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The Repeal of Net Neutrality Is Official (nytimes.com)
633 points by mcargian 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 405 comments



> Its chairman has long argued against the rules, pointing out that before they were put into effect in 2015, service providers had not engaged in any of the practices the rules prohibited

That's because those practices were prohibited by the 2010 rules. There was only a year between the court striking down the 2010 rules in early 2014 and the FCC adopting the 2015 rules in early 2015.

The court that overturned the 2010 rules told the FCC how they could fix them, and the FCC got to work on that right away, so the ISPs knew that replacement rules would come out soon. Of course no sane ISP made any changes during that year.


> Its chairman has long argued against the rules, pointing out that before they were put into effect in 2015, service providers had not engaged in any of the practices the rules prohibited

This whole thing just has me stumped as to how we even got into this position. How in the hell does a single bureaucrat have this kind of power in the US to make a unilateral decision affecting millions of people and billions of dollars in commerce?


He doesn't in multiple ways. First, there's a board at the FCC that voted on this. Not too important though, as the presidents party gets three votes, other party gets two.

Next, the FCC's legal mandate to deal with net neutrality is vague. This is why the 2010 rules were overturned in court, and barring a new law being enacted, the legality of the 2015 rules are ultimately in the hands of the courts. Until the courts decide, the FCC can create rules based on their interpretation.


This is untrue. The FCC's mandate to oversee broadband is clear. The 2015 rules on the solid legal foundation of Title II were upheld in court twice. The FCC has repeatedly acted to ensure net neutrality, including a 2005 action against blocking (again under Title II). Then there were net neutrality conditions applied to mergers (AT&T, then Comcast/NBCUniversal), to broadband grants under the stimulus act and to portions of the 4G spectrum.

The 2010 rules were overturned in court because the FCC has very little power if it classifies ISPs under Title I, but lots of authority under Title II.

Now some of the questions before a federal court are about the 2017 repeal, including 1) was the FCC's reversal of the Title II classification justified and 2) was the proceeding handled fairly under the Administrative Procedures Act.


The Telecommunications Act that gives them any authority on the matter at all essentially created an exception to label broadband as Title I. In 05 the Supreme Court ruled this distinction to be legal, and as far as I know there has not been a high court upholding the FCC's reclassification. So yes, if they classify it as Title II they have the authority, but it's unclear if they are allowed to classify it such, and if they are can they change it back to Title I.


The DC Circuit upheld the 2015 order and denied review, citing the 2005 Supreme Court precedent. The main argument against it is that switching to Title I and fundamentally reshaping the home broadband market wasn't a major policy change, but bringing back Title II and enforcing long-standing principles was.

The challenges to the 2017 reclassification are about whether the FCC justified the change and followed the required procedures, not whether it has the authority.


It's not the lone bureaucrat. Do you really think one guy is behind this? He had support from the industry, the media, politicians and the elites. If you haven't noticed, the elites ( not just in the US ) but in europe, china, russia, saudi arabia, etc have all worked hard to take control over the internet.

In the US, the battle has been going on for more than a decade. Look at how google search, youtube, reddit and even HN has changed. The last major holdout was facebook, but we've seen what happened to them. It wasn't by accident or because ordinary people wanted it. It's what the elites wanted. What the people want has never really mattered. Not in the US, not in europe, china, russia, etc.

And with the constant merging of content providers and ISPs, the internet will become more like TV for most people.

What's funny is how we had so much facebook spam here ( when it was really a non-story ) and so little coverage of such a monumentally important tech topic like net neutrality. I'm guessing between facebook and net neutrality stories only, facebook accounted for 99% and net neutrality accounted for 1% on HN.

One would think that "hacker" news would care about the important story and not political fluff. But hacker news hasn't been "hackerish" for a while now.


> How in the hell does a single bureaucrat have this kind of power in the US to make a unilateral decision affecting millions of people and billions of dollars in commerce?

The FCC is not a single bureaucrat, it's a five seat commission limited to three members of any one political party; in practice, approximately (not exactly because of term timing), that means three members of the party holding the Presidency and two of the other major party.


Ajit Pai said he was gonna do it all along. He was nominated by the president, and 52 Senators confirmed him. And then he did it, and the Senate had the power to block the rule change, but they didn't. 48 Republican, and 4 Democratic Senators confirmed him.


That bureaucrat is the appointed head of the FCC appointed by the President and implementing a law enacted by Congress. He's not a lone wolf.


He’s the scapegoat for all the other government officials on both sides of the aisle who have had their pockets filled up by the telecom industry.


Except in this case it was only FCC board members from one party that voted for the repeal, I'll let you guess which one.


You’re right, I had my facts wrong. However, although not necessarily the case here, voting against certain guaranteed to pass measures is just talking the talk, not really walking the walk. Democrats don’t really push for anti-corporation policy in general.


Would you have preferred the Democratic commissioners had voted for the repeal? I'm not sure what else they could have done here.


I guess the party the won the election and therefore has legitimate authority from the citizens to do that. It sounds like a much more fair and accountable system than giving the power to people who are neither elected nor appointed by elected people.


> It sounds like a much more fair and accountable system than giving the power to people who are neither elected nor appointed by elected people.

This response is kind of ironic in context of net neutrality being repealed considering it is a decision which empowered those who are neither elected nor appointed by elected people against the will of the overwhelming majority of the citizens.


Right, but the OP said both parties were responsible, which isn't true, since the FCC board voted repeal on party lines. GOP seats voted repeal net neutrality, Dem seats voted to keep.

I'm a firm believer that both parties have their hands dirty in one way or the other, but in this instance, it doesn't seem to be so in this case.


That is a whole different debate. We could discuss for hours who: "legally won the election".


I mean the party that won in a system designed to make them win.


If they are really filling the Dems' pockets, the money's not buying them much influence, is it?


Lol. I don't know if they necessarily care about influence on this topic more than they do money in their pockets.


Came for “both sides”, was not disappointed.


The two parties are NOT the same.


Not in all cases; republicans are much more frequently bad from my POV and I assume yours. However they do both act frequently in favor of corporate interests. A recent example being this: https://nyti.ms/2x6c1xI


Effectively, both partie:s current position is "let the courts decide." The Republicans are outwardly hostile to it, but the Democrats have only pushed the issue when they knew it couldn't pass or would go to court.


> the Democrats have only pushed the issue when they knew it couldn't pass or would go to court.

Net neutrality was part of Obama's presidential platform, and the first attempt at codifying NN rules happened under his first FCC commissioner in 2010.

Both parties are not the same with respect to net neutrality.


Obama cosponsored a bill in 2006, as Democrats knew that anything else would leave the decision unsure. A bill was introduced in 09, when the Democrats could have ensured net neutrality, but it never got further than that.

The Democrats have publicly embraced net neutrality, but have done nothing to ensure it. Even in 2016, the Democrats official stated position was to do nothing, leaving it in the hands of the courts. Both parties actual actions have the same results.


> The Democrats have publicly embraced net neutrality, but have done nothing to ensure it. Even in 2016, the Democrats official stated position was to do nothing

I don't know where the "Democrat's official stated position" comes from, but I have a pretty good idea as to why Democrats weren't talking often about NN in 2016: Wheeler's FCC solved the problem. The ninth circuit upheld the 2015 rules. That's not nothing.


> That's not nothing.

WA passed a law to ensure it. That's not nothing. Waiting for a decision and hoping the status quo sits (I mean it's a great story to ride on the coattails of and tell your constituents you did something), is nothing.


There is something to be said about kicking someone when they're down, and finish them off. Democrats had the votes, they should have made it a law. But both parties do like to play the regulation pendulum swing game. This is not the Democrats' first day at the rodeo, they knew full well this had a good chance of swinging the other way with a Republican administration. And so here we are.


1) There's a practical limit to how many laws can be written up and passed through both houses in a year.

2) No one would praise a party for making laws to a problem that is otherwise fixed. Talk about feeding into the republican talking point of democrat bureaucrats.

In short: Don't spend effort fixing something that ain't broken.

This is on the GOP because they made something worse. It's not on the dems for "not making something even better". Make the GOP pay for it if you don't like it. Blaming dems for shit they didn't cause is in part why they lost the election.


Regulations aren't fixed. They aren't laws. They are reverted just as easily as they're made in the first place. Regulations are executive branch power only. If you're worried something you care about might change when the political winds change, you'd write up a bill doing exactly what the regulation does, and get it signed into law. They could have done this in a day, and they didn't.

Democrats were either incompetent at predicting the GOP would unwind this when they said they were gonna. Or they liked the idea if it being unwound and being able to blame the GOP for it.

And like I said, not their first day at the rodeo, so the former is impossible. They are definitely not incompetent, they definitely knew the regulations would be unwound. And they definitely did nothing about it as if their either didn't care, or they liked the idea of using it to rile up their base for campaign donations and votes.


>1) There's a practical limit to how many laws can be written up and passed through both houses in a year.

This is crap. The bill was introduced and ignored, though they found time to pass a bill amending the same 1934 Communications act that covers net neutrality in the session to improve caller ID.

The issue wasn't remotely fixed at the time, and they chose to fix it in an easily reversible way. Unless they expected an eternal reelection, the Democrats caused this too. They lost the election because they can't rely on being slightly less terrible than the Republicans.


It comes from the 2016 Democrat Party Platform, the pamphlet they publish with their stated positions on a range of topics.

I'll admit I had missed the 2016 ruling on the issue. I may be overly cynical on it, but as I skimmed the briefing it seemed the ISPs still had some court options available. Even if I'm wrong there, they still had the chance to prevent the current situation and ignored it.


For a number of months, several years ago, my Netflix streaming got progressively worse. Frequent drops, sometimes outright failure, particularly during more peak viewing times.

I thought it might be my local trunk hitting capacity, with some new neighbors connected and added load.

Then I learned about Comcast's ongoing refusal to increase interconnect capacity, even at Netflix's full expense.

The news about this broke, and the PR grew to be so bad that Comcast relented and started installing interconnections.

This was also the time when Comcast was trying to get one of its own video streaming products/initiatives off the ground (they made a few distinct pushes, in those years). Quelle coïncidence.

Their product then was hardly comparable to Netflix's. But they tried to ram it down their customers' throats, by making Netflix's performance on their network suck.

So, any time one of the politicians, current FCC flaks, PR people, or the like tell me we haven't actually seen problems/abuses. Or, in the face of any number of journalists incorrectly reporting this supposed lack of instances of abuse. Well, I try to point them back to this instance -- apparently so soon forgotten -- that fits the abuse scenario pretty darned well.


When establishing Comcast service a few years back, I was told the package on offer included Streampix.

"What's that?" I asked.

"It's like Netflix, but better" was the rep's response. Her tone indicated she was pretty unconvinced herself. I repeated it and laughed, then she laughed. Neither of us said anything else, but it was clear that was her given line to parrot and that we both realized how ridiculous it was.

But it is awful that they can literally make this so now...not with content, but by degrading reliability of competitors.

And, at the end of the day, what are you going to do? If they're willing to weather a little bad PR, in many markets you would have no other choice.


Forgive my ignorance, but doesn't your story demonstrate that the law was not necessary in that case? Since the problem was corrected without it? Or am I missing the point?


Netflix actually caved and paid comcast to get better speeds ("interconnects").

It wasn't the bad PR that forced the issue.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/netfl...

Speeds increased 65% after the payment. It was kind of a big deal at the time, since most of the time nobody paid for this. "Netflix has struck payment-free deals with Frontier, British Telecom, TDC, Clearwire, GVT, Telus, Bell Canada, Virgin, Cablevision, Google Fiber, Telmex, and RCN"

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/04/after...


Netflix should make subscribers who use Comcast pay more. Why should people on other networks have to subsidize a Comcast tax?


Because Netflix is a business, not a charity. They are not accountable for their pricing. People are not "paying a Comcast tax", they are paying the service price Netflix established.


https://freedom-to-tinker.com/2015/03/25/why-your-netflix-tr...

Your comment is simply inaccurate and misinformed. Rely on data, not anecdotes.


Well, thank you, I'm reading that.

I also read a lot of reporting and analysis, at the time.

I recall a step or two, on the path to a resolution. Perhaps one of those steps was Netflix offering to pay.

It's been 5 years -- I thought was even a bit longer -- so my memory doesn't retain all the details. But I do seem to recall reporting that included, for example, Comcast employees cited as saying everything at their particular facility was in place to interconnect; they just weren't allowed to make the connections. I also recall reported analysis into the possible "why's" of all this. And there was pretty strong opinion that Comcast's desire to gain marketshare in the streaming video market, then undergoing another push on their part, played a significant role.

It's been 5 years, and my memories far from perfect, these days. Thanks for the link; I hope people will take the time to read it.

At the same time, and considering both that experience and my much lengthier and overall experience with Comcast -- and also ATT (formerly SBC) and other big players in this space -- I'm not very willing to believe in their "neutrality" of perspective and cost analysis in this matter and the supposed limited scope of their consideration, tactics, and strategy in what developed at that time.


"Contrary to what many have been led to believe, there is currently no evidence to suggest that Comcast made an explicit decision to slow down streaming traffic; rather, the slowdown resulted from high volumes of streaming video, which congested Internet links between the video content and the users themselves.

"Netflix claims that they were paying for transit to Comcast customers through their transit ISPs, and that they should not be responsible for upgrading the (congested) peering links between Comcast and the transit providers. The FCC declaration went so far as to claim that Comcast was intentionally letting peering links congest (see paragraph 29 of the declaration) to force Netflix to pay for direct connectivity. (Here is precisely where the confusion with net neutrality and paid prioritization comes into play, but this is not about paid prioritization, but rather about who should pay who for connectivity. More on that later.)

"Comcast claims that Netflix was sending traffic at such high volumes as to intentionally congest the links between different transit ISPs and Comcast, essentially taking a page from Norton’s “peering playbook” and forcing Comcast and its peers (i.e., the transit providers, Cogent, Level 3, Tata, and others) to upgrade capacity one-by-one, before sending traffic down a different path, congesting that, and forcing an upgrade. Their position was that Netflix was sending more traffic through these transit providers than the transit providers could handle, and thus that Netflix or their transit providers should pay to connect to Comcast directly. Comcast also implies that certain transit providers such as Cogent are likely the source of congested paths, a claim that has been explored but not yet conclusively proved one way or the other, owing to the difficulty of locating these points of congestion (more on that in a future post).

"The best technical solution (and what ultimately happened) is that Netflix and Comcast should interconnect directly. But, who should pay for that interconnection? Should Netflix pay Comcast, since Netflix depends on reaching its subscribers, many of whom are Comcast customers? Or, should Comcast pay Netflix, since Comcast subscribers would be unhappy with poor Netflix performance? This is where market leverage comes into play: Because most consumers do not have choice in broadband Internet providers, Comcast arguably (and, empirically speaking, as well) has more market leverage: They can afford to ask Netflix to pay for that direct link—a common Internet business relationship called paid peering—because they have more market power. This is exactly what happened, and once Netflix paid Comcast for the direct peering link, congestion was relieved and performance returned to normal."

I have to suggest that the anecdote is spot on. Cui bono, and all that.


>Then I learned about Comcast's ongoing refusal to increase interconnect capacity, even at Netflix's full expense.

>The news about this broke, and the PR grew to be so bad that Comcast relented and started installing interconnections.

This is not what happened, both statements are entirely false.

I don't think people should take Netflix (or Comcast's, for that matter) talking points as fact.


It's so misleading. Dial-up/DSL have been under Title II/common carrier rules from 1980 up until 2005!

So it's a lie to claim that this is all "recent changes".


Seems like a pretty disingenuous argument anyway. If ISPs didn't engage in the practices, then where's the strong argument for repealing the prohibition?


Kudos to the NYT for leading with an accessible and informative description of the discriminatory consequences of the repeal of net neutrality, rather than the nonsensical, meaningless, and ultimately harmful "it will allow ISPs to charge more for faster service!" line that is often parroted by the media.


I do not look forward to having to pay for a "performance gaming" or "performance VPN" or "awesome streaming video" package...

I have one ISP in my area that offers speeds above 5m consistently :(


And even if big services like Netflix can afford to pay to play and make it all transparent to the customer, there will be hidden costs to play. Expect that that services like Netflix will have to raise their rates more and more frequently to cover the expenses, all inaccessible to consumer-choice in a direct way.

The consumer can no longer choose an ISP on their individual performance separately from various internet services and their performance. The bundling of agreements will increasingly reduce the ability of the market to deliver efficiently.


Hopefully services can charge differential pricing. I imagine a list like the below would be pretty effective in ISP subscriptions, at least where people actually have a choice.

- Comcast $20 - ATT $15 - Other $10


That introduces significant cost and complexity into their customer relationship, and that kind of public callout would also likely be negotiated out / disallowed in some hypothetical Netfix subscriber ISP agreement.

Edit: It also a gatekeeping hurdle that smaller businesses would have much more difficulty crossing than large established players.


>And even if big services like Netflix can afford to pay to play and make it all transparent to the customer, there will be hidden costs to play. Expect that that services like Netflix will have to raise their rates more and more frequently to cover the expenses, all inaccessible to consumer-choice in a direct way.

But right now the ISPs are paying for Netflix's bandwidth and that's being passed to customers in their ISP's bill. I'd rather only Netflix customers have to fund Netflix's service.


Netflix pays for Netfix's bandwith, I pay for my ISPs bandwith, and w/o Net Neutrality, the ISP charges Netflix again for transport across the ISPs network.


What are they charging the first time for that isn't "transport across the ISPs network"?


Without a rule saying you can't charge for the same thing twice, there's only law, convention, or competition to prevent it from happening. Since the ISP industry is famously uncompetitive, we're left with law and convention. Now, just convention.


Netflix pays for bandwidth on their end, and I pay for it on mine.


And everyone in the middle pays for it. Again, ISPs are forced to upgrade to deal with Netflix traffic. Saying that isn't the case and the market sets the price is willfully ignorant. There's a reason there are no more small ISPs available in the urban areas where they used to be plentiful (in the late 90s to early 2000s), but even if you keep pretending it's a series of tubes, someone has to pay for that capacity who isn't sharing the revenue.


If they have to upgrade, then the bandwidth they sold to end customers wasn't there was it? Small ISPs have been pushed out often by legal manoeuvres by large mega-ISPs.


It will most likely go the other way. For only $5 a month, you can get a basic package that gives you Netflix, Hulu, Playstation Network and literally nothing else. No Google, no real Internet.

Or maybe you can mix streaming access. For $1 each, you can pick up to eight packages on the basic plan: Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix, XBoxLive, etc. etc. or For $12, get all 20 of them. Or for $20, real Internet access.


Scale those numbers 10x and you're probably closer to the mark.

Why would ISPs lower prices? They have monopolies in most markets so there is virtually no force driving prices down.


I'm not against net neurality, but ISPs would lower prices, as smaller ISPs would charge less to stay competitive.

When people can charge whatever they want, its a free market right?


except you missed the monopolies part. in most cases consumers have only 1 ISP to chose from so small companies won’t help here.


Yes, but it could open up opportunity for new smaller players.

I don't think their monopoly would last very long, if cheaper options became available.

https://apply.nectolab.io

https://startyourownisp.com


I'm optimistic too, about the creation of new ISPs, but it'll take a long time. Necto Lab is only taking 5 small ISPs right now, and the number of new ISPs created as a result of startyourownisp.com can't be that many (there's a 25k capital requirement, at the very minimum).

My rural town will likely not see the benefits from competition for a long time.


More like for $100 get real Internet access.


There is no guarantee for a "real Internet access". It could be exactly like your cable companies, and websites your channel. Hey you don't get Al-jazeera. Well, tough luck we don't like them, and won't carry them on our internet package.


And unlike with tv in the old days having only a few channels, the limitation of internet access is almost entirely non-technical and artificial. Aside from a little caching efficiency, it's pure market manipulation.


Couldn't I VPN to some PlayStation Network server, "you know, for games and stuff", and just access the entire internet from there?


It's quite unlikely that regular consumers would start configuring VPNs rather than just pay the asked price.


Assuming the other internet packages stay how they currently are and we start seeing cheaper introductory packages offering fewer internet services, can anyone explain why this is a bad thing?

It seems to me like people who would (and can) otherwise buy internet will continue to buy internet, but people who couldn't afford it or didn't want to afford it might jump on cheaper packages. This is especially illustrated in e.g. third-world countries where we have majorities still not connected to the internet (where a super-cheap Google/Facebook/whatever package would go far), but there are still many, many people in poverty here in America that don't have access to basic things online. Offering them a cheaper plan to access just the parts of the internet they want to use seems like a win-win here.

As long as it doesn't go the other way.


I'm going to pretend this is a real question asked in good faith in case it is.

At present the internet is more or less a neutral marketplace in which everyone pays their way to get packets from source to destination. Much of America is served by only one to two members of a small group of huge isps who have more to gain from bilking me and you than from competing with each other.

If we let a cartel of isp who are the only way you can get internet access in a reasonable fashion decide who is allowed to do business on the internet and in what fashion you will find that your basic package ends up costing more than your present open internet and any perceived discount whatsoever is outweighed by the money that people like netflix pay per subscriber for access and must necessarily recoup by charging you for.

If the media companies even let players like netflix survive instead of slowly strangling them this sucks for you and netflix but as for future players they aren't part of the in group that is allowed to do business at a reasonable rate and they just never get off the ground.

The system you are ok with would have strangled kids like youtube and netflix in their cribs.

The basic economics of it is allowing them to decide what is served and at what individualized price changes the economics of the cost of internet companies serving customers from what a competitive market can charge (internet backend) to the most a market can bear under a monopoly (the last mile).


The cost of providing an internet connection is primarily about:

1. Peak bandwidth usage

2. The cost of building (and maintaining, see above) the cables

Killing net neutrality helps with neither of those, so any significant cost reductions (if there are any) will come from bribes from content providers. And guess who'll end up paying for those...


Can you explain who you're implying? If it's other customers, I'm completely okay with subsidizing people who couldn't otherwise afford internet. Whether it's my cost going up or the quality of my service going down, that seems reasonable; I can always buy a higher tier of service if I need it.


Offering a plan that only gives access to a few sites isn't dramatically cheaper for the ISP than offering full access. So the primary way the ISPs would offer a Netflix only deal for cheaper is if Netflix paid them to do so, leading Netflix to cost more or offer worse content.


Imagine the majority of people in entire countries only having access to Facebook (eg. via Facebook's own network infrastructure) and Facebook-approved websites.


When compared to the majority of people in entire countries not having any internet access at all, this seems desirable.


That's a false dichotomy.


Normally I'd agree with you, but the world was recently offered "Free Basics by Facebook" and had to decide between no internet vs practically Facebook only which I think the GP is alluding to.

So, it's not an invented hypothetical.


That was made by Facebook, and likely funded in part by the fact that they're guaranteed all of the traffic (and thus add revenue) from those internet connections and that it would generate a fair amount of positive PR.

As everyone else has pointed out - we'll be paying for the full cost (and probably quite a bit more based on ISPs previous behavior) of the connection one way or another. Either we pay for it through ISPs charging service owners for the privilege on being on the limited packages (thus upping the cost of the subscription indirectly for everyone) or ISPs forcibly create monopolies by pushing users on to their own web platforms, then raise prices later (as is the end goal of any push to fabricate a monopoly). It's pretty much strictly lose lose from the customers' point of view, at least in aggregate over the long term.


It's also in response to an equally-hypothetical situation, IMO (which in turn is in response to asking about giving entire countries access to some subset of the Internet, especially [and explicitly] when they don't otherwise have Internet access).

I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that some large internet companies would subsidize plans like "Facebook-only" to connect more people to the Internet (see: to their service). This in turn, well, connects those people, gives them opportunities and access to knowledge they wouldn't otherwise have, and eventually opens them up to the rest of the Internet. It's a stepping stone: obviously, all internet is better than some internet, but some internet is better than no internet. There's an alternative of just giving them the full internet for free/cheap (which I'd love to see), but is obviously way less likely.

In that sense (and, to bring things back to the comment my parent is responding to), I think that providing a cheap plan that allows access to some subset of the Internet targeted at people who wouldn't otherwise have internet is preferable to those people just not having access at all. Is that wrong of me?


I think that providing a cheap plan that allows access to some subset of the Internet targeted at people who wouldn't otherwise have internet is preferable to those people just not having access at all.

I think it's not preferable. I would rather see prices driven down through demand so that full access is affordable to all, then for an artificially low price that allowed access to a Facebook internet to kill the market for cheap plans.


> This in turn, well, connects those people, gives them opportunities and access to knowledge they wouldn't otherwise have, and eventually opens them up to the rest of the Internet.

The problem here is that the last part -- the part where these minimal plans lead to a path where the full internet is available in these underserved areas -- doesn't have to happen.

All it does is (incorrectly) teach those users that the internet is just a means to access Facebook and a few other partnered sites. You're teaching them to expect the cable TV model for their internet access, which is precisely what we want to avoid.


> It's also in response to an equally-hypothetical situation

It's not hypothetical. It has actually happened.

> I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that some large internet companies would subsidize plans...

Again, you don't have to assume. This has happened.

> I think that providing a cheap plan that allows access to some subset of the Internet targeted at people who wouldn't otherwise have internet is preferable to those people just not having access at all. Is that wrong of me?

Considering they would be losing a cheap plan that allows access to all of the internet in the process, yes, it is wrong of you.


> It's also in response to an equally-hypothetical situation, IMO

Repeal of Net Neutrality makes his a possibility. Yours not so much.


There is a component of internet that enables exploitation. And there is a component of internet that enables empowerment.

People, by default, will consume stuff that enables exploitation (Ads, Facebook and its friends, porn etc). Very few ll actively seek out stuff that empowers them, even when provided access.

But when you provide only, say, facebook, in the name of giving Internet, to a population, you open a new channel to that population, that is solely meant to exploit. This is probably what facebook tried to do with India and failed.


I think we were scared of giving them the power to let it go the other way (like you mentioned). However, that’s not the only point as to why net neutrality was in place. Comcast and other ISPs are businesses, and businesses need to protect their own interests. In any case Comcast can block any website they wish to block from here on out. If a website doesn’t align with their political/businesses opinions, they now have the power to wish those opinions away. If WSJ publishes an article about how Comcast messed up, just block access to it. Easy.


It's a bad thing because it would prevent new players from entering that market.

How could anyone successfully create a new competing product once the majority of the market uses the cheap Netflix+Hulu-only package, locking them out from any potential competitors?


I think you have it backwards. Net Neutrality was to stop service providers from charging content publishers for access to end users.


And somewhere a telecom exec has read your comment and thought, "Why not charge both sides?"


doh!


Worse, I don't look forward when only super rich political parties get their messages to the masses. :(

I mean, I get that it is bad now. Feels like it could get much much worse.


hasn't Tmobile been offering this for years?


Yes, they have. The rationale being that they were giving their customers something extra by introducing a select group of services that were exempt from pre-existing data caps. I'm sure a lawyer could argue that it was all perfectly legal, but it nonetheless looks like they've been violating net neutrality in spirit for quite some time.


AFAIK, cell companies were never under the "net neutrality" regulations, which is something that's often not made as clear as it probably should be in these discussions. Also, T-Mobile is doing is called "zero rating" in industry parlance, and I think you're correct that zero rating would have been legal under net neutrality regulation even if it had applied.


What they’ve done is somewhat different, offering exemptions from the normal metered service for certain classes of activity like music streaming.

The base rate hasn’t changed and the category exemptions were open to anyone in a market rather than being negotiated behind the scenes.

I’m expecting that’s going to look really good compared to what we’re about to see.


Actually, FCC has chimed in on this 'zero rating' https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/12/new_fcc_guidelines_...

FCC liked what T-Mobile was doing with Binge on because it didn't favour particular services or alter consumer choice significantly. It was fair and open or any website to participate in

> When it comes to T‑Mobile US Binge On services, FCC staff decided that the service "did not compel edge providers or consumers to participate in Binge On, and did not charge them anything if they opt to do so" – and therefore was legit.

> However, AT&T's Sponsored Data program "presents competitive problems" because it "imposes hefty per-gigabyte charges on unaffiliated third parties for use of Sponsored Data" – charges that "far exceed the costs AT&T incurs in providing the sponsored data service."


> FCC liked what T-Mobile was doing with Binge on because it didn't favour particular services or alter consumer choice significantly. It was fair and open or any website to participate in

In Netherlands T-Mobile has a unlimited music streaming offering. To participate, a contract needs to be signed. Plus the organization/company signing such an offer needs to sign a paid support contract.

Meaning: this option within Netherlands is not free, not fair, not open. Apple refused to join that scheme in the Netherlands. Due to that new information there's going to be a new legal case about it.


Binge On biases video over gaming and apps and videochat. That alters consumer choice significantly.


I belive cell companies where either entirely, or partly exempt from net neutrality.


Is this an opportunity for an entrepreneur?

Just asking, because, you know, what site is this?


Isn't SpaceX planning a couple thousand low orbit satellites to provide internet access? Musk might already be 5 steps ahead of the ISP monopolies.


No. Laying fiber across neighborhoods is extremely expensive. The investment required is so astronomical that even Google stepped out of the game.

Yes, some towns have created their own municipal fiber optic networks, but it's done on a small scale.


In other words, the one who follows Paul Graham says: yes! For Paul wrote: solve hard problems.

Let's get down to the practical.

Laying fiber is expensive you say? What about spacecrafts/sats? Let's phone Elon wether he has time to negotiate a deal…

Recap: 1. Everybody wants Internet. 2. Not everybody (who could pay for it) has it.

Conclusion: there is an opportunity.


You're right, putting communications satellites in orbit will be much cheaper and more accessible to new players.


Leasing things that are already up there and have downtime is going to be a future possibility. I don't know about cheap though. No idea. Dynamics like Moores law will make it possible at some point. It's a general hunch.


> No. Laying fiber across neighborhoods is extremely expensive.

Which means, yes, it is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurial activity. Extremely high, prohibitive costs means a new, cheaper, scalable way of doing things would be disruptive and have high reward


What about mesh networks?


Yeah, neither do I.

Let me know the second you see one so we can both not buy it.


You'll just go back to snail mail or satellite internet with 500ms+ latency, eh?


most towns don't have a choice, which you know.


Did you have to pay for such packages before 2015? What changed now?


Before 2015, carriers had Title 2 status, and could not treat traffic differently. Net Neutrality came about when they won some court cases saying that they were not title 2 carriers


I think that timeline is backwards -- before 2015 there were net neutrality rules in place but then were struck down in the courts because ISPs were not subject to Title 2. So in 2015 they were reclassified as Title 2 in order to make net neutrality rules enforceable.


The pre-2015 net neutrality rules you're referring to were put in place in 2010 by the FCC under then-chairman Julius Genachowski.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_Open_Internet_Order_2010

The key about the 2010 rules is that they did not reclassify ISPs. These rules were similar (actually much weaker) to the 2015 rules, but they were issued under the authority the FCC claimed to have over Title I services. As most here know, from 2005(ish?)-2015, cable/fiber ISPs were regulated under Title I.

ISPs sued and argued that since they were Title I services, the FCC's 2010 regulations were illegal. The judicial system agreed (Verizon v. FCC 2014). The solution to this problem -- the court explicitly told them this -- was to reclassify ISPs as Title II services; FCC would then have the proper legal authority to re-issue their NN regulations. Wheeler's FCC did this in 2015.


Specifically Verizon (ironically enough) sued to get a court order to say that the FCC couldn't enforce net neutrality without reclassifying ISPs as Title II.


> Before 2015, carriers had Title 2 status, and could not treat traffic differently. Net Neutrality came about when they won some court cases saying that they were not title 2 carriersn some court cases.

This is wrong, but oddly not quite as wrong as the FCC chair’s description as it at least as some connection with reality.

Enforcement of “net neutrality” rules (the FCC name was always “open internet”) has gone on for quite a long time, first under a casd-by-case regime without specific regulations and from 2010 under Title I regulations that were substantively similar to the Title II regulations adopted in 2015 (though they had looser rules for mobile broadband providers.)

The court struck down the case by case approach in 2010, and the Title I approach in (IIRC) 2014, specifically pointing to Title II as the authority that the FCC needed to invoke if it was going to apply rules of the type it adopted in its Title I regs in 2010. So, in 2015, the FCC turned around and adopted rules under Title II.


There's absolutely nothing wrong with vendors offering different QoS for different scenarios.

Why would no not what a specialized network option for 'super low latency' for things like games?

Or if you don't use any kind of streaming, then why not get cheaper rates for 'super high latency'?

This is good, it's their job.

Where it gets ugly is if they start discriminating between customers, i.e. Netflix has to pay $X while their parent companies other asset, HBO only has to pay $Y.

Or if you have a 'Facebook package' that optimizes for FB or something like that.

So QoS, yes, content discrimination, no.


Because in order to sell you onto these bullshit packages they will end up making your regular connection hellish.

So you have an issue connecting to netflix... oh sir for just $14.99/mo you can get our Netflix QoS package added on to your connection and have no further troubles. A few weeks later... oh sir your having issues connecting to youtube, well we have our youtube QoS package for just $9.99/mo extra...

It's content discrimination under disguise.


My favorite is business upgrade. Start dropping VPN every 5 min or so, force you to buy business class service for remote work etc.


I work for an ISP and often encounter the exact opposite of this.

From time to time we get a customer who calls up to order a connection specifically for a VPN. They know exactly what they need. They won't listen. I try to steer them to a less expensive package that is perfectly adequate for a VPN. They'll have none of it. They want a bunch of special add-ons because they have done this all before with other ISPs and they know the ropes. They have no idea how a VPN even works, and they've never even heard of our company before, but they know exactly what they want.

I try to politely point out that I could help them save money and still guarnantee it will work without problems. But I won't argue with the customer. If they want to pay 5x for a bunch of custom stuff they don't need, I can do that.

In the end, they are very happy. They have outsmarted the greedy, conniving ISP, and got themselves a rock-solid service. I make a mental note to try to find a local contact for them with whom we can build a relationship of trust and perhaps persuade down the road that they could actually pay less without compromising their service.


What types of custom things are you talking about? I'm not familiar with that type of internet connection (I've only ordered residential service.


One small, typical example: most of our VPN customers are setting up some satellite that needs to connect to the home office. The connection is initiated from our network to the home office. So the IP address of the satellite doesn't really matter.

This is not always the case, but it is the most common case.

So when a customer demands a dedicated static IP address, I wonder if they really need that. We charge extra for that because we have a limited pool of public IPv4 addresses. We can do it, but it is usually unnecessary, and better to avoid unless you really need it.


The connection is initiated from our network to the home office. So the IP address of the satellite doesn't really matter.

I'd assume they're restricting access further by only allowing certain ips thru a firewall in front of the VPN server, or requiring extra auth factors from unknown ips, or something.


Of course that could be the case. But I don't assume that. I ask. I'm trying to find the optimal solution.

There are other valid reasons for restricting the IP. I ask about those. I'm not arguing with the customer. I'm trying to be helpful.

Unless the customer doesn't want help.


It's not needed but troubleshooting is much easier for the sysadmin from the mothership and 3$/month for a static IP is literally nothing for a business. We also always get a static IP for everything, because what do you do If the vpn doesnt come up after a firewall reboot ans the IP changed?


Okay that makes sense, thanks.


Network connections are much like everything else in life. There are lots of ways to do it. Which way is best depends on your needs. So to match up the most cost effective solution requires a knowledge of your requirements and a knowledge of the options.

When you have a corporate IT rep who is clueless about the options, they are not in a great position to build the optimal solution.

When you have an ISP rep who is clueless about the requirements, they are not in a great position to build the optimal solution.

When you have an ISP rep who is not willing to explain the options, you have a problem. When you have a corporate IT rep who doesn't know the requirements, is unwilling to explain the requirements, or is unwilling to learn about the options, you are unlikely to achieve the optimal solution.

When you have a helpful and capable ISP rep and a cooperative and capable IT rep, the world is a brighter place. But some levels of trust require either naivety or time and shared experiences. That's difficult when every contact between the customer and the ISP involve different people each time.

So, again, just like everything else, try to work with as small and local of an entity as possible to get the job done. This is true for government, auto dealers, ISPs, or anything else. Only scale up when there is an advantage to doing so.


I pay for Comcast business class, because (a) I do work from home, and am on call, (b) the SLA says they need to roll a truck within four hours (we've had trouble in our city with line cards going bad and them not being fixed for months), and (c) when I call their tech support, I get someone who is technically competent, or at least wayyyy more effective than the script-reading drones you get on a consumer account.

It's twice the money for half the bandwidth, but I have enough bandwidth and I sleep better at night. Shouldn't be necessary, but . . .


This is very near impossible to implement, isn't it?


Not at all, they are your ISP! I absolutely expect VPNs to be the first to go; it's hard to do application-level throttling if everyone has access to a VPN.

This is a goldmine for ISPs. Over the last five-ish years they decided to think of themselves as "advertising" companies. FCC repealed the internet privacy rule last April, and what are they doing now? They're functioning as data brokers. We should expect this trend to continue and assume that ISPs will take advantage of Pai's NN repeal as soon as possible.


This is the next shoe to drop.

Comcast currently extracts almost $100 a month from me, in addition to the ~$10 I pay for a VPN exit node to hide traffic from their surveillance machine. Why wouldn't they want another $10 or so to "allow" VPNs, given regulators who are loudly, publicly giddy about screwing consumers?


Why would you think that? It's pretty trivial to do. You could try to obfuscate your traffic but that's just playing cat and mouse (and the ISP could just decide to start dropping anything that it doesn't recognize and seems to consume a significant amount of bandwidth).

I think the most efficient way to hide your service would be to tunnel it over HTTPS given that it's not really realistic to drop that when you're an ISP. Still, a relatively simple traffic analysis tool won't have too much difficulty differentiating between proper web browsing and something fishy over HTTPS even it it just looks at the shape of the traffic.


No, it is not very near impossible to implement.


Sorry, but you are wrong.

It's a 15 minutes task for good admin to start dropping VPN connections (not to block, but to interrupt every 5 minutes, but blocking is even easier).

One important info: - ISP can't see your VPN traffic. But they can see that you are connecting to specific IP (VPN service's IP) at specific port. Once you're connected to VPN you probably pass ALL the connection through it. So ISP can see only single connection to single point. That is more than enough.

So how can they block VPNs: 1) Most VPNs uses standard VPN ports. Just dropping connections to that port is a good start. 2) Dropping connections to a servers when this is your (almost) only, long standing connection. This is a good moment to store that IP as VPN service IP. 3) Reverse DNS on IPs you're connecting to. A lot of services will reveal that they belongs to VPN services. 4) Public list of VPN IPs. Some provides them. Some are already noted somewhere on the internet.

ISPs can even share their databases with each other to be better at VPN dropping.

This is very easy thing to do.

It would be REALLY hard to hide your connection to a VPN service. One thing that came to my mind, to hide your VPN servers you would have to: - use VPN services at random ports - change VPN IP every few minutes at random factor, so dropped connections will occur anyway - in the background you should keep direct (un-VPNed) connections to random servers at random ports, passing random data around (it will look encrypted just like VPN connection)

This would require huge infrastructure though. Really huge.

But still - if ISP notice behavior like that - it means you're probably trying to do something shady, like walk around their VPN dropping rules - so they could just throttle your connections even more, just in case :)

So in general - you're fu^Hat very bad situation. I'm from Europe. I'm "safe" now, but we are also going to have bad law for net neutrality soon.


I think you misread my post and argued the same point. So, uh, thanks?


No. Businesses and Governments do it all the time.


How would ISPs differentiate between VPNs over something like HTTP traffic?


Deep packet inspection.


How about over HTTPS traffic?


You mean your single stream of HTTPS traffic to a known destination 24x7?


What if you only use the HTTPS VPN when necessary, e.g. for streaming Netflix (seeing that they've been a target before), but for regular browsing, email, DNS, etc. you don't?


There are enough differences between HTTPS and VPN protocols to be able to distinguish them using DPI. IDS/IPS vendors even show this as a feature usually.


There's protocols like stunnel that hide your arbitrary TCP traffic in a TLS tunnel that looks like web traffic.


Lack of DNS queries for one small example.


forge certs then mitm.


I wouldn't mind latency being thrown into the typical Mbps marketing jargon, at least it will get some attention (which has sorely been lacking).

If we can open up these rules while radically increasing enforcement of quality of service then this might be a good thing. It might be good to replace "up to 75Mbps" with "guaranteed 50-75Mbps and 5-15ms ping to nearest public internet junction, 95% of the time during peak hours." I'm sure some folks might even sign onto world-beating five-nines performance guarantees too.

But this is probably just a dream and we'll see the ugly product differentiation you're describing.


> It might be good to replace "up to 75Mbps" with "guaranteed 50-75Mbps and 5-15ms ping to nearest public internet junction, 95% of the time during peak hours.

Hell yeah. I would happily pay extra for a decent service that advertised it’s minimum speeds instead of its maximum because in reality, the theoretical maximum speed of my connection is really not a useful metric unless I’m hitting it 99% of the time. I have a fast connection but I still typically get a good 50 Mb/s less than advertised (which luckily still leaves me with 200 Mb/s or so) making the advertised amount completely inconsequential and useless. Telling me the lowest I should expect, on the other hand, is actually helpful and allows me to do some rudimentary capacity planning to see if it’s suitable for me or not.


note that this isn’t a problem with dsl lines. AT&T charges me for 50mbps down and 10mbps up. 100% of the time for the 5+ years they have exceeded these speeds (i have a traffic monitor running constantly to verify speeds)


"Because in order to sell you onto these bullshit packages they will end up making your regular connection hellish. So you have an issue connecting to netflix... oh sir for just $14.99/mo you can get our Netflix QoS package"

No.

A 'Netflix QoS package' is not a QoS package. That's against Net Neutrality.

A 'Video Streaming' package that offers high quality video streaming with low latency, but doesn't care about things like picking up dropped packets - and doesn't discriminate between content sources - this would be 'net neutral'.

"Because in order to sell you onto these bullshit packages they will end up making your regular connection hellish"

This is a completely separate issue and has nothing to do with NN really. They can (and probably do) this already today with their regular package offers.

Let's not confuse general ISP stupidity with actual NN.


"That's against Net Neutrality"

Net Neutrality doesn't exist any more. Did you not read the article? This isn't hypothetical, it was allowed to expire as of today. It's no longer the law, ISPs can legally do whatever they want now, including a "Netflix QoS package".

I am admittedly not a lawyer, but I'm reasonably well informed on the topic and completely open to being corrected if you know better.


Network Neutrality is a concept, not a law.

Yes, the US law requiring a certain kind of Network Neutrality did expire.

The point is: service providers charging for differentiated QoS (such as different packages for latency) is well within the concept of Network Neutrality.

What is 'out of bounds' for NN is charing for customers based on the content of those packages.

So:

> A low latency service (designed for gaming in mind), is NN

> A low-latency service 'for games only' - is not NN

> If the ISP charges you money to access 'Steam' games, but not for others - that is not NN.


Because all I want is a dumb pipe. I don't pay the water company based on how wide their pipes are (backbone bandwith) or how far I am from their treatment center (latency); I pay based on consumption alone, as it should be. Why do you think Internet access needs to be treated any differently?


" I pay based on consumption alone, as it should be. Why do you think Internet access needs to be treated any differently?"

I didn't.

You are saying what I am saying: You pay for 'Quality of Water Service'.

What if you need 5x the flow that the water company normally provides?

What if you needed, for medical purposes 'unflourinated' water (whereas all of their other customers use flourinated).

With water:

+ If you want more water monthly - you pay for that. + If you want higher water pressure - you pay for that. + If you want different kinds of water (hard, soft) you pay for that.

That's 'Water Neutrality'.

What you do not pay for is a higher rate because you're a hospital. Or because you are wealthy and the water company knows they can scam you.

If you do not allow the water company to charge for 'high pressure' or 'hard / soft' water types - then they cannot justify in the investment and no such services will exist

As for networks:

+ If you want a dumb pipe, you pay for that. + If you want a faster pipe, you pay for that. + If you want more data, you pay for that. + If you want higher service level guarantees - you pay for that.

It's like buying AWS, or a new computer, or whatever.

What you should not have to pay for is: $X for Netflix data and $Y for HBO data. Or $X for Facebook and $Y for Linked in data. That's raw price discrimination and it's a problem.

Internet providers have massive equipment and support costs to support streaming video, so if you want amazing streaming at 4K super high quality, well, they can provide that if you're willing to pay. But - they should charge the same irrespective of content (i.e. HBO, Netflix etc)


> Internet providers have massive equipment and support costs to support streaming video

Do they though? Over and above just providing a link with a sufficient bandwidth and contention ratio?


"Do they though?"

It doesn't matter.

Apple can charge you whatever it wants for it's iPhone. You can pay or not.

ISP's can charge you whatever they want for whatever QoS. You can pay or not. That's Network Neutrality.

What they cannot do under NN, is charge you based on who you are, or based on what you use your service for. So, charging you for Netflix usage, vs HBO usage is totally out of bounds.

If they sell you a 'streaming service' with whatever QoS - you should be able to it for whatever on earth you want.

My point is: there is usually an underlying cost-based reality to most of these things, and some of the people on this thread are not actually arguing for 'Net Neutrality' - they are arguing for 'ISP's should only be allowed to bill me in a very, specific narrow way, by law, irrespective of what consumer needs are or what their costs are'.


You've not answered if ISPs are/should be allowed to intentionally degrade traffic deemed to be "video" or "peer to peer", by shaping algorithm or packet inspection, in order to make their service unusable for that purpose unless you buy an upgrade.


NN is clear: you sell QoS, not based on what that service is used for.

So if you buy a QoS from an ISP, they can't throttle you if it's for P2P or for Netlflix or HBO or whatever. That would be against NN and of course outside the bounds of any normal QoS.

It's just like buying form AWS: you pick from any number of configurations, but AWS can't charge you if you are doing 'gaming' vs 'news' on your hosted service. Amazon doesn't bill you based on what you are doing, just how you use the service.

That's NN.

So, under NN, ISP's can definitely sell you a 'low latency' service, as long as customers want that.


>I don't pay the water company based on how wide the pipe is

Eh, this isn't true in most places.

You pay a flat rate since you most likely have a 1"-1 1/2" pipe ran to your residence. Even if you cut the pipe off after the meter and let it run full blast you can only burn up a relatively limited amount of water (compared to what the system can carry). If you have a much larger line it is highly likely that your contract has usage conditions.


True.

But the water company should not bill me differently if I choose to water tomatoes, but not chillies.


Eh, oddly enough, they possibly could. Water usage and restriction laws are weird.


Because priority in a network is a scarce resource and there are situations where people would like to pay for it -- VOIP, video calling, gaming.

If turning on your faucet took an average of twenty minutes before the water showed up you'd probably want a high-cost low-latency spigot in case of a fire.


The analogy is flawed here.

Nobody cares if an ISP wants to offer 2 "packages":

1. High latency, high bandwidth

2. Low latency, low bandwidth

Just like the metaphor of a water pipe, an ISP could offer "normal" where the water takes 20 minutes, or "fast" where it takes a second, but you have to pay 10x or have a much lower limit.

What NN is all about is preventing the ISP from saying HOW you are using the data. In the "water" analogy it would be like your water company saying you can ONLY use their "fast" water in their proprietary "soup making system", then they slow down all other water if they detect you are using it in any non-compliant pots.

I'm more than fine with an ISP that wants to offer a special low-latency VOIP option, but when they slow down all their competitors VOIP services and only allow you to get their VOIP service with low-latency, then it's a problem. Or the all too real possibility of Comcast allowing something like HULU to not apply to the data-caps, while not offering that option to Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, or even your own startup or self-hosted option.

That's what I want my government protecting me against, that's the kind of thing that should be heavily regulated.


How do you feel about the middle ground where you pay a fixed price and your bandwidth/latency is determined by the application? VOIP gets low-bandwidth low-latency, web surfing gets the middle ground, and video streaming gets high-latency high-bandwidth with the expectation that over a large enough population that the usage of each type will roughly average out.

I know this forum is full of people who want total control of everything but I would bet this would provide a better experience since it doesn't have to be managed by the customer.

> Or the all too real possibility of Comcast allowing something like HULU to not apply to the data-caps

This doesn't technically fall under NN but I agree it's pretty scummy. I think it's a tough argument to make the ISPs shouldn't be allowed to do this though. If Hulu wants to make a deal with an ISP where they pay for their customer's data usage and pay more to be exclusive I don't see why that should be forbidden.

An example outside of ISPs. Spotify used to integrate Musixmatch into their app which would otherwise cost users $12/year. I wouldn't feel comfortable saying that Spotify can't make an exclusive deal or that Musixmatch must allow GPM to integrate with them as well.


>How do you feel about the middle ground where you pay a fixed price and your bandwidth/latency is determined by the application?

I'm perfectly okay, as long as you are using the word "application" as a synonym for "type" and not as another word for "service or platform".

In other words, it's okay if VOIP service is prioritized via QoS rules, much of the internet as we know it won't work without this kind of thing, and it's a good thing for everyone involved.

What's NOT okay is when ComcastVOIP is allowed low-bandwidth, low-latency, but GoogleVOIP isn't. Or when each VOIP company needs to "apply" to get approved for the special consideration, or there are additional "rules" that have to be followed that deal with where the data is going, what it's doing, or how it's being used (like saying "VOIP that is used for business must pay more" is not okay in my book).

>This doesn't technically fall under NN but I agree it's pretty scummy. I think it's a tough argument to make the ISPs shouldn't be allowed to do this though. If Hulu wants to make a deal with an ISP where they pay for their customer's data usage and pay more to be exclusive I don't see why that should be forbidden.

It may not, but it absolutely should. At this point nothing falls under NN as it's not a law any more, so I'm not buying this "excuse" any more.

un-limiting one companies data is the same as limiting all other companies data in my opinion.

Again, if that data-cap-bypassing stuff works on a protocol level (as in VOIP data doesn't count toward your limit), then i'm perfectly fine with it, but when it deals with who owns the server, what content it's displaying, and who you are paying to get the service/data, then it should be heavily regulated.

>I wouldn't feel comfortable saying that Spotify can't make an exclusive deal or that Musixmatch must allow GPM to integrate with them as well.

neither would I, but that's not what i'm worried about. Bundling and deals including other services is fine, but what isn't is when those bundles bleed over into the actual data being sent. Just like how i'm fine if my water company provides a free water filter service with their water service. But when they start interfering with other companies water filters, or start making their core service (the water itself) cheaper when used with their provided water filter, then it's in what I consider anti-competitive territory.

And I guess that's the core of the problem I have with things like "unlimited for one service" deals. It's not just including another service with your internet, it's the ISP actively changing the price of their own core service when you use another unrelated service.

While I understand that a policy prohibiting this might end up slowing or stopping some innovative or new ways of providing internet access to people how they want it, I truly feel that the upsides of not allowing the ISPs to play gatekeeper (whether intentional or otherwise) will greatly outweigh the lost innovation.

I also want to point out that i'm not calling for these "shady" practices to be outright illegal, just that they should be "heavily regulated". Meaning there should be quite a lot of oversight, time should be spent determining if there is a conflict of interest or if the specific practice will end up harming competition or innovation.


Water is a tough analogy to use here (electricity too). Water just flows downhill, or is pumped up from a few locations and shared in the grid. You generally can't distinguish the water from its source - certain wells, rivers, lakes, etc. It is all mixed into one source.

I have a 3/4" pipe entering the house that I pay for. I can upgrade it to 1" for $50 more a month (and a ton of capex replacing the spur to the service line). I can upgrade it to multiple inches for for $100's more a month as well.

My Internet connection is capable of considerable more bandwidth than I'm paying for. Generally speaking, it's just a software setting on my modem.

I guess you could sort of compare it to having the water provider bringing in a 6" line to my house and tapering the line down to 3/4". But even then, their isn't a way for them to force me on to a specific water well or source, or directly force pricing based upon what I use the water for.

Its really just a tough comparison.


But you do pay the water company based on how much water you use. Why shouldn't certain providers like, say, Netflix, not have to pay more when they use nearly 40% of the pipe? (https://variety.com/2015/digital/news/netflix-bandwidth-usag...).


Netflix only uses 40% of the pipe if the ISP consumers request their data. ISPs are already paid by their consumers to provide them their requested data.


Exactly. How hard is this to understand? The cost is already being met by consumers.

It's like if a football stadium was located near a tollway, and the tollway decided to start charging the stadium itself during sporting events.

That's not a legitimate business transaction, it's a cash grab.


Does Netflix not pay bandwidth charges to their ISP where their services are hosted? AWS, right? Is Amazon giving them free bandwidth? I'd think probably not.


What about all the ISPs in between? They don't get an opportunity to charge you and Netflix...


They do through peering agreements.


> But you do pay the water company based on how much water you use.

Yes, I do as the consumer of that water. In this analogy Netflix would be the dam operator, so why would a particular dam pay more to the pipe company than another dam?


This is why I like the electricity metaphor for Internet access.

You pay your utility bill every month for electricity (probably a base rate, and a fixed consumption rate). Does your utility then go to the provider (A local green power source) and demand they pay the utility as well, since 60% of the requests in the region are for their power? (users opting into to green power on their bills?)


Netflix does pay for internet usage doesn't it?

So do I.

Sounds like it is already paid.


Because it's the consumer at the endpoint who requests the content and it's their allocated portion of the pipe that's being used.


If ISPs want to charge by the byte, that's fine.

What they want though, is to charge data coming in, and data going out.


Do you think Netflix gets internet access for free?? They pay for their bandwidth fair and square like everyone else.


My ISP is not Netflix's ISP. Why should my ISP be able to charge Netflix for bandwidth when I am already paying them for the same bandwidth as their customer?


It's good if there is a competitive innovation that enables a premium service that a customer is attracted to... If it is profit-generation through the anti-competitive creation artificial scarcity then it is not innovation. It is not creating economic efficiency. It is the value-suck of rent seeking. A tumor upon the economy.


You can bet the business cretins will call anticompetitive thottling "innovation," though, and that the people actually innovating probably won't because they can afford to be specific on account of having nothing to hide.


I don't expect things will work out the way you imagine, but having said that

Wouldn't segregating VPN traffic, or gaming, or streaming traffic be its own form of content discrimination? They are picking winners and losers in terms of tech that consumers use right there.


That might be reasonable if their were real competition for high speed internet so that customers could actually vote with their feet if they didn't like their ISP doing that.

I live in the Bay Area and there is only one ISP (Comcast) that offers me more than 5Mbit.


I would be fine with this if the pipe owners (== natural monopoly supported by the state) had to sell access to their pipes to competing providers.


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> There's absolutely nothing wrong with vendors offering different QoS for different scenarios.

Well, the vendor shouldn’t dictate the class of my packets. Offering me “super low latency” or whatever isn’t being a dumb pipe—emphatically my preference—it’s upselling me something I never asked for.


"Well, the vendor shouldn’t dictate the class of my packets."

If it costs the vendor 2x to provide a super low latency network, then they can charge you 2x for that.

Do you understand that there are actual costs associated with providing differentiated QoS?

Selling based on latency is no different than computer manufacturers pricing on GhZ, RAM and any number of other factors.

They should definitely be able to discriminate on the QoS that you want.

They should not be able to discriminate inherently on the content type.

If you buy 'low latency' you can use those packets for whatever you want. Gaming. Otherwise. And of course there can be no discrimination based on content vendor, i.e. game 1 vs. game 2.

But to suggest that vendors can't discriminate based on the service they provide you ... completely defies the notion of what business and entrepreneurialism is.


> Its chairman has long argued against the rules, pointing out that before they were put into effect in 2015, service providers had not engaged in any of the practices the rules prohibited.

But this is a bald-faced lie, and the proof is in the public record; while there was en evolving approach to enforcing the open internet principles prior to the 2015 Title II rules (in large part because the prior approaches were struck down by the courts, forcing changes in approach), there is a long line of enforcement actions by the FCC against ISPs for actions that would be in violation of the 2015 rules. ISPs blocking legal P2P traffic, ISPs blocking legal VoIP services, etc.


"Its chairman has long argued against the rules, pointing out that before they were put into effect in 2015, service providers had not engaged in any of the practices the rules prohibited."

That begs the question: Why then do they oppose the rules if only to start engaging in the practices they prohibit?


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, Sprint, 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.


In other words, Ajit Pai is blatantly lying. These rules were put in place in response to abuses by telecoms. I'm disappointed at how little context is ever given by the media on these issues.


> Ajit Pai is blatantly lying

He is, for sure. I don't think Pai is an idiot, or a moron or ignorant. He knows exactly what he's doing. He realizes it's all bullshit and is selling this crap to the public anyway.


He's a tool's tool. That giant mug? He literally mugs[1] for a corporation's product that is flavored sugar for children. He knows what he's doing.

[1] "mug" v. slang (orig. Theatre). a. intr. To pull a face, esp. in front of an audience or camera, to grimace; to over-act.


Not even just regular old lying. The 2013 one from Verizon is pretty damning, considering that is his former employer (or "former," depending on how you feel about it).


I'd really like to see what he has to say in response to these events, if he has at all. This seems to be the weakest part of his overall argument. Anticompetitive violations _have_ happened in the past in the absence of Title II regulation despite his saying otherwise. That being said, (rural) ISP firms have apparently written to say they are pleased with lifting this regulation:

"VTel wrote to say that 'regulating broadband like legacy telephone service would not create any incentives for VTel to invest in its network. In fact, it would have precisely the opposite effect.' The company went on to say that it's now 'quite optimistic about the future, and the current FCC is a significant reason for our optimism.' Indeed, VTel just announced that it has committed $4 million to upgrade its 4G LTE service and to begin rolling out faster mobile broadband that will start its transition to 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity." [1]

[1]: https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-chairman-our-job-is-to-protect...

edit: Okay, I'm not sure why this is being downvoted. I'm legitimately curious to hear what Pai has to say about past violations. (Seriously, if anyone has a link, please feel free.)


I just don't see how this helps innovation at all, unless they plan to actively start chopping up blocks of the Internet and offering regulated services.

You literally required less hardware with network neutrality because you didn't need any packet shaping routers.


See my comment below.[1] Regulation tends to impose higher barriers to entry for smaller businesses. (See 'regulatory capture' for what happens to larger businesses.)

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17284559


>Regulation tends to impose higher barriers to entry for smaller businesses

Sure, they can, but what about in this specific scenario? How does NN deter small ISP's? The big ISP's already stomp out all small options anyway, I don't think NN is a problem.


Yea, if anything NN regulations make it easier for smaller ISPs because they don't have to buy routers that can do packet shaping, throttling or other types of filtering in order to compete with the bigger companies.


I'm really not sure, that's Pai's argument. It seems to be a mixed bag [1][2]. Some ISPs don't mind the regulatory burden, and some don't really notice it. Bigger ISPs (like Verizon) also claim that this regulation hurts innovation, and corroborate that with a downtick in broadband investments in 2015 when the rules passed, but for all we know that could have been orchestrated.

[1]: https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/13/net-neutrality-small-isp...

[2]: https://www.fastcompany.com/40499904/small-isp-disputes-fcc-...


>Bigger ISPs (like Verizon) also claim that this regulation hurts innovation

I don't really want innovation from my ISP aside from investing in infrastructure. Their version of "innovation" is, in reality, "how to bilk our customers for more $$$ by delivering shit they neither want nor need."

I realize they've also claimed that they need more money to re-invest in infrastructure, but that claim appears to be a lie given their recent investments and prior statements.


ISPs' own statements contradict the investment claim.[1]

[1] https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/05/title...


Right, which is why you could argue that downtick was orchestrated. In that article you linked Pai cited research claiming investments went down, but Free Press found otherwise.


Do you have a source/cites for this list? I'd to give it to my congressman.



The argument goes that ex-ante regulation imposes unnecessary costs in the form of regulatory compliance for smaller businesses, erecting a higher barrier for entry into the ISP market. Or something like that.


I'd be more sympathetic to that if this FCC had done anything productive to expand the competitive landscape for ISPs.

Where I live we have exactly two choices, and one is satellite based.


I mean, that is what Pai claims to be doing here: reducing regulatory burden on smaller ISPs so that more can compete.

"Monday, we are ending this flawed approach and allowing smaller internet service providers to focus their efforts on deploying more broadband, connecting more Americans with digital opportunity, and offering more competition in the marketplace." [1]

[1]: https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-chairman-our-job-is-to-protect...


Right, but many areas have entered into township agreements where only one provider is allowed to provide service to residents. These agreements carry fun legal print like requiring the town to reconvene with the provider before the agreement can be terminated... at which point, the provider will give whatever benefits the smaller provider was intending to provide and then some.

I don't buy it. This won't change anything. Except for how less useful your internet connection would be.

If the focus were on smaller ISPs, why not make the new rules target only smaller ISPs instead of all of them?


How did that work out between 2005 and 2015?


Before 2015 they had the same regulatory landscape, and no additional competition.


Not quite. There were net netrality regulations before 2015, but it was struck down because isp's weren't under title 2, so in 2015 they were reclassified under title 2. Thats what was ended.


How could net neutrality possibly increase costs of compliance for small businesses? Net neutrality is a default state.


By virtue of this state being regulated, smaller businesses have to spend a non-trivial percentage of their money ensuring compliance with regulation.


This is a theory that has no backing evidence with this specific issue.


The biggest reason is that the net nuetrality rules required the FCC to also switch to Title II regualtion, which gives the FCC much broader and stronger regulatory powers. The FCC has chosen to not use those powers, but they could, for example, start regulating prices.

There also might be new business models that are better for the consumer that doesn't actually cause the problems net neutrality proponents fear. For example, some of Tmobile's actions were probably not neutral, but Tmo wasn't really harming customers. In other words, we shouldn't ban something unless we know its actually harmful.


> In other words, we shouldn't ban something unless we know its actually harmful.

That is like saying we shouldn't have checks on a president's power because they might be a good dictator. In the long run preventing ISP's abuses is going to be more beneficial than "beneficial" infringements on NN. Imho ISPs shouldnt have the power to determine which companies qualify for unlimited data streaming even if they aren't using that power to shut down competitors (yet)


Saying that we shouldn't ban businesses and consumers from engaging in voluntary activities unless harm can be demonstrated is actually nothing like saying we shouldn't have checks on the president's power because they might be a good dictator.

I fully support net neutrality but some of these analogies are absurd.


Unchecked presidential power can do literally anything to you, without recourse.

Unchecked power of an ISP can do literally anything to your internet service, and only as long as you stay with that ISP. Unchecked and abused power of an ISP also leads to other ISPs competing on "not doing the X harmful thing that Y ISP does", meaning that in the aggregate the harmful ISP loses business anyway.


That is bad analogy. NN could always be implemented later and a dictator can't just be voted out of office.


> That begs the question: Why then do they oppose the rules if only to start engaging in the practices they prohibit?

Isn't it because title 2 imposes a heavier regulatory burden than just net neutrality rules? Congress should just pass a net neutrality bill without using title 2 imho.


I feel very happy to be a Canadian right now. The CRTC's (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) laws on net neutrality are considered to be some of the strictest laws in the world.

Here is a great quote from a 2017 music streaming case requiring all data to be counted against a user's data cap, regardless of its source:

"the aim [of] the decision was to encourage Internet service providers to compete on price, speed and network quality instead of acting as a gatekeeper." - Chairman of the CRTC, Jean-Pierre Blais


And yet Canada has one of the highest costs for Internet bandwith (~80 CAD for 75 Mbps, data capped at 500gb), no phone costs covered (another ~80 cad month)


Ya, it's pretty bad. Resellers are at least at a little nicer. There's rules regarding how much Canadian Telecoms have to charge resellers access to the network. I get 150Mbps for $70 no data cap from a reseller called VMedia. But we are generally hosed in Canada for internet services.


I'm in the heart of San Francisco, and I get 40Mbps at $90/mo USD (Comcast). Kind of pathetic that that's my only option in the tech capital of the world.


I get 1Gbps up/down at $60 per month through webpass... also live in San Francisco


Not available where I am =[


Does Rogers still throttle bit torrent and VPN connections?


> “The United States is simply making a shift from pre-emptive regulation, which foolishly presumes that every last wireless company is an anti-competitive monopolist” Mr. Pai said

So clearly we have no established precedent(1) of this sort of behavior in the past and happening again before our very eyes. Suggesting that these rules were conjured out of hysteria is not only wrong, it's insulting. But that's to be expected from a corporate shill.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System


Corrupt bureaucrat. We're talking about a man who flew to Barcelona to collect a bribe before passing this regulatory change.


Do you have a citation for that? It’s a serious enough charge that it should never be made without one.



I googled for it. I believe the other person is referring to the dinner meeting mentioned here:

http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/ATT-Met-With-Ajit-Pai-in-...


https://www.americanoversight.org/watchdog-demands-details-o...

"[F]lew to Barcelona to collect a bribe before passing this regulatory change" seems too strong a claim, but there should be serious questions after AT&T paid Cohen and also got a meeting that was off the record.

I don't imagine it actually changed Pai's opinion, but it seems unethical.


> Corrupt bureaucrat

They are synonymous. Make no mistake, they all take favors and give favors. That's how you become a leader and stay a leader.


The good ones squeeze in a few genuinely public policies to ensure their names look decent in the history books.

The bad ones simply double down on controlling the history books.


A short summary of events spanning from 2005 up to now:

https://www.freepress.net/our-response/expert-analysis/expla...


Does this mean that ISPs can block users from connecting to known VPNs or the TOR/P2P type networks without any recourse?


This comment has been blocked from submission by the Comcast political encouragement network.


yes, you'd probably need to pay for a business account to get VPN access anyway


I am intrigued: do you know of any good writeups on how to discern the SSL-VPN traffic of Cisco AnyConnect from SSL-HTTP traffic of a browser?


I have no details but wouldn't be surprised if especially Cisco announces as metadata something like "this package is encrypted by Cisco AnyConnect version 1.2.3 https://cisco.com/".


Studying TLS encapsulated traffic has been around for a long time. I remember one thing that was really obvious to detect was a TCP handshake occurring inside a TLS session. That's how China is able to block TLS VPNs. Although the practice is a bit of a continuous arms race between obfuscation and detection.


The USA is effectively becoming an innovation black hole from all angles of late. I predict people moving away until only the ultra right remains.


Doubtful. You underestimate the inertia of resources. Wages for tech are more competitive in the US. I also bet if your prediction started to become true then lobbyists would push regulations to reduce the brain drain.

That being said I'm a US citizen that thinks about moving increasingly all the time.


US is already experiencing a significant brain drain. This is currently offset by new immigrants, but if you look at how many talented people are leaving it's shocking.

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


Do you have have any data on that? Asking as I'm considering moving to the US and the climate there matters to me.


Exact numbers are hard to come by. The United States does not keep track of emigration, and counts of Americans abroad are thus only available courtesy of statistics kept by the destination countries.

As of June 2016, the State department's consular section estimated that there are 9 million non-military U.S. citizens living abroad,[3][4] an increase from the 4 million estimated in 1999.

The above includes many retirees, who find their retirement incomes stretch further abroad. But, it also includes a lot of PHD students who have troubles finding academic jobs inside the US etc.


It's an indirect measure of where people are choosing to invest in their futures, but international student enrolment at US universities is dropping:

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/15/578098190/budgets-suffer-afte...


Or more likely, we'll see a continued trend of geographic sorting within the United States based on political ideology and identity.


Actually, not a whole lot of people have the option to move out of their home country.


I’m half tempted to move to Canada as a farmer.

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