Verizon, Google, and Net Neutrality
Verizon, a major backbone and wireless carrier, and Google, a major application provider, recently withdrew from FCC sponsored deliberations on net neutrality and proposed their own alternative. Net neutrality can be defined as treating all internet protocol packets the same, without regard to origin, destination, or application. The Verizon/Google proposal suggests that the wired Internet treat most packets the same but that wireless data carriers be allowed to discriminate as long as they publish what they are doing.
Now iPhone users understand the application of this proposal all too well. We have been liiving with an AT&T decided and Apple imposed regime like this since the beginning of the Apple/AT&T exclusivity agreement. We will continue to live with it until carrier competition comes to the iPhone.
If you like the idea that AT&T can restrict applications that it does not like, things like voice over IP, video, and tethering, then you will love Verizon/Google. If you like the idea that the carrier can allow one application provider while excluding their direct competitor, then you will love Verizon/Google If you like agreements in restraint of trade, like Apple/AT&T, you will love Verizon/Google. If you believe that Google will "do no evil," then you will love Verizon/Google. If you like that carriers finance a discount on your handheld computer by locking you into multi-thousand dollar contract, you are going to love Verizon/Google.
I have been surprised that Verizon/Google has been met with so little resistance. Perhaps those who are not iPhone/AT&T customers do not appreciate the implications. It seems clear that Verizon/Google is the future.
I have been surprised that no manufacturer has elected to offer a multi-carrier device. I escape many AT&T restrictions by using my Verizon MIFi card.
I have hedged my bets by owning a little stock in Apple, AT&T, Google, and Verizon.
- 08-14-2010, 09:32 PM #2
If they had the control, they would all be behaving like AT&T v. Apple users. Note that AT&T does not treat the users of other phones in the shabby way they treat iPhone users.
Part of what they are militating for is "deep packet inspection," that is, looking inside the IP packet to identify what protocol, what application, it is being used for. This is what got Comcast in trouble with the FCC. Of course, any packet inspection is only a small step from looking at, and judging, the content of the application, for example, not simply looking at the fact that one is downloading movies but which movies.
Verizon Wireless at least pretends to be solving any load problems by investing in LTE, LTE will not only provide the user with higher data rates, but it uses the spectrum more efficiently. AT&T wants to solve the same load problems by limiting use and by raising prices.
Comcast justified its actions, in part, on the fact that a small number of users were consuming a disproportionate amount of the shared resource. On the other hand, those users were doing the applications, sharing large objects and streaming video, that all of us will be doing in the future. The real solution to this problem is to increase the capacity by improving the signaling (DOCSIS 3). Again, while Comcast was trying to throttle traffic, other cable providers were investing in fiber to the curb and faster modems.
In fairness to both carriers, political resistance to new cells is part of the problem. The short term solution to AT&T's problem is more towers. Fighting the political battles is absorbing resources that might be better invested in the future. In the long run, we will not enjoy the potential of LTE without new cells.
The long-term future of our infrastructure is being decided. It is not being decided by the market. It is not even being decided politically. It is being decided by deals like those between AT&T and Apple and Verizon and Google. While one might have a preference between which of these pairs one trusts to do the deal, this is not the way to decide things that will have so much impact on our economy.
- 08-15-2010, 05:54 PM #4
The AT&T/Apple agreement is used to discriminate against traffic based upon application, for example, streaming video, VoIP, and tethering. For the iPhone user, tethering on AT&T costs $20- for the first bit. That is hardly treating all packets the same.
What do I have wrong?
Last edited by whmurray; 08-15-2010 at 09:50 PM.
- 08-16-2010, 03:16 PM #6
- 08-17-2010, 09:15 AM #8
- 08-17-2010, 09:49 AM #9
I thought AT&T was now charging all smartphone users for tethering now, not just iPhones? In the end, the carriers will agree (and win) in a way that makes them the most money. AT&T has already gotten behind the Verizon/Google plan.
It may be that on other smartphones that it sells, and subsidizes, AT&T is enforcing similar rules. On the other hand, AT&T is a GSM carrier. One can use any GSM sim on the AT&T network (roaming charges my apply). One can put an AT&T sim in any GSM phone, whether AT&T sells it or not.
Of course AT&T likes the Verizon/Google plan. It is modeled on the AT&T/Apple plan. The difference is that under the Verizon/Google plan, AT&T would not need Apple.
However, one needs to appreciate that today's pricing is based upon (asymmetric) bandwidth, not origin, destination, or application. (Note that most of us pay for more bandwidth down than we do up.)
Google pays their ISP for big pipes to the Internet but once on the Internet, its packets are treated just like everyone else's. (Note that as a service provider, Google sends more than it receives and pays accordingly.) My ISP treats Google's packets just like every other packet, regardless of whether the packet was sent to me by Google, Amazon, or my sister. I pay my ISP for my IP address and and for bandwidth and they deliver all packets addressed to that address. As long as I have purchased enough bandwidth for all the packets addressed to me, my ISP undertakes to deliver them all to me without discriminating among them. I, not the originator, pay for their delivery.
(My agreement with Cablevision provides that I will not operate any servers, e.g., SMTP, for my $40-/month and that if I wish to operate servers, I must do so under a different more expensive contract. It is not clear whether or not I can operate BitTorrent under my contract but throttling service to BitTorrent users is what got Comcast in trouble with the FCC.)
AT&T has suggested, not to say, asserted, that if they are the consumer's ISP, they should be able to charge Google a fee for delivering Google's packet to their, AT&T's, customer. That is hardly the way things are now.
The Verizon/Google proposal is that we will keep the wired side the way it is now, e.g., Google may not have to pay a fee to the destination wired ISP, in return for which the wireless ISP will be allowed to discriminate among packets all and any way that it likes. While it might not be able to charge Google a fee for delivering its packets, it might be able to charge Microsoft a fee for preferring Bing packets over all other packets, including Google packets. It might, as it does now, with Apple's collusion, charge its consumer more for some packets than for others. Under Verizon/Google, it might use "deep packet inspection" rather than Apple.
Keep in mind that while enterprises will continue to rely primarily upon wire and glass, you, the consumer, will rely primarily on wireless.
Last edited by whmurray; 08-18-2010 at 12:43 PM.