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Join the Battle for Net Neutrality (battleforthenet.com)
1269 points by rayalez 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 379 comments



https://i.imgur.com/DhL4vKq.jpg

Indonesia doesn't have net neutrality laws. That's the screenshot of Indosat (Internet Provider)'s app where you can buy data plan from. But as you can see, they sell data plans ala carte, per application in this case. If your favorite app is not there, you're shit out of luck and have to use the more expensive universal data plan.

Not only that, last year, the biggest home internet provider (Indihome), and the biggest mobile internet provider (Telkomsel), which both are owned by the government, banned Netflix under the guise of "Netflix hasn't rated nor censored their contents based on our country's rules". The truth is that both of them are selling their own movie streaming service. Indihome has partnership with iflix, and Telkomsel with HOOQ.

Now, if you buy new prepaid number from Telkomsel, this is the kind of data fuckery you will get. https://i.imgur.com/wb6gMBo.png


Just for the curious, this isn't how every ISP in Indonesia is. Friends and I have had your standard sim cards which allows you to access any site freely.


So maybe these plans are serving a different market segment. Is there any reason to believe an ISP would get rid of all their regular offerings in favour of these site-specific plans?


The big ISPs (in the US) haven't earned the benefit of the doubt.


Okay, so if they do this, then the government should act. Preemptive regulation has all the downsides of regulation (eg lower investment) but potentially none of the benefits. This isn’t the kind of thing that will cause immediate, long-lasting, harm if a few ISPs explore this route before being shut down by the FCC or Congress.


The Internet providers are have already tried to do this. Couple that with the fact that Internet provider are generally a monopoly or duopoly then there is very real harm if only a few explore this route. The following is from Reddit 6 months ago, link at the bottom. The original comment has links supporting each claim.

>This dude's ridiculous.

>... if you look at the Internet that we had in 2015, we were not living in some digital dystopia. There was nothing broken about the marketplace in such a fundamental way that these Title II regulations were appropriate. >2005 - Madison River Communications was blocking VOIP services. The FCC put a stop to it.

>2005 - Comcast was denying access to p2p services without notifying customers.

>2007-2009 - AT&T was having Skype and other VOIPs blocked because they didn't like there was competition for their cellphones.

>2011 - MetroPCS tried to block all streaming except youtube. (edit: they actually sued the FCC over this)

>2011-2013, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon were blocking access to Google Wallet because it competed with their bullshit. edit: this one happened literally months after the trio were busted collaborating with Google to block apps from the android marketplace

>2012, Verizon was demanding google block tethering apps on android because it let owners avoid their $20 tethering fee. This was despite guaranteeing they wouldn't do that as part of a winning bid on an airwaves auction. (edit: they were fined $1.25million over this)

>2012, AT&T - tried to block access to FaceTime unless customers paid more money.

>2013, Verizon literally stated that the only thing stopping them from favoring some content providers over other providers were the net neutrality rules in place.

>Like, dude. If you're gonna be a corrupt piece of shit, at least makes your lies more believable. This dude wants 'after-the-fact' regulation as opposed to preemptive regulation. Fucking news flash, you piece of shit. This is already after-the-fact.

>6 month late edit: Replaced Sprint with T-Mobile in the Google Wallet example.

https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/69dnox/fcc_chie...


The lower investment argument seems totally backwards to me. If we kill net neutrality, that gives ISPs a path to further monetize their existing infrastructure without any additional investment via paid preferential fast lanes and such. However, with net neutrality in place, the only means by which they have to compete is overall service quality, which means they have to invest in their networks. It seems obvious that ISPs are lobbying for repeal precisely because it allows them to make more money with zero investment.


the current setup is not exactly working either - https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2017/11/22/the-mo...

there needs to be some action - not removing net neutrality rules per se, but the utility/monopoly status has to go so that local provider can compete without being tied in billionaire lawsuits for the control of every municipality


They did. Verizon was throttling Netflix for a long time. Title II regulation was put in place to address ISP abuses. Now they're going to come back, and probably get worse than before.


There have already been a variety of attempts by these corps to undermine net neutrality even while it's been illegal. They lost the benefit of the doubt a long time ago. The telecom giants are as consumer-hostile as it gets

https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-vio...


How would eliminating net neutrality increase investment? I think it will cause immediate, long lasting harm if ISPs, which are often incredibly large and serve countless people, force people to do this- imagine if you are poor and need the internet to find a job!


"Our business is being regulated, so let's stop trying to make more money," said no business ever. A business is not going to stop making a good investment in their market just because there is regulation.


That's fair but you also have to ask what's in it for them to screw their users in this way.

Why would an ISP want to prevent some small, unrelated startup from gaining exposure?


> Why would an ISP want to prevent some small, unrelated startup from gaining exposure?

Once the startup takes all the risk to demonstrate market demand, the ISP can come in with their own offering and use the ISP monopoly to destroy the competition.


You mean like Google or Facebook?


It sounds like you aren't a fan of how Google and Facebook operate from that comment; I don't think allowing _more_ companies to act like that is a very good remedy to that problem


Google was a small, unrelated startup for a long time. Google Fiber was a real threat to the ISPs, but they already had a lock on municipalities and states. Some new upstart might find a way through that. Why risk it when they can just keep them from gaining traction in the first place?


Telecos across the board are parts of massive conglomerates with fingers in every pie. There are virtually no "unrelated" startups.


Charging for access to a website like this should be considered a form of piracy. The only appropriate response is a full IP range block.


Exactly! How is Google OK with this ISP basically charging a subscription fee to use YouTube? They're essentially reselling Youtube services.


Oddly, the UK does have net neutrality and you can get those app-specific data bundles in addition to universal access.


While the EU does have net neutrality, there are loop-holes for some forms of zero-rating (which is basically the same bullshit, just jumping through a few hoops).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-rating


Do NN proponents really believe that they could prevent the loopholes here?


The loopholes were deliberately built in during the drafting of the law, the European Council forced the Parliament to include them. It was widely reported on at the time.


my first question would be how the prices of the unlimited plan compares to the regular plans of other ISPs.

In other words, are these ‘walled garden’ plans aimed towards people who would otherwise buy a regular data plan or are they aimed at people for whom the choice is a walled plan or no plan.


The screenshot in OP's post and this[0] comment, make me think that cheap plans will mostly allow you to use apps/sites where the companies pay the ISP. These will be things like YouTube and Netflix, who need visitors for profit. Things that will be blocked by default are sites like HN, company websites, personal websites and anything else that isn't a huge company. So in the cheaper plans, the one being visited pays, in the expensive one, the one who visits pays.

In the end, it's just another revenue stream where, if they play it right, the consumer still pays the same, but the content providers also start paying. This means more money from the same bandwidth.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15757190


Do they actually block any of those things? What makes you think they would start blocking HN?


My understanding is that it's not that they're "blocked", it's that "you only can access what you pay for", which in this case is only those specific sites for which you pay to access. In other words, they don't "block" HN, they only provide access to Facebook, for example.


> In other words, are these ‘walled garden’ plans aimed towards people who would otherwise buy a regular data plan or are they aimed at people for whom the choice is a walled plan or no plan.

You say that like there's a hard line between them. No matter what it's "aimed at" it will hit people who want to save a buck and think they only need Facebook. Except that when there is a critical mass of people who no longer have the choice, Facebook's practices can become much more abusive because it becomes that much more difficult to leave. You have to convince everyone you know not only to use something else, but to use something that requires a more expensive data plan.

Moreover, consider what you're asking for, even if only lower income people subscribed. You want to take away the benefits of competition from the people with the least means. Talk about the poor get poorer.


Do they block or throttle VPN traffic?


Some ISPs throttle P2P/torrent. I don't know specifically about VPN.


VPN tunnels that go over port 443 SSL are difficult to throttle w/o affecting other services. They'd have to throttle by destination address, which can be more complex when available VPN endpoints are geographically distributed.


> If your favorite app is not there, you're shit out of luck and have to use the more expensive universal data plan.

So, under net neutrality your only option would be the "more expensive universal data plan"?


China does not have net neutrality. Almost everything coming into the country from outside is utterly filtered to hell and back. They do have a vibrant tech economy though. So they have their own Google (Baidu). They have their own Twitter (Weibo), WhatsApp(WeChat), Amazon(Tao Bao). So in the future of no net-neutrality, we'll see ISPs being value-added resellers of their own regionally partitioned versions of these services, probably developed by various ISVs. It will be a bit like the BBS days I imagine. It goes along with the Trump political theme of anti-globalization.


Comparing China to the US is a false equivalency.

For one, Chinese ISPs are state owned (China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, Great Wall). They do not have much of a profit motive outside the typical corruption of people at the top. Even with these state owned ISPs there are multiple choices for each address as these companies share infrastructure. The sharing of infrastructure in itself is similar to local loop unbundling, which does not exist in the US.

Another thing is that the tech community thrives at the behest of the government. Every time something happens it is generally due to changes in party policy that shift favor between companies.

Partitioning services is also not necessarily good. For example, large American ISPs generally have regional monopolies if not duopolies. They also own TV channels and movie studios. What is to prevent them from offering packages of their own services that are zero rated while charging extra for others (say, Steam or a new streaming service)?


Yeah... China's restrictive internet wouldn't be saved by "Net Neutrality". One of the foundational principles of the PRC is regulating what can be said. The medium is irrelevant.

I'll note that the FCC also regulates what can be said. Anyone remember when they investigated Stephen Colbert for his remarks on Trump?


They have their own services in China, but it's not only about foreign traffic. Put up a site and you'l find that it doesn't work too well in other regions of the nation, with ISPs throttling each other's traffic.


So without net neutrality, the internet as we know it really is broken. Great.


>China does not have net neutrality. Almost everything coming into the country from outside is utterly filtered to hell and back.

The UK does have net neutrality. The UK internet is still loosely censored. I understand that a monopoly might mean a non-neutral net could be privately censored, and therefore functionally similar, but this is a distinct issue from state censorship.


> The UK does have net neutrality.

Do we have any protection of that? As best I know (which isn't much), UK net neutrality is more along the lines of a polite understanding than anything enshrined in law.

(And it seems to be wobbling - cf. Three now offering you free data for Netflix/Spotify streaming, etc.)


We don't need to have it enshrined in law as right now little to no ISPs outright prevent access to popular services but as you said zero-rating is slowly creeping in.

Until an ISP starts preventing universal access nothing needs to be done, zero-rating (while bad for competition) does not do that.

A good question would be why aren't the competition petitioning the government to outright ban zero-rating? Current EU law has zero-rating loopholes, it'd be up to a post-brexit government to close them. Perhaps it's not popular with current ISPs and their customers? I don't think a large survey on net neutrality has been done in the UK.


Well, it can always get worse. If this thing passes and Time Warner wins in court and gets to buy AT&T..


> It goes along with the Trump political theme of anti-globalization.

I've never managed to connect anti-globalization with no net neutrality.

Please explain how you made that connection.


With no NN, you need to make deals with every ISP for your online services. It is only cost effective to do such deals in your main markets. Thus we Balkanize the Internet.


I was not making myself clear; the top comment seems to imply that there's some sort of natural connection between anti-globalism (in the popular sense of the term) and a rejection of net neutrality laws.

I am a fierce proponent of net neutrality, and I don't understand how you can reasonably conclude that I must therefore be pro-globalism.

Or how you can say that someone who is anti-globalist is probably also anti net neutrality.

That's the connection I don't understand. How do you make it?


Neutral networks converge on natural monopolies, globally. So a neutral net ends up with Facebook and Google "on top" in every country. This is globalisation in the Naomi Klein sense: the same brands dominating every market.

Of course, a non-neutral net ends up with the ISPs as natural monopolies instead, but these are local and a lot closer to the state in most places.

How well this is linked to populist anti-globalism is not clear. The issue is obscured in America because the big players are American, but I think it plays better in Europe where privacy concerns about exporting data matter.


Wow, thank you - I've never heard that argument before.

I'm not sure I know of an intelligent right-leaning person who thinks monopolies of any kind is a good idea, but I can see the argument being used in a "stepping-stone" sense towards a Republican ideal less regulated environment that would "naturally eradicate" monopolies.

I can see it used like that, but I've never heard of it. Of course, that might be because I'm not from the US.

Also, I don't necessarily agree that ISPs are closer to the state in most places, but that's not worth talking about because as far as I can see, neither of us agree with the argument anyway, you only enlightened me to its existence.

But like you said yourself, how this is linked to populist anti-globalism is not clear.

The original poster said, > "It goes along with the Trump political theme of anti-globalization."

So that's really the question at hand. At this point, it feels to me like the original poster is just virtue-signalling, which baffles me.


> ISPs are closer to the state in most places

Depends on the structure, but a lot of them are inheritors of telcos, which were often nationalised and/or subject to state control, surveillance and censorship. I was thinking particularly of BT and its heir Openreach, which owns all the wires. While they may be privatized the oversight is a lot closer than that of SV startups.

Owning a lot of physical infrastructure and needing to dig up roads requires having a good working relationship with the authorities, at least. Whereas to be Facebook you don't even need a local presence in the country.

Or there are the various US telcos which effectively lobby for either direct monopoly grants from cities or laws against city-level broadband. This kind of thing: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/isp-lobby-has-al...


Indeed, I've read on and off about ISPs lobbying local US government bodies for probably a decade or more.

I'm not sure what we are discussing, or if there is any point of contention between us that I can't see.

Perhaps you're not as much replying to me as simply being informative for posterity. In which case I'll thank you again, and stop writing now as to not drown out the information with drivel :-)


They also aren't a democracy, so not really relevant.


What does the system of government has to do with what is relevant to an argument like this?

China is not a democracy so it is irrelevant that they are the leading economy on the planet?


China is not a democracy so it is fundamentally irrelevant how they legislate their internet policies, correct.


That is not a question of net neutrality, every contry have blocked websites, for some reason or another.


Citation needed, because I sure as heck know that my country didn't.


The netherlands, which is one of the countries known to have some of the best net neutrality laws does for example have the pirate bay blocked, and it have been through the courts multiple times. There are many other countries with net neutrality who also blocks sites like the pirate bay.

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


May I ask what country that is?


Bosnia & Herzegovina. Serbia also doesn't (but their government uses other mechanisms for online disruption, including DDoS, bot armies, and breaking into websites it doesn't like). And neither does Montenegro. I can't guarantee that the same is true for Croatia as well, but I think that's the case there too.

That doesn't say that they don't want to block anything, it's just that they are fighting what they don't like on the Internet using different means.

To elaborate on that with one specific example from Bosnia, there was a case in which a government wanted to cut the access to a site spreading ISIS propaganda in a local language. They've successfully shut down a top level domain they were using, after which they've switched to a *.wordpress.com domain. That lasted a really long time (years I would say), but a court order managed to shut down that one as well (individual reports to WordPress, including mine, did not). And after all of that, they've arrested the founder of the website.

EDIT: Here's a screenshot of WordPress' response to me when I reported the website: https://i.imgur.com/suHPZeF.png


Question: it is my understanding that "hate speech" is banned in Bosnia & Herzegovina. If they don't ban websites. Do they arrest or fine whoever uses "hate speech" online instead?


Is anyone actually against net neutrality? I don't think I've ever seen a con argument.


There really isn't a sound argument against net neutrality.

Many do argue that the FCC shouldn't have the authority to regulate the internet, and often argue that idea to subtly change the subject.

If someone argues to abolish something, they should either argue in favor of a replacement, or argue that that thing should not exist at all. Unfortunately, I haven't heard even a flawed version of either argument.

Another faux argument I hear is the classic, "I am libertarian, and therefore must be against regulation of any form, and you can't change my mind." Obviously, that isn't an argument at all, and abusing libertarian ideology to look like an argument like that is seriously disappointing to any serious thoughtful libertarian, such as myself. This problem isn't specific to libertarianism either, but it is very popular in that community.

The core tenet to every position (not argument) I have heard against net neutrality is simply a position against regulation. The problem is that in the United States, we need to regulate ISPs, for several reasons:

1. There isn't enough competition: There are 6 ISPs in the US that control the majority of the market, and the majority of Americans are left with only one choice for >20mbit internet.

2. Net Neutrality is necessary to cultivate a free market of businesses that use the internet. Without net neutrality, the already centralized market of ISPs would cultivate centralized markets for each type of business that uses the internet.

TL;DR It is totally reasonable to be wary of regulation, or of the implementation of regulation. It may even be reasonable to consider net neutrality to be worthless or unnecessary in a truly free market, that has real competition between ISPs, but that isn't today's reality, so we would need to tackle that problem first.


There are arguments against net neutrality. Check out the NoNetNeutrality subreddit if you're curious [0].

The most convincing argument IMO is that it hurts people's internet access by sniffling innovation. It happened in India when Facebook tried to provide free "basic internet" access to poor rural Indians [1]. It was blocked on the ground of net neutrality since although it would provide access to very useful sites (weather, news, wikipedia, and yes, facebook), it was a sort of walled garden. Considering the alternative of no internet access or limited internet access, I think most people would agree that basic internet could have been a life saver to these people.

The other strong argument against net neutrality is that it's a trojan horse for internet regulation. When you have a legal framework for a regulatory body to tell and ISP you have to provide equal aaccess to "legitimate" content, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to consider that the natural extension of this is to tell the ISP they must block all "illegitimate" content

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/NoNetNeutrality/

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


The counter to free basics is why didn't Facebook just provide free full internet with heavy branding and advertising to encourage Facebook use? Did they have some Indian competitor they were scared of? I have a hard time seeing how it would be that much more expensive.


Facebook branding on their internet would be against net neutrality: facebook would then be changing other websites.


I think they mean heavy branding in person to customers.


One can argue that sure full access would be better, but one shouldn’t let good be the enemy of perfect. The fact is it wasn’t free open access or walled garden. It was walled garden or nothing. Facebook can’t be forced to provide free open access


No, I don’t agree. It’s great that it failed.


I agree. The first thing I did when I heard about the limitations was question Facebook's intentions there.

I think their walled-garden approach, if it received an overwhelmingly positive or at least unquestioned reception, would have set an even more dangerous precedent.

Governments don't (AFAIK) set up internet services as social welfare for the poor in other countries. Facebook doesn't have any borders. Unless they're actively told to keep their rabid growth in check, they will just keep going.

Nothing directly against Facebook here, but I definitely think it's better that the poor and uneducated throughout the world are not normalized into a Facebook(TM) world of knowledge. We've seen what's happened with a much milder and more open situation in the United States (and elsewhere) quite recently.


That argument is really sound. In India. It doesn't really apply in developed countries where internet access is already present (or accessible to the majority).


> That argument is really sound. In India.

I disagree. The argument isn't sound anywhere.

For an ISP to limit its users to a subset of the internet causes several problems:

1. It forces users to use one set of services. That means a user with Facebook-only internet has no hope of avoiding Facebook and its abhorrent data-collection.

2. It prevents competition. Google+ would be unable to compete, since it does not exist on Facebook internet.

3. It stifles free software. The vast majority of free software projects have little to no budget. If they must pay for competitive bandwidth, they face an uphill battle against proprietary products produced by wealthy corporations.

4. It favors centralized networking. If all of your users are constrained to a subset of the web, that likely means they cannot connect directly to each other. This totally rules out mesh networking, bittorrent, private voip, etc. On a non-neutral web, users will be constrained in their ability to run there own servers. This is already a problem with many ISPs disallowing public IP addresses.


For reference

> Key findings include the following: 10 percent of all Americans (34 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service. 39 percent of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. By contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband.

Majority do have broadband access but it’s still a problem for some

https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progr...


I think there is a more nuanced libertarian argument that you haven't mentioned, and that is not so much "I am against all regulation" as much as "I think regulation is generally bad for efficiency and/or disagree with it on moral grounds so I want to be convinced why it is necessary."

In other words, I want to be convinced that:

1) There is a problem here at all. The regulation that is being repealed was only introduced 2 years ago; how did we get along before that?

2) This problem can be solved by this regulation (not all regulation achieves its goals, and sometimes it is even counter productive).

3) Regulation is the best/only solution for this problem (what other solutions to the problem described in 1 have been proposed, and why are they not suitable)

I think serious answers to these types will be far more convincing than the typical simplified arguments along the lines of "What if comcast creates a competitor to netflix and prioritizes its own streaming service".

TL;DR: I think some libertarians are not so much against regulation as they are skeptical of it, and are willing to be convinced that certain regulations are good, on a case-by-case basis.


You say you want to be convinced but when reasonable answers have been supplied in previous threads, by respected figures like jedberg, you seem to have ignored them.

Similarly, this post also doesn't read as the beginning of a debate or a discussion; it reads as the end of one. All three of your demands taken together imply "Net Neutrality doesn't matter. If any regulation is not perfect then we should get rid of it", which is both a ludicrous position to hold on NN, and a facet of "I am against all regulation" which the intro supposedly distanced itself from.

An appeal to reason is all well-and-good, but using it as a sandwich for an obvious Nirvana fallacy, makes your points impossible to swallow.


Can you link me to the replies that I'm ignoring? I can't find any comments by jedberg in this thread.

Also I don't think it's fair to say that since I'm not convinced by what you consider reasonable answers therefore I'm the one who is wrong, instead of entertaining the possibility that those answers are not as convincing as you think, to someone who isn't already convinced.


I'll bite.

1) There is a problem here at all. The regulation that is being repealed was only introduced 2 years ago; how did we get along before that?

Yes, there is a problem here. ISPs have already started overstepping the bounds by extorting money from Netflix. T-mobile has a plan out right now that gives you unlimited Netflix, but rate limits everything else. This is a violation of the principles of Net Neutrality.

Yes, there is a problem.

There wasn't much of one before, because the ISPs were very careful not to upset the balance. In the past five years though, they've started seeing what they can get away with. Net Neutrality regulation is a response to the ISPs testing the waters.

2) This problem can be solved by this regulation (not all regulation achieves its goals, and sometimes it is even counter productive).

Probably. It's fairly easy to say "all ISPs have to treat all packets the same." Then have yearly audits of internal routing infrastructure.

3) Regulation is the best/only solution for this problem (what other solutions to the problem described in 1 have been proposed, and why are they not suitable)

I don't believe regulation IS the best solution. Not so much because the regulation itself is bad, but because each set of people who get into power have a different idea of what the regulations should look like, so it ping-pongs back and forth ad-infinitum.

I think the best solution is for towns to build municipal fiber that competes with existing ISPs. The infrastructure could be rented out to local ISPs who compete on the publicly-owned lines. If Comcast wants to charge people out the ass for shitty service that rate limits (or hell, censors) certain websites, go for it...but there are 20 other local companies who give faster speeds for cheaper prices that support Net Neutrality.

The problem is, Comcast generally stops this kind of market competition from happening via propaganda campaigns and jamming through state laws that prohibit it. A municipality entering the market is still a free-market competition, so it should be an option supported by libertarians.


You're right, a lot of this is an education problem.

Many (including myself) have for years thought that this wasn't a problem. How did we get along before this?

But there are dozens of cases before NN was codified, where ISPs were blocking and slowing down traffic. One of the most high profile was how Comcast was slowing down Netflix in the NY Metro Area.

After the rules went into place, Netflix speeds just magically increased, and Comcast said it was a coincidence. Uh huh, sure.


> magically increased

there was a technical reason for the performance improvement; netflix started peering with Comcast: http://www.businessinsider.com/paid-peering-explained-2014-2

but let's consider the world where the pipes stayed the same size; suddenly the lawyers say you have to stop shaping Netflix traffic (shaping means randomly dropping TCP traffic in order to signal to both ends that congestion exists in the network and they should slow down sending). Lack of shaping means congestion and slowness for all content traversing the same pipe, not just the heaviest users. So people watching Netflix get a slightly better quality and less buffering, but it takes 10 seconds to load any website traversing that pipe.


1. Even if it prevents some of the worst abuses by incumbents, net neutrality regulation isn't going to create more competition.

In fact, if net neutrality regulation creates additional compliance costs it might actually reduce competition by increasing the barriers to entry for new ISPs.

2. I think most people would agree that the Internet should generally remain a level playing field for all businesses.

However, it's not clear that net neutrality regulation is necessary to maintain such a level playing field. It wasn't necessary in the past. Moreover, there is potential for consumer benefit associated with some kinds of content discrimination, which net neutrality regulation might unjustly prohibit.

The reality is that if the US broadband industry was competitive we wouldn't be having this argument. We should fix that first, then see if we still need net neutrality regulation.


Except in this case the regulation is saying that the ISP must just carry bits. It's not forcing the ISP to do something to be compliant, it's forcing the ISP to not do something. So the costs of compliance are low, if not zero.

There are short-term consumer benefits, in my country we have zero-rated services, where browsing certain sites costs no data. However this completely undermines the concept of the free market. Any competitor to the zero-rated service has a massive hurdle to overcome, either competing with free, or paying the ISP to have the same deal applied to their service.

And there are also cases of abuse. Mobile operators began charging roughly $2 per MB of data for any VOIP traffic, forcing consumers to use standard calls.

By refusing to subject ISPs to regulations, we subject the Internet to the whims of the ISPs.


> So the costs of compliance are low, if not zero.

How could this possibly be zero? If a town's ISP has a bandwidth of 100Gb/s and has a demand of 200Gb/s by their customers, they can:

- prioritize certain bits such as live streaming that can't be slown down without degrading user experience, unlike text (current solution)

- slow down everything as forced by FCC's Net Neutrality (which would make live streaming unwatchable)

- invest in bigger infrastructure and pass the cost down to consumers (which is not zero cost as you claim)

So there you go. Another fun fact, for anyone that has lived through the 80's and 90's, the FCC censored TV and radio to hell with list of words, topics and images that could not be used on public broadcasting as it was considered to be public utility. If the FCC considers the internet public utility in order to impose Net Neutrality, they will be granted the same power as they were on tv. If you think twitter censorship sucks, wait for what's coming when Trump or another administration decides to impose similar rules through the FCC with the excuse that it's now a public utility and that using bad words (against politicians or else) at a certain hour is bad for kids. Don't forget that the boss of the FCC is nominated by Trump. People love asking the government for more regulations even though they always end up paying a high price for it. Just be careful what you ask for is all I'm saying.


> How could this possibly be zero? If a town's ISP has a bandwidth of 100Gb/s and has a demand of 200Gb/s by their customers, they can:

IMO, if you're selling more than you can provide, you're already doing it wrong...

It's not acceptable to prioritize some content over another when having the appropriate infrastructure would solve the problem.

> invest in bigger infrastructure and pass the cost down to consumers (which is not zero cost as you claim)

People will be paying for the product anyway, I don't see anything wrong with charging the cost of production/maintenance + profits (altough I suspect their profits might way higher than they should, and not being used to improve the ISP's as they should. I do not live in US though), that's what most other sellers around the world do and I really believe it's the most appropriate model.


> People will be paying for the product anyway, I don't see anything wrong with charging the cost of production/maintenance + profits

Have you ever thought that many people are fine with the deal they're currently getting and don't have the money to pay for more? Maybe that's great for rich people, but for lower income folks, the way ISPs optimize bandwidth right now is fine, they've probably done tons of testing to make it the less noticeable possible while providing the best prices for their customers (market at work). Forcing high bandwidth for all people even those that don't care will leave people out of internet connection at all as they won't be able to pay at all. So people won't be able to pay anymore but at least your principles will be respected, sounds like the classical case of unintended consequences of leftists policies that always end up hurting the poorest while giving good conscience and a good deal to the rich. Not a big fan of that kind of things personally.


No. My internet is completely useless at peak times - as in even HN won't load. Expecting competence out of ISPs is simply too much.

My ISP is the only game in town for me, and they know that. They have zero incentive to lower prices or raise quality.


Well, if your town has only one ISP it's probably a small town where everything is much cheaper and there is less money to be made. Why would they invest in infrastructure there if they would never recoup the costs? You already get many advantages by living where you live (lower cost of life, probably less air pollution etc). I used to live in a small town in Peru, everything was much cheaper but it was impossible to watch a video on youtube at more than 144p resolution. That's a bargain I was willing to take and never complained about it, life was cheap. If you want better services that costs billions in investment, move to a place where it makes business sense for someone to invest in such infrastructure and don't expect anyone investing free money for you out of their good heart. You wouldn't do it either, why should they? Here's the thing, you will _never_ get better or equal infrastructure and services in a small town than in a big city. Whether it's the diversity of asian food, schools, museums or internet speed. You'll never get it by living in a small town. Want all those fancy things? Move to these big cities and don't ask people to subsidize your small town more than they already do, big cities folks already pay enormous bills each months, they don't need more of it.


A small town can still service two or more ISPs, the lack of competition is what's ruining it and the lack of NN won't make it a bit better.

You should maybe also remind yourself that some people are not in the position to move around the country. You should not equate your own capabilities in life with those of others.


> You should maybe also remind yourself that some people are not in the position to move around the country.

After living years in Syria and then in Peru, I can say that small towns folks most likely to leave to big cities are not the ones that are well off but the poorest one on the contrary in order to find a job to sustain them. So yeah, I would say it's mostly rich people that can afford to stay in small towns, the rest move to bigger places where there is more chance in finding people willing to invest in them even for low skill workers.


Some people cannot move. Period. It may be their monetary situation, or something else.

Suggesting that the situation in Syria and Peru is the same as in the US is also rather disingenuous. It is with high probability not.

And even if it was so, does that mean the ISP gets the automatic right to fuck over everyone left because they didn't move? Does that right extend to other things? Should water utility not be provided to them because they didn't move?


> does that mean the ISP gets the automatic right to fuck over everyone left because they didn't move?

The fact that they refuse to invest money they will never get back doesn't mean they want to "fuck you over". Have you ever thrown money out of the window just for fun? Well now you understand these ISPs' point of view.

> Should water utility not be provided to them because they didn't move?

If there's only one person left in town, should a billion dollar installation still be maintained for that one person? What if it's 5 people or a couple of hundreds? Isn't it selfish too to demand a whole billion service industry (internet, water etc) to invest and work just for you and run their business as a loss just because you refuse to move? Western countries are running with trillions of dollars in debts because of these kinds of "investments", not sure if this is sustainable (surely hope so but doubt it). I would personally love to live in the middle of nowhere in beautiful Peru with high speed internet, clean water and top infrastructure, I would never demand anyone to pay for it for me however.


You don't need to maintain billion dollar installations for 5 people. For 5 people the annual cost of running a simple fiber installation can be well below a couple thousand dollars. I think you just have no idea what realistic costs an ISP actual has.

The ISP equipment usually in deployment is incredibly low maintenance and cost. And then "piping the internet" to the customer is exactly 0 cost.


We're talking clean water, electricity, internet and just about any other public utility, for 5 people. Like if I want to have fibre and all the other utilities here https://www.google.com/maps/@-16.2099526,-73.027656,8.94z, you think it would be cheap? If so I highly recommend starting your own business providing high quality infrastructure service as a service anywhere anytime :)


We are talking about existing infrastructure :)

New infrastructure is a topic completely orthogonal to NN and has little to no influence in both directions.


Nope. I live in a very large NJ suburb of NYC. Only one ISP


For the record, Net Neautraility does not and is not a legal framework for telling ISPs about how to manage their bandwidth. In its most simplistic terms:

Net neutrality is simply tha concept of treating access to the network (in this example the ISP and the greater internet it connects to) where it does not prioritize one set of bits and simultaneously and purposefully (and typically for the exchange of money) slow down access to something else.

Bandwidth management, or the idea of prioritizing on the fly to ensure quality service, does not inheritantly violate those principals. What does is if the video people paid th ISP money for faster bits and to slow down competitors and/or the ISP slowing down competitors to promote its own services.

Notice it also has no legal framework for specific types of access or information, simply that the pipe should be neutral and non-interfered. In fact, net neutrality laws can help improve privacy and gives more standing for companies to fight back against gov surveillance


Managing bandwidth based on a paid fee is a type of a bandwidth management. In analogous fields, we accept paid prioritization. Pricing/auctioning is a commonly used method for assigning resources efficiently.

If my ISP is hitting peak throughput at 8pm on monday night, it makes sense for high priority traffic to pay for priority (streaming, telephony, etc), while low priority traffic (bittorrnet, dropbox updates, etc) slow down because they are unwilling to pay.

I don't think outright blocking is justified or even purposeful slowing down (rather than speeding other stuff up). But i don't think treating everything the same is economically justified.


Net neutrality in its purist form definitely means every packet is treated equal. The whole discussion started because ISPs wanted to charge more for streaming content because it's an increased load on their network.

Your argument is usually what I tell people when they ask about NN. It's a lot more complicated than treating every packet equal because at capacity networks want to manage bandwidth.

You could also think of it this way, why should the general user be required to subsidize a heavy BitTorrent user's traffic? Now maybe ISPs shouldn't oversell in the first place, but the operating state of a network is congestion.

Your argument is very moderate and is not NN, but it's close. I would tend to agree and prefer what you describe: content neutral bandwidth management. But that's pretty much an oxymoron.


I think what the parent comment was referring to in regards to government censorship is the fact that the legislation in question (the one the current government is trying to repeal) is the classification of ISPs as "common carriers" under Title II of the communications act of 1934.

This has the effect of enforcing net neutrality, which is why everyone is in favour of it. However it also gives the FCC the power to censor content, like they did with television and radio in the past.


Upgrading your infrastructure to meet the demand your customers place on it isn't a cost of regulatory compliance. It's the cost of doing business.

Where in the network neutrality order did the FCC impose censorship on the Internet?


>Upgrading your infrastructure to meet the demand your customers place on it isn't a cost of regulatory compliance. It's the cost of doing business.

No, that's not how business work. If customers are not happy with a service they can shop elsewhere. The business is not forced by government to improve its infrastructure, just by customers pressure. The fact that some places only have one ISP is because government over-regulate right to pass and install fiber.

> Where in the network neutrality order did the FCC impose censorship on the Internet?

Once you turn the internet into a public utility, it gives the power to the FCC to censor it anyway it wants, just like TV or radio. Of course it won't be done overnight. Just wait for a big nazi/antifa/pedophile/terrorist internet scandal that would lead to a tragic death, than people will rush in a bill that says "sorry folks but we can't allow people to publish anything they want, think of the children" just like they did with public broadcasting on tv and radio. Making the internet a public utility is a requirement to pass these censorship laws, it's a first step. Censorship always happens in small steps. Think of the patriot act, if you give the government the power to take your rights away, they eventually will. Although to be fair they already have that power, but this will basically give them even more justification and power.


> If customers are not happy with a service they can shop elsewhere.

For much of the US, that isn't the case with ISPs.


> The fact that some places only have one ISP is because government over-regulate right to pass and instal fiber.

Limiting how many companies can dig up the streets is a good thing. Imagine if every delivery company wanted to pave a road to your house.

Where the government screwed up is not making the last mile common to all ISPs.


And if this was anything other than a question of whether to maintain the status quo, you might have a point or two here.


I'd rather have the status quo than giving full censorship power to a government agency. Not to mention that fiber is getting to more places each day with most of the densest cities covered now. Looks like the problems Net Neutrality was supposed to protect us from are not as grave as they used to be and that the market kind of sorted itself out. Why give the FCC/Trump full censorship power now and force ISPs to jack up their prices just because progress is not happening as fast as some elitists say it should? You think adding more regulations will make fiber be deployed faster?


Net neutrality is the status quo. No one is talking about adding complex new regulation here but you.


> No one is talking about adding complex new regulation here but you.

If you follow a bit about what happened the past 100 years of new government agencies rules is that they have _always_ yes, _always_ grown into thousands and thousands of regulations each year. But yeah, I'm sure this time it won't happen...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0MCZ3FJXJJs/UA7zeOEIanI/AAAAAAAAFl...


I don't know any more clear way to state that this regulation isn't new. But I don't think it matters, because I get the vibe that you're super into one of those ideologies that provides a handy, concise, internally consistent answer to any question with which you might find yourself confronted, and it's just a shame that reality so often disagrees. Enjoy your ancap or Randianism or whatever you happen to call it. I'll be over here wishing reality was less complicated than I've consistently observed it to be.


>this regulation isn't new.

Well, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality#United_States this rule Pai wants to repeal only took effect in 2015:

"On 26 February 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service and thus applying Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 as well as section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996[92] to Internet service providers.[93][94][95][96][97][98] On 12 March 2015, the FCC released the specific details of its new net neutrality rule.[99][100][101] And on 13 April 2015, the FCC published the final rule on its new regulations.[102][103] The rule took effect on June 12, 2015."


This ignores decades of history.

A core design principle of the Internet since the beginning has been the "end-to-end principle", which was that the job of the network was to distribute the bits between end points. FCC rules concerning network data go back to the 1960s.

The FCC began rule-making on network neutrality in the mid-2000s, in direct response to various ISPs blocking traffic.


Upgrading your infrastructure to meet the demand your customers place on it isn't a cost of regulatory compliance. It's the cost of doing business.

Where in the network neutrality order did the FCC impose censorship on the Internet?


> However, it's not clear that net neutrality regulation is necessary to maintain such a level playing field.

Yes it is.

> It wasn't necessary in the past.

There have been abuses already. I don't expect ISPs will dive into full-blown abuse immediately, but they will ease their way into it.

> Moreover, there is potential for consumer benefit associated with some kinds of content discrimination

Could you give an example, because I certainly can't think of any.

> The reality is that if the US broadband industry was competitive we wouldn't be having this argument. We should fix that first, then see if we still need net neutrality regulation.

Absolutely! That is exactly the problem I was trying to express. To abolish net neutrality while the market is in this state is clearly a bad idea.

Abolishing net neutrality will not do anything to promote a competition, so it's important that we start finding things that will.


> 1. Even if it prevents some of the worst abuses by incumbents, net neutrality regulation isn't going to create more competition.

Agreed, but net neutrality regulation never claimed it would. The concept of net neutrality accepts the fact that we do not (and cannot) have a free, competitive market for internet access, and tries to ensure that incumbents do not engage in anti-consumer practices that they wouldn't be able to do _if_ it were possible to have sufficient competition.

> 2. I think most people would agree that the Internet should generally remain a level playing field for all businesses.

> However, it's not clear that net neutrality regulation is necessary to maintain such a level playing field.

It's not, but no one seems to have any better ideas. Simply ditching net neutrality is nearly guaranteed to erode that level playing field. I'd be happy to entertain other ideas to maintain it, but no one seems to be presenting those, and the FCC is removing something useful without proposing an effective replacement (or any replacement at all, for that matter).

> It wasn't necessary in the past.

Wasn't it? Isn't the current net neutrality regulation a direct response to anti-consumer behavior by ISPs?

> Moreover, there is potential for consumer benefit associated with some kinds of content discrimination, which net neutrality regulation might unjustly prohibit.

The only benefit I can think of is short-term "lock-in" type behavior: stuff like Spotify streaming not counting toward your data cap. All that does is make Spotify more enticing and get users locked in, all due to an entirely synthetic advantage.

While this provides a short-term benefit to the customer, it provides long-term negatives as Spotify's competitors are forced out of the market, and new upstart competitors don't stand a chance.

Uncapped streaming is a fairly minor thing they could do (some streaming services already do this, and I'm pissed they're able to get away with it) and likely wouldn't hurt competitors enough to kill them, but unwinding net neutrality regulations would allow them to engage in crippling anti-competitive behavior, like making deals with ISPs to charge _their_ customers more for access to other streaming services.

> The reality is that if the US broadband industry was competitive we wouldn't be having this argument. We should fix that first, then see if we still need net neutrality regulation.

We can't. It is absolutely not in the public's interest to allow just anyone to dig up roadsides and bury cable, and radio spectrum is too scarce a resource to allow robust competition. Do you have any ideas as to how to get around that?


> While this provides a short-term benefit to the customer, it provides long-term negatives as Spotify's competitors are forced out of the market, and new upstart competitors don't stand a chance.

Realistically how much more of an issue will this be than it is now? In the UK, mobile providers already offer 6-month Spotify/Netflix/whatever subscriptions as a sweetner with your contract, which seems like the same issue to me but in a non-technological sense. New upstarts don't have the money nor the brand recognition to make that happen.

Netflix has become a part of the Collective consciousness, arguably on a similar level to googling something. Even with all the net neutrality laws in the world behind them I pitty the upstart who think they can go up against the current big players in the market (which includes content studios) and win. Spotify can't be said to have the same sort of recognition but Apple Music probably can, owing to it being featured on every iPhone and iTunes installation. New upstarts can't afford to release a smartphone to push their services, either.

It's capitalism. ISPs love short-term customer benefits, because the customers love them too. Once their customer base are fed up with their free Spotify sub, the ISP will have had 12 months to come up with the next thing. And so it will continue in theory until we all have huge data caps as standard anyway so none of this will matter. And then somebody will come up with a way to double the size of Netflix streaming video for a few more pixels and then we start again.


> We can't. It is absolutely not in the public's interest to allow just anyone to dig up roadsides and bury cable

Yes you can. Have the municipality be the one responsible for running fiber from reaidences to common access points. The the ISPs all have equal access and you can change ISPs very easy.

But again, politics and encumbent ISPs will prevent this.


Honestly when I see other libertarians speaking against net neutrality I suffer a lot. Good to see at least there is one other that understands the pro-nn arguments


I'm generally pretty conservative, and I support net neutrality.

I believe much of the opposition to it on my side of the aisle is based on the flawed assumption that any policy instituted during the Obama administration was a bad policy.

My preference would be that Congress passed legislation making net neutrality the law of the land, but in the absence of that, Title 2 classification with FCC forbearance is better than nothing.


The problem is most libertarians can't actually focus on winnable issues like the ones you describe because the fringe of the party spends its time yelling about how taxes are theft, stripping on stage, and promoting secession.

The fringe refuses to see the massive risk of not supporting net neutrality by government.


Agreed. Serious opposition to net neutrality is premised upon a reflexive, blinding hatred of government.

In their minds, any form of goverment is evil, and if it didn’t exist, we’d all live in paradise, free from chemtrails and tax sheets.

After going through these arguments and others linked here, I can safely say it's all excuses and handwaves; a thin veneer over an anarachist misanthropy.

Which isn’t too different from other conspiracy circles actually.


Something I never see considered is that markets exist in a context. It's perfectly reasonable to believe that as a rule of thumb regulation should be eliminated and that competition is good. Both towards improving consumers lives. But it isn't reasonable to assume these two tenets are always aligned or to take them as ends unto themselves.


It's a fallacy that some writers have called "economism". Basically amounts to blind adherence to Econ 101 principles. There's a whole book on it, I think you can find it https://www.economism.net


If we want something for the public good, it should be publically funded.


It pretty much was: ARPANET. And the instigator for all computers was the need to more quickly compute nuclear warhead trajectories, in real time, to make it possible, as well as efficient, to murder as many fellow humans as possible while also defending against the same by an opponent.

But yeah it might be nice to make it just work well, without any respect for and to whom or what. All that matter is how. It should work well, how do we do that?

Some cities are deciding to build their own infra. Good. Now if only they'd explicitly adopt their surrounding rural areas and include them in the program. Because this same FCC is dropping the subsidies for rural internet and telephone.


> If we want something for the public good, it should be publically funded.

That's just a silly argument.

If we are going there, let's first have the ISPs vacate all public rights of way and return all government subsidies.


They don't have to vacate anything, public should buy them outright. Yes after deducting the subsidy amount.


With what money and what political capital?


Public money and honesty.


I wish we lived in a fantasy world where we had both of those things in abundance, but unfortunately we live in the real world.


I've posted this comment before in another thread:

I oppose net neutrality regulation. In principle, I don't think there's anything wrong with an ISP prioritizing certain kinds of traffic over others, so long as it does not have an anti-competitive effect.

For example, I don't see how Netflix paying Comcast to zero-rate Netflix traffic is fundamentally different from Amazon contracting with mail carriers to subsidize the cost of shipping for Amazon purchases, or even -- to use an example another commenter made -- an appliance manufacturer contracting with electrical utilities to subsidize the cost of electricity used by their appliances. So long as Comcast makes its zero-rating program available to all content providers -- including their own -- on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, I don't think there are any competition issues.

I've heard people argue that zero-rating makes it harder for smaller content providers to compete, since they won't have the resources to subsidize their customers' traffic. As I said in another comment, that's just the nature of business. Being big affords you certain advantages, like economies of scale. This makes it easier to compete on price. Smaller companies have to compete in other ways.

In my view, the real problem with the telecom industry in the United States is a lack of competition [0], a problem caused at least in part by municipal [1] and state [2] governments. With more competition, net neutrality would be a non-issue. Consumers would just stop using ISPs that unfairly discriminate between traffic.

[0] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/410353/net-neutrality-...

[1] https://www.wired.com/2013/07/we-need-to-stop-focusing-on-ju...

[2] http://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadblock...


The reason why I and some other HN commenters (and L3 Communications) find this argument bizarre is because of the concept of transit traffic charges being applied to the last mile, which previously was not an industry practice.

Comcast's customers are requesting the data; if Comcast were a second tier backbone, or an AS between two others, then it would make sense to charge for traffic, as it doesn't benefit. But the traffic going to Comcast is there to benefit its subscribers, without which, Comcast doesn't make enough money. The most bizarre thing is that if the customers were to upload the same amount of data back to the sites, then they wouldn't be charged, as the data was symmetrical!

Why would an ISP be able to charge other AS's for sending traffic to its own customers? If there were even a single competitor in that region, this dynamic would change completely.


I think it makes sense because retail ISPs operate in a two-sided market. Comcast provides access to Internet services, which customers want and are willing to pay for. Similarly, Comcast provides access to customers, which the Internet companies who provide those services (and associated CDNs and transit providers) want and are willing to pay for.

I don't think there's anything especially wrong with this business model. It's similar to how a newspaper charges both readers and advertisers for access. The disadvantage is that you have to keep both parties happy.

Incidentally, if customers uploaded the same amount of data as the Internet services, Comcast wouldn't get transit fees but it would get additional revenue from the customers, so I think things would balance out.


> I think it makes sense because retail ISPs operate in a two-sided market. Comcast provides access to Internet services, which customers want and are willing to pay for.

Yes, but this is where your analysis breaks down: it's not a free market. The customers are a captive market.

> Similarly, Comcast provides access to customers, which the Internet companies who provide those services (and associated CDNs and transit providers) want and are willing to pay for.

The Internet companies are only willing to pay because they have no other alternatives. They only pay because Comcast has a monopoly and thus acts as a gatekeeper, and then only because Comcast has such a large market share that refusing Comcast would deprive them of a significant part of the market. Calling this "voluntary" participation in a two sided market is absurd. Blackmail is what it is.

When anybody else than Comcast tries this, they are laughed at and told to piss off.

> I don't think there's anything especially wrong with this business model.

There's plenty wrong. The subscribers have already paid full price and now Comcast wants more, this time from the Internet companies, without which Comcast would have nothing to sell.

> It's similar to how a newspaper charges both readers and advertisers for access.

This is just a bad analogy, again. Newspaper readers aren't paying full price for the newspaper, and they are not paying for getting access to the adverts.

> Incidentally, if customers uploaded the same amount of data as the Internet services, Comcast wouldn't get transit fees but it would get additional revenue from the customers, so I think things would balance out.

This just plain incorrect. Comcast wouldn't get a penny more from it's subscribers. Internet access is inherently asymmetrical. Were subscribers to use their upstream more, it would not result in any more revenues.


> > It's similar to how a newspaper charges both readers and advertisers for access.

> This is just a bad analogy, again.

Not to mention a poor choice of industry to use for comparison: it's not like the newspaper business is doing all that well these days.


> I think it makes sense because retail ISPs operate in a two-sided market. Comcast provides access to Internet services, which customers want and are willing to pay for.

So, I put up a small SaaS that I want people to use. In your world, I now have to go knock on the door of all the ISPs out there to pay them for access to their customers?


I think your mail analogy falls apart because mail carriers are end-to-end, while ISPs are part of a much larger heterogeneous network. If Amazon can get a special deal from FedUps to deliver a package from their warehouse to my door, that's reasonable since it's just a standard business deal exchanging services for money.

The international postal network is a bit more analogous. Let's say you order something from Widget Industrie in France. They pay La Poste to send it to your door in the US. La Poste transfers it to USPS, and pays USPS part of the postage to handle their end of it. Now imagine that USPS leaves your package on the warehouse floor for three weeks because Widget Industrie didn't sign up for their "expedited service" plan. Widget Industrie has never even talked to USPS, maybe doesn't even know that USPS exists.

Of course, international mail is regulated and has had "mail neutrality" since the 19th century, so you don't have to worry about that.

If some company wants to provide specialized data services so that Netflix can send data through their service to customers, that's fine with me. But that's not "the internet." These companies should decide whether they want to provide "internet access" or just specialized paid data access. Back to the mail analogy, FedEx and UPS have much more flexibility in terms of how they operate than USPS does, but as a consequence they don't get to participate in the international mail system.

And indeed, this already happens. Many ISPs provide phone and TV services separate from "internet" services. Nobody is complaining that Netflix can't get into your cable TV package, even though it's all just digital bits on the wire these days. But they don't call it "internet service." When they call a service that, there are certain expectations.

I agree that a lack of competition is the major problem here. If any given ISP customer had a dozen services to choose from, this would all go away. But that's a vastly more difficult problem. Saying we shouldn't worry about net neutrality because the real solution is competition is like saying we shouldn't worry about social security because the real problem is aging. Yes, if we solved aging we wouldn't need social security, but that's not a realistic approach.


> In principle, I don't think there's anything wrong with an ISP prioritizing certain kinds of traffic over others, so long as it does not have an anti-competitive effect.

Can't have that if there is no competitive ISP you can change to, if you don't like this NN violating ISP.

> For example, I don't see how Netflix paying Comcast to zero-rate Netflix traffic is fundamentally different from Amazon contracting with mail carriers to subsidize the cost of shipping for Amazon purchases

This analogy breaks down immediately, because Comcast is already getting Netflix traffic for free. There is no toll that needs to be subsidized, no charge that needs to be zero rated. Comcast is just blackmailing Netflix for protection money.

> or even -- to use an example another commenter made -- an appliance manufacturer contracting with electrical utilities to subsidize the cost of electricity used by their appliances.

Another bad analogy. There is no "cost of electricity" equivalent incurred by Comcast. The Netflix bits are free to Comcast.

> So long as Comcast makes its zero-rating program available to all content providers -- including their own -- on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, I don't think there are any competition issues.

You do realize that this effectively sets up Comcast as the gatekeeper to the Internet? Do you really want Comcast to be able to decide what's on your Interwebz?

That's even before we get into the fact that requiring to contract with Comcast before you can offer any online service is a barrier to entry and a competitive barrier.

The whole idea is absurd. This way lies the Balkanization of the Internet and Internet fiefdoms.

We already tried something similar and it was a shitshow. Remember how insane and difficult it was to offer premium and value add SMS services back in the days, when you had to cut deals with every single cell phone company before you could offer your service?

> I've heard people argue that zero-rating makes it harder for smaller content providers to compete, since they won't have the resources to subsidize their customers' traffic. As I said in another comment, that's just the nature of business. Being big affords you certain advantages, like economies of scale. This makes it easier to compete on price. Smaller companies have to compete in other ways.

So that's your solution? Screw the small guys?

Lets institutionalize a protection racket, so that only big players can offer service because they can afford to grease the right palms.

> In my view, the real problem with the telecom industry in the United States is a lack of competition [0], a problem caused at least in part by municipal [1] and state [2] governments. With more competition, net neutrality would be a non-issue. Consumers would just stop using ISPs that unfairly discriminate between traffic.

Now you are on the right track. However none of this helps with the immediate problems. Most people have a monopoly provider. You can't change providers if there are no options. Even if we start now, there won't be another option for years.

Meanwhile monopoly providers will use their monopoly to extract monopoly rents, both from customers and online services, best they can. We should not give them permission to gouge more by repealing NN.

As to your list of problems, you forgot to add the FCC killing line sharing due to the Brand X case. If we had that, then we could theoretically have had competition even over a monopoly last mile infrastructure.


> Can't have that if there is no competitive ISP you can change to, if you don't like this NN violating ISP.

Sure, but that indicates a need for competition, not net neutrality. As I said in another comment, even if it prevents some of the worst abuses by incumbents, net neutrality regulation isn't going to create more competition.

> This analogy breaks down immediately, because Comcast is already getting Netflix traffic for free. There is no toll that needs to be subsidized, no charge that needs to be zero rated. Comcast is just blackmailing Netflix for protection money.

I don't think you understand the example. Mail carriers also get packages from Amazon for "free" in that sense. They don't pay Amazon for the right to deliver Amazon's mail.

It occurs to me that there is a difference in that the recipients of packages do not need to pay to receive them, whereas Internet users pay for access. There's no reason why mail services couldn't work that way in theory, though.

> You do realize that this effectively sets up Comcast as the gatekeeper to the Internet? Do you really want Comcast to be able to decide what's on your Interwebz?

If the market was sufficiently competitive, then Comcast wouldn't be the gatekeeper. If Comcast behaved badly, people would switch to a different provider.

Not every instance of possible bad behaviour needs to be regulated.

> That's even before we get into the fact that requiring to contract with Comcast before you can offer any online service is a barrier to entry and a competitive barrier.

We're talking about zero-rating, not "requiring to contract with Comcast before you can offer any online service". Those are completely different things.

> So that's your solution? Screw the small guys?

My solution is to increase competition, actually. My point is that we don't penalize big companies for being successful by taking away the benefits of being big, such as economies of scale. The "small guys" have to compete as well and shouldn't rely on the state to reduce consumer benefit in order to make it easier for them to increase their market share.

> Even if we start now, there won't be another option for years.

That's not necessarily true. For example, the FCC could do what Canada does and require ISPs to sell Internet access at fixed wholesale rates to resellers. Competition will spring up overnight.

There are many other approaches as well, such as blocking municipalities from entering into monopoly franchise agreements with ISPs, ensuring equal access to rights of way, and supporting municipal broadband.


> Sure, but that indicates a need for competition, not net neutrality.

> If the market was sufficiently competitive, then Comcast wouldn't be the gatekeeper.

> My solution is to increase competition, actually.

> Competition will spring up overnight.

You keep saying this, but I don't think you understand:

1) That businesses like this do not spring up overnight, even in the figurative sense.

2) The incumbent ISPs lobby to reduce competition (often getting laws on the books to make it illegal for municipalities to offer internet access), and are largely very successful at it.

3) Rural areas basically get fucked, because there won't be enough money in new competition.

4) In the meantime, we have nothing to protect customers. Let's say you're right, and we can somehow increase competition. No, it's not going to happen overnight. What's going to protect customers in the meantime, after current net neutrality regulation is rolled back? Nothing. Removing regulation that has been obsoleted by other measures is fine and the right thing to do, but there's nothing to replace it right now that will have the same effect.

> For example, the FCC could do what Canada does and require ISPs to sell Internet access at fixed wholesale rates to resellers.

So why is this kind of "anti-free-market" regulation ok, while net neutrality rules aren't? (Also, we tried this. Most smaller players that took advantage of it failed because, while the Comcasts of the US were required to _provide_ access, there wasn't really a way to require that they provide it easily, or provide good service and reliability with it. And I believe this ended up getting repealed due to... you guessed it, lobbying efforts from the incumbents.)

I'm just really getting tired of all this "increase competition" rhetoric coming from people who seem to think they live in a fantasy world where it's easy, or even possible, to get these sorts of things done, especially in the current political climate.


I agree, we need competition, but that's not something we will get in a reasonable time scale. We're insisting on NetNeutrality for the sole purpose of protecting consumers. By just saying 'the free market will solve all our problems' won't help us get there or solve any real issues that will plague people from now til some future where that may or may not be realized.

Per your second point regarding the imminency of a free market, is that not also a regulation being imposed upon ISP's? You're proposing regulation on the physical infrastructure whilst NN argues for regulation (or non-regulation as it were) of data. What is the difference in your opinion?


> what Canada does and require ISPs to sell Internet access at fixed wholesale rates

Actually, it's access to the last mile that's sold a fixed rates. The ISPs lease aggregated links to the last mile network depending on how much capacity they need. These ISPs have their own internet uplinks. There are ISPs that are just pure resellers but I'm not sure if this is regulated.

But even this had a net neutrality issue. The ISPs leasing out the last mile access started to throttle certain traffic (bittorrent and VPNs) for their customers AND the customers of the ISPs that leased the last mile.

Recently the fight was over access to the new FTTH connections.


>> Can't have that if there is no competitive ISP you can change to, if you don't like this NN violating ISP. >Sure, but that indicates a need for competition, not net neutrality.

True. I'm fine with not requiring NN in markets where there are at least four more equivalent or better options to chose from, one of which has to be following NN.

> As I said in another comment, even if it prevents some of the worst abuses by incumbents, net neutrality regulation isn't going to create more competition.

Again true, but that does not mean we should allow NN abuse in the absence of competition.

>> This analogy breaks down immediately, because Comcast is already getting Netflix traffic for free. There is no toll that needs to be subsidized, no charge that needs to be zero rated. Comcast is just blackmailing Netflix for protection money. > I don't think you understand the example. Mail carriers also get packages from Amazon for "free" in that sense. They don't pay Amazon for the right to deliver Amazon's mail.

I understand the example just fine, it's you that's got the wrong end of the stick.

Your first error is equating the mail carriers with Comcast. Comcast is not the mail carrier. The mail carriers are not the recipients of each piece of mail. Comcast, on the other hand, is the recipient of the bits.

A more apt analogy is that Comcast is the building owner with a mail room. The mail carrier drops off letters to the mail room, for free to Comcast. Comcast then distributes the letters to each tenant, who all pay Comcast for this letter delivery service.

Not a single building owner would get their mail delivered by the mail carriers, if they had a guard standing at the mail room door and if that guard demanded payment before letting anybody pass. In fact that would be a really quick way of ending up in court.

Your second error is thinking that the delivery of mail is the same as the delivery of bits. Each piece of mail requires incremental energy and manhours to deliver, whereas Comcast does not incur any marginal cost for taking delivery of and passing along the bits that their customers have requested.

>> You do realize that this effectively sets up Comcast as the gatekeeper to the Internet? Do you really want Comcast to be able to decide what's on your Interwebz? >If the market was sufficiently competitive, then Comcast wouldn't be the gatekeeper. If Comcast behaved badly, people would switch to a different provider.

Yes, that's how it works in theory. Too bad Comcast doesn't have any competition in most areas. What's your non-theoretical solution?

> Not every instance of possible bad behaviour needs to be regulated.

So, allow bad behavior until somebody comes along with billions of dollars and builds out a (hopefully) better behaved competitor?

>> That's even before we get into the fact that requiring to contract with Comcast before you can offer any online service is a barrier to entry and a competitive barrier. > We're talking about zero-rating, not "requiring to contract with Comcast before you can offer any online service". Those are completely different things.

Please explain how those are different things. How will I be able to stream HD cat videos to my users with Comcast without contracting with Comcast for zero rating?

>> So that's your solution? Screw the small guys? > My solution is to increase competition, actually. My point is that we don't penalize big companies for being successful by taking away the benefits of being big, such as economies of scale.

How is being able to afford to pay protection money an economy of scale?

> The "small guys" have to compete as well and shouldn't rely on the state to reduce consumer benefit in order to make it easier for them to increase their market share.

Wait, what?! How is consumer benefit reduced by abolishing NN? How is consumer benefit reduced by increased availability of online services?

>> Even if we start now, there won't be another option for years. > That's not necessarily true. For example, the FCC could do what Canada does and require ISPs to sell Internet access at fixed wholesale rates to resellers. Competition will spring up overnight.

You know, that's what we had with the Telecom Act of '96. The FCC decided we shouldn't have that after they lost the Brand X case.

Any other suggestions? Preferably some which can be practically implemented in a reasonably short time frame, such as years instead of decades.

> There are many other approaches as well, such as blocking municipalities from entering into monopoly franchise agreements with ISPs, ensuring equal access to rights of way, and supporting municipal broadband.

I'm all aboard with these suggestions, but even with all of these any improvement will take years, if not decades, and presupposes billions of capital and totally ignores the winner takes all of natural monopolies.


> ... so long as it does not have an anti-competitive effect.

Soooo... you're in favor of net neutrality regulation, then.


Everything you talk about is contrary to the current reality, and it boggles the mind the mental gymnastics you are putting yourself through to get there.

ISPs should be dumb pipes, the end.


so you think the government should be allowed to regulate it?


I think the obvious answer is yes. With conditions that are agreed apon by voters. Voters are not a factor in this legislation outside the fact that it is being executed on party lines.


Some organizations such as the Wikimedia Foundation, Google, and Facebook believe that their services are more important than others. As such, they consider themselves deserving of cheaper, free, or the "fast lane" internet, especially in less developed areas without sufficient infrastructure to serve all websites. The rationale is that providing a limited set of websites for free is better than if those areas have no access to internet at all.

Note: The views of the mentioned organizations do not necessarily reflect my own views.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Basics

[1] https://blog.wikimedia.org/2014/08/01/wikipedia-zero-and-net...


I want to understand this better, but I can't grasp the concept of a "fast lane" in anything but an artificial sense - how can an ISP create a "fast lane" for a website - can't they only create "slow lanes" for everything BUT "fast laned" websites?


Kind of. Say an ISP cuts a deal with Google to make all Google's traffic higher priority than other traffic. When customers are using less than the network's full capacity nothing changes - all traffic goes through at full line speed. But as soon as any buffer starts to fill up on any device on the ISP network (because of network congestion) the network devices will pull Google's packets from the buffer more often than other traffic until the buffer is empty. Then it's back to line speed for everything.


Yes.


The internet is not a single "connection" for an ISP that fans out to all the customers, unless your ISP is only able to get transport from a single peer/provider.

The big ones back-haul to a major hub and then enter in to several peering agreements. Depending on what service/site you use the "best" path will be over one of those peers.

However, this means that there is usually a middle-man-network in between you and the service you want and neither you, your ISP, nor the service can directly control the quality or speed of that network. If Netflix, Hulu and Google all end up with a "best" path on a single peer its going to be bad during prime time even though other services connected on other peers may operate normally.

One version of a "fast lane" (like the one that Comcast and Netflix negotiated) is to remove that middle man and directly peer with the service. This is only available to large services because they need a presence in these major hubs as it usually requires a direct physical connection between edge routers.

Now, no matter how congested their peers get, the "fast lane" service is working well. They have probably also agreed not to charge the actual "market" rate on that link's bandwidth as it is mutually beneficial and the ISP should pass those savings to its users by not counting the service against any data caps etc.

From the outside, this looks like extortion. The reality though is that both sides pursue these kinds of deals all the time because it benefits their customers and therefore their bottom-lines. ISPs push harder for them because services, like Netflix, are incentivized to find the lowest cost transport peer which is usually not the highest quality. When that peering link is bad, customers blame the ISPs not Netflix.

Netflix used to brag about how cheap and cut-rate their cost per gigabyte was. How do you think they got such a good deal? It wasn't by purchasing the best connection to their customers. It was become some sales exec at a tier 1/2 internet transport provider oversold their poor service. We should be just as upset with the overselling of transport over peers as we are about ISPs throttling but, most of the internet citizens don't understand how that works.

Another note, most of the times when people use VPNs to "prove" that their ISP is throttling network capacity for a service, they are simply routing over a different peer (the one that connects to their VPN). In ideal circumstances this is traveling over a sub-optimal path and should suffer a little bit. However, in times of heavy congestion it is like being routed around a traffic jam. It is "very hard" with current routing protocols on the backbone to do this kind of "flow around" for congested paths in real-time for everyone. Single users are manually implementing it by hitting VPNs.


[1] has this quote "Net neutrality serves all Internet users – rich as poor – by providing equal access to diverse content online. We support net neutrality, and believe it is crucial for a healthy, free, and open Internet." and "The Wikimedia Foundation believes that the principle of net neutrality is critical to the future of the open Internet."

But the offering of Wikipedia Zero clashes with the idea of net neutrality.


Isn't Google's project loon open internet, compared to Facebooks free basics?


Google tried a similar thing to Free Basics with the Google Free Zone [0][1]. It launched in 2012 and disappeared from most places by 2013.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Free_Zone

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20130704133456/http://www.google....


But Fiber doesn't do this now, correct? Neither does Loon?


Actually I've just stumbled across a very(!) active HN poster that seems to be against it on a popular micro blogging platform..

The common counter argument seems to be that "Regulation is bad for the open market" and that "Better options would come up if an ISP starts doing weird shit, if the market demands it".

It's interesting to me that the very same people seem to be pro Freedom of Press/Freedom of Speech (as a German, the US Freedom of Speech is something I'm not used to, something that doesn't align with my culture/upbringing), but feel different about this subject because it involves a "market"?


"Regulation is bad for the open market" - that's the root of the problem here. If it weren't for various "licences", "concessions", "permits" to become mobile operator or be allowed to install your cables then we will not need a discussion about net neutrality.

Definitely the bar to become ISP is too high, lower it and the problem will be gone. I don't belive that people don't want to become ISP just like that - something is wrong here.

On the other hand I have to say that sane regulations make sense, for instance mobile operators in Poland who own hardware infrastructure are obliged by law to sell bandwith to virtual operators when requested. That indeed lowered prices and provided better serivces including mobile internet. However, to have a full picture, I need to say that at the down of mobile telephony in Poland, initial investment and infrastructure was build by companies owned or controlled by the state, so, to some extent, infrastructure was payed from public money and later sold to 100% private entities.


That's some wishful thinking.

The real reason we have few ISPs is that building facilities require large amounts of capital, returns are low and the incumbents have already built out the profitable markets.

Regulation is not the root of the problem. Sure, lessening the burden would help, but not solve the problem.


But I can't see why regulation must be necessary to maintain net neutrality; of course it's a good thing, I'm just not sure the government necessarily needs to mandate it.

Documented abuses of net neutrality were few and far between and there really wasn't a precedent for the 2010 Act in the first place. Mobile phone carriers are not subject to the same net neutrality rules, yet I haven't heard of any of the 4 major providers deliberately throttling internet service.


If you check out /r/libertarian, there is lots of debate over this idea right now.


> It's interesting to me that the very same people seem to be pro Freedom of Press/Freedom of Speech (as a German, the US Freedom of Speech is something I'm not used to, something that doesn't align with my culture/upbringing), but feel different about this subject because it involves a "market"?

That's Libertarianism. Everything done by government is bad, everything done by businesses is good. Looking at the actual effects is verboten.


I didn't downvote you and have little experience with the US concept of (capital L) Libertarianism.

But it's kinda weird to see you use 'verboten' - probably to make this sound "really bad",in some sort of authoritarian way - in a reply to a post that contains the words "as a German". That seems inappropriate.


I’m against net neutrality if you are allowed to choose your ISP. Where I live (Boston) I only have Comcast. Trees even block satellite. If we allowed any ISP to lease the line from Comcast and let me choose service, it would be different. As I only have Comcast, it is a monopoly and I’m opposed. But with true competition, I could choose from a range of ISP’s, even theoretically free broadband that would be ad supported.


that only works as long as they actually compete on neutrality rather than collude.


The evidence is they do the same thing as insurance* companies. The conglomerate/merge regionally. So they buy up all the small competitors, while excluding any meaningful competition amongs the big players. Are they colluding? Maybe not explicitly over lunch, but they know what they need to do and direct competition, as if they're commodities, would be bad for their shareholders.

* health care pre-payment with no residual value plan


Well, Ajit Pai says it stifles investments. Apparently investments fell by 5% or so over a period of time since the Title II classification. While I love NN, I also hate no viable competition to cable/ISP monopolies. I don't think NN would be an issue if everyone had at least 3 viable choices of broadband providers. That's the right (tm) way to address it, or should I say market-based, by fostering competition via policy.


I think the free market proponents are harming US infrastructure and in the future competitiveness. Like roads and bridges etc are built with taxes. The internet infrastructure needs to be built or at least controled by the government federal, state or city. I like what Singapore did got bids and fixed prices for fiber deployment. Now all the isp's have to compete for providing services and the fiber deployer is paid the same by all of them. That is probably the best and cheapest way to build infrastructure. Currently in the US you have 2-3 companies doing their own fiber deployment in the same areas at 2-3 times the cost.


Precisely. Communications infrastructure is a natural monopoly that should be regulated like roads, electricity, water, sewer, etc. The fact that it was privatized early on the U.S. means we've open pandora's box of lobbying, so it would be difficult to close it again.

The federal government could foreseeably take back some of that infrastructure by building it itself. The last mile is the most expensive part, so why not build a fiber backbone to every public school, and then let the municipal government's decide if/when/how they cover the last mile implementation?


> Apparently investments fell by 5% or so over a period of time since the Title II classification.

That is a correlation expressed as a causation.


Lack of competition is because:

1) ISPs agree not to compete; and

2) It is expensive for new entrants to build infrastructure.

It would be ideal to solve NN with free market.

But the ISPs have monopolies that prevent competition.

Making net neutrality necessary today.



1) ISPs agree not to compete; and --> probably not. Cartels don't work in practice, because there's always an incentive to cheat. Look how often OPEC nations pump more oil than they agreed to pump.

2) It is expensive for new entrants to build infrastructure. --> Yes, but if the ROI is sufficient, it can still get done.

3) Local / state government "franchise" agreements which grant incumbents monopoly (or near monopoly) status. --> the real killer. If the local government regulates you out of the market, it's game over.


> 1) ISPs agree not to compete; and --> probably not.

Except they currently do this, so... yes.

> 2) It is expensive for new entrants to build infrastructure. --> Yes, but if the ROI is sufficient, it can still get done.

> 3) Local / state government "franchise" agreements which grant incumbents monopoly (or near monopoly) status. --> the real killer. If the local government regulates you out of the market, it's game over.

It's not in the public's interest to allow a bunch of random companies to dig up our roadsides to lay a ton of fiber, over and over and over. So I don't see this changing.


Removing net neutrality regulation will absolutely not increase competition in the ISP space. Why would it? Because then there'd be potentially more money in it, based on all the new ways ISPs could screw with customers?

First off, no: we don't allow any random company to dig up our roadsides to lay cable, and that's a good thing.

But let's say we did. So you want to attract competition by showing the newcomers that they can make more money than in the net-neutrality era by engaging in anti-customer behavior? How is _that_ good? Or are you expecting more competitors to come in out of the goodness of their hearts and "settle" for building a current-style (quite lucrative) ISP business without that behavior, making less money?


One could argue that without net neutrality, internet providers could provide substantially cheaper internet services -- e.g. just Facebook for $1 a month.

However that breaks down once you consider the fact that it's not practical at all. Not to mention that providers would have no reason to offer such cheap offerings, either.


> Not to mention that providers would have no reason to offer such cheap offerings, either.

Sure they might. Large companies with deep pockets subsidize the premise to their own benefit (whatever that happens to be). In your example, let's say instead it's $3 per month for just Facebook services (FB, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc). Comcast partners with Facebook on the effort, in which Facebook pays a few dollars per month to subsidize the user plan.

Facebook currently derives something close to $9 per month from US & Canadian members. They hit 45.6% net income margins last quarter, which is extraordinary. They're set to become the greatest pound for pound profit machine in world history, they can afford to use some of that margin to further lock in their monopoly by purchasing preferential access treatment in numerous ways.


A subsidized Internet connection is just wishful thinking.

Online services (Google, Facebook, ...) make just a few bucks per user. This is peanuts compared to what broadband costs. The fixed costs alone are tens of dollars per month.


It occurs to me that ISP's would not be the only people who would want to get in on the game. Suppose Facebook saw that ISP's were selling Facebook access. This practically invites Facebook to charge the ISP's for access to Facebook.


Is anyone arguing that? Links?


Facebook tried such a system in India [0].

"Called Free Basics, it provided only limited access to the Internet through a suite of websites and services that, unsurprisingly, included Facebook"

https://www.cnet.com/news/why-india-doesnt-want-free-basics/


Of course this isn’t an argument. It’s not even anecdotal. Oprah gave free cars to her audience one day.


I'm against net neutrality. It's essentially a wealth transfer from the infrastructure industry to the ad industry. It's pretty dumb imo.


ISPs are free to compete with Google, Facebook, etc by offering competitive web services.

Instead, ISPs want to leverage their almost-exclusive control of Internet access to unfairly crush competition.

Users can choose not the use Facebook. Many users cannot choose not to use Comcast, because Comcast is the only ISP in the area.

Lack of competition among ISPs make them different from web companies.


> ISPs are free to compete with Google, Facebook, etc by offering competitive web services.

By definition you're devaluing the infrastructure. This is saying, infrastructure does not deserve to make money, only ads deserve to make money.

I'd rather ISPs not compete in web services and instead make money providing the pipes as it's an important job in its own right.

Your logic leads to bad incentives for ISPs, leading to long-term degradation in a important industry. Letting ISPs make more money will introduce more incentives to compete with them too. Why did Google Fiber fail? At least partially because there's no incentive for Google to fully invest in a 10% profit margin service while it's ad business has 60% profit margin.

End net neutrality, let ISPs charge internet companies fees, and we'll suddenly have ton more money in the industry, competition in the market and we'll see an end this era of shitty internet.


There is a ton wrong with what you just commented.

First of all, Google Fiber's strategy was not to make money but to push the industry to start installing new fiber-speed infrastructure, and it was successful (see the new ATT Fiber, etc.). Google did this because consuming it's services (like youtube) instead of watching TV are tied to having access to low-cost fast internet.

You're also not understanding that communications infrastructure is a natural monopoly. Infrastructure costs are the barrier to entry, meaning that even if ISPs make more revenue, they're still not going to have competition. ISPs are no more likely to invest in infrastructure without net neutrality than they are now, making your argument pointless.


> By definition you're devaluing the infrastructure. This is saying, infrastructure does not deserve to make money, only ads deserve to make money.

Comcast etc. are already making money hand over fist. Removing net neutrality regulation will only allow them to engage in anti-consumer behavior in order to line their pockets further.

In general I wouldn't be opposed to that, except that we live in a world where you can't just decide to be an ISP. It's not in the public's interest to allow just any company to dig up the roadside everywhere to lay cable, and radio spectrum is a precious, scarce resource.

So that's the deal: we give them the privilege of being a monopoly, in exchange for legal mandates that they won't engage in certain types of anti-consumer behavior.


What makes you think ending net neutrality would negatively affect the ad industry? They'll keep right on making their money, only they'll have one more venue -- ISPs injecting ads into other people's (non-HTTPS) pages.

ISPs are a natural monopoly and therefore must be carefully and thoroughly regulated, just like any other utility. Their job ought to be to provide a regulated standard of service at a regulated price, no more & no less -- just like your water and electric utilities.


So if we get rid of net neutrality, we get less ads? That’ll be the day.

The “infrastructure industry” huh? The internet, of course, should be treated as a utility.


When people talk about "the internet" or "internet services" they don't just mean a website. There's a whole load of work that has to be done to get the data packets from A to B and create our awesome industry. Ending net neutrality would allow the value created by "the internet" to go to all parts of the stack, instead of just the very end of it. And the base parts of the stack needs the money waaayyy more than the tech giants with 60% profit margins. Again, funneling money from the poorest part of the industry to the most profitable parts is pretty crazy to me.

So it's not less ads, just that some of the profit from the ads would go towards the base infrastructure, which is a good thing.


What all parts of the stack are you talking about? Money will go to ISPs and their partners. I don't think how Comcast having more money is a good scenario.


How?


The "infrastructure industry" are rentiers in the classical sense: they are rewarded for holding and maintaining a capital asset which can't be easily replicated.


What these comments are against net neutrality and are appearing on Hacker News? We are innovators that without neutrality us little guys/girls will suffer.

Are all these comments fake/propaganda? I wouldn’t be surprised!


I'm glad that people are open minded here and willing to engage in rational discussion despite holding differing viewpoints. Lots of communities on the web seem to be echo chambers on this topic - makes me thankful for sites like HN.


Cue discussion of sockpuppetry as a service (not joking, this is a real issue), given the FCC website comment drama, I wouldn't be surprised if the ISPs and the FCC have hired a "persona management" company to forum slide.


I mean look at how foreign governments are using social media to influence elections across the world. Fake news to fake comments to spread one's agenda.

Edit .. see this top story now on the homepage here about the New York states attorney investigating iNternet fakery https://medium.com/@AGSchneiderman/an-open-letter-to-the-fcc...

I still do not see why there isnt the same uproar as there was previously that stopped SOPA. What's different this time?


This is out of the CIA playbook, and they are likely to be the largest users of this tactic. Stop buying into their deep state Russia villification program. The Brits are probably second, with Israel tied, and Russia and China in third place.

In the IC, operations against the US match the above as well. Everyone loves to rail on Russia, but they are peanuts compared to the collusion that is AIPAC... Now you didn't say the Russians, so correct me if I am misinterpreting.

My point is that operation mockingbird just changed names after the Church committee. WaPo is part of it, as are numerous others. Our own deep state (in the Peter Dale Scott sense of the term) is the most active in deception and manipulation of the American people, and it's high time they realized it.

I could go further, but it delves into "conspiracy theory" territory that most people don't like to hear.


The arguments against net neutrality often focus on crappy connections; on 3G networks and early DSL it was common to have rate limits, which made people be very careful with how much internet they used, and/or additional fees above a certain bandwidth usage - similar to utilities like electricity and water (although IDK why there was never really much pay-per-megabyte internet, usually it's a flat fee).

The arguments against net neutrality are related to that; instead of limiting how much people use to keep the pipes open and fast enough so to speak, it's giving certain services preferential treatment, so that in the case of limited bandwidth those aren't disrupted.

Of course, it's a silly thing; most landlines, especially in the cities, will have fiber connections at least up until a local distributor box, and in some cases to the door. This has many gigabits of capacity, which should be enough for everyone.

The thing is that apparently, investments in bandwidth aren't being done enough. Google gave it a good try with their fiber service, but had to give up - probably underestimating how expensive it is, or they were blocked by the existing ISPs that didn't tolerate competition.

TL;DR, I think the problem isn't available bandwidth or whatever, it's competition, or the lack thereof, and investments, or the lack thereof.


> Google gave it a good try with their fiber service, but had to give up - probably underestimating how expensive it is, or they were blocked by the existing ISPs that didn't tolerate competition.

Google gave up partly thanks to ALEC lobbying and laws, probably lobbied for via the incumbent regional ISPs.



ISP-funded lobbyists seem to have a lot of sway.

Ajit Pai's FCC is against net neutrality as a result.

The fact that Pai was Verizon's top lawyer doesn't help, either.


it depends on what we mean about "net neutrality". Too many just assume what it means and does. considering how well we did before the agency changed the rules in 2014 I fail to see how it was all going to implode.

Oh, forgot about the big money players who want to exploit it for their own purposes and thus portray anything which interferes with it as end of the world; namely google and similar service providers. throw in big money investors like Soros and the Knight group and you can see this is being played just like politics, people putting their money where the biggest return is. The biggest return is having super large companies free reign to use the net how they want regardless how it impacts smaller providers and smaller ISPs.

Which side was I on? Can you tell? That is the issue. People are assuming too much.

oh, since 2014 broad band deployment has dropped. odd how that works.


Yes, because it looks like government overreach and against natural justice. I think US government should buy the wires from these companies and allow anyone to use them as ISP.

Then there is a second lot who use peering agreements and CDNs.


Yes. Some people I know argue that they'd rather wait-and-see rather than just flatout deny it, quote, "Because I've been screwed other by Internet Companies and Cable Companies have been rather nice so far. I think I'd rather pay less for my Internet to only use Facebook tbqf"


The best argument I've heard is that Telecomms have spent X billion dollars of their own money building out infrastructure and NN makes their infrastructure public utility lines that they won't get compensated for.



It's a made up issue. "Net neutrality" doesn't mean a free internet. It means a free internet regulated by the FCC.

Almost nobody is against a free internet. A lot of people such as myself are against the FCC being in charge of regulating it. Competition and the FTC's anti-trust authority have kept the internet free for decades and will continue to do so in the future.

The people pushing "net neutrality" want to transfer power to the FCC because the FCC will go beyond maintaining fair access to the internet. They'll next move into regulating content as they have done with television and radio. That's the real goal.


You are deliberately being deceptive to fool people into agreeing with you.

Net Neutrality is a mandate that ISPs cannot prioritize data from one website over another. It's a regulation to ensure that Comcast cannot effectively censor websites it doesn't like by hiding it behind a slow lane of sorts. We know that ISPs have attempted to throttle Netflix's content, which is what prompted the recent regulatory changes in 2015.

What evidence do you have that net neutrality will necessarily lead to government censorship of the Internet?

Why is net neutrality an essential component for the government to censor content?


net neutrality isn't an essential component, the invocation of Title II is. This is what I think the comment you are replying is trying to say. I don't know what the intent of net neutrality advocates is, but the invocation of Title II puts far too much power in the hands of a historically corrupt & repressive agency.

Personally I am ambivalent about net neutrality. I, however, am deeply opposed to the existence of Title II, let alone it being used to regulate the internet. If advocates want net neutrality to be the governing policy of the internet why don't they advocate for specific legislation that does only that and doesn't give the FCC the ability to become a heavy handed regulator of ISPs?


> If advocates want net neutrality to be the governing policy of the internet why don't they advocate for specific legislation that does only that and doesn't give the FCC the ability to become a heavy handed regulator of ISPs?

Do you have evidence that they are not advocating for proper legislation, or are you just saying this to baselessly discredit advocates of net neutrality?

If I recall correctly, the invocation of Title II was a reaction to an unfavorable supreme court case. Perhaps this is not the most ideal solution, but if one believes that net neutrality is important to protect, it appears to be the only solution in the absence of such legislation from a do-nothing Congress.

Also, if you believe that the FCC is historically corrupt and regressive, why do you seem to trust the FCC to make the correct decision right now? Do you have evidence that corruption in the FCC has vanished?


"are you just saying this to baselessly discredit advocates of net neutrality?"

Let's not jump the gun here, I clearly stated that I do not know the intentions of advocates. I haven't heard of any legislation in congress, but that doesn't mean there isn't any.

I don't trust the FCC, Aijit Pai is actively calling for removing power from the FCC. I trust this specific act of the current FCC chair, I don't trust the FCC.


I'm not convinced. Why am I supposed to take sides in a fight between two industries?


Because the ISPs control your Internet access.

They don't compete with each other.

Without net neutrality, they can prioritize, slow down, or block any site or content they want to.

Many people cannot simply switch away.

They have only one ISP to choose from.

You can switch away from Facebook whenever you wish.


Next logical question: net neutrality has existed for a very short amount of time. The Internet & Web did extremely well before net neutrality, with few instances of abusive carrier restriction over the prior decades. What is the very strong supporting evidence to demonstrate your scenario is the likely outcome? If you want to regulate something so important on the premise you're suggesting, you need to present equally significant proof of harm.


What is the very strong supporting evidence to demonstrate your scenario is the likely outcome?

https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-formally-rules-comcasts-thrott...

That's effectively what lead to the situation we are in now. FCC said it's illegal, appeal ruled FCC doesn't have the authority to regulate at the time, FCC makes attempts at making "net neutrality" a thing they can control, and now we are on the verge of having them roll it back.

Basically, ISPs starting pushing the boundaries and a war directly against the concept of net neutrality and that fight is the one we are currently talking about right now, this is just the latest battle.


As far as I'm aware, net neutrality was assumed to apply up until a court ruling that went in Verizon's favor.

So it's not a case of "It only came into law 3 years ago!" but rather "We put it back into law after being considered law for 30 years because of a court case that demanded clarification".


The very strong inevitability of industries, relationships and societies to develop, change and adapt over time, and in such a way that lessons learned in the past inform strategies used in the future.

Those prior decades were the infancy of the internet. When children go 16 years without wrecking a car, it doesn’t mean they are perfect drivers.


If you're unconvinced, you should default to supporting net neutrality. It's the status quo, the null hypothesis. The burden of proof is on the people wishing to make this fundamental change to the structure of the internet.


It's not the null hypothesis the rules were implemented in 2015. The fact that some people assumed net neutrality when it did not legally exist makes NN the exact opposite of the null hypothesis, unless you discard the entire internet prior to 2014/2015


Net neutrality has only existed in actual law for an extremely short amount of time.

Or put another way, for about 90%+ of the Web-Internet combo's active existence in the US consumer market, net neutrality has not been law.


Even when it wasn't the law, Net Neutrality existed in practice, and there was little interest shown by then ISPs to break that. Now there is a lot of interest by current ISPs to not be neutral, which makes it necessary for Net Neutrality to be the law.


What makes you think you're taking sides between two industries?

The way I see it, and probably why Google et al don't seem to be throwing up a recent fuss anymore, is that the big tech companies and industry giants can cut deals with the major ISP's to avoid throttling or provide services/expertise to the ISP's. So the end result is turning Google et al into their OWN monopolies. (e.g. Comcast partners with Youtube to deliver streaming video!)

Now you get telecom monopolies AND service/content monopolies.

Truly the best of both worlds.


We have had the internet for a long time without net neutrality why do we all of sudden need it?


This is horrible argument.

We had cars before seat belt laws why do we all of sudden need it?

We had cars before airbags why do we all of sudden need it?

We've has guns before gun control so why do we all of sudden need it?

Edit: People have been giving birth for a long time without doctors so why do we all of sudden need it?


Well look at the other things you think the government needs their hands in, health and education and both have been slower to change and more expensive since. So the best way to get less access to the internet is by adding a bunch of government regulation. Great Idea!

Net Neutrality will just make it even harder for new players to compete because they will have large regulations to meet. The only way to improve is to make it easier at a local level for more companies to compete.


These are horrible counter arguments.

The only two that even remotely relevant are seatbelt laws and gun laws, the other two are not even laws.

For seat belt laws, there was evidence that such laws increased pedestrian injury rates and severity. Whos to say that outweighs the benefits of forcing a few people to wear seat belts that are already in their cars?

For gun control, to say this in american context is weird. The US barely has gun control so to say it like its absolutely needed is odd.


I assume the gun control law comment was a facetious point since America does not have it in any meaningful way and the US ranks consistently in the top for gun deaths.


During the dial up days, the last mile connection (the phone company) was under heavy Title II regulation.


The site is technically pretty neat, but honestly does anyone think a bunch of low-effort automated calls to a Congressperson's voicemail is really going to change anything? The commoners' opinions about Net Neutrality (or any issue, really) is pretty low on the list of things our so-called representatives are worried about.


It has also been shown that direct negative publicity has an even bigger effect. Editorials in local papers calling out your representative are effective. Getting on the local news protesting outside your reps office is effective. Going viral on social with some kind of #MYREPisOwnedByComcast #theinternetISfreedom or something has a huge effect. Most reps have a huge ego, they don't like being in a constant spotlight of negativity.

I think our biggest problem is that a lot of these issues don't have a leader a la the civil rights movement. Even Occupy, which built to some serious momentum, didn't have sustained vision and leadership to force the changes we might want. Plus, we (incl. me) are lazy and know it could be worse (NK, China) but we are slipping faster and faster and need to rally before it really is too late.


It might, if they're in a swing district. A person who is bothered enough to find the time and effort to call, is also that much more likely to turn up and vote. So their offices do keep track of how many callers there are on various issues, and prioritize accordingly.


Calls from real people to Congress do have a real impact. Calls from a site just like this are what killed the SOPA/PIPA legislation.


Source?


Make an appointment to meet with them in person. They're probably home for the holidays.


My thoughts exactly.


Apparently, it's quite difficult to maintain net neutrality, yet its advantages to the average citizen seem enormous.

Therefore, shouldn't we fix something else instead? Like the way these laws are established?


"Fix something else" is right on, but "instead" is highly problematic. We can try to fix multiple things.

The root of this problem and many others is that Congress and the executive are corrupt and have no particular interest in doing their job properly. Much of that stems from a bad electoral system. Fixing that is hugely important and would be highly useful. However, that fix is likely to take a long time. Certainly there's no hope of fixing it by December 14th.


"bad electoral system."

First Past The Post Voting - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

Range Voting - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3GFG0sXIig

Single Transferable Vote - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8XOZJkozfI


Yeah, but after fixing the "smaller" issues, we tend to forget about the bigger issues. Also, we lose leverage, and the problem quickly becomes abstract.


I don't see this happening at all. The smaller issues help people understand the importance of the bigger ones.


There's a core misunderstanding around net neutrality. People see it as business-stifling regulation and its removal as deregulation. This is simply false.

All last mile ISPs and wireless carriers are state-enforced oligopolies or monopolies. You can't build these things without some mix of federal, state, and local permission, and in many cases taxpayer funds helps subsidize the construction of these networks or tax breaks are provided.

Telecom is not a free market and never has been. Telecoms are not really private companies in any unfettered free market sense. They're closer to the status of majority-of-revenue government contractors like Lockheed or Raytheon. Add the revolving door they have with representatives and they're almost like state-owned industries.

Net neutrality is there to prevent a state-backed oligopoly from using its position to stifle competition in the free market. In other words it's a pro-free-market regulation that exists to protect the free market from interference by state monopolies.

I personally think it would be just as good to eliminate barriers to entry for broadband and wireless competition, but unfortunately on a pragmatic level (at least in the USA) this is orders of magnitude more difficult politically. So net neutrality is the best solution for now.


Calling something a state-enforced oligopoly because you need permits is a huge stretch. In almost all jurisdictions a new company can apply for an ISP franchise.

I have more choices for an ISP than I have choices for a cell phone OS. Should the government enforce app-store neutrality. I have less choices for search engines. How about search engine/adsense neutrality.

The truth is net neutrality is both underbroad and overbroad in its attempts to increase competition. Sure, a cable ISP shouldn't be allowed to block netflix. But net neutrality goes further than that and doesn't allow any paid prioritization, even if such prioritization isn't anti-competitive. On the other hand, net neutrality doesn't stop your ISP from putting data caps or just increasing prices on users.

Reducing barriers to entry is far better for increasing competition.


> I have more choices for an ISP than I have choices for a cell phone OS.

That's lovely for you, but here's the whole picture: In the latest FCC Internet Access Services report, 13% of census blocks with housing units (that is, empty census blocks are not considered) have three or more broadband providers. 37% percent have only one option, and 21% have no provider at all. Having a choice is not the norm.

https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-344499A1.p...


> In the latest FCC Internet Access Services report, 13% of census blocks with housing units (that is, empty census blocks are not considered) have three or more broadband providers. 37% percent have only one option, and 21% have no provider at all. Having a choice is not the norm.

You left out the percentage with two providers, which must be 29% (100-37-21-13), which means that 42% of housing units have a choice between two or more providers. That's not the norm, and it should be better, but given how much of the U.S. is empty space it's not utterly terrible.


> doesn't allow any paid prioritization, even if such prioritization isn't anti-competitive.

Please give an example of paid prioritization that isn't anti-competitive.


Auction-based prioritization of bandwidth. Something akin to bitcoin transaction fees. If Netflix wants to pay extra so they stream video in real time that makes sense.

Notably, this is more or less how the internet already works. Content Distribution Networks pay for access to ISP local networks, which gives them a fast lane to customers. It's how virtually all content is already distributed.


> Auction-based prioritization of bandwidth.

That's a really, really contrived example.

Firstly, it assumes that bandwidth is scarce, which it isn't in the access network.

Secondly, the incentives don't align. Everybody would bid maximum bid during prime time and zero at all other times, which is the same as not running an auction at all.

You either have the bandwidth to serve your customers during prime time or you don't. There is no middle ground.

Any other examples you'd like to try?

> If Netflix wants to pay extra so they stream video in real time that makes sense.

No, it does not make sense. It's not Netflix that wants to stream video in real time. It's the broadband subscriber that sends a request to Netflix and asks for a stream to be delivered to them.

The subscriber already pays for the broadband and the ability to stream. It is not reasonable to ask them to pay more. Also, in this day and age, in no way, shape or form is it acceptable for an Internet connection classified as broadband not to be able to stream video.

> Notably, this is more or less how the internet already works.

No, it's really not.

> Content Distribution Networks pay for access to ISP local networks, which gives them a fast lane to customers.

This is incorrect. CDNs may pay ISPs to colocate on-net on their networks, or they may not. CDNs may just as well colocate for free or not colocate at all. An ISP may peer with a CDN or get access to a CDN via an IX.

Nothing says the CDN has to pay. In fact, the ISP might even pay the CDN for a node. Or the ISP may even not qualify for a CDN node.

CDNs have nothing to do with fast lanes. CDNs work because of physical proximity.

> It's how virtually all content is already distributed.

A lot of content is delivered via CDNs, but not necessarily on-net.


I agree that reducing barriers is better, but in the USA it's unworkable. It requires haggling with a patchwork of thousands and thousands of state, county, and city governments and even things like homeowners' associations.

Telecom networks also qualify as a natural monopoly to some extent. Allowing any startup to form a telecom and try to deploy their own infrastructure would look like this:

https://news.lovepattayathailand.com/wp-content/uploads/2017...

The lowest hanging fruit for real deregulation and opening of the broadband market would be to get the FCC to nuke analog TV and open the UHF spectrum for last mile Internet access with a policy that is very pro-competition. For example they could limit TX power in some bands to no more than what it takes to get ~5km range and require some kind of minimal few-hundred-per-year license to use them in a given geo-region. That would allow anyone to start a last mile wireless ISP using commodity hardware and a single fiber uplink such as to a data center. But since this FCC is the definition of regulatory capture I highly doubt this will happen either. Pai and his FCC is completely in the pocket of entrenched telecoms and this kind of move would threaten them more than any kind of net neutrality regulation.


It's cultural.

Both the people in charge and those who put them there worship the production of money. Policies are selected based on whatever provides maximum revenue without other considerations, with the belief that a thriving economy requires this strategy.


The problem is that they think the best thing is to figure out how to make ISPs more money to increase the economy. However, what they aren't thinking about is how having net neutrality allows for companies like google and facebook to happen. Those companies are doing way more for the economy than ISPs ever have.


Constitutional reform of that nature in most countries makes the current battle over net neutrality in the US look like a piece of cake by comparison.

If you live in a State that allows for some kind of “entrenched” statutes that are more difficult to change (the US Constitution is one such example), pushing for a right to net neutrality on that basis is probably the path of least resistance. Of course some nations, like the U.K., unfortunately have no such thing (all statutes repealable/changeable with simple majority).


Exactly. It is clear from this who lawmakers pay attention to and it is not the people.


I would like regulation around online advertising and web analytics. I really get the impression that half the traffic on a modern commercial is the stuff you don't see, some of which is utterly malicious, and much of which is spyware.

That is what I would fix instead.


https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/21/fcc-net-neutrality...

Not only are they removing federal rules, they want to prevent states from making their own rules. That seems an extra special kind of awful. "Big Government is overstepping its bounds with regulation, so we're going to have big government step in and prevent local governments from making their own choices."


I'm on the fence regarding this issue. The scaremongering on both sides is absolutely ridiculous. The planned order hasn't even been released! On the one hand, I can see why monopolistic powers in the hands of ISPs would be bad, but I like that the order would restore "police" powers to the FTC instead of the FCC, and I can't blame ISPs for wanting a piece of the $ pie. And it's not like the internet was a horrible wasteland until 2015.

But then again, Pai plan proponents keep saying this will spawn more innovation and improve utilities. That sounds pretty dubious and I haven't seen much proof. I don't recall any big innovation suddenly being stifled in 2015.

In my perfect world, the regulatory power would go back to the FTC but it would at the same time release a plan for opening up internet utility access so small players can compete with the big ones.


> The planned order hasn't even been released!

Be that time it'll probably be too late.

> On the one hand, I can see why monopolistic powers in the hands of ISPs would be bad, but I like that the order would restore "police" powers to the FTC instead of the FCC,

The FTC is not the correct body to "police" broadband.

> and I can't blame ISPs for wanting a piece of the $ pie.

I can. They are already getting paid. They should not be able to go back for seconds.

> And it's not like the internet was a horrible wasteland until 2015.

That's because network neutrality was the default state before. It's only now that is becoming feasible both from a technical and business perspective to violate network neutrality.

> But then again, Pai plan proponents keep saying this will spawn more innovation and improve utilities. That sounds pretty dubious and I haven't seen much proof. I don't recall any big innovation suddenly being stifled in 2015

Yeah, that's just a load of bullshit. CEOs have gone on record that NN will not affect business or investments.

> In my perfect world, the regulatory power would go back to the FTC but it would at the same time release a plan for opening up internet utility access so small players can compete with the big ones.

Too bad we already had that, minus the FTC part. Fat chance of getting it back.

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