FCC plans to issue new so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules

“The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it will write new rules to prevent Internet service providers from charging companies such as Netflix Inc. or Google Inc a toll to reach consumers at the highest speeds,” Gautham Nagesh reports for The Wall Street Journal. “The guidelines are expected to ban broadband Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites. The rule making will be the FCC’s third attempt in recent years at enforcing a concept known as ‘net neutrality.’ The courts have ruled against the FCC’s previous attempts to enforce net neutrality on companies like Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. that provide Internet connections to households and businesses.”

“Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out FCC rules barring providers from blocking or slowing down websites, but acknowledged the commission has some authority to regulate broadband company practices,” Nagesh reports. “The FCC said it would likely propose new rules in the late spring or early summer, after soliciting initial public comment. At least one Republican FCC commissioner voiced dissent. ‘I am deeply concerned by the announcement that the FCC will begin considering new ways to regulate the Internet,’ FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, said. ‘Instead of fostering investment and innovation through deregulation, the FCC will be devoting its resources to adopting new rules without any evidence that consumers are unable to access the content of their choice.'”

“The announcement means the FCC has thus far resisted calls from Democrats and public interest groups to reclassify broadband Internet as a public utility, which would subject the industry to much greater regulation… Republicans on Capitol Hill remain unhappy with the FCC net neutrality effort. “The Obama administration refuses to abandon its furious pursuit of these harmful policies to put government in charge of the web,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.) said in a joint statement,” Nagesh reports. “‘We think reclassification would probably be the ultimate death of the broadband market,’ Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said in an interview last week. ‘We think it would dry up private investment and destroy all the gains made in the broadband market in the U.S.'”

“‘The cable industry has always embraced the principles of an open Internet,’ said former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, now the CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. ‘We continue to believe that the values of an open Internet can be preserved, while avoiding a damaging move to heavier regulation,'” Nagesh reports. “As part of the process, the FCC will also examine ways to encourage competition in the broadband market. That could include removing legal restrictions that prevent cities and towns from building their own broadband or Wi-Fi networks.”

Read more in the full article here.

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Verizon’s ‘Net Neutrality’ battle with U.S. FCC not about free speech – September 9, 2013
U.S. Senate rejects attempt to overturn FCC’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 10, 2011
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39 Comments

  1. We’ve already seen what is possible when the telecoms are in control. Cord-cutting services like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu are getting throttled traffic on Comcast and similar ISP subscription lines —many are complaining that there is artificial restrictions on the video speed if it isn’t originating from Comcast’s own subscription services. The FCC needs to bite down hard on these guys before we’re back to paying for overpriced, restricted internet service and their already-expensive TV rubbish.

      1. It’s easy to simply shove the question of Net Neutrality in with every other discussion of regulation vs. free market, but it doesn’t fit.

        In this situation conservatives are going to have to let go of ideology and see what is at stake.

        First of all, there is no free market in bandwidth, so liberals should stop making snide remarks about allowing the market to handle it. Unfortunately precious few companies made the billions in investment to build out infrastructure that could support the current Internet. As a result were are now faced with what is effectively described as a bandwidth oligopoly or cartel.

        We do not have choice, which is the fundamental requirement for a free market. The bandwidth providers will argue that we have choice, but it is like wanting to fly from Los Angeles to New York, being told you are allowed to use only one airline, and being told your choice is train, boat, or automobile if you don’t like it. That’s not a choice. That airline has a monopoly on airline traffic for you and everyone else in the market it OWNS.

        Second, the nature of Net Neutrality isn’t about regulation, but about preserving the unregulated Internet we’ve become accustomed to.

        The Internet stands as a great example of spontaneous order. Unregulated and highly successful. It is understandable the fear that people have when we talk about using the FCC to guarantee Net Neutrality, but Net Neutrality simply says that traffic will continue to flow unimpeded.

        I would argue that Net Neutrality is more akin to a Bill of Rights for the Internet. I.e. it’s regulation if the First Amendment is regulation.

        Since the court abolished the extremely simple Net Neutrality rules that were in place, we’re already seeing COMCAST and Verizon throttling NetFlix Traffic, the former having just launched a competitive service and the latter seeking more money to allow NetFlix traffic to reach their subscribers.

        We could easily see certain sites like NetFlix, HULU, iTunes, etc. throttled and even banned on some networks without the benefit of Net Neutrality.

        I pay Time Warner $100 per month for a 112Mb/s connection. I should be able to communicate at my purchased speed without suffering artificial caps imposed by my provider who is essentially holding access to me hostage to blackmail a competitive service. It’s like a mafia protection scheme.

        If I could just say fine, and hop on high speed internet provider 2’s network instead, that would be one thing. Unfortunately the only other network I can get is AT&T’s and the most bandwidth they can offer me is 18Mb/s which would really impair my ability to work. Nope, no free market to depend on.

        Add to that the fact that the number of providers is shrinking and it gets even more serious. If COMCAST gets its way, it will soon own TimeWare and over 30 million Internet subscribers all by itself. That’s an insane amount of power over the Internet. They can decide the generally accepted prices, they can smother competitive services in favor of their own. In addition COMCAST owns NBC. On top of that they can threaten network who want to use Internet distribution like never before. COMCAST could say to any network that if they want to distribute programming to the Internet, it will have to be weeks behind the network broadcast.

        Apple may never be allowed to negotiate channels with content providers if COMCAST says no, and so on.

        So while it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, arguing for (sigh) government intervention, I believe that to do so insures continued innovation on the Internet.

        1. Agreed. Everyone knows we pay for high speed internet because we want REALLY FAST EMAIL. If Net Neutrality is abandoned, everything you pay to get quickly will become slow again; the only fast service will be the limited and overpriced options from the Company Store.

      2. You are assuming that this is something where the free market is applicable. For that to be the case we’d have to get rid of all those cable company exclusive contracts that most municipalities dole out. When governments insist on forcing a monopoly, it also has to regulate that monopoly. Allowing competition creates competition, and removes the need for these regulations.

      3. Another perfectly written explanation that any doofus can understand. Thanks once again Thelonius for clarity of thought and exemplary phraseology. You and Hannah dominate the site when it comes to an enjoyable read and irrefutible logic. Thomas Sowell would be proud to have authored your piece.

    1. Sorry while I appreciate you concern and also see the problem, the LAST thing we need is to give another government bureaucracy more power.
      Besides it will just least to more regulation more “exemptions”, subsidies, price fixing and more corruption.

    2. “At least one Republican FCC commissioner voiced dissent. ‘I am deeply concerned by the announcement that the FCC will begin considering new ways to regulate the Internet,’ FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, said. ‘Instead of fostering investment and innovation through deregulation, …”

      So funny! It is COMCAST et al that want to regulate your internet. These guys are so knee-jerk anti-regulation that they fail to see the reality. The providers typically have a monopoly – or close to it – in any given location. There needs to be protection of the freedom of the internet.

  2. Do we trust government to not overregulate and kill innovation in broadband or do we trust Comcast and the other corporations not to rip off the public and screw us.

    I want a third choice.

    1. Easy… split Comcast, one company an ISP and one company selling content. They can call the ISP Comcast inc and the content reseller XFINITY inc.
      (and split Verizon into content and ISP as well)
      That way, as an ISP, they don’t have any reason to favor (and throttle or delay packet to favor) one content provider over another.

      1. huh,,,, G,,,, I guess if my Siamese twin was in competition with someone else after I just got split off from them I would probably have some genetic affinity to helping them. might be in the company blood by now?
        Just sayin’

        1. Not likely. That’s not the way Corporations operate. It would be both illegal and not in their best interests.
          Some corperations (with out a moral BOD) can get into trouble when their best interests and “the right thing to do” are in opposite directions.
          However, almost none -no matter how rudderless- will break the law, to make less money. Just ain’t going to happen.

    2. The third choice is more competition. I know google sucks, but let’s consider them as budding competition. Comcast and time warner are actively lobbying local and regional governments to shut google fiber out. There has to be regulation at some point. Comcast acts in every way to make it necessary.

      1. Can you elaborate, I can’t fine any news stories on comcast or verizon attempting to “shut google fiber out”
        By what mechinisim would they (local or regional governments) do that?

          1. Well that an isolated single incident and it’s a political campaign.
            As much as I dislike Comcast they are certainly within their rights and their objection is also understandable
            The mayor is publicly funding a quasi governmental entity to undercut a private company (comcast)
            They aren’t attempting to “block” anything. what they want is for the government to get out of trying to be a no profit ISP (particularly where other alternatives exist)

            You would have to be quite the socialist not to think that sticky wicket was strictly on the up and up.

      2. Maybe Apple could lay down fiber to every home and business in the country. It could be a good investment for Apple, especially for providing content and service in new ways, like icloud on steroids. I’d choose Internet service from Apple over Google any day, especially if Cook would grow some backbone and kick the NSA’s current hooks out of Apple (access the NSA did not have when Jobs was there).

  3. We as a nation over consume the media that exists. If we moderate our consumption the prices will fall, the business models will change to lure consumers, and things will be better. It is simple supply and demand. It is the excess of everything that is starting to crumble “We the people”. It is NOT government, it is NOT big business, it is NOT the devil. It is the person looking back at you in the mirror. We used to be just fine without any of this crap!

    1. Do you even realized how badly you got whipped into submission to think like that?

      To even think that way reflects a huge lack of comprehension of how technology works- more specifically bandwidth. it’s not the consumer’s fault that these companies charge more and more for services that line executive pockets with very little going into expansion/improvements that would make net neutrality a moot point. This is all profit driven at the expense of you and I. Don’t lay down and get rolled over. It doesn’t become you.

      1. All I am saying is that if there were not millions and millions flocking to these devices, consuming the newest thing, buying, renting, streaming, etc. etc. these companies would not stand a chance. Everyone knows that these companies are screwing people, yet here we are, blogging on this retarded site. Me too. These companies see you as nothing but a pile of cash. Your privacy is known. Your habits are known. It does not matter to you or anyone here, NOT ONE DAMN BIT! Just shut up and pay the money. In fact, pay a little more for the hell of it! Look at the idiot that is botvinnik. So quick to get his blog in that he uses bad grammar, and has to resort to swearing. It is pathetic. Everyone complaining as they write the check to the ISP/AT&T/Samsung/Apple/etc. We do not NEED these things, right? Seriously?

  4. Good. Now block the Comcast/Time Warner merger. If we wanted these corporations to run roughshod over us, Mitt Romney would be President right now. It’s about time Obama started acting like he actually won two elections.

  5. “The announcement means the FCC has thus far resisted calls from Democrats and public interest groups to reclassify broadband Internet as a public utility, which would subject the industry to much greater regulation…”

    The internet absolutely needs to be classified as a public utility. Content providers need to be separated from service providers. This is the way the electric utility industry works all over the country. Any electricity service provider can deliver electricity to any customer over the existing infrastructure owned by the local distribution and delivery company. They collect the value of the kilowatt-hours consumed. The owner of the poles and wires still collects the distribution and delivery part of the bill (usually about 10%) for the use of their infrastructure. But the owner of the infrastructure MUST accommodate ALL electricity service providers without discriminating in any way. If it has an electricity service provider division that also sells electricity, its distribution and delivery people are not allowed to give any information to it’s electricity service provider people that would give it an unfair advantage. I know because I worked in this industry for 35 years. This is the way the internet should be managed.

  6. Where are the Earthlinks, Compuserves, Prodigies, Mindsprings and NetZeros of 90’s…? There was a time when cable TV service was offered by cable TV operators, and internet service was offered by Internet service providers. There were two separate market spaces (one providing pipes for data, other providing pipes for TV). The ISPs of those years competed exclusively on pricing and service (data speed, number of free e-mails, amount of e-mail and web space storage). Cable companies competed on — you guessed it — pricing and services (monthly subscription for given programming packages).

    Then came cable TV’s migration to digital delivery, which immediately made it possible to open up another revenue stream (ISP) and essentially kill your typical ISPs. And of course, this allowed those cable companies to package and bundle services, making it difficult to shop around separately.

    Now that there is plenty of third-party independent content offering that requires broadband, cable TV companies have no reason to allow unrestricted access to their pipes for these content providers. As long as no regulation prohibits restrictions, from a business perspective, it would be irresponsible to the board of directors to just let any competitor unrestricted usage of the network.

    What we pay for our monthly internet service is no longer what we expect to get.

    Something has to be done to stop this.

    1. You forgot to mention that ISPs back in the 90s offered their services over slow phone modems.

      The lack of more ISPs today isn’t the issue, it is the lack of choice as to the “pipe” over which data flows. It’s either the Phone company (if you don’t live too far away – and can live with their DSL speed), the Cable Company, or a satellite provider (at even slower speed).

  7. Unregulated free market forces are what creates monopolies. The use of the Internet today differs greatly from even 10 years ago. The natural path for a corporation is to maximize it’s profits, gain market share, and run as many competitors out of business they can. In today’s world, one of the methods is throttling your competitor’s data on the Internet. When the providers merge and create fewer and fewer choices, and when they start throttling bandwidth to competing services, regulation becomes a requirement. No corporation that has the power and means to do what I’m describing will refrain from doing it. It’s not illegal, and they won’t stop until it is.

    1. Nicely said, pg.
      We have the example of Microscum. That had massive power. They just kept swallowing and stomping on everyone to try and gain more. And even had a scheme to, more or less, control the Web… until a stop was put to that.

  8. If MDN is going to snarkily add the phrase “so-called” in front of “net neutrality” each and every time they post an article about it, I think they owe it to their readers to explain what, exactly, is “so-called” about it. I presume they’re saying that the policy is not actually “neutral”, but I have no idea, because there’s no take.

    It’s clear that MDN’s editors don’t like net neutrality for some reason, but it’s also pretty clear that they’re being cowards about it, probably because the vast majority of internet users, including their own readers, are in favor of the policy.

    So let’s hear it, MDN. What is “so-called” about net neutrality? If you can’t answer the question, do us a favor: grow the hell up and drop the phrase from your links.

    ——RM

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