Reply to post: Re: Poor analogy

Net neutrality: How to spot an arts graduate in a tech debate

Dave Howe

Re: Poor analogy

That is a poor analogy; let me explain.

Lets say your local road network is owned by a company - you have to pay to connect *your* driveway to the network, and they charge you based on how much weight comes into or out of your driveway (in most cases, they expect the weight into your driveway to be so much larger that they only bother measuring that) - but you are paying based on usage. You reasonably expect that, once you drive off your driveway onto the network, that the speed restrictions are imposed in a equal and fair way to make sure you get your fair share of the benefits of driving - but do does everyone else. Usually, you don't have much choice on which road network to join (after all, it's outside your house!) but on the whole, they don't want the Government stepping in and imposing price restrictions, so they keep their usury within reasonable bounds.

Walmart opens a store near a road network owned by a *different* company - that company is thrilled - the amount Walmart needs to pay to connect their parking lot to the road network is a *lot* more than they would get from the average home driveway, and Walmart expect that as part of the cost of doing business. So, all well and good - when you go to Walmart, that trip has been paid for twice; once by you, to get onto the network, and once by Walmart, to get off the network at their Store (and of course, the reverse to come back).

The problem arises when your company looks at how much money the *other* company is making from Walmart, and starts thinking "how can I get some of that? I want more money". So they try charging the other company to let their customers go from their own road network to the Walmart provider's network. This starts a major battle, where everyone suffers - your company either won't let you get to the Walmart provider's company, or forces you to go via a third or even fourth company's roads, taking much longer and adding traffic to roads that shouldn't need to carry it, simply as leverage to try and extort money out of the other road company.

After a while, the dust on that one settles down - a few smaller road companies are now paying, but the larger companies are in a mexican standoff, lots of money has been spent (and continues to be spent) on lawyers, but the end result is that that money is leaving all the road companies (and going to lawyers) and no new money is coming into the system, so it's a loss for everyone (and yes, there really was a peering war, and it is currently in a standoff)

Your company is now upset. They tried charging another company, and on the whole, made a loss on the whole thing. They are already charging *their* customers as much as they dare, and even charging them more than agreed making them "service charges" and hoping that they don't notice - a lot like surcharges on holiday packages. Then, they have a bright idea. Claiming how unfair it is that so many of their customers drive to Walmart, they start deliberately slowing down or stopping their *own* customers if they are driving to Walmart - then tell Walmart that they will only stop doing that if Walmart gives them money to stop doing so. Walmart says "WTF? you are already being paid for that traffic by your Customers, what business is it of yours if they are coming here! We pay a LOT to our road company for access to that customer base, so take it up with them" and the road company says "well look at it this way. We will charge any of your competitors too; that means you aren't in a worse position, but any small businesses that get caught up in this will be unable to compete, so that extra business will come to you". At this point, the Government looks at the situation and says "WTF guys? you are already being paid for this, and you are getting to the point that you are deliberately making the market anti-competitive by degrading your own service for purposes of extortion. Stop it or we will make you stop it" - to which of course the companies reply "lol, you can't, you have no authority to do that"... which brings us to the new laws on Net Neutrality. NN isn't about if filtering and control should happen, but about motive - filtering should be for legitimate service-improvement purposes, not extortion.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021