Monday, June 2, 2014

How Net Neutrality made TWIT least for a day

In the past few months there's no doubt that a majority of the articles in this blog have been critical of TWIT.  I'd hope that the criticism could be taken as constructive instead of denigrating but ego can get in the way.  There's no shortage of fanboy shills in any TWIT chatroom or forum discussion but you learn nothing from people who always agree with you.

That said, credit where credit is due.  To many, it's obvious what's wrong with TWIT these days but what about what's right?  Happily, every now and then the cream rises to the top and we get an experience that delivers on  the promise of what TWIT could be or at least what many thought it once was. 

This week's episode of Security Now provided one of those moments...

TWIT's weekly foray into the world of online security hosted by Steve Gibson (Security guru and creator of SpinRite) and Leo Laporte tries to unravel topics that can often leave even the most geeky of techies dazed and confused.

The average show presents complex security topics in a comprehensive yet understandable format with the aim of educating a wider audience.  Whether you're an IT pro or dyed in the wool techie, Steve's got your fix but even the casual viewer will find something of value here.

This week was a little different, however.  There was still in depth coverage of the latest security concerns but the program started with a discussion between Laporte, Gibson and guest Brett Glass best known for creating the world's first Wireless ISP (WISP) in Laramie Wyoming otherwise known as Lariat.

The conversation started out friendly enough with the topic being Net Neutrality but soon became a debate with Glass advocating for ISP's, Laporte for content producers and Gibson as the somewhat unwilling referee. 

For the most part It stayed civil but upon Glass's dissertation on the woes of high bandwidth use content producers "unfairly" burdening ISP's "limited" bandwidth Laporte rose in opposition.

From the podcast transcript...

BRETT: ...So the chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, went ahead and proposed that, when they made some new rules to try to keep ISPs from misbehaving, they allow what's called "two-sided markets."  And immediately there was this tremendous hue and cry that you're hearing all over the Internet:  "Oh, no, that's creating a fast lane.  That's somehow unfair."  Most of this was actually the result of lobbying by Netflix and Google, who simply didn't want any of the money to flow back from them to the ISPs.  They wanted to keep it all.  And so when you hear people talking about that, that's, you know, a lot of it is due to the publicity campaigns by the content providers that want to keep more of the total money that the customer is paying. 

STEVE:  That does make a lot of sense, Brett.

LEO:  Not to me.  But I'd like to jump in.  It makes no sense at all.

BRETT:  Please.

LEO:  What you're saying is of course you want to make more money.  I don't blame you.  That's exactly what Comcast wants to do, and so does Google, and everybody else wants to make more money.  What doesn't make sense is for you to undercharge and then draw more money from the provider.  You need to charge what your service costs you.  And the problem is not Netflix, which can afford it, or Google, which could afford it, but TWiT, which can't afford it.

So what you're telling me is that, if I wanted access, and your customers were downloading a lot of TWiT, I'd have to give you some money.  That's not how the Internet was designed, Brett.  You know that perfectly well.  It was never designed for edge providers to pay Internet service providers.  You're a utility.  You provide a utility.  It's as if the water company says, well, you're drinking an awful lot of water.  We're going to have to figure out some way to get some money from the reservoir.  Your job is to provide free access to the Internet.  Why is that not your job?

And with that we were off to the races...
Everyone likes a good debate but this wasn't about the conflict between two obviously opposing viewpoints.  

To be clear, I wasn't looking for the podcast version of some Jerry Springer chair throwing exchange.  Rather it was about that one delicious moment where Laporte elevated TWIT's content above the mediocrity viewers have been subjected to in recent months.  Anyone watching would have seen Laporte advocating not only for himself but his viewers.

Glass' presentation, on the other hand, ultimately made him look like an industry shill and Laporte was having none of it.  Glass' ridiculous assertion of the "suffering" of ISP's at the hands of the likes of Netflix held no water. 

Perhaps Laporte did a little research on Glass prior to the show.  A quick search found almost the same arguments from Glass in a forum discussion about Time Warner abandoning usage caps in 2009.   

Watch the video below and see if you agree that this was a splendid example of the kind of programming that we need to see more of on TWIT.