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One Step Closer to a Closed Internet (blog.mozilla.org)
542 points by Vinnl 212 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 214 comments



I want to say this first: I love net neutrality and I support it 100%.

That said, I think this battle will go on forever until either

- We have a decentralized network anybody can plug into without ISPs (mesh net) or

- Cities build their own fiber infrastructure (or 4G towers for rural areas) and rent it out to companies. Cable/DSL become a thing of the past, and you connect via radio/public wifi/direct fiber.

This battle is starting to get ridiculous. The "let the market decide" shills don't seem to understand there's no market. So let's give them one, on public infrastructure. Either that, or make the internet some kind of mesh-connected network that routes around blocks/slowdowns.

Until then, let's all just agree the net neutrality is a common-good consumer protection, and there's absolutely no reason, at all, to get rid of it until we either have a viable marketplace or we don't need ISPs..


My Stockholm apartment had multiple ISPs competing for service over fiber laid down by a state-owned company. In 2007 this meant symmetric 100mbit for about $30/month.


We've progressed a bit since the days of the state telephone monopoly, eh? My mom in Stockholm has symmetric 100 Mb/s included in her rent. ~$12/month extra for 1 Gb/s (both ways!). In France I currently pay ~$40/month for 1 Gb/s down, 200 Mb/s up; a bit expensive, but it's getting better. Competition is cool.


Here in the UK, the free market capital of Europe, things haven't progressed since the days of state ownership.

In areas of private fibre 200 Mb/s down is available; otherwise you're lucky to get 75 Mb/s down and 35 Mb/s up. For ~$40/month unless you want bandwidth limits or an overloaded provider.

UK speeds & pricing: https://www.thinkbroadband.com/packages


You need to compare how much the technology to get this speed got cheaper VS how much the price has changed.


The same political and market forces have an equally interesting effect on your cost of medical care and lifespan.


To the extent you're implying that the public/private distinction is relevant, I'm not sure I agree. Our infrastructure (trains, subways, roads) is also generally inferior even though its mostly publicly owned and operated. It costs our public entities five times as much to build a mile of subway as it costs Spain's public entities. We're just bad at doing things.


Edit: I ranted about publicly operated trains in Sweden on a post regarding US. Sorry for that. Since I spent 10 minutes ranting on the subject, I will keep the rest of the rant...

The only subway in Sweden that I am aware of is operated by some company from Hong Kong. Or was that last week and we have now someone else?

The "free market" muppets have had free reins for 30 years, and they are still claiming that an invisible hand will turn everything great.

In reality, the invisible hand seems to be picking cookies out of our jar filled with tax money, while trains are falling apart, women are getting unnecessary gynecological surgeries since doctors get a bonus out of the publicly funded invoice (one even inexplicably got sterilized against her will), and some entrepreneurs in the refugee-industry are making millions by keeping refugees in sub par barracks for 200 USD per day.

Many schools are privatized, and the only reason that is not a regarded as total disaster is that it they are a nice break from the schools run by the local municipalities.

(To be fair, a lot of the privately operated hospitals seems to be doing a great job and delivers good services.)

There is nothing inherently wrong with privately operated schools, hospitals, etc, but when turning away from a system where it was primarily seen as an obligation to take care of the ill and poor, and educate our children, it's very hard to set the economic incentives correctly.

Even if the system and the incentives are not gamed, the effects are often not what you want on the macro level, as each transaction is optimized on the micro level.


I mean subways and trains in the US are publicly owned and operated.


Oops, Sorry.


I think it's in large part because of American's low expectations, which feeds into the quality of people, and it becomes self fulfilling.


Yes, per OESD, Sweden pays less per capita for healthcare than the U.S. with a longer lifespan.


I live in the country and have this right now. 100mb for $50 or 1000mb for $100.


Where I'm at in the US, we have a Public Utility District that's "owned" by the city (top position is an elected position too). They've run fiber everywhere and leased it to local ISPs.

I can get gigabit for under $90/mo. Lowest tier is 100x10 for under $50.

One of our local ISPs even built a real nice wireless mesh network with a fiber "backbone". You can get low-latency 35x2 service way up in the hills of nowhere.

It's amazing what happens when Internet is treated like a utility.


Great to see that these projects are popping up all over --- I'm also in a town in the US with municipal fiber. I get bidirectional gigabit for $50/month (early adopter --- the normal rate is $100/month). Our ISP is also vocally pro-net neutrality.


Similar in SF with Monkeybrains -- for a one-time setup fee of $2500 about two years ago, I've been paying $35/mth for 600/600 microwave internet. They're also super pro-net neutrality. They even peer with SFMIX, a not-for-profit hipster internet exchange. The normal rate is $35/mth for 50/50.


What's latency like for microwave?


I doubt you'd notice a difference. Over a long distance it should be faster then fiber (hence the private networks set up by HFTs). Had an office in Boston with a microwave link; it normally worked great, but could be disrupted by extreme weather (like heavy snow).


Currently, including some video conferencing on my laptop and a few others using the link too, I'm seeing 5-7ms ping times. It varies, but I think its fair to call it 'more than adequate'.


I almost started planning a move based on internet service availability. I was considering only cities with Google fiber


WOn't last long until the cable companies force votes to make these illegal. It's been done in many cities/states already. Big money talks sadly.


I'm connected to one of those municipal networks in Sweden, and after paying about 1000 USD for getting the fiber laid to my house, I now pay $28/month for 100/100 mbit.

10 mbit costs $12, and 500/500 mbit costs $80, which is the fastest option. I don't really know what I would do with 500 mbit except host a lot of servers in my garage and use the heat for heating the house.


Comcast HATES this one US city!

(Sorry, had to) What area do you live in? I've heard of cities trying to do things like this and ISPs clamping down and suing the city to stop any sort of public infrastructure. I'd be interested to read about if/how the people in your area had to deal with this.


Not the OP, but I'm guessing they live up the road from me in Longmont, CO.

Comcast does indeed hate this, and spent roughly $300k on questionably ethical political ads[1] in a city with less than 100k residents.

[1] https://muninetworks.org/content/longmont-votes-again-comcas...


A similar effort was just killed in Boulder a couple of weeks ago, by Comcast and others.


What were the Comcast shills' arguments? It seems like a local politician could run on internet as a utility and win if publicized correctly.


"Mayor #{city_official} wants to raise YOUR TAXES to line the pockets of their friends at #{local_construction_firm}. Call your alderman and tell him to vote NO on Proposition #{proposition_id}!"

"Mayor #{city_official} wants to pass JOB KILLING REGULATIONS that could put #{comcast_employees.count} of your neighbors out of work! Sign this petition opposing Proposition #{proposition_id}!"

"Mayor #{city_official} wants the GOVERNMENT to take over YOUR INTERNET. Vote NO on Proposition #{proposition_id} to keep your internet free!"

It's not that hard if you don't care about fairness or accuracy.


Until Americans get over the unnatural and hypocritical loathing of socialism, these ads will work. It's all very visceral and no rational education will counter it.


For a time I lived in Wilson, NC which was like this. Time Warner did hate that city, eventually sponsoring legislation (via donations to legislators) to bar municipal broadband.

The jackasses had the gall to do this, when the primary reason the municipal broadband was established was because Time Warner refused to build out their network in Wilson. I suppose they thought there was no business for them there, until the city proved there was.


Sounds like your legislators hated the city. And the voters who put them in hated themselves.


It's North Carolina, the rural dominated legislature punishes the urban areas continuously by passing rules that eliminate urban/municipal choices made democratically by imposing statewide majority rule when urban policies offend rural voters. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/north-c... The same thing happened in Texas after Houston attempted and failed to pass an equal rights policy (so the state keeps trying to pass bathroom bills) and Austin forced Uber and Lyft to stop operating (so the state legislature overrode local jurisdiction).


The legislators probably liked the money, rubbing elbows with rich folks and cracking jokes about the proles. Behind their back of course.

It's gotten so bad they'll joke right on the face. "I could shoot someone on 5th ave. and they'd still love me (Trump supporters)." Did supporters not realize how insulting that was? He is essentially making fun of their servile devotion right on the face and still it didn't break the spell.


In DC, gigabit is $70 and 50/50 is $40. 2 gbps is $150 per month. No public utility, just a city government that's enlightened enough to permit competition between multiple providers in different pockets of the city.


> It's amazing what happens when Internet is treated like a utility.

It's not really like a utility though. A utility usually has a low fee and charge per use. Not that I encourage data or bandwidth limits, but there's a difference. Consider you could either get gigabit for $90 or you could get a fixed speed or data (say 10 mbit or 100gb) for $30 but full speed access to Netflix, YouTube, Windows Update etc. is included. How many people would pay $60 extra for unlimited access to the rest of the Internet?

I think it's a fair question to ask why consumers are paying for both installation, the bandwidth itself and the services they access (in cash or ad revenue) while everyone else is making money.

Edit: Not sure what the point of downvotes is. If you can't answer a basic argument like this you can't expect your views to be taken seriously. But hey, instead of actually doing something relevant let's talk about which Internet connection we all have.


First, bandwidth is limited. It's whatever download and upload you sign for.

Second, there is no such thin as "full speed access to Netflix" or whatever. It's limited by your own bandwidth at least.

Third, when you pay for an internet access, you pay for a public IP and associated bandwidth, so you can send and receive as much IP packet as your bandwidth will allow you, no matter the provenance or destination.

In practical terms, your ISP will be connected to other operators (either other ISPs, or transport/backbone operators), with peering agreements (data flows freely in both directions at no charge), or pricing schemes where the sender pays the receiver for the privilege of having the data transmitted. What your ISP will not have is a direct connection to each and every service out there. They don't have to update their infrastructure every time a new web site comes up. As such, access to Netflix, Youtube, or http://loup-vaillant.fr are not separate services.

ISPs that treat access to particular web sites as separate services are just plain lying. The real "separate service", for which they actually spend money, is the throttling/filtering/censoring infrastructure they have to put in place to charge different web sites differently. Text book malicious features, not unlike DRM.

A final note about bandwidth: operators tend to bill themselves to the 95th percentile of instantaneous bandwidth spend in the last month. Spikes cost as much as a flood. Because in practice, what matters is how much bandwidth you expect the other operator to sustain —because it determines how much they need to spend on infrastructure. Because of this, is it perfectly legitimate for a user to max out her bandwidth, continuously throughout the month. ISPs should calibrate their network, and bill, accordingly.


Although sometimes the money you pay is actually for a caching proxy space within the ISP's control for a set of services.

Very rarely a low latency link. (like VoIP/real time specialized services)


> sometimes the money you pay is actually for a caching proxy

That would make sense, and I agree it could be sold and charged separately, though I don't like the conflict of interest (the temptation of prioritising proxy data at the expense of everything else).

More to the point, is that even possible with generalised TLS? Or are big streaming web sites tailored for this capability?


What you're describing is how net neutrality works, not how the Internet works.

> First, bandwidth is limited. It's whatever download and upload you sign for.

I said that I don't encourage bandwidth limits, not that it wasn't limited. The point is you usually sign a flat fee, you don't have universal access and then pay for traffic, more like in a country like Andorra.

> Second, there is no such thin as "full speed access to Netflix" or whatever. It's limited by your own bandwidth at least.

It's only limited because the ISP has limited it, it's entirely possible to give someone with a slower overall internet connection a higher speed to certain services. > They don't have to update their infrastructure every time a new web site comes up. As such, access to Netflix, Youtube, or http://loup-vaillant.fr are not separate services.

I don't see you point. ISP do peer directly with services, but I never said they had to. You just have to have a separate exchange for full speed services.

> ISPs that treat access to particular web sites as separate services are just plain lying. The real "separate service", for which they actually spend money, is the throttling/filtering/censoring infrastructure they have to put in place to charge different web sites differently. Text book malicious features, not unlike DRM.

I don't agree with throttling, but "throttling" (or congestion) does occur naturally on the Internet.

I think you really don't get my point, so I'll try and explain in another way.

Today you pay a higher amount for something like a 100 mbit or 1 gigabit connection. That's for all the infrastructure and bandwidth for giving you that access (or at least hopefull something close to it). How this works differs, but generally your ISP would pay to access bigger networks.

Now imagine instead if your ISP only guaranteed you a certain amount of normal Internet traffic, either as bandwidth or data. And then it would be up to the services to pay for the infrastructure and bandwidth to deliver their content at a higher rate. It would really just be a formalization of what's already happening with transit vs. peering. If you want to see it from a technical perspective, how it is today, imagine having 10 mbit to the open internet and 1 gigabit to all the services that your ISP peers with (even in the extended network). Then imagine possibly your ISP getting paid by those services instead.

I'm not saying that it's a great idea, I'm saying that it is a winning one. Because consumers would pay less, ISPs would require less infrastructure or pay for less bandwidth (as you said these things are related) and it's actually creates incentive for people to roll out Internet access. And if you want net neutrality it's an argument like this you would have to be able to argue against.


OK, I think see your point. Your scheme could be compatible with net neutrality with a few tweaks. The ISP could offer a separate channel for its special YouTube access the same way it offers separate channels for TV right now. Net neutrality is saved as long as the actual internet connection doesn't discriminate —being universally slow is perfectly allowed.

But here's the thing: it's not transparent. The customer has to explicitly subscribe to those high speed channels, just like they do TV right now.

Back to your scheme, the customer would not pay less. Costs have to be recouped somehow. If YouTube pays for the privilege of using the ISP's fast channels, they're likely to multiply ads, or even ask users to pay to use YouTube at all. Either way, the customer will pay eventually.

Generalise this, and you get nearly free internet access that's now useless, and various paid subscriptions to a number of walled gardens (think porn networks). The walled gardens will then pay the various ISPs back for the privilege of accessing their users.

One won't simply set up a web site. It will need to be part of a network, which may charge for the privilege, or police the content to protect their reputation (just like YouTube). One won't simply host a server of any kind at home: it will get crappy communication, if at all (with everything moved to the walled gardens, there is little point in supporting anything else).

I don't like that one bit.


I don't like it either. What I'm saying is that this is something people who support net neutrality has to be able to refute.

Most consumers only want slow traffic to many websites and fast access to a few websites, but the are paying for a lot more. The example of "sites" might be a bit convoluted. We could as well make the differentiation based on geography, which is sort of already the case. Get 1 gigabit domestically and 10 mbit internationally. Now it up to people who want to host something to buy transit into the country. (This is sort of how it works in China, where a lot of people don't speak English anyway).

> Back to your scheme, the customer would not pay less. Costs have to be recouped somehow.

People who use the Internet less would presumably pay less and people who used the Internet more, including setting up servers, accessing services far away or anything else that require more infrastructure, would pay more. Which is sort of the case today with upstream bandwidth.

My overall point would be that the open Internet costs money and I'm not sure people can be convinced to keep it ones there's an alternative.


The open Internet doesn't cost that much. The US happens to have monopoly prices, but here in France, a decent broadband (and even Fibre!) connection can be had for as little as 30€ per month, and the ISPs still make a profit as far as I know.

Few people can't afford that much. The real reason behind the net neutrality attacks (we have those in the EU all right) is profit maximization —which tends to be incompatible with any kind of common good in the first place.

> My overall point would be that the open Internet costs money and I'm not sure people can be convinced to keep it ones there's an alternative.

How about asking around? Especially to non-technical people, with and without an explanation about the implication of such a choice. They may surprise us.


OK, so I get an unmetered symmetric 100 Mbps uplink for less than $50 per month. It happens to be through a private ISP, so I'm insulated from this bullshit, unless backbone ISPs play dirty. But anyway, I want Internet connectivity for many reasons, and they're constantly changing. The idea of getting hobbled general access plus full-speed access to some restricted set of services is insane. I mean, would you expect me to order access specifically for whatever I wanted? There's also the fact that I hit just about everything through VPNs, so ISPs wouldn't even know what I'm accessing.

I don't get your question about "why consumers are paying for both installation, the bandwidth itself and the services they access". I don't pay for "installation", but rather for access, by month. I only pay for a few services, and never see ads. For the most part, I only pay for the unmetered 100 Mbps uplink.


I realized that it's pretty fruitless to discuss these things on HN, but since you responded I will give you a response.

This isn't something that is generally happening, at least not outside mobile connectivity where certain services are sometimes included. It's not really about what you, or other 'heavy' Internet users wants, but about consumers. People who want net neutrality have to have a response to normal people why it's relevant to them.

More and more people are getting access to broadband, yet it's still quite expensive. The idea, which you will have to defend against if you ultimately want net neutrality, is that companies could pay for the bandwidth. So you as a consumer would pay for connectivity, say 10 mbit. But instead of you just having access to 10 mbit, other companies would be able to pay to deliver to you at full speed. So when you pay for Netflix part of that money might go back to the ISP. This is to some extent already happening, but through various transit and peering agreements.

> I don't get your question about "why consumers are paying for both installation, the bandwidth itself and the services they access". I don't pay for "installation", but rather for access, by month. I only pay for a few services, and never see ads. For the most part, I only pay for the unmetered 100 Mbps uplink.

You do (usually) pay for installation, it's just that it's "baked in" to contract time and fees of your connection. That's why you usually can't get a really cheap connection on a wired installation. A 1 mbit connection would still usually cost you a fair bit, if it's even available. With something like electricity you do also pay for installation, but since that is largely universal it's really part of the overall cost. Point being that a lot of people lack broadband because they can't afford the installation cost and that is a big different between Internet access and other utilities which are much more universal.


Thanks. Those are decent arguments. But ...

> More and more people are getting access to broadband, yet it's still quite expensive.

Why isn't that an issue in so many countries, where broadband is widely available, and not all that expensive?

> The idea, which you will have to defend against if you ultimately want net neutrality, is that companies could pay for the bandwidth.

OK, that works for Netflix. But it increases barriers to market entry, and thus stifles competition. And more generally, it's a regression to pre-Internet walled gardens.

> Point being that a lot of people lack broadband because they can't afford the installation cost and that is a big different between Internet access and other utilities which are much more universal.

Back in the day, the US had the Rural Electrification Administration. Everyone got access. But they still had to pay for the electricity. So why not for Internet access? Users could pay for some mix of bandwidth and throughput.

I mean, when I lease VPS, I typically get either uncapped 100 Mbps uplinks, or 1 Gbps uplinks capped at 1-10 TB/mo. VPS with 1 Gbps uplinks and 5 TB/mo go for about $20/mo.


Austin TX?


Goddamn. In our area it's 10€ for 100 and 20€ for 1Gb.


Buhhhhhhh. Lucky.


Hard to believe, but in a certain Eastern European country, ISPs are competing to lay fiber to private houses, for about $10/month. That's a symmetric 100mbit to Frankfurt.


Rich European countries like Germany and France meanwhile have even less fiber than the US. I suspect much cheaper labor and less anti-development regulation is the big factor in the low cost of fiber in Eastern Europe.


There may be technical reasons, as well. I remember that, after the Berlin Wall came down, large swaths of former East Germany got fibre lines (for telephony, mostly).

Then, a decade or so later, DSL became the new standard. Which, as it happens, didn't work over fibre. I'm assuming they spent more on research into making copper faster because it was much wider deployed). For a long time, your best option for your fibre line was 128kbit/s analog-modem over digital-line.

Eastern Europe's infrastructure may date from around the same time, which may make it easier to improve now. It's a second-mover advantage. Compare NTSC vs. PAL, or (maybe, not completely sure) 230V vs 110V mains.

Also, in terms of "Government regulation" there really isn't anything stopping Deutsche Telekom from improving its network. They operate on a system where they just send a notice, and it's considered to be approved if not replied to within two weeks. I'd say it's mostly a curse of not enough competition (cable isn't much faster), and a network that's currently good enough for most people.


In much of the Bay area, a stone's throw from Berkley, one of the original ARPANET nodes, your only choice is comcast 100 USD for 50mbits down/ 10 up. DSL operates as slowly as 3mbits on some older wires.


Crazy how social structure distort reality.


Do you use the bandwidth? Just curious what you do with it.


Not OP but I live in NYC and have 200mb down and 20mb up for $70/month. 200mb down isn't so important. Even with a family of 5 streaming, 100mb would be plenty of bandwidth.

For me, the more important part of the connection is the upstream. the larger that number is, the more I can move towards 100% real-time offsite backup.

That's important in case of fire, theft or other catastrophic issue happening.


For a family of 5 that sounds like a pretty good deal.


Sure but I'd rather have Verizon FIOS, if my building had it. 50mb up/down pipe. 50mb down is still plenty but I'd love to get my hands on the 50mb upstream connection.


My TV alone uses 25Mbps (when playing 4k).


A third option: Standard net, but everything end-to-end encrypted including what protocol is being used. If this information can't be discerned (easily), then priority cannot be given or taken away for any given data, only for certain data sources/destinations. If two computers (could be mobile devices, PC, server, doesn't matter) have an encrypted channel connecting them then anything could be transmitted across that channel without anyone but the endpoints knowing what it is.

Now, all this traffic could be slowed. But if it becomes near ubiquitous, then only source/destination would be useful for determining throttling/accelerating data.


Net neutrality advocates are worried precisely about isps being able to discriminate by source or destination. Additionally, most traffic is already e2e encrypted. You just used the system you were proposing to post that comment.


I agree. But source/destination isn't the only way that ISPs discriminate. They can also discriminate based on the type/protocol of content (when revealed). See the way they used traffic shaping with bittorrent, what was that 8 years ago now? That was communication between peers, potentially within the same ISP.

e2e encryption mitigates the impact ISPs can have when looking at the protocol/contents. But there is still work to be done to prevent them (without regulation) from having an impact based on source/destination without going the TOR (or similar) route.


Begging your pardon, but net neutrality isn't and has never been about traffic discrimination by type. That kind of traffic shaping is not only acceptable, it's desirable. Services with real-time requirements (VOIP, streaming, etc) can and should have priority over non-real-time services. I'm sick of people polluting the net neutrality debate with this misunderstanding and discussion on a site as knowledgeable as HN should be better. Net neutrality only covers discrimination based on source/destination and we need to push back against upset torrenters muddying the waters.


If the destination is encrypted, how does the ISP know where to send the packets? You could use some form of garlic/onion routing (Tor/i2p/etc) but that's really slow generally, and there's a decent chance the ISP at the end of the chain will be in the US anyway (and can still throttle).


Access to useful wireless bands for mesh topologies is a hurdle. The unlicensed bands (e.g. wifi) are such precisely because they're generally junk w/r/t to propagation and atmospheric absorption. The licensed bands are unsurprisingly gated by license holders in a way to enforce exclusive access, which often does not correspond to full utilization of the available bandwidth. Especially so with license holders than just squat on their bands indefinitely.


From what I understand this issue is ridiculous is the States. I also live in Sweden and in my town 1Gb internet is included in my rent, using the city's network that had basically built fiber in the entire town. On top of that we have tons of ISPs to choose from, some the smaller ones focus on security and anonymity for example.

In contrast most places in the US have no competition at all, which is kinda ironic since the US is the birthplace of the Internet.

I have come to believe the there is no right or wrong absolute answer in regards to markets. Some need regulation, others don't. Internet does though, since it is already a vital part of the modern world. It's not just for porn or games like many old US politicians want to believe. The internet has to be protected from greed.


> The "let the market decide" shills don't seem to understand there's no market.

Oh, trust me, we understand that very well. What we want to do is expand competition by making it easier to compete. This largest barrier to competition at this time is local municipalities, which is a good place for the FCC to step in and tell them to back off and let the ISPs install their fiber.

I support the FCC regulating governmental entities, not so much private ones. Net neutrality should, if enforced by government, be legislated, not initiated by a regulatory agency. This issue was brought up by people on both sides of the issue for different reasons. On the pro- side because they new a regime change would just undo it, and on the con- side because they thought such a large change was unfit for unelected bureaucrats to decide.

The idea that we should introduce more regulation in order to fix bad historic policy is like government asking for a temporary tax. A long time ago my state asked for a new temporary tax for school renovations. Guess what, that tax never went away. It's the same thing with regulations. They just keep piling up.


(1) The FCC exists (almost?) solely to regulate private and not public entities.

(2) There's no evidence that local municipalities running infrastructure and allowing telecoms to compete on services instead will reduce competition. It will likely increase it by lowering barrier to entry, as you can see all over Europe. Can you cite evidence of municipalities refusing to allow fiber installs? I did a lot of research and found nothing. I've only found the inverse, private companies lobbying to prevent municipalities from running fiber. [1]

(3) This kind of regulation is exactly the purview of the FCC. That's why they have a Title I and Title II. They already impose this exact kind of regulation on landline phone companies.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/02/03...


(1) I know that but it doesn't matter to me

(2) I wasn't talking about "local municipalities running infrastructure" I was talking about them being used to prevent competition as you specifically gave an example of.

(3) I know, but the application of that regulation is at the discretion of the FCC, which, as we've seen, can be easily swayed the opposite way. That's why its better to have legislation.


This has been legislated and the legislation has delegated this authority to the FCC.

I agree completely that explicit legislation would be far better, but in the absence of that it's the FCCs job to regulate. Saying they should abrogate that responsibility and not regulate on general principle doesn't address the issue. They are required do their job to serve the public interest.


Thank you for at least trying to enter the discussion.

I hope those who read this don't downvote because they, like me, disagree with you. Voting on comments is about pushing productive conversation to the top. I, for one, would like to open the doors in this echo chamber.

With that in mind, let me politely explain why you are wrong.

> What we want to do is expand competition by making it easier to compete.

I have not heard a single argument of how dismantling privacy protections (via S. J. Res 34) or net neutrality (Title II Communications Act 1934) can in any way accomplish, or even assist in this.

Have you? I would love to hear it, even if I disagree with it. I want discussion, not rhetoric.

> I support the FCC regulating governmental entities, not so much private ones.

The FCC was put in place to regulate private entities. Whether you agree with what those regulations are, it's important to understand that distinction. If you want to totally dismantle the FCC, I would love to have a discussion about that, but here we are discussing net neutrality, since it appears the FCC is here to stay.

> Net neutrality should, if enforced by government, be legislated, not initiated by a regulatory agency.

I'm fine with that, but I haven't seen or heard of any bill designed to accomplish that. Have you? It's also worth mentioning that, where possible, I prefer state-level legislation, but that federal-level regulation is inherently needed to enforce net-neutrality.

> because they thought such a large change was unfit for unelected bureaucrats to decide.

That is a reasonable point, but let us not forget that those unelected bureaucrats did decide it, with input from millions of Americans. While that is a clear reason to not implement this regulation, I do not see it as a reason to abandon the regulation.

> Guess what, that tax never went away. It's the same thing with regulations. They just keep piling up.

That sounds plausible. What regulations are piling up? Maybe we should get rid of some that we think are unnecessary. I don't see privacy protections, or net neutrality as unnecessary, or even detrimental.

Darn. I got to the end of your comment, but I didn't find much to talk about. I'm still wondering: do you want net neutrality dismantled? Why? I have been honestly searching for an argument (any argument!) against net neutrality, but I have not found one. That's not very common. Usually there is something to consider. I haven't heard it, and I am beginning to fear that I never will, and that's just depressing. That would mean that Ajit Pai really is a corporate shill, and that those 6 big ISPs really do have way more legal clout than they should. So sad.


"I hope those who read this don't downvote because they, like me, disagree with you. Voting on comments is about pushing productive conversation to the top. I, for one, would like to open the doors in this echo chamber."

I'm sorry, but when the same poor arguments are used time and again, it stops being productive.


> when the same poor arguments are used time and again, it stops being productive.

That's true, but the same can be said about most comments in favor of keeping net neutrality (unless they bring something new to the conversation). I wanted to seek out discussion from those who do not share my opinion, rather than simple affirmation of my opinion. Then again, maybe there really is nothing for them to say.

That being said, I probably shouldn't have mentioned downvotes in the first place. I suppose this (from the hackernews guidelines) should apply to others' downvotes too:

> Please resist commenting about being downvoted. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

EDIT: I just noticed my ambiguous usage of "read". I meant it in past tense, not present. Therefore, that sentence was in referral to the parent comment being downvoted, not my own comment. I hope that is clear now.


So long as the arguments in favour are themselves sensible, there's no hazard to repeating the truth.

As for downvoting: I generally don't comment on how my own comments get moderated, but if I feel that the Hive Mind is responding poorly to something specific, I may well mention it. Not often, but where it seems particularly pointed.

Generally not, however, preemptively. That's a bit too close to baiting.


> Thank you for at least trying to enter the discussion.

Thanks you for being rational and kind and not blindly discounting me.

> I have not heard a single argument of how dismantling privacy protections (via S. J. Res 34) or net neutrality (Title II Communications Act 1934) can in any way accomplish, or even assist in this.

The idea is not that those regulations in particular are bad. In fact, I think starting where Pai started with the removal of those regulations was a bad move, since they're already there.

However, regulations are what they are, and any rule that a company must comply with is a relatively fixed legal expense and therefore a barrier to entry. This leads to any amount of regulation being a larger burden on startup firms than on large firms where these legal expenses are less relevant among their total expenses.

> I'm fine with that, but I haven't seen or heard of any bill designed to accomplish that. Have you?

No, I haven't. And that was one of the main issues I had with all of these Democrats who championed the previous FCC actions. People warned them that this was at most a temporary measure but instead of cementing it in legislation, they left it up to the president. I wish there was legislation, but it seems like the legislators think this issue should remain within the FCC.

> It's also worth mentioning that, where possible, I prefer state-level legislation, but that federal-level regulation is inherently needed to enforce net-neutrality.

Can you expand on why you think federal-level regulation is necessary, particularly when compared with only state regulation?

> I do not see it as a reason to abandon the regulation.

I agree.

> What regulations are piling up?

It's not just regulations that pile up, but also past policy decisions. Starting with making AT&T a monopoly in the first place, continuing through the Clinton era regulations, on through now applying decades-old regulations to the internet. Then you have the capture of local municipalities by large ISPs which allows them to control when new companies can access infrastructure, get permits, etc. Google Fiber had the largest problems with this last part, which is where I think people should start if they want to increase competition.

> I don't see privacy protections, or net neutrality as unnecessary, or even detrimental.

Right, neither do I. I agree that privacy protections and net neutrality are necessary for an open internet, but I also believe that those will be provided to consumers naturally through a competitive ISP market. That's why I don't support removing them first, and I also don't support adding them in the first place.

> I have been honestly searching for an argument (any argument!) against net neutrality, but I have not found one.

There is no argument against net neutrality. In my point of view, nobody is arguing over whether net neutrality is good. People are arguing over which way to best get it. (of course there are exceptions to the rule, like some ISP shills and very ignorant people)

> Ajit Pai really is a corporate shill

I, of course, have no idea what Pai's true motivations are, but it seems to me that he could support removing these regulations without being a corporate shill. I think he's just following his principles. There's a ReasonTV interview[1] with him that's actually pretty informative on what his true positions are, I suggest you watch it. I'd like to know your opinion about it.

> 6 big ISPs really do have way more legal clout than they should

I think they do have too much power over governments at every level which is why I'm automatically skeptical of any policy effort.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1IzN9tst28


> a relatively fixed legal expense and therefore a barrier to entry.

No startup with any sense will actually do anything against these rules, so it is clearly not an expense or a barrier to entry. That is something that is relatively unique about net neutrality (and the former privacy protections) as a regulation in general. An ISP that does nothing to abuse its users will never have a burden here. It's a pothole in a road to nowhere.

> Can you expand on why you think federal-level regulation is necessary, particularly when compared with only state regulation?

An ISP's network is very unlikely to be constrained to one state. If a state enacted net-neutrality, the ISP would still be able to have preferred traffic in other states. To make matters worse, the customer's traffic is not the only end that must be protected, since the server needs the same amount of bandwidth. In order for a state's net-neutrality law to be effective, it would need to apply in every state where a server is running that the (in-state) customer wants to connect to. Naturally, a state cannot do that.

> but I also believe that those will be provided to consumers naturally through a competitive ISP market.

The sad fact is that there is no competitive market. The other sad fact is that most customers do not understand or care enough to push free market actors to provide these protections.

> there's a ReasonTV interview[1] with him that's actually pretty informative on what his true positions are

I've heard it. It takes a very minimal amount of thought to debunk his claims.

From the interview:

> My hope is that in a more free market light-touch environment, we can figure out what the right regulatory framework is to preserve those core protections of a free and open internet.

It is abundantly clear that the rules that are in place are exactly that.

> "What would an ISP be able to do that they cannot do with net-neutrality?" Pai: "Nothing."

That is simply not true. There is abundant evidence that before Title II regulations were in place, ISPs were beginning to offer services with preferred traffic, etc.

> These were all phantoms conjured up by people who wanted [net-neutrality] for political reasons.

Like what? Clearly the real "phantoms" being "conjured up" are your own, Pai.

I didn't bother to comment on the rest of the interview.

Suffice it to say: Interviews like this are an opportunity for Ajit Pai to avoid any actual argument with net-neutrality, and even redefine arguments against net-neutrality in order to make them easier to defeat. It might be insightful to hear Ajit Pai actually discuss this topic with a net-neutrality advocate, so that real discussion is not tossed aside, but that almost certainly will not happen.


Totally agree, but I think the problem is that in America, a monopoly or duopoly is considered a viable market. What we need are anti trust laws and prosecutions. I guess that doesn't bring as much money in as letting everyone get ripped off. But hey, "let the market decide," said no one with a brain.


No, you need a physical and legal infrastructure that will make a viable market. Basically, have the state own the cable, and rent those to ISPs by the bandwidth. No bulk order, and no minimum area or minimum bandwidth, so players of any size (including 10 nerds who want to be their own ISP) can enter the market.

Then you can "let the market decide". It will decide very differently from what it is currently deciding.


I've got a cousin in California who started a wireless ISP. They've been growing like crazy. Offering only 10Mbps. (No I don't know how this fits into the discussion either)


I, for one, vote for the mesh network.


The lag time, and probably bandwidth, on a mesh, especially a wifi one, makes it unacceptable for many uses.


This is what I figured as well, but I also wonder if that's just because the devices we use haven't been built for this.

In other words, if public interest shifted to some kind of mesh network, perhaps the devices could be improved enough to support the load.

That said, I don't know much about mesh networking at all, the routing methods it uses, or if it's even possible to support what I'm talking about.

It also has to contend with the existing, established infrastructure so probably won't see many large investments any time soon.

I still think it would be a decent alternative to what we have now if it could overcome bandwidth/latency limitations.


Yep, but its all we are going to be left with.

Of course, at first it will suck, and it will be limited to neighborhood meshes.. from there perhaps it can start to branch out and connect to other neighborhoods, then city to city, until we finally have a decent internet.

Its going to be up to the web development community in its entirety- front and back end- to make the push, by showing neighborhoods that mesh nets are worth the investment.

Perhaps though, this is what we need to get a true internet. I'm curious as to how Berners-Lee and company would have redone it, perhaps they will have their chance.


That sounds like an implementation-bound constraint. Many technologies start out unacceptable for certain uses and mature to competency.


Adding lots of hops is going to slow down the connection. That's a limitation of the speed of light.


On the other end, with a mesh network, your packets are less likely to go through the whole state/continent to reach a node in the same town as you.


How does a mesh network cross oceans?


In stationwagons....

More seriously, back in the old days:

... the Usenet link to Australia was a daily batch of tapes flown by 747. High bandwidth, but long ping times.

One of the first publicly-accessible network links between the US and Europe ... was a 9600 BAUD line.

I'd cite both of these in more detail, but the book is buried somewhere in archives presently. A late 1980s / early 1990s (just prior to the dawn of the public Internet) item.

More generally, though, to address your question, oceans aren't the problem. We've got ocean links.

It's the last mile, between you and the local on-ramp. That's where Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and TWC have their monopolies, which need breaking up.


Seeing if I can't find the citation at least. Not sure if it's turned up, though several contemporary accounts are interesting in retrospect.

I'm wondering if Egypt has reconsidered its actions...

http://www.worldcat.org/title/introducing-internet-to-egypt-...

It might be John McConnell's Internetworking computer systems : interconnecting networks and systems (1988):

http://www.worldcat.org/title/internetworking-computer-syste...

Prentice Hall seems right for the publisher, though I'm not positive on the title. Date seems a year or three early.

Possibly John Quartman's The Matrix, 1990, which sounds closer to the right date:

https://www.amazon.com/Matrix-Computer-Networks-Conferencing...


Erm, "John Quarterman" on that last. And I'm almost positive that's it.


I'm thinking solar powered (with batteries) WAP/repeater polls. That's definitely a capital outlay, still. But it might be more serviceable/financeable at a local level.


Quite honestly, cable (solid 19th century proven tech), or satellites (low-orbiting swarms) would be far less problematic.

You might be able to cross the Baring Strait with a LOS microwave relay -- there's a somewhat fanciful video which explores the possibility of driving from Tierra del Fuego to London. It's only really hard in a few areas, one of the more problematic being Guatemal.

Conceptually, tunnelling or bridging (my option would be the former) the Straight is within reason (51 km, compare the Gotthard Base tunnel at 35.5 km). It's creating all-season driveable roads (or trainable tracks) across Alaska and Siberia which are the more formidable challenges.

But for the Atlantic? Cable. Seriously.

And the Lima - Sydney tunnel is going to take a while to dig.


I meant at the last mile. I could see a mesh network first taking off in a city/neighborhood.


Oh yes, that makes far more sense, sorry.


You end up with bottlenecks. Packets on a mesh will try for the best route - if there's only one big cable across the ocean, everything that needs to cross takes it. Same situation we've got now, for oceans.


but how does that decentralise the system?

a central body will need to maintain those lines and would be critical to the mesh


I'm thinking at some point the mesh network abstracts over the current internet. An abstraction that has crossed an entire continent can probably afford a non-crap service line.


Via long hops, just like the rest of the Internet.

Either fibre, satellite or old radio relay.


how do you decentralise fibre, satellite or radio relay?


I'm very interested in and motivated towards mounting an attempt to bring munifiber to my city.

Few things have been bugging me though: what vectors do ISPs compete upon if they're all renting the lines at the same price? How would one be able to offer similar speeds for less price? What value-added services can they possibly offer?

If someone could answer these questions for me, then I'll have the ammo to seriously consider bringing this to my local legislators. I've tried searching the internet and I can't find any detailed pieces, they all speak at a high, fluffy level.


There is a cost to those lines, and a minimum cost you can lease them to the ISP. This applies to ISP owned lines just the same. The difference is, you cannot hide that cost, and everyone is put at the same level. (Make sure there is no bulk offer, though, that would kill small ISPs).

Now the ISPs can compete on customer support, neutrality, even privacy. Good support costs money, so that will be a consumer choice. Same goes for TV multicast streaming. The rest however cannot beat full neutrality and zero spying, so I expect they'll become the new baseline.

And if it means all the big ISP die a painful death (with unemployment and all), then good riddance: they will be replaced by smaller ISPs, that will take their customers and their employees. And the resulting competition should end most monopoly practices.


Awesome, thank you, that makes a lot of sense.

So basically, if I understand correctly, it looks like munifiber would reorganize high-capex costs (buying and laying the fiber) into more manageable opex costs (renting/leasing capacity on fiber laid by the city). And furthermore, by normalizing the playing field, many different ISPs can sprout up and compete effectively on what truly matters to the end-user. That would be fantastic.

If anyone is interested in talking about bringing a FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) project to fruition in a 100k+ pop. city in PA, then please reach out to me. Email in profile.

Now is absolutely the right time. We're in the midst of a mayoral election and over the past 7 years or so we've had a NIZ (neighborhood improvement zone) granted by the state with the specific intention of doing things like this. Two stadiums have been built, along with numerous office and residential buildings, and we're in the process of building an entire waterfront. Laying munifiber would fit right in, and I think we could get it done with a proper proposal.

I need some added expertise around estimating the cost of the project. I can build and write the proposal effectively with a solid cost basis. If anyone can help me with estimating the buildout cost of a muni-FTTH network, then once again please email me (email in profile). Thank you!


Don't forget about the SpaceX satellite grid going up.


This would be a decent competitive alternative if it truly delivers.

My concern would be that this is, once again, a private company on private infrastructure. So although we've added another competitor to the mix (for a grand total of between 1 and 3 in most areas) we would still rely on heavy government regulation to protect Net Neutrality. I don't trust any companies at this point to keep my best interests in mind, whether it's run by Musk or not.


Yes, it is a private company on private infrastructure, but at least it would be competition for existing infrastructure where it exists. That's better than nothing.


If it's more reliable than satellite TV has proven to be, and has a reasonable latency, then yeah. Another competitor will be quite welcome, especially in rural areas.


> Until then, let's all just agree the net neutrality is a common-good consumer protection, and there's absolutely no reason, at all, to get rid of it until we either have a viable marketplace or we don't need ISPs..

On the other hand, we likely won't ever get either until it becomes sufficiently inconvenient for a huge swath of the first world. Necessity being the mother of invention and whatnot.

Personally, I would prefer that the internet is governed by the tech it's built on and not governments, and I can live with hypothetically throttled Netflix (oh the humanity!) in the interim. I'm sure my opinion won't be popular.


> I can live with hypothetically throttled Netflix

Sure, Netflix, boohoo.

But what about when Comcast blocks savenetneutrality.org? This throttling argument comes up a lot, but it's just the first small step in a logical progression that allows big corporations to censor anything they don't like.

Think, the private version of the Great Firewall of China. But it's ok, because the free market did it, right?

I see your point: things most likely won't change until they get really bad for a good number of people. However, things can get much much worse without John Q Public giving much of a shit. That's why NN is really important now and we can't just let things devolve in the hopes it will spur some bigger shift.


I'm fine with NN legislation, but it seems like so much of the pro-NN rhetoric even among intelligent people on HN is fear mongering and slippery slope. ISPs have been unregulated for decades and the tales of censorship are scant; certainly not deserving of such apocalyptic rhetoric. In fact, the only censorship I can imagine would be the least controversial--censorship of far-right sites like Stormfront.

> But it's ok, because the free market did it, right?

Is anyone making this argument? Why is this particular straw man invoked so often? I don't pretend that ISPs are beholden to the market in the same way as other services, but neither can they go around censoring with market impunity.


And I absolutely can not live with ISPs having control over content and it's speed.


How did you survive before 2015?


Not everyone lives in USA, I never had limited bandwidth or any other blocking on my internet here in Sweden.


I think you are right, the free market just don't exist if one ISP owns the network to your home.

My house in a tiny village in the north of Sweden had 100 Mbps up/down 15 years ago. My apartment in a slightly bigger town (2000 people) had 10/10 Mbps 20(?) years ago. All this was never above $35 per month. Right now we pay $28 for 100/100 Mbps including phone. And yes, it actually measures to 100/100 Mbps if you test it. I can freely choose between five providers with the click of a button.


>Cities build their own fiber infrastructure

Republicans support government intervention at both the federal and state level to disallow cities from doing this.


How does a mesh net cross oceans?


Wow, turning the free market argument into a shilling strawman is the most innovative misunderstanding of economics I've ever seen!


> This battle is starting to get ridiculous. The "let the market decide" shills don't seem to understand there's no market

Why is there no market ? This is the kind of statement a shill would make

> Until then, let's all just agree the net neutrality is a common-good consumer protection

No, first you prove this is not a problem solvable by the market


There is absolutely a reason to get rid of it. Net "neutrality", as currently implemented, attacks the peering arrangements that were put into the spotlight by Netflix's CEO, Reed Hastings. He famously said that ISP's were holding his members "hostage" until they paid up. Then the net neutrality rules changed that. But if you look at what Hastings wants you'll see why it's a bunch of crap. Peering agreements exist for larger entities to trade bandwidth without having to keep paying each other for it and then have that count as income. It's much easier, for example, to have entity A send X TB of data to entity B and have entity B send X+Y TB to entity A and instead of each of them charging the other for the total bandwidth, they instead agree to just have B pay for Y and A pays nothing. Or if Y is small enough, they just consider it a wash because in the next month/cycle A might send more.

What Netflix does is 99.99% all one way traffic. And he wants to send it for free. Currently he's getting away with that explicitly because of net neutrality rules. Otherwise, Netflix was facing huge transmission fees - and rightfully so. It is estimated that during peak hours Netflix consumes more than 1/3 of all internet bandwidth during peak hours, which is insane.

Hastings wants this for free. And currently, he's getting it. So if the ISP's aren't getting paid for all that extra usage, who's paying for it? The ISP are increasing the cost of their plans to account for this since Netflix isn't paying them. This means that non-Netflix customers are subsidizing the cost of the service for all Netflix streaming users!


>...And he wants to send it for free.

No, I am pretty sure that Netflix doesn’t have free access to the Internet. (Just like the customers who request content from Netflix already paid their ISP for access to the Internet.)


Where is Apple, Google, and Microsoft on this? What is the point of an app store if I can't use 90% of the apps on it? What the hell do I need a search engine for if there's only a few websites to search? Why would I use a computer at all if it just serves me the same garbage as a TV?

Come on, throw your fucking weight around, jesus...


I think my viewpoint here is more devil's advocate because I'm not entire sure I believe it myself. But it seems like a possibility so I wanted to share:

One thing to consider here is the large juggernauts in the tech industry would actually benefit to this type of legislation. Let's say Comcast adds a fee to get priority access. Google, Apple, Microsoft; pretty much all of the existing and large-enough companies would likely be able to pay for it without much issue. While this would cut into their profits to some degree it makes the bar much, much higher for competition to come into their space.

If competition springs up it'll likely not grow as fast in an environment with many paying for special access so the tech companies could buy them at a likely cheaper price if they see them. Alternatively this may help kill existing competition like Spotify who has razor thin (or negative, I can't remember) margins so they wouldn't be able to compete.

Aside from a, likely very small, cut into profits there isn't much down side for any of the big tech companies. Are we sure they will want to band together?


All three of those companies survive off acquisitions. They rely on small independent companies taking a risk and doing the hard work, and when they find the diamond-in-the-rough, they get snapped up and brought under the corporate umbrella.

This legislation dries up the well. No small companies to buy = no progress.


In this environment, they wouldn't need acquisitions. Progress isn't necessary for profit.


Ah yes, that little loophole.


> No small companies to buy = no progress.

Which is perfectly fine for incumbents.


They were there: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/26/internet-firms-are-winding-up...

Just as they were last time: https://www.theverge.com/2014/5/7/5692578/tech-coalition-cha...

It's just that this time, it simply wasn't enough.


All three companies are sitting on so much cash right now that if the ISPs do destroy net neutrality and start to poop on their customers, any of those three could sweep in and murder the ISPs right in the face.

I'm not saying it will happen, but if the ISPs present a large enough target of themselves, there's a lot of investment dollars waiting on the sidelines to pick their pockets.


It's probably a nitpick, but to me Mozilla has always been an organisation with a global mission. They make it seem like these decisions have a global impact, whereas in reality, if I'm not mistaken, this is about national policy for a single country. A country which is not mentioned by name at all in the entire article.

I wish authors would step away from the "USA == world" idea a bit more often. I'd like to get an idea of whether this impacts the rest of the world at all. My impression is "no" but most articles on the subject are too busy screaming "fire!" to clarify much about this.

The title of this article is "one step closer to a closed internet". That really does make it seem like this can have internet-wide impact though, but I don't see it. Anyone?


As an Australian I agree that Americans have a tendency to forget that the world exists beyond US borders, but the internet and the tech industry is still dominated by US companies. A less-free US internet absolutely has flow-on effects to the rest of the world when the rest of the world is dependent on US services.

Furthermore, the FCC is setting a very poor example for other regulators...


And also that US law propagates through the world by trade deals and such.


"this decision leads to an internet that benefits Internet Service Providers"

I would correct this to: "this decision leads to an American internet that benefits Internet Service Providers"

The FCC can really only screw up the Internet for Americans. If you're an Internet user not in North America there's very little reason for you to care about the decision the FCC made today.


American decisions can set precedents which other countries follow, and are often pushed by their trade policies. They also affect American IT companies, which are used by people all over the world.

There's good reason for non-Americans to care about the American Internet.



That law can be repealed if Europeans aren't vigilant; nothing makes the EU naturally immune to right-wing, pro-corporate swings.


Yes but no.

One of the reasons the UK left EU because it was not allowed to have different laws for EU immigrants and locals - for benefits for example.

Europe choose values over money. They - Merkel - may not be the best people in the world but some moves are very commendable.


I'm going to take this a step further. Years ago -- a decade or more -- I was saying that "China is the prototype." Early days of The Great Firewall. Initially built, by the way, with U.S. and "Western" technology and consulting.

As for the Net. It was a frontier. Now, it's settled. And those who've taken up residence are busy turning it and sealing it up, for their own purposes.

As for open, free as in speech communication. Start looking for the next, next-generation physical layer. One that is not in the hands of established and self-serving interests. Yet.

Rinse and repeat...


If this forces non-US Americans to use US IT company services less, there are less angles the US government can use to spy on the rest of the world. Plus, data protection laws in other countries (especially European ones) are far more restrictive.

I don't think there's any reason for us non-US-Americans to care at all about the US internet. Just like we don't care about pretty much anything else that's happening in the US.


>"I don't think there's any reason for us non-US-Americans to care at all about the US internet. Just like we don't care about pretty much anything else that's happening in the US."

The "US internet" is the same internet that has allowed Google, Youtube, FB et al to flourish. Do you not use any those? Didn't all of those presuppose an open internet?

Can you really divorce Silicon Valley from you refer to as the "US internet"?

Heck even take a non-US tech company like Spotify. Do you think they would have been able to launch in the U.S 6 years ago if they had to pay ISPs not to de-prioritize their bits?

You say we don't really are about whats happening in the US, but presumably you do care what's happening in the US if you are interested in technology and read Hacker News where S.V. as well as other U.S tech company news features quite prominently.


You do realize that not all technology originates in the US, yeah? The US isn't the center of the world. You don't have a monopoly on technology or IT and in fact, most of it wasn't even conceived in the US or by US inventors.

You need to get off your high horse about "US-America being the greatest country in the world" because it's not.

And to answer your question, no, I don't use Google, nor Youtube and especially not Facebook. I go out of my way to explicitly block them all to protect my privacy.


I didn't say that all tech originate from the U.S, I even referenced a Swedish company in my comment.

I never said the U.S was the greatest country in the world or even implied that. You are projecting. You also seem to have a quite a chip on your shoulder. You have no idea what my nationality is.

That being said please tell me the country that has produced more successful tech companies than the US? Or what country has more available funding for tech startups and the appetite for risk? What country is that if it is not the US? I would like to know.


Let me ask a counter question.

How much innovation in other countries was stifled because of the way the US companies operate?

And to get back to Google and Facebook, these two companies are building walled gardens not unlike the way ISPs in the US operate. They either force the competition out or buy them. They do everything in their power to keep you inside their bubble. In a few years down the road, we may just end up with only the services those companies offer and no alternatives to go to, because everything that threatens their dominance will be suppressed with everything they got.

Just like the US ISPs are doing it and the US government is doing it.

The US getting some of their own medicine certainly isn't a bad thing. Maybe it'll wake them up.


You didn't answer the question, who produces the most successful/influential tech companies if not the US?

>"How much innovation in other countries was stifled because of the way the US companies operate?"

So the reason the US leads in tech is because they have stifled other countries tech development? Can you provide some concrete examples of that?

Maybe you aren't aware but foreign talent is a corner stone of U.S tech. More than a third of top US tech companies(Tesla, Qualcomm, Google, FB to name a few) have founders born born outside the US[1].

This has been discussed many times on HN. So why did those people go to the US and start tech companies? Were they prevented from leaving the U.S and starting companies in their native countries?

In terms of companies building walled-gardens and consolidating market share that is called capitalism and it wasn't invented in the U.S. Additionally nobody is forcing anybody to use any of those platforms. You yourself said you don't use them.

I get it, you are anti-American and your entitled to that. But your statements are really naive and seemed to be informed solely by anger. I find your sense of victimization quite sad.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/top-tech-companies-founded-by...


Well, at least at currently, the "US Internet" includes IANA, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Verisign and a majority of the root DNS servers...

Changes made to the "US Internet" are going to absolutely affect the wider world right now.


I fail to see how this affects IANA or root DNS servers in any way (not to mention that IANA can be replaced by a non-US entity if it really comes down to that).

As for those companies, they'll work the same way as before outside the US internet. Regrettably, because the world would be a better place without them.


This was a direct response to the commennt "I don't think there's any reason for us non-US-Americans to care at all about the US internet."

This change doesn't directly affect IANA, etc, but it will likely have knock-on effects which hurt everyone.

"IANA can be replaced by a non-US entity" - This would, IMO, signal the end of the internet. "Look up www.google.com" "which one?"


> This would, IMO, signal the end of the internet. "Look up www.google.com" "which one?"

I'm not entirely sure if you know how DNS works.


>"If you're an Internet user not in North America there's very little reason for you to care about the decision the FCC made today."

From the post:

"The result: ISPs would be able to once again prioritize, block and throttle with impunity. This means fewer opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs, and a chilling effect on innovation, free expression and choice online"

Do you not believe that the global internet has benefitted from North American tech companies that were able to innovate in part because they did't have to contend with gatekeepers and paid prioritization of traffic? Would Youtube have been possible under such a regime? Don't people from all over the globe consume Youtube content?

Additionally Ajat Pai is an ex Verizon lawyer. Verizon being half of the broadband duopoly in the US. Most countries have some similar former PTT(post telephone telgraph) monopoly/duopoly. This action sets a precedent for any other countries where the monopoly/duopoly is seeking to enact a similar gatekeeper/pay to play regime where there now stands an open internet.


> Would Youtube have been possible under such a regime?

Assuming youtube is something desirable, let's not forget that it has been created for the sole purpose of selling to a giant company too big to be able to innovate and too slow to conquer users while youtube purposely used pirated content for its growth. Nowadays years after youtube has been bought to be the frontend UI of googlevideo.com youtube is considered to be an example of internet centralization, users tracking and spying, automated censorship, geolocalized blocking, among others criticisms.

Maybe consider a better suited example next time you want to take a stance for net neutrality, maybe peer-to-peer.


That's a total straw man.

It does't matter whether or not you think its ethical in its current incarnation. Youtube was a startup that became one of the most popular sites on the internet[1] and were acquired by Google. If they had to pay a gatekeeper to deliver those bits it might not have been a viable idea. The examples are not the point but rather the environment that those were produced in - i.e an environment of an open internet.

>"Maybe consider a better suited example next time you want to take a stance for net neutrality, maybe peer-to-peer."

Maybe consider not createing straw man fallacies the next time you want to be critical of other people's comments.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_YouTube


Yeah, it sure would be a shame if all of those American companies everyone else in the world depends on were suddenly out of business because they couldn't afford the extortion fees charged by whichever ISP wants to clone their service.


True. Good to remember the American Internet is not the Internet. It's fascinating how this debate plays out in other countries with a certain class of citizenry that don't have the capacity to think for themselves. Even if the ISP landscape is hyper competitive people who spend their time on American tech sites, actually believe they are under threat. They express it via the media, social media etc. The Americans anti net neutrality activists totally ignorant of local conditions show up in full support. It's like watching cascading exploding ignorance in real time.


It will affect you almost immediately when they stop allowing traffic that competes with their voice arms.

Facetime, Messenger, Skype, all going to get brutalized.


If it succeeds in America, ISPs in other countries will try to replicate the policy.


When I worked in the DoD contracting space there were rules handed down that outlines what browser(s) and version(s) you MUST use due to security concerns. It was always Firefox.

This may be an insanely stupid idea, but, as sort of a thought experiment: what would the fallout be if, say, Mozilla changed their license on Firefox to disallow the usage of their browser by government representatives and associated contractors unless they have a viable, open internet policy in their country? Maybe even restrict future updates to existing Firefox builds to require the same license change?

Might cause some significant headaches as they can't update to the latest IE on likely most of their systems and Chrome has too much Google functionality built into it that, I believe, they'd have to use Chromium.

Like I said, probably a dumb idea but I wanted to throw it out there as a thought exercise because I'm curious if something like this could be effective, much like the original internet blackout was.


None. DoD doesn't require Firefox, Chrome, or IE. But the base install is typically IE only with the option to install Firefox or Chrome upon request.

If anything, it'd hurt Firefox's market share, but would have no impact on the government beyond not being able to use it. Especially these days with sites making themselves Chrome-first like the damned IE-only sites from 20 years ago.


> None. DoD doesn't require Firefox, Chrome, or IE. But the base install is typically IE only with the option to install Firefox or Chrome upon request.

Hmm, maybe depends on where you are in the crazy large DoD system. Our company was told the DNI office passed down requirements to use specific versions of Firefox and Firefox only for security purposes but IE was typically installed for when you were forced to use it.

But it's also been 3 years now since I've been out of that space.


This is an example of the DoD's insane bureaucracy. I can absolutely see this being the requirement or recommendation passed on to contractors. But the USAF, in building their default images, uses IE only. Like I said, other browsers can be installed on request.


Ah fair enough that's probably true. Though at the time we were told it would be considered a security violation if anything but Firefox version X.XX was used for govies or contractors. But who knows.

I do not miss the insane amount of bureaucracy :)


In that case it would stop being free software, which is likely not something that Mozilla wants to do.


Oh that's a good point. It would be almost free which I guess would go against what they stand for.


At this point they would just switch to Edge if they haven't already. It's secure and can also be locked down more by network policy.


> During the public comment period in 2015, nearly 4 million citizens wrote to the FCC, many of them demanding strong net neutrality protections. We all need to show the same commitment again.

Do they really think that the people who made these decisions did it because they care about the best interest of the people?


Well look, for the time being, it's a democracy. It could be called off due to lack of interest however. The FACT of low voter participation while politicians are bashing us in the face is at least as big a problem as being bashed in the face.


From the perspective of non-tech people, the internet has actually grown by shedding its neutrality. Huge numbers came to the net because of the "e" of IE, the "s" of skype or the "f" of facebook. As we watch people spend all of their time online locked in a closed platform (or spend all their money in hardware they don't control), we can't be surprised that net neutrality doesn't resonate with them. We can't just fight the occasional battle and then wonder why we're losing the war. If there's more money to be made in crushing net neutrality than in leveraging it, it will get crushed (specially in America).

A basic problem is that technological literacy is not growing fast enough. In fact, ignorance is celebrated. Both Apple and Microsoft are lowering the bar for their operating systems every year. The lack of monetization solutions has made it necessary to sell the user, and their ignorance or just lack of interest facilitates this tremendously. If you want to be able to choose freedom over convenience, you need to care for how things work.

Meanwhile, modern corporations are perfectly aware of how net neutrality got them to the top, of how relinquishing it allows them to stay on top and of how suppressing it keeps other companies from doing to them what they did to the older corporations that used to rule the world.


Google and Facebook's silence on net neutrality is deafening. It makes no sense. Are they thinking they'll be able to pay for access to the customers that their competitors won't be able to afford?


Aren't those two mentioned in the death of transit ?

Besides, facebook is a fierce opposant to net neutrality, remember their facebook basics offer as an attempt to conquer more users in emergent markets ? Pay less than a regular ISP and have an internet access limited to facebook and its partners, the exact opposite of net neutrality.


Good point, but then again, access to Facebook is probably going to be the most demanded by ISP customers, and therefore FB company has little to worry.

Google, on the other, as a search engine company, may appear to depend on the open web, but they don't necessarily need to be an internet company. They are a "world information" company, and they can achieve that by moving content to Google servers (like they do with AMP), or simply providing intelligent content through their AI who is learning from content on the open web. I won't be surprised if/when Google stops being a de facto internet company and becomes an information company.


I'd wager that's exactly what they're thinking. This hurts consumers, it hurts potentially-but-not-yet-big tech companies, and it even hurts currently-established players in the short term, but on a not-too-long time horizon it cements the big players' near-monopolistic positions in their respective markets. What's $50mm/yr in "fast lane" payments to ISP's when it prevents others from disrupting your multi-trillion-dollar tech conglomerate?


Very likely. At least in Faceboook's corner, they might be looking to make a tidy sum on this, I mean, who would want to use the ISP that doesn't have Facebook?


Make no mistake, regulations like this can lead to bubble bursts. This could very well be a first step toward the end of the current technology boom. Silicon Valley should be nothing but up in arms. Or, SV should be working on technological ways to circumvent throttles based on content.


SV is moving into a the "stasis" stage of a mature industry where the incumbents are more interested in freezing the market in its current self-optimized configuration than allowing for new players and risk loss.


Getting rid of 35-50 megabyte "text" pages would be a good start.


I think you just made me a proponent of ending net neutrality! /s


When startups are de-regulated out of existence by barrier to entry costs, big companies can look forward to both real and perceived lower innovation costs. The bubble may burst but a few tech companies will be more profitable than ever


I agree. I think this is a money grab, from which we'll see no added benefit. Content providers, and ourselves, will be hurt, while ISPs play god with who gets access to what.


People forget sometimes that the ARPAnet was a closed Internet. And it didn't have some of the problems of todays internet like spam for that same reason. (you could be kicked off) And the thing that lived alongside of it was FIDOnet and Usenet which exploited another closed network (the switched network service known as the telephone network) to run a parallel and notionally "open" internet.

Then (as now) the challenge was that for long distance communication you needed someone who was paying for that infrastructure. The way it typically worked was that a big company like Xerox which nominally had a coast to coast telephone system that was being maintained for corporate reasons but had excess capacity, was notionally "ok" with a couple of engineers creating a 'tunnel' between the west coast and the east coast. Locally people would use their 'free calling zone' to call.

We have companies that have their own wide area networks, and we have things like software defined radios and ISM bands that allow for nominally low cost 'hops'. Is it time to dig up the old Usenet architecture?


We need to take a ground up approach to solving this, get open infrastructure into the community and build local isps. Over time replace our broken network with a new generation.


ISPs in the U.S. are already way out in front of this on both legislative and legal fronts.

They help write and push state legislation to make this difficult/impossible and sue anyone who tries into oblivion while finding ways to deny access to the supposedly shared lines tax dollars paid to build.

Not saying it could never work, but that's a hell of an uphill battle to take on.

I'm convinced the disruptive change to this mess will be some kind of WiFi mesh-based network that pushes ISPs out of the loop. I'm just not sure how you'd go about porting that mesh network back into the regular Internet since local ISPs would control all the gateways.


I would hope people understand that the only true fix will come out of Congress so having the FCC who is staffed by people who don't report to voters vote this way puts the issue back into our hands.

get on your Congressman's ass and ride them hard


The FCC under Pai has become an absolute joke. Unless a piano happens to fall on his and Trump's heads in some sort of freak accident, this crap is just going to keep happening. For whatever it's worth, there's a group of people trying to raise money to sue the FCC as sort of an alternate approach: http://www.irregulators.org


While I think this is a terrible idea, there's not that much to worry about for us as ordinary internet users. There's not going to be a slow & fast lane, at least not anytime soon. ISPs want net neutrality banned so they can "extort" money from Google, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix (to some extent in place), Amazon, etc. They're going to artificially slow those big, rich sites down unless they pay up. Netflix already is paying Verizon fees to avoid being throttled (btw the throttling was easily demonstrated by using a VPN to mask the Netflix traffic, speeds went way up). This is analogous to the AdBlock extortion racket where they charge Google to allow Google's ads through AdBlock.


>there's not that much to worry about for us as ordinary internet users.

>"extort" money from Google, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix

That's going to degrade my experience or raise my bills at those sites, and make it impossible to make informed decisions when picking an ISP, as I won't know the true costs involved.


> picking an ISP

If you're even lucky enough to have a choice.


What I've noticed in most cities is that picking your ISP is a choice between the crappy but affordable cable connection, and the ultra-expensive but reliable fiber connection.


> there's not that much to worry about for us as ordinary internet users

But rising costs and reinforcing monopolies do worry me.


Those extortion payments will have to come from somewhere - ultimately it will probably be your pocketbook.


What about nonprofit web sites that can't afford to pay the extortion fees?


I think the idea is that fast lane will be default, and the slow lane will be for huge companies that refuse to pay a fee. Since the BigCos can afford to pay, it results in no ire from customers and extra, easy profits for the ISPs.


Yes exactly!


I support the principle of net neutrality in some philosophical abstract, but increasingly it seems like we're being asked to choose between:

A) A cabal of Comcast-centric billionaires who control key infrastructure on the Internet

B) A cabal of Sam Altman type VC billionaires who control key infrastructure on the Internet

What are ANY of these guys other than profiteers who seek to pervert the open protocols of the Internet for the sake of their own profits? I think they are all aspiring emperors with no clothes. I dare any of these profiteers to respond.


I'm not sure what that has to do with net neutrality. Care to elaborate?


Love the vision of neutrality, but it feels disheartening that net neutrality has been broken with increasing number of platform companies.

Google's algorithm decide which content show up in search results, and Facebook's ranking model determines the news you will see.

Same wth app store, only apps that fit the "Apple philosophy" can get approved.

Since most of our times on internet nowadays are spent on platforms, it turns out unconsciously we've already lived in a "closed internet".


Sadly this kind of battle can only be extended, not one. There will always be parties on both sides of the net-neutrality spectrum. But sadly one side needs to active millions of people for each battle and the other one can be confident with just a handful of politicians and two hands full of lawyers. Kind of obvious that you can't push people every two years to rally on the streets for the same topic, again and again.


The optimist in me sees this as a good things. Maybe Google will bring back it's Fiber program. Maybe the heavy weights of IT industry will start a conglomerated ISP? Maybe new startups will appear that provider an unregulated internet. In the long run, the only solution that is going to work is to have proper competition to the likes of comcast.


The dynamic IPs were the beginning of the end. Even the IPv6 connection of my ISP does not allow incoming connections. Sad :(


Surprisingly enough, my (tunneled) IPv6 address from CenturyLink has no ports filtered that I can tell, and is regularly higher bandwidth and lower latency than the IPv4 portion of our link.


Do the people in the USA elect the leader of the FCC? If so, can't they elect someone better? If not, why not?


The FCC is "ruled" by five people: two democrats, two republicans, and a chair. The president appoints the chair of the FCC and at any given point, there have to be at least two members of each of the two political parties on the FCC.

The the position(s) in the FCC are not elected, except indirectly by who you vote for as president.

(Please someone correct me if I'm wrong).


> each of the two political parties

What about all the other parties? Independents?

Edit: cnnsucks explained it more clearly:

> The commission may not have more than 3 members from the same political party.


Thanks, that makes sense.


The 5 commissioners of the FCC are appointed by the President of the United States. The commission may not have more than 3 members from the same political party. Effectively this means the FCC is dominated by the party of whomever is elected President.


Unfortunately no. The FCC Chairman is appointed by the President. Ajit Pai was appointed by Trump.


The chairman has to be approved by the Senate after being nominated by the President. But the Senate can't remove the chairman afterward, while the President can.

Edit: the commissioners including the chairman have five-year terms and have to be re-approved by the Senate for each term. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Communications_Commiss...


The Congress (specifically the Senate) has the power of impeachment against all civil officers of the U.S. Government. That would be any official not of the armed services.

https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing...

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/civil+officer

This would include, for the sake of discussion, any hypothetical commissioner of the FCC.


Suggestion - %s/Ajit Pai/Robert Taylor/ . Or some other DARPA person.


One Step Closer to a Closed Internet ... in the USA

This probably means internet business will move outside the USA where it is way too centralized, some good could come out of such a move.

On the other hand we have mozilla not putting money where its mouth is, not giving a shit about non-majority users and using skewed users tracking to justify those decisions. Have a look at how they dropped alsa support and refused to admit they made a mistake rejecting the responsibility on people disabling their spying, refused to backtrack when someone came forward to fix their code and maintain it.

When mozilla's action will be in line with the air they push out of their lung, I'll pay attention and support them again. Right now and after 15+ years supporting them, I'm giving them the same support they give me, the faster mozilla fails and disappears the faster a competent body can replace them and start doing the right thing and give the right direction to firefox.


Is there any evidence anywhere that non-neutral net actually makes money for ISPs ?


In what way would it not? ISPs could leave everything as it is, and there'd be no change. But without net neutrality they will have the ability to extort cough, sorry, "request" that companies and (potentially) customers pay them extra for prioritizing certain content. They'll also have the ability to deprioritize content, potentially costing companies that don't pay (why I call it extortion) customers. If Comcast does this to Netflix (deprioritizes) then Comcast can drive customers to their own VOD services. If Netflix doesn't pay, Netflix loses customers, Comcast gains customers. If Netflix does pay, Netflix retains customers, Comcast gains money.

Either way, Comcast is better off. The primary issue is that ISPs are not just ISPs. They have many services which compete with 3rd party providers (some big, some small) and their market position will allow them to abuse the hell out of both customers and other service providers.


Sure, the incident that caused the FCC to write the Net Neutrality rules.

https://www.extremetech.com/computing/186576-verizon-caught-...

Basically the ISPs held one service for ransom by slowing down the traffic enough to make it run poorly until the service paid the demands.

We can probably expect to see more of this in the future. Amazon and Google should probably start setting aside a warchest for the inevitable shakedowns.


Comcast successfully extorted payment from Netflix a few years ago by throttling their content until they paid up.


Depends on the ISP, not for the federated local non profit ISPs for example.


[flagged]


We detached this flagged subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14370057.


I've yet to see a viable, informed argument against NN given our current market/options.


I agree. While I would prefer a market in which we let competition decide how it goes, as it prevents the government from getting involved, there is no market for the majority of Americans. I moved from MD to PA to now CA and every place I go I have had zero alternatives to Comcast. Zero. AT&T told me they would have to run lines to my house at some insane cost (I think it was like $20k or something? It's been many years).

If there is an alternative that's realistic to implement I would be very interested but I haven't heard one.


A year or two ago I would have disagreed and argued that NN is the only way, but recently I've realized that we're just going to keep ping-ponging between regulation and deregulation until the real issue is fixed: ISPs in the US have a stranglehold.

So if we actually get a viable marketplace for internet in most places in the US (internet treated like a public utility rented out to private companies), I would concede NN regulation.

Basically, short of nobody having any internet at all, almost anything is better than our current situation.


Open access rules like the ones that exist on phone lines could do the job. The problem is that we got those rules on phone lines by having the government heavily subsidize them back in the Ma Bell days. The cable and fiber networks were much less subsidized so it's a hard argument to make.

The ship has already sailed on treating broadband as a utility like it should be. Muni broadband projects can help, but they're few and far between, plus they suffer from tremendous political pushback from the well connected incumbents.




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