Netflix, Comcast, and Ted Stevens’s ‘Series of Tubes’
Yesterday’s back-and-forth on net neutrality, peering, and interconnection between Netflix’s Reed Hastings and Comcast’s David Cohen inspired us to take a look back at the late Sen. Ted Stevens’s (R-Alaska) notorious “series of tubes” speech from 2006. Speaking against a proposed net neutrality amendment to a telecom bill, Stevens cited “one company” that let’s you “sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service.” Now that this service was available via the internet, allowing you to “order ten [movies] delivered to you,” Stevens warned that all the data would essentially clog up the plumbing and affect the performance of “your personal internet.” Sounds familiar.
Here’s a transcript of Stevens’s remarks (courtesy of Wired’s Threat Level blog) and below that, the remix.
There’s one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.
But this service is now going to go through the internet and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.
Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?
I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?
Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.
So you want to talk about the consumer? Let’s talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren’t using it for commercial purposes.
We aren’t earning anything by going on that internet. Now I’m not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people [ø]
The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says “No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet”. No, I’m not finished. I want people to understand my position, I’m not going to take a lot of time. [ø]
They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.
It’s a series of tubes.
And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.