Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Net Netrality War: "Nobody gets a free ride!"

I love it when people go off on a subject that they have no real understanding about. AT&T's Ted Whitacre spoke with utility regulators in San Francisco yesterday, and one of the issues brought up in the Q&A section was about net netrality.

AT&T, for whatever reason, thinks some of the larger content companies are getting a free ride, as if they are magically on the internet without paying anything (if this is true, I will immediately conglomerate into a company for the bandwidth, e-mail me details if anyone knows!), while AT&T is paying for all the bandwidth. Gah?

Either Whitacre and the other telcos are confused about how the internet actually works, or they have started having an issue with the peering agreements at the really-big-pipe level. On one hand I would say that they can't be that stupid and think that Google and other content providers aren't paying for their internet. I'm sure that Google, Slashdot, Digg, etc have huge upstream bandwidth bills which get paid to their respective ISPs.

Even at that point, they can't be talking about homegrown ISPs and the bandwidth AT&T and others have to give to the smaller ISPs. Ask just about any small ISP sysadmin, and I'm sure that they will tell you that they are paying an arm and a leg for a good backbone to the internet (and most of that is due to upstream).

That leaves one last set of people who may not be paying - the home and business DSL/Cable customers. Whitacre knows they are at least paying as most broadband in this country costs $40+ for crap connections (in comparison to many other countries).

Lets recap:
Google - Paying their ISP
ISPs - Paying their Backbone providers
Customers - Paying their ISP

That leaves the large peering systems in place to move all of the internet's information from one network to the next. While there is no monetary exchange that I know of in this agreement, it's a favorable agreement (I won't charge you if you don't have me) kind of thing. So, in a sense, they are getting paid by not being charged.

Where does that leave consumers like you and me? Probably with larger broadband bills. Yay!

AT&T's Whitacre: 'Nobody Gets a Free Ride' article

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, and first on Google! I'm partially sick of, and partially tired of, the unbridled metaphors that get thrown around loosely. Whitacre calls them his "pipes," but his company charges an illegal $175 termination fee for cell phone contracts (California PUC Sections 451, 702, 2896,, and has required people to sign a contract to get a phone.

- Ed