Not only do I head up operations here at ServInt, I am chairman and co-founder of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, or i2Coalition. The i2Coalition is highly concerned with Net Neutrality, so I want to put some context around things that you have surely been reading over the past few weeks, months and years. I want to explain a little about what Net Neutrality is and then put it in context with how the Web Hosting industry works. Let’s start at the beginning: Net Neutrality is important, and it needs to be preserved. Equally important, however, is recognition of the fact that broadband providers are unique in the Internet ecosystem. Saying they need to be regulated doesn’t mean we need to regulate the rest of the Internet.
The concept of Net Neutrality is actually fairly simple — when it comes to consumer broadband, every packet should be treated equally. But when you look at this from a technical perspective, it ends up being fairly complicated.
The truth in the web hosting field is that we don’t have Net Neutrality. When somebody puts up a website, there are a number of factors that dictate how fast or slow it goes. There are small shared hosting packages that don’t have a lot of resources and there are massive cloud arrays that (in the aggregate) have more power than any one user could ever consume. People put content on fast networks and slow ones. Those who want their content to be blazing fast make sure they put a ton of computer resources behind their website. They put it on a fast network and then probably invest still more into distributing their content on a CDN. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, so it makes sense to try to distribute your content as close to the eyeballs you think want to see it.
Speed is critical because studies have shown that 40% of all Internet users abandon a page if it takes even 3 seconds to load. We are already in a situation where speed can be expensive to deliver. Content providers buy services from people to deliver content using a concept called “sender pays.” The providers deliver that content as quickly as they can, investing in great infrastructure and a fast network, to paid “upstream providers” who deliver the content to end users.
Now let’s talk about end users.
End users generally don’t have relationships with web hosts. They are a different part of the ecosystem. Their relationship is usually focused on their broadband provider, to whom they pay a monthly fee. Their expectation is that this fee will get them any content they want delivered to them as fast as their provider can get it to them. Their provider owns the “last mile” the fiber that connects their home to a local central telecommunications office. The provider controls the driveway that delivers content from the Internet to the home.
The question at the core of the Net Neutrality argument is: Should broadband providers be able to charge different rates for delivering different content along that last mile? Should they also be able to charge content providers and web site owners for the bandwidth required to deliver content to the end user quickly?
We’ve covered that web hosting providers sell different services for different prices, so let me explain why what broadband providers are trying to do is not the same thing.
The broadband and web hosting industries could not be more different. Companies like ours work incredibly hard to thrive in an extremely crowded field, where by most estimates there are around 35,000 competitors — most of them small-to-medium sized businesses — pushing each other to be better in order to stay alive. ServInt is at the larger end of that competitor spectrum, but we face the same pressures. We need to keep our prices competitive and our services high quality or we won’t survive.
In contrast, according to the FCC, 67% of US homes have just one or two broadband service providers to choose from. Broadband is the opposite of a competitive market; it’s a market where a few major corporations build territories to service end users. To be honest, it’s kind of natural that the market has ended up that way. It doesn’t make sense for lots of different companies to dig up America’s neighborhoods to run their own last mile fibers to try and compete with each other. It wouldn’t make any more sense than having different electric (or gas or water or sewage) companies run extra lines to your home. And yet broadband isn’t treated as a utility the way gas or electric is. And they are seeking to convince the FCC that they shouldn’t be; they should be allowed to find new revenue streams.
In short, they want to take maximum advantage of the uncompetitive portion of the Internet they control by manipulating its speed so the content ServInt’s customers pay to deliver quickly won’t actually get to its final destination as quickly unless the customer is also willing to pay the broadband providers — potentially all of them — for prioritized delivery.
Broadband isn’t like the rest of the Internet and it shouldn’t be treated like the rest of the Internet. As we look to solve this huge problem, we need to make sure we protect the whole Internet ecosystem. We do that by standing up against things like paid prioritization, but also by teaching people how the Internet works. What we don’t need is FCC jurisdiction and new regulation across the entire Internet.
The i2Coalition brings together companies like ServInt and many others to support an open and competitive Internet. Because an open Internet is key to the economic benefits provided by the Internet as a whole, the i2Coalition believes the FCC should consider the presently non-competitive transmission portion of Internet connectivity separately from the Internet as a whole. The FCC would then be allowed to impose reasonable regulations on the non-competitive portions, while allowing portions of the market that are sufficiently competitive (like web hosting and the Cloud) to remain free from regulation and open to innovation.
Join i2Coalition in the fight for an open Internet at www.i2coalition.com.
Phot by Mike Licht
Starting today, ServInt is officially accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin as payment for its hosting services. Current customers may have noticed this option already in the billing section of the portal as it has been in ‘soft launch’ mode for a week.
As always, our top priority is making our customers’ lives as easy as possible, and a growing number of you have told us you prefer to transact your online business using web-based alternative currencies. You asked for greater choice and convenience, and we’ve responded. It’s as simple as that.
ServInt has chosen GoCoin as the payment processor for Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin transactions. GoCoin is the first payment platform to incorporate the growing alternative currency market, allowing customers to pay their bill online with the web-based wallet of their choice.
Of course, you still also have the option to make any payment via credit card, debit card, PayPal, bank account, or check. No matter how you prefer to conduct online transactions, we’re here for you.
photo by Bitcoin
On September 2nd, we changed our procedures to narrow the circumstances in which law enforcement can request your data from us without a warrant. In addition, we now inform law enforcement that we will disclose requests for our customer data unless a specific statute requires us to keep the request secret.
ServInt is committed to supporting the Fourth Amendment. We believe that the Fourth Amendment requires the government to have a warrant to access your content. We will not disclose your content unless we receive a warrant, or there is a law creating an exception to the warrant requirement. We do not believe that there should be exceptions to the Fourth Amendment, and we are committed to persuading Congress to change those laws that do. That may not sound like a big deal — but in our industry, it is. Read more
I am very proud to announce that on Tuesday at the 8th annual cPanel Conference, ServInt received the 2014 award for Best Migration Partner during the keynote presentation. We were praised for ensuring quality migrations for all our cPanel customers, and for our migration team’s seamless integration with cPanel’s migration experts.
This award meant a lot to us. We know that moving can be hard, and we take pride in doing it right — and we’re extremely proud to be recognized as one of the companies that does cPanel migrations to cPanel’s exacting standards.
More websites are hosted on cPanel than on any other commercially available Control Panel in the world. They are quite simply the most popular game in town, and they are ServInt’s preferred control panel. ServInt was also cPanel’s very first partner to achieve 100% cPanel certification, but we took it one step further and had every single customer-facing employee get certified, including myself. I still don’t think there’s another mainstream hosting provider that can say that.
I want to thank cPanel for distinguishing us with this award. We at ServInt appreciate your partnership as well. I believe we make migration easier than any other host in the industry, whether users are migrating from a cPanel based account or any other control panel.
Last week I wrote about how ServInt was beating the NSA. Here’s a talk I gave on the same subject in TechWeek in Chicago last month. ServInt cares about protecting our users’ rights. The talk will explain why we care, and what we’re trying to do to fix the “NSA problem.”
Yesterday I was interviewed by Bloomberg News about the effects of NSA surveillance on the Cloud. They wanted to know if we had lost any customers specifically because of the Edward Snowden leaks. This, of course, is a hot topic: how is mass surveillance affecting the cloud, and can we quantify the damage that is being done? Is it costing us jobs and economic growth in the cloud? The answer, of course, is “yes” — and ServInt isn’t scared of saying so.
I said that we had lost customers and even more potential customers — which is true. ServInt has been one of the few players willing to speak up and say this and as a result we have been quoted in places like The Hill and the New York Times. The cloud hosting field is a tough, competitive business and it is hard to talk about losses. But ServInt isn’t afraid of calling out the problem, because we have been leaders in directly addressing the issue since it arose a little over a year ago.
The cloud in the United States has been badly hurt by the actions of the NSA. These days anybody can relocate their digital business with just two or three clicks of a mouse. You don’t need to sign a long contract or tell anybody why you are making your choice, you just move. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have decided they want to move their business outside of the United States because they feel like the US doesn’t care about privacy. I’m quoted in the Bloomberg article about this being a “death by a thousand papercuts.” I was talking about the affect on the overall economy, not our business, which for the record has seen a 30 percent decline in foreign signups since the NSA leaks began, not a 30 percent decline in total foreign customers.
In fact, ServInt is actually weathering the Snowden storm very well, compared to many of our competitors. Why? Because our clients trust us. They understand the cardinal rule of security and data safety:
It’s not where you’re hosted, it’s how you’re hosted.
Your business needs to stay up, online and fast. It needs to stay stable and secure. And your data needs to be protected. You need experts at the helm to accomplish all of those things — experts you trust. And earning the trust of small to medium businesses is what ServInt has been doing for 19 years.
The NSA revelations are just another hurdle to overcome in ServInt’s ongoing pursuit of being the most trusted name in the Cloud. We’re doing so by requiring warrants for content, and by responsible handling of data. We’re doing so by being thought leaders in the fight against NSA surveillance in Washington, through our leadership within the i2Coalition. And we’re trying to curb the misinformation about NSA surveillance. Everybody tempted to move their content out of US datacenters needs to remember that the vast majority of all spying is done on foreign networks. “Move your site out of the U.S. to avoid spying” may be good marketing, but it doesn’t take into account the reality of how surveillance works.
We do all this because we want to win the day, and win it honorably, by doing the right thing We win the day when we make customer trust our number one goal. We win the day when our customers know we have their backs when it comes to protecting their data, and we win the day when we fight for privacy and NSA accountability.
This week I have the honor of representing not just ServInt but the rest of the Internet infrastructure industry when I get to moderate the Internet Education Day event and awards ceremony hosted by the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition). At this event, scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 in the Rayburn House Office Building, the i2Coalition will be giving Champion of Internet Innovation Awards to U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for their work helping this industry grow and succeed.
I love this industry, because what we do is important. Our customers build their dreams atop our infrastructure, and their dreams are literally changing the world — for the better, in my view. That being said, the Internet is huge and complex, and it has attracted a few bad players with its reach and leverage. Companies like ServInt have been on the front lines of fighting that bad stuff for decades — things like child pornography, SPAM and malware.
It’s not enough for companies like ours to fight regulation of our industry. Read more
As part of our ongoing efforts to support Internet privacy and good governance, ServInt is donating the first month of all revenues earned from participating new VPS and dedicated hosting accounts added on Feb. 11 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. We’re taking this extraordinary step because — on “The Day We Fight Back” against NSA bulk surveillance — we want the world to know we’re serious about our commitment to Internet freedom and fairness. Following is a brief review of just some of the reasons why — reasons that hopefully will show you why you need to get involved, too.
Let’s start by stating the obvious: NSA spying is wrong. It’s wrong because no government should ever monitor all of its citizens’ online activities just because any one citizen might be using the Internet to break the law. If only for this reason, you should join ServInt in observing “The Day We Fight Back” on February 11.
But there is another reason to join in the global crusade against the NSA’s “bulk surveillance” tactics — a reason that has more to do with the real-world impact the NSA’s activities could have on your online business. In other words, if you think legislative and regulatory activism is all about pie-in-the-sky idealism, think again. Here is the real dollars-and-cents reason why you should join us. Read more
The root of the problem is straightforward: not enough is being done to curtail NSA abuses, and the fact that larger steps haven’t been taken clearly shows that the administration does not understand what’s at stake here. I want to explain what we’re fighting for and what you can do to help us fight. First, though, let me set the scene:
Last Friday, President Obama outlined his proposed changes to NSA policies and procedures at a speech given at the U.S. Department of Justice. In his remarks, the President announced minor tweaks to NSA policies on data collection that were trumpeted as big changes, designed to convince the people of the world that they had no reason to fear NSA invasion of their privacy. Like the last time the President spoke about the NSA, this address was given on a Friday before a holiday weekend — the traditional dumping ground for news which our elected leaders would prefer we ignore. All in all, it was deeply disappointing. Read more
The USA FREEDOM Act: NSA Data Collection, the Escalation of Encryption, and Curbing the Digital Arms Race
On October 29, 2013, the USA FREEDOM Act was introduced to end the mass gathering of phone record data by the NSA.
H.R.3361/S.1599 is a bipartisan effort authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) that seeks to curb the mass targeting of communications by American citizens by clarifying the language in Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
How does this affect you?
ServInt supports the USA FREEDOM Act because the same limitations that the bill places on the phone surveillance activities of NSA apply to other forms of communication, specifically Internet traffic. Not only should this bill get the NSA out of your phone calls, it should get them:
• out of your inbox
• out of your search history
• out of your text logs Read more