There’s no one to root for in the debate over so-called ‘net neutrality’

“Finding it hard to understand the ‘net neutrality’ debate? On one side are the hip, cool, billionaire web service companies like Google, eBay, Yahoo, and even Microsoft. Net neutrality is their rallying cry. Despite the fact that they are basically schlocky ad salesmen on a grand scale, they’re pushing this quaint, self-serving ’60s notion that the Internet is a town square — all for one and one for them, or something like that,” Andy Kessler writes for The Weekly Standard. “Everyone should be allowed to hang out in the town square and use it as they please, one low price, eat all you want at the buffet.”

“On the other side are the monopolist plumbers like Verizon and AT&T and Comcast. These are the folks who laid the pipe that delivers the Internet–the blogs and pirated movies and photos of Shiloh Brangelina–to your house or office,” Kessler writes. “They think the Internet is more like a giant shopping mall, and they’re the mall owners. You the customer can walk around as if you were in the town square, but the tenants (see billionaire web service companies above) are going to have to pay for the upkeep of the premises. If they’re one of the anchor stores, they might pay a lot.”

“In an effort to skim their own fees off the Google crowd, lobbyists and Congress have also taken up the fight. So far, the telcos are winning — a bid to add net neutrality language to a telecommunications bill was shot down 269-152 by the House on June 8 — but this is one of those bizarre issues where both sides are off their rocker,” Kessler writes. “But the answer is not regulations imposing net neutrality. You can already smell the mandates and the loopholes once Congress gets involved. Think special, high-speed priority for campaign commercials or educational videos about global warming. Or roadblocks — like requiring emergency 911 service — to try to kill off free Internet telephone services such as Skype. And who knows what else? Network neutrality won’t be the laissez-faire sandbox its supporters think, but more like used kitty litter. We all know that regulations beget more lobbyists. I’d rather let the market sort these things out.”

“Here’s an idea: Start screaming like a madman and using four letter words–like K-E-L-O [Supreme Court’s Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain rulings]. And fancier words like ’eminent domain.’ I know, I know. This sounds wrong. These are privately owned wires hanging on poles. But so what? The government-mandated owners have been neglecting them for years — we are left with slums in need of redevelopment. Horse-drawn trolleys ruled cities, too, but had to be destroyed to make way for progress. How do we rip the telco’s trolley tracks out and enable something modern and real competition?” Kessler writes. “Sure, property rights are important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t shake a cattle prod at our stagnant monopolists and say ‘update or get out of the way.’ The mantra should be ‘megabits to phones and gigabits to homes.’ We’ll only get there via competition. Regulations — even regulations that look friendly to the Googles and Yahoos and hostile to the telcos — will just freeze us where we are today.”

“A truly competitive, non-neutral network could work, but only if we know its real economic value. If telcos or cable charge too much, someone should be in a position to steal the customer. Maybe then we’d see useful services and a better Internet. Sounds like capitalism,” Kessler writes. “We don’t even know what new things are possible. Bandwidth is like putty in the hands of entrepreneurs — new regulations are cement. We don’t want a town square or a dilapidated mall — we want a vibrant metropolis. Net neutrality is already the boring old status quo. But don’t give in to the cable/telco status quo either. Far better to have competition, as long as it’s real, than let Congress shape the coming communications chaos and creativity.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We root for the consumer.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
What Apple’s new content delivery network means for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – and for you – August 19, 2014
Apple’s content delivery network now live; paid interconnect deals with ISPs, massive capacity in place – August 1, 2014
Apple’s content delivery network is reportedly live and it’s positively massive – July 31, 2014
Apple negotiating paid interconnect deals with ISPs for their own Content Delivery Network – May 20, 2014

U.S. FCC plays Russian Roulette with so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner: Republicans will continue efforts to stop misguided scheme to regulate the Internet – November 10, 2014
Tech Freedom: Obama cynically exploits confusion over Title II, misses opportunity to lead on legislative deal – November 10, 2014
Obama want FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’ – November 10, 2014
Verizon: We will sue U.S. FCC over ‘net neutrality’ – November 6, 2014
What Apple’s new content delivery network means for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – and for you – August 19, 2014
Forget about Net Neutrality; the Net isn’t neutral now, nor will it ever be – June 23, 2014
Is the FCC the wrong agency to handle net neutrality? – June 21, 2014
Obama backs away from ‘Net Neutrality’ campaign promises after U.S. FCC vote – May 16, 2014
U.S. FCC vote on ‘net neutrality’ will kick off long battle – May 13, 2014
Mozilla proposes new version of net neutrality rules – May 6, 2014
FCC to propose new rules for so-called ‘Net Neutrality’; would allow broadband providers to charge companies for speed – April 23, 2014
FCC plans to issue new so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 19, 2014
U.S. federal court strikes down FCC’s so-called ‘net-neutrality’ regulations – January 14, 2014

67 Comments

  1. The utopia of the free and open market… Conservatives’ wet dreams…

    The current free and open market brought us where we are today. That we can’t reliably stream services such as Netflix, regardless of the amount of bandwidth we are paying for (on the open and free market). When vast majority of ISPs are also cable TV service providers, they will all inevitably choke your Netflix stream in order to steer you towards their own video-on-demand pay service. No current law prevents them from “traffic shaping” in order to “optimise customer experience for everyone” (the standard explanation for Netflix throttling). Let us not forget: Netflix is already paying heavy money to Akamai in order to reliably deliver gobs of data directly to ISPs door.

    This isn’t about paying for better treatment; it is about abusing a monopoly (or near-monopoly) position in order to eliminate competition. What MS did to Netscape in the 90s (bundling Internet Explorer with Windows in order to kill Netscape). Except MS got taken to court, but ISPs are immune, since all they do is “traffic shaping” in order to “improve customer experience”…

    If the author of this (and seemingly all other articles on MDN on net-neutrality) is so allergic to any solution involving government oversight or regulation, I’d be thrilled to hear an alternative, effective and lasting solution to this problem.

    If we were to judge by what we read on MDN, you’d think that there isn’t anyone out there who would support net-neutrality regulation (or at least oversight). If you google the subject independently, you’d discover quite many very articulate and well argued articles supporting net-neutrality regulation (in fact more in favour than in opposition to net-neutrality). I’m curious, how come MDN never picks those to quote here…?

      1. Actually it does sound like he did read it. The this is capitalism, let the market decide is just simple blowing smoke up the ass of the right. Yes that might work if and only if you first dismantled all existing telco’s and started from scratch. To many telcos already have exclusivity contracts in many areas, so the consumer has no choice and the telcos can hold the screws to companies who provide services over the internet that compete with their own. Not having net neutrality will stifle innovation. The internet needs to be treated like any other utility.

        1. Exactly. I believe 100% that free markets deliver the best efficiency and personal freedom over any alternative.

          However, when there is a monopoly, or a critical utility, or a large percentage of suppliers in a market collude, or people or corporations get special government treatment … then their is no free market! Careful regulations restore a better approximation of the free market in these cases.

          In the case of net neutrality, telecoms are often near monopolies in their areas of service, they have become critical utilities and they often act as a group to customers and third parties harm, and have also often got special benefits from government. They have every problem on the list.

          The simple regulation that net neutrality implements is simply to prohibit them from being able to treat network traffic – that customers (individuals or companies) have already paid for – differently depending on what the customers have requested.

          That’s it. That will preserve freedom of speed, freedom of commerce, freedom of everything between customers and whoever customers choose to deal with.

          Without that regulation you get a non-market situation with powerful gate keepers who every incentive is to extract payments from any information supplier without having supported suppliers in any way, and screwing around with customers service, even though they have paid for it.

          Sometimes a really simple surgical law or regulation can do wonders. This is one of those happy cases were piles of regulations are not necessary, just a simple rule that telecoms cannot use their gatekeeper status to hold everyone else up.

        2. You cannot look at the Internet and its history and deny that it stands not only as a monument to free markets, but a monument to spontaneous order. It has grown with nothing guiding it but the will of the people. It has survived unregulated. In fact, it has flourished without people tinkering.

          There are many aspects of Net Neutrality I would like to see agreed upon. However most of those can be fought out in court under existing anti-trust laws.

          The problem is that Net Neutrality can harm the Internet as we know it, and contrary to popular opinion, actually be responsible for slowing things down for everyone.

          Net Neutrality is a big can of worms now. It has lost all original simplicity. It is a morass of “get the cable companies” ideology. It creates FUD where knowledge is needed.

          Here’s an example. Let’s say I have a book store running on a server in Long Island New York. Then say that Time Warner Cable wants to start their own book store. So rather than putting their store on a single server in one part of the market, they put a copy of their store server in local Time Warner hubs all across the country.

          Well access to their book store will be faster than mine, but they’ve done nothing to slow access to mine. You will still get the same performance you had before. Should Time Warner be barred from building a book store that competes with me? Should they be barred from using the infrastructure that they spent billions on creating to provide better access to their book store? Suppose I decide that I want customers in California to get better access to my book store. Should I be stopped from locating a server in a Time Warner location in California? The speed of the greater Internet has not been touched. No one has been placed in any stupid slow lane, but due to the language the uninitiated are using, efforts to provide faster access to popular services could be thwarted by Net Neutrality.

          Obama doesn’t understand this. We know he doesn’t. Tom Cruz certainly doesn’t with that stupid “Obamacare for the Internet” comment.

          Thing is, if you’re someone reading this website. You are probably already more technically advanced than most of the people hopping around shouting for Net Neutrality and you need to bone up and take the truth to the masses. Not just echo the party line.

          And once again, can I suggest: “WHAT EVERYONE GETS WRONG IN THE DEBATE OVER NET NEUTRALITY” – Wired Magazine http://www.wired.com/2014/06/net_neutrality_missing/

          1. The article you link to suggests that instead of regulation we should increase competition between ISPs.

            But there is zero chance of that happening. The telecom market is highly consolidated and looking to consolidate further. They are heavily insulated from market forces both by that consolidation and being what is now a critical utility for many (of not most) people, and certainly for the country.

            So to bring back market forces do we break up the big telecoms? Force them to rent their assets to new entrants until real competition emerges?

            Without taking action to reassert market forces there is no point talking about how preferable they are.

      2. You’re trying to divert attention away again. This time you didn’t provide a link that you think gives credibility. Not that your links provide a substantive argument.

        Pedrag points out with clarity that the ISPs only have self interest, the same business self-interest that your party masters think they are entitled to

    1. Net Neutrality isn’t a panacea as it will only affect the last leg to the consumer and not the real data choke point.

      This article, “Jammed”, explains the delivery of data from the Netflix/Google/Amazon etc to your ISP. This would not be affected by Net Neutrality rules at all.
      View at Medium.com

      This cartoon, “Dear Senator Ted Cruz”, covers the delivery of data from your ISP to you. This is the area that would be affected by Net Neutrality rules. When you live in an area like I do where there are multiple ISPs to choose from it’s easy to be blasé about this issue. People who get their internet from monopoly Comcast provision are not so lucky.
      http://theoatmeal.com/blog/net_neutrality

      1. The Oatmeal comic is simple minded and betrays a complete lack of understanding of all the issues at stake here. The first rule of net neutrality should be:

        If you can’t effectively define:

        – Transit
        – CDN
        – Packets
        – Colocation
        – Paid Peering
        – Free Peering
        – Edge Networks
        – FCC NPRM

        You should study up before joining the debate.

        Ask yourselves, why would Google be in favor of Net Neutrality also. Think about it… GOOGLE. Net Neutrality would basically let Google monopolize the Internet.

        http://www.digitalsociety.org/2009/11/fcc-nprm-ban-on-paid-peering-harms-new-innovators/

        http://www.drpeering.net – Good place to learning about peering

        What Net Neutrality could mean for an Internet that increasingly carries video as it’s preferred traffic: https://gigaom.com/2009/11/22/how-video-is-changing-the-internet/

        As always the Oatmeal cartoon is cute but it does very little to explain the real picture.

    2. There are two competing aspects to this issue. The first is to avoid issuing rules and regulations unless they are required and, if they are required, make them as simple and efficient as possible. The second aspect is the responsibility to prevent blatant abuse of the system, especially by a powerful oligarchy seeking to manipulate the system for financial or political advantage. As the Internet becomes increasingly important in the distribution of information, it also becomes a potential key for controlling, shaping, and suppressing information. Sometimes, a bit of practical preventative maintenance can save a lot of trouble down the road.

    3. The utopia of the free and open market

      Oh, shut the fsck up. This isn’t a free market problem, it’s a government-regulatoin problem. Comcast and TW behave the way they do, because they have government-granted local monopolies on last-mile connectivity. All it takes to solve every last issue that “net neutrality” advocates are complaining about is to expose them to competition.

      -jcr

      1. You are rude. And you are wrong, too.

        This is NOT a government regulation problem; it is a free market problem (which is obvious to anyone with a thinking brain).

        Nobody gave anyone monopoly on any mile anywhere. Where I live, there are half a dozen ISPs. Fifteen years ago, there were many more, but over the years, consolidation, mergers and acquisition pared the number down to about six. No government was involved in these ISPs adding other services (such as cable TV and telephony). And no government is involved in these ISPs throttling the traffic of independent video-on-demand providers, because they now compete with their own VoD offerings.

        This is what open and free market did to us. In the beginning, the internet was open and free and unregulated. Because it was left unregulated, big ISPs gobbled up smaller ones, expanding into other territory and abusing their new near-monopoly power. In other industries, there would be Sherman Anti-Trust act to keep them under control. Unfortunately, no law exists that prohibits ISPs from “traffic shaping” in order to deliver “most optimal service to customers” (blocking competitors in the process).

        1. Nobody gave anyone monopoly on any mile anywhere.

          What’s your next guess? Google for “local cable monopoly”, read and learn.

          There are many places in the USA where Comcast or TW are the only available broadband suppliers, due to the way local governments handed out cable franchises starting back in the 1970s.

          If you believe that Comcast is operating in a free market, then see your doctor and get your medication adjusted.

          -jcr

          1. Well, I can’t talk about wherever it is that you live, but where I live (one of the largest metro markets, in the US, NYC), Comcast isn’t even a competitor. We have about half a dozen of them, though, and most have their own pipes/wires/fibre. My apartment building has a thick bunch of wiring snaking its way along the walls and ceilings in the corridors, each carrying signals for a different cable TV (or internet) operator. What I see in NYC is an unfettered and open competitive market for TV and internet.

            And I still can’t watch Netflix without problems, with all the bandwidth I’m supposedly paying for.

      2. “All it takes to solve every last issue that “net neutrality” advocates are complaining about is to expose them to competition.”

        It would take a lot of competition as telecoms are not only near monopolies, often collude together, and have government support, but they are becoming critical utilities. Each of those factors alone typically undermines market forces.

        So while technically, i think you are right that enough real competition would fix the problem, where is it going to come from? The telecom market is moving toward less competition and more centralization even now.

        The only way to open it up, would be to force telecoms to rent their infrastructure to third parties on reasonable terms, so third parties could begin to provide some competition.

        But again you have to use regulation to do that.

      3. That’s what Title II reclassification will do though. If you remember, in the day of POTS, you could choose anyone you wanted for your long-distance provider, not just the company who ran the wire to your home. This was because of a regulation that required the wire-owner to rent it out to any other company willing to provide service.

        In exchange for wiring every home with service, the companies were granted regional monopolies on local telephone service.

        Reclassifying broadband as Title II will enforce this same requirement on cable companies, that the company who ran the wire can provide service, but must also rent it out to other service providers. It is extremely expensive to run last-mile wiring, and also untenable, unnecessary, and wasteful to expect 5-10 cable companies to each run a wire to each home. That’s why we get very little competition today, and why companies avoid competing with each other. Why pay to lay the wire if there’s no guarantee you’ll get a customer?

    4. Normally I’m with you Predrag, but the current market wasn’t created via a free market. It started out as government-mandated monopolies. Only after some deregulation did we get some competition (not much, but some).

      That being said, the current situation is terrible and untenable. I’m all for reclassification (and yes, I’m a conservative).

      The optimal solution, in my opinion, is hinted at in this article. Nationalize the wires, put the government in charge of upgrades and building out new infrastructure, but rent the wires to private companies to actually provide service.

      1. I’m not sure ISPs were government-mandated monopolies. In my market (NYC), there were quite many ISPs in the dial-up era. Even when broadband became the standard, there were still plenty. Over the years, unrestricted free market brought about consolidations and mergers, and now we are in the mess that we currently have.

        1. That’s because telephone is subject to Title II. Due to the requirement that companies must rent out the wire to any company willing to provide service, you could choose any dial-up company you wanted, regardless of which company actually laid the wire to your home.

          Perhaps it’s not the same everywhere, but many cities signed exclusivity agreements with cable companies, basically subsidizing the build-out of cable/broadband by granting a monopoly.

      2. It takes a little historical background to understand how we got here. Telephone service was a nationwide monopoly until the 1970’s when the government came in a broke up Bell Telephone into regional monopolies. Why was a monopoly allowed in the first place? It was understood, rightly or wrongly, that something as important as building a nation-wide communications service wouldn’t work unless a single standard was imposed. That could be done by federal regulation administering dozens if not hundreds of smaller companies or by awarding a single company the exclusive rights with a few over-riding regulations to control their behavior. However it was done there was a recognition that the telephone was a basic utility essential for the nation’s well-being, like electricity. What is happening now is the blurring of lines with all the communication companies. Everyone is becoming a content creator, with the financial interests that come with it, instead of a content distributor. This was part of the 1980’s legal cases that involved the cable companies claiming that their first amendment rights were being violated by being forced to carry specific content channels by local municipalities. But all the franchises were originally awarded with the idea that cable TV was a glorified master antenna system not a content creator or owner. Cable TV was also considered an elective service, not essential for everyday life. Now the identities are further muddled with the entry of the telephone companies and other conglomerates. Plus so much of the nation’s economic health is now based on the internet it can be argued that it is now an essential utility for the nation’s well-being. Will specifying certain aspects of the internet delivery system as a basic utility work? I am not sure of the answer.

      1. Well, he could be using the name of Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik, the famous Soviet chess champion. Or he could be Dr. Igor Botvinnik or Olga Botvinnik or any number of other Botvinniks in this world.

        If he is leveraging the name of the famous Soviet chess champion, then he should be more rational.

    1. …further, the internet is protected under the First Amendment, the obvious freedom of speech and significantly: freedom of the press – the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution (to paraphrase JFK.)

      1. Based on the last 15 years, “Constitutional protection” doesn’t mean as much as it used to. IRS goes after conservative groups. States use eminent domain to take private property from one individual and give/sell said property to another private entity. We are forced to purchase a product that is governed by the government to redistribute wealth. Sheryl Atkisson comes public with a book on government censorship of the media (a freedom also specified in that first amendment). The President uses supposed Executive authority in defiance of the very laws he has sworn an oath to execute (both Bush and Obama just in case you think I’m being partisan). No, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto, so you might want to refrain yourself from relying on those good ole “Constitutional protections”… Unless of course you’re saying something that the NSA doesn’t mind being said.

  2. To me, government regulation of Internet providers should simply be, “charge for the pipe what local government permits you to charge, and you don’t get to do anything based upon the content flowing through the pipe. As far as you’re concerned, bits are bits; hands off.”

    Is there anyone who really disagrees with the above, other than perhaps the Internet providers themselves?

    1. Yes, I disagree with the following:

      • Government regulating rates, interfering in the market
      • Traffic has to be managed or performance would suffer

      The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content. That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn’t exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer. – Robert Pepper, former FCC chief of policy development

      “Any government agency or process big enough to control a major sector of our economy will be prone to influence by those most affected by it”, and that consequently “for all the talk we hear about how the FCC’s move to impose Net Neutrality regulation is about ‘putting consumers first’ or ‘preserving Net freedom and openness,’ it’s difficult to ignore the small armies of special interests who stand ready to exploit this new regulatory regime the same way they did telecom and broadcast industry regulation during decades past. – George Mason University fellow Adam Thierer

      1. Right, the point of net neutrality is to stop telecoms who have very little market forces on them from acting as dysfunctional gatekeepers with respect to a critical utility.

        There is no reason to add some kind of “net fair pricing” regulation, as all that would do is create a new dysfunctional gatekeeper: local governments.

        1. “the point of net neutrality is to stop telecoms…”

          nope, Mr. Green Bean, the clandestine goal of government regulatory power of the internet is the imposition of censorship, surveillance…and, of course, taxes

      2. It’s easier to change a local government than a big federal government. I don’t want any government involved. Having said that, if one MUST be, I’d want it local rather than federal.

  3. The Internet can’t innovate living under the rules of a 1970s telephone company.

    Alas, the pro-regulation offensive gives no quarter: The Open Internet, developed under laissez-faire, is superb. And it now needs regulatory protection.

    In a statement issued by the White House, President Obama strongly endorses, in unequivocal language, not the girly man measures previously considered, but a muscle play: Title II. The bureaucratic reference, which dates to the Communications Act of 1934, would affix your great grandfather’s public utility rules — the ones crafted when households had “party lines” and David Sarnoff was the best known “tech innovator” — on the 21st Century Network of Networks.

    But we’ve seen this movie — streamed before our very eyes — already. Old-fashioned public utility rules were in place back in the 1960s and 1970s when computer networks began to emerge — and Title II blocked them. The telephone carrier regulations, with monopoly franchises and rate regulation, controlled most everything. Rules were written and enforced to exclude new rivals and the promising networks they envisioned.

    The Title II mandates were gradually peeled away, allowing for new “enhanced services” that escaped Title II. The result was spectacular.

    Voice-over-Internet services confronted the prospect of being Title II road kill. The reflex, at both the state and federal level, was to regulate VoIP like POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). The licenses, fees, taxes and other Title II requirements would have crushed the upstart. That is why noted VoIP pioneer, Jeff Pulver, co-founder of Free World Dialup, Vonage, and Zula, waged a war against phone regulation, culminating in victory: the FCC’s 2004 “Pulver Order.” The entrepreneur now rails against Network Neutrality due to “the madness of applying 70-year-old Title II telecom regulations to IP communications.” With such rules, neither dial-up nor VoIP might have happened. “Title II makes innovation illegal,” he wrote recently.

    Today, the Internet thrives, but all networks manage traffic. Customers benefit when malware is blocked or sensitive interactive communications (say, VoIP) take precedence. I’m typing this article at a hotspot in a supermarket (no need to pity me), and the User Agreement I just clicked “I Agree” to forbids many legal activities. I may not, for instance, “Transmit any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, ‘junk mail,’ ‘Spam,’ ‘chain letters,’ ‘pyramid schemes’ or any other form of solicitation… [or] Use the Service for excessively high volume data transfers.”

    These “non-neutral” restrictions, imposed by my current ISP, do not threaten me — nor economic innovation, consumer welfare, or the life of the Internet. Title II would.

    Source: TIME: How To Neuter the Net Revolution

    Thomas W. Hazlett is H.H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics at Clemson University, where he also heads the Information Economy Project. He formerly served as Chief Economist of the Federal Communications Commission.

  4. Predrag… I think you’re missing the point. Once government steps into the pool, the water will become murky. Government tries to help and think it can help, but rarely actually does. Our corrupt government will serve the lobbyists at the expense of the consumer. Odd and crazy rules and regulations will penalize the telcos and tech companies alike but ultimately do the most damage to the consumer.

    Once government is involved and starts passing regulations to shape the internet, all bets are off. The internet will change dramatically. Rules will be put in place to shift access from those that can pay for it to those who cannot. Regulations will change search results to push the agenda of lobbyists.

    Case in point: Obamacare. A monstrosity of a law that nobody read. The rules, requirements, and regulations that are choking our healthcare system, limiting access, availability, and turning away doctors and future med students.

  5. some words from a former ISP owner:
    For a very long time (and probably still today) in Illinois, for example, there were several laws bearing on this and they were are not what Obama claims.

    One of them was that a call between two local providers required the payment of money on a per-minute basis from one to the other. Yes, that’s not only forced interconnection it’s forced interconnection with a fee attached.

    Now I was able to exploit knowledge of this (greatly!) while I ran my ISP, since calls terminated on my equipment — always. Guess what sort of leverage this gave me with the competitive local exchange carriers, who would (as long as I had a high utilization ratio) make LOTS of money from my customers calling into my modems?

    Uh huh.

    Here’s the problem with such mandates — they benefit some people and screw others. I benefited. You got screwed. You got screwed hard if you called people between “zones”, which were as little as 7 miles apart! You got charged on a per-minute basis for a local landline call.

    So what did we learn with even the not-really-very competitive world of cellphones? I can call across the damn country for no additional charge — while it was (and may still be) a literal nickel a minute to call 10 miles down the road on said regulated landlines run by Ameritech!
    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=229585

  6. “Rules will be put in place to shift access from those that can pay for it to those who cannot.”

    Yes. This is what we need. The internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a practical necessity for participation in today’s society.

  7. The Telcos want it both ways:
    1- They reactively using regulation by states to prohibit competition from utilities- specifically municipally owned utilities- from entering the ISP business so as to not have to face competition. They argue that utilities have an unfair advantage and would hurt the business model of the ISP which are legacy Telcos and Cable Companies.
    2- The same companies that want to use regulation to keep competitors out oppose any regulation of their activities.
    3- The ISPs have also been caught throttling ‘unlimited’ or ‘uncapped’ wired and wireless data services when there was no network congestion by their own data- that would be AT&T and Comcast most notably. Many customers accept the right of ISPs to take actions to keep their networks open and functioning under times of high demand (shaping), but are not in support of holding the data of competitors (like Apple, Amazon and Netflix) hostage in an effort to gain a market advantage for captive services. What ISPs want is essentially a legalized protection racket where data providers pay to play.
    4-ISPs speak commonly of free market forces yet seek eminent domain tot run cables through private property without permission or compensation. If Comcast and AT&T want access to my land, they should either pay for the privilege or accept common carrier regulation. Capitalism should run both ways.

    Customers should have available to them a market of competitive telecommunications services not subject to cartel like business practices like bundling of TV services and ISPs should be able to have the flexibility to offer a variety of options to consumers that are profitable for the company. That is not currently the case in most of the United States, where consumers pay some of the highest rates for some of the poorest Internet and Video service in the developed world.

  8. The first paragraph of the article is incorrect. The story states there are two sides. There are at least 4 sets of groups in the United States: Telcos, web services, consumers and the regulators. In each of these 4 groups, there are subsets.

    Big telcos, little ones. Same for web services. Regulators have 5 major groups: Office of the President, Congress (they count for two, due to schizophrenia), the judiciary, semi-independent agencies such as the FCC.

    Consumers have the most subgroups. Each city, suburb, neighborhood and farm. My neighbors don’t all have access to the speed that I have. Why ? Ask the telcos, regulators and even the web services countries.

    To sum up, the article is way too simplistic and the MDN Take is the first to point out OUR side.

  9. I love capitalism. The idea of free markets competing is great. The problem is there is no free market in broadband internet. There is no competition, nothing to scare one company into being better then another. In many places, people 1 maybe 2 broadband providers to choose from (3 or 4 if you’re lucky). If your broadband provider gets up to some shitty practice, you can’t just leave them and go to someone else.

    1. This is the reason the major ISPs battle so fiercely to stop or ban municipalities from establishing ISPs (they have successfully gotten legislation passed on the state level for this) and get in the way of companies like Google that are promising better service. They want to maintain monopolies or duopolies. They latter sounds OK, but it is known that in duopolies the competition is generally on features, not on price.

    2. Agree 1000%.

      This is one of those examples that show how ignorant hard-core conservatives are (like botvinnik and First 2014 then 2016 on this site).

      I’m all for capitalism and free market, too. Except when it doesn’t work, like the internet throttling going on.

      But the hard-core conservatives will cling to their beliefs like a drowning man clinging to a floating log (or turd, take your pick), in the face of inarguable proof that their beliefs don’t work or are wrong.

      “Abortion is baby-killing…abstinence is the only way!”
      I’m against abortion, too, but abstinence DOES NOT WORK. If Sarah Palin (an anti-abortion champion of abstinence) can’t keep her own teenage daughter from getting knocked up….do you really think abstinence is the answer?? Next, they trumpet “adoption!!!” Sure, adoption helps and is great. But let’s be clear…while there MAY be 1,000,000 families out there willing to adopt the 1,000,000 or more unwanted children aborted each year (I’d argue their aren’t, but let’s say there are)…how about next year? And every year after? Are those same families going to adopt a kid EVERY year, because that number of abortions happens EVERY year.

      “Creationism is the truth…science is WRONG”
      Oh, sure…never mind all those little FACTS of science. No, you idiots…God did NOT hide dinosaur skeletons underground to test our faith.

      “Tax cuts on the rich will trickle down, ’cause they’re the JOB CREATORS!!!!”
      We tried that for 10 years, thanks to Bush Jr’s idiociy…end result is that the richest increased their overall wealth by over 90% while everyone else is WORSE off.
      And let’s think about that one…the richest 1% or so are NOT the job creators, anyway. The companies for which they’re CEO/CFO/etc are the job creators. The CEO himself is NOT a job creator…except for a maid, gardener, etc, there’s a very real limit to how many jobs a Rich Dude is going to create personally due to the personal tax cuts W gave him.

      The list goes on and on…

      And yet, with all of those, the hard-core conservatives still cling to their arguments. It’s as if Rule #1 of being a Republican is “You can never admit you were wrong.”

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