<__> <-- The Boat Mark Cuban-->¡
So I have this interesting post I’ve been trying to write about steak sandwiches all week, but I keep finding things which distract me from that vital task. To whit:
I like Mark Cuban. I also like his Blog (you can tell as it’s one of a very small list over there on the right hand of the screen). I like controversial singular personalities in both pro-sports and media, and think that a lot of the dynamic vision that can lead to innovation and excellence in both is often much harder in groupthink “corporate consensus” ownerships. However in his recent open letter to Comcast I can’t really understand what he’s possibly thinking.
Well, actually I can. What he’s probably thinking is:
Why is my Internet connection so slow, probably because all those teenagers are illegally downloading copies of “Falling Boy” or whatever the hell
This is understandable as it’s the rational 21st Century equivalent of shouting: “Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn!”
But only with the Internet would a “solution” like his (that ISP’s should block all Peer-to-peer Internet traffic) even pass the most rudiementary sniff test. Imagine if the same thinking was applied to any other Utility:
1. My phone calls have lower quality during peak periods, as telco’s throttle back quality to fit more calls onto the existing infrastructure (this is true). Therefore, phone calls should be restricted to business to consumer calls *only* during peak times to ensure audio fidelity.
2. Electricity demand continues to grow, and occasional brownouts are possible during high-demand times. Therefore, the hydro companies should turn off (or restrict) electricity to houses which are running inefficient appliances, or extension cords to run devices not strictly on their property lines.
3. My important letters would probably travel faster if there wasn’t so much inefficent mail in the system. Mail service should only be provided if the sender can prove there’s no more expedient way for them to communicate the information contained in their letter.
What I don’t get is that Mark Cuban, of all people, should understand the importance of Network Neutrality. The whole net neutrality debate started in the late 90s when a slew of new groundbreaking Internet companies were discovering interesting ways to provide services over the network. Existing large ISPs were often against these new upstarts as these Services often competed with their own private, inferior, options. If it wasn’t for the expectation that the Internet would be treated like a utility (and all sites be given equal priority of access and traffic to internet subscribers) America Online, Compuserve and the like would have just made sites that competed with their own offerings unavailable to their subscribers.
Sites like, say, AudioNet.
Which became Broadcast.com.
Which was sold to Yahoo by Mark Cuban.
Which is how he made all his money.
Even ignoring the hypocrisy of the above, how does one distinguish what is “Peer to peer” traffic? VOIP is P2P, so is some internet messaging, video conferencing, e-mail, ftp. Who decides “which” peer to peer traffic systems are “good” and which are”bad”? Who gets to look through our individual data streams and prioritize?
The only rational solution to this is to finally start to consider “the Internet” a utility, just like electricity, or telephone, or natural gas. How bandwidth is consumed by the end user is their own concern, and the ability to provide it at adequate service levels has to be one of network capacity — not of end user oversight.