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Democrats to push to reinstate repealed 'net neutrality' rules (reuters.com)
347 points by joeyespo 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 170 comments



> In October, California agreed not to enforce its own state net neutrality law until the appeals court’s decision on the 2017 repeal, and any potential review by the U.S. Supreme Court

That was one positive "states rights" thing I was looking forward to, but they chickened out? It's their state law, why not enforce it.

It's also been some time so it would be good to see how the predictions panned out. Some of those were pretty grim:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/net-neutrality-in-2017-... [warning: auto-playing video]

> "That means if Bing offers Comcast a hefty penny, you’ll never make another Google search for as long as you live. Yeah, it’s that bad."

I can't say I have seen any changes in the 2 or 3 services I have. It could be because there are competitors in the region and they'd be afraid to rock to boat too much. Maybe in other parts it was much worse.


I haven't noticed any negatives yet either (to my surprise).

Saw some good news though - last year internet speeds increased nearly 40% in the US.

https://www.recode.net/2018/12/12/18134899/internet-broafban...


> Saw some good news though - last year internet speeds increased nearly 40% in the US.

This is within the "Moore's law applied to network hardware" range and is not unusual.

It's also somewhat misleading because of how they're measuring (mean download speed), because customers have recently been abandoning DSL for (faster) cable. But if a 10Mbps DSL customer switches to 20Mbps cable, it shows up in the numbers as a 100% speed increase even if the cable network is no faster than it was before, or is faster than before but by significantly less than the 100% they're getting counted as.

In other words, it's claiming the destruction of competition as a consumer benefit because the market share loss of the dying competitor brings up the average.


What makes you think it's competition that's dying. Verizon has been rolling out FiOS to more areas, so their previous DSL subscribers are now upgrading to fiber.


Citation on Fios expansion? AFAIK, they've been holding steady with their existing mid-atlantic footprint (DC, Maryland, Delaware, PA, NJ, NY), and sold off everything else to Frontier in 2015. I believe their reasoning was that they could offer 4G to areas currently served by aging DSL lines, so there was no reason to upset the shareholders by spending money on physical infrastructure for fiber expansion.


Didn't Verizon sell a lot of their DSL subs to Frontier Communications?


[flagged]


Is the parent comment's explanation misleading?


[flagged]

Retra 19 days ago [flagged]

You are confused, you mean.


> I haven't noticed any negatives yet either (to my surprise).

That's because the legal battle isn't over yet. If you were planning to take advantage of no more net neutrality, would you do it while a legal challenge is pending? The last thing you'd want to do is give the opposition evidence in favor of their position.


Really? You didn't notice large acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T, pulling HBO and Cinemax out of Dish network (to encourage people to use streaming), jacking prices on DirecTV (acquired early by AT&T during previous administration), then providing capped internet access, and zero rating to HBO and Cinemax (again owned by AT&T)?

And that just a single company.

I'm especially mad, because I am a Dish customer and don't have HBO since November.


Like a sibling comment pointed out already, how would have net neutrality prevented that? You're thinking they are merging because they planning to take advantage of anti-nn regulations better?


> You're thinking they are merging because they planning to take advantage of anti-nn regulations better?

Yes, of course. Why else would a communications company and a content company merge? It only makes sense if the can leverage each-others natural advantages. With strong NN regulations, AT&T would need to provide everyone with same opportunities they are providing Time Warner.


  Why else would a communications company
  and a content company merge?
Ask MSNBC and AOL Time Warner :)


None of that is relevant to NN other than the zero rating (which is allowed on cell networks anyway where price per gb is relevant). That whole acquisition was entirely unaffected by net neutrality.


Some of the big cell companies have already instituted selective rate limiting on their unlimited plans (i.e. bandwidth limits on video streaming).

Not that they didn't do it before, but they'd always say sorry and stop for a while when someone noticed.

Likely they've already doubled down on demanding payment from companies like Netflix for not throttling them.

They aren't going to rush it, they care about PR up to a point... But companies like Verizon and ATT will absolutely frog boil consumers, small businesses and innovators under the current laws... Their histories make that pretty clear.


It's illustrative to contrast Ookla's report (the source for the article above) for the U.S. versus the U.K.

https://www.speedtest.net/reports/united-states/ https://www.speedtest.net/reports/united-kingdom/#fixed

U.S. mean download speeds are twice as fast as the U.K., and mean upload speeds are three times as fast. (The U.K. data is about 9 months older, but it's a helpful comparison nonetheless.)


So what? Is that fast by some global standard? I dont think the US is any gold standard for inet access.

They gave the internet away to evil corp. There has been no good news since then, except maybe for this recent push by Dems.

ISPs like verizon and att should be disbanded. Theyve proven to us once and for all they cant be trusted. We need national free highspeed inet.


Nothing is free. It’d be taxpayer funded.

I think a public option is great but it’d also be excellent to support smaller local ISP’s by forcing big telcos to sublet the last mile of coax and fiber to competitors.


The argument in favor of deregulation of most things has some straight forward logic behind it. Imagine that some major player did begin to act badly. This would enable a competitor to offer a distinct value. Like the GP mentioned some predictions were things like e.g. Microsoft being able to pay Comcast to effectively disable Google search/products. That may be a legal possibility without regulation but it the Huffington Post 'analysis' seems to assume there are no consequences for actions. Google Fiber was a flop in large part because they could not meaningfully distinguish themselves from the competition. Imagine local monopolies start creating meaningfully poor experiences for internet users. They would not be monopolies for long!

Some might argue that lower speeds for higher prices were creating "meaningfully poor experiences" for users, but I think there is one important distinction. Let's imagine an upstart competitor comes in and offers some perk, such as lower prices for higher speeds. And the local monopoly ends up matching these offers, as they did in the case of Google Fiber. Is this action perceived as a 'de-crippling' of their system, or as an upgrade of their system? In reality it's almost certainly the former, but in practice it's going to be perceived as the latter. That means they actually gain public props for anti-competitive behavior following what is effectively price-gouging.

By contrast if some company is actively and outright blocking a site, then de-crippling would not be seen as an 'upgrade', but instead as what it is -- 'de-crippling.' And so it's likely that the competitor would be the one gaining the public props (and subscriptions). And in reality, it's possible that our incumbent monopoly might not even be able to de-cripple themselves due to a contract with e.g. Microsoft.


> Imagine that some major player did begin to act badly.

And it was easily detectable and your average consumer can figure out who to attribute it to. Remember when Comcast was finally caught injecting poison packets to sabotage Bittorrent connections?

There are far subtler ways to be evil and maintain some plausible deniability against the average consumer, you don't need to sabotage every operation, just enough. Government lawsuits are partly about giving weight to the concept that something screwy is going on.

> This would enable a competitor

Like that competitor to Comcast, who rapidly -- oh, wait, that didn't pan out. Don't ignore barriers-to-entry, which are hugely significant in the ISP market.

P.S.: In addition to the "direct intervention" side, there's also cases of spying and misusing privileged information. While that's on the decline due to increased HTTPS, the legal front is just as important as the technological one.


> Remember when Comcast was finally caught injecting poison packets to sabotage Bittorrent connections?

Probably easier to pull that style of thing in under existing fraud legislation than tie it to anything net-specific. Even if there is no objective test, it is reasonably easy to make that sort of lie illegal. Free markets rely on companies being honest about what they sell, and I expect there would be pretty broad support for a law that says companies can't lie about what their products are (if there isn't such a law already).

If Comcast wasn't making it clear that they were sabotaging BitTorrent, that should be illigal by virtue of them willfully accepting money while not providing the service.


I think you're ignoring some very basic aspects of the ISP business and taking entirely the wrong lessons away from Google Fiber.

There is no cheap way to enter many/most/all of these markets. This isn't a world of cheap VC cash, because there is no chance of winning a lottery. Google of all people couldn't make this make sense. Sure, they would have had a better pitch if they were competing with incumbants who did things like block Google Search. Except it's even more trivial to unblock Google Search than it is to offer better service. This gets worse when you consider the possibility of not outright blocking, but intentionally slowing services.

So yeah. If Google couldn't make Google Fiber work, there is no way any new competitor is going to spring out of nowhere. The reality of the competition hasn't changed - incumbants are at a massive advantage even compared to most incumbants. Infrastructure is a massive barrier to newcomers, and any competitive aspects that can be used to differentiate one offer from another can be trivially and immediately matched by the incumbants. And in practice most all of the offers are difficult or impossible to really compare to each other in pratice, so most consumers have to rely mainly on the marketing materials and subjective experiences.

And again I've left out a whole other side of the issue, namely the relationships between ISPs and services.

This is just an awful system to rely on tradional markets. It uses expensive infrastructure, and the products are indifferentiable in any meaningful way over any period of time.


Google built a hugely successful Operating System ( Android ), Web browser ( Chrome ) etc because it was important to them that nobody won these platforms. If someone had monopoly control, they could squeeze Google for a lot of money through Traffic Acquisition Costs. Google currently pays potentially 100s of millions of dollars to Mozilla

The same applies to ISPs. Why do you think they are pushing for net neutrality ? Do you think it is out of the goodness of their hearts ? Without net neutrality Google might invest billions into building out a global, fast Internet infrastructure. They may have no choice but to do it, because it is strategic for them to own the entire ad delivery pipeline ( Computers/Phones/Tablets, Operating Systems, ISPs )


> Google built a hugely successful Operating System ( Android ), Web browser ( Chrome ) etc because it was important to them that nobody won these platforms.

Or was it important to them that they win? They certainly seem to have with Chrome at least. Does any company intentionally enter a space just to compete? Would google rather not absolutely win in the infrastructure as well?


I think it was important to them that someone else did not win. Winning it themselves was probably a bonus

> Would google rather not absolutely win in the infrastructure as well?

Probably, but it is up to it's competitors to try and prevent that.

If Google has no competitive advantage because of their other businesses it should not be a problem. But if it competes unfairly, fair competition laws should be applied

Either way, the customers could stand to benefit from increased investment


Again I'd emphasize one point you made here: "And in practice most all of the offers are difficult or impossible to really compare to each other in practice, so most consumers have to rely mainly on the marketing materials and subjective experiences." This is arguably the single most important factor here. When companies are incapable of meaningfully distinguishing themselves, you're going to trend towards monopoly because there is no way for competitors to offer a compelling argument for their product. They can try to compete on price/performance but in most industries, certainly including telecoms, economy of scale means this is a losing battle.

Let's now imagine Comcast blocks Google due to payment from e.g. Bing. First off it's entirely possible that Comcast could not unblock Google even if they wanted to, since this would undoubtedly be breach of contract with Microsoft. But more importantly, this is something that would be perceived as a actively malicious action by the customer. They see the company is engaging in unreasonable behavior at the behest of third parties that visibly and meaningfully worsens their experience relative to other ISPs. Our critical point from above is no longer true!

This offers an opening for new competitors even if Comcast is able to unblock Google, because of the newfound ability for customers to compare services in practice. Compare this to slow speeds or high prices. These are not going to be seen as actively malicious and so the incumbent monopoly matching a competitor's prices is something that will be seen as a positive for the incumbent monopoly, as opposed to a non-negative.

----

So see how barriers to entry are not the fundamental problem here we can go reductio ad absurdum. Imagine we take something with very few barriers to entry - selling burgers. But let's apply so many rules and regulations that burgers become effectively identical -- same meat, same ingredients, same cooking, same standards of quality/freshness, same spices, etc, etc. You'd rapidly trend towards monopoly once again simply because the only way companies could compete would be on price and factors outside of the burger itself. But the biggest burger company would be capable of making burgers cheaper, faster, and more rapidly than anybody else - which means they would 'win', or be able to win if necessary, on every single competitive factor. In essence they become impossible to compete against and in simply trying to ensure high standards, you have created a monopoly.


“Imagine local monopolies start creating meaningfully poor experiences for internet users. They would not be monopolies for long!”

I don’t have to imagine it. I lived it for years. As the “for years” part hints, it persisted. I moved out of that place years ago but from what I hear it’s still like that.

You have a nice theory but it doesn’t seem to match the real world.


"Imagine that some major player did begin to act badly. This would enable a competitor to offer a distinct value. "

You need to go ahead and look up 'Monopoly' on Wikipedia. [1]

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


unsurprisingly, free market increases the quality of products available to the general consumers.

who would have thunk?


Utilities settle as oligopolies in free markets. When this happens, quasi governments take them over so that they are benevolent oligopolies. If you want Google and Facebook to have better bandwidth than your start-up just because they're big, then you should oppose net neutrality.


Are you for treating Google and Facebook as Utilities, with all the Federal oversight that comes with it? Valid topic for debate.


We’re talking about internet access, not free markets.


> That was one positive "states rights" thing I was looking forward to, but they chickened out? It's their state law, why not enforce it.

While I am 100% on board with what California is trying to accomplish here, I don't think they'd win the court battle. Between the Supremacy Clause, the "dormant" Commerce Clause, and a right-leaning SCOTUS California is much better off finding a compromise.


Possibly California's legislature wants to avoid fractured governance of the internet in the US if they still have hope in net neutrality nation wide?

Possibly if some of those grim predictions start to come true they will take action.


They have fractured many other things with their regulations. Auto emissions, cancer warnings on everything.... I don't think they fear a fractured internet, if they even can understand that.


Yeah the cancer warnings seem to appear on just about everything but the CARB ratings for cars have probably saved a significant number of lives by dragging the rest of the country along for the ride with cleaner exhaust standards. Nothing to sneeze at.


I was hoping if they start enforcing it then more states will follow suit. Making laws and then selectively enforcing them when convenient is not a good idea. But you're right, that perhaps not enough time has passed yet and the worse is yet to come.


> It's also been some time so it would be good to see how the predictions panned out. Some of those were pretty grim

> I can't say I have seen any changes in the 2 or 3 services I have.

One thing is for sure: if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s only a matter of time.

It will happen gradually until it is the new norm. Same thing that happened with privacy.


>One thing is for sure: if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s only a matter of time.

Please don't use fallacies like this in serious discussions. You can use this to support every side of every argument, without the need to provide any evidence or even logic behind it.


why can't we create laws after it happens. Law can be more precise and useful in that case rather than preemptive laws based on speculation.


Laws that are narrow and targeted often times leave open loopholes. You can end up with a regulatory agency and various companies playing a game of cat and mouse leading to a huge regulatory burden and tons of wasted resources on both sides. Sometimes it's better to just establish a simple even playing field with clear and comprehensive rules of behavior.


Maybe you can if you have enough influence / money.


FAANG's have enough influence/money.


I’m not sure I trust them to act in my best interests.


FAANGs heavily lobbied for net neutrality


Just because they lobbied your way on one issue doesn't mean their lobbying will always align with your views.


They've lobbied against my interests far more than that though.


How about they do something about random price increases, geographic monopolies, bundling, or forcing customers to rent equipment that’s cheaper to buy? These are issues that affect consumers. The only thing NN does is make Netflix slightly cheaper.


Net neutrality won't make Netflix cheaper. It will ensure that Netflix can use it's size and influence to scale better and squash any potential competitors, who don't have the influence to force ISPs to colocate their cache boxes for free. They're still probably continue to raise their prices on consumers, because that's what monopolies (like Netflix) do.

Net neutrality is the creation of regulatory capture for Netflix, and probably YouTube. Which is why it is shocking these are the two companies funding every single supposedly grassroots effort to support it.


> monopolies (like Netflix)

I can't think of a single metric by which Netflix can be called a monopoly.

A comparable number of number have Amazon Prime Video and Hulu while trailing isn't in a david-vs-goliath situation.

Netflix has been struggling to keep licences, let alone licence shows exclusively.

Then you have groups like HBO-go who get a huge influx of users, when their flagship show releases. But, users quickly leave when they realize they don't like anything else.

Netflix is ahead atm, because it is better (or less worse) and not because of monopolistic practices keeping themselves in front.


Cable would also be reasonably called a competitor.


I'm having trouble seeing Netflix as a monopoly given all the competition from other streaming services (Amazon, Hulu, HBO, and—quite soon—Disney)

Netflix prices will increase not because Netflix is a monopoly but because content is expensive and is getting more expensive.


How well are their competitors actually doing? Hulu gave away a year of their service for 99 cents a month on Black Friday and just dropped their regular prices, Netflix just raised their prices and are trialing even higher prices as well. Most streaming service exclusives are buried under complaints about having to subscribe to something that isn't Netflix to watch them[1]. People regularly decry being expected to subscribe to 4 or 5 different services to watch the shows they want to, despite the combined total still being less than traditional cable.

Netflix also has a huge first mover advantage, and the subscriber base and cash to move quickly to squash any entrant to the market. And they have a huge technical and infrastructure advantage. They alone make up about 30-35% of all US Internet traffic, and they've got their own CDN boxes all over the globe, hosted for free by the ISPs. Don't like their US subscriber numbers account for two out of every three households or something like that?

Their back catalog agreements with traditional studios are definitely their weak point though, as the studios are increasingly realizing that they need to charge more for access to their catalogs or claw them back to start their own services. Netflix has shifted heavily to their own original content, and in time, CBS, Warner, and Disney's sizeable back catalogs are definitely going to make some strides on their own services, but they'll be following, not leading the pack.

[1]This is half the complaints about Star Trek: Discovery in a nutshell. My guess is most people have come up with reasons they didn't like the show based on their initial upset about it being on a new paid service. Discovery's excellent, btw.


There are more competitors joining the streaming market e.g. Apple, Comcast, Disney.

Most of which have far more money and far more power than Netflix.


The issue for Netflix with not having net neutrality is that some of Netflix’s competitors are run by some of the ISPs. If those ISPs were to decide that they wanted their customers to be forced to go with their service, and net neutrality weren’t a thing, they could block (or essentially block) Netflix.


We have other more applicable laws to that task: It's called antitrust laws. It's already illegal to use your monopoly in one market segment to progress your control in another. The reason you won't see Google or Netflix promoting that ISPs face antitrust investigations, is because they're monopolies themselves. So they're investing in laws that hurt ISPs, but protect them.

Net neutrality is a custom love letter to big tech, rather than a generally applicable law against bad practices. You'll notice exceptions are carved out to ensure Comcast is a telecom, and Google isn't, even if they both provide video services and both also run ISPs. (You could see similar when Google tried to avoid registering as a telecom when trying to deploy Fiber in Austin, so that they had less regulatory limitations than their competitors.) You'll note that Google has both last mile service in terms of Fiber and Fi, as well as major international infrastructure, like their undersea cables. They aren't shockingly different from Comcast in that regard, either.

We should be promoting antitrust, where big tech and ISPs face similar penalties for their behaviors. And yes, Google and Netflix are both monopolies under any reasonable definition of the term. Yes, ISPs are in some areas, regional monopolies, but Google and Netflix are global ones, and they're a far bigger threat.


The problem with antitrust is that the law is extremely vague, there is no administrative rule-making process for it and Congress rarely touches it. It's possible to argue that it applies in this case, but actually applying it would involve a decade-long court proceeding, meanwhile everyone is open to getting pillaged by their ISPs.

> You'll notice exceptions are carved out to ensure Comcast is a telecom, and Google isn't, even if they both provide video services and both also run ISPs.

The telecom is the thing that owns the physical last mile network. YouTube isn't a telecom, Comcast is. Google Fiber is too, and if they claim they're not they should lose.


100% agree that promoting antitrust legislation has the potential to improve our current economic trajectory. Both regional and global monopolies are a threat.


Google and Netflix aren't monopolies. And neither are any of the ISPs.

You could definitely consider some of the ISPs a monopoly in certain regions but that doesn't apply in this case. Either way your antitrust argument makes absolutely no sense.


> And neither are any of the ISPs.

Many are, in areas where there is only one ISP with high bandwidth. That's exactly why net neutrality is critical. Monopolies among ISPs combined with data caps allow them to harm all Internet services that compete with other business they own (such as video and etc.).


The vast majority of Americans have but one choice for wired high speed Internet. Cable cos like to pretend that they compete with DSL, which is a lie.


> monopolies (like Netflix)

I'm really curious what your definition of "monopoly" is.


Net neutrality stopped ISPs from tolling traffic from sources like Netflix and its CDN partners, thus making Netflix cheaper. These costs were then spread among all cable customers, regardless of whether or not they were Netflix customers. For the record, this is not nearly as significant an issue today as it was 5 years ago.


What? No.

It's regulatory capture for the carriers, definitely not for content providers.

Whatever profit Netflix makes, it will be eaten up by the carrier oligarchy.

Moreover, with value chain consolidation like AT&T owning Hulu and things like that, we'll see carriers preferring some sites over others. Creating serious market inefficiencies.

Will you be happy when Netflix in your county is slow because they don't pay the extra tax, but crappy Hulu is cheap because it's being subsidized by their parent company?

Almost all roads are public roads.

Most electricity transmission lines are now owned by a highly regulated entity, separate from production.

For the same reason we have NN.

Edit: FYI Netflix and Reed Hastings are ardent supporters of Net Neutrality, which is evidence of 'what's good for their business'


> The only thing NN does is make Netflix slightly cheaper.

Theoretically.

I was never really convinced by the doomsday predictions of losing net neutrality. I'd rather have it than not, but I don't think it's nearly as important as some people think it is.


My problem is "net neutrality" is a meaningless term. I'm in favor of Mom, baseball, apple pie, and net neutrality as much as the next guy. However, the concrete definitions of net neutrality being pushed deeply underwhelm me, and tend to look a lot more like Big Tech installing regulatory barriers than anything else.

We're all here expected to go "Net neutrality? That sounds good!" and demand it, while not deeply inspecting what is actually involved, and by golly, we're doing it.

I personally find myself less than inclined to demand that Big Tech be allowed to pull the ladder up behind them, since I'm more in the "break 'em up hard" camp, which is probably basically the opposite, really.


I agree.

I was extremely skeptical of the net neutrality regulations when they were first passed by the FCC. It was a bunch of unelected officials creating massive regulations that were secret to the public. Literally all the public new for a while was that the FCC called the new regulations "net neutrality" but we had no way of knowing.

Even if the government did have our best interests at heart (which is never a good assumption to make), they went about creating net neutrality in the worst way possible, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.


The entire concept is designed to make you not talk about all the horrible ways ISPs rip off individual customers everyday.


> How about they do something about random price increases, geographic monopolies, bundling, or forcing customers to rent equipment that’s cheaper to buy?

The Open Internet rules specifically prohibited providers from restricting the use of lawful devices on the network, which actually directly addresses that concern.


Here we go again.

Every time this issue comes up in an online forum, at least one commenter will pop up passionately defending this position. You can easily tell who it is in this submission (it's not you). The thing is, that's an economic perspective, but net neutrality is the name for a technological state of affairs. Focusing on the economic side of the issue subtly undermines the discussion by hiding the real problem before it can even be factored in.

Yet this is mainly a technology-oriented community (as far as I know), so let me try to convey my understanding of why internet pioneers, network engineers, startups and small businesses overwhelmingly support net neutrality (in addition to the afforementioned large online service providers such as Netflix or Youtube). Please bear with me if I write things you already know, and kindly correct any mistakes I make.

The Internet is a collection of thousands of smaller networks, many of which are international. It can only function as a whole because those networks peer with each other all over the globe and exchange information. This means John Doe, customer of ISP A in the US, can communicate with any other internet user - such as Hiro Nakamura, customer of ISP B in Japan, or Raj Singh, customer of ISP C in India. When a company or organization deploys their own network, they can join the internet by finding one or more peers who are already in it and entering a peering agreement with them. ISPs are classified into tiers based on the answer to the following two questions:

- Do I have to pay anyone for them to carry the traffic I generate?

- Does anyone pay me for me to carry the traffic they generate?

ISPs with a more valuable network - who own more actual long-distance capacity (bandwidth) in physical network infrastructure - are more likely to be paid and less likely to pay others, simply because they are providing infrastructure to others. But regardless of the economics of the peering agreement, usually the agreement entails carrying all traffic sent by the peer network to (presumably) recipients in your network, or your other peer networks. The traffic sent by the peer network doesn't necessarily originate in the peer network, but you treat it as if it did - this ability for traffic to traverse multiple networks that are not directly connected to each other is the only thing that ensures we have a single internet, rather than an endless amount of smaller international networks. This decades-old state of affairs, in which a network does not discriminate against traffic sent to it from another network by looking at where it came from, is called net neutrality.

When a company wants to be an ISP and sell internet access to the end user, they have to join the internet in the manner described above. After all, internet participation is always bidirectional - end users generate some traffic themselves. A new commercial ISP can join the internet simply by peering with a single existing network in a single location in such a way that the new ISP pays for all traffic they send over the network. In return, they can receive traffic from everyone else. They make a few access plans for the end consumer with as low an amount of upload bandwidth as they can get away with and price them in such a way that they'll be able to make a profit after paying their upstream provider and other operating costs. For redundancy and quality of service, they can peer with more networks at the same time and charge a little more.

But in the long run, as you can probably imagine, this is not cost effective. Assuming you are going to grow and have a very large participation in the internet (large geographic coverage, millions of users, lots of traffic), then you get a much better return by deploying your own network. By having a larger "network share" you are in a better position to negotiate peering agreements in your favor, not to mention all the traffic you carry within your own network doesn't have to be paid to a third party (or is subject to bandwidth limitations due to you only having purchased a limited amount of upstream bandwidth). Ultimately, an ISP like AT&T owns a backbone so large (currently 660000km of fiber according to their website), they're a substantial enough portion of the internet not to have to pay anyone for peering - it's mutually beneficial for them to peer for free with other large networks and make their money by charging smaller ones and having a bigger profit margin on their own customers, which makes them a so-called tier 1 network.

Enter american ISPs like Comcast. Comcast seems to have grown through a primarily end customer oriented strategy. They grew their last mile business very quickly and became a near monopoly for commercial internet access in many parts of the United States, serving millions of customers, all the while purchasing as little upstream bandwidth as they could get away with from larger networks with a strong presence in the United States, such as Level3 (now CenturyLink). This technologically short-sighted business model did not immediately fail because they "carefully oversold" their upstream capabilities (this is perfectly normal - you sell bandwidth based on your average network load expectations, not based on the assumption everyone will be using 100% of what you sell them at all times), engaged in p2p blocking and traffic shaping, and had a really good customer retention plan ("oh, you're not happy with your service? maybe you can try our competitors... wait, there are none? oops...")


> Yet this is mainly a technology-oriented community (as far as I know)

Besides your point, but I get the impression HN is mostly a money-oriented community these days.


The problem is that, as they years went by and the capacity of the internet grew around them, consumers' bandwidth demands escalated. People now want to download 10s of gbs worth of games from digital retailers every month, and watch streamed high definition video at all times. If the average household would before average 500kbps on their 20mbps connection, suddenly they were averaging 5mbps, and ISPs like Comcast could no longer cope. They were in the unenviable situation of having to make their internet access plans several times more expensive and having to explain the situation to their customers (literally impossible; customers would flee en masse), or losing billions. Deploying their own network would take many years and be a very complex, very risky project. As pesky businesses like Netflix grew and became a noticeable portion of the amount of bandwidth running down Comcast's upstream faucet, there must have been talks about direct peering (large content providers, nowadays usually through content delivery networks, benefit from peering directly with large ISPs because they can then ensure their traffic flows as smoothly as possible to the end user). I imagine the conversation went a little like this:

Comcast: "Hey Netflix. It's important to your business that you are able to reach our customers right? Without us you'd go bankrupt. Pay us $<money> for the agreement because we're really starting to sweat around here."

Netflix: "Hi Comcast. Even though we generate a lot of traffic, our profit margins are low because we have a lot of licensing costs. Besides, that's not how the internet works. Your customers are the ones who want our goods. It's in order to access our services and others that your users even buy your services in the first place. They're paying you for it already. Without us you wouldn't have a business, because the free market would ensure that customers would get to us through a different company or route. We can't pay you $<money>."

Comcast: "Sorry, no $<money>, no deal."

Netflix: shrugs "Okay. That's too bad, but we'll just peer with your upstream providers such as Level3 and they'll deliver our traffic to your customers as usual, under the terms of your peering agreement with them. It will be a little slower but what can we do?"

Comcast: "Wait what? I thought the internet was like a truck, but it turns out it's more like a series of tubes?"

Comcast (which, let me stress, is merely an example here; this situation occurs with others as well), cannot extract $<money> from Level3 under the net neutrality model, because Level3 has a much more valuable network. If Level3 did not peer with Comcast, Comcast would not function, because Comcast users want to reach a lot of users and services elsewhere on the internet. Comcast might peer with someone else, but they'd always have to pay them, because the situation will always be the same: Comcast has the traffic demands of millions of users, but a relatively small amount of people outside Comcast actually want to send traffic to Comcast. Any other upstream peer will shove Netflix down Comcast's throat, because there is a single internet.

Without net neutrality (and I repeat, I'm talking about NN's actual meaning, not about the temporary US federal regulation that was in place for two years with the purported intent of protecting NN), Comcast can look at the traffic they are receiving from Level3, examine it and say: "Okay, customer, you can have these packets from Google but these packets from Netflix... Hmm, maybe later." This gives them leverage when negotiating with the likes of Netflix, protecting their business model (and, I'm sure, a lot of jobs they generate). They can pass this off as "free market friendly" because it's allowing ISPs to do whatever the hell they want. In that sense, it certainly is - it's free ISP market friendly. But what does it mean for the internet itself?

It means that, when a user pays for "internet" access from a commercial provider, they can no longer trust that to mean anything. If an end provider can make demands based on where traffic is coming from, and presumably block some of it, then from the customer's perspective all "internets" are different. The "Comcast internet", with no Netflix, would be different from the AT&T internet, the Verizon internet and so on, since the ISPs, who are free to do as they please, will provide distinct services from each other. Think about it. When one of the millions of users or companies connected to the internet someplace in the globe generates traffic, they have no easy way of knowing which networks that traffic will end up crossing. Before the moment a request is made and a server delivers a response packet/frame to a very specific IP address, the server did not know it was going to be doing that. When a small business puts content "on the internet", that content is available to every participant of the single, global internet who wants to ask for it.

These participants can be making the request through thousands of end-user ISPs. If a single of those ISPs could demand money for "traffic protection", so to speak, what's stopping all the others? Why wouldn't Deutsche Telekom AG follow suit and start asking businesses to pay them to ensure the business's traffic is delivered to german customers? What about Shaw? Talktalk? Telefónica? But if you're a small business, you can't afford to pay off all these people, so you have to pick and choose which target customers receive quality traffic from you, further eroding the fabric of the internet.

Proponents of your position have told me in the past that this is not a problem, because CDNs (or "cloud") providers have enough business volume to take care of paying everybody off, so a small business can put their website in the cloud and it will reach everybody, just like the old days. But centralization of control over the internet under a very small amount of cloud providers is already a problem, and that would only worsen it. If no business can make use of the internet without a middleman, the word "internet" loses its final shred of meaning. You can put your website up "on amazon" and it will reach <list of ISPs>. That's all.


>maybe you can try our competitors... wait, there are none? oops...

>Without net neutrality, Comcast can look at the traffic they are receiving from Level3, examine it and say: "Okay, customer, you can have these packets from Google but these packets from Netflix...

You dont need net neutrality to fix this, you need to undo regulatory capture, government granted geographic monopolies, and foster last mile competition. If my mom wants to buy cheaper internet that just has facebook and netflix, and I want to buy "unfiltered" and there are competing last mile services offering both, you dont need more laws telling the isps what they can and cant do, or what we are allowed to buy. The companies that own the lines should be neutral utilities, and the companies selling the service to end users should be allowed to come up with creative business models. At that point netflix could even start offering its own service, upon other companies rented lines.

Every problem you spell out in your post exists because the customer doesnt have the choice to leave a shitty company. Last miles should be be open to any company willing to pay market rate.

The answer to regulatory capture, is not more regulatory capture.


I think you completely missed the point. The internet has value as a digital market, communications platform, tool for free speech and human rights preservation and a lot more, and much of that value comes from the fact that any participant, no matter where they are (obviously assuming they are not blocked or restricted for malicious activity intended to disrupt the service in the first place) can send a message to any IP address and that message will get there. So:

> the companies selling the service to end users should be allowed to come up with creative business models

No, they shouldn't; not if this requires breaking the global internet. It's not worth it. Why should the fact that it's possible to work around specific resulting issues in the USA mean it's desirable to go down a path that benefits ISPs and (dubiously) a small subset of consumers, and literally no one else? You might tell me it will benefit most consumers (as in, ISP customers), but that's shortsighted. The loss of flexibility incurred from the destruction of the system and the loss of the global digital market will have negative consequences for almost everyone down the road.

Or to put it in other words, stop looking at this as if it was a primarily economic problem tied to the availability of internet access choices for the customers of certain ISPs. Those things hardly matter in the bigger picture. They certainly do not matter to me, an european citizen. We have real net neutrality legislation in the EU. But it still matters to me if my business (should I have one) cannot reach american users and customers properly. It matters to me if it's hard for me to exchange ideas with americans, like we're doing right now. It matters to me if I can't play videogames against my american friends. That's worse for the economy and worse for consumer choice.


Implying that it's not possible to do both?


Honestly, I think the passage of Senate bill H.R.1865 “FOSTA” has quite quickly done way more harm to the internet at large than killing Net Neutrality has.


Absolutely.

It was crazy to watch everyone go crazy about net neutrality with triple-bank-shot theories of how it might chill some site somewhere someday, but barely a peep about the far-worse FOSTA, which almost immediately forced sites offline.

I'm still not sure how to explain this. Perhaps people are just dumb and prone to irrational panics, perhaps I am dumb (i.e., NN > FOSTA), or perhaps movements like NN support are not really particularly organic, and being organized for reasons unknown.


"people are just dumb and prone to irrational panics"

Of any statement that I've read this year, this is the one that most succinctly captures the entire spectrum of political life. Left or right, fake news to hacker news... Understand that statement and you understand how far we've come.


There has been a huge fearmongering campaign behind net neutrality, partially funded by companies that profit from net neutrality.

Net neutrality is a classic case of regulatory capture, the very thing people think it will suppress. If you think Google and Netflix are supporting NN because it's a right thing to do, instead of their profit motive, you're extremely naive.


because the first line of people and services affected by FOSTA are the ones no one wants to talk about. sex workers and underprivileged queers only exist as part of the conversation when it's politically expedient for those in power. America may no longer be a god-fearing nation, but the skeleton of moralism still exists, just with all it's values stripped away. you will hear far more screams if netflix loses even 1 percent of it's value than if the safety and livelihood of all the undesirables is erased.


I think they have both done harm, and don't really feel rating harms and minimizing the one that isn't #1 is a good thing.

We can address both of them, simultaneously. Civilization is awesome like that.


"The text of the proposed legislation has not been released."


You need to pass the bill before you know what's in it.


What? How would they know what their voting for?


That's a quote from a Nancy Pelosi speech about Affordable Care Act.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/pelosi-healthcare-pass-the...

For the record, Snopes does a good job explaining how Pelosi's statement was taken out of context by the right, especially when compared to Republican actions that were much more questionable regarding a somewhat (?) comparable Republican-sponsored bill called the American Health Care Act.


That article (and it's rating of "Mixed") has puzzled me.

The context "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy." doesn't really change the way I think about her remarks.

Controversy or not, it's a ridiculous assertion.


It would be ridiculous if she hadn't spent the two previous paragraphs which are quoted on the same Snopes page outlining what she claimed was the content of the bill.

Those paragraphs eliminate the possible interpretation of her sentence as you can only find out what's in the bill if we pass it. They also eliminate you can only be certain what's in the bill if we pass it-- she was clearly claiming the bill as an obvious positive step in health care.

It even eliminates we have to pass quickly to overcome the Republicans' criticisms-- because obviously the Republicans would (and did!) continue vociferously critiquing it after it passed.

The only meaning left I can see is the obvious interpretation-- we have to pass this so that you can benefit from the things I just said, and those benefits won't be subject to controversy. That's like bog standard political rhetoric-- what every politician claims for legislation aimed at the general public.

It's certainly an awkward sentence, but it's not difficult to figure out what she meant.


Asserting that

"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

is equivalent to

"the bill as an obvious positive step in health care."

requires blackout-inducing inertial velocity.

> It's certainly an awkward sentence

Why not call a spade a spade and say she misspoke?


This is a really good point and I'm not sure why you're being downvoted. Think of it this way, who the heck approves of an Incident Response Policy or an Information Security Policy without reading it? Oh wait, your downvoters would approve an Incident Response Policy without reading it, /facepalm.


She was talking to citizens, not to congressmen.


Why does that matter?


Because in context, “We [legislators] have to pass the bill so that you [citizens] can find out what is in it” does not at all imply that congressmen don’t need to read the bill.


Snopes is actually quite partisan. This is a good example.


Irrelevant. Most of the fact check checkers rate it as pretty accurate:

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/fact_check_review/


I'm not sure how it is irrelevant. The Pelosi statement "fact check" is pretty bad. They misleadingly state the ACA was passed by the House in October 2009. They neglect to mention the bill the House passed in October 2009 was titled “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009”. They continue on to falsely claim Republicans of hiding the text of the American Health Care Act bill. Their claim was the draft was not posted until June 2017. A person can easily confirm the first draft of the bill was posted in March 2017 by a quick check on archive.org. They used this false claim to "illustrate" the Republicans are the shady party. They entirely ignore the Democrats took the House bill which had nothing to do with healthcare, replaced the entire text of the bill with an unrelated topic, and did everything they could to pass it because they knew they would no longer have the votes necessary if they waited on the House to pass it first. It is clear they were going out of their way to defend Democrats and demonize Republicans.

I cannot expect any site publishing such garbage be much better with the rest of their content. I certainly cannot expect any site rating such a site as "pretty accurate" any where near unbiased.

It really is sad to see these sites to sink as low as they have. They used to be decent.


It is relevant since they could be cherry picking facts to rate


Who says so-called "fact checkers" aren't partisan?


If you find reality to be partisan and people who are experts to be partisan, you’re the partisan.


It's a reference to something Nancy Pelosi said when passing Obamacare.

"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”.


Often, that's literally true due to the length and complexity of the legislation.

Which is why there is the proposed Read the Bills Act. [1]

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


Well, it's not like it's uncommon for Congress to drop a 1000+ page omnibus crap sandwich the night before the vote.


That's how Pelosi runs things. That's a faithful paraphrase of what she said before the ACA (Obamacare) votes. Neither the rank-and-file of either party not the Republican leadership got to see the ACA final bill contents before the vote.


It is a deeply misleading excerpt of something Pelosi said, not "faithful" in any way. And the claim that nobody got to read the ACA before the vote is simply not true. You can see the main bill being repeatedly debated and amended on the floor of the Senate from early October 2010 until late December here:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/111th-congress/house-bill/3590...

The House passed the Senate bill several months later. It was then amended by the 2010 reconciliation act, which resolved some issues the House had with the Senate bill. That passed much more quickly (because it was a smaller and less controversial bill), but it still was presented on the floor of the House a week before it eventually passed:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/111th-congress/house-bill/4872...


  You can see the main bill
But not the final bill, which is the only one that matters. Compare the early October version with the Chaptered (final) version.


Who knows what could be hiding in there?!?!


The internet has barely survived?


Lets not be reactionary here.

Legislation can halt a slow decline, and companies move as slowly as they need to.

Something taking 5-10-20 years to decline can often be traced back to a piece of regulation (or deregulation) that occurred a long time ago.

Legislation being repealed doesn't mean the next day everything goes to the dogs, it's often supposed to plug up a trickle, not hold back a flood.

That may or may not apply to net neutrality depending on your view. But just because things haven't gone completely gone to the dogs yet does not mean it wont in the future and that this legislation is or isn't necessary.


Exactly, these rights are going to be chipped away bit by bit, action by action, over a long period of time so that eventually it just seems like the new normal.

In the years before the repeal there were several enforcement actions of net neutrality violations[1]

1. https://reddit.com/r/KeepOurNetFree/comments/7ej1nd/fcc_unve...


While what you say is completely reasonable, there were a lot of people acting like the internet would just about shut down days after the bill was passed. There was a great deal of fear mongering which did not describe the process as a slow decline.


considering that laws don't have an expiration date, it wouldn't make sense to legislate something so proactively. legislation can be introduced at any time a problem becomes excessive.


The only bill that actually threatened the internet was CISPA. Let's stop the dog and pony show or we'll miss out on the real problems


I mean honestly Senate bill H.R.1865 successfully did a ton to ruin the internet if we're being honest.


Care to elaborate? Senate bills are not yet laws, FYI.


Great point.


Yeah, that one just kinda flew by without incident.


"Net Neutrality" is one of the biggest misinformation campaigns I've ever seen in my life. I've never seen so many predictions of doom and gloom over such a small thing. More so those opinions put out by non-technical people to mislead non-technical people.

We've never had "net neutrality" and we never will. Doing so goes against how the internet fundamentally works. All packets are not the same. QoS exists and will always exist. Internet companies can't consume all the bandwidth and not pay for it. This has always been about Silicon Valley vs ISPs with ISPs wanting to charge the actual cost of service and Silicon Valley wanting a free ride to all of the ISPs customers. No customer will ever see any change from the creation of nor lack of net neutrality.


can anyone steelman the argument against net neutrality for me? The only one i've ever heard was that its "government intervention". Which doesn't quite add up for me.


I think it has pros and cons but in the end, I'm slightly opposed to net neutrality and I'll share my reasons. I think the internet is more complicated than water and electricity and writing regulations that actually regulate just the bad stuff away and keep the good stuff is overly optimistic to me. Regulation tends to freeze an industry in place. I'm not convinced that the internet today is the final word on what it should look like in 20 years. I also find most of the anti-net neutrality arguments to be pretty fictional and depend on companies having such a safe monopoly that there will be no recourse for just cutting out companies if they don't pay up. With the possibility of cell phones, cable, DSL, microwave, satelite, or even mesh networks, I just don't see a complete monopoly where they could just cut off Google searching for example. You add in VPN services, and worst case is you are talking about inconveniences, not a stranglehold. In my experience, even a mediocre market is usually better than what congress usually passes. So, yeah, maybe some perfect regulatory framework exists, but I doubt we know what it is, and even if we did, I doubt that is the one they would actually pass. I'm aware there is some natural monopoly elements to internet, but I would rather focus on increasing competition by getting rid of exclusive geographical agreements or even municipal broadband rather than net neutrality.


Actually at the infrastructure level the internet isn't complex at all. And far simpler than electricity is today.

And net neutrality would freeze in the sensible policy of not discriminating against the traffic that you're carrying.


Lol. Yes, BGP/CDNs/QoS and constant deployment of new protocols like TLS 1.3 or QUIC is incredibly simple. If you don't know how something works, that doesn't mean it's simple.


There are a number of reasons against it given by the FCC chairman. It's fairly technical regarding many legal bits but the gist is that the legislation is 1) poorly done and 2) does not solve a problem that needed to be solved and 3) will probably reduce investment in broadband infrastructure which is bad because an actual problem people face is access to broadband.

1) The laws are complicated and somewhat vague which creates an onerous and costly legal burden for ISPs. Smaller ISPs would probably have a steeper obstacle to overcome as a result which would be bad for competition. One example of this is the General Conduct Rule the FCC adopted in 2015 which didn't specifically state what was or was not expected. None of the FCC's regulations apply to 'edge providers' either e.g. Facebook or Google. So Internet users would have to understand the difference between ISPs and edge providers which is not straightforward to understand the law.

2) It was said that prior to 2015 when the FCC adopted Net Neutrality that ISP censorship was not a problem and they had invested in providing broadband access to people i.e. the system worked. So Net Neutrality solved a problem no one had: ISPs censoring people. The same could be said for ISPs charging premium rates to reach certain content. As far as creating a two-tier system for packets, Net Neutrality opponents argue this would be a good thing because it creates a better, faster, more reliable service.

3) A problem people did have was getting access to the internet. If Net Neutrality reduced investment in broadband infrastructure, solving this problem was less likely.


The primary impact of net neutrality, is that it prevents ISPs from charging tech companies like Google and Netflix for data usage.[1] Google (especially YouTube) and Netflix together take up about 75% of all bandwidth usage in the United States, so this is really about charging these two companies, and these two companies alone, for the amount of network buildout that's required to support their increasing demands. Any bandwidth costs anyone else faced due to this sort of thing would be inconsequential in comparison, if the ISPs bothered to bill anyone else at all.

Google and Netflix do not like this, of course, and have created or funded dozens of grassroots efforts to "save the Internet" by ensuring ISPs are legally prohibited from billing them. My personal view is that when you are on the "majority of the data usage on the Internet" scale, ISPs should have every right to negotiate with you, and that preventing that process ensures that Google and Netflix's economies of scale permanently win out as monopolists in the space.

[1]Insert rhetoric from supporters about double charging here, don't bother commenting to claim it. I've heard the argument before. And I was answering the parent's question, not trying to start an argument with the opposing position.


The primary impact of net neutrality is to regulate the internet as a utility in order to prevent an oligopoly of two ISPs deciding who is allowed to access what information online. What if all of the electricity in the United States was generated by two unregulated companies? They would have sole discretion over who got electricity, what time of day electricity was available to them, and whether they were able to access electricity at an affordable price. They could turn off an elderly person's air conditioning on a hot day because of "peak traffic" on the grid if the retired person on a fixed-income couldn't afford the surge pricing.

Of course that would be an unacceptable outcome. So why should we permit the same with the internet access?

A college student writing a paper on the FCC might only have access to academic articles opposing net neutrality because they can't afford the articles that express an alternate view and Comcast doesn't want her to see them.

The internet is about access to information. Net neutrality is about profiteering from that access.


practically however it is the services offered at the application layer that do all the censoring/wall-gardening, not isps.


This is irrelevant as long as we live in a world where anyone can set up a new edge service or application -- which is what net neutrality guarantees.


Not when it is happening in coordinated fashion, which crucially cuts off payment and revenue streams. NN would only guarantee a tiny fraction of neutrality, which has never been an issue anyway (i.e. ISPs have never cut off someone for political speech except when it's illegal)


Payments are a totally separate problem and basically irrelevant to a conversation about NN other than an ISP's technical ability to block access to a particular payment system (e.g. "we only support PayPal, go find another ISP if you want to use Venmo"). Net neutrality is about the Internet and the role ISPs and AS's play in providing Internet service; whatever other problems you are worried about can be solved separately.


the reason most services started censoring was to appease payment providers / advertisers. i dont think they are separate


Again, net neutrality is about the network and not the policies of edge services that happen to use the network. Unless you are claiming that an ISP is blocking traffic to appease a payment processor you are talking about something that is completely irrelevant and serves only to distract from the actual issue here.

Since you need this explained: when I said that in a world of net neutrality you can set up your own edge service, I was talking about the technical ability to do so and not whether or not some other problem would stop you. Maybe no payment processors are willing to work with you and you cannot afford to pay for the kind of connection your service demands. Equally possible is that you simply lack the technical skills needed to set up an edge service and cannot find or afford to pay someone to do it for you. Maybe you are just too busy. None of the above is relevant to the debate over net neutrality because net neutrality only concerns the operation of the network itself and not the endless other factors that might impact your ability to run whatever applications you intend to run.


i was talking about neutrality in general (of which NN is a part)


That makes no sense and it's precisely because of double charging. Consumers are paying for the bandwidth and access. It does not matter if they decide to spend their bandwidth on Netflix and Google.


I've heard the argument before - I assume you have a case against it instead of just don't argue with me.


> I've heard the argument before.

Do you have a response?


It seems like a bad argument to me. Companies have multiple revenue streams for things all the time. "double charging" is a slogan, not an argument.


It's a counterpoint to "charging these two companies ... for the amount of network buildout that's required to support their increasing demands" - given that said traffic is produced by ISP customers who have already paid for their respective Internet connections, it's clear that this is not what they're charging for.


There literally is no grassroots supporting repeal. It was all AstroTurf.


This is all the bullshit talking like of Google and YouTube and Netflix are sending forcefully traffic to everyone that doesn't even want it.

Internet Service Provider as name suggests is a company that provides access to the internet. Net Neutrality goal is to make sure that's all they are doing. What you can access supposed to be all up to you, the user, not the ISP.

Someone also mentioned here mentioned that they are vary of placing regulation that would stifle innovation. This is wrong assumption for two reasons: 1) internet was this way until 2014[1], FCC was enforcing it, but after Verizon won lawsuit things changed 2) we had major acquisitions of media companies by ISPs, Comcast and AT&T, things are changing and the goal is to turn internet service into interactive cable. I don't live in Comcast region, but AT&T is doing this by offering capped internet (I'm taking about residential access) then zero rating services that are their own (HBO and Cinemax). At the same time they pulled these channels from Dish (they asked them to pay for more subscribers than they have) and jacked prices on DirecTV (also owned by them). They essentially want to turn HBO into a streaming service.

This is not technology innovation, this is flexing monopoly's muscles to generate more money.

[1] this is actually more complicated. The internet from beginning was under Title II intently because it was offered through telcos which operated under that regulation. In 2003 it was reclassified to Title I from telecommunication service to information service. This is where all started. The ISPs started using their position to throttle traffic, and in certain instances outright block it (reneger issues with VoIP?). FCC though acted in it and penalized ISPs which reverted their practices. After that happened to Verizon, they sued FCC and the court ruled that under Title I FCC has no control over Internet unless it reclassify it. At that point car was out of the bag. To get control back FCC reclassified Internet back to Title II. That was until 2017 when FCC reverted that change. We are now in untested waters where ISP can do pretty much anything and the only thing they have to worry about is being sued.


> What you can access supposed to be all up to you, the user, not the ISP.

shouldnt that extend to the medium level? be it netflix , youtube etc. i.e. platforms should not be allowed to deplatform?


No, it should not, because as long as we have net neutrality anyone can start a new "platform" is no other "platform" will let them speak. The problem is that ISPs are gatekeepers and typically enjoy local monopolies; there is no such problem with edge services.


what about payment services like patreon, paypal etc? (my personal theory is that google etc love the stronghold they keep in online media and do not want ISPs to mess with it, hence why they are so supportive of NN regulation)


Payments are orthogonal in my opinion. The power a bank has to deny payment services is as relevant offline as it is online:

https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/432692-time-is-long...

As for Google et al., I do not understand the connection. A neutral Internet is one in which a small startup competitor faces one less barrier to entry, so how does NN help Google maintain this so-called "stronghold" in online media? Net neutrality is the reason Google does not have "partnerships" with ISPs to be the sole provider of web search to the ISP's customers, or Facebook being the only social network you can access, etc.


https://stratechery.com/2017/pro-neutrality-anti-title-ii/

It's hard to read this and walk away supporting net neutrality.


It is not that hard if you actually understand the history of the rules. The article forgets to mention that there were much stronger regulations in place during the 90s -- like DSL services being required to share their physical infrastructure with competitors. It forgets to mention the episode where Comcast tried to charge residential customers an extra fee just for the privilege of using VPN applications. It also focuses more on edge services than on the larger issue of net neutrality: deploying new protocols and Internet applications without having to negotiate with ISPs for permission to do so.


That’s an interesting part in there about how only one company in history really did something that NN would have prevented, and the FCC quickly fixed that anyhow. The other often sited examples like Comcast temporarily limiting torrent traffic for network management reasons - is a valid reason to do so even under 2015’s NN ruling (really, even under NN an ISP can throttle for network management reasons).

So the question I have is why did FAANG, Reddit, and all of tech media jump so heavily into panic mode regarding NN repeal? It seems very unlikely their priorities sync up with mine.

ESP when you consider that FAANG has been in censorship mode of content with little concern for obviousness since 2015, expanding their data mining, and swinging their weight into would-be competitors. Your article makes good points, and it makes me think my skepticism of the corperate directed outrage against NN repeal is justified.


FAANG companies have a very obvious interest in a net neutrality resolution. The ubiquity of the coverage of this particular bit of regulation is the FAANG companies flexing their PR muscle.


Dont you think some of the mobile space and exemption certain data from data caps fits somewhere in there?


Carriers like T-Mobile currently zero-rate streaming, presumably because it's easier[1] to deliver static content. Strictly speaking, this isn't net neutrality.

[1] I think this is it: https://patents.google.com/patent/US20180376299A1


It's a moral argument. Any form of coercion that prevents the free lawful use of private property is an attack on individual freedom. No act can be considered lawful if it comes from an unlawful act. No individual or group of individuals may dispose of another individual's property without violating his rights, whether this property is a refrigerator or communications infrastructure. People in the United States asking for more socialism, regulations and abuses against private property should know that the Berlin Wall no longer exists.

It is an economic argument as well. Oligopolies based on regulations and government protectionism are always bad and monopolies arising from competition are always good because they offer what the demand demands and favor social cooperation. It must be understood that competition lies in the free entry and exit of markets and not in a utopian perfect competition from the neoclassical point of view. If there is only one ISP in your state or city, you should ask yourself if the government has given it the monopoly concession of the service through prior regulation. Regulations and interventions always require more regulations and subsequent interventions giving more rights to politicians and prebendary monopolists at the cost of taking freedom from the rest of the people, people who pay the benefits of these groups without getting anything in return.

Just think of all the regulations against free-speech that certain groups want to impose throughout the Internet. Which companies would be favored if these regulations on social networks were carried out? Of course they would favor big companies over small ones because you are artificially raising the competitive cost without improving the service. Cost that not all companies can afford. The moral argument in this case is self-explanatory.


What strikes me is how Republicans didn't realize net neutrality translates to equal opportunity on the internet, which fits really well with free-market capitalism.


Free markets, like any ideology, usually doesn't serve as first principals from which you derive positions. Rather, feelings dictate positions and ideology is used to justify those positions post hoc.

Welcome to the world kid.


I don't know if it's sarcasm or not. Positions are dictated by empirical evidence, not feelings. What is false does not become true because I feel it is true. Free markets are efficient in terms of supply and demand. My opinion is that those who are still guided by feelings and always with their backs to reality are the people who ask for more socialism, more regulations and less freedom for all.


Republicans aren't that much in favor of Free-market as they used to be.


Democrats are far more socialist than they used to be. Do you suggest all of the USA political spectrum has moved to the left? I don’t have an opinion on that but I bet lots of people would argue a shift the other way.

I think that’s a problem of perspective. Republicans have always had big government establishment RINOs clashing with small government fiscal conservatives who feel they are too far left for fiscal issues and mixed bag on social issues. Bush era “neocons” get little love today (Romney for example). If you are truly on the center today (rare breed) you might be interested that the neocons hate Trump, and how the GOP establishment is begrudgingly stuck with him.

Polar opposite, if you find yourself agreeing with every socialist proposal and bemoaning yourself that Dems are too far right, it’s probably just perspective of how extreme left you are.

So... are Republicans less free-market than they “used” to be? Or does it only seem that way from your perspective? When you say Republicans, do you mean base, establishment, or Trump?


The US political spectrum has moved towards being more authoritarian in general. As in, large-scale government solutions to whatever is perceived as problems are in vogue on both the left and the right.


That's not really true.

"Free" means "lacking from government intervention" or laissez-faire, not "free of charge".

Good or bad, allowing ISPs to set their own rates are prices structures is more laissez-faire than regulating them.


That's an Austrian school conflation, and that largely because it refuses to recognize that market failure is a thing. Originally, "free" meant "where actors compete freely" - this excludes not just government regulation, but also monopolies. Since in practice monopolies form in unregulated markets over time, at some point, such a market can become less free than one with active intervention to bust monopolies.


>refuses to recognize that market failure is a thing

So much this. I call it "Econ 101 Syndrome". My undergrad was in Economics, and the amount of damage that has been done by requiring Business majors (and others) to take Econ 101 and only Econ 101 is staggering. People walk away from those courses seeing the world through a lens of perfect competition, no externalities, no information asymmetries, no transaction costs, etc. and so end up coming to a faulty conclusion on every major policy question.


*if they weren’t already granted monopoly status locally.


Which I'd say outlawing would be a more generally useful law than net neutrality ever was.


certainly but it’s one or the other. unregulated monopolies are lose-lose.


Net Neutrality has nothing to do with free market nor equal opportunity. If anything, it hinders new entrants because it entrenches the interests of Netflix and similar companies that dominate all internet traffic. Net Neutrality has always and will always be about Netflix and similar companies not wanting to be billed for constantly increasing the costs of the ISPs. Pro-net neutrality is pro-regulatory capture for companies like Netflix. No free market capitalist would ever be for regulatory capture.


They were sold it as a fast lane for emergency use. Which is a good idea, but would end up being abused as well as it undermines the entire system.


Free-market capitalism and crony capitalism are subtly different in that way


free market means options, and NN is just one option


Not sure why you are being downvoted but you are exactly right

Republicans do claim they support free-market capitalism (you can of course argue the opposite is true with things like subsidies/welfare for farmers)


And socialism for the wealthy.


Hmm. And bailouts for repeatedly failing companies.


Is that why Trump tore up the TPP, started restricting immigration, and raised tariffs on Chinese produced goods?


I'm sick of hearing about "net neutrality". Nothing changed when it was shot down. Report this or rage has much as you want but NOTHING has changed. I'm now more weary of "net neutrality" than ever before.





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