Reports of telcos lobbying Congress for a two-tiered Internet are making the rounds again, but this time they are increasingly to the tune of IPTV. Telcos like AT&T and BellSouth argue that since they're paying so much for fiber-optic network deployments, their IPTV and VoIP (in some cases) services should have priority over the competition's offerings. The telcos claim that standard Internet service brings QoS problems for IPTV because it has little to no prioritization of packets. The two tiered solution aims to iron these problems out.
Boston Globe: The telcos basic fear, of course, is that the end-to-end design of the Net will erode the telcos ability to use service charges to generate revenue for delivering video and voice; the proposed solution is to break end-to-end in order to protect pricing leverage over the users.
BoingBoing: What the telcos are really saying is: "We like everything about the Internet, except the way it keeps us from locking out the competition, so we want something just like the Net, except less useful to the user, but with more pricing power for us."
Techdirt: Although it's understandable that a telco should be able to offer QoS for VoIP and IPTV, there is no reason for increased QoS, especially as Internet speeds increase. VoIP does not take up that much bandwidth, and claiming VoIP needs prioritization means one of two things: the VoIP solution was poorly programmed or the telcos are looking to block out competitors. Which is more likely? Increase the bandwidth, telcos.
Recently SBC (pre-merger) CEO Ed Whitacre made the infamous comment: "They use my lines for free--and that's bull. For a Google or a Yahoo! or a Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!" The telcos' lobbyists are going head-to-head with lobbyists from Internet megaliths like Google and Yahoo!. If telcos were somehow able to swing the two-tiered system, they would be uniquely positioned to offer services like search and email at a much faster speed and with richer features than those of rivals, which telcos could make run over the slower Internet tier.
For more on the two-tiered Internet proposal:
- take a look at this article from the Boston Globe