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FCC approves plan to consider paid priority on Internet (washingtonpost.com)
679 points by jkupferman on May 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 331 comments



The title and post are both quite misleading. The commissioners didn't approve Tom Wheeler's plan (to regulate the Internet under Section 706), but voted to go ahead with the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and commenting period. Tom Wheeler stated multiple times that Title II classification is still on the table.

There'll now be a 120 day commenting period; 60 days of comments from companies and the public, and then 60 days of replies to those comments from the same. After that, the final rulemaking will happen.

It's likely that the docket number for comments will continue to be 14-28, so if you want to ask the FCC to apply common carrier rules to the Internet under Title II, you can do so here: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display?z=r8e2h and you can view previous comments here: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment_search/execute?proceeding=1...

It's probably best to wait until the actual text of the NPRM is made public though, which'll likely happen very soon.

Edit: WaPo have now updated the title of the article to make it more accurate: "FCC approves plan to consider paid priority on Internet." Old title was "FCC approves plan to allow for paid priority on Internet."


Ok. That's 120 days to make Title II a household word.

Broadband's current classification as an information service, as if it's some sort of MovieFone for the 21st century, is so far removed from reality that the public should be in an uproar about it. Verizon itself has sought to classify its fiber buildouts under Title II so it can get fixed-rate access to existing right-of-way infrastructure, [1] on the technicality that its VOIP service running across those lines is regulated under Title II. Yet the main reason for building it is, of course, broadband, which dodged Title II on the even flimsier grounds of those ISP email and start pages you never use.

People should be holding signs outside the FCC building with "Title II" on them. The chair of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Michael Powell, has ominously said attempts to reclassify broadband as Title II would be "World War III"[2] – but if he wants a fight, the FCC really should oblige him, and consumers should be beating the drums.

[1] http://www.theverge.com/2014/5/14/5716802/game-of-phones-how...

[2] http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/15/5311948/net-neutrality-and...


> People should be holding signs outside the FCC building with "Title II" on them.

Or, you know, submitting comments to the FCC answering the question explicitly raised in the call for comments as to whether Title II or Section 706 is the most appropriate authority for Open Internet regulations with clear, specific, and coherent reasons why Title II is the right answer and how it should be applied.

The battle over getting Title II into consideration has already been won. The front has moved on to the details.


Or both and more!


Before we all jump on the idea of Title II, let's consider the implications. Specifically Terrifs. If last-mile ISPs can start charging Terrifs for use of their lines (like the telcos do), this will have the opposite of the desired effect on pricing and will lead to arbitrage like we've seen with the Telcos (these Terrifs allowed NetZero to make money by keeping your modem connected... essentially billing everyone in the country through the FCC's "Federal Universal Service Charge" on your phone bill instead of their users). This is also where the "Family Plan" came from. Honestly, it's shocking how ill informed most people in the tech industry are on what they're asking for here...

Why do we need any regulation in the first place? Net Neutrality has never truly existed. Netflix has the cheapest bandwidth deal of anyone... And they're trying to fool their users into lobbying the gov't for them to keep in that way. Small start-ups have always payed more per Megabit. That's the free market at work. You pay less for bulk. It makes sense. Every content provider (website, video service, shared host, VoIP provider, etc) has always been able to pay for priority at some level (be it through exclusive private fiber channels, faster DNS, the use of CDNs, or even QoS for latency-critical services like VoIP & gaming). This has generally been a good thing. Yes, some local monopolistic ISPs are acting up and something has to be done about that. But calling them utilities will only give them the power to impose terrifs and charge more... the opposite of what we want.


You really do not want broadband classified under Title II. You will get the war you want, but it will be a war everyone loses.

Why do you think DSL is such a ghetto? It's because it's subject to a higher level of regulations, and nobody wants to invest money in such a highly-regulated industry: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Goldman-Sachs-Wants-Veriz....

Classifying cable broadband under Title II will definitely have the effect of killing Comcast and Time Warner's profit margins. Hooray! Your tribe wins, and the big evil telecom companies will be cut down to size!

Except the telecom companies make up 6 of the top 25 companies with the highest U.S. capital expenditures: http://news.investors.com/technology/091913-671712-institute.... You think they're going to keep pouring all that money into low-margin heavily-regulated infrastructure? No, they'll do what Goldman wants and divest themselves of regulated business lines, and take that money and put it into a profitable business sector.


I live in Austin which is a very densely-populated regional tech hub. Here we have three 30-mbit FTTN ISPs which is more competition than pretty much anywhere else in the US.

Earlier this year Google announced they were bringing Google Fiber here. Immediately all the ISPs announced that they, too, would be offering FTTH speeds. One company announced 300mbit, another rolled out 300mbit as part of a roadmap to gigabit, and the third actually rolled out gigabit well ahead of Google Fiber, which is still applying for permits.

I agree with you in principle that there is some margin below which companies will not invest in expensive capital expenditures. However there is also a margin above which companies will not invest in capital expenditures, because they have a sure thing going. The question is where those lines are.

The data from Austin show that in a market considered "exceptionally competitive" by American standards, companies are willing to invest an order of magnitude more in capital expenditures than they currently do just by threatening to create a lower-margin market. Google's work here, which so far consists of exactly 0 fiber installs, a landing page, and a contract with the city, has been so effective at transforming the market here that it's being argued by locals that it would be more efficient to forget about actually installing any fiber and they should just make announcements in one city after another and wait for the ISPs to do it for them.


Ask yourself: why does Austin already have three FTTN ISP's when San Francisco doesn't? It wasn't because they had a higher level of regulation than other cities, it was because they had less.


Another nice narrative that doesn't fit with experimental data.

In spite of the fact that one would imagine a Texas city to be less regulated than a California city, it isn't really that simple.

In Austin a strong majority of the utility poles are owned by the city. The ones that aren't are largely owned by AT&T, which complains very loudly that it is required to sell access to anyone who wants it at a price dictated by the Federal Communications Commission nationwide.

Meanwhile California (get this) opted out of much of the FCC regulation around utility poles and effectively allows a large private company to own and control the poles. This private company is made up of all the usual suspects like AT&T, Sprint, PG&E, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc., who seem to have formed a holding company to buy utility poles without anyone at the state being concerned about antitrust concerns. I'm not exactly sure what the requirements are to join--if access is "open" (for some definition of open) this may be how they circumvent the Sherman Antitrust Act etc.

California did pass "fair access" laws in 2011 [1] but as far as I can tell they only apply to "local publicly owned electric utilities" which presumably would not include AT&T and its utility pole holding company. There probably is some kind of regulation that in principle regulates competitive access to poles but how it compares to the FCC's jurisdiction in Texas it is difficult to say.

This is a side note, but we should really be having less talk about how we think regulation works and more case studies about how it does or doesn't work in these comment threads. "Less regulation == better internet" is a plausible model but so was the Bohr Model of the atom. "Is it correct?" is the question and that question can only be answered by looking at empirically what happens.

[1] http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billStatusClient.xht...


The fact Austin is less regulated isn't a hypothetical. We know Austin is less regulated than most cities. Its a Google Fiber city, which means it agreed to ditch most of the regulations, like build out requirements, that other cities impose. Google doesn't bring fiber to a city without massive concessions. Kansas City agreed to get the permits through in five days. Provo sold Google a $30 million fiber network for $1.

Maybe pole attachments have something to do with it too, but lots of cities own their poles but don't have competing fiber services.

See: http://crosscut.com/2014/03/04/business/118993/google-fiber-...

Also re Portland: http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2023420101_b...

The last article is a must-read. This is the kind of person standing in the way of fiber deployment, as much as any cable lobbyist.

"That’s a nice deal where it’s available. But the company has been slow to expand its coverage area in Kansas City and vague about if and when it will reach some working-class areas, according to a report in The Kansas City Star.

Cities really have one opportunity to ensure that all of their residents will be served by these next generation broadband services.

That’s during the initial franchise negotiations, when cities can press for universal coverage in return for the special rules and public property they’re offering up.

Once cities provide these handouts, they don’t have much leverage. They’ll end up bowing and scraping and hoping that Uncle Google throws a bit more fiber their way, someday."


Time to nationalize then. I hate even thinking that, but I'd rather have tax dollars wasted than see our money funnelled to Wall Street.

BTW that article showing how much capital they spent doesn't say what they actually spent that money on. My bet is most of it went to their cellular networks and other business interests. Their own data shows broadband investment has fallen[1]. Only 12 billion in the last 4 years. So clearly that 100+ billion each year isn't going to faster internet... at least not in landlines. Guess I can download videos to my phone slightly faster now. Yay.

At the same time we keep paying more[2]. And now they want to suck dry the content providers as well, who will probably only pass on the costs to us? Eff That.

Maybe they should actually reinvest their money into building out a 21st century network, and then they wouldn't need a fast lane.

[1]http://www.vox.com/2014/5/12/5711082/big-cable-says-broadban...

[2]http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24528383 [2]


> Time to nationalize then. I hate even thinking that, but I'd rather have tax dollars wasted than see our money funnelled to Wall Street.

When capital investment into broadband is set by vote, do you think you'll be happy with the resulting level of investment?


>do you think you'll be happy with the resulting level of investment?

I'll be accepting of it. At least we get the end results of our own failure to persuade the public or politicians.

As it is our fate is left to 'market forces'. Market forces have been undeniably screwing us for the better part of a decade. And it's looking like they want more for less in the future.


> Market forces have been undeniably screwing us for the better part of a decade.

Excuse me? What's been screwing us in broadband is precisely that market forces are not operating, because local governments have been giving sweetheart deals to particular providers.


I suggest you read some of these agreements, they're usually online. Here's the one for my town: http://www.wilmingtonde.gov/docs/1320/3716Rev1.pdf. These aren't sweetheart deals. Generally, they extract millions of dollars for tangentially-related municipal programs, and then have build-out requirements forcing you to serve areas above a certain density even if you can't sign up enough customers to make it profitable. Basically, the terms are unattractive enough such that only the big de-facto monopolies are willing to take the deal.


> the terms are unattractive enough such that only the big de-facto monopolies are willing to take the deal.

Which means that these are effectively sweetheart deals for the big de facto monopolies, since without them there would certainly be an incentive for smaller competitors to enter the market. That may not have been the intent of the municipal governments, so "sweetheart deal" may not be the best descriptive term, but that's what ends up happening. It certainly isn't a free market with these kinds of requirements in place.


Yes, there is something of Br'er Rabbit in giant incumbent telcos' complaining about regulations. "Please mister please don't use the complicated franchise agreement my lawyer sent you that is actually written to conform exactly to my M&Ps!"


Did you read the Wilmington agreement? What in there looks like it was written by a Comcast lawyer?


WTF? Now I have read it (well frankly I skimmed the last 25 of the 40 pages in this particular assignment), and it was clearly written by the Comcast lawyer. This isn't surprising: it's a contract between two parties, one of which executes scores of such contracts every year, and the other of which does so about once a decade. Who else would have written it? Saul Goodman?

As 'pdonis said, the "unattractive" terms are there precisely so that "only the big de-facto monopolies are willing to take the deal".


Our level of investment in all our other public infrastructure is dismal: http://www.asce.org/failuretoact. Why would investment into internet infrastructure be any different? Indeed, it'd probably be worse. Remember, the electorate skews older than the overall population, while I'd bet internet usage skews younger.


The military relies on the Internet too, it should be politically neutral.


Not quite, the military really only cares about the SIPRnet, a construct that is thankfully completely free of the likes of AT&T, the FCC, etc. The military has never depended on the Internet normal people use. Its a great service for Bob and Joe Servicemember to be able to watch Netflux in their down time, but because its not really important to any mission in any way, they dont care.


That's not really true, NIPRNet (unclassified regular Internet) is just as important nowadays.

There are a lot of essential communications going on that aren't classified, and not everyone doing an essential job function has a security clearance.


Nationalizing anything nearly always leads to lower quality. Compare the toll roads in France to the "free" autobahns in Germany. The French toll routes are far better maintained. Another case is health care, compare an NHS experience with a hip replacement in the UK with a hip replacement in France (or the US.) In the UK, the waiting list is measured in 6+ months, while in the US or France, it is almost immediate. For a more extreme example, have a look at Venezuela's nationalization efforts. Nationalization of anything is often a bad solution. The government doesn't have a profit motive, thus they have no incentives.

However, that being said, the big question is if the Internet is a common carrier or not. (I would argue that it is.) Apparently Ted Cruz and Al Franken agree as well. Nationalization isn't the answer, the proper framing of the industry is what's really needed.


Your argument doesn't add up. The autoroutes of France belong to the government and their semi-private companies[1].

As a counter example, all roads in the Netherlands are owned by the government - and the Dutch roads are considered to be of outstanding quality. Major roads are taken care of on a province level, smaller roads on a municipality level - however all of them have to ensure the roads are safe to travel and will not cause damage to your vehicle, nor are unsafe to drive.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoroutes_of_France#Administra...


Actually most of the toll autoroutes of France are managed and operated by Vinci. Which is a shareholder owned company and most certainly not "semi-private." You're also quoting a Wikipedia article about autoroutes in general. A article, by the way, that cites no sources, unless you consider about.com a primary source.

If you were to compare the Vinci-managed ones with the state managed ones, there's a vast difference in quality.

Which, the point is that some of the autoroutes are maintained by the state, however the ones that are are privately manage are of better quality. The ones that ARE toll roads, such as the A9 are fully managed and operated by Vinci and they are exceptionally good. The A31 (Luxembourg to Beaune where it turns into the A6) on the other hand is not privately managed and it has a higher number of potholes and the overall quality is lower. The A7 from Avignon to Marseille is also privately managed and is of exceptional quality.

I'm not making the case that government-owned roads are all necessarily bad, however I am making the case that private, profit oriented roads are almost always better because they have to be -- why pay to use a bad road? Drive from Hamburg to Marseille and you can see the effects with your own eyes. I've driven all across Europe, with the exception of the Netherlands, which I will concede are probably very good. However the Netherlands can't easily compared to the United States both in terms of economy, demographics or size. Korea, for example has better internet than most of the world, but the population density is astronomical compared to the United States, so there are different economies of scale at work. The same thing goes for Dutch roads.

The interesting thing is the quality of the roads that are publicly operated toll roads, such as the New Jersey Turnpike are terrible compared to the free highways of Texas. So you do have some good government owned things, however very rarely is the government version better than a private version. Otherwise we'd be drinking Evian out of the tap instead of the chlorinated crap that passes for municipal water.

Given that a publicly managed, national internet would likely be run by some government agency along the lines of the Veterans Administration or the New York New Jersey Port Authority -- I would far prefer private infrastructure.

However, that being said, the Internet pipes almost definitely should be considered a common carrier by pretty much any definition of the word.

I'm just clearly arguing against nationalization. It worked so well for Mexico's Pemex that they are actually privatizing it. If you fill up your gas tank in Juarez vs. El Paso, you'll find the quality of the gasoline vastly different, despite the fact that they are refined from the same crude oil.


Thank you for elaborating on the French autoroutes - I was under the impression the Vinci company was semi-private.


Yeah the nationalised healthcare here in the UK sucks.

Last night my wife got seen by an emergency dentist at 21:45 an it cost £18.50 ($31).

My grandmother was on the waiting list for her hip replacement for 11 days and that cost... $0

I broke my ankle and it was X-ray'ed cast and dealt with in 2 hours from being picked up by the ambulance and it cost...$0

My wife had three C-sections over the space of a decade an that cost...$0 (no wait either!)

My wife has had two other surgeries and they cost $0 and the waiting time was less than 3 weeks.

Oh and our medicines cost a max of £104 a year (if you get a year prescription certificate) and for most people they are free. That's for ANY amount of them.

Yeah nationalisation of healthcare is absolutely fucking awful especially here in London...


> while in the US or France, it is almost immediate.

You seem to operate under the assumption that healthcare in France is private. It isn't. It's underfunded and has had a gaping deficit for as long as I can remember, but it still sort of works.

> The government doesn't have a profit motive, thus they have no incentives.

The government doesn't have a "profit motive". They have what is called a "mandate to deliver a public service". Which means that they're not going to deliberately screw over non-profitable areas. Not to say that everything is rosy (see, eg, the absolutely shameful state of the French penal system), but they're trying. As a bonus, you can compare the (privatized) UK railroad system and the (still public) French railroad system, and run a customer satisfaction survey.


Hip replacement is most definitely nationalized in France.


The doctors are not employed by the state, as they are in the UK.

There are as many different ways of running a health care system as there are countries. It's not the US in one bucket, everyone else in a second bucket. The set up of the Sweden system looks more like the US than it does like Canada or Taiwan, which both have single-payer.


I'm afraid you don't know what you're talking about. The bills are paid by the social insurance (and mutuels if you have it,) however the providers are mostly private.


Nationalizing the infrastructure isn't viable in the US for a host of reasons. Politics. The culture of poor stewardship of the commons in the US. Etc.

They need to be force all ISPs to act as common carriers.


You are once again leaving out the important bits that don't fit your story.

The facts are an example of regulation arbitrage, not some fatal flaw in Title 2 / Common Carrier. The 'Fatal Flaw' is the FCC doesn't say "All consumer facing ISPs are Common Carriers under Title 2" but "Technology X is under Title II and Technology Y is not".

Even from your own article "In this case what has Wall Street's heart all a flutter is the possibility for Verizon to shed all union-related workers and their pensions."

Dumping a ton of long term liabilities [pensions, union contracts] is the core reason. Divesting of some high cost DSL markets for an infrastructure provider [which is the regions they are talking about in the article, Upstate New York isn't exactly a market with roaring profitability due to low population density] is a secondary concern in that article and it basically said they invested 24 billion?

Title 2 doesn't require Union workers.

It also isn't a reasonable comparison to say "Title 2 Technology A lost to Non-Title 2 Technology B because Title 2 doesn't work" with such weak evidence. Why yes, investors want to reduce liabilities and cost centers. Magically, if you can enter a market with a lower liability and costs [due to less regulation] you prefer that option. If that isn't an option, magically, the market functions on an even playing field and everything competes on the merits of the technologies.

Somehow, magically, in places like Europe you get better ISP performance per $ with similar profit margins. Maybe the problem is not too much regulation, but how the regulation is being applied?


You concede that higher levels of regulation increase regulatory costs. But you assume that as long as you make all regulation equally burdensome, the market will somehow fix things. But you're ignoring the fact that capital is fluid, and will flow out of regulated industries like telecom into less regulated industries. You can't invoke the market then ignore basic aspects of how the market works.

Places in Europe are also much more willing to outright subsidize telecom investment: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/the-broadband-gap-w... ("Sweden has built one of the fastest and most widely deployed broadband networks in Europe because its government granted tax breaks for infrastructure investments, directly subsidized rural deployment, and, perhaps most significantly, required state-owned municipal utilities to create local backbone networks, reducing the cost for the local telephone company to provide service.")


Please explain how all other utilities and common carriers are effective in the US and able to receive sufficient capital investment to provide reliable service?

Having a near-monopoly reduces risk significantly.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/11/13/366988/over-half... We subsidize Utilities & Telecommunications roughly equally via tax breaks.

Oh, and they get subsidies like Sweden too: https://www.ncta.com/news-and-events/media-room/article/2338

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_broadband_plan#Sweden Sweden didn't even put 1 billion in.

So umm, you are pretty providing all the evidence that greater intervention in the market than even I'm suggesting will improve things...?

confused


> http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/11/13/366988/over-half.... We subsidize Utilities & Telecommunications roughly equally via tax breaks.

Uh, please read the methodology of the linked article. Those aren't direct tax subsidies. It's a made-up number based on effective tax rates below 35%. By your logic, the government is heavily subsidizing Apple & Google, which pay much less than the 35% rate.

> Please explain how all other utilities and common carriers are effective in the US and able to receive sufficient capital investment to provide reliable service?

They're not. Utility infrastructure in the U.S. barely gets enough investment to keep it operation, much less keep up with technological development: http://geospatial.blogs.com/geospatial/2011/12/asce-report-o....

> https://www.ncta.com/news-and-events/media-room/article/2338

The one-time ARRA money is for jobs programs. The money is distributed to municipalities, and may or may not be used to actually build broadband anywhere.

> Sweden didn't even put 1 billion in.

Sweden putting in $900 million is like the U.S. putting in $27 billion.


> Uh, please read the methodology of the linked article. Those aren't direct tax subsidies. It's a made-up number based on effective tax rates below 35%. By your logic, the government is heavily subsidizing Apple & Google, which pay much less than the 35% rate.

Fine, we'll use your definitions. That's cool.

> Sweden putting in $900 million is like the U.S. putting in $27 billion.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/242713/fcc_votes_to_end_telep... "The FCC will cap the broadband fund at US$4.5 billion a year, the current budget of the USF high-cost program, funded by a tax on telephone bills." Over 6 years.

4.5 * 6=27 billion

What is your next objection?

> They're not. Utility infrastructure in the U.S. barely gets enough investment to keep it operation, much less keep up with technological development: http://geospatial.blogs.com/geospatial/2011/12/asce-report-o....

Moving goal posts by switching to publicly owned water infrastructure isn't valid. Privately owned utilities.

Like these: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2012/indus...

An example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exelon

Exelon: ~2.5 billion net on ~55 billion assets Comcast: ~6.8 billion net on ~158 billion assets

And like any other market, Exelon isn't having trouble turning a profit from regulation but is losing money due to its own fuckups for failing to accurately predict what forms of energy are cheapest: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-09/business/ct-ex...

I'm sorry, but we just have to agree to disagree. Or are you planning to change goalposts?


> Fine, we'll use your definitions. That's cool.

Under your definition, Apple received an $18 billion subsidy between 2009-2011. What did the public get in return for that subsidy? Is that a dumb question? Yes, because your definition of subsidy makes no sense.

> http://www.pcworld.com/article/242713/fcc_votes_to_end_telep.... "The FCC will cap the broadband fund at US$4.5 billion a year, the current budget of the USF high-cost program, funded by a tax on telephone bills." Over 6 years.

USF is not a subsidy to the telecom industry, because it is funded by a tax on the industry. It just shifts money from certain telecom customers to others.

> And like any other market, Exelon isn't having trouble turning a profit from regulation

Excelon is a terrible example of utilities turning a profit, because it really isn't one. When the energy industry was deregulated, the regulated electric monopoly in Illinois, Commonwealth Edison, divested itself of its generation capacity. This entity became Excelon, and it is not regulated S a public utility the way ComEd is.


Except the telecom companies make up 6 of the top 25 companies with the highest U.S. capital expenditures...

Do you think no one is paying attention? We know very well that VZN & ATT's capital spending is in wireless, not wireline:

http://stopthecap.com/2013/07/18/verizon-diverting-landline-...

Sure, one might see this as a sign that existing wireline regulations are already too onerous, and Ma Bell's poor daughters have to take their ball and go home. But the fact is, they know their wireline market is a captive one, and customers will stay no matter how little they invest. As soon as they bribe their way to a Sprint takeover, we'll see wireless investment head in the same direction.


Except that the amount of money those companies are pouring into infrastructure is dropping already.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140514/06500227230/cable-...

Maybe if their margins drop, they will stop opposing community broadband:

http://www.consumereagle.com/2014/03/13/cable-companies-figh...


I find it interesting that broadband is so expensive in the US compared to many other countries.

Population density is sometimes pointed to. It may be, but I also know that even many of the most rural parts of Norway and Sweden broadband [fiber] is prevalent.

I would guess competition (and less lobbying) would improve things. Perhaps Google Fiber can shake things up.

- http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24528383

- http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/08/07/reviewed-high-...

- http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/the-broadband-gap-w...


The U.S. is not far behind Sweden in global average connection speeds: http://www.akamai.com/dl/akamai/akamai-soti-q413.pdf?WT.mc_i... (Page 19, Figure 20).

Sweden directly subsidized deployment of fiber in rural areas: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/the-broadband-gap-w.... It also required municipalities to build certain infrastructure, which is something the U.S. federal government lacks the power to do.


Sweden directly subsidized deployment of fiber...

Yeah, so did USA. The only difference was that Sweden actually got the fiber they subsidized. We've been over this before.


It's not often you express such a vehement personal opinion. I would be interested to see your argument expanded into a longer article.


I live in Europe, where there is a lot more regulation on Telecom Companies. My house is in a small village in the woods (45min away from the next Autobahn!) and yet I can get 50Mbps down and 10Mbps up for 50€.

Regulation sets the market incentives. Having no regulation is just the choice to set the incentives to benefit those that control the natural monopoly.


To be fair, you can consider yourself lucky — many people in rural areas can only get 384 kbit/s DSL.


You should read recent Level3 blogs showing that actually currently those companies don't have any incentive to improve their infrastructure, because keeping it in bad shape generates them more money. I know it is counter-intuitive but that's what it is.

Regional ISPs are natural monopolies and there's no other way but to regulate them. Same as you regulate electricity company, water, gas etc. You can't just let everyone dig holes around city to place new wires, pipes etc. There's no other way then regulating it.

BTW: If Comcast and Time Warner would move to a different methods of delivering access then it's all even better we will have more alternatives than just cable, or dsl. If instead they would decide to close down and sell, then I'm sure there would be plenty of other companies who would want to purchase their infrastructure with their subscribers to make money out of it.


If this is true, then why do so many other countries around the world have both actual competition AND much more compelling products than the US? These other ISPs are also commercial entities and yet they aren't filing for bankruptcy left, right and center so clearly it's commercially possible.


That link doesn't talk about network regulation, rather about unions.


Excellent. Then, with profits gone and without telco lobbying, municipal internet will be allowed to exist, built the same way that roads and sewage.

Th Internet is too important to be left to Internet businesses.


This is something most people don't seem to get. Government control == stagnation.


By "get" I think you mean "accept". I don't think most people accept it because the evidence does not overwhelmingly support this statement.


>because the evidence does not overwhelmingly support this statement

To which evidence are you referring?


It's not that simple. Europe's telecom/broadband markets are heavily regulated and yet mobile and internet services are both cheaper and faster.


In America. Looks like most of Europe doesn't have this problem...


Au contraire. Europe has enormous problems. In places like France, cellular service has been getting faster and cheaper because of competition. For example, Free joined the "big three" in France for cell service and suddenly prices have fallen and quality has greatly improved compared the the days when France Telecom controlled everything. That's the opposite of your theory that nationalization "improves" things.

Mexico is another outstanding example of what happens when you deregulate telecoms. When Carlos Slim had his nationally-endorsed monopoly with TelCel/TelMex, prices were exceptionally high however, once his guaranteed monopoly period expired and other companies could begin to compete, the prices dropped dramatically. Although Slim's company has a huge 10 year head start over other companies in terms of infrastructure -- so the monopoly effects are still prevalent. For example, a cell plan that costs me $100 in the US, costs me over $125 in Mexico. In terms of purchasing power, that's a massively expensive difference, considering many other things in Mexico are substantially less expensive than the US -- except electricity and telcoms, which are far more expensive because of de facto and de jure nationalization.

There's a perception that "Europe is better" that seems to be almost a stereotype. I happen to live in Avignon and have a close-up view of things that are better in Europe versus the US and some things ARE better, but there is a tradeoff. Avignon has 20% unemployment for example. It has traditionally been very expensive to start a business in France as well. The labor rules and bureaucracy makes it exceptionally difficult to hire and fire employees. Public transport in Europe isn't universally better than the US. Most people only visit places like Paris, Berlin, London, etc. However, when compared to New York, Chicago and San Francisco, europe's transport isn't that much better. Spend a few minutes in the Paris CDG airport and compare that to JFK.. not much difference. In the less famous cities and regions of Europe, public transport consists of possibly a train station and some buses. When I was in Wilstedt, German (near Hamburg) there was a bus, but it was so infrequent that it was useless. In Provence, the big cities have public transport, but if you're in Salon de Provence, there isn't much. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, but the rose-colored view of Europe is often not based in reality, but on an idealized view. La vie en rose to be sure.

The "Better in Europe" meme isn't always true. Ask some of the people actually running businesses in France. Here's an interview with a French CEO that's interesting. http://www.cnbc.com/id/101608867

And then you have this nonsense:

http://www.france24.com/en/20130501-france-minister-montebou...

(A French Minister blocked the sale of Dailymotion to Yahoo.)

I am not an expert on Europe (or anything really,) however I did have to say something about the "Europe is better" implication.


What speed is your residential internet connection and how much do you pay for it each month?


Except in the cases where this wasn't the case.


Japan had stagnant internet for a while in the 90s, while the US was the standard bearer - they also used to have a paucity of competition, and when the government instituted regulations to increase competition, they worked as intended, resulting in having one of the best broadband infrastructures in the world.

Government control can be good when the traditional market fails abysmally.


Thoughts on what effect title II designation would have on innovative ISPs such as Google fiber and webpass?

Would Google still be inclined to invest money in Fiber?


Google is generally capable of thinking long term. The major broadband providers in America are incapable of thinking beyond the next few quarterly statements--otherwise they would not have gotten themselves into this mess.


The fact is that Google is only deploying fiber in cities that give massive regulatory concessions: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/how-kansas-city-t....

It's very legitimate to ask whether Google would invest in fiber were it regulated under Title II, because to date they have expressed the distinct unwillingness to enter municipal markets with heavy telecom regulation. They won't even agree to build-out requirements, which are pretty much standard for cable franchises.


Michael Powell was himself the chairperson of the FCC not so long ago. I don't think there'd be much success waging a war against him.


> WaPo have now updated the title of the article to make it more accurate: "FCC approves plan to consider paid priority on Internet"

That makes it only marginally less of a misrepresentation. The only universe in which this is a change toward allowing/considering paid prioritization is one in which the D.C. Circuit did not strike down the old Open Internet order. Its plain and simply a plan, on the question of paid prioritization, to restrict it, not "allow" or "consider" it, given that it is currently allowed without restrictions.

Any policy change can only be accurately be described in relation to the status quo to which it is a change.


Adding to the confusion, the NYT has an article up right now which seems to report the opposite.

To quote from the NYT article lede: "WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 on Thursday to invite public comment on a set of proposed rules aimed at guaranteeing an open Internet, prohibiting high-speed Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against legal content flowing through their pipes. "

Am I reading this wrong or does that seem to say the opposite of what WaPo is saying?


You are reading it correctly. And the NYT seems to be reporting it correctly. While the text is not published yet anywhere I can see, the FCC fact sheet states that the proposal (direct quotes with only formatting/presentation changes) [1]:

- Proposes to retain the definitions and scope of the 2010 rules, which governed broadband Internet access service providers, but not services like enterprise services, Internet traffic exchange and specialized services.

- Proposes to enhance the existing transparency rule, which was upheld by the D.C. Circuit. The proposed enhancements would provide consumers, edge providers, and the Commission with tailored disclosures, including information on the nature of congestion that impacts consumers’ use of online services and timely notice of new practices.

- As part of the revived "no-blocking" rule, proposes ensuring that all who use the Internet can enjoy robust, fast and dynamic Internet access.

- Tentatively concludes that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise.

- Asks how to devise a rigorous, multi-factor "screen" to analyze whether any conduct hurts consumers, competition, free expression and civic engagement, and other criteria under a legal standard termed "commercial reasonableness."

- Asks a series of detailed questions about what legal authority provides the most effective means of keeping the Internet open: Section 706 or Title II.

- Proposes a multi-faceted process to promptly resolve and head off disputes, including an ombudsperson to act as a watchdog on behalf of consumers and start-ups and small businesses.

http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014...


It's important to note that the FCC is avoiding dealing with the peering issue (so, for example, Netflix's issue) with their current proposal. Wheeler specifically said that they want to delay that part of the net neutrality debate until later. In my view that's a mistake.


I think that the concerns that the stated goals of this effort cannot be met without addressing peering is a concern that should certainly be raised in the comment period (I'm not sure I agree with it, but I'm sure that some of the people raising it have thought about it more than I have and can present an argument that lays out why that is the case so it can be evaluated.)


Nah, not a mistake, Wheeler's leadership has been rock solid!


Can someone please clarify this line: "- Tentatively concludes that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise."

the offered exclusively line is what gets me, if they offer a "fast lane" at a higher price to everyone it isn't an "exclusive" offer and therefore would be allowed?


> if they offer a "fast lane" at a higher price to everyone it isn't an "exclusive" offer and therefore would be allowed?

No, if it isn't an exclusive offer, then it would be tested under the test for which they seek input from the public under the next bullet point (which directly addresses the limits on the FCC's authority established in the D.C. Circuit opinion striking down the last Open Internet order.) The clear intent is to find a way to limit paid prioritization to the extent that is consistent with the limits on the FCC's authority established by the courts (because, if they exceed that authority, then the whole thing gets thrown out, which is why we are back at rulemaking on this issue again right now.)


>Tentatively concludes that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise.

This is still not a good proposition though. They're saying you can't offer improved service to "exclusively" your affiliates, but you can allow anyone with enough money to pay for "improved" (aka normal) service.

Things are very confusing right now but we have not made progress on Net Neutrality yet. Keep contacting the FCC and let them know that this is not good enough.


> They're saying you can't offer improved service to "exclusively" your affiliates, but you can allow anyone with enough money to pay for "improved" (aka normal) service.

No, they aren't. They are saying that you presumptively cannot offer enhanced service exclusively to affiliates, and whether you can or cannot do so under other terms is governed by the screening factors for which they seek input from the public in the next bullet point, where the FCC "asks how to devise a rigorous, multi-factor 'screen' to analyze whether any conduct hurts consumers, competition, free expression and civic engagement, and other criteria under a legal standard termed 'commercial reasonableness.'"

Note that this directly addresses the language of the limitation on the FCCs authority to regulate dictated by the DC Circuit.


awesome, thanks for the thorough clarification; will have to take some time to peruse that doc


This is a bit concerning as a number of non tech people but people that just use facebook, instagram, gmail ect that i have spoken to are confused. It would be nice to see a simplification so that the avg guy in the street can understand the effects of this.


This comment is misleading. Actual Administrative Law practitioner here. The commissioners basically approved Tom Wheeler's plan, and there's no meaningful recourse for the path ahead. Saying that something is "on the table" ignores the realities of promulgating new regulations. Are they going to rewrite the regulations? No way. It's not how the process works. There's no incentive for changing the rules -- because they'd need to have ANOTHER rulemaking after this one for the specific language. That would take YEARS AND YEARS. The only illusorily democratic process left for THIS NPRM is for the FCC to read your comments and respond to them in a detailed, written method. If they fail to implement that process (i.e., to read stuff, write down that they read the stuff, and write sophistry in response), the courts can tell them to go back and read them again and address the comments. But the FCC has the authority to move forward on that, and you can't vote them out of office.


I wonder if this is anything to do with the fact that the Washington post is now owned by Jeff Bezos, who would be at a disadvantage if two-tier broadband increased the cost of things like Amazon Prime video.


Thanks for the link to comments. Its important to let the FCC know what the people think, however I really feel that would take an organized effort to stop this now and I don't mean just tech companies. Turning internet users into a captive audience to be sold can't be good for tech workers in the long run.

I there any grassroots organization which can/is opposing this ? I'd love join and contribute against this effort in an organized fashion.


The full text of the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was just put online here:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-14-61A...

This was just released - I imagine there'll be a surge in articles once journalists have had time to digest the full document.


What gets me is this was a party line vote. So is it good the three voted for this or was it good the other two voted against?

Whose on whose side here?


As has always been the case for quite some time, the 3 Democratic commissioners are in favor of adopting regulations enforcing net neutrality principles (though they often differ with each other and some members of the pro-neutrality community over details of the best way to do so within the constraints of existing law, which the FCC can't change), and the two Republican commissioners think that the FCC should not regulate at all to enforce those principles.

There's more confusion because much of the media coverage is ignoring the fact that the FCC's old order was struck down by the courts as exceeding the FCC's authority, so that the current status quo is that there is no regulation in this area (except the transparency rule from the old order, which the court let stand), so even if the attempt to work within the court order makes the non-discrimination provision of a new order weaker than the old order, it's not a weakening of existing non-discrimination rules, because there are no existing non-discrimination or non-blocking rules.

> Whose on whose side here?

The pro-neutrality side on the FCC is the side that is proposing rules aimed at acheiving neutrality as far as possible under the court-imposed limits and seeking input from the public about how to make those rules most effective. The anti-neutrality side is the side that is opposed to the idea of any kind of rules on this issue.


Well, the Republicans voted against it because they believe that ANY regulation of broadband is unnecessary and beyond the FCC's power anyway.

The Democrats believe that the federal government, acting through the FCC, should regulate broadband.

Both sides seem to accept the idea of an "internet fast-lane," they just disagree about how to get there. None of them are on our side.


>Both sides seem to accept the idea of an "internet fast-lane"

I don't see how you get that from the actual facts here, where the FCC (on a 3-2 party-line vote) first adopted regulations with non-discrimination provisions that were struck down by the D.C. Circuit, and then put together (on the same 3-2 vote) a proposal designed to revive those same provisions to the extent consistent with the limits on the FCCs authority laid out in the decision striking the old order down, and specifically calling for public comment on how best to structure the rules within the limits imposed by the Court to prevent discrimination.

Its clear that one side has no problem with the idea of a "fast lane", but I don't see where you get that for the other side.


Is anyone here opposed to net neutrality? Haven't heard a good argument for this action yet.


I think there is a semantic problem with just throwing out the words "net neutrality," because I see two different sides pulling in two different directions.

I think no one is opposed to ISPs operating in their customer's best interest, specifically delivering internet at advertised speed. I think there's a real need for more ISP competition and less collusion/vertical integration (NBC-Universal-Comcast-Time Warner).

If the ISPs start shoving non-paying sites into a slow lane a class action lawsuit makes sense, not congressional oversight – because congressional oversight generally makes things worse.

If the FCC classifies ISPs as Title II common carriers, that lawsuit might have legs. Also, Comcast is threatening to divest themselves of the ISP business and just be a media company (if ISPs become Title II) – sounds good to me, that way the ISP can compete just on its merits and not on how much money it brings NBC-Universal.

I'd like to avoid getting congress involved, that's all.


People want a fair playing field, but is title II the best way to achieve that? Does anyone know of a more effective solution?


Comcast is threatening to divest themselves of the ISP business and just be a media company

No kidding? I hadn't heard about that.

I wonder if that means they'll be selling off the pipes cheap...


"And he promised a series of measures to ensure the new paid prioritization practices are done fairly and don't harm consumers."

I have a measure in mind that won't harm consumers. Don't allow ISPs to discriminate against users regarding their already paid for internet traffic based on what they request. (Gee that sounds a lot like net neutrality.)

Anything less is open for abuse.

Perhaps "Discrimination" is a good word to tar this with, because it is. It's discrimination against companies, but it's also discrimination against users based on their tastes, preferences, and possibly socioeconomic status.

To say nothing of de-facto censorship issues.


This seems like a valuable approach. If we could come up with examples of services like nonprofits that would be unable to pay and have their services negatively affected I think that could make people care about this issue. Maybe if we focused on things like Khan Academy, where their content is largely video. I think in that case its clear their money would be better spent developing a larger knowledge base instead of paying extortion money to ISPs, and it might strike a chord with average users.


I think if people would get away from this nebulous message that mostly seems to benefit for-profit companies, and focus on issues like ensuring access for non-profits and educational organizations, that there would be a lot more bi-partisan traction. Right now, the optics, for those not invested in the issue, come across as being mostly about Comcast and Netflix bickering over profits.


If you focus the issue on non-profits and edu orgs, all the people trying to get this through will do is write a tiny little exclusion just for that concern (ie no slow lanes for non-profits). That's what they do every time there's a narrow concern raised against terrible legislation.

It'll backfire big time, and waste valuable time.


First, you have the posture wrong. If there's no "terrible legislation" then Comcast and TWC can do whatever they want. What you're asking for is "terrible legislation" to keep them from doing whatever they want.

Second, at least to me, the non-profits and .edu orgs are the ones that implicate the most substantial public interest concerns. I don't really care about Netflix's profit margin.


After thinking on this further, here are some thoughts on wording and campaign approach.

This isn't about business, although we know the big ISPs behave badly as businesses (list various examples, monopoly issues) This isn't about who is paying and how much, although we know there are problems with this too (list examples, compare to rest of the world) This isn't even about 'fast lane' vs 'slow lane', although we know that this will be the results (list historical examples, monopilies) This is a direct attack on your personal freedoms. It is censorship and discrimination.

This bill makes Comcast and other ISPs your personal internet censor. They will be able to decide who has how much access to you. Although they may not choose to make it 'exactly' zero access, it may be too close to matter. Partial censorship, or not-as-fast access is still censorship. (Examples from history about drowning out voices and controlling the message).

This bill allows Comcast to discriminate against it's users.

Not only can Comcast (and other ISPs) control how fast you access the internet (which they can already do), this allows them to discriminate against you, based on what information you choose to request. Can't afford services that pay off Comcast or that Comcast doesn't like? You are less of a person, less deserving of the service you already paid for.

This also allow subtle and insidious racial or religious discrimination. Do you watch 'televangelists' live online? Comcast or other ISPs could decide a different denomination gets a nice stream, while your church gets the 'separate but not equal' choppy, laggy, broken stream. Do you decide to use services that operate in other countries to talk with family in other nations? Comcast could decide they aren't as good as their favorite service that costs more. Even more critically, that service that they like may not even be allowed by law in the country you are trying to talk to. Live video and voice chat can be hard to hear and understand under good circumstances, if Comcast never fixes problems unless companies 'pay up', then they can decide if you can really see your family using the tools available to them.

The free market cannot address this problem. Comcast and other ISPs have made this a controlled non-free market. Fair competition isn't possible in this space, because of their monopoly/duopoly control, and difficult regulations that they helped write and suit only their business models.

All netizens are equal. "Whoever can pay" isn't equal. "Whoever we choose" certainly isn't equal. Don't let Comcast make some "more equal" than others.

Overall, I think slowing down a webpage may be the wrong message. Straight up better or worse is the better message. Maybe a "congratulations, your ISP has decided you are worthy of accessing this page. Find out why your ISP thinks it has this right, and why your rights are being signed away." would be more effective. Or even a big splash with "Comcast has approved this website for viewing.", which may be REALLY effective if IP block based, to be the actual ISP.


CDNs are essentially identical (technologically and economically) to what Netflix bought from Comcast: http://clipperhouse.com/2014/05/07/what-netflix-bought-from-...

To my mind, I can’t imagine a rule that describes a fast lane that doesn’t also describe a CDN.


CDNs increase the overall capacity of the network by caching content closer to its destination. This benefits everyone, even the traffic that is not cached by the CDN because it reduces congestion for everyone. The behavior we are worried about is zero sum (where some packets get prioritized and others lose out), or even negative sum (where some packets get held for ransom.)


That’s true, and it’s also true when Netflix buys a dedicated circuit to Comcast. Their traffic is no longer going over the other circuits.

Not saying it’s the right thing to do, but that it’s functionally the same.

It’s also functionally the same to say that any traffic not on the CDN is in a slow lane or being held ransom, in the sense that it will be congested until the publisher pays.


> It’s also functionally the same to say that any traffic not on the CDN is in a slow lane or being held ransom

You're confusing routes with endpoints. CDNs are endpoints--multiple endpoints containing the same data so that there is a much higher probability of having an endpoint close to any given user. The owner of the data has to do all the work of getting multiple copies of the data placed at all those endpoints, making sure they're all in sync, etc. But the data traveling from endpoint to endpoint--from the nearest CDN node to the user--is not privileged over any other data.

What the net neutrality debate is about is the ISPs wanting to control routes--i.e., to be able to say that some data traveling over a given route from one endpoint to another endpoint gets to travel faster than other data traveling over the same route. CDNs don't do that.

What Netflix bought from Comcast is sort of in between. It's like a CDN in that Netflix still has to do the work of placing multiple copies of their content at different endpoints in different locations; but it's also like the ISP route control scheme in that Netflix' data gets a privileged route from their endpoints to Comcast users, a route that non-Netflix data from endpoints that are similarly situated does not get, because non-Netflix data can't travel through the special connection points that Netflix now has with Comcast. Normal CDNs don't do that either.


A CDN is a route, is my contention. Its value is being closer to the user.

CDNs are a good thing. But they are networks like any other, the difference being that the nodes are smart enough for to re-request data they already have. CDN nodes should be understood as caching routers.

Being closer to the user – the CDN’s value – rests in having a better position vis-à-vis the last-mile network. A better position vis-à-vis the last-mile network is what Netflix bought.


> A CDN is a route, is my contention. Its value is being closer to the user.

Being an endpoint that is closer to the user is not the same as being a route between that endpoint (or any other endpoint) and the user.

> CDN nodes should be understood as caching routers.

In some respects, yes. But in other important respects, no. For example, CDN nodes do not route traffic that does not have that node as either a source or a destination. The fact that the content at that node ultimately comes from another source does not change that; it simply means that some of the traffic to and from the CDN node is to and from the ultimate source of the content. It's still not at all the same as routing traffic to and from arbitrary endpoints.

> Being closer to the user – the CDN’s value – rests in having a better position vis-à-vis the last-mile network. A better position vis-à-vis the last-mile network is what Netflix bought.

You're conflating two different ways of taking a "position" in the network. A CDN takes advantage of the existing network and the existing routes to place copies of content closer to users. It can only use the existing "positions" in the network, not create new ones.

The Netflix deal created a new privileged route that didn't exist before, for Netflix content going to Comcast users only. So the "position" Netflix traffic is now in with respect to Comcast users didn't even exist before the deal.


A new CDN node is a new privileged route. An existing CDN node is not a new privileged route.

> CDN nodes do not route traffic that does not have that node as either a source or a destination.

Correct. That is true of any router.

Netflix did buy a new route, replacing the one they were previously buying from Cogent.


> A new CDN node is a new privileged route.

How? Adding any new node to the Internet does create new routes to and from that node, but that doesn't give those routes any privileges over other routes.

> Netflix did buy a new route, replacing the one they were previously buying from Cogent.

And the difference between the new one and the old one is that the new one only carries Netflix traffic, and only goes to Comcast customers. That is what makes it privileged, and what CDNs in general, including the CDN Netflix was previously using to distribute its traffic to Cogent, do not do.


A CDN only carries traffic for those who’ve paid to be on it. That’s privileged, and not neutral.

If the CDN is on Comcast’s premises, or primarily feeds a single last-mile network (which would de facto be true on a local level), then same.


> A CDN only carries traffic for those who’ve paid to be on it.

A CDN doesn't carry traffic at all; it hosts content (multiple copies of it in different locations) for others to carry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_delivery_network

CDNs operate servers, not routers. The servers can be located in data centers with easy connections to ISPs and transit providers, but their traffic still doesn't get privileged over other traffic coming in to the networks of those ISPs and transit providers. There are no separate routes that CDN traffic takes to a user's computer, that other traffic from sources in the same data center, or going through routers in the same data center, can't take.


I think you're focusing too much on the technical implementation. I agree with the parent that a CDN effectively carries traffic from a content provider to the end user. Sure it does it in bigger chunks, and uses existing network connections. But the end result is still "pay more for faster access", and isn't that exactly what net neutrality is against?


> I think you're focusing too much on the technical implementation

I'm focusing on the functionality that's being implemented, which is what the poster I was responding to said was important. Having privileged routes is different functionality from having multiple hosts that all have copies of the same data.

> a CDN effectively carries traffic from a content provider to the end user.

But so does a non-CDN. So does any route on the Internet. The only difference with a CDN is that the content provider has paid for more servers to host multiple copies of the data. But the money is for those multiple copies, not for giving any specific copy a privileged route to certain users. As above, that's a functional difference.

Here's another way of seeing the functional difference. Say I use two online services, A and B. A is served using a global CDN. B is served using a privileged network with my current ISP. Now I change ISPs to one that service B isn't paying for privileged access to. I see no difference in performance with service A, but a big difference in performance with service B. So service A using a CDN doesn't lock me in to a specific ISP; but service B paying for privileged routes does.

> the end result is still "pay more for faster access"

No, it's "pay more for multiple copies of your data". It's not "pay more to have your data go over a quicker route from the same place".

> isn't that exactly what net neutrality is against?

No, net neutrality is not against "pay more for faster access", like service A above. It's against "pay more for privileged access to an ISP's users", like service B above.


No, as far as I can tell the incentives in the two scenarios are very different.

The transparence on what is being payed for and why some sites are fast and some are slow is not the same for Comcast's subscribes in the two scenarios either.


Not quite, this blog post from Netflix highlights a couple key differences in their case: http://blog.netflix.com/2014/04/the-case-against-isp-tolls.h...

> Transit networks like Level3, XO, Cogent and Tata perform two important services: (1) they carry traffic over long distances and (2) they provide access to every network on the global Internet. When Netflix connects directly to the Comcast network, Comcast is not providing either of the services typically provided by transit networks.


The bright and shining difference is that a CDN does not have a contract with the end user, and consequently doesn't connect directly to them. When we talk about a "fast lane" (or more accurately a "slow lane"), what we essentially mean is an ISP holding access to its users hostage. This is the opposite of how a CDN works, because those are paid by the provider to speed up access to its data, rather than being paid by the consumer for access to the provider's data.

Basically, what is proposed here is preventing an ISP (which is already a recognizable category) from starting a CDN business — a very bad one, since it only delivers content to itself — and artificially slowing down non-CDN traffic that has already been paid for on the other end in order to prop up its CDN business.


The difference to me is that CDNs increase the availability of content to everyone. If CDNs did not exist, the content would still be available.

Comcast is talking about "not decreasing" the availability of content. Some businesses can afford to pay to use already-paid-for infrastructure. Others are out of luck, and their content is not fully accessible. If Comcast did not exist, current users would not be able to request content, but the market could provide a solution in an alternate ISP. With Comcast the market cannot provide a solution, because it is actively being suppressed by Comcast.


There isn't really a difference between "increasing" and "not decreasing". Some of these debates have been about ISPs not investing in infrastructure when they otherwise might have.

The market can still provide a solution with the Comcast payments. That would be customers wanting fast everything don't use Comcast. If there's no competition for those customers then that's the real problem - a monopoly - not what tricks the monopoly uses to take advantage of people.


Something is going on here, such that the market isn't working. Otherwise, Comcast et al would be buying CDNs and vertically integrating to increase profits. But with our current system, it's more cost effective to lobby your way into bigger profits.


> I have a measure in mind that won't harm consumers. Don't allow ISPs to discriminate against users regarding their already paid for internet traffic based on what they request. (Gee that sounds a lot like net neutrality.)

So you'd ban the large number of existing in-ISP CDNs and CDN/ISP partnerships, as well? (e.g. YouTube or Akamai mirroring content to servers directly on an ISP's network, to improve bandwidth and latency for that ISP's customers?)

Or, for that matter, you'd stop an ISP from offering a Debian mirror?


Well those are non sequiturs. Data sitting on a CDN is not "traffic", until it is actually traffic. CDNs function not by prioritizing traffic, but by reducing traffic.


> discrimination against users based on their tastes, preferences, and possibly socioeconomic status.

This is the line I repeat when discussing the issue with folks who are just learning about the issue.

[edit format]


Why is the default QoS of residential broadband suddenly deemed sacred?

FWIW: I'd prefer guaranteed super-fast DNS and guaranteed low latency, but I don't care too much whether content from Disney happens to download 10x faster than content from Youtube.


it's also discrimination against users based on ... socioeconomic status.

That's a pretty shakey one. Are people who can't afford Porsches being discriminated against based on their socioeconomic status?


This is more like conditionally charging people more to drive on the roads that already exist, based on destination, rather than vehicle.

And it's pretty easy to see where that could lead to discrimination.


I'm not arguing it wouldn't/couldn't lead to discrimination. I just don't see how it's inherently classist.

The argument seemed to imply something like "charging people money for different qualities of service is classist, because poor people have less money".


This is exactly how toll roads work. You get on, and then pay when you get off based on how many miles travelled.

So, if you were starting in New York City, it would cost a lot more to travel to Buffalo than it would to White Plains.


Except none of the provisions for paid-prioritization mentions, let alone mandates, new roads. If this were about new toll roads, these already exist and are paid-peering arrangements, CDNs, etc. [1]

These new rules are explicitly about 'traffic shaping', by price, by destination, existing traffic along existing routes.

So this is less like using toll roads to cross New York State and more like selectively saying "everyone in New York State that's driving to a Starbucks needs to travel 10/mph slower -- however they're getting there -- or kick in $2/mo to drive the old speed limit."

[1] Microsoft pays Comcast gobs of money to ensure a performant network connection for XBox Live. This is quite different from Comcast being able to say "Sony isn't also paying us money for better service. Let's slow them down -- to protect the network -- until they pay up."


Let's say that roads out of residential areas are owned by some company named R, and the residents pay R a fee to get access to the main arteries.

Some roads are used more by people of some cultures than others, sometimes roads get congested when lots of people in one neighborhood are all trying to get to the same place at the same time.

Would it be discriminatory for R to spend more on upgrades to the roads to some locations than at other locations? What if all the roads that were best to get to Chinatown were completely neglected?


Don't allow ISPs to discriminate against users regarding their already paid for internet traffic based on what they request.

It's (relatively) cheap for Netflix or their CDN partners to connect their content-serving systems to a few dozen "meet me" rooms where it's "easy" for Comcast to hook as many wires up as necessary to receive the requested data into their network at an acceptable rate. That's all Netflix or their CDNs need to worry about. And so it's (relatively) cheap for them to scale the amount of data they serve as their customer base, average viewing time and stream quality grow.

But Comcast has to deliver all this data to tens of millions of customers spread out around the nation. While it would be nice if their networks were sufficiently provisioned to serve, say, half their customers 20Mbit/sec continuously during primetime, that is just not the network they have today. It will always be cheaper for Netflix to turn up the spigot than for Comcast to build out its infrastructure. Should "network neutrality" force Comcast to spend billions every time Netflix doubles its streaming rate?


Your comment is indicative of why this discussion is so difficult to have and why it's even tougher for the general public to understand or even care.

The way this has always works, and is not changing based on anything 'network neutrality' related, is that generally the sending network (Netflix) pays the receiving network (Comcast) based on something like the 95th percentile of their sending rate. It maybe not be linear, but if Netflix starts sending 2x traffic, they will pay something like 1.8x-2x. That's not changing, and nobody is disputing this.

What we're talking about here is that Comcast could take a user's 20Mbps connection and decide that even though it's fully provisioned in the last mile for 20Mbps, and they have plenty of pipe to get the Netflix data to the Comcast side of the last mile, that Comcast can just decide that Netflix will only get 5Mbps of that 20Mbps, that is unless Netflix pays the ransom money to Comcast to change that arbitrary limit.


> What we're talking about here is that Comcast could take a user's 20Mbps connection and decide that even though it's fully provisioned in the last mile for 20Mbps, and they have plenty of pipe to get the Netflix data to the Comcast side of the last mile, that Comcast can just decide that Netflix will only get 5Mbps of that 20Mbps, that is unless Netflix pays the ransom money to Comcast to change that arbitrary limit.

On the other hand, that's not what happened in the recent Comcast/Netflix dispute, so spinning it that way does not make a good case for net neutrality.


It maybe not be linear, but if Netflix starts sending 2x traffic, they will pay something like 1.8x-2x. That's not changing, and nobody is disputing this.

Are you arguing that Netflix's costs to scale traffic into Comcast are commensurate with Comcast's costs to scale the delivery of that traffic to consumers? I don't think that's true. Didn't Level 3 just blog[1] that they largely operate on a settlement-free basis? Prior to their deal with Comcast, Netflix may have been paying Level 3, and Level 3 may have been paying Comcast, but neither could have been paying the order-of-billions Comcast would need to spend to support, say, doubled Netflix primetime traffic.

[1] http://blog.level3.com/global-connectivity/observations-inte...


Well, there's no gold standard for how any of the contracts are setup, but if I had to guess, it's because you're talking about Level 3 <-> Comcast. The profile of Netflix is far different from Level 3. Generally the fee is based on the net (as in net total, not net internet) traffic.

If Level 3 sends 100Mbps to Comcast, and Comcast sends 100Mbps back to Level 3, or at least approximately even most of the time, they very well may have a settlement free agreement. This is believable because Level 3 is a transit provider, as in if you send them traffic bound to anywhere on the internet, they'll get it there, so the amount of traffic that Level 3 receives from everybody to get to Comcast could be roughly equal to the amount of traffic Comcast wants/needs to route through Level 3 to the rest of the internet.

In the Netflix<->Comcast case, it's not a transit peering. Netflix can only send traffic over that link that is destined for Comcast customers. These peering arrangements are generally drastically cheaper per Mbps than the transit peering. The difference here though is that the only think Comcast sends to Netflix is HTTP request for the most part, and then Netflix sends a video stream back, so there's a HUGE imbalance in the traffic going each direction.

All that said, what Netflix pays to Comcast may scale with Comcast's costs, but there's no direct relationship. To simplify it a bit, Netflix is paying to get traffic to the Comcast central brain. Customers are paying Comcast to get a pipe laid connecting them to the central brain. The two costs are not very directly related.


"Comcast has to deliver all this data to tens of millions of customers spread out around the nation."

Yes, this is a definition of an ISP. The ISP transmits requests from users to the internet, and the requested data back to the users. This is the product that Comcast already provides and charges their users for.

The users ask for internet content, the ISP (Comcast) is responsible for delivering it. If the users are clamoring for more content, taking more bandwidth, so be it. Comcast charges end users more money for more bandwidth already, through different pricing Tiers. If their infrastructure isn't big enough to keep up with customers demands then either they aren't meeting their existing contractual obligations with their customers, or they are falling behind technology wise. They have the money to keep up. They tend not to invest enough in their infrastructure, but that is a business issue. If Comcast is unhappy that users are using the service they paid for, they may need to restructure their offering to users, for example paying for bandwidth as a 'per amount transferred'. The critical point here is that it is a relationship only between the ISP (Comcast) and the end user, and the content providers aren't involved.

It is incredibly dangerous to confuse their relationship with their users with outside entities.

Net neutrality doesn't mean Comcast has to handle double the traffic from Netflix. Net neutrality means that Comcast has to handle the traffic from Netflix in the same way it handles it from other places. It could be slow, choppy, and a bad experience. They could choose to invest in a better network or not. They can charge users for more bandwidth, or other related infrastructure services.

What they cannot be allowed to do is discriminate against users and outside companies.


> The critical point here is that it is a relationship only between the ISP (Comcast) and the end user, and the content providers aren't involved.

Isn't comcast also a content provider? They provide cable TV services and own a TV network and a film studio.


Basically the answer to this is yes. If Comcast spends all of this money to upgrade their network and the cost to the end user goes up for the better service, then there are really no problems here. That's basically how a market should work. That plan would actually encourage them to upgrade their networks over time and install things like fiber to meet the new demands of customers, instead of providing poor service like they do now.


Exactly, customers in the market can then make cost/value choices for products that directly relate to how that individual ISP is managing costs.

With fast lane proposals, additional cost gets pushed back to successful websites. So for example, when Netflix pays a toll to Comcast, that additional cost is distributed among all the users of Netflix even if they're not doing business with Comcast. How does this work to support a market where consumer choice rewards efficient ISPs? It basically makes the market for network connections look more like the healthcare market where a fundamental problem in it's efficiency is how endpoint costs are highly disconnected from how efficient individual players in the market are operating.


The part that makes this different from healthcare options, is that there are usually no or few options. I know where I live I have the choice of timewarner or fios. That's it. If they decide they are slowing down the sites I use, I'm SOL.

I see a future where we are given a list of "premium" supported sites before making ISP decisions. I wonder if well end up with another dimension of price tier where one dimension is speed of service and the other is what major sites support it.


It's actually not so expensive relative to the profit that these companies have been making. But they have a monopoly - so there's almost no incentive for them to upgrade their networks.


The problem is that a network that can stream 20Mbit continuously to every customer (so they always can get the "advertised" bandwidth) would be absurdly expensive, and rates would have to go up accordingly. Why should someone who doesn't consume Netflix pay for this? Why should Comcast be afraid to sell you a 100MBit "bursty" connection (essentially the same kind of service they actually advertise now) because they'd be 'forced' to potentially have the capacity to serve 100MBit to every subscriber when Netflix goes to 8K-h.269 or what-have-you?


The problem is that a network that can stream 20Mbit continuously to every customer (so they always can get the "advertised" bandwidth) would be absurdly expensive, and rates would have to go up accordingly

Then maybe they should advertise a different bandwidth?


No doubt. A local company in town recommends customers sign up with some absurd number like 5mpbs per every device connected on a local network. In reality the majority of customers can use the lowest possible plan (in this case 5mpbs) and have trouble free browsing and streaming.

The reality is these ISPs make money by overselling services to customers and not having to deliver on it. And now they're tacking on fees on the backend as well? Absurd.


You're not going to have a good time trying to run multiple concurrent Netflix streams on a 5Mbps connection. That's only enough for a single HD stream, assuming you even get all the bandwidth you're promised.


I'm not sure that the real problem is advertisement consistency. If your only choice is Comcast, and they deliver poor speeds (due to a combination of favoritism and not upgrading) then it's little consolation that you get the advertised low speed.


This is sort of like car advertisements, that always touts "350hp V8" or whatever, even though in the vast majority of real-life usage you can use that power for at most a second or two at some freeway onramp or in a passing lane.

Saying that the connection is technically capable of 20Mbit/s is different from guaranteeing 20Mbit/s in any possible usage situation. The problem with my analogy is that people generally have an idea that you can't go faster than maybe 80mph regardless of what car you have, but there is no way to know if the "up to 20Mbit/s" connection means actual usage will show 15, 5, or 1... So yeah, they should somehow be required to tell you, at least at signup, what the typical throughput on your connection will be.


So you're ok with buying a 350hp v8 that can only really ever do 50hp? Except on toll roads you have to pay for again that you may use 'up to' 350hp, but you're still not guaranteed that.

The FCC isn't talking about speed that's a red herring. It's about access. What if the FCC say "Fine consumers must have a minimum of 1gbps" you're like "Huzar" and the FCC say "And anyone who pays a huge amount of money get a minimum of 100gps." ..hold the phone


But this is just a problem with awareness. With the rise of Tesla cars, there has been an increase of public awareness of low speed torque. As more people have become aware of solar, more people have become aware of base-load generation. If ISPs started advertising "guaranteed bandwidth" customers would definitely pay attention, especially with the crappy product they've been getting thus far.


What difference does it make what they advertise? The existing advertising doesn't guarantee streaming 20Mbit from any host on the internet 24/7. If their advertising were scrupulously accurate, but they delivered the same service, why should you be happier?


twoodin: >The problem is that a network that can stream 20Mbit continuously to every customer (so they always can get the "advertised" bandwidth) would be absurdly expensive, and rates would have to go up accordingly.

dec0dedab0de: >Then maybe they should advertise a different bandwidth?

twoodin: >What difference does it make what they advertise?

If Comcast is having a hard time delivering on what they advertise, as dec0dedab0de said, they should perhaps advertise differently. Offering different plans other then trying to sell a bandwidth that they can not deliver on with it being, as you say, "absurdly expensive."


There was a reason I put "advertised" in scare quotes: Comcast has always advertised that rate as a "peak rate", not something you can get continuously to every host on the internet. Peak rate matters to a lot of people who are using it for things (for example, browsing a multi-MB rich web page) other than streaming, where a consistent rate is more important.


> Why should Comcast be afraid to sell you a 100MBit "bursty" connection (essentially the same kind of service they actually advertise now) because they'd be 'forced' to potentially have the capacity to serve 100MBit to every subscriber when Netflix goes to 8K-h.269 or what-have-you?

Who would be "forcing" them to do this? In a sane world they'd already be selling these two types of services as two types of service--you either choose the "bursty" option or you choose the (more expensive) "streaming" option. Then they would know how to provision for each type of user, and they could price each option based on the capabilities of their infrastructure.

Of course, what would happen then, if you are correct, is that the absurdly high price of the "streaming" option would drive their customers to alternative providers wherever possible--or they would be forced to actually spend that extra money on infrastructure. So basically they are trying to obfuscate the issue because actually serving their customers' needs is way too much like work.


> The problem is that a network that can stream 20Mbit continuously to every customer would be absurdly expensive

Will it really? Because every time someone talks about ISP costs, they remark that what's expensive is the last mile. That's the entire reason ISPs claim to be so much more expensive than enterprize providers, so they need higher prices.

Now they claim that the backbone is the expensive part?


So, charge consumers for what they use. Why does this seem to rarely come up?

The problem with the networks comcast and others currently maintain is they are saturated. And I'm not getting what I pay for as a result. They need a new pricing structure that properly values their product (bandwidth) and charges me for it.

Can anyone explain why the ISPs don't go down this road?


Because they can make more money selling pretty lies than ugly truths.

Of course, that's true for a lot of products, but the US ISP market in particular is problematic because there's little or no competition. And the big ISPs like Comcast spend a lot of money buying political support, so there's little effective regulation.


You're asking why Comcast should be responsible for meeting the expectations they're creating? When your advertising solely conveys "always fast Internet" and "up to 100Mb/s speeds", what exactly do you think people will take away from it.

If Comcast doesn't want to or can't provide these speeds for general use, they shouldn't advertise these speeds for general use. Can you explain the problem with that logic?


Comcast's network is designed to deliver a certain amount of data per customer.

It can hit this number when the data is coming from distributed sources.

It should be able to hit this same number even if all the data was coming from 60 interlinks to netflix.

It's not about how fast the netflix access is in absolute terms, it's about whether it's throttled compared to other things.

Comcast is not obligated to speed up their entire network when their customers request more data from a provider, but they should be obligated to peer.


Any argument that talks about the burden of Comcast having to upgrade their intermediate networks inevitably ignores that this is precisely what customers are paying Comcast for, which makes trapped customers rightfully upset.

The phenomenon you describe is best analyzed as the assumptions behind the oversell ratio needing to change - customers' usage is becoming more correlated in time, and they have found a type of service that will expand to use all available bandwidth until each user has >500Mbit.

The appropriate thing to do is to either lower the advertised/supplied bandwidth rates, or to institute metered billing. The first one is a market non-starter as customers shop by large numbers (hence why cable got so popular over DSL). And people are rightfully worried about the second because there's very little competition in this market, and instances of such have appeared to take a punishment-based screw-the-customer approach rather than a selling-more-product-to-customer one.

I think the only legislative solution is to create competition in the consumer ISP space by making last-mile delivery a regulated wholesale utility with many transit providers competing for service.


> But Comcast has to deliver all this data to tens of millions of customers spread out around the nation. While it would be nice if their networks were sufficiently provisioned to serve, say, half their customers 20Mbit/sec continuously during primetime, that is just not the network they have today. It will always be cheaper for Netflix to turn up the spigot than for Comcast to build out its infrastructure. Should "network neutrality" force Comcast to spend billions every time Netflix doubles its streaming rate?

That has nothing to do with intentionally throttling netflix traffic. Network neutrality has never forced Comcast to upgrade its infrastructure, so I'm not sure why that is even a question in your mind. We've had net neutrality for 20 years. Why would it all of a sudden force them to spend billions?


Then ISPs should stop claiming speeds they can't deliver.


> Should "network neutrality" force Comcast to spend billions every time Netflix doubles its streaming rate?

It wouldn't force an ISP take any action. Each ISP would only be forced to decide how much bandwidth to offer each consumer, and at what price point. If a particular ISP did not feel it wise to upgrade its infrastructure simply because Netflix increased its streaming rate, that ISP would be free not to make the investment.

So how do you deal with network congestion in that scenario? ISPs can continue to offer different pricing plans with different download rates. They can be transparent about the real download speeds for each plan. Perhaps they can even offer a speed estimator tool where the user picks a geographic endpoint and a time of day.

That solves part of the problem of congestion, in that consumer are (roughly) paying for the bandwidth they use. (Theoretically, the users' fees would be scaled to account for the cost of infrastructure upgrades.) But I'd still like to be able to quickly download, say, an API reference page from rubydoc.org without having my connection starved by torrents and video streaming. To that end, perhaps ISPs could grant each consumer a certain GB/month quota of "guaranteed max speed." I.e. until you exceed your quota of X GB per month, your traffic never falls below Y MB/sec, regardless of current network congestion. If you wanted to get really slick, you could even let customers opt certain traffic types out of that program. So I could say, for example, "use my max speed quota for regular HTTP, SSL, etc. usage, but never use it for video."

Ideally, each consumer would have several ISPs to choose from. In that case, the market could discover the optimal plan selections.


This is a false choice, born of deception. Comcast's allocations are not zero sum between upgrading and user fees. They're taking record profits every quarter, and customer fees are higher than they've ever been. They are choosing to shoulder the costs of network infrastructure on everyone except their investors.


> Should "network neutrality" force Comcast to spend billions every time Netflix doubles its streaming rate?

This is based on a misunderstanding of what network neutrality means. The question isn't whether Comcast invests in their network but whether they can charge different rates based on the kind of traffic rather than the total volume.

If Comcast wants to skimp on network infrastructure, no problem.

If Comcast wants to charge their customers more for a high speed or uncapped plan, no problem.

If Comcast wants to charge their customers more to watch Netflix than Google Play, problem.


Comcast and other ISPs can charge their subscribers more.

Then they can build out their infrastructure with the new revenue.


I don't get this whole net neautrality discussion that is going on in US (and maybe somewhere else, just haven't paid attention).

Consumers pay based on speed of their connection. If ISP feels like the consumers are not paying enough, raise the prices.

Service providers (not ISPs, but the ones who run servers that consumers connect to) pay based on speed of their connection. If the ISP feels like service providers are not paying enough, raise the prices.

Why in the earth there is a need for slow/fast lanes and data caps?

I'm four years old. So please keep that in mind when explaing this to me. :)


> Why in the earth there is a need for slow/fast lanes

Because once the middleman has established himself as a monopoly and everybody has to go through him with no alternative, he can make bank by having everybody pay more.

> and data caps?

Lets the ISP oversubscribe even more and extract even more money out of the system without providing any additional value whatsoever.


Comcast: Video streaming services must pay 40x the base cost, or suffer from a data cap.

Amazon: OK, we'll sign a 4 year contract for 30x the base cost.

Comcast: Great

Year 5 comes around, Amazon wants a discount. Comcast refuses. Comcast then blocks all Amazon IP Address traffic until they reach a deal.

Comcast: Customers, you cannot access Amazon video on our service, but here's a $5 coupon to our own video on demand service


"After weeks of public outcry over the proposal, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency would not allow for unfair, or "commercially unreasonable," business practices. He wouldn't accept, for instance, practices that leave a consumer with slower downloads of some Web sites than what the consumer paid for from their Internet service provider."

From what I understand, your example would not be permissable. I know there are downsides to this, but a lot of the negative sentiment I see about this seems like an exaggeration which may not work in our favor.


Comcast has regularly ignored rules set by the FCC in favor of long court battles (that they eventually won). In the mean time, consumers have to deal with it.


If the worry is that Comcast won't follow the FCC rules, then why bother with anything?


By placing what they want to do so far out of the realm of legality that the court battle never happens.

This entire scenario simply couldn't happen if internet were a Title 2 service.


Just out of curiosity, what authority does FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler cite for his ability to do this, given the history of the FCC getting railed in court?

How do we know this is not just FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to give Comcast exactly what it wants?

"Oh well, we tried to block this deal, but that darn court stopped us!"


You need to think like an evil cable monopoly. It's a great thing because then they can charge consumers for their broadband service and charge content companies as well. A whole new source of revenue. And they can keep on jacking up the prices whenever they want, because they've got the customers of the content company hostage and can ransom them for nearly any level that would still let the content company turn a small profit.


ISPs would like to charge a fee from services that produce a huge amount of traffic, to carry that traffic to their consumers with a higher priority rather than mixing it in with all the other content. (Some people worry that ISPs would throttle high-bandwidth content lower than other content to force the services to pay to avoid degredation.)

Note that large ISPs have done this for years, via in-ISP CDNs: if you have enough content, it makes sense to have copies of it to serve up directly from the ISP's network.

The primary concern I've seen raised by network neutrality advocates: because many people have very few available high-speed ISP choices (one cable provider and sometimes one fiber provider, since most people can't get competitive DSL), it may not work to just say "pick another ISP if you don't like what yours does". (That assumes enough ISP customers care enough to switch ISPs over this issue.)


> Why in the earth there is a need for slow/fast lanes and data caps?

Well, supporters of net neutrality say there is not a need, and that this is just ISPs being greedy.

My pet theory on why they've have been able to argue their case effectively: internet traffic (or at least some notion of "website popularity") follows a distribution with a long tail, meaning a small number of sites will always be responsible for a large % of traffic; this makes it easy and attractive for ISPs to target a few players for "protection", because it's easy for them to make the fallacious claim "hey, look Netflix is taking up X% of our bandwidth; that's not fair!" when this doesn't have much to do with Netflix per se, and when that scenario is actually much cheaper (because of caching, etc) to handle than a hypothetical one in which the same traffic is distributed more evenly.


Because in this way they will be able to price discriminate more. Running a high bandwidth low profit margin site? Ok, carry on. Running a low bandwidth high profit margin site? Shame if anything were to happen to your latency... All I want is 20% of your profit.

Could also be used to make backroom deals where you "slowban" political undesirables.


> Why in the earth there is a need for slow/fast lanes and data caps?

It's just an alternate way of pricing the service. You could ask similar questions about a lot of industries:

- Why does Github charge the way it does and not just price the service per megabyte of data stored or per commit, etc?

- Why do fast food restaurants offer free soft drink refills for $0.99 but not offer a single fill for $0.50?

- Why do residential bandwidth providers not offer a service with guaranteed gamer-quality low latency?

- Why do restaurants not offer a discount for customers who decline the free bread and water?


- Why does the water supplied to my home come in clear and polluted varieties?

- Why does the electricity supplied to my office come in normal power and brown power versions?

Oh, wait.


Those examples are funny, because, e.g. our water infrastructure is the subject of underinvestment to the tune of $55 billion a year: http://geospatial.blogs.com/geospatial/2011/12/asce-report-o...

When you make an industry a public utility, and eliminate market-rate profit incentives, you get underinvestment, which is exactly what we see in water, power, etc: http://www.asce.org/failuretoact.

You can talk all you want about making internet service into "dumb pipes" but you can't make investors and shareholders pour billions of dollars a year into the "dumb pipe" business. They'll just dump their regulated business lines and shift the money to something more profitable, like Goldman is encouraging Verizon to do: http://stopthecap.com/2012/01/09/wall-street-encourages-veri....


Investors and shareholders are not in favor of pouring billions of dollars a year into infrastructure either. That's why we're seeing this rent seeking behavior, and one reason why we have slower speeds than other modern nations.

Yes, I am in favor of municipal fiber-to-the-home solutions paid for with public dollars given the critical importance of these "dumb pipes".


> Investors and shareholders are not in favor of pouring billions of dollars a year into infrastructure either.

Comcast spent $5.4 billion on capital expenditures in 2013: http://www.cmcsa.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=821438. TWC spent $3.2 billion: http://ir.timewarnercable.com/investor-relations/investor-ne....

Verizon and AT&T regularly top the list of companies with the highest U.S. capital expenditures, and Comcast and TWC are usually in the top 25: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-25-companies-investing-mo....

> That's why we're seeing this rent seeking behavior, and one reason why we have slower speeds than other modern nations.

Like? We compare quite favorably to countries like Canada and Australia, which have similar problems as we do with lack of density. According to Akamai's testing, we're in the top 10 worldwide for measured average connection speeds: http://www.akamai.com/dl/akamai/akamai-soti-q413.pdf?WT.mc_i... (page 19, Figure 20). Ookla's NetIndex puts us ahead of Canada and Australia, and only slightly behind the UK and Germany: http://www.netindex.com. Our Northeastern states, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which have density comparable to continental Europe, have average connection speeds comparable to France, the EU standout.

> Yes, I am in favor of municipal fiber-to-the-home solutions paid for with public dollars given the critical importance of these "dumb pipes".

You don't, because when public dollars are involved, you get "lowest common denominator" levels of investment. Comcast's average user uses 2-5 GB/month. If telecom infrastructure was provisioned according to these people voting, do you think the resulting level of investment would be at a level that would make the folks on HN happy?


> Comcast spent...

Absolute dollars isn't as interesting as a trend. According to the National Cable Telecommunications Association, expenditure on broadband infrastructure has declined over the past 5 years. http://www.vox.com/2014/5/12/5711082/big-cable-says-broadban...

> We compare quite favorably to countries like Canada and Australia.

According to a 2013 report by Ookla, US ranks 31st in download speeds. http://venturebeat.com/2013/11/26/america-falls-a-dismal-31s...

> You don't, because when public dollars are involved, you get "lowest common denominator" levels of investment.

That must explain why Comcast and other monopoly providers fight municipalities tooth and nail against local broadband projects. I respect your opinion, but I disagree that communication infrastructure is not a public good.


> We compare quite favorably to countries like Canada and Australia.

According to a 2013 report by Ookla, US ranks 31st in download speeds.

You know you didn't disagree with him at all, right? Your source shows the US beating out Canada comfortably, and Australia overwhelmingly.

The US is not going to match the #1 and #2 on your list, Hong Kong and Singapore, ever, because it is trivial to wire up a single dense city with weak democratic red tape.

I can't say this with 100% (I may have missed one comparing lists from different sources), but it looks like there's no country within an order of magnitude of America's land area that has higher download speeds on Ookla's list.

EDIT Yep, confirmed. It looks like the biggest country that is faster than the US is France, which is 547,000 sqkm, while the lower US's land-only area is over 7.6 million sqkm.


> The US is not going to match the #1 and #2 on your list, Hong Kong and Singapore, ever, because it is trivial to wire up a single dense city with weak democratic red tape.

But even the most densely populated areas in the US have terrible Internet access. A small portion of New York City has FiOS, but the vast majority has Comcast or Time Warner, and those are about$60 for 20Mbps advertised[0].

I'm willing to give Singapore the fact that it's a smaller government[1], but the bottleneck in providing better Internet access in NYC is not the NYC government.

[0] I am in midtown Manhattan, probably the most densely populated area in the country, and I am getting 700 KB/s as I type this, so I'm not even getting anything close to what's advertised.

[1] And the population is about 2/3 the size of NYC


I didn't mean to imply that Singapore had a smaller government. But Singapore and Hong Kong definitely have governments where, once the leaders decide to do something, it happens. If it's what you wanted to happen, great. If it inconveniences you, too bad.

How could any putative problems in broadband deployment not be because of some difference in governance? I don't mean this as a "government sucks" rant (although that could definitely be the problem, as 'rayiner mentions FiOS being used as a social justice issue, of all things). But there are lots of rich people in dense areas who would be willing to pay money for the service. NYC's government must be doing something wrong (whether it's over-regulation or under-regulation or mis-regulation).


At the state level, on Ookla's data, New York performs pretty comparably to France and Belgium. It may be that there are cities in France and Belgium that have faster internet service. But they have better subways, etc, too. Most Americans cities are terribly managed. While Verizon is trying to deploy FIOS in New York, De Blasio has hired a civil rights lawyer to look into the issue of poor people not being able to afford FIOS! I would say the bottleneck is definitely NYC's government!


> At the state level, on Ookla's data, New York performs pretty comparably to France and Belgium.

Because they're including Weill Cornell Medical College and Digital Ocean in the data (those are the top ISPs in NYC, on their map).

It's not very meaningful unless we (A) can separate out consumer ISPs from business ISPs[0], (B) Know what speeds everyone is paying for and has available (currently this is all lumped together), and (C) knows how much everyone is paying for that service.

> While Verizon is trying to deploy FIOS in New York, De Blasio has hired a civil rights lawyer to look into the issue of poor people not being able to afford FIOS! I would say the bottleneck is definitely NYC's government!

As someone who actually lives in NYC and has tried to get FiOS installed in multiple buildings, there are two problems. One is that buildings have exclusive agreements to provide television service through either Time Warner or Comcast (usually because the superintendant and/or owner gets free cable as a result of this agreement), and that Verizon refuses to provide FiOS Internet unless they can also provide television service.

Verizon is fully aware of this problem, and they've framed it in a way that allows them conveniently to point the finger at another entity.

Verizon is "trying" to deploy FiOS in New York, but they're not really interested in expanding their coverage.

> De Blasio has hired a civil rights lawyer to look into the issue of poor people not being able to afford FIOS! I would say the bottleneck is definitely NYC's government

This would only be relevant if the NYC government were the ones actively blocking people who can afford to pay for FiOS from having it installed, but as explained above, that's not the case.


And Canada ranks #37, and Australia #55. The average speed on Ookla's test for the U.S. was 24.34 megabits. Germany was at 25.38 and the UK at 27.01.

It's insane to compare a country like the U.S. to a country like Belgium that is more than ten times more dense. If you look at the northeastern states, which have densities closer to Europe (500-1000 per square mile versus 90 per square mile which is the U.S. average), average speeds range from 30-38 megabits, well ahead of the U.K. and Germany which are comparable dense, and on par with countries like Belgium, etc.


That's true; I would have loved to have found a source that provided speed by municipality rather than country which as you point out here (and earlier) is subject to density. Barring additional evidence, I concede the point.


Comcast's average user uses 2-5 GB/month.

This bears highlighting. The water company, regulated as a public utility, will fine people for using "too much" water when they decree they are running out. And water usage is a lot easier to model than broadband. Do you want that same mentality running the broadband companies?


Your question is about metered versus "unlimited, but not really" billing. With "unlimited, but not really" billing, you get throttled or cut off, but under a metered billing scheme heavy end-users pay more for the traffic generated as a result of their requests.


Are you making the argument that the existing QoS for power and water are both optimal? If so, for whom are they optimal?

Many people purchase bottled drinking water via delivery service b/c they deem the quality of tap water unacceptable for consumption.

Many people invest in UPS units, backup generators, etc. b/c they deem the reliability of power from the grid unacceptable.

Imagine if the power grid had an additional 9 of reliability -- it would save hospitals tens of millions of dollars on redundant power backup systems, significantly reducing the cost of healthcare. From this vantage-point, the poor quality of grid power is subsidized by those who need life support systems... this seems horribly unfair.


Many people purchase Google Fiber for 900Gb/s down b/c they deem the quality of Comcast's 25Gb/s down as unacceptable.

Are you making the counter argument that 25Gb/s is optimal given the reality that we're living in a time where 900Gb/s down is attainable except for the lack of shareholder will preventing its deployment?

I've built my own modems. I witnessed the stagnation around 2400 baud. I'm unimpressed by your suggestion that commercially-available bandwidth is at an "optimal" speed.


I think you misunderstood my argument, b/c you are making the same one.


Why do business services always cost more!

Cable Internet for Residential / Cable Internet for Business...


> Why do business services always cost more!

Because SLA.


You do understand that in all of your weak counterpoints, the difference is choice. I can choose to not use Github, I can choose different restaraunts. However, broadband providers are rarely if ever competitive.


There are dozens of competitive providers in major cities, and many people subscribe to multiple (I buy broadband from Verizon (LTE) and TWC (cablemodem)).

Even small cities usually have a cable, dsl, and wireless option. The smallest rural cities I'm thinking of offer WiMax or some kind of similar service which is cheaper than cable for many customers.


> I'm four years old.

I feel like this isn't quite right.


I'm guessing it's a reference to ELI5.


> Consumers pay based on speed of their connection. If ISP feels like the consumers are not paying enough, raise the prices.

Imagine you build a road. Who benefits? Drivers, obviously. But also store owners, because customers can now get to their stores. It's equally legitimate to charge the driver, via tolls, or the stores they drive to (via special tax districts). If you charge only the driver, you tap into only part of the net positive value created by the road.

This basic premise applies to cables and other infrastructure as much as it does to roads.


Except without the content, the ISPs wouldn't have much of a business. What's the point connecting people to the internet if there's nothing on there to see? It's supposed to be a symbiotic relationship not a robber baron one.

Netflix should be able to just block Comcast until they give in and agree to improve their peering.

I live in the UK though, where we have a competitive broadband market. The above tactic is less effective in the US because Comcast's users don't have anywhere else to go.


Both parties are already paying. Netflix, as an example, isn't getting their bandwidth free, and neither are we.


ISP's believe that internet services should have to pay to reach their consumers. This is the first step.


I'm confused by this headline (and a bit by the proceeding).

After watching the FCC hearing, it seemed like all of the people who were "for" open internet, and spoke of it from the consumer level (including Wheeler) voted for the proposal. The commissioners that said the FCC didn't have jurisdiction to regulate and to leave the market alone, voted against the proposal.

Isn't it the case that if they had voted against this, that we would have been in the exact same boat we are in now and therefore the agreement that Netflix signed would continue unabated?

In that case, it really didn't matter what they voted.


> I'm confused by this headline (and a bit by the proceeding).

That's because the headline is an outright lie.

> After watching the FCC hearing, it seemed like all of the people who were "for" open internet, and spoke of it from the consumer level (including Wheeler) voted for the proposal.

Exactly. After the old Open Internet order was recently struck down as exceeding the FCCs authority, there are no rules limiting paid prioritization (or any of the other anti-neutrality practices the old Open Internet order addressed.) The current NPRM is both a concrete proposal and a call for public comment on alternative approaches to restore limits on anti-neutral activities by broadband providers. It is not a proposal to allow paid prioritization -- no proposal is necessary for that, as it is currently allowed without restriction. To the extent that it addresses paid prioritization, it is a proposal to restrict it.

> The commissioners that said the FCC didn't have jurisdiction to regulate and to leave the market alone, voted against the proposal.

Right.

> Isn't it the case that if they had voted against this, that we would have been in the exact same boat we are in now

No, if they voted against it, there wouldn't be an active rulemaking aimed at limiting the practice with a defined timeline, a proposal on the table, and a request for public comments on that proposal and specific alternatives. In either case, there are no actual rules in place, since this isn't actual rules, its a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking", a formal call for public comment centered around concrete proposals and specified alternatives.


The term "Open Internet" is a marketing phrase promoted by Comcast for the purpose of creating confusion.

"We are gratified by the Court's decision today to vacate the previous FCC's order [to impose rules about net neutrality]. Our primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation. We have always been focused on serving our customers and delivering the quality open-Internet experience consumers want. Comcast remains committed to the FCC's existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet.

Comcast Statement on U.S. Court of Appeals Decision on Comcast v. FCC [6]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_Corp._v._FCC#The_FCC.27...


> The term "Open Internet" is a marketing phrase promoted by Comcast for the purpose of creating confusion.

Its the term that the FCC adopted first for its net neutrality efforts. Comcast, the first target of an enforcement action based on those principles, attempted to subvert the term to render it meaningless.


The people at the FCC are saying the opposite of what they mean.

Yes, we are in the same boat with Netflix having to pay for bandwidth as before. However, by the FCC officially sanctioning something that would have been technically illegal before the Federal ruling, they've basically reversed course and declared open season on content providers the ISPs don't like.


> The people at the FCC are saying the opposite of what they mean.

No, net-neutrality proponents are saying the opposite of what they mean. They couch this in terms of "protecting the open internet." Except there never was an "open internet." Before the short-lived net neutrality regulations, cable companies were allowed to do whatever they wanted with their network. And that's true now that the regulations have been struck down. The cable companies do not need any sort of action by the FCC to be able to come to these agreements.

What net-neutrality proponents want is new regulations to keep cable companies from doing something that they currently are allowed to do, and except for a small period of time, were historically always allowed to do.


If the government blocks fair competition in a market [through controlling who can provide last mile connections by right of way], they need to provide regulation to enforce fairness on the other end [those that provide last mile connections can't pick and choose whose packets they carry and at what QoS].

There used to be counterweights involved [e.g. Comcast had to play ball fairly] which effectively forced neutrality. Netflix, for instance, wasn't a 'problem' back in 2007 for the ISPs. We didn't have the ISPs pulling QoS BS like this in the 90s because people could and would switch providers. They can't now unless they want to go back to using dialup.


Yes, the choice was between no rules and weak rules, either of which will allow the telecoms to do whatever they want to service companies (despite the meaningless "commercially reasonable" clause). The Title 2 reclassification wasn't even on the table.

This should be the main issue at this year's elections. Unfortunately, this is America, where the main issues are only those the large campaign donors care about.


This is a vote to receive comments on the proposal. IN 60 days the FCC will respond to comments and redraft a proposal. A final vote on final rules will come in about 120 days.


In my mind one of the key questions to ask in this debate is, if the eventual rise of a more closely controlled internet destroys this frontier, what's next?

Right now thanks to a close confluence of remarkable factors, the barriers associated with starting something are almost negligible. The steady march of Moore's law combined with visualisation has given us servers that cost fractions of a penny to lease per hour. No one has had to beg or pay middlemen to use that server and reach customers around the world. At the other end, customers can finally view these bits, often streamed wirelessly, on magical slabs of glass and metal in their hand or what would have passed for a super-computer in a bygone age... All of this combined with a myriad of other factors has allowed anyone to start a billion dollar company. If this very fragile ecosystem is damaged and it dies out, where should someone ambitious go next to strike out on their own?


They won't, this is how you kill a sector of the economy. Hopefully it won't come to that, but then again, that's why this is important.


If Comcast gets their way, the FCC will have effectively ended up sanctioning the balkanisation of the US's internet users in to cable company controlled fiefdoms.

Each cable company will then assume the role of warlord for their userbase and proceed to dictate the terms and agreements under which their users will experience the internet. All of which guided solely by their desire to maximise profits.

If people aren't worried yet, they should be. Serfs didn't enjoy medieval Europe for a reason.

The only two viable routes out of this nightmare are:

1. Enshrine net-neutrality / common carrier status in law

or

2. Radically break up the US ISP/cable market so that real competition exists. This way Comcast is free to try and milk every teat they can find. If users or content providers don't like the result, Comcast can wither on the vine and die while competitors pick up their fleeing users.


Wait a minute! You mean my ever-increasing ISP fees at my home are not for the ISP to build a better network? You mean to tell me the ISP is now going to charge content providers for the ability to provide me with content that I'm already paying my ISP to deliver? You mean to tell me my content providers are now going to likely increase their fees to cope with this "fast lane"?

This sounds an awful lot like extortion, and double billing.

ISP's... you have one (1) job. Deliver packets.


"Even one of the Democratic commissioners who voted yes on Thursday expressed some misgivings about how the proposal had been handled.

"I believe the process that got us to rulemaking today was flawed," she said. "I would have preferred a delay.""

---------------------------------

But... she voted yes anyway. WTF?


> But... she voted yes anyway. WTF?

She doesn't think the actual NPRM represents the best way to acheive the objectives it seeks to serve, but agrees with the objectives. As an NPRM isn't an adopted regulations, its a proposal which sets out objectives, provides concrete proposed steps, and seeks public comment on those steps and alternatives to them, it may make sense to vote for an NPRM (especially when you believe that there is a large and active community that will provide alternatives) when you agree with the objectives but have strong disagreements on some elements of the implementation, rather than voting no and preventing any rulemaking directed at the objectives from proceeding.

She would prefer to delay and get a better (from her perspective) proposal before the public, but would rather have the process moving forward that will allow adopting rules than have the process stalled. The three that voted for the NPRM are the three commissioners that, differ as they might on the details, believe that the FCC should be pursuing net neutrality ("Open Internet") regulation, the two that voted against are the two that think that the FCC should not and that things like paid prioritization and all the other things net neutrality seeks to restrict should be permitted without restriction.

Much of the news coverage has inverted reality and portrayed the proposal as a change to permit paid prioritization, but it is a change (in relevant part) to prevent it, within the constraints imposed by the D.C. Circuit when they struck down the last FCC order intended to do that.


For whatever reasons, she must have felt moving forward with a rule was better than not, regardless of the process issues.

I may disagree with the decision, but I understand her position.


"I would have done this differently. I would have taken the time to consider the future"

Yet she did not consider the future one bit.


The internet is slowly being transformed into cable television


Starting with the "land of opportunity and freedom" Insert picture of eagle...

wow,

such irony.

And then people are up in arms about moving backbone internet functionality out of US, claiming that the internet is in its most free form when situated in America. With this FCC ruling, it's more or less confirmed that this statement is a joke. American freedom seems to be restricted to the freedom to wield a firearm.


Hypercriticize much?


Yes. And certain companies are pushing hard to make them succeed these days. Mozilla is one of them.


I don't understand this comment. Can you explain?


By agreeing to incorporate DRM in the browser Mozilla is, according to that comment, agreeing to let the problem get worse.

One of the characteristics of cable TV is, precisely, that you don't get access to the content if you don't pay. DRM is one way of achieving this, and Mozilla in this case is accepting that without even a struggle.

If I understood the parent comment correctly, that is.


This is incorrect.

Mozilla fought the DRM implementation more than any other browser. They were at the point where they unfortunately had to implement it, otherwise their user base wouldn't be able to access services like netflix etc. At that point it's better to keep your user base instead of them switching to another browser and having no voice.


You raise a good point. I'm not smart enough to give a good reply to the issue on my own, so instead I'm going to quote the relevant part of the FSFs statement[1] from a different discussion[2]:

> We understand that Mozilla is afraid of losing users. Cory Doctorow points out[3] that they have produced no evidence to substantiate this fear or made any effort to study the situation. More importantly, popularity is not an end in itself. This is especially true for the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit with an ethical mission.

[1] https://www.fsf.org/news/fsf-condemns-partnership-between-mo...

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7749108

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/14/firefox-cl...


I'd argue you are smart enough to give a good reply. You've given your reference material as well (which I should have done previously). You are reading and engaging in Hacker News topics, this means you are way above the "average" person. You are smart enough to give a good reply :)


...there's nothing wrong with paying for content as a concept, and you can record cable broadcasts. This argument makes no sense.


I think it's a reference to the DRM thing from yesterday. Honestly it was more of Mozilla capitulating to the DRM gods, it's not like they're out there pounding the pavement for DRM.


" Honestly it was more of Mozilla capitulating to the DRM gods, it's not like they're out there pounding the pavement for DRM."

What's the difference?


Most people just want the damn thing to work. Studios, whether the EFF and others like it or not, are not going to be changing their stance on DRM any time soon. It seems that more and more media is being consumed on a subscription basis than is being downloaded (see Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu)... People are caring less about owning the content than having access to it.

Currently with DRM there are a variety of plugins to support it in the browser. You have to download Widevine's plugin, or PlayReady's plugin, or whatever. It's just a better user experience if we really do need DRM to have some standardized DRM that the browsers can implement to make it seamless for the user.

Note that I don't support DRM, I think it's a total waste of time because the movies aren't released to the wild by your average Joe who is downloading movies from Amazon. It just serves to hurt the average user. However I think that if we must have DRM, it should at least be something that is easier and works better for the average user.

To answer your question: the difference is that Mozilla is not going out and promoting DRM. They are being pragmatic and reasonable in the less than ideal situation.


DRM


How so ?


EME


That's undeservedly terse. Why waste a post if you can't explain.


That's been going on for a while now, and is due to many factors:

https://www.zerotier.com/blog/?p=6


An interesting reason for the delay of widespread IP6 adoption


Its not a plan to allow paid priority on the Internet -- that's already allowed without any restriction since the old Open Internet order was struck down by the D.C. Circuit. Its a plan to, within the limits placed by the court order striking down the old plan, limit practices that violate the neutrality principles the FCC has articulated as part of its Open Internet efforts, including paid prioritization.


Simply put, this is absolutely terrible. How are start ups and small business web companies supposed to compete when their reach to consumers will automatically be slowed compared to larger competitors who pay for faster pipes?

And who is to govern the rates (and tiers) of faster speeds? I can only assume ISPs will determine a cost based on aggregate bandwidth. But who is to say there can't be a fast lane, a faster lane, and a fastest lane? Sounds anti competitive to me (even the big name companies are against this!).

Last: "The telecom companies argue that without being able to charge tech firms for higher-speed connections, they will be unable to invest in faster connections for consumers" > Google Fiber is cheaper for one. Seconds, the telecom giants have all increased subscriptions so there is more money there. And, as time goes along shouldn't these providers become more efficient and costs should decrease anyway? Must be nice to have a sudo-monopoly in some markets.


As an European I probably should be glad about this, since this combined with all the NSA spying issues and implementing backdoors into US products [1], should increasingly force innovation out of US and bring it to Europe, but somehow I'm not.

All the ISPs will slow down all the major companies services, unless they pay up. There is no "faster" Internet. It's just "paying to get normal Internet back", like they've already done with Netflix:

http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/this-hilarious...

[1] - http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/05/photos-of-an-nsa-...


Anything the US does they will eventually try and put into a trade agreement and force others to do too.

We should never look over the water and be thankful it's not happened to us, because all we're seeing is how our (near) future is likely to be.


More likely isps in other countries will look to this and decide they can make more money there. I think some Australian ips still have low gigabyte caps per month


Most important quote since the title is misleading:

" The proposal is not a final rule, but the three-to-two vote on Thursday is a significant step forward on a controversial idea that has invited fierce opposition from consumer advocates, Silicon Valley heavyweights, and Democratic lawmakers. "


> approved in a three-to-two vote along party lines,

Why the fuck are there party lines in the FCC? Or any other regulatory body for that matter?


> Why the fuck are there party lines in the FCC? Or any other regulatory body for that matter?

Because regulators aren't angels that descend from heaven, but people peforming a political function, appointed and confirmed by elected politicians.

Or, more succinctly, because representative democracy.


I think the question was not why there are members of different parties in the FCC, but why do they differ in this vote based on partisan membership? I.e. why would one party find these rules good while the other not? It's as if one likes net neutrality, while the other doesn't.


> It's as if one likes net neutrality, while the other doesn't.

"As if"? For the whole length of the net neutrality policy debate, the support has concentrated in the Democratic Party and the opposition has centered in the Republican Party -- not just on the FCC, but in Congress and everywhere else. The reason the Democratic majority of the FCC keeps trying to find a way to advance Open Internet principles within the framework of existing law that at best addresses the issue indirectly is because neither mostly-Democratic supporters of express FCC authority (or mandate) for net neutrality nor mostly-Republican supporters of expressly prohibiting the FCC from regulating for net neutrality have sufficient support in Congress to pass legislation incorporating those goals and get it signed into law or override a Presidential veto.


Let's rephrase it then. Net neutrality is a very reasonable idea (same way as antitrust regulations are). Why do Republicans oppose it? They like monopolistic abuses on the Internet?


It's quite simple; net neutrality represents regulations on business. Republicans are anti-(business)-regulation, believing that a completely free market will deliver the best result to consumers. Of course, in this case that disregards the reality of 80 years of telecom monopolies (and derivative companies thereof,) i.e. mammoth established players with a history of playing dirty to stomp all others out of the marketplace; it is possible that in a blank slate scenario that regulation-less competition would lead to a good result for consumers, but even that is not a foregone outcome. In short, market idealism.


That's the point. One has to be blind to reality to have such "idealism". They should know better.


The administration gets to nominate commissioners. The Senate confirms them. These are partisan bodies.

The commissioners themselves have theories that fit into party politics as well.


same reason there's party lines inherent in the verdict-deciders of the highest court in the land (blind justice). or in counties/cities where sheriffs are publicly-voted for (to serve and protect). political collusion -- sorry, persuasion -- is the dna of gov't office.


For the same reason US politics in general are such a disaster...money driven lobbying.


People having the freedom to look at whatever they choose on a level playing field may not be in the interests of all concerned.

The consolidation of media companies possibly served interests other than profits. Look at what Putin is allegedly doing with the internet. Maybe in a way the eventual intent of this is the same. And for the same purposes. I don't think we should let it get started just in case.

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