FCC and FTC commissioners: The Internet isn’t broken. Obama doesn’t need to ‘fix’ it.

“If you like your wireless plan, you should be able to keep it. But new federal regulations may take away your freedom to choose the best broadband plan for you,” Ajit Pai, U.S. FCC Commissioner, and Joshua Wright, U.S. FTC Commissioner, write for The Chicago Tribune. “It’s all part of the federal government’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet like a public utility — a plan President Barack Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission to implement in November and that is coming up for a vote Feb. 26.”

“While the plan contains no shortage of regulations, the most problematic may be the new ‘Internet conduct’ rule,” Pai and Wright write. “It’s a vague rule that gives the FCC almost unfettered discretion to micromanage virtually every aspect of the Internet, including the choices that consumers have for accessing it. If a company doesn’t want to offer an expensive, unlimited data plan, it could find itself in the FCC’s cross hairs. But restricting service plan options is inherently anti-competitive and anti-consumer. The inevitable results will be higher prices and less service for consumers along with an especially adverse impact on small providers and upstart competitors trying to differentiate themselves in a crowded market… And allowing new business models is critical to promote competition, particularly from smaller providers and new entrants. These entrepreneurs need the flexibility to experiment with different service plans so they can stand out from their larger competitors. Imposing a one-size-fits-all mandate from Washington would burden them, help the larger incumbents, reduce competition and stifle innovation.”

“The great irony here is that the Internet isn’t broken, and we don’t need the president’s plan to ‘fix’ it. Quite the opposite,” Pai and Wright write. “The Internet is an unparalleled success story. It is a free, open and thriving platform for civic and political engagement, economic growth, educational opportunity, entertainment and much more. It has made the United States the epicenter of innovation… Why would we want to neuter the FTC when the Internet has flourished under the current regulatory model? If all of this comes as a surprise, you’re not alone. The plan has not been made public. And the FCC has made it clear that it won’t be released until after the agency’s commissioners vote on it. This is not right. We should have an open, transparent debate about whether the president’s plan for Internet regulation is right for America’s consumers. In our view, it most certainly is not.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote over eight years ago:

We don’t presume to know the best way to get there, but we support the concept of “Net Neutrality” especially as it pertains to preventing the idea of ISP’s blocking or otherwise impeding sites that don’t pay the ISP to ensure equal access. That said, we usually prefer the government to be hands-off wherever possible, Laissez-faire, except in cases where the free market obviously cannot adequately self-regulate (antitrust, for just one example). Regulations are static and the marketplace is fluid, so extensive regulations can have unintended, unforeseen results down the road. We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net neutral.MacDailyNews Take, June 9, 2006

Related articles:
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai: Obama’s plan a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet – February 10, 2015
Congress launches investigation as Republicans claim Obama had ‘improper influence’ over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 7, 2015
FCC chairman proposes to regulate ISP’s under Title II – February 4, 2015
U.S. congressional Republicans’ bill aims to head off Obama’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ plan – January 17, 2015
U.S. Congressional proposal offers Internet rules of the road – January 15, 2015
U.S. FCC says it will vote on so-called ‘net neutrality’ in February – January 3, 2015
FCC hopes its rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ survive inevitable litigation – November 22, 2014
Obama-appointed FCC chairman distances himself from Obama on so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 12, 2014
What does so-called ‘net neutrality’ mean for Apple? – November 12, 2014
AT&T to pause fiber investment until net neutrality rules are decided – November 12, 2014
There’s no one to root for in the debate over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 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

69 Comments

    1. It would be “Obamanet” is he would let telecomm lobbyist Wheeler allowing the likes of Comcast arbitrary charging prices to access to Internet sites.

      They already forced the likes of Netflix to pay for that, and under Article II redefinition it would be impossible.

  1. Not that I sponsor change, this reads like fear mongering. (Much the same way, babies will die if we allow iPhones to be encrypted.
    ) Prices will go up if you enforce unlimited plans.

    At some point, the Internet is a utility, like power, like gas, like cable. Instead of being optional, if you want to remain on par with the rest of society, you have to pick up service, not just any service, but unfettered. (you could live in a tent, if you want. Some do. But just putting it out there as an argument.)

    The argument against regulation is that, no other regulated service, offers an unlimited option. Sure phone calls do, but it’s practically wrapped up in your internet data plan anyway.

    It’s possible, the federal government wants unfettered speeds, so they can “spy” on citizens, with impunity and unnoticeable. Just following a logical path, not knowing if its true. Data is a two way street. As an example, my download speed, on fiber, is 30MB/s but my upload speed is 60MB/s. Why is that?

    I think my main point, is that the argument as to why it shouldn’t be regulated, is a bit weak, when you compare ISPs to other utilities. If you want to stop regulation, you are going to have to come up with something better.

    1. Unlimited telephone calling plans became available AFTER telephones were DE-regulated. Before that local calling cost more. Long distance was 20 cents per minute after 11:00 PM; twice that during the day. And that was when 20 cents was worth a lot more. De-regulating created opportunities for cheap calling plans, cell phones, and data (i.e. the internet). So called “net neutrality” regulations will not provide faster speeds nor upload speeds the same as download. It’s not clear that regulations will provide any benefits. It will, however, give politicians more power and the ability to impose more taxes (like the ones now on cell phone bills).

      1. A lot of what you are talking about came about after the break up of the bell monopoly not de regulation. Most of the reduction in long distance cost came from the competition from cell phones offering free long distance.

          1. Um, You need to go reread your history. The Bell Monopoly was created, by… Well, Bell. They owned everything. The regulation that existed was because Bell owned everything. Including the Telephone that you used to talk on. It didn’t exist because of Regulation. And Bell charged out the a$$ because they COULD. Because they had NO Competition. And anytime anyone came around to challenge them, they would sue them out of existence.

            There is a difference between what you THINK you know, and what ACTUALLY happened. There wasn’t any regulation on Bell telephone that made them do what they did.

          2. It may have been *called* de-regulation, but since to this day, the phone companies are still a regulated public utility…it wasn’t.

            What actually happened was that the existing regulation was altered, and some of Ma Bell’s Govt-sanctioned monopolies were stripped away, such as in ownership of telephony hardware and in long distance providers.

            Nevertheless, the argument can be made that the period of sanctioned monopoly – – even with its abuses – – did successfully serve its purpose. For example, the 1949 revision to the Rural Electrification Act (REA) added phone service … without this (along with the high long distance rates to help pay for it), there very well could still today be huge rural regions (particularly in mid-America) without basic telephone service.

            -hh

      2. Quite frankly, you veered off course, Jus’ Sayin’:

        First, the proposed degreguation isn’t about making the web faster: it is about prohibiting ISP’s from selectively making it slower.

        The ISPs are against this proposal because it represents a “Bad for Business” risk on their profit margins. Note that Comcast’s Gross income is 70% and their Net Income is 14%, which is roughly 10x greater than a standard classical commodity provider, and which is also greater than what traditionally regulated utilities {electric, water} are permitted, which traditionally are the 8%-12% range.

        Second, your claim that the regulations have no clear benefits … yet you then promptly go on to claim that it will benefit politicians – – is a self-contradiction.

        The pragmatic reality is that this proposal is being heavily lobbied against by your ISPs because they don’t want to be obligated by regulation to provide their services.

        Third (and more of an aside), telephony rates today may appear to be a good value, but are more structured to assure the company a reliable income stream even when the consumer underutilizes the offered service. If you call your local Bell, you’ll find that they basically only offer two plans: an expensive ‘unlimited’ one and a “cheap” one which still costs over $25/month even if you never pick up the phone.

        Fourth, the “impose more taxes’ is YA example of the purposeful Fear-Mongering deception which is purposefully being perpetrated by these articles.

        -hh

    2. Yes, it is precisely fear-mongering

      (as was pointed out in last week’s article on this same subject).

      The bottom line is that the internet is no longer a luxury item that the public can do without, and from an infrastructure perspective, it is a “natural monopoly” very much like water, sewer, electricity, telephone which are highly susceptible to abuse of said monopoly power.

      Granted, the current status quo is a duopoly (Cable + Phone), not a monopoly, but that’s a pedantic hair-splitting exercise.

      What over 4 million public comments sent to the FCC have been calling for is improved protection of the consumer from predation by a few huge corporations who possess ‘natural monopoly’ power over what’s evolved over the past 30 years to now become an essential service.

      Anyone who wishes to disagree that this isn’t just raw politics of power who don’t like the idea that the Government might actually dare to intervene to protect the consumer a little better … is free to drop all of their internet service providers for not less than six months and go back to writing ‘snail mail’ letters. See how that works out for ya 😉

      -hh

  2. The average individual will be finding this issue very difficult to follow. Like almost everything else in US public affairs this issue has become a political football. On one side we have big business, who want to operate unfettered by government control. Business buys political support through donations to political parties, and the various election funds for individual reps and senators. Appointees to government bodies like the FCC are also politicised, with each side of politics attempting to choose those who support their general, or specific, views.

    While it might be true that the Internet is not broken now, there are sufficient grounds to expect that internet service providers will tweak their service levels to increase their profitability (as AT&T did recently when they throttled their unlimited plans) or to priorities traffic for their own content or that of content providers who pay for the privilege.

    On the other side you have consumers, who want open, flexible, unrestricted access to everything.

    The problem is that the American consumer cannot trust any of the players or commentators. Honesty is no longer considered a valuable commodity in American life and has long since disappeared from the political sphere.

    1. I agree there is a major lack of honesty from government, corporations and news channels these days. It gets depressing.

      But in this case we started with an Internet that didn’t bias data speeds based on data-type or end-location. A regulation requiring that Internet stays unbiased is consumer and business friendly, not to mention democracy friendly.

      That is not to say the government can’t screw up an attempt to do the right thing.

  3. 1a. Claim: Internet is not broken
    1b. Counterclaim: Comcast

    2a. Issue: Internet security.
    2b. Blame game ? everybody.

    3a. Internet as a utility ?
    3b. If one views proper internet access as a part of modern American society, then why not.
    3c. If one views internet as something which a large portion of Americans do not deserve, then…. somebody needs to go back to school.

    Partial Conclusion: Internet needs improvement. But the current solutions are a morass.

    1. 1c. Comcast is not the Internet.
      2c. Huh?
      3d. What then is not a part of American society?
      3e. Deserve? Why? Because they breath? What do I not deserve, by your definition, simply because I exist?
      3f. Who shall provide me with everything I “deserve???”

      3G: The Internet has done fine without the interference of people like Barack Obama. It does not need a ridiculous Obamacare-esq regulatory nightmare to continue to flourish. It stands as a monument to spontaneous order. It fixes ITSELF which was one of its primary design requirements. Once again, 4 or 5 simply stated rules of ISP behavior would have been all that was needed but give the government a foothold and it will try to seize everything.

      “… Once ObamaNet ropes ISPs into Title II, they would need FCC approval for new products, business models, data-traffic operations, and more. Rather than focus on inventions and improvements, Silicon Valley executives would have to machete their way through Title II’s 682 pages and 987 rule sections. They could ask “forbearance” from these regulations. Good luck. According to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the FCC makes the average applicant wait 372 days — one year and one week — for an answer. Since 1996, about 69 percent of such requests have failed, at least partially. This is heaven for attorneys and hell for software coders, entrepreneurs, and consumers…”

      1. The main point of his post is no. 1, which you didn’t answer. Comcast is just an example why internet IS broken indeed. Verizon is another. These companies charge consumers money for specific bandwidth; then they charge others to prioritise traffic. More importantly (and worse) I can’t watch Netflix properly on my Verizon FiOS (50Mbps plan), because Verizon is offering competing service. my bandwidth is plentiful for Netflix, but it still stutters. Comcast and Verizon are just two for which I know. There are others. Internet is broken and needs fixing.

      1. Invalid analogy, because there is no manmade corporation who invented sun/wind/rain …

        …let alone who then built the infrastructure to deliver the sun/wind/rain to my doorstep …

        …who would have a basis to thus be fairly compensated.

    2. 3b) Sex is part of American life. It should not be denied to anyone, so the government should regulate that too. “Nooky Neutrality!” Then they can tax your woody!

      1. The Government does regulate sex. There are numerous laws about age, rape, and prostitution. Adulterous sex, interracial sex, homosexual sex, have all been illegal. Several states still have laws against these, although they’re not able to enforce them. Birth control, both before and after sex, is a huge legal battle in this country. With the contradiction of the party that’s in favor of more government control is against regulating sex. While the party that is antigovernment is busy creating laws about what we can do in our bedrooms.

    1. Yet another meaningless comment from a blatantly biased source. Party-biased partisanship non-thinking is a major part of this problem and many others.

      And I am not a fan of Obama.

  4. Do you want to live in a dictatorship? Then give control of all communications to Barack Obama. He said he wants to “radically transform America”. He did not like the America based on freedom and the Constitution. His goal is to end all that and become our Fidel. Fidel controls the Cuban internet. China controls the Chinese internet. Obama aspires to be a dictator like Fidel (Raul – whoever) and the Chinese tyrants. And he has enough dimwitted useful idiot supporters here to stand with their hands in their pockets while he steals their freedom of speech and that of all Americans. Get ready for a rough ride. Our Marxist in Chief is ready to rumble.

      1. Knowing you voted for Obama I have no difficulty being certain you are as brain dead as a rock. You voted twice for this Muslim America hating Marxist. And every element of the statement I just made was easily learned by anyone who spent a few minutes investigating this lunatic before he was elected. I did that. You watch Comedy Central for your news. You wear ignorance as a badge of pride. Well read up. He was raised by communist grandparents because his Marxist father abandoned him, assuming he was the real father. His main mentor growing up was Frank Davis, a pedophile communist poet. All of this is in Obama’s own books. Supplement that with basic biographies and you have the Marxist you chose. And he believes in Marxism. Which means he believes in the government controlling everything, which is what he has demonstrated for the past 6 years so unless you are blind as well as stupid you know this.

        Time for you to quit being an imbecile and start fighting the monster you helped put in power. Unless you want your iPad and iPhone to just be expensive music players.

  5. The headline is wrong.
    One Republican FCC and One Republican FTC member have a problem with what the Democratic majority on the commissions are proposing.

    Not the same as the result of a board vote.

    Next- the Chicago Tribune is a Republican rag.

    1. DavGreg, remove the partisan claptrap. Have you even taken a look at the size of the proposal? You should intuitively know its bullshit. The only way anyone could possibly back this thing is that they enjoy watching things get screwed up. That’s the only way.

      1. Did not say that I approved of the proposal, just that 2 commissioners appointed to be in the opposition who oppose the majority view is not news. It also does not represent the view of either commission.

        The FTC and FCC operate under a system where only the balance changes by appointment- there will always be Republicans on them even under a Democrat and the inverse also. It is how these institutions work.

        The headline would have you believe that the FCC and FTC have a problem with Wheeler’s position. In truth, only the Republican Commissioners do.

        I did not make it partisan- just stating factual information. These bodies are highly political.

    2. No – you have it wrong. People who love freedom and despise liberty have a problem with the government regulating speech. It used to be Democrats had a problem with the government regulating speech. But Democrats used to actually have morals and even liked the idea of America. That is not the case now. Democrats today are Marxists and they want to turn America into Cuba. Or China. They are disgusting slimy immoral thugs. Nothing more. Like you.

            1. More completely empty statements from a vacuous hole. If you have something solid to say in defense of the man who admits to hating America and who has brought death to all parts of the world say it. Maybe you too think Muslims lop of heads of innocent Christians because they don’t have enough jobs, like the bozo big eared President you helped inflict on the world. Defend the jackass. That should be fun to see.

      1. I am not a Democrat and am damn sure not a Republican. The Democratic Party is inept and corrupt and the Republican Party is a whorehouse to a cabal of big money interests served by millions of sheeple who have been conned into voting against their own interest.

    1. The present ‘Status Quo’ has local & State laws which -> currently <– stifle competition (and thus, innovation) across 40% of the country.

      If we want to abolish **restrictions** on competition, one of the ways to do that would be to have the FCC use its existing authority to preempt State/Local regulations…so why be opposed to taking that precise action?

        1. Golly TowerTone, for someone with extremely strong opinions on this subject, you certainly don’t bother to stay up-to-date on the industry news.

          For example, here’s a URL that was provided in the *previous* MacRumors article on this FCC regulation topic:

          http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/isp-lobby-has-already-won-limits-on-public-broadband-in-20-states/

          To discuss them overly broadly, some are ~State level and explicitly aimed to prohibit local municipalities from establishing their own ISP (typically motivated locally when the local commercial ISPs suck), but there’s also many more local instances where there’s “Sole Source” vendors which lacked adequate competition (such as defined in the FAR). Similarly, there’s also been instances where a corporation (typically the local telephony) is effectively granted public property with basically no strings attached…specifically, no fiduciary responsibility to use the Public property that they were entrusted with to assure the Public Good.

          In short, you have a lot of reading to do to get caught up, so better log off of MR and get to it.

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