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."
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,  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" – but if he wants a fight, the FCC really should oblige him, and consumers should be beating the drums.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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  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.
Maybe pole attachments have something to do with it too, but lots of cities own their poles but don't have competing fiber services.
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."
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. 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. 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.
When capital investment into broadband is set by vote, 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.
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.
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.
As 'pdonis said, the "unattractive" terms are there precisely so that "only the big de-facto monopolies are willing to take the deal".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
They need to be force all ISPs to act as common carriers.
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?
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.")
Having a near-monopoly reduces risk significantly.
We subsidize Utilities & Telecommunications roughly equally via tax breaks.
Oh, and they get subsidies like Sweden too:
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...?
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....
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.
Fine, we'll use your definitions. That's cool.
> Sweden putting in $900 million is like the U.S. putting in $27 billion.
"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.
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:
I'm sorry, but we just have to agree to disagree. Or are you planning to change goalposts?
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.
Do you think no one is paying attention? We know very well that VZN & ATT's capital spending is in wireless, not wireline:
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.
Maybe if their margins drop, they will stop opposing community broadband:
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.
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.
Yeah, so did USA. The only difference was that Sweden actually got the fiber they subsidized. We've been over this before.
Regulation sets the market incentives. Having no regulation is just the choice to set the incentives to benefit those that control the natural monopoly.
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.
Th Internet is too important to be left to Internet businesses.
To which evidence are you referring?
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:
(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.
Government control can be good when the traditional market fails abysmally.
Would Google still be inclined to invest money in Fiber?
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.
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.
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?
- 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
- 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.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
I there any grassroots organization which can/is opposing this ? I'd love join and contribute against this effort in an organized fashion.
This was just released - I imagine there'll be a surge in articles once journalists have had time to digest the full document.
Whose on whose side here?
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.
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.
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.
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.
No kidding? I hadn't heard about that.
I wonder if that means they'll be selling off the pipes cheap...
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.
It'll backfire big time, and waste valuable time.
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.
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.
To my mind, I can’t imagine a rule that describes a fast lane that doesn’t also describe a CDN.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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 doesn't carry traffic at all; it hosts content (multiple copies of it in different locations) for others to carry.
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'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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
This is the line I repeat when discussing the issue with folks who are just learning about the issue.
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.
That's a pretty shakey one. Are people who can't afford Porsches being discriminated against based on their socioeconomic status?
And it's pretty easy to see where that could lead to discrimination.
The argument seemed to imply something like "charging people money for different qualities of service is classist, because poor people have less money".
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.
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."
 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."
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?
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Isn't comcast also a content provider? They provide cable TV services and own a TV network and a film studio.
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.
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.
Then maybe they should advertise a different bandwidth?
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.
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.
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
>Then maybe they should advertise a different bandwidth?
>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."
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
Then they can build out their infrastructure with the new revenue.
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. :)
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.
Amazon: OK, we'll sign a 4 year contract for 30x the base cost.
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
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.
This entire scenario simply couldn't happen if internet were a Title 2 service.
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!"
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.)
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.
Could also be used to make backroom deals where you "slowban" political undesirables.
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 electricity supplied to my office come in normal power and brown power versions?
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....
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".
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?
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.
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.
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.
I'm willing to give Singapore the fact that it's a smaller government, but the bottleneck in providing better Internet access in NYC is not the NYC government.
 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.
 And the population is about 2/3 the size of NYC
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).
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, (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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Cable Internet for Residential / Cable Internet for Business...
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 feel like this isn't quite right.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
"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 "
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
This sounds an awful lot like extortion, and double billing.
ISP's... you have one (1) job. Deliver packets.
"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?
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.
I may disagree with the decision, but I understand her position.
Yet she did not consider the future one bit.
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.
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.
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.
> We understand that Mozilla is afraid of losing users. Cory Doctorow points out 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.
What's the difference?
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.
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.
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://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/05/photos-of-an-nsa-...
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.
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.
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.
"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.
The commissioners themselves have theories that fit into party politics as well.
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.