Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Net Neutrality: McCurry hits bottom, digs new sub-basement

As if Mike McCurry isn't already going to hell for his egregious Clinton-era dealings, he's definitely ensured himself a belly-full of wasps, hornets and live coals at Lucifer's drive-in restaurant with his latest excretions. Okay, that last sentence was a joke aimed at my progressive friends, who think the entire Republican Party is controlled by the Christian Coalition. Only partially, Gary. Only partially.

Anyhow, McCurry -- whose resume includes a role as press secretary for both Abscam-disgraced former Senator Harrison Williams and our beloved Lincoln-bedroom-landlord, Account-exec-to-the-Chinese-Military, and Chief-Oval-Office-Philanderer -- has really told a whopper this time.

Try this one on for size: McCurry is claiming that Google advocates net neutrality so that it can get bandwidth for free! Yep... here's the statement from his egregious Baltimore Sun op-ed, which strangely omits to mention who his financial backers are (uhm, it starts with A, ends with a T, and has a T in the middle).

...The "neutral" proposal that companies like Google are touting will ensure that they never have to pay a dime no matter how much bandwidth they use...


Whhooooooooooeee. Whoa. Ouch. Hold on a sec and let me catch my breath.

This outrageous fabrication so incensed blogger Mike over at TechDirt that he issued a challenge to McCurry (emphasis mine):

That's a flat out lie. Google pays tremendously large bandwidth bills, and the more they use the more they pay. However, if McCurry is going to pretend Google "never [has] to pay a dime no matter how much bandwidth they use," let's see him put up or shut up. If McCurry really believes that, will he agree to pay Google's bandwidth bills for the rest of this year?

I think we'll see Bed, Bath & Beyond selling firearms before McCurry antes up on this one. Although, with the telcos' lobbying budgets, I guess one never knows.

It is crystal clear that a more liberal reading of the leash laws would keep dogs like McCurry's piece out of the press. But I guess, given examples like Reuters and CBS, quality-control issues at the major media outlets are rampant.

The carriers point to Christopher Yoo

A little background is in order. The carriers and their apologists point to Christopher Yoo's paper, held up as academia's answer to Tim Berners-Lee, Bob Kahn, Lawrence Lessig, Vint Cerf, et. al., all of whom favor net neutrality. Yoo's paper, a howler all on its lonesome, points to cable television (and pay-per-view specifically) as an aspirational example. Hmmm. Pay-per-View. Don King. Mike Tyson. Innovation?

A few (very, very few) parties -- most consisting of the carriers' lobbyists, an astroturf-funded Flash programmer, and a handful of misguided engineers -- have been battling incessantly for QoS, which on its face does sound good. Unfortunately, tiering traffic didn't work for Internet2 and there's no agreement as how to make it work on the public Internet. As NetworkWorld reports:

...Andy Malis, chairman of the MFA Forum, which is defining specifications to resolve the MPLS interconnect issue between carriers. "And at this point, the interconnections that are happening are basically for best effort [service] only..."

In other words, there's no general agreement yet how on even how to implement QoS hand-offs between carriers. And, without it, the whole structure is suspect (for reasons of prioritization tarriffs, taxation, and a whole boatload of other real-world financial concerns). Without handoffs, imagine NetFlix trying to run fiber from its data-center to each and every cable company and telco directly. Because, without handoffs, that's exactly what they'll need to do to guarantee QoS all the way to the consumer.

Sounds practical to me!

Furthermore, as many others have pointed out, a duopoly is hardly enough to ensure competition at the last-mile. And that's what the carriers have spent nine-figures-and-counting on lobbying for. And that's nine-figures-and-counting they haven't spent innovating. Truth be told, they're frightened by innovation. They've never had to survive in the real world. They've lived in a tiny, regulatory bubble insulated from fiscal concerns and protected from marketplace interdiction by lobbyists.

QoS is fine. Provided there's real competition at the last mile. And an FCC capable of enforcing it.

Go ye therefore hence, and suckle at the teat of wisdom. Take action. Today. Nothing less than America's technological leadership position hangs in the balance.

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