View Full Version : Stop Virgin

04-29-2008, 10:36 AM
Hey all,
This is just a heads up. I know probably most of you have heard about Virgin's plans to lop-side the internet freedom. They think it is a good idea to make sure that their customers visit their sponsors' sites by giving them a bigger pipe to those sites. Basically if you pay their sponsors then you get become a premium member and get faster internet to those sites. This is a problem because they are going to limit the size of the pipe to those that prefer not to visit those sites. This is a pretty big problem, and it is very real.
Like I said I know some of you have heard it already. Just trying to let some of the people that don't know... know.
Here is a link with more info - http://stopvirgin.movielol.org/


Mario F.
04-29-2008, 11:17 AM
Despite the fact well-fed, middle-upper-class white kids are raising awareness on this video to the "biggest business issue" at the moment, seemingly unworried with the current world-wide food shortage or economy slowdown, what makes you think what virgin is doing isn't a natural business-like reaction to what the internet has become over the past... hmm... 7 years?

I'm honestly not surprised if this is indeed happening or will happen soon (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2008/04/14/dlvirgin114.xml). We have been using the internet for what it wasn't yet designed to be. Traffic-hungry content is exactly what shaped these companies. 10 years ago, you would start an ISP business with pocket change and an empty garage. Today, all these small companies are dead and any ISP has to invest millions to keep up with the pace of ever growing traffic. We have no one but ourselves to blame for companies like Virgin.

Somewhere down the line someone thought the internet was to communications what the combustion engine was to traveling. "Everything is possible", You can do everything in the internet, You can watch movies, you can share content, you can be a cam prostitute, you can watch TV, hurra! Yes, but... where's the bandwidth? And who pays for it? Definitely it's not the $30 we shell every month that pay our bandwidth usage.

It makes sense to charge the content broadcasters for the privilege. And if today this is still debatable, wait a little more until no amount of squirming will stop ISPs from putting the $ load where it belongs. Yes, net neutrality is a "load of bollocks". The internet wasn't ready for the hype.

04-29-2008, 11:28 AM
Well I'm going to ignore that you made assumptions about me and my lifestyle and say that I am aware of the other problems but those problems aren't my territory. I leave that to my sisters. This is the issue that I feel I can participate in. Your right, this was bound to happen. But I don't like it. I want the internet to stay as neutral as possible for as long as possible.

I will thank you for at least reading the post though :D.


Mario F.
04-29-2008, 11:48 AM
Hey, hey. I wasn't making assumptions about you... unless you were in that movie. In that case, yes, I was. And won't change a comma :) But where you?

Meanwhile, any "you" in my post can easily be replaced with "we" and the thought remains true, if not truer.

As for net neutrality, the whole concept is bogus, in my opinion. There's no such thing and the term was probably invented to justify the high bandwidth rates of peer-to-peer networks and other content we would like to remain free from any constraints. The fact however, is that ISPs are already cutting down on bandwidth availability, even if they aren't charging content broadcasters yet. And the fact is also that their low-end customers (the majority of their customers) don't think highly of net neutrality when they are constrained to 500Kb connections no matter what until they can get a better job.

More, if you provide content you already know what it means to pay for the bandwidth you use. Open up your own website and provide an appealing service and wait when your Web Host sends you the bill. There's no net neutrality other than the one in the minds of those connecting to torrent sites and streaming video fanatics. And so far it has been the ISPs paying the bill.

EDIT: I do agree however that this has the potential to shape the web in new unconceivable ways. More, it has the potential to be misused and abused by service providers if the trend catches and there are no laws forcing ISPs on their toes. That is however a whole new debate.

04-29-2008, 12:02 PM
Indeed, the internet has changed from a messaging system to a method of content delivery. The demand for all this data has actually been slowing the internet down (http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1035_22-6237715.html), being it just "a series of tubes." Thus the rationale for bigger, better tube tiers.

And unfortunately somehow the people also let the internet become another overcrowded marketing medium like the television or radio. In some ways its beautiful because companies are pooling their fiscal resources to pay for bandwith, and in other ways it's not when it becomes pass-the-buck BS: We created this monster world, where every inch of our lives are bombarded by and in some sense controlled by marketing. The pulse of telecom companies is the well-being of their sponsors, if you will. Without sponsors, people are left alone, poor, and unable to continue their service.

The civil liberties side of net neutrality will eventually have to accept that there will have to be a difference between something on the level of dossiers (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dossier)and a You Tube cat video. They aren't just as urgent to one another and you can't expect TC/IP to do anything more than get both those things to their destinations *eventually*. What we can do as people is make sure that it's illegal for companies to collude and distort markets by limiting traffic to competitors. I thought that was the point of the whole net neutrality movement. You wouldn't want Big Bad (tm) to swallow up wired's (http://www.wired.com) audience, for example.

04-29-2008, 12:04 PM
Mario, I think your view is short-sighted. If they restrict bandwidth, then who must decide what kind of bandwidth to restrict? Who decides what? It would be a mechanism for controlling the flow of information, which the internet has been shown to be highly resilient against. This free flow of information has had a large impact on many societies, including the dissemination of otherwise unreachable information. To restrict this would make some of that information unreachable to some people who need it.

Think I'm wrong? Think about the economics of it. These companies want privileged bandwidth. Why do you think they want that? So that they get more consumers, and more revenue. Not to say that's bad, it's how businesses work. It's fine. But then they would have an unfair advantage against other information providers on the internet. Then they would attract more customers because of their better services, not necessarily because of better content or any other qualities. The result is that those qualities suffer in society as a whole, and the companies that are favored by the bandwidth get a lift, and the ones that don't get a weight. Why? Because the consumers wanted it? No, because some vendors wanted to control the market.

It would be a dead weight for people who should have fair treatment like the rest of everybody else.

Not to say the businesses don't have options. They could add more servers, get leased lines, whatever. But use their own resources to do it. Not in a way that limits the market in a partisan manner.

Mario F.
04-29-2008, 12:29 PM
I agree this is not an easy issue. It has the potential to be abused and there's civil liberties also at stake here. However, brewbuck, I have no doubt this is where we will invariably be headed in the near future as more content is added and more users want to get that content.

In Portugal, for instance, there isn't ONE single ISP that is making a profit of their business if you count only their activity as content providers. The reason these companies subsist is because of both their enterprise scale contracts and because their business is actually much broader than that of simply providing internet access. NetCabo is also a cable network, Sapo is a company from PT which is da communications company in Portugal. Clix is the only one only solely providing internet access, but you pay for that with very limited ADSL 2 services.

What type of content can be restricted and for what reasons, you ask? Well, the answer must lie somewhere in laws that must be passed and Business 101 rules of offer and demand. I agree the internet has been very resilient against these type of moves. But you think this will stay like that forever? Where exactly are the resources to get more lease lines and more servers if the increase in bandwidth demands is climbing roughly at 25% an year (will try and get this source in a few) and no one wants to pay for that?

And all that for what? To satisfy a market that refuses to pay? Users refuse to have their internet costs increased and content broadcasters refuse to pay for the privilege of providing bandwidth hungry services. What do you think will happen down the line?

04-29-2008, 08:59 PM
The Economics 101 rules of supply and demand are already implemented in the internet in a rather raw form.

What do /you/ think would happen down the line?

04-29-2008, 09:26 PM
Someone has to pay for the bandwidth. Ultimately it will be the user in one way or another.

If the ISP's shoulder the burden of putting their own money into new technology (or even just maintenance of existing technology) and don't broker deals with the companies on the internet who are profiting, then the ISP's will raise prices for the users.

If the ISP's do broker these deals, then the companies who pay the ISP for the "priviledge of having more bandwidth to their sites" will have to recoup costs by charging their subscribers more money. So again, the user pays. This is the scenario that the ISP's would prefer, however this also leaves other users of that ISP who don't go to the "ISP approved sites" out of luck when they are stuck with slower throughput.

I'm sure I'm missing something in this simplistic outlook, but I would rather pay an extra few bucks a month to my ISP for "guaranteed speed" to anywhere I go vs. the crapshoot of not having to pay my ISP more but maybe having to wait longer and longer for the sites that *I* frequent to transfer data...

Mario F.
04-30-2008, 07:17 AM
The Economics 101 rules of supply and demand are already implemented in the internet in a rather raw form.

They aren't on this issue. It's hard to convince me otherwise.

A bandwidth hungry service like livecast television puts a lot of burden on the ISP when its users suddenly flock there. Because of an external service - more often than not being hosted by a 3rd party - the ISP services are affected. ISP customers that aren't interested are affected too. Directly during peak times, indirectly through constant readjustments to their maximum allowed bandwidth so that the ISP can handle the next peak.

If an company like BBC wishes to provide a service that has all the characteristics of a business decision, they have to pay. I don't even know why I'm arguing this. This idea that everything is free on the internet is complete rubbish. It's not. Especially when it comes down to a service that disrupts other businesses.

So, you ask me what I think will happen down the line. I thought I answered it before. I think this is what will happen. Content broadcasters will start to be faced with angry ISPs threatening to cut down bandwidth to their services if they don't pay a fee. And this cut in bandwidth will happen for sure. It is already happening on other services like peer-to-peer networks. So this is not new.

The problem with this model is what if 5, 6, 10, or 20 ISPs demand a fee for the same broadcasting service? Another problem what if the ISP experiences some success with this strategy and starts charging every content broadcaster that so much makes itself present on the internet? I have no answers, brewbuck. Clearly there are dangers. But the problem is there...

And is there, curiously, because the internet suffered too much hype and a lot of wrong assumptions were made about it. AT&T article linked by Citizen may err on the exaggeration side when 2010 is mentioned. But are you ready to deny AT&T when they say the internet infrastructure is simply not ready to support the rise in bandwidth on the years to come?

Personally, I go one step beyond, and say that the ISP business model is not ready to tackle with the new times. We are probably going to experience merges, layoffs, bankruptcies and new business models in the years to come that will shape our relation with our ISP... and possibly even our experience in the internet in years to come.

05-01-2008, 01:21 PM
Err... after reading the stuff and watching the stuff (I had technical difficulties with setting up flash and sound...) I have come to a different conclusion (why is it that whenever I argue about something that happens?).

How is this any different than servers paying their ISP more for more bandwidth?

Mario F.
05-01-2008, 01:46 PM
How is this any different than servers paying their ISP more for more bandwidth?

Simply put...

BBC provides a new bandwidth hungry service. BBC uses ISP X.
ISP Y users flock to use BBC service. ISP Y servers get flooded.

In short ISP X got the money for hosting the service. BBC pays hard money to get the service online. But said service affects more than just BBC's ISP.

Note that if BBC probably doesn't even pay for an ISP. Probably they pay what they use directly to British Telecom. So they can make their own business decisions regardless of how much it will affect ISPs around the country and even the world (Maddie's parents interview on ITV was seen on all continents)

05-01-2008, 02:16 PM
The net neutrality argument ...

Simply put...

BBC provides a new bandwidth hungry service. BBC uses ISP X.
ISP Y users flock to use BBC service. ISP Y servers get flooded.

In short ISP X got the money for hosting the service. BBC pays hard money to get the service online. But said service affects more than just BBC's ISP.

In response, ISP Y restricts traffic to BBC's service, or BBC entirely, by dumping packets or re-routing them to a dead end, and so on. Users of ISP Y become unhappy that the BBC is slow or unresponsive, and are forced to use a different news source that pays ISP Y.

That's the civil liberties issue. But bandwidth is only getting more expensive anyway, so somebody will have to pay the bill. I really don't mind if that becomes the responsibility of the user. But there is a real engineering problem in that all this throughput needs to be paid for whether or not you're a pirate and the sheer demand is putting a strain on existing infrastructure.

05-01-2008, 02:17 PM
And ISP X pays ISP Y? And Virgin is ISP Y? mmmkay.

Well, it seems like they're not doing anything wrong... but I'd still be against it because of the reasons above. I think the responsibility for this should be with the consumer. Hope that they make the right choice.

Mario F.
05-01-2008, 02:28 PM
And ISP X pays ISP Y? And Virgin is ISP Y? mmmkay.

More or less. Virgin is wanting to demand a fee from BBC, not the ISP (if it existed). That is, they want to to demand a fee from the source.

It makes sense to me. Problem is all we discussed above, which I agree brings problems of civil liberty, and the potential for abuse, not to mention the fact what if other ISPs also start demanding money from BBC.

Frankly, the whole ISP business model is skewed and is starting to hit them right back in the face. ISPs are not content providers really (even though we like to call them so). They relay content and have to pay the bandwidth they use. Virgin would be perfectly happy if BBC hosted ITV on their servers and payed for that. But the problem would only be thrown to someone else...

05-01-2008, 02:39 PM
But bandwidth is only getting more expensive anyway, so somebody will have to pay the bill.

au contraire, bandwidth is getting cheaper. What would have cost $2000 a month 10 years ago is $29.95 today. The caveat in this argument is there are so many conflicting and incompatable versions of what 'net neutrality' is. I think most people pretty much blame their ISP if there is a slow connection, since its a fact most servers like BBC etc use high bandwidth connections. So if ISP Y restricts bandwidth to BBC it will get the blame, not BBC. There is so much excess bandwidth as it is, we just don't have a need for it yet. The primary expense in laying new fiber isnt the fiber, its digging the ditch through 50000 municiple zones, so when companies do lay new line they forcast ther reasonable needs for the next 20 years including a fair margin for dead lines, or lines that will go dead over the life of the run. At any given moment only about 10% of the lines that exist are actually hooked up to equipment, there are entire legs, like the one from Chicago to Dallas that are sitting idle with little or no traffic on them. There simply isnt a current need, (CHI traffic routes through STL to DAL).

05-01-2008, 02:45 PM
Yeah, I'm not going to be getting myself in a flap over the media hype about some bandwidth crisis; I simply cant see it as true. If you're getting slow broadband the best thing you can do is move closer to the local exchange - or switch isp.

Mario F.
05-01-2008, 03:03 PM
I have little else to add. I don't defend or attack Virgin's position. I happen to instead understand it, for reasons I'm not bothering explaining.

This is not about lack or excess of bandwidth. This is about large scale ISPs that are forced into million dollar upgrades to keep up with the rise of content broadcasters without any sizeable return of the investment. And about small scale ISPs that cannot keep up and end up closing.

As a user I'm not that quick in dismissing it as "not my problem". Maybe not now, but it will soon enough.

05-01-2008, 04:01 PM
The return on their investment is they get to stay in business. Its a business expense plain and simple. If a car rental agency doesnt buy new cars they go out of business, but the new cars wont get any better mileage or provide any increased return. The return on the new cars is the company gets to stay in business. Just because the old equipment runs doesnt mean it will draw customers to your business. The same is true with ISP's. The new higher bandwidth equipment wont increase your profits, but if they dont make the investment, then they will lose customers to the other ISP's that do, that is why small ISP's go out of business. An ISP I was a partner in once is having that problem. The primary partner wanted to get in for the bare minimum investment, then when cable and DSL came to town he wondered why he wasnt growing at 100% a year anymore and was instead losing customers. It didnt help that he also sold everyones email address's to spam agencies and would boot people off the network if they connected for more than an hour. Hence why I cashed out when I could.