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Journal: Content Companies Paying ISPs Covertly
In Order to Speed Up Their Own Data Delivery
by Karl Bode 04:31PM Thursday Jun 20 2013
The Wall Street Journal has offered up a rather strange story claiming that content companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft are paying the nation's large ISPs covert cash in order to "get faster and smoother access to their networks." That is, of course, the very concern many network neutrality supporters have had as ISPs get more and more powerful. However, the Journal's story rather lacks in the hard technical specifics, only saying that these payments generate ISPs a significant amount of additional revenue.

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The story also simultaneously tries to argue that such connections are legal under the FCC's neutrality rules, but none of the companies involved want to talk about them for fear of the public results:
quote:
These kinds of payments long have been shrouded in secrecy, largely because the companies involved are wary of discussing unregulated territory where contract negotiations can be contentious. Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Verizon Communications AT&T and Comcast declined to comment on the specifics of such arrangements....Some Web companies feel they have little choice, people close to the companies say.

If Microsoft stopped paying Comcast "tomorrow," said a person familiar with the matter, its Web performance would "go downhill and the pages wouldn't load as fast." Google's decision came down to whether the Internet giant would put advertising revenue amounting to "tens of billions at risk" for the "millions" Google would have to pay Comcast, some of the people said.
Granted this is the future we chose when real network neutrality protections died back in 2010 in a cloud of partisan bickering and disinformation. Getting content companies to fund network upgrades was always the goal. Surely nothing will go wrong under this gatekeeper scenario where the biggest companies get preferential treatment for the right price?

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GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA

Well, well, well...

maybe Google Fiber won't "cost" Google as much as "projected"?
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath

Google

One could assume that Google was paying months ago when it was announced they pay carriers in other countries to keep their data alive and going to consumers. Google will do what ever is best for their bottom line and in the end- its still paying the ISPs even though they claim they won't/don't.
FactChecker
Premium
join:2008-06-03

1 recommendation

Uneducated Reporting

This has been how the Internet has run since the commercialization of the NSF Net. There is nothing "covert" about it. Welcome to the Intertubes.
--
"Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

JMHO42

@verizon.net

Re: Uneducated Reporting

Still sounds a lot like radio-days payola to me.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
I see nothing wrong with super large websites with massive data flows paying ISPs to improve costly connection points to benefit their customers.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

CaptainRR
Premium
join:2006-04-21
Blue Rock, OH

Re: Uneducated Reporting

I see a problem with it we pay more than enough for our ISPs to deliver in most places lousy connnections.

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Verizon FiOS
1. That's what we (the ISP customers) pay the ISPs for.
2. The connection points aren't all that costly compared to the money we (the ISP customers) pay to the ISPs.

Which is to say, the ISPs get way more than enough money from us (the ISP customers) to cover the costs involved with having the network at all, in its entirety. Extortion is extortion no matter how you slice it--even if it's "proactive" in its payment.
ISurfTooMuch

join:2007-04-23
Tuscaloosa, AL
I'll bet you'd feel differently if you ran a Web site that wasn't paying, since, for someone's data to be prioritized, someone else's data has to be de-prioritized.

Imagine if you went to a theme park with your family, paid your admission, and got in line for a popular ride, then you saw a large group of people get in line behind you. Someone from that group walks up to the guy letting people onto the ride, slips him some cash, then the entire large group is waved to the front, forcing you to wait even longer. I'll bet you'd be a little steamed. But maybe you figure that, OK, you see how the game is played, so you go up to the guy to give him some cash to restore your place in line, at which point he refuses, saying that the large group are regulars, so he has a longstanding relationship with them that he can't afford to damage by taking your money and moving you back up. Now suppose that this group shows up at every ride you go to, always paying to get ahead of you in line, no matter how far after you they arrive. Because that's basically what we're talking about here.

CaptainRR
Premium
join:2006-04-21
Blue Rock, OH
Reviews:
·Verizon Wireless..

Re: Uneducated Reporting

Anyone running a web site pays for there connections. You think the content providers feeds to the backbone is free? This is how I see it.
1 We pay for a internet connection.
2 Web host pays for a internet connection.
3 In order to move content faster pay a ISP more for prioritization.
You can pretty much compare major ISPs to a casino the house always wins!
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO
Absolutely stunned at the coincidence. Today I read that the major theme parks will allow folks to pay for "VIP" access to the park. They quoted prices as high as $400 per ticket for VIP access to rides (no waiting) as well as front-row seats to various entertainment venues.

Disney apparently offers VIP access by the hour with a minimum party size. I think Universal also offers some kind of VIP package.

While I don't see a problem with theme parks offering this (quite frankly, I didn't know this was offered and the next time I visit Disney, I might consider it) but I think the Internet is a bit more fundamental than spending the day at a theme park. The Internet is more like roads. Is there a way to pay or a secret club for avoiding rush hour as postulated in one of the Simpson's episodes which was a satire on freemasons?

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Uneducated Reporting

Verizon's new billing statement message:

FiOS will now guarantee your access to the Verizon network at no extra charge to you, our valued customers. If you want to "ride the Internet" and assure access to your favorite sites with no waiting, then VIP access will be required: $400 extra per month. Thank you for choosing Verizon.
mgamer20o0

join:2003-12-01
Norwalk, CA
said by rradina:

Absolutely stunned at the coincidence. Today I read that the major theme parks will allow folks to pay for "VIP" access to the park. They quoted prices as high as $400 per ticket for VIP access to rides (no waiting) as well as front-row seats to various entertainment venues.

Disney apparently offers VIP access by the hour with a minimum party size. I think Universal also offers some kind of VIP package.

While I don't see a problem with theme parks offering this (quite frankly, I didn't know this was offered and the next time I visit Disney, I might consider it) but I think the Internet is a bit more fundamental than spending the day at a theme park. The Internet is more like roads. Is there a way to pay or a secret club for avoiding rush hour as postulated in one of the Simpson's episodes which was a satire on freemasons?

there plenty of handicap people you can hire as "tour guides" who will get you on all the rides though the handicap line which is a lot shorter.

JakCrow

join:2001-12-06
Palo Alto, CA
Both end users and content providers already pay for their connections and bandwidth. This is the ISPs double-dipping, but you knew that already.
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Verizon Online DSL
·Comcast
Thank you. Nothing shady about paid peering (and that's all that is).

There is, however, something shady about managing your network such that the only way to efficiently get at it is paid peering. But that's another argument altogether.

No payola here...in and of itself...

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Uneducated Reporting

The whole peering issue is back-asswards. Verizon, for example, argues that they're getting all of this traffic from Netflix/Cogent, as if Netflix/Cogent is just broadcasting traffic willy-nilly all over the place and dumping it at Verizon's doorstep; when, in fact, every bit of that traffic is generated by Verizon's customers accessing Netflix and making requests for these streams. If anything, Verizon should be paying Cogent et al for delivering the traffic requested by Verizon (by way of its customers). (In actuality, all "peering arrangements" should be traffic-neutral, because the relative amounts are irrelevant. Verizon should be paying whatever it takes to keep the peering points from becoming saturated (by its own customers' requests may I reiterate). That's what we're paying them the big bucks for. [I think Verizon must think this whole thing works the same way that Congress and "lobbying" works--"pay me more and I'll do something extra for you ...that's right--under the table".])
Bob61571

join:2008-08-08
Washington, IL

How far down the ISP ladder do the payments go?

Which ISP's get the cash, and which don't?

Comcast gets some per the article.
Do companies like Frontier, Century Link, or Mediacom get any?
What about the really small ISPs ?

And, what is the basis for the payment amounts?

espaeth
Digital Plumber
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-21
Minneapolis, MN
kudos:2
Reviews:
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2 recommendations

Money is exchanged either way

Only this ends up working out to be cheaper.

An ISP like Comcast offers connectivity to 18+ million subscribers. So a company like Microsoft can pay a network operator like Level(3) for transit to deliver bits to Comcast endpoints, or Microsoft can decide that Comcast is big enough that it's worthwhile to connect directly as a customer and end up paying less than using an intermediate transit carrier.

xsquid

@madisontelco.com

Outrage I Say!

/cue uninformed outrage

sigh

nice job Karl

buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

This is why there should be Network Neutrality

Consumers shouldn't have to pay every Tom, Dick and Harry on the planet just to get access to the whole internet.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH

Re: This is why there should be Network Neutrality

This has nothing to do with the customers. It talks about the actual content owners paying.

buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

Re: This is why there should be Network Neutrality

Yes they are. Just not directly.

All bits should be treated equally.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
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Re: This is why there should be Network Neutrality

They are treated equally. You are not paying extra to watch Netflix, YouTube or anything else. This article is just about certain companies that are paying more. And basically is old news since one could have figured out this was going on for years since Google has been named of paying carriers/ISPs in other countries. So your point is not really valid since this is not affecting your price at all.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
All bits are not equal.

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA

Re: This is why there should be Network Neutrality

Absolutely... the more you have, the less each one costs.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
but you are NOT paying extra for those bites to travel. Google or eBay maybe paying but you the consumer are not. That was my point to the other person.

pnjunction
Teksavvy Extreme
Premium
join:2008-01-24
Toronto, ON
kudos:1

Re: This is why there should be Network Neutrality

All money comes from consumers eventually, even if it has to go through a few steps first (ie. advertisers pay Google more, then charge customers more or Ebay charges sellers more so people raise their prices).

This is why I laugh at spectrum auctions. They rake in billions from carriers, and where do they recover that money from? Meanwhile if there were a directly visible 'spectrum tax' on people's cell phone bills they would lose their minds because spectrum is a public resource that costs the government nothing to provide.

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
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The point is why should Google or Ebay be paying my ISP for my traffic (it is my traffic after all) that I'm paying my ISP for. What exactly do these assholes think I'm paying them for each and every month? ...the "privilege" of connecting to their network? (did someone forget what "ISP" stands for?)
kevinds
Premium
join:2003-05-01
Calgary, AB
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Shaw

Paying to get faster and smoother access

For example, Verizon sells a 10 gbps fiber connection to the content company.

ATT sells a 10 gbps fiber connection to the same content company, along with TWC, TMobile, CenturyLink, ect ect

Is this not what this article amounts to?
--
Yes, I am not employed and looking for IT work. Have passport, will travel.

buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

Re: Paying to get faster and smoother access

No, this is about the priority of said bits, where the paying content providers get their bits higher priority.
cramer
Premium
join:2007-04-10
Raleigh, NC
kudos:9

Where's the details?

I read about this a few days ago and still have no clue what they may be alluding to... "leases lines", private peering, MPLS tunnels, QoS traffic prioritization???

Private peering has been a very long standing business practice. If you want the best experience for your customers, you peer with those with whom they exchange the most traffic. It used to be ISPs interconnecting with other ISPs (to keep transit costs down.) But today, with the near-monopoly in broadband, it falls to the businesses to buy connectivity towards their customers. The ISPs no longer give a shit because the consumer has very little choice (often none.)

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
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Net Neutrality

I personally think ISPs should be required to allow equal access to all legal content.

I do think ISPs should block access to sites that contain pirated content or other illegal content. They should also block access to fraudulent or known phishing sites.
34764170

join:2007-09-06
Etobicoke, ON

1 recommendation

Re: Net Neutrality

said by IowaCowboy:

I personally think ISPs should be required to allow equal access to all legal content.

I do think ISPs should block access to sites that contain pirated content or other illegal content. They should also block access to fraudulent or known phishing sites.

ISPs should not be involved with any of that. It is not their business. Users pay for Internet access not someones idea of what is right or wrong.

buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME
Reviews:
·ObiVoice
·Pioneer Wireless

Re: Net Neutrality

Exactly.

Roads are not in charge of how people drive on them. They are just the medium.

The rules are enforced by the Police.

This is how the internet should work.

The network is what is it, and anybody can drive anything anywhere, the cops are the ones that need to police the traffic.
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

Maybe the ISPs can spin it

If Google et al are buying servers and technicians for the ISPs, they're spending money to "help" the ISP. But it's a quick step to "pay us or your connection will be throttled".

Probitas

@teksavvy.com

a natural outgrowth

would be that everyone else is slowed down as a result, that preference has to come at someone else's expense.
34764170

join:2007-09-06
Etobicoke, ON

Re: a natural outgrowth

said by Probitas :

would be that everyone else is slowed down as a result, that preference has to come at someone else's expense.

That would make sense if all of the Internet and ISP networks were congested or anywhere near it. That isn't the case at all.

Probitas

@teksavvy.com

Re: a natural outgrowth

That in itself is another issue, concerning usage, and why some companies can offer unlimited usage regardless of how that data travels, and others claim usage clogs the internet arteries, which forces them to increase costs. I smell a HUGE stinky pile of something in there somewhere.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY

?

so, this is why from time to time youtube is slow? what, did google miss a payment?

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
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Re: ?

Youtube... CrunchyRoll... anyone really--once your router ports become saturated, everything slows down. Switching to another CDN coming in over different routers was the offered "solution" (not as if Verizon would actually upgrade their network using their own money [aka the abundance of money they get from their customers]).

JakCrow

join:2001-12-06
Palo Alto, CA

Cowards...

All talk and no walk from the likes of Google. They caved to the ISPs' extortion.