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FCC plan would give Internet providers power to choose the sites customers see (washingtonpost.com)
1330 points by rbanffy on Nov 21, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 646 comments



For those who don't understand why net neutrality is important, it is worthwhile to read about the history of communications (telephone, radio, TV). There is an excellent book by Tim Wu called The Master Switch [0] which investigates the history of communications (with an American focus), describes how each industry start out open to all (farmers using fences for telephone, independent radio broadcasters), and each one collapsed into monopolies with a near-impossible barrier to entry for anybody else who wanted to do the same thing.

Parallels are then drawn to the Internet, where if we're not paying attention to what is happening now, then the free and open nature of the Internet today will slowly vanish and be replaced by only the big sites who can afford to be on the Internet.

[0]: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/apr/02/master-switch-... (book review, you can find the actual book on Amazon or wherever)


This Net Neutrality issue sounds similar to the issue America faced in the late 1800s with the railroads.

Some shippers (Standard Oil) wanted to monopolize the rails or at least they wanted rebates for shipping their freight. Others argued that the rails should offer the same rates to all shippers since they were using eminent domain in some cases to obtain property and they should exist as a shared resource.


AT&T is rapidly becoming what it once was, especially if the TW merger goes through.

We’d be renting Wi-Fi cards, access and with additional fees by the second and byte if they had their way.


AT&T is rapidly becoming what it once was...

I'm more and more convinced that this was always the plan. The primary effect of the Telecom Act of 1996 has been to extract hundreds of billions of dollars from investors. All of the CLECs and other competitive types of telcos that sprouted in the spring of that law's optimism have gradually been wound back into the monopoly. Ma Bell (still for the moment two "Daughters Bell") has paid pennies on the dollar for equipment, marketing, vendor agreements, customers, etc. as these erstwhile competitors have gradually succumbed to the monopoly's failure to substantially abide by (and regulators' failure to enforce!) any of the pro-competitive measures in that law.

In retrospect, it was inevitable. Therefore, it was planned from the beginning. Telco executives and bankers have personally extracted billions from all the mergers. Generations of citizens have swallowed the fiction that we ever tried telco competition in USA. Strictly regulated POTS has been replaced with totally unregulated "information services". Perennially-unprofitable operations like FairPoint and Hawaiian Telcom have been unloaded to fools like Carlyle. The inconvenient wall between local and long-distance is gone. The expensive nerds at Bell Labs got sold, so the world can look elsewhere for subsidized progress in basic technology. All in all, a pretty good deal for Ma Bell! Since it happened over the course of decades and Americans have short memories (and since the media that could remind us doesn't want to cross her), we didn't even notice it.


Worse.

The old AT&T was heavily regulated, and provided lifetime employment with generous benefits to its employees. It was the largest employer after the Federal Government prior to divesture.


Also, 5 9s of uptime. They had many problems. Reliability was not one of them.


The problem with the current net neutrality debate is that it seems to stop at layer 3 of the ISO stack. There's no reason why we should have dozens of incompatible video calling apps, why media streaming only works with a particular vendor's application.

Not to mention that many of the big players in silicon valley like to jump back and forth over the line of "is a provider" / "is not a provider". Twitter and Google and Facebook like to police the content on their systems, which is their right, but at the same time they like to hold up the DMCA safe harbor provision anytime someone finds copyrighted material on their networks. They have no problem banning unpopular parties from their networks while simultaneously profiting from clear copyright violations.

We should insist that net neutrality extend all the way to layer 7.


Focusing on even getting it to that point is important, though. I'd suggest let's focus our efforts on getting some bit of Net Neutrality written into law (not just a guideline by the FCC) to at least protect certain things, then move to improve that law over time.

Let's not sacrifice the good for the perfect.


I remember having to explain to my younger sibling that "yes, you can send an email to a Yahoo address from your Gmail account. No, seriously, try it, I am not kidding." They are much younger than I am and they grew up in a world of walled gardens. To them, that's just the way things are and have always been. It's a shame.


When I was a kid, compuserve, aol, even msn later were all walled gardens. It was shocking when compuserve opened up gateways to the fledging web.

The open network existed as "normal" for maybe a decade.


i've had similar instances, but it was solely because many kids nowadays have no idea that there is a such a thing as email that is not "Gmail." Google has done such a sneaky job of spreading into education that kids know nothing that isn't Google. They know Google Drive, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, and are confused when something else is in front of them.

Google has become the walled garden that they pretend they aren't.


TBF, it's called network-neutrality, not data-and-application-neutrality.

The latter isn't something traditional we're about to lose, but a novel goal for the future which is qualitatively and quantitatively different.


Maybe, but it would be absolute folly to allow neutrality at layer 3 to be lost just to prove a point.


Wait, what? You think government regulation should dictate how I let competitors access my L7 application servers to host their own content in the name of "neutrality"?

I think I must be misunderstanding what you mean. How could a "neutrality" argument possibly apply to my proprietary application stack?


That's fine if you want to operate a proprietary platform, however you should be held liable for what your users do with it.

Facebook etc want the control of a private operator but the protection of a common service, which seems wrong.


It sounds like you are suggesting we make forum moderation illegal.

That's like the difference between saying who's allowed on the sidewalk vs. saying who's allowed in the bar.

EDIT: In case it's not clear, this comment is pro-net neutrality. I am pointing out the absurdity of disallowing site owners from curating their own content.


And our mistake here is not finding a way to explain it that doesn't require reading a book.


John Oliver found a good way to explain it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpbOEoRrHyU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92vuuZt7wak

The problem is that ISP shills that make these decisions don't care about public opposition. They aren't elected officials.


> The problem is that ISP shills that make these decisions don't care about public opposition

But they do care most about making money from the public and no one has convinced me that filtering internet packages by website makes any technical, marketing, or business model sense at all.

This has proven to be incredibly unpopular idea with the public for over a decade as well, whenever it has come up in the press. It wouldn't take much market research to see it's a terrible idea.

Plus the huge technical challenge of filtering at the ISP level... this would be a huge boon for encryption and VPNs as well.

No American ISP for the ~20yr timeframe before the FTC regulation was passed a few years ago had ever offered such an arrangement. Not to mention no ISP in any other country has offered anything close to that either. Plenty of American ISPs have said they have zero intention of doing it either.

This would be a boon to any ISP who DIDN'T do this. Competition, the technical hurdles, and obvious lack of business sense, etc has always been an adequate counter-balance to this idea.

So I'm a bit confused why this is generating so much FUD over such a highly hypothetical and hand wavy scenario... as if the only thing stopping them from doing it was this three year old FTC regulation.


You're assuming that most people have access to more than one ISP (they don't), or that statements by ISPs about what they intend to do or not do are truthful (they aren't). Specifically statements promising they would never do anything that would break net neutrality rules, while arguing against the imposition of net neutrality rules, would not make sense. Why oppose something you have no intention of doing?


Very true. Rural folks have it worst: monopoly or no access at all. If a company like Sinclair also owned the broadband, only payola TV would work, YouTube access and bandwidth could a tiered add-on, they’d block whichever company didn’t pay the extortion protection money with no means of recourse.

Also, for everyone, billing would become more complexified, obscured to extract more money from consumers and thwart cost calculation and comparing with (the few remaining, if any) competitors.


Don't people have access to 4G? I live in a tiny village (1000 people) and have 40/6 home Internet via 4G that I pay less than $10/mo with a 200 GB data cap that you can prepay $5 for 100 gb more if you spend it. I'm not from the U.S. though.


I live just outside a town of 3000 (in the US). My wired (cable) connection costs $44.95/month ($54.95 without cable TV) for 10/1 with a 500GB cap.

Edit: I meant to imply that 4G would be more expensive. After checking briefly, the best offer I'm finding starts at $30/month for 5GB.


No. I have fast cellular internet but pay $10/GB, and I consider that a pretty good deal (total for me + wife is $45/mo, including cellular and data; in Portland, OR). Your 4G internet is cheaper than most people's wired internet here in the US.


That sounds nice. I pay $75 a month for 10/1. LTE is higher speed, but significantly more expensive because of data caps.


I'm from the US and would love to get that service.

Fellow Americans, does it exist?


What magical country are you from? I'm going to guess at somewhere in Northern Europe?


It's Eastern Europe, Serbia to be precise. You can get unlimited high speed 4G for $30/mo without a contract. Vip mobile.


Nice.


90% have at least two providers of 10Mbps+ speed, but only 20% have at least two providers of 25Mbps+ speed.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/08/us-br...

That could change though as more providers are rolling out fiber. (AT&T just rolled out Fiber to the Home in my neighborhood, and Comcast says they will do the same soon.)


Directly from the article you linked:

> Even these numbers overstate the amount of competition, because an ISP might offer service to only part of a census block. The percentage of households with choice is thus even lower.

This is especially true with DSL @10mb - it’s common for DSL providers to have lower speeds for some customers due to distance limitations. Also, is 2 providers at 10mb really enough ‘choice’ to force the market to do the right thing here? Especially considering that those 2 providers are likely one of only 3 or 4 national ISPs...

I am a huge proponent of market freedom and market choices, but the system we have now has embedded natural and regulatory monopolies and duopolies - that’s the opposite of a free market.


It should be noted that that's 90% of census blocks. IIUC, if one household has access to one provider, another household has access to a different provider, and no one else has any access, that's part of that 90%. If people aren't making their housing decisions based significantly on their choice of internet provider, that's not really competition.



> That could change though as more providers are rolling out fiber.

And Google's competition heavily incentivized that rolling out fiber. Imagine what the threat of a new entrant offering unthrottled internet would do to these hypothetical plans?


Google was a huge company that lost a lot of money trying to improve internet access through competition. Last I heard they decided to stop expanding, and access to anything comparable to Google Fiber is extremely limited.


Why on earth should whether you get those plans or not depend on whether Google Jesus has decided to show his face upon you?


My counter point does not depend entirely on competition. That is merely one counter-balance available to much of the country who have more than one ISP available, of the many I mentioned (technical, marketing, business model).

Why not create regulation in response to real scenarios that have actually happened instead of hypothetical ones that are already have plenty of other drawbacks?


Have you forgotten the whole controversy about Verizon throttling Netflix back in July? This is a real scenario that has actually happened.

http://www.businessinsider.com/verizon-netflix-youtube-throt...

Your other points hold up equally poorly: there are no unsolved technical hurdles in throttling or blocking specific sites or services -- as evidenced by the fact that they can and have already done so. As for "marketing" and "business model" and it being an "unpopular idea", these again fall back to the issue of consumer choice: in an effective monopoly, it doesn't matter a whit whether the populace dislikes the idea. It's not like Comcast is winning any popularity contests as it is.


That is different from the type of satellite-tv style packages ("Social media package, Facebook/Twitter, for only $9.99!") type of thing that people are talking about with net neutrality.

And the current FTC regulations in question didn't do anything in regards to that issue you linked to?


> That is different from the type of satellite-tv style packages ("Social media package, Facebook/Twitter, for only $9.99!") type of thing that people are talking about with net neutrality.

It's the flip side of the same coin. Without net neutrality, ISPs will be able to charge content providers like Netflix a toll to not be throttled out of viablity -- who will then presumably pass the costs on to end consumers -- or the ISPs can directly charge end consumers an extra toll for access to the full internet. (Of course they'll do both, after some experimentation to find the best profit::outrage ratio.)

> And the current FTC regulations in question didn't do anything in regards to that issue you linked to?

...they kinda did? In that Verizon had to back off and wait for net neutrality to be repealed before they could try again?

(I assume you meant FCC, not FTC, in all of this. The FTC, of course, doesn't have any authority here until after the common carrier regulations are lifted. So, roughly a month from now.)


> Why not create regulation in response to real scenarios that have actually happened instead of hypothetical ones that are already have plenty of other drawbacks?

The FCC adopted NN principles in 2004 and did reactive, case-by-case enforcement of the principles without general regulation up until the federal courts stopped that approach in 2010. The two regulatory packages in 2010 and 2015 were largely based on the actual things that had been observed in the 2004-2010 period. That is, while they did consider and seek to preempt some new violations of the same principles, they were very much reactions to real scenarios that happened.


>real scenarios

Comcast didn't count movies streamed through there service against the monthly cap. They did count movies streamed through netflix.


If we don't want those things to happen, why allow them at all? Why wait, when we can just say up front, "Those things are not allowed to happen."


> This would be a boon to any ISP who DIDN'T do this. Competition, and obvious lack of business sense, has always been a far larger counter-balance to this idea.

Competition surely can help, but currently there is no competition in a lot of places. It's basically monopoly / oligopoly situation, with collusion and market division to boot. So increasing competition is a good goal, but it shouldn't block preventing monopolistic abuse with legal means.

Monopolists also created a lot of blockers that prevent increasing competition. Such as local state laws that ban municipal networks which could solve this very problem.


> Competition surely can help, but currently there is no competition in a lot of places.

Places with a lot of people? People who have been harmed by what NN is intending to fix?

> Monopolists also created a lot of blockers that prevent increasing competition.

Facilitated by government. If government was responsible in the first place, why not just undo what they did?


> Places with a lot of people? People who have been harmed by what NN is intending to fix?

Yes and yes. I've lived all over southern California, but never anywhere that had two broadband providers available at the same address. Parts in cities; I'm not talking about little desert communities, or something. I have however been inconvenienced by various ISPs' content-based packet filtering policies.

> Facilitated by government. If government was responsible in the first place, why not just undo what they did?

Part of it is that you're talking about every individual local government, with lobbying from the incumbent ISPs. A lot of those governments have contracts with those incumbents, giving them franchise rights in the city. They can't just declare those contracts void.

Beyond the local level, a lot of states have laws that make setting up a new ISP difficult or impossible (especially municipally-operated internet access).


> Places with a lot of people?

It doesn't depend on numbers. Depends mostly whether there is some other ISPs besides the coax provider (which are the most widespread).


So we should have a one-size-fits-all law? You're not that unimaginative, are you?


Anti-trust laws are pretty much universal and we already have them. A lot of NN related abuse could be prevented if our legal system would have actually applied them, but it often doesn't.


So a universal NN law is what we need to supersede the "universal" anti-trust laws? I fail to see the logic.


What else can you do, if the system refuses to use anti-trust properly?


What specifically is wrong with one-size-fits-all?


I live in Orange County, CA. I have access to literally one provider.


What city? Provider of what?


I've lived in 3, and in all of them, there was exactly one cable/internet provider.


When was that? Seems to be not much of a problem anymore if this is correct: https://broadbandnow.com/California/Orange


It's now. And that site is extremely misleading, because while all those companies are in the county, they don't serve the same areas. And as long as 1 person in the census block has access to the service, it's counted as serving the entire block.


I see your profile says "data scientist in training"

I would love for you to use some of your training to supply your post with actual data or sources. Everything I see reported disagrees with so many of your assumptions.

Like your unstated assumption of some sort of fair and competitive market where they will lose money if they don't treat their customers right. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/06/50-mi...

The internet is so vital to our modern world that it has become a human right in several countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Internet_access#Ensur...


Wait but I thought the free market operated in good faith and not by brutally cutting corners on service, monopolizing, and lobbying government for preferential treatment?


[flagged]


If there's a government regulating the market in such a way that a firm can "lobby government for preferential treatment" then it isn't a free market.


Well then free market is a useless theoretical concept that does not exist anywhere, has not existed anywhere and cannot exist in any non-trivial environment, and as such should not be discussed.


Here's some data for you: no home/business ISP in any country in the last two decades has offered anything like what is being proposed in in the headline (TV style throttled internet packages based on the website).

The only time this has ever been done is in countries like Portugal to offer cheaper internet on limited mobile phone connections to people only who want Facebook/Twitter/etc for $5/m instead of a full internet connection for $20-30/m (typically also far cheaper than the US). It has never been tried to limit primary ISP internet connections.

Data requires actual numbers. I've repeatedly said in my comments I believe we should regulate things companies have done that are provably bad. Not hand wavy hypothetical things that sound like a terrible idea for any company to try.


> This would be a boon to any ISP who DIDN'T do this. Competition, and obvious lack of business sense, has always been a far larger counter-balance to this idea.

Where I'm at, it's Comcast or nothing. Most of the US does not have any ISP competition. It's usually 1 ISP to choose from, or if you're lucky, 1 ISP with expected speeds and 1 ISP over DSL.

I really wish I lived somewhere with multiple options, because if anything like this website bundle scenario did play out, I wouldn't have any choice in avoiding it.


sad that they point at HughesNet or something equally awful as "competition" too. :/


What's different now is that we're seeing huge mergers between telecom companies and media companies.

The internet is more vital to everyone now than compared to 15 years ago. Every year more and more people are choosing to eschew traditional cable for Netflix et al.

With NN being repealed, it opens up ways for ISP's to promote their own content and shut out others like nothing that's happened before. This whole repeal smacks of anti-consumerism and pro corporate nonsense.


But what if your only choice for ISP is Comcast? 50 million Americans only have access to one ISP. You can't just switch providers when you only have one provider to choose from. Comcast could do this very easily and millions of Americans would be stuck paying more money for worse service.


Netflix was throttled, mostly By Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon, which all have businesses competing with Netflix outside the internet.


The majority of Americans can't choose their broadband internet service provider. I live in NYC and have access to exactly one broadband provider. You don't think they'll come up with any reason they can to make up new service levels and add-ons to pad my bill?


You have no 4G in NY?


You could get Verizon's connected home 4G service. It's $60 for 10GB. That would let you watch 3 movies on Netflix.


I assume your building owner doesn't want you to install a new fibre? saying will sell you a 1gbit service for $1600pcm in midtown. How much are you willing to pay and for what?


Why exactly are ISPs opposing net neutrality if it's their intention anyway?


Not to mention no ISP in any other country has offered anything close to that either.

Facebook. India. So-called free basics.


You know what was different 15 years ago? It was before consumer broadband access was consolidated down to the point where a consumer 0 or 1 other choices other than their current provider.


>>But they do care most about making money from the public and no one has convinced me that filtering internet packages by website makes any technical, marketing, or business model sense at all.

Charge internet companies for access to subscribers. Charge subscribers to access certain websites. It's a simple model.

>>No ISP for the ~15yr timeframe before the FTC regulation was passed a few years ago had ever offered such an arrangement.

Again, not true. https://www.theverge.com/2014/3/24/5541916/netflix-deal-with... https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/21/16010766/verizon-netflix-...

>>Plenty of ISPs have repeatedly said they have zero intention of doing it either (including a few this year). Not to mention no ISP in any other country has offered anything close to that either.

Why would you ever trust an ISP? If they were not going to take advantage of this new opportunity, then they should be fine with having the regulation stay in place. Also, wireless carriers which are in many ways analogous to ISPs already have started preying on consumers using this model https://imgur.com/yYobj7x

>>This has proven to be incredibly unpopular idea with the public for over a decade as well, whenever it has come up in the press. It wouldn't take much market research to see it's a terrible idea.

Market research and public opinion don't matter when you have no competition and have numerous state laws written for protection.

>>This would be a boon to any ISP who DIDN'T do this. Competition, and obvious lack of business sense, has always been a far larger counter-balance to this idea. Plus the huge technical challenge of filtering at the ISP level... this would be a huge boon for encryption and VPNs as well.

Again, there is little to no competition in most markets.

>>So I'm a bit confused why this is generating so much FUD over such a highly hypothetical and hand wavy scenario... as if the only thing stopping them from doing it was this three year old regulation.

It's not hypothetical at all, see above links. It's a big deal because it will ultimately be a huge wealth transfer away from consumers. You're not by chance Ajit Pai, are you?


The ISPs definitely did do this up until the point they were classified as regulated. They just did it in subtle ways, seeing how far they could push it without causing a backlash. Like limiting Netflix and BitTorrent. Despite being careful, they got classified.

Now, they explicitly are going to be unclassified, and we, the consumers, will be unprotected.


[flagged]


Could you please not do this and post civilly and substantively instead?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> Internet companies didnt make fast lanes and shit for 20 years

I assume you mean 1984-2004, the 20 years preceding both the FCC first adopting and first acting to enforce network neutrality rules (under the title “Network Freedom” principles, which later became “Open Internet”.)

Since 2004 there've been all kinds of non-neutral action and an evolving approach to enforcing neutrality responding to court decisions closing off certain approaches until Title 2 was the only thing left.


Are there any non-neutral actions that aren't behind the scenes peering disputes? Is there an example of an ISP using network policy to maliciously throttle or block traffic from their competitors?


I honestly don't get your argument. You're saying that, because they didn't do it while they were under regulation, they're not going to do it in the future?

If they're not going to do it, then why remove the regulation?


Tell them the story of Almon Brown Strowger, the 19th-century undertaker whose business mysteriously took a nosedive when the local telephone company hired an operator who was related to a rival funeral director.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almon_Brown_Strowger

I've always loved that (admittedly apocryphal) story. It's one of the vanishingly-rare cases where someone successfully solved a social problem through purely technical means. Even if there's not a word of truth to it, it's a completely realistic description of what consumers can expect in a world without net neutrality. It can be considered a modern-day Aesop fable.

Once you've related the Strowger story, then you can speculate on how it might have unfolded if Ma Bell herself had owned the competing funeral home. That's basically where the Comcasts and Verizons of the world want to be.


Would it be any different than YC promoting its companies here.


No, because YC doesn't take government subsidies to act as a dumb pipe. They also aren't a de-facto monopoly in any way, shape, or form.

All of the incumbent ISPs are charged with stewardship of public resources to one extent or another, if only because they require right-of-way access. The fact that many Americans have a grand total of one decent broadband provider to choose from is another factor that has to be considered, but often isn't.

Basically, net neutrality isn't a gift to the public, it's half of a longstanding bargain. The Trump administration proposes to unilaterally alter that bargain on behalf of corporate lobbyists who do not have consumers' interests in mind.


If wires are public resources the government should buy it outright instead of giving subsidies. Public resources should be publically owned.


Perhaps. That's not what's being debated, though.

And it's not so much the wires, as the land the wires have to traverse. These areas are largely public rights-of-way already.


Explaining isn't the crucial part. Everyone who hears it understands "ISPs get to decide which websites you can see with the basic package and more cost upgrades".

The hard part is giving people something useful and worthwhile to do about it.


Andre Staltz has a pretty good article[0] about how that collapse is already happening with the likes of Facebook, Google, and Amazon taking over every other site.

[0]: https://staltz.com/the-web-began-dying-in-2014-heres-how.htm...


Imagine having to fork over extra cash to your ISP in order to access your Bitcoin wallet. So much for radical decentralization.


How would people react to the inaccessibility of porn sites? It is, after all, a huge part of many people's internet experience. And due to its taboo nature, it probably won't be publicly offered on the ISP plans.


Porn is listed on most TV services list


There is a strongly contrasting view of the history of radio in the United States [1].

[1] https://mises.org/library/spectrum-should-be-private-propert...


Though this strongly contrasting view is not mainstream by any measure.


I think the Austrian school is considered legitimate school of economics though, right? It's not like these are amateur economists or anything.


I didn't say it's not a legitimate school of economics. I have 'The Road to Serfdom' sitting on my bookshelf among other works by members of the school.

However I did claim that the thought that EM spectrum should be privatized is not a mainstream one.

I imagine the more general idea that all public spaces and goods should be private is even less mainstream in the US, given the popularity of public roads, schools, parks etc.


@wavefunction I can't comment on your last message (I guess to prevent flamewars?), hopefully this doesn't get too confusing to follow.

My understanding of the argument is that EM frequencies in a geography are a limited resource and therefore are best treated as property with "homesteading" giving the initial claim to that property. (Which re-reading what you wrote, I think you understand)

The first time I heard that argument, I found it quite interesting. And in fact, I shared it because it appears not to be mainstream but well worth a look IMO.

I do disagree with your characterization of the general discussion. I think parks and radio frequencies on the whole are treated differently by the govt. There are govt owned frequencies of radio which would be like a public park but I believe this discussion is more about the regulation of the private radio frequencies. There are lots of private frequencies, they are just distributed and regulated by the FCC.

The question as I see it is would it have been better to let "homesteading" distribute the initial ownership or the FCC?


I certainly encourage you to post anything thoughtful or personally resonant, especially as it is not my place nor my intent to police what ideas folks enjoy or discuss here or elsewhere. One could easily bring up some communist or even anarchist arguments for treatment of the EM band but they're definitely not mainstream either.

I don't personally subscribe to the homesteading concept due to the frequent historical problems with real-world examples of 'homesteading' resources.

On the one hand, I can recognize that the freedom to stake a claim on 'public' resources drove a huge amount of innovation and productivity in the American West. With it though came plenty of degradation, destruction and misuse as well. And one might even argue that it was only there to be homesteaded because the original inhabitants and their traditional cultures had been suppressed with force.

And the US Federal government has privatized public lands for things like military bases and Land Grant Universities just as it has with bands of the EM spectrum for emergency responders or other governmental uses. For the closest analog to public parks I'd look at the shortwave bands or ham radio operators. Even there, as in public parks, there are regulations on behavior.

It's an interesting discussion and in a more egalitarian world I might be more amenable to the view expressed by the original article. But today I look with deep suspicion on folks advancing the view that public goods should be privatized, due to what I consider a very irrational minority of people whose interests are purely selfish despite their claims to the contrary. Some folks wrap themselves in an ideology but really only seek to serve themselves.


Repealing net neutrality would only make sense if the layer underneath (the PHY consisting of fiber/copper/coax/wireless/whatever infrastucture including last-mile connections between every node) were subject to net neutrality instead [1], such that "anyone" could start an ISP that offers differentiated services on top of the same infra. Of course, today the last-mile infra and the ISP on top are tightly coupled, and many states have enacted laws and regulations that restrict or forbid municipalities' efforts to build out a neutral infra [2].

I find it absurd that some politicians support both the repeal of net neutrality and the restricting of willing communities to build out their own infra at the same time. I could intellectually entertain either option but never both simultaneously. For a political cohort whose brand has long included local self-determination and rural self-reliance, it's bizarre to me to see them take positions that don't even appear to be logically consistent. It's difficult to accept that they truly have the best interest of their constituents in mind.

[1] https://muninetworks.org/content/competition [2]. https://muninetworks.org/communitymap


That's what we ended up with in New Zealand, the underlying infrastructure is owned by companies that lease it to the ISPs, so anyone with enough cash can rent some cabinet space and start an ISP.

Before the unbundling, Telecom NZ basically had a monopoly on ADSL connections, connections cost a lot of money and had comically small caps (like 10 GB, which even in 2006 was not a lot). Now, in straight dollar terms, plans are cheaper, and uncapped plans are standard.


True. Access (services) vs. censorship, you want to avoid the monopolies from restricting new access providers, but also don't want access providers from censoring the access.

The right wants isp/telcos to be able to bundle and offer more speeds/services. Assuming it won't censor.

The left assumes isp/telcos will offer services/bundles (tiers) but will censor its services/bundles. (Like it did with netflix.)

As most places have a monopolistic type access (or worse, no access) thats the primary cause for concern. Nobody loves their cableco. If we had a plethora of choices for internet access, that would be the cure for censorship.

But we don't. We are stuck at fighting censorship due to lack of access.


In Canada, the CRTC requires the big internet providers to resell their broadband to smaller ISPs. Even then it took a decade for big ISPs like Rogers to give up on onerous bandwidth caps (which would be about 100GB a month, and, usually, worse).

Even with some competition and access, it can take a while for unfavorable conditions to resolve, partially because consumers don’t really care about things like censorship, lack of access, (or in my example) bandwidth limits.

Markets are eventually consistent, but in terms of net neutrality I really don’t think we can afford to wait.


It's not that customers don't care, but rather the transaction costs of switching (breaking contracts, dealing with CSRs, taking the time to shop around) slow the market response to competition.


> It's difficult to accept that they truly have the best interest of their constituents in mind.

Then ... don't. If someone's actions contradict their words, don't believe their words.


To expand on this a little bit, they have their own interests in mind. Which go getting re-elected > getting rich. They'll take the bribe money as long as they think they can get re-elected. Sometimes because they can't get re-elected without it.

Call your reps and let them know how you feel. If they think they won't get re-elected all the bribe money in the world doesn't really matter.


You're right, but you're wrong. In the system you describe, "good" candidates who give a hoot about their constituents' wishes will always lose elections to other candidates who are happy to fund their campaigns with bribes. This system will not fix itself. The improvements we seek will not come from voting.


>it's bizarre to me to see them take positions that don't even appear to be logically consistent.

Ever consider that maybe they are more beholden to those who give them money than those who give them votes?


Right, repealing net neutrality would only make sense if we keep net neutrality


^ underrated comment


I frankly don't see the point in allowing the creation of companies who's sole purpose it is to break net neutrality.


It's unlikely popular and profitable services will be hindered by the lack of net neutrality.

But any new services that threaten existing ones will be hard-pressed to compete.

Imagine I start a new streaming service. In order for my service to reach people, ISP's will charge me a higher price than Netflix, probably a _significantly_ higher rate. This will make it extremely difficult for my new service to reach enough people to make it an ongoing concern.

This is just another nail in the oligarchy coffin we are actively sealing ourselves in.

It will also allow ISP's to control and block content if someone pays them to do so. There are still anti-competitive laws on the books, but are any of them even being enforced anymore. We allowed the banks to become monopolies, we've allowed the AT&T fox back in the hen house.

If we don't fight back, we're going to become slaves to the digital age.


> It's unlikely popular and profitable services will be hindered by the lack of net neutrality.

Huh? Did you forget already that both Verizon and Comcast throttled services like Netflix? They both argued they should get a cut if they were going to carry the traffic to their customers. Now they're getting exactly what they wanted.

1. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/07/veriz...

2. https://consumerist.com/2014/02/23/netflix-agrees-to-pay-com...


Except Netflix doesn't care about net neutrality anymore - Reed Hastings claims they are now big and popular enough for it not to matter for them:

https://www.cnet.com/news/net-neutrality-netflix-reed-hastin...


The point was to reply to a contention that "popular services will not be affected" with a counter example. Popular services certainly could have been squeezed by ISP, and in fact they were in the past, very notably.

So sure: Netflix maybe might not due to size and popularity. The next great thing will be, for sure.


> Except Netflix doesn't care about net neutrality anymore

Yes, they do:

https://twitter.com/netflix/status/933042368156123136


That's just a tweet.

On the other hand they partnered with Telekom (most popular ISP in Germany) for a service called "StreamOn". With that you can stream Netflix (and other partnered streaming sites) without affecting your monthly data cap.


So? Desires about what the legal context should be and business was strategy given what the legal context is are separate issues.


German government regulation agency (Bundesnetzargentur) and the EU have their doubts that StreamOn is legal even in the current context. So by participating they are setting a statement.

It's like a vegetarian eating meat from factory farming every day.


Or he's subtly pointing out that Netflix wouldn't have been started if it wasn't for net neutrality.

> It's an issue that would have been more important to "the Netflix of 10 years ago," he said.


What is the actual reason they shouldn't?

This is a highly politicized topic but it's hard to find rational discussion.

If I built a network I would expect to be able to charge whatever I wanted to whomever I wanted in exchange for the use of my network.

Is the answer that taxpayers helped fund the network so now feel they deserve not to pay twice? How much of the current internet infrastructure is paid for by taxpayers vs private corporations?

Any good sources you'd suggest reading on the pros and cons of each side of the argument?


In the US the internet has become a utility. You can possibly live without it in the same way that you could possibly live without running water, but to be a functional and normal member of society you need access to it. It is used for everything from communication to shopping. Giving cable companies control over what people can/cannot see on the internet or how much websites cost to view allows them to extort any one that uses the internet to conduct or attract business.

Furthermore, the internet has now become a public meeting place. Many people communicate with each other solely through the internet and voice their opinions there. Giving cable companies the ability to legally prevent two IPs from communicating is akin to preventing mail between them.

Basically, because of the ways that the internet has come to be used and the basic expectation of privacy that people have when it comes to similar things such as mail, many people would consider it wrong to remove any semblance of privacy or fairness from the internet, which is what repealing net neutrality does.


These ISP companies use legal shenanigans, coupled with the unavoidably large startup costs of creating a new/competing ISP, to effectively run regional monopolies. Google kind of gave up their master plan for Fiber after they were litigated in multiple jurisdictions essentially over bullshit that they were legally within their right to do, such as use shared lines - and that was Google, which had a ton of cash to throw at the problem.

These monopolies aren't so bad by themselves; we have similar monopolies with power and water. But those are regulated so that their monopolies can't be blatantly abused. ISPs are trying to roll back regulations that, in the minds of pro-NN people, will allow them to abuse consumers using their monopolies.

The problem with what these network providers are doing is that they own both the lines and the content. For example, if your ISP is a shareholder in Hulu, they're going to charge way more for Netflix to stream than Hulu, so they can essentially use this new ruling in an anti-competitive manner.

I'm not sure what most of the anti-net neutrality side's supporting arguments are aside from the fact that the regulations are unfairly limiting ISP's abilities to make money. They will mention that these regulations are affecting the free market, but in my opinion other existing regulations are much worse about limiting the effects of the free market, except those would make it easier for ISPs to be competed against, not harder.


> I'm not sure what most of the anti-net neutrality side's supporting arguments are

My friend was a lawyer for an ISP and now works for the FCC (I promise she's a good person otherwise).

The main argument is that small ISPs can't compete if Net Neutrality exists, because they can't build a network big enough for every customer to stream Netflix and YouTube. If they could have most of their customers blocked from those services, they could afford to offer it to the few that want to pay extra for it.

The other main argument against it is that it's not fair that Grandma, who only wants to read email once a day and look at the kids on Facebook, pays the same as the kid next door who is watching Netflix while playing an RTS while torrenting three movies.

They're both decent arguments, and would totally make sense in a world where multiple ISPs could reach everyone's home.


> The main argument is that small ISPs can't compete if Net Neutrality exists, because they can't build a network big enough for every customer to stream Netflix and YouTube. If they could have most of their customers blocked from those services, they could afford to offer it to the few that want to pay extra for it.

Hypotheticals can be checked by referring to other countries with different market structures.

Australia has a broader mix of ISPs and Telcos than the US, despite until the 90s being under the control of a single public system (Telecom), with a plurality of the current infrastructure owned by its privatised successor (Telstra).

They seem to do fine with net neutrality. Regular competition.

> The other main argument against it is that it's not fair that Grandma, who only wants to read email once a day and look at the kids on Facebook, pays the same as the kid next door who is watching Netflix while playing an RTS while torrenting three movies.

Charging by bandwidth and usage is well settled.

The point is that the ISPs don't want to segment the consumer market. Too hard: there's competition, which as we know is unamerican because it makes business haaaard.

Instead they want to segment the provider market. Far fewer of them to negotiate and there's zero competition. You, the ISP, have at any point in time monopoly control over the consumer who is using your infrastructure. Providers have no other way to route traffic over the last mile.

Nobody mounts this kind of lobbying effort from the goodness of their hearts. They see a gigabuck in it.


>The main argument is that small ISPs can't compete if Net Neutrality exists, because they can't build a network big enough for every customer to stream Netflix and YouTube. If they could have most of their customers blocked from those services, they could afford to offer it to the few that want to pay extra for it.

What? This logic is like saying, hey the only business model that should exist is one where we should only cater to those that pay the most (whether through ignorance or lack of options, etc).

>The other main argument against it is that it's not fair that Grandma, who only wants to read email once a day and look at the kids on Facebook, pays the same as the kid next door who is watching Netflix while playing an RTS while torrenting three movies.

It's not fair that grandma is going to be even more duped by the limited offerings of news and media that these companies will tighten their grip on through this move. Also the pipe is just sitting there. It's not like Comcast is manufacturing electrons and packets that get consumed by users.

Ask your friend to study other countries internet situations.


I wouldn't call either of these "decent arguments" for forsaking net neutrality. They can both be solved by offering tiered pricing and data caps. For instance, grandma pays $10 a month for a Gb of data, Netflix Youtube kid pays $100 for unlimited. Same goes for small startup ISP.


> The main argument is that small ISPs can't compete if Net Neutrality exists, because they can't build a network big enough for every customer to stream Netflix and YouTube. If they could have most of their customers blocked from those services, they could afford to offer it to the few that want to pay extra for it.

I find it hard to believe that the electrical grid, water, sewer, and natural gas systems all are able to make due but the poor ISPs rolling in cash can't.

Meanwhile, these same ISPs are working to make competition illegal or impossible.

This isn't an issue of providing better service. This is an issue of making more money by squeezing the customer every way they can while making recourse impossible.


'We cannot build a big enough network for Netflix' is nowhere near a top reason people cannot start an ISP. Data caps and plans with different bandwidth is a working answer to the second problem. Are you sure your friend is a good person? She sounds like a typical sellout hypocrite if that's her arguments.


Thanks for the detailed reply.

It seems like a lot of the disagreement hinges on the fact that ISPs have a monopoly and many people cannot easily "vote with their wallet" if the ISP does something they don't like. I wonder if focusing on making it easier for competitive ISPs to start up would do more towards bridging the gap between the two sides.

I think a lot of the anti-NN crowd is based on a more philosophical argument, that if the ISP built the infrastructure then they own it and they should be able to charge $1 million per day for access if they want (they would obviously not do that because nobody would pay it)

I wonder what is the biggest impediment to setting up a legitimately competitive ISP? Presumably the (ostensibly wasteful) cost of duplicating the last-mile infrastructure?

As an aside, do you have more info on the legal challenges to google fiber?


Another obstacle is rights of way. You cannot just tear up streets and bury cables. And in practice, you also cannot build a cable network through private property either, because you inevitably will encounter some owners of real estate who don't care about your network and thus have no incentive you allow you to build through their property unless you pay them as much as you can, because that is what they are going to be asking for.

So, in practice, networks are built on public ground, or potentially using eminent domain. Neither of those should result in exclusive ownership of the market thus obtained.


> I wonder if focusing on making it easier for competitive ISPs to start up would do more towards bridging the gap between the two sides.

Fighting against properties of a service that make it a natural monopoly is usually not going to work as well as limiting the ability of the resulting monopoly to be leveraged. Either, of course, takes active regulation, and tends to be unpopular with both laissez-faire ideologues and the people holding the monopoly.


I would think either strategy would be unpopular with the monopoly-holders.

Why do you say it's more difficult? It seems like it would be more sustainable in the long run even if it's more difficult up front.


Because it is a natural monopoly, essentially due to the massive cost of building and maintaining a second last-mile network which would necessarily be underutilised. The costs of maintaining a last-mile network are essentially independent of the number of users (unless you let unused parts of the network go out of date/fall into disrepair, in which case you effectively don't have a second network anymore).

As such, it is always better to try and win over one more customer to increase revenue, even if that customer pays less than the cost of keeping their line in working order, both because the costs are mostly there anyway, and because it reduces the revenue of the competition, thus increasing the likelyhood that they will fail and thus make you have a monopoly again.

That's actually exactly the behaviour you see over and over when some smaller business (or larger business, for that matter, see Google Fiber) tries to build a network where the monopolistic incumbent so far didn't care to provide useful service. The moment that project is announced, you get really good and cheap connectivity from the incumbent. Given that they before didn't consider it to be a good investment, you can guess that they are doing it only to destroy the competition.

Also, the network operator that has the less-utilized network necessarily has to charge higher prices per user to cover their costs, which leads to a positive feedback of even less customers, leading to even higher prices, ...

Having two parallel last mile networks is effectively unstable. There is a reason why there aren't multiple water pipes and multiple electricity cables and multiple natural gas pipes in your house.


Many of those ISPs took government funds to pay for those networks.


> What is the actual reason they shouldn't?

Imagine there's no Netflix yet. People are using the web, and ISPs are selling tiny-bandwidth plans. Along comes a streaming movie service and people love it.

All of a sudden, ISP customers are saying "I want more bandwidth and I'll pay more for it."

Can the ISP say, with a straight face, that Netflix is costing them money?


> What is the actual reason they shouldn't?

In many areas of the United States, there is only one ISP available. Part of this is due to the high cost of entry, but the ISPs also have a past filled with rather shady activity. Verizon was given federal money to expand their network, did a fraction of the work, and then used their influence to pocket the rest. Comcast will throw lawsuits at new ISPs in order to bankrupt them.

Because of this the ISPs already use their monopoly position to take as much money as possible via data caps and bandwidth. I believe Comcast is on record as saying data caps aren't needed, but no one can stop them. The reality is ISPs are some of the most greedy, unethical companies around that exploit their monopoly position for their bottom line. Either regulation needs to be in place or the government needs to incentivize and protect new ISPs.


No, no, no! This is not the problem with net neutrality. This is some generic argument for the regulation of monopolies, and as such, it is fine.

But net neutrality is devious beyond the abuse of a local monopoly. It doesn't matter if there are ten ISPs available to any given consumer.

The problem is that creates a new monopoly: that of access to an ISPs subscriber. See my aunt-comment (to this) for the full argument.


They can do both with NN gone. Force the consumers to pay for different packages and lanes, and then force the services to pay for access to the subscribers.


I think maybe this (barriers to entry) is the crux of the issue. Can you help me find more info on verizon and comcast doing these things?


Here's a map of the major players carving up territory like cartels; https://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/04/01/16998/us-internet...

Notice how almost none of the service areas intersect? Internet competitiveness in the US is measured by census zones, and they know that. So they carve up territory block by block, allowing them to be engage in "competition" without competing. (https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/10/isps-dont-want-t...)

And here's one of the many, many court cases and lobbying efforts they've engaged in to keep rivals from getting a toe hold in their territory; https://www.theverge.com/2015/5/1/8530403/chattanooga-comcas...


1) Do you think it would be okay for a hardware store to price a shovel differently depending on what the customer wanted to dig?

2) The telcos never seem to reflect on the fact that the only reason people want broadband at all is because there are services that they want to access. So just by existing they're already getting their cut. It would be just as reasonable for Amazon and Netflix to ask Comcast for a cut of their revenue, since they're providing these attractive services that Comcast isn't paying a dime to provide.


I think hardware stores are maybe not the best comparison because if a hardware store was doing that then it would be pretty easy for a competitor to open a hardware store across the street and undercut the first on shovels and steal all the business.

I think this might be a better solution than a law that specifically mandates the price at which a hardware store can sell shovels, since I think that law would only address a very specific problem caused by a larger underlying issue.

I think the shovel case at least, when the market can sort something out then it's "better" to let it do so.

For Amazon/Netflix, at least on the surface, I would say that the ISP and the content provider can ask for whatever they want and whether or not they get it will be a function of how much each one needs the other. Perhaps ironically a very similar system to how internet peering currently works (the little guy pays the bigger guy for transit).


To agree with your initial point: hardware stores do sell different kinds of shovels, for different digging tasks.


They do. But that's not the question being asked. It is, should a hardware store be able to charge different prices for the same kind of shovel?


Building a network requires laying cables on other people’s private property.

Without the government giving them the right to do this they would never be able to negotiate with each individual land owner and networks would not be possible.

Wireless has the same problem: use of the airwaves, a public good no one can own. We issue licenses for them otherwise it would be a tragedy of the commons situation where no one would be able to successfully use them.

The internet (and most of its popular protocols) was invented and established due to public funding and released to the world for free.

So quite literally ISPs would not have a business whatsoever without free public assistance. As a result they owe us a lot more than the average business.


Something that seems to be forgotten in this day and age is that corporations exist at the pleasure of the citizens (aka taxpayers) because said corporations offer them things that are deemed to be net public goods. Why should you be allowed to build your network in our country in the first place? (Especially when we could do it ourselves at cost and not give you a percentage off the top?)


I think you're conflating a legal term with actual people, who do the existing, offering, and building. These people (who work under a legal entity with rights, protections, and regulations) pay taxes while they exchange their product or service for our dollars. The service can be anything people want or need. Grocery, clothing, book stores, bars, cafes, airlines... Ignore the "percentage off the top". Why is that a concern of yours? Do you not tip at restaurants or give to charity? Part of your gain can be someone else's. It's all voluntary in the free market.

Not only are you free to not to give money to these corporations, you are free to start your own non-profit service, with a similar legal structure. You have to appeal to investors' altruism rather than their self-interest. A big challenge, but not outside the realm of possibility depending on the market you 'd like to cater to.


Looking past the financing question, all (major) telecommunications networks are built via eminent domain, and as such must necessarily serve the public good.


Your argument would be valid if it were possible for alternate internet providers to pop up. However there isn't anything comparable to cable right now that you could call an alternative.


The problem is that the price you (as the ISP) choose to charge some new startup is not subject to competition.

That's because you're not charging your customers. You're selling them to that startup. The startup has no choice but to pay if they want to have a chance of reaching these potential customers.

That means ISPs will have to ability to milk every cent of value generated out of startups, limited only by their ability to measure it.

The normal mechanisms of a market don't kick in, because the customers will be unaware of what's happening. They're not going to change providers only because that provider is shaking down some startup they've never heard of.


It's because you're already charging the end-user the rights to access all of the Internet. It's paid for by the user, not the taxpayer.

Limiting websites they can access is a violation of that agreement with the end user.


Why should you get paid more because your users were streaming Netflix as opposed to doing anything else with the traffic?

You, as a network provider, are already peering with other network providers, and so you're getting paid for (and paying for) the bandwidth that's getting used. What you're after is an extra slice of the pie from Netflix.


In theory that makes sense but if you build a network and actively fight to prevent any one else from also running lines, thats where we have a problem.


the big companies will happily pay. for their money they are getting a promise that any potential competitor will have to climb over a wall before entering the ring.

the big companies just don't want to be the _only_ ones paying.


Don't forget about the cloud oligopolies...

"Amazon EC2 and S3 now include prioritized traffic to the network edge through Amazon's deals with over a hundred local and regional ISPs. Just add traffic priority to any elastic IP or S3 bucket and for only $0.04/gb outgoing your traffic will take the fast lane to your customers!"

How will Digital Ocean, Vultr, ARP Networks, Linode, etc. compete with that?

What we're seeing here is the closing of the digital frontier.

That being said my personal preference is not for net neutrality but for changes to state and local regulation to allow for a lot more ISP competition. But due to the patchwork nature of state and local regs that's a brutal slog in the trenches. So we need net neutrality in lieu of more ISP competition. Either that or we need to somehow overrule state and local regs at the Federal level to allow municipal and small startup broadband. That's tough given the fact that the Fed doesn't necessarily have any authority there. They'd have to argue it's interstate commerce.


Arguably, the Internet is a lot closer to being interstate commerce than a lot of the things the Fed has already stretched interstate commerce to cover.


Paying for faster bits doesn't violate NN at all. That's just QoS. Paying more for Amazon bits than Google bits violates NN.


We had a glimpse of the future with Telekom. They looked at startups and offered them faster cheaper access in return for equity.

Now imagine that model with the threat of throttling that startup if they dont comply.


It doesn't really make sense to go after small fry start ups. They don't have money and it would be an administrative nightmare.

But Netflix is already getting a better deal than start ups at many ISPs. Netflix gets free rackspace for their CDN servers. No start up gets that.

There is already a "fast lane" in many ISPs and Netflix gets it for free.


> This is just another nail in the oligarchy coffin we are actively sealing ourselves in.

Or rather, that we're being sealed into, since this can hardly be called democracy.


This administration was voluntarily voted in.


> But any new services that threaten existing ones will be hard-pressed to compete.

That's the sad part: the new services that fail will fail quietly and we'll never know what we lost.


> it will also allow ISP's to control and block content if someone pays them to do so.

Content is controlled and blocked by advertisers in the application layer already. E.g. youtube


Tweet in article:

>On December 14, the FCC will vote on Chairman Pai's plan to repeal President Obama's heavy-handed Internet regulations and restore Internet freedom.

I love how these laws are veiled with patriotic sentiments, e.g. "Internet Freedom". Just like the "Patriot Act", it is reasonable to assume anything with these sort of labels will likely be an encroachment on your freedoms.

Also

>"The job of the FCC is to represent the consumer," he said in an interview. "If you like your cable company, you'll love what this does for the Internet, because it gives Internet service providers the same kind of control over content and price as cable operators have today."

I am confident there is not a single person who "likes their cable company". Who in their right mind would want their internet controlled like their cable is controlled? This image[0] is exactly what we get to look forward to.

I have called my reps, sent emails, faxes, and just feel so helpless about all of this.

[0]: https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/4252153/wh...

edit: It appears the article altered the above quote, and the second half is no longer the same.


> "If you like your cable company"

I've never once, in my entire life, heard anyone say they like Comcast.


As a petty exercise in malicious revenge, I would call Comcast support on my morning commute, every day, for about a month. It started out because I had a legitimate issue with speed and I decided to just call until my speeds were what I was paying for (not that I ever expected to get them). It turns out my region was always routed to the same office somewhere in India. So I guess I became kind of a known entity there (I'm always polite on the phone) and towards the end they would just route me to this same guy who was a newbie and I guess they wanted to help him get his call count up / get practice on the phone?

Long story short there's one person I like at Comcast, his name is Dev, hope you're doing well Dev, you made my commutes fun.


I think that's the point. That quote is not from Chairman Pai, it's from former FCC chairman Wheeler.


I hate Comcast. Not reliable and no accountability for down time in the Bay Area. If their internet service goes down, good luck on getting an ETA on when it comes back or any actual credit to your account for lost service.


I don't know about that, I was getting pretty bad packet loss recently and the instant I described the issue the guy (after mentioning it was part of a larger outage) instantly offered me a credit.

They can do good, they're just misguided.


They can do good, but since they're a monopoly it doesn't actually make them any money to do so. They're much less likely to do good things for customers than any firm in a competitive industry would be.


There's many things I don't like about comcast (like customer service and that you have to call them back every year to avoid huge price hikes), but the internet service itself is very reliable (at least for me).


Yeah, I have to admit it quite reluctantly. They are competing well in my area. They can't match the fiber 1G networks being laid now but their 100Mbps connection has been quite reliable and 4k UHD streams flawlessly. May be 1 outage in a year which was also fixed within a couple of hours.


For a few years I paid extra for a DSL connection simply to not use Comcast. I truly hate them.


I read Wheeler's statement as sarcasm. He said the decision was "tragic" right before that line. It seems like he is implying that nobody likes cable companies, and now they're going to hate the similarities in internet service providers if this bill passes.

Wheeler, despite being a former industry man, definitely pushed for the consumer agenda despite industry pressure.


Wheeler did end up helping consumers, but not from the start. His first year or two in office he was against net neutrality and very supportive of telecom/cable companies - although nowhere near as bad as Pai. It wasn't until Obama's Administration whipped him in line that he actually started championing pro-consumer policies.


Upvote -- the sarcasm comes through when this is put into context.


It's not sarcasm, it's an honest conditional statement.


People are dropping cable due to the heavy-handed control and lack of choice. Why would ISPs want emulate that failing model?

If Comcast is going to try to charge me more to be able to access Netflix, I'm gone.


How about if Comcast charges Netflix more to be able to access you?

[1] https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2010/12/comcastlevel3/


The argument that Netflix needs to pay Comcast is absurd.

Why are people buying high-bandwidth plans from ISPs? Because they want to use services like Netflix. Netflix is not costing ISPs money, it's giving them something to sell.

Imagine that taxi drivers want to charge the airport for overwhelming them with passengers and you'll see the absurdity.


> The argument that Netflix needs to pay Comcast is absurd.

Absurd for you, not for the carriers. And, unfortunately, they are the ones dealing the cards now.

Outrageous, for sure, but according to Chairman Pai's plan, carriers will be able to charge both consumers and content providers.


> Absurd for you, not for the carriers.

Yup, and only because those same carriers are making competition impossible, if not illegal.


That's fine. If the charges are onerous enough, then the content providers may choose to build new carriers of their own.


> the content providers may choose to build new carriers of their own

Oh sure. Suppose I'm about to found yaymoviesyay.com to compete with Netflix. I learn that if I don't pay Comcast, its subscribers can't use my site. Same deal for AT&T and Charter.

Before this rule change, my cost to do business was "hosting costs."

Now it's either:

    A) hosting costs + payola to ISPs
    B) hosting costs + cost of building my own last-mile network
Guess how likely I am to start that new business?

    A) Super incredibly unlikely
    B) Ridiculously unlikely
    C) Extremely, ludicrously unlikely


That's fine?! Consider the fixed costs of building a new carrier! Today's carriers will price it below where it makes sense to "build your own carrier", these costs will be distributed among consumers and we'll all be paying more for the same access we have today. The only difference is today's carriers have higher profits and a stranglehold on our access to the internet.


I'd rather not hope and pray that they're able to do this. Plus, I know that in many parts of the country, they won't be interested.


It's completely absurd. Yet, it is the one high impact case that actually happened in real life and led to the FCC imposing neutrality onto the ISPs.


Comcast is like the road, not taxis; the last mile is where all the expense is in consumer internet. And congestion charging is a legitimate thing.

Why should Granny have to pay more on her internet connection to subsidize your Netflix addiction? Because equal pay for equal access is that: a subsidy from light users to heavy users.


I don't get what you're saying. How am I making Granny pay more? There are bandwidth caps and data usage caps, I pay for what I use. If I'm paying less than the cost of the resources I'm using, charge me more. Why does Granny or Netflix have to pay comcast for what I do on the internet?

My electricity provider does not charge differently for setting up and maintaining the connection based on what I do with the electricity, they just charge me for what I use. Why should an ISP be treated differently?


> There are bandwidth caps and data usage caps, Actually, commercial ISPs don't really do bandwidth caps and datacaps are simply laughable as a means of controlling congestion. (Honestly, they're literally not a means of controlling congestion.)

I really just want my ISP to be like my datacenter: 95%ile bandwidth billing. Nothing else. No services. No filtering. No "speed boosts." Just a connection to other networks.

> I pay for what I use.

Unless you have a metered services, you are not paying for what you use in that sense. You pay for access, sure, but not for what you use.

> My electricity provider does not charge differently for setting up and maintaining the connection based on what I do with the electricity, they just charge me for what I use. Why should an ISP be treated differently?

The issue is not metered billing. I think most people would be OK with it; it'll suck for some but an honest effort to keep the 95% of usage at normal would go a long way, I thinks.

The issue is when you're being billed differently for what you consume, not how much. Would you be OK with electricity used by an LED bulb from company X was metered at 2 times that of company Y which is 2 times that of an incandescent? _That's_ the issue, not metered billing.


I get what you're saying and that is my point.


> Why should Granny have to pay more on her internet connection to subsidize your Netflix addiction?

You've got it backwards. Granny and can I both pay per byte. We can even pay surge pricing based on congestion.

The question is this: why should I have to pay more for bytes from Netflix than Granny pays for bytes from Ravelry?


That's like saying UPS should be able to charge Amazon more per-package because they ship a lot of packages rather than, say, changing their per-package or bulk discount rates.

Nobody is saying that ISPs cannot charge for usage, only that they shouldn't be allowed to do so in a discriminatory manner: if, say, they wanted to set a cap or QoS shares they should be able to do that as long as it's applied to everyone rather than just the companies which don't / can't pay the danegeld.


Assume that this is the case… then just do the same as they already do in Australia, and put caps on how much you can download. I assume that you are totally cool with that, and indeed they already do this with a lot of mobile plans. Then Granny, who obviously doesn't watch Netflix, can get a cheap very limited plan.

The issue here is that what comcast really want, is to sell Granny a cheap plan, and sell Netflix a plan, and google, and Apple (that app store and updates you know). Oh but wait, Netflix you are already paying a bunch to throw data on the net by the bucket? That doesn't matter… you have your last mile, and you also need to pay for everyone else's last mile as well. Oh, and Google, you also need to pay for everyone's last mile as well. It's just like a Winfrey episode: You can pay! you can pay! You can all pay!!


so you're arguing that the ISPs are unable to price their packages at a reasonable value, essentially selling it at cost to consumers, and netflix has to pick up the tab?

thats just silly, come on!

if that were the truth, and it isn't, then they'd need to increase the price for the monthly package or decrease bandwidth for consumer packages.

/Edit: going with your example: amazon doesn't have to pay to keep the streets in service, despite causing lots of (heavy) traffic through their deliveries. they pay their delivery provider. just like netflix pays for its bandwidth to their ISP


Connection fee + metered internet is fairest of all, and aligns incentives nicely. Of course, users don't like "pay for what you use" and want "all you can eat" plans which leads to... this stuff.


I allready pay for bandwidth.


It's pretty much the opposite you have to be afraid of. Netflix is a big player and can force anyone to play ball with them. The problem is that anyone not named Netflix will have a much bigger hurdle to reach you.

Imagine you're a startup trying to compete with Netflix, and on top of having to create your business and media content, your customers have to pay their ISP a fee to access your website (or have better bandwidth, or have it not counted in your allocated data plan). No one would be able to compete with them. Now replace Netflix with any <Google, Facebook, Uber, any incumbent really>... and yeah you get the idea.


This dispute is way more nuanced than you're presenting. The article you posted picks a winner pretty early on bit actually presents the situation pretty well.

Any company Netflix buys transit from ends up using up all the goodwill of settlement-free peering agreements, doesn't want to actually pay for the traffic, tries to route around problem, and then gets frustrated when Comcast doesn't let them.


We have already seen this:

VZ was refusing to increase capacity to allow uncongested access to NetFlix (Netflix was willing to pay for the PNIs and the cost of the line cards to terminate those PNIs at VZ in addition to paying for their own gear). NetFlix started putting pre-roll into content sent to VZ customers to explain to them that it was VZ that was unwilling to do it. VZ threatened to sue. Netflix backed off and started paying for a better access to VZ subscribers by buying transit from VZ to use it strictly to access VZ. From that point on NetFlix' position on NN kind of "evolved" - it only kind of supports it.

All of this was with so call Net Neutrality on the books.

I said it before and I say it again:

Consumers do not give a flying f!ck about this fight - it is a fight between Comcasts/ATT/Verizons and Google/Facebook/NetFlix of the world about who gets to fleece consumers more wrapped in the talk about "fairness" and "freedom of to access information".

Just a few days ago we had someone working for small mom and pop NSP/ISP breathlessly tell us that it is NN that is preventing his ISP from offering grannies in a nursing home cheaper email only plans!


> Consumers do not give a flying f!ck about this fight

I couldn't disagree more. Sure, I don't care whether Netflix or Verizon wins, but I care deeply that there isn't a situation that raises the cost of competing against Netflix/Prime/Hulu to the point where it's impossible to enter the market. Netflix should be hard to compete against because they have better content, not because they have better access to internet subscribers.


Your disagreement is worth the price of NetFlix subscription that you canceled when NetFlix caved. Oh wait, you have not canceled it. So your disagreement is worth zero, which means that you do not, actually, care.


As a consumer Im paying Comcast for quality access to all of the internet. Its their job to deliver on that. If they allow their peering points with T1 providers to clog up, they are not delivering on the service I purchased.

Also, Comcast isn't a transit provider. They're an eyeball network and should expect heavy inbound traffic levels. Also look here: https://www.peeringdb.com/net/822 Their locations are all in the states. Most settlement free agreements require diverse meeting points around the world. Right now the big providers are hauling Comcast traffic across the oceans. So their large market share in the US is already getting them preferential treatment from the other providers.


> If they allow their peering points with T1 providers to clog up, they are not delivering on the service I purchased.

IIRC, the proposed net neutrality regulations would not change this scenario at all. The issue is the absolute leverage that would need to be granted in these agreements for this to be true.

In this hypothetically net neutral universe, what should happen when those peering points clog up? Comcast absolutely has to upgrade those links, regardless of price? Would not upgrading these links be throttling? Would they be obligated to renegotiate their peering agreements or risk fines?

If so, I've got a killer startup idea. I'll get a modest peering agreement with comcast, then turn around and sell bandwidth to Netflix and Google for pennies on the dollar, and then turn around again and tell comcast that they have to renegotiate with me, at whatever price I want, or I'll get the FCC to bring them down. Then what? They're the ones in violation of the law, not me.

In practice, the proposed net neutrality regulations loosely say that the FCC can come in and act as a mediator in pricing agreements, when one party is (paraphrasing) "acting unfairly", which is a whole 'nother can of worms. For starters, it's completely out of whack with the intended scope of the FCC.

edit:

> As a consumer Im paying Comcast for quality access to all of the internet. Its their job to deliver on that.

No, you're not, and you never were, and it's bordering on dishonesty to make this claim. At best, you're paying comcast for the same quality access to anything that can reach their network at that same quality. Even that is arguable.


The problem with a hands off approach is the lack of competition. I cant jump to another provider when the quality of my internet service does not live up to my expectations.

Since most ISPs have an effective monopoly there are no economic pressures for them to deliver quality service. So we need government to step in and treat them like the utilities they are.

Also, pretty sure Google doesnt pay for transit. They have a giant network footprint and push a ton of the internet's traffic. They are likely to be settlement free with everyone.


> Also, pretty sure Google doesnt pay for transit. They have a giant network footprint and push a ton of the internet's traffic. They are likely to be settlement free with everyone.

Almost certainly. Bad example, but the point still stands.

> The problem with a hands off approach is the lack of competition. I cant jump to another provider when the quality of my internet service does not live up to my expectations.

> Since most ISPs have an effective monopoly there are no economic pressures for them to deliver quality service. So we need government to step in and treat them like the utilities they are.

I don't know if I agree with that. Even in the most rural parts of the US you probably have a handful of ISPs available, just maybe not the type of ISP that caters to power users on reddit and HN. Between LTE wireless providers, satellite, DSL, cable, I think most people have a greater degree of choice than we realize. A lot of these options are not going to cut it if you like Netflix and/or torrenting, but for casual facebook, wikipedia, and emailing-- arguably the usage patterns of the majority of US internet users, any of these providers will work out just fine.

If what you're saying is true, why do we see such a dramatic difference in the quality of service across the board in the past decade? We went from terrible GSM to incredibly fast LTE. You can now buy 25 Mbit satellite internet without a data cap. You used to be lucky to get 16m/2m cable internet, now I see the lowest tier of plans with speeds of anywhere from 60Mbit to 100Mbit. If there's no competition, why do we see this progress? Why would they put money into increasing their speeds if the market didn't force their hand?


I think an important distinction would be the rate of investment in customer facing bandwidth vs the rate of investment into Tier 1 facing bandwidth. If they are spending more at the customer edge so they can sellmore ~100mbps plans to consumers, without the same rate of spending on the connections to T1 providers something is amiss. However if they are matching investment and continually adding bandwitdth to providers then I have no basis. I just dont think they are. I think they are allowing the oversubscription rate to bloom while the avg per user usage continues to grow. And have heard it first hand from one of the biggest Tier 1 telcos about the pain they go through when trying to upgrade bandwidth to Comcast.

As a provider on the net I dont have many options to ensure you quality access to my content. I can't route around Comcast if theyre your last hop. I can pay Comcast for the privilege to send you content but I only get around 50 million subscribers and at 10x the price of a Tier 1. The Tier 1 will get me access to the entire internet.

Also with all transit pricing, the more you buy the cheaper it is. So the bigger players have an unfair advantage in economy of scale when dealing with the likes of Comcast.


>No, you're not, and you never were, and it's bordering on dishonesty to make this claim. At best, you're paying comcast for the same quality access to anything that can reach their network at that same quality. Even that is arguable

I'd like to see where in the marketing literature it says this. Right on the pricing page it says Internet Access plans.

It doesnt say Comcast network access plan.

Also, I dont make Comcast oversubscribe their network. Thats a business decision on their side.


The issue typically is not that Comcast is oversubscribing their network, its that there is more traffic trying to enter their network from a specific peer than is provisioned. This is what was at the core of Cogent/Comcast dispute. If your position is that an ISP should be required to provide as much capacity to any peer who wants it than that is at least an intellectually honest argument to make. You could further extend that argument that it should be required to peer with anyone who demands it. If you and I started a transit provider tomorrow should, won a deal with a video provider should Comcast be required to peer with us?

This is really what should be at the heart of these discussions, not abstract claims about who is throttling who.


Its not like the traffic is coming from no where. The traffic is being requested by Comcast's customers. So yes, they should be able to support the traffic their customers are requesting. If its not legitimate traffic, feel free to drop the peer.

My arguement is that ISPs should deliver the product they sell to consumers. If the consumers demand for Netflix goes up, the ISP should adapt to ensure proper bandwidth at peak. The internet on the whole and interconnection between companies is hardly static. Its constantly growing bandwidth wise and its really very simple to increase bandwidth to other providers. Technically its fairly easy without all the legal bits that get added in to peering agreements.


Comcast wasn't negotiating the Netflix, it was negotiating with Cogent for how much bandwidth Cogent wanted. Netflix just happens to be a large driver of Cogent's interconnect needs but not the only one. Looking from the other direction Netflix could have used additional transit providers but elected not to for whatever reasons. I would humbly suggest that very few people understand the complexity of the product that an ISP delivers.


Isn't it the same though? Netflix (and other sites) will be more or less forced to pass those charges on to the consumers.


Yes, which is immediately a problem when Netflix is competing with the cable company or one of its subsidiaries (which is the case) that don't have to pay those costs (or as much).

It allows the cable company to effectively tax the competition.


This is one of the biggest issues I have with it.


>Why would ISPs want emulate that failing model?

It's profitable and with their lobbying, they can protect themselves from competition. If cable companies had the opportunity to cut streaming services at the knees 10 years ago (and the foresight to understand how it would affect their market) you bet they would have.

This is as anti-consumer as you can get.


My apartment complex has a contract with AT&T. I either have ATT or I don't have anyone. I can't be "gone". I just have to suck it up and pay unless I want to go to the library for basic internet then.


Talk to your neighbors and offer to split the internet bill. This doesn't solve the long-term problem, but at least it hurts the local internet monopoly.


From what I gather in the brief comment, the apartment complex only allowed AT&T to install cabling to the building, so those apartment buildings are only serviced by AT&T. The apartment complex will not allow another ISP to dig up their property to install internet service for tenants, leading to an exclusive AT&T monopoly. I've had friends in similar apartment buildings. Calling other ISPs operating across the street led nowhere, as those ISPs would just say "we do not service that address."


FCC instituted rules in 2008 abolishing the payola-style deals that stifle ISP competition in apartment buildings [0], but in the biggest surprise ever, the apartment owners and would-be-monopolist ISPs have been avoiding compliance by hiding the exclusivity part of their contracts. The apartment owner simply leaves open the prospect that another ISP could install access, but never actually allows them to do so. Or they make the now-legally-unenforceable exclusivity clauses of their contracts severable, but those enforcing the entire contract never actually know which of the clauses in it are invalid. So the clauses continue to be enforced in practice, by people who do not know they should be ignored.

If you can't get competing services in your apartment complex, get a lawyer and sue the owner.

[0] https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-280908A1.p...


Getting a lawyer and suing the owner is not a reasonable thing to ask of people living in apartments.


No, it isn't, but nor is it reasonable for an apartment owner to establish service monopolies on their property at the expense of their renters.

What alternative would you suggest?


Violent armed revolution?


Finally!


I think what he was suggesting was sharing one AT&T contract with his neighbors


But what if someone in your neighbor's house likes to download torrent or visit sites that gets you into trouble. Wouldn't that be a huge responsibility?


"Sorry, someone cracked my password." Then kick the idiot off your wifi, just like you would deal with a bad house guest.


I really like your idea, but it has legal implications (accountability) because your neighbours would end up doing things on the internet on your account or vice versa.

I would suggest to do this in combination with a VPN but 1) even with OpenVPN those are often insecure 2) they cost additional money 3) with these new FCC rules their bandwidth might get limited.


If your ISP cracks down, you can always go to the local Starbucks or library to torrent movies. And since the few people who share the WAP all know each other, they can talk things out.


WAP, Now that's a term I've not heard in a long time, a long time [1].

I don't know about Starbucks or the USA but many places here with open WiFi have, well, open WiFi (no encryption on connection) and they have abysmal speed. I mean we are talking about multiple customers, on 2,4 GHz WiFi, in the neighborhood (city) with dense 2,4 GHz coverage. What could possibly go wrong?

Plus, indeed here that type of business is just on cable or DSL themselves. Who'd be under the scrutiny of the same QoS shenanigans. Then again, we got net neutrality. For the time being. I really hope the USA keeps net neutrality. The feeling that such a civilized, rich, advanced country would lose such an important right fills my eyes with tears.

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


WAP = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_access_point

If you visit the US, you will find that most internet access sucks, but that public libraries are surprisingly decent. You won't be playing "Call of Duty: Kill Nazis 2017" on it, but it's perfectly decent for most uses.


Oh, that. I always just call that AP. I'm glad you guys & gals got quality libraries on the other side of the pond. I can't speak for EU but here in NL they're dwindling both in quality as well as in size and amount. I find that problematic, as there are two big interest groups who benefit from public libraries: the poor, and the elder.


The US has a long history of supporting public libraries, e.g. the Carnegie libraries, which are often wonderful historic (by US standards) buildings[1]. Rather than holding stacks of physical books, modern libraries are a key source of information via the internet for many people today. In tiny rural towns, they are key parts of the community, and often surprisingly well-cared-for.

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


Not if the library or Starbucks have an ISP with similarly restrictive policies.


They generally don't. Try it.


People also have the option of the cellular network via their phones, though that's not a true substitute for a wired ISP.


DSL (with VDSL pretty much FTTC), cable (also pretty much FTTC), LTE (if 50 ms latency and relatively low bandwidth cap is OK), and FTTH (if you're lucky and live in such an area) are the 4 options. It is going to be different everywhere in the USA (and world) but FTTH isn't available everywhere, and its not uncommon that either DSL or cable is unreliable.


> People are dropping cable due to the heavy-handed control and lack of choice. Why would ISPs want emulate that failing model?

Because it's a monopolistic monoculture, and they can do whatever they want and get away with it. In this age, having corporate controlled information choke points is a feature that those who want to control what the citizenry think and say are no doubt in love with.


> People are dropping cable due to the heavy-handed control and lack of choice. Why would ISPs want emulate that failing model?

Because the cable companies are the ISPs, and without ISPs acting differently, there's less impetus for people to ditch their cable companies as cable companies.

Especially when the phone/cable/ISP firms can block or tax into submission services that compete with their phone and video offerings by virtue of their control of internet access.


I don't know anyone who has a land-line phone anymore. I know many people who have dropped cable. It won't be that easy to force people back to those things now that they have experienced the alternative.


But it sure will be a heck of a lot easier if the FCC's got your back with regulation that supports anticompetitive behavior.


> Why would ISPs want emulate that failing model?

When you control what people see, you control what people think. Dismiss that as tinfoil malarky if you will.


I don’t think it as as ‘tinfoil’ as people may suggest. Moves like this combined with the lift on local news station ownership restrictions make plans to ‘control what people see’ more and more plausible.


As long as my guys (Republicans) are winning and our ideas (conservatism) are pushed through, I'm happy and I don't give a hoot about what twisted ways they use to win politically. I'll also criticize Democrats for doing the exact thing, or deflect any bad-doing by my guys to point to Democrats as my go-to defense.


Poe's Law applies here (at least for me).

It is so sad we live at a time when one doesn't know if this is sarcasm or a genuine sentiment.


> If Comcast is going to try to charge me more to be able to access Netflix, I'm gone.

This is what I don't understand. All of these businesses seem to be missing that point. Or, I am over-valuing it. Or something else that I don't understand or see. But, I have the exact same perspective and stance as you.

If I have to pay more to watch streaming video or play video games with my friends or download my Steam library or my Kindle titles, well, I'm very likely to just opt out of all of that. I am 36 years old and I have never once paid for a cable television subscription in the last 18 years that I've been on my own for _exactly_ this same reason. I am not going to pay for 3 separate and/or premium packages just to get access to the one piece of content that I actually want (sports programming).


You have choice. I live in this little place that the Internet hardly knows called Berkeley, CA, home of one of the original 4 IMPs of the very first networked connection -- and my only choice above 20mbps is Comcast.


you won't see it. they will force netflix to pay them more. And the charge will be passed on to all subscribers.


Why on Earth would Netflix have to pay for content served from inside their network. Netflix literally has red cache boxes inside all the ISP networks. If people stop streaming they won't go back to cable. The ISPs will all just move to metered internet.


That's fine. Then I can decide if I want to pay that price for Netflix or not. I also have Amazon Prime video, and Youtube, and etc. so I have several competing choices.


Then you don't get Netflix, Prime, etc, because AT&T marked up the price, or you do get it, but you get less of something else because AT&T is extorting you.

Would you be "fine" if someone stood in front of your house and intercepted all your Amazon packages and added a $5 delivery fee to each?


But your ISP owns you. They will charge YouTube and Amazon as well. You'll end up paying $120/Mo for your connection again.


And new competition will become less possible as ISPs barrier to entry becomes enournous.


I won't, because it's not worth that to me. I pay nearly $100/mo now and the value is already borderline at that price. I guess others might feel it's worth more or that they have no choice.


So the policy change is a good idea because it won't affect you personally. In which case, why are you wasting our time since it doesn't affect you personally?


Right, but you're not seeing that everything else will most likely get higher charges. So you'll stop paying for Netflix and whatever else and they may or may not survive with others making that decision. Amazon will because it has all of these other revenue streams, but its AWS offerings will probably rise in price.

Free alternatives, like being able to stream Youtube, could be in danger of fees too. Google might have some sort of bargain with the government to keep it charge-free (like selling more data on its users). But any other video provider without Google's deep pockets will be in trouble, like Vimeo, Twitch, VHX, or some other company that hasn't even started up yet but might not be able to afford the double-dip.


It would be more interesting if Netflix passed it on to subscribers specifically from the ISP that charges them. Then you can as a consumer make a better decision factoring in the increased price of goods with one ISP over another.


The crux here is that consumers typically have choice between Comcast and Comcast or Spectrum and Spectrum.

That's why we need NN.

I actually think (and this should be done in addition to NN, not instead) is to encourage local city government to provide Internet access and even allowing smaller companies to lease the infrastructure to them. This would bring back competition again, and the money from leasing would cover cost of maintaining the network and maybe even bring income to the city.


As someone who lives in an apartment that has been monopolized by AT&T and forced to used 60$/month 60mbit internet, I totally agree.

I made a mistake by assuming an apartment complex built within the last 3 years would have fiber, boy was I wrong. I'll never make that mistake again.


Because people would have to move to change ISPs, there isn't any incentive for them to compete with each other. Network infrastructure is a natural monopoly, afterall. The best you ever get is a duopoly between fiber and cable, if you're lucky.


Don't kid yourself the cable companies will act like a cartel.


Not if all of those services are lumped into a bundle that you pay a blanket price for each month, separate from the rest of your online services.


Yes but I'm saying I would not accept that as a customer.

People are not going to happily accept the old "bundling" cable TV model that they hate, having experienced the much more open internet model where you really only decide how much bandwidth you want to pay for.


There's a difference this time around: once online streaming became a viable option, people started more actively restricting or resigning their cable tv service. Until that point, there were few viable alternatives. There won't be anywhere to retreat this time. And it's not just your tv shows and movies, it's your online banking, a large part of your social life, your homework research tool, your livelihood in some cases, and so on.

I'm using a general "you" here. It's far more a pervasive presence in peoples' lives than cable tv was.

And I've commented as such already, it likely won't be restrictive and demanding all at once. It will be a progression likely starting with something like:

"Now that we are no longer bound by restrictive government regulations we can offer you new value-added-services that benefit you!

With [company]'s new Speed Boost(TM) packages, you can access your favourite web sites at a higher speed than your current base package allows starting at the low monthly fee of $5! (on a 2 year contract, $10/mo month over month)"

Once the customer base is accustomed, the language changes and becomes:

"Now with [company]'s new Choose What You Use(TM) bundles, we've retired our base packages and now it's up to you what you want to pay for of the internet! Another way we're saving you money!"

And so on. Marketing teams wouldn't let it look like: "Well, you're ours now, bitch." At least not that straight-forward.


Then what the hell are you going to do? The vast majority of Americans have one option for an ISP. So they're not going to have an alternative.


They will all go up in price until your cable companies monopoly price strategy is maximized.


Which all are going to have the same fees on them.


To where?


Why would ISPs want emulate that failing model?

Because there is a lot of money in that model if you can make it so there is no where else to go. (But you knew that- you were speaking rhetorically. I am the voice in your head.)


>>>If Comcast is going to try to charge me more to be able to access Netflix, I'm gone.

If you have competitors to choose from, sure. If you don't? Or if all the competitors do the same thing?


To where? Or are you one of those lucky few who have a choice of ISP?


It's not there yet, but mobile broadband is becoming increasingly viable.

It's far from ideal, but 4 (soon 3) competitors are better than the 1 choice I have for wired broadband.


Mobile broadband also has an oligopoly (with some of the same players, hi AT&T), and all the provider power issues that apply to fixed broadband;the neutrality rules being repealed applied to them, too (but even they allowed mobile operators more non-neutral action.)

I don't know why you think mobile broadband is in any way going to be better in the non-neutral net.


Sure, with tiny data caps and even more artificial restrictions on speeds and content.


It is unusable for gaming.


The vast majority have some choice. The average household can choose between their telecom or their cable company. In some areas one or both of those companies don't provide broadband, but in the bulk of locations they do.

And while 4g service isn't a true replacement, it provides enough competition to prevent the AOL-ization of the internet. At a certain point, people would choose more expensive wireless over absurdly locked down wireline.

So while Comcast does have a monopoly in some areas, people would switch to Fios or Uverse or local DSL in the areas without monopoly if they tried anything too bad. Hypothetically comcast could try to monetize only in monopoly areas, but that would be a hard sell and it would be very transparent.


Only a little over 50% of households have at least 2 high-speed internet choices[0]. I wouldn't call that the "vast majority".

[0] https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/06/50-mi...


25mbps is an arbitrary limit that leaves out ATT and Century links ADSL2+ service, which is fine for most uses.


You will have a hard time streaming Netflix/Hulu/VOD on anything < 25mbps.


Should get you to 720p.


I tried that. It really doesn't, especially when there's congestion. I've had to go down to 240p on Youtube before, especially if I was trying to do something else in the background, e.g. watch Youtube while doing homework, watch Youtube while browsing Reddit/news/any other website with giant JS/CSS/media files/ads.

I was primarily a student then, and trying to skip around in Youtube/online video lectures was an insanely frustrating experience.


In a day and age where most of the TVs and monitors sold right now are 1080p and up, 720p is not an acceptable maximum resolution for streaming anymore.


Well, now add a family to the equation and those 25 mbps are anything but enough.


"The vast majority have some choice"

I challenge this assertion -> please document it.


60% of the country has three providers of 10mpbs+

90% has two providers of 10mpbs+. One of those is satellite, which sort of sucks, I'll grant you that.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/08/us-br...


Thanks. I've lived in the north east since before there was IPSs and have never had a choice having lived in several town. Only people in one or two cities near me do. I'd agree satellite isn't a great choice and I am not really counting that (or dialup if it still exists). But is choosing between a telco like Verizon and Comcast/Charter really much of a choice either? So I think those numbers are miss leading. There doesn't feel like any choice to me.


10mbps isn't really useful nowadays. That's 10000kbps not including overhead. That's an absolute max of 1.25MiB per second, realistically if you get 1MiB you're doing well. Back that down a little bit to account for the inability to always reach peak bandwidth, say to 896kiB, and you start to see how you're very limited for common usage. Even web browsing is quite heavy nowadays.


60% of the country's CENSUS DISTRICTS. Not 60% of the US. If one person in that district has access to the provider, it counts as the whole district, even though that's likely not true.


I live in a fairly tech heavy area in the PNW and still only have the choice between fiber or super slow dsl. Not really much of a choice if you ask me.


If your ISP decides to do the same thing, where are you gonna go? The vast majority of Americans do not have significant choice when it comes to service providers.


Because ISPs are cable companies, and are the ones who are practicing that failing model, and are working very hard to prop it up and extend it.


The way you've written this is implying that Pai said that line but it was actually a sarcastic Former Chairman Wheeler and the quote has since been edited out. The Chicago Tribune still has it though.


I live in NYC. I have one cable company with no other options. I have one broadband internet provider (my cable company) with no other options. No one I know likes their cable company.


">On December 14, the FCC will vote on Chairman Pai's plan to repeal President Obama's heavy-handed Internet regulations and restore Internet freedom."

Freedom for whom?


Freedom for whoever has the cable/phone monopoly right-of-way.


I wonder how they'll vote.


1984 rhetoric.


I hope the Democrats are keeping a running list of everything this administration is doing. They should undo everything as soon as they get majority. I'll die a happy man if they name at least one law/regulation after Obama.


>I love how these laws are veiled with patriotic sentiments, e.g. "Internet Freedom".

It's an accurate characterization, it gives ISPs lots of freedom!


Who likes their cable company? Come on now.


>"If you like your cable company, you'll love what this does for the Internet, because it gives Internet service providers the same kind of control over content and price as cable operators have today."

Except it's not, even. In the world of cable TV, the base cost is set by the content providers - the Disneys and such. With this, I guarantee you are going to see ISPs taking action on their own to tier websites and apps, pocketing the extra money, without input from nor payment to the sites which they intend to profit directly from.


As programmer in his mid 20s, NN was the first political issue I developed a position on when I was a child. The fight for the open Internet has been going on for a long time and I really reciprocate that feeling of helplessness in the face of these patently corrupt regulators. Im calling reps and filling comments with the FCC and telling everyone I know about this, but I still feel like these people are gonna shove it down our throats. This whole process is so anti-democratic it's depressing.


> "If you like your cable company, you'll love what this does for the Internet"

HAHAHHAHAA, wow they're not even trying


That quote was from Tom Wheeler, ex-chairman of the FCC who opposes ending net neutrality. He was being sarcastic.


I'd like to have a quick shout out to Tom Wheeler. I was very worried when he was first appointed, but it was great to see someone who used their experience lobbying to stand up for consumers instead of continuing to act in corporate interests.


To hear him tell it, when he first started as a lobbyist he was advocating for organizations that weren't getting their interests adequately represented in government (at the time cable and wireless companies). As FCC chairman he continued lobbying for those whose interests were not adequately defended - the consumers.


It'd be nice if Pai came around all of a sudden too..


Pai is just a hatchet-man. He was never meant to seriously lead the FCC.


Pai is fulfilling exactly what he was appointed to do, which is make the wealthy even wealthier.

Trump's administration is built to enrich 3 groups. 1. Himself 2. His family 3. Other Very Wealthy People


Woah they actually altered the quote in the article. The version I posted above is no longer the same.


Oh good.


Reminds me of the “Department of Love”


Also reminds me of "scroll direction: natural".


I'm curious for your take on the wsj article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-the-fcc-can-save-the-open-i...

I don't think it's paywalled.


The one written by Ajit Pai? It's paywalled, just like the every page on the internet once this guy is done screwing it up.


I was able to read it and I don't subscribe to any newspaper. Maybe it was an A/B type thing... dunno.


Hyperbole anyone?


Where I live, I like spectrum-formerly-timewarner-formerly-roadrunner cable Internet just fine. There are a lot of alternatives to using it for home Internet around here, and I'm pretty sure the two are related.

If you want better internet access, instead of begging the FCC for scraps get on repealing legislated monopoly rights for kinds of wires and/or unbundling last mile from ISP.

Then ask yourself why internet reform is focused on NN instead of provider competition.


Because high fixed costs make it very expensive for competitors to enter the market. It's like asking why someone doesn't just open up a competing water company in a place like Flint.

More to the point, can you imagine how fast the knives would come out if the FCC announced this deregulation and also a federal universal broadband plan where they use taxpayer money to deliver fiber to the home of everybody in the country in order to insure healthy competition?

On a side note, what do you think the odds are that this plan will remove uncompetitive restrictions on ISP (especially municipal ISP) development at the same time? I mean it's all about competition right? If I didn't know better I'd say that the talk of "competition" was just a smoke screen to hide the fact that this is the "allow ISPs to hold your service hostage with no repercussions" bill.


High fixed costs aren't what's keeping competitors out of the market; legally mandated monopolies are. City/Neighborhood/small scale ISPs work just fine where they're allowed to exist. There's no natural reason people should be married to one ISP based on their address without any alternatives, the overwhelming majority of services do not work this way for good reason. It'd be like banning FedEx anywhere UPS owns one truck.

If you're really worried about the coax network then push for what I suggested: unbundling the last mile. It worked great for the phone network.

I'm not arguing that the proposed plan actually helps anything (although the smaller scale and unconventional ISPs that should be encouraged are harder hit by neutrality requirements and compliance obligations in general)

I'm arguing that tilting at the network neutrality windmill doesn't actually deliver much to end users. There's about a million ways an ISP can suck and network neutrality, if you can even get it to happen, kinda-sorta fixes one of them.

There's a real problem (shitty monopoly internet providers) that has a real solution (the entirely proven strategy of eliminating monopolies).

PS: People in areas where the indoor plumbing water isn't safe to drink use competing water companies, mostly those bring-your-own-container 25c water vending machines you see in front of stores in low-income areas. If they waited for regulation to solve their problems they'd all be dead.


> More to the point, can you imagine how fast the knives would come out if the FCC announced this deregulation and also a federal universal broadband plan where they use taxpayer money to deliver fiber to the home of everybody in the country in order to insure healthy competition?

I think people would be more confused than anything, since this FCC just voted to drastically restrict choice under the existing universal service find.


> https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/04/one-b... Because a market solution with ISP is a pipe dream spouted by "conservatives" trying to win over people to vote against their own interests. If you start an ISP, there's a good chance the incumbent is going to fight you tooth and nail.


Why not both?

Not to mention, there are areas of the country which absolutely could not support more than one provider. Why should they have to suffer non-neutral net?


Why not both: because debundling and/or demonopolizing cable involves moving against entrenched interests, and the pro-NN forces have just demonstrated they don't have the political strength to get neutrality alone, let alone "neutrality and".

Competitive, non-neutral networks is something that much of the country already has, so it's a smaller, more regional fight you might actually win. You can try for neutrality after that if it means that much to you (but at that point nobody will care because NN is a non-issue in areas with a competitive provider landscape)

Network neutrality is irrelevant to areas that can't support more than one provider, weird rural providers and satellite internet are already exempt from neutrality rules (iirc because they aren't "broadband" in the FCC sense). Those places will continue to have sucky internet until someone wires them out of charity.


I agree with most what you're saying, but I don't think NN necessarily goes against it.

While competition is by all means good, I also DON'T WANT ISP controlling what I can access and how. I want ISP simply just provide the service, and Title II does just that.


I don't understand how you claim that these actions are exclusive. More alternatives for the consumer are good. Regulations preventing unnecessary charges for the consumer, directly or indirectly are also good. If you are happy with your Internet service under the current system, then why do you want to change anything?

More to the point, the people writing the regulations need to consider everyone in the U.S. not just the happiest Internet users. There already is a fairly large divide between people who can and can not access decent Internet service and this policy will only make that worse.


Why can't we have both?

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