Baby Bells announce new "GoodPackets" program to charge for access

New York, March 22, 2006 (CW) Bell South and AT&T, two of the remaining Baby Bell or "iLec" companies announced today, in conjunction with GoodPackets Inc., a program to charge senders for certified delivery of internet packets to their ISP customers.

William Smith, CTO of Bell South, together with AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre, who will be his new boss once the proposed merger is completed, made a joint announcement of the program together with Dick Greengrass, CEO of GoodPackets.

Under the program, customers of GoodPackets interested in better delivery of their packets to AT&T and BellSouth DSL customers will pay GoodPackets a fee to get their packets certified. Certified packets will bypass blocks and filters in the routers of the ISPs for premium delivery to customers, and be tagged as certified to the end-user.

"We're just seeing too many bad packets these days, and we have to block some of them. But serious, professional sites on the internet don't want their packets blocked, and are willing to pay to assure they aren't," said Whitacre. According to Greengrass, a portion of the money paid to GoodPackets will be given to the ISP in question."

According to Smith, "his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc."

"A lot of these extra packets filling our pipes are of dubious origin, in any event. A large portion of internet traffic comes from peer to peer filesharing systems which are often infringing copyright, or from companies like Skype bypassing the telcom tarrifs we all have to pay. Charging money will let the legitimate companies out there distinguish their traffic from all this unknown traffic, and assure delivery," said Whitacre.

Traffic originating from BellSouth and AT&T servers would not need to pay for the premium access. "It's our network, after all, and our video servers don't go through the routers to the outside world to get to our users," said Smith.

Greengrass insisted the fees were not for delivery, but for certification that the packets come from a known and trusted source. Users and ISPs can then decide if they want to give them more reliable delivery and acceptance. That the charges are per packet is simply a way to differentiate the market, and not overcharge low-volume senders.

For those who don't get it, this is a satire comparing the AOL/Yahoo/Goodmail program to the network neutrality debate.


I find it interesting that I am entering a password to indentify myself as "not spam" after reading this piece.

The truth is that the development of technologies that limit useless content (such as spam) will have a postitive outcome for the end user. Those who argue on behalf of so-called "network neutrality" legislation largely ignore the fact that companies are beholden to those who purchase their wares. In an effort to improve customer service and, yes, make a profit in the process (heaven forbid!), companies are advocating a system in which useful material can be transmitted more quickly. By and large, Internet users will benefit from this "discrimination."

Lessgov is right - we're not talking about me getting the sports scores in the morning or searching for a desktop wallpaper of my favorite female celebrity. Ensuring that important or even vital information - medical records, for example - is transmitted quickly and effectively will benefit everyone without changing our daily Internet experience one bit. And if any ISP starts to take steps to interfere with my usage, I (and no doubt most other customers) would immediately take my money to one that doesn't.

On a more serious note, attempts at legislating network neutrality truly frighten me. What could be more devastating to the internet than burdensome regulation? On the other hand, what could be more useful than free and open competition?

Where did you folks see me suggesting congress pass a law, even in the satire, about Goodmail or about Network neutrality. The most I have said in that direction is that I might consider it appropriate that the government franchised monopolies, such as the baby bells and the cable companies, might be regulated so they don't grant special status to their own traffic over that of other parties. They're supposed to be regulated to this extent already, after all. Where ISPs are competing let them set whatever rules they want.

I was tempted to respond with my own satire:

"As president of Murder, Incorporated, the largest murder for hire organization in the world, I agree that business must be protected from unwarranted government regulation. If someone really wants to live, all they need do is buy a firearm, give up sleep, stay in a safe location, and protect himself."

It would go on in that vein.

The typical burdensome regulation that is invariably considered intolerable to business is something like:

- don't kill your employees, which is right out of the ten commandments which shows that God is anti-business
- compete with the Japanese, which is why Detroit is still making cars despite their 1970s suicide attempts
- keep track of where the money is coming from and going to, which is the outrageous demand of Sarbanes Oxley

No one whines like a business man. No one demands bigger handouts with fewer strings.

The railroads did not have network neutrality until after World War II. It was cheaper to ship raw materials east and north than south or west, and it was cheaper to ship manufactured goods west and south than north and east. When the government told the railroads to stopping peeking into packets, in this case rail cars, the south and west finally started to develop industrially. The interstate highways copied this model. The New York Thruway could have had differential tolls based on cargo and direction, but they didn't, nor did any other interstate highway, and we have more rational industrial distribution nowadays.

Whenever you hear talk about the new south or rising west, remember, that was nasty, evil government regulation of good, honest, benevolent private industry.

I couldn't agree more with the other posters...let the market solve any problems that arise, not Congress! Very few people would tolerate blocked or degraded services or a dramatic price jump. And the bottom line is that we pay the rent!

Readers of this comment thread should know that pkp646, Paulaner01 and lessgov look to be part of a tag-team of industry shills who invade blog comments on net neutrality or other issues to argue against any government regulation of the Internet. Other names who run with this crowd are John Rice and oldhats. (Google any of these names in combination and you'll see how their game works).

By tag-teaming the blogs this small handful of individuals gives the false impression of broad popular support for their industry-friendly position.

I'd like these people to tell us how it is that they appear together (usually one after the other) spouting identical industry talking points across the blogosphere.

What gives fellas? Are you being paid?

Add new comment