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[ NNSquad ] Re: "Once Upon a Time" - Understanding Bandwidth Caps
- To: Lauren Weinstein <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: "Once Upon a Time" - Understanding Bandwidth Caps
- From: Brett Glass <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 12 Apr 2009 10:39:18 -0600
[ Since I framed my "Once Upon a Time" Bandwidth Caps posting in
terms of a dark folk tale, it seems only fair that Brett offers
a much more fantastical piece in reply. With all the
"competition" that Brett keeps talking about, why is it, I
wonder, that just a few giant ISPs control the overwhelming bulk
of U.S. Internet users, and all the thousands of little guys
split the relatively small remainder -- like trying to prod
Godzilla in the toe with tiny little blunt toothpicks.
-- Lauren Weinstein
NNSquad Moderator ]
Please allow me, for the list, to point out some flaws in your
Firstly, ISPs are not monopolies. Satellite Internet is available
in virtually all of the continental US, and EV-DO/3G is available
in at least 99% of it. WISPs cover more than a million square miles
of the US, including every major metropolitan area. (See
for a map which shows the coverage of about 1/3 of the nation's
WISPs.) And more than 95% of the nation's population is also served
by both a cable company and a telephone company.
My personal mission, as an ISP, is to bring faster speeds and more
cost-effective service to broadband users (again, satellite and
EV-DO are ubiquitous, so vanishingly few if any locations can
credibly claim to be unserved). Due to competition and consumer
expectations (few consumers will pay more than $40 per month for
broadband), no one is "making a killing" in this business. However,
it's reasonable to expect to make a fair, living wage from this
knuckle-busting, brain-twisting effort (which requires one to be an
athletic geek -- climbing roofs, erecting towers, building cabinets
full of microwave and networking equipment, probing the unlicensed
radio spectrum for the least noisy frequencies, and hacking on BSD
UNIX all in a single day).
Secondly, ISPs are not analogous to an evil corporation which comes
in out of the blue and builds a "toll bridge to nowhere." That
makes no economic sense, just as the much protested "bridge to
nowhere" in Alaska made no economic sense. Nor can they get away
with onerous business practices due to ubiquitous competition.
Thirdly, ISPs have no interest in spying on their customers. In
fact, privacy is a selling point -- one of the reasons why our ISP
operates Web proxies and NAT routers to make it difficult for
anyone on the Internet to intercept an individual user's traffic.
If they do, users will leave for competitors. Yes, we do need to
manage traffic due to high backbone bandwidth costs, but we do so
in reasonable, open, and honest ways.
In short, it is not only fallacious but harmful to conjure up a
crisis where none exists. Regulation of ISPs would harm consumers
by squelching competition and innovation, raising prices, and
degrading quality of service.
I might add that the mere threat of regulation has already harmed
our own small, rural ISP. After the Comcast decision, our investors
became unwilling to invest more money in our business, since they
did not wish to invest in a heavy regulated industry where
innovation would be limited and conformance to government rules
would introduce disproportionately high overhead for small and
competitive providers. As a result, several of our investors asked
immediately to be bought out. The money to do so ate into the
stream of money we were reinvesting in building out infrastructure,
hobbling our efforts to build out to new areas. We've had to tell
potential customers whom we expected to serve by now that it will
be another year before it will be possible ot reach them.
The inclusion of stealth "network neutrality" regulation in the
ARRA further discouraged them, because it meant that if we accepted
any of the money we would be at a disadvantage relative to other
companies which had enough capital not to need it. This killed all
further third party investment in our company.
Bottom line: I am now in the process of buying out all of our
remaining investors. To do this, I must stop drawing a salary from
the business (taking a personal financial hit in the process and
working 7 days a week for no pay) and will cut back on expansion --
exactly the opposite of the intent of the ARRA. The only light at
the end of the tunnel is that, in the end, I will be less
susceptible to the whims of those who -- whether because they are
misguided or because they seek personal gain (the Washington
lawyers and lobbyists who are crusading for "network neutrality"
clearly fall into the latter category), are harming this country's
thousands of honest, hard working independent ISPs as well as the
customers they serve and wish to serve.