push through the pipes until they are clogged.

  • X

    Apologies for the double post, I got an Internal Server Error the first time, and it didn’t seem to go through. You may remove the duplicity if you please (and perhaps this post).

  • http://www.pcrepairhertfordshire.co.uk Brian

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on FFC it was a good read, I am loving the blog…finding plenty to read but theres not much work getting done here lol

    - Britec – http://www.britec.org.uk
    http://www.britec.co.uk

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    @George Ou,

    >> I did present hard data, so why don’t YOU stop referring to people as “pricks”?

    I wasn’t calling you a prick because you didn’t present hard data. I was calling you a prick because you were being one.

    >> Despite your name calling, I’m going to refrain from doing it back to you.

    Thanks! ;-)

    No, in all seriousness, I appreciate the fact that you feel you were being attacked and felt the need to defend yourself. I honestly do. But from the outside looking in, when I read your comments I kept coming across bits and pieces in which you felt the need to question the Grannies intelligence, suggesting it was because they couldn’t grok the subject matter and therefore had no clue what they were talking about. I disagree with that viewpoint. From what I’ve seen the Grannies had showcased the fact that they understood the material being debated quite well, so attempting to use the “You couldn’t possibly understand because you’re just not smart enough.” card was completely out of line.

    In this regard, it was hard to see the forest for the trees when it seemed your primary argument was one of patronizing rather than presenting the facts as you saw them.

    >> You’re so focused on me attacking the Grannies but I was just telling it as I saw it.

    And I’m telling you how I saw it, my point being that it’s a lot easier to understand your argument when that same argument doesn’t make every attempt to patronize your critics. In my experience, those in whom feel the need to patronize their critics do so because they feel their primary argument in and of itself isn’t strong enough to stand on it’s own. So they cloud and confuse the issue with patronizing comments. Whether this is or is not the case with you it’s tough to overcome that impression when it sits at the center of nearly every comment I have seen you make on the matter.

    >> As for Larry Lessig, he MISLEAD the public again repeating the lie that Verizon blocked text messages. That’s a fact which you seem to be willing to ignore.

    I haven’t ignored any “facts”. I just haven’t given any air time to the specifics of anyones argument for the same reason outlined above.

    >> As for that audience, nearly half of them were literally bused in from “Poor Magazine” who came in there to knock anything corporate or seen as corporate.

    Wow. You really insist on continuing down this path of class deviation, don’t you. George, stop clouding the damn issue with random side-clutter that has no relation to the argument of Net Neutrality. Just because someone disagrees with your opinion on a subject matter doesn’t mean they are stupid, incompetent, and/or poor and therefore “obviously biased by their hatred towards corporations and/or people who have more money than they do” which is exactly what you are attempting to do.

    Quit the bullshit, George. Stop trying to cloud the issue and focus on the primary argument. Otherwise why should anyone pay attention to what you have to say? 90% of it is just random fluff, with a primary focus on using personal attacks justified by playing the “victim” card.

    George, you’re not a victim so stop using this as the central focus of your argument.

    >> As for this event, let’s stop pretending it was some sort of fair and civilized debate. You had one side getting 10 times the amount of time to speak and everyone that didn’t agree with Lessig and Free Press were essentially outnumbered and weren’t given nearly the same amount of time to speak.

    So your argument seems to be that regardless of the number of people at any given event who stand on one side or another of a given topic, each specific stance should be given equal airtime. In other words, if there are eleven people in a room and each of them are given equal airtime to speak their minds on a given subject matter, you feel that if ten are of one opinion and one of them another, then the overall debate was unfair because one stance got ten times more airtime than did the other.

    Is this true?

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    @Seth,

    >> (again, saying someone should be saintly in this situation is not really achievable by average people).

    I’m not suggesting “saintly” as a requirement for anything. But I’ve read thousands of arguments in my lifetime that didn’t including patronizing those in whom disagreed with their position. Professor Lessig, for example, provides a perfect example of how you can present your argument while at the same time being respectful to those in whom disagree with his opinion. What I am suggesting is that it’s a lot easier to pay attention to someone’s primary argument when it’s not filled with patronizing acts of “self defense.”

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Lessig has at times gotten angry when he’s felt himself under attack by what he views as unprincipled opponents. My point is that it’s overall simply not helpful to finger-wag at someone who is upset from being heckled or smeared. It has the effect of rewarding the tactics of the attacker, by adding to the grief of the target.

    At the core, the P2P-throttling is not an especially difficult issue to lay out – there is X capacity, Y users, some uses crowd out others, what to do, what’s fair. There is an enormous amount of noise-making around that basic question, some of which is in very bad-faith (let’s not have an Attack Of The Strawmen here, of “You think EVERY …”, when in fact “I think THIS …”).

    Look, this exchange is repeating itself. George Ou is upset, and I’d say for a very understandable reason. You can keep saying that interferes with purely rational argument. I heard you. He heard you. That’s obviously not sufficient to change anything in terms of “is” versus “ought”. Now what?

  • http://strangelybright.blogspot.com/ bs

    @ m. peterson:

    Very constructive comments.

    @ george ou

    I was personally at the hearing, and you didn’t get it half as bad as George Ford did. The problem is that you were at a public hearing. And we public can be unruly.

    I heard many comments about the fact that industry representatives chose not to attend. Your side deserted you to the public by failing to stand up for themselves at this hearing. That is why it was so one-sided. I do not think you should have gotten extra time to speak simply because your fellows were so ashamed of themselves they couldn’t bring themselves to show up. I showed up and I only got 90 seconds to speak because you guys ran over.

    Personally, I’m trying to read all the coverage I can find to find out more about concrete solutions that have been proposed. And personally, I thought it was very telling to hear about how the networks have been allocated to favor television over internet. The ratio I heard was 98% to 2%. If this is correct, then I have to confess, this is not really the scarce resource it’s made out to be. It’s all bandwidth, right? Is there no way to address that in your view?

    I mean, it seems like that’s the tiering we’re all describing already. The cable channels get a ton, and I get a pittance. Now the ISPs want to shave my pittance. That may be a rather simplistic view, but I don’t yet understand that it’s wrong from anyone. And unfortunately, this was not adequately addressed at the hearing.

    @ lessig
    I really appreciate the additional content you’re making available here for us. It’s really wonderful to see professionals who are not only willing to argue on behalf of the public good, but also to then extend a hand to the public to help us understand these issues. Thanks for your efforts and patience.

  • C. Feryurself

    You can see the entire hearing here.

    http://www.vontv.net/default.cfm?id=9667&clip=2&type=wmhigh

    George identifies his position on the topic before the “heckler” calls out., “Who sent you, Comcast?” Later, someone on the FCC side says, “as someone in the audience asked” and questions panel members on whether they are representing someone other than themselves. He asks George specifically and he only says, “I drove myself here,” not addressing the question about who he might be representing. Probably an oversight butthat probably did not play well with this audience.

    Looked carefully and it does NOT look at all like “nearly half the people” in the audience are from Poor News as George states above.

    I will say for George he had a tough act to follow, the lady from Christian Coalition was a surprise panelist who got a big cheer from the left-wing crowd. Abandoned by the ISP’s who wouldn’t show put a lot of onus on him as well.

  • C. Feryurself

    You can see the entire hearing here.

    http://www.vontv.net/default.cfm?id=9667&clip=2&type=wmhigh

    George identifies his position on the topic before the “heckler” calls out., “Who sent you, Comcast?” Later, someone on the FCC side says, “as someone in the audience asked” and questions panel members on whether they are representing someone other than themselves. He asks George specifically and he only says, “I drove myself here,” not addressing the question about who he might be representing. Probably an oversight butthat probably did not play well with this audience.

    Looked carefully and it does NOT look at all like “nearly half the people” in the audience are from Poor News as George states above.

    I will say for George he had a tough act to follow, the lady from Christian Coalition was a surprise panelist who got a big cheer from the left-wing crowd. Abandoned by the ISP’s who wouldn’t show put a lot of onus on him as well.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    I listened to parts of it. This portion is at around time 2:03.

    The moderator refers to “someone shouted out a question about this”, talks about compensation “Is anyone receiving any compensation, has your travel here been paid for …” [talks about consulting ... something hard to hear about someone (George?) not having to travel far].

    Then: “So everyone is here on their own dime? … George, you’re here own your own dime?”

    [Note he's addressing George Ou in specific because of the accusation.]

    George Ou: “I drove here. With Richard Bennett.”
    (someone else jokes – “We’re taking collections later.”)

    Moderator: “OK, I just wanted to get that out of the way.”

    It’s clear in context that George Ou is not evading anything, and the moderator is satisfied with the response.

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    @Seth,

    >> I heard you. He heard you. That’s obviously not sufficient to change anything in terms of “is” versus “ought”. Now what?

    We agree to disagree?

  • http://xmlhacker.com/ M. David Peterson

    @bs,

    >> @ m. peterson:

    >> Very constructive comments.

    Thanks! :D

  • http://www.formortals.com George Ou

    To Mr. Peterson,

    “So your argument seems to be that regardless of the number of people at any given event who stand on one side or another of a given topic, each specific stance should be given equal airtime. In other words, if there are eleven people in a room and each of them are given equal airtime to speak their minds on a given subject matter, you feel that if ten are of one opinion and one of them another, then the overall debate was unfair because one stance got ten times more airtime than did the other.”

    No, it wasn’t just a numerical advantage; it was a time given to individuals advantage. Not only were there mostly people who knew nothing about networking invited to speak, they got more time to speak. Lessig who hardly contributed anything substantive took 26 minutes to give a presentation while I had about 7 minutes with a minute of that interrupted. Lessig spent 8 minutes just answering 2 questions back-to-back from the Chairman while I was prevented from giving even a quick reply.

    The fact is that much of the key testimony from Jon Peha and Robb Topolski was just wrong.
    http://www.formortals.com/Home/tabid/36/EntryID/11/Default.aspx

    And to Feryurself,
    I dodged nothing and I satisfied the question from the Commissioner. I have never to this date taken a dime from any cable or telecom company for any political activity. Here is my full disclosure from my last employer CNET Networks http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?page_id=557 as of last month. As Technical Director and Editor at Large at ZDNet, full disclosure was mandatory for employment and I’ve been talking about Net Neutrality since middle of 2006 with no pay from anyone. On the other hand, all the folks from Free Press do get corporate money and they should have been the ones getting the questioning.

  • http://www.boredquiz.com Quiz

    I don’t believe this will violate any neutrality policies whatsoever. We need this for better business.