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Here’s that FCC net neutrality compromise everyone demanded. And here’s the problem.

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On Thursday, the FCC commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a framework for net neutrality rules that continue to favor the creation of an internet fast lane while exploring a line of inquiry into the idea of reclassifying broadband as a public utility. So, while the Federal Communications Commission has taken the protesters outside their offices to heart and adjusted the focus of its net neutrality rules a bit, the fate of the internet is still up in the air.

The notice sets off a discussion process that will culminate in new net neutrality rules, which chairman Tom Wheeler has said he hopes will be in place before the end of the year. Such rules are aimed at preventing ISPs from discriminating against traffic on their pipe — for example, preventing Comcast from slowing Gigaom traffic while stories from Comcast-owned NBC properties load with ease. However, the timing of actual rules will depend on what the agency decides to do after the four-month comment period on today’s proposed rules expires. So what are those rules? I’ll explain below.

Protesters outside the FCC ahead of the open meeting where the agency will start its net neutrality proceedings. Credit: Free Press
Protesters outside the FCC ahead of the open meeting where the agency will start its net neutrality proceedings. Credit: Free Press

Bringing in wireless networks to the net neutrality fold: In 2010, wireless and wireline networks were subject to different net neutrality rules after a compromise between Google and Verizon. The rules around discrimination on wireless networks were a bit more lenient, given the challenges of delivering large amounts of content over limited spectrum resources. By including the possibility of bringing wireless further into these rules, we have the debate over wireless discrimination all over again. And this is truly a tough debate because the physics of wireless networks are different from wireline networks. But with AT&T and Verizon trying to push landline and DSL customers onto LTE networks for voice and broadband access in rural areas, this debate is essential in order to make sure that the customers who have no choice but LTE have the same internet options as someone with cable or fiber.

Enhance transparency rule: This is pretty simple, but the idea here is that when ISPs take actions to block content or slow content or engage in deals with companies under any sort of prioritization scheme, customers will know about it, so they can “weigh their options.” While it’s nice to know that AT&T might have faster Netflix because the two companies have signed a deal to put Netflix traffic in a fast lane, it doesn’t help me if my only other alternative is Time Warner Cable that has put Gigaom’s servers in a fast lane, so I can send my video files back to my corporate office. Consumers will be left with bad choices or no choices, depending on their needs and location.

No blocking: This gets into the concept of the internet slow lane. As part of no blocking, the agency recognizes that there are plenty of things an ISP can do to make content unusable, such as slowing it to the point where video files become unwatchable or packets in a download are lost. This rule proposes minimum standards that remain to be seen (I’ll update when I see them) and will be a source of much drama in the weeks and months to come, because activists worry that it’s the weak legal link that ISPs can use to fight the new net neutrality rules.

No paid prioritization: The rules also try to say that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise. However, the agency acknowledges that this is a “rebuttable presumption,” which it defines as “a presumption that is taken to be true unless someone comes forward to contest it and proves otherwise” — like a court case. That would then allow for paid prioritization. Yes, that is a house the FCC is building on sand.

Dispute resolution: Who wants an internet ombudsman? Because that’s what the FCC is proposing as part of a series of rules that will allow the agency to take formal and informal complaints about ISP misbehavior. The agency also gives itself room to investigate ISP actions on its own. This is terrible, because it waits for ISPs to do harm as opposed to preventing it in the first place. I don’t see venture capitalists giving a lot of startups money to get pre-emptive investigations from the FCC before launching a service that may one day compete with a cable company or telco.

RIP net neutrality

The heart of the matter: The FCC is proposing that it should use the authority that it has under Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to regulate net neutrality, which unfortunately leaves the rules open to the possibility of paid prioritization. While Chairman Wheeler said that these rules don’t allow paid prioritization and is vehemently against allowing any bifurcation of the internet, it’s also something that the agency can’t enforce if the ISPs offer a creative legal challenge to its no-blocking rules or the wording of the eventual net neutrality rules.

“The potential that there would be some kind of a fast lane has many concerned,” Wheeler said. “I don’t like the idea and I will work to see that does not happen. We specifically ask whether we can and how to prevent an internet fast lane.”

In short, using Section 706 will offer a substantial loophole for the possibility of paid prioritization. The commission is valiantly trying to fill it in with other rules, such as no-blocking and arguments about the potential consumer harm and the FCC’s mandate to protect consumers. Will that be enough? Only time and court cases will tell.

It’s in this same section that the FCC also devotes more space to the option of reclassifying broadband under Title II, which tech companies and Gigaom are in favor of. Title II would end up regulating broadband as a class of service more akin to telephone lines, where ISPs have certain obligations to the consumers and companies that ride on the network. The FCC seems to be using Title II to threaten ISPs to behave under these new net neutrality rules based on Section 706, but it’s also a response to protesters.

 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks during an open meeting to receive public comment on proposed open Internet notice of proposed rulemaking and spectrum auctions May 15, 2014 at the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC. The FCC has voted in favor of a proposal to reform net neutrality and could allow Internet service providers to charge for faster and higher-quality service. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks during an open meeting to receive public comment on proposed open Internet notice of proposed rulemaking and spectrum auctions May 15, 2014 at the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC. The FCC has voted in favor of a proposal to reform net neutrality and could allow Internet service providers to charge for faster and higher-quality service. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

What to do under Title II? If the agency elects to use Title II authority to regulate network neutrality, it would have to adjust or eliminate some of the requirements that Title II puts on ISPs that are harmful or irrelevant to how their businesses operate. Title II is from an era of landline and copper networks, so requirements associated with elements like forcing ISPs to open their networks would cause them to go all-out nuclear on the agency. The FCC would have to tweak those rules. It might do so on a case-by-case basis or might investigate whether applying Title III regulations to wireless carriers would make more sense.

In short, the rules are an effort to continue on the legal path the FCC believes is the best and fastest way to get net neutrality back on the books. But they don’t offer the ironclad protection that the internet and public were hoping for. While that ironclad option is still on the table, the FCC doesn’t think it’s prudent to go forth with Title II. The lack of a clear signal from the White House means the agency is likely to stick to its guns on using Section 706, unless public sentiment rallies so far in favor of Title II that Congress or the president push for a change in tactics.

If that happens, expect an epic battle behind the scenes as ISPs and web giants fight to carve out Title II to meet everyone’s needs.

54 Responses to “Here’s that FCC net neutrality compromise everyone demanded. And here’s the problem.”

  1. Boz Bundalo

    You just have to ask yourself this.

    Will the new Net Neutrality rules prevent new startups and companies from innovating and competing with the existing ones. Will there be a free market and platform where a single person could build another YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat etc etc and become a multi billion dollar company out of nothing.

    If prioritizing “lanes” will give the competitive edge to the existing big players while preventing innovation from anyone with an idea and stopping them in their tracks, there is nothing else to talk about. Everything else is noise and we need to fight this to the point of going out on the streets because if we don’t have an open platform like internet where anyone can make anything and have it consumed and accessed by 100s of millions of people, the economy, free market and the future competition is dead.

    Articles like this are observed by the same trolls from Verizon and ATT that are trying to present themselves as “unbiased” citizens but are trying to defend this absolute horrific ruling.

    Having Net Neutrality dead and in the hand of ISPs is the absolute worst thing that can happen to this country, the entrepreneurs and consumers alike as well as free speech.

    Anyone who tells you that regulating internet by ISPs is a good thing is full of garbage and doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about.

    ISP’s are not some poor little companies who don’t have enough money to upgrade and improve their service, they are massive monopolies who not only want to continue increasing their rates without investing into new infrastructure because they can milk more profits that way, but now they can get money by selling prioritization pipes to those who can pay it while the small guys will simply die out as they can’t match it.

  2. “…the creation of an internet fast lane…” Hello, have you heard of Akamai? The Internet fast lane was created by the first transit provider, before Al Gore even heard of the Internet.

    But the larger problem with this post is the wishful thinking that Title II provides an “ironclad” guarantee against so-called “paid prioritization.” The author has clearly not read Title II. It’s perfectly happy with service tiers provided they’re priced on “just and reasonable” terms. This is Telecom 101.

    Jesus. Read SEC. 202. [47 U.S.C. 202] Discrimination and Preferences. Google Fiber would be illegal under Title II for about 14 different reasons.


    THE un fair advantage rules those who benifit from the current system will fight like heck to stay the course…they have what the people dont have money power and the ability to get the rule makers to listen and act on thier concerns …everyone else is being helped by the rule makers for thier own good (?)…

    the elite companies (see above) sell access at a fee tell all its unlimited ..then when inovations comes along and pierces the broadband moat (how did that happen?)..the paying customers are now hogs for using the service and paying …and the people who bought you these services are interlopers (eventhougt they payfor access just like the rest of us) …and must be reigned in for the good of the (yes the boradband moat creators)

    who all the while spew nonsensical engineering and capex speak about the imbalance of peering and inability to increase capacity on their end ? are you kidding me ???
    mean while boys and girls guess who does the elites heavey lifting? of course the rulemakers (suprise)

    a wise man onde said WHEN ITS OBVIOUS WHY LOOK BEYOND THE OBVIOUS…..the elite guys win everytime while blowing smoke up …you know the rest

  4. Chris Russell

    If Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Netscape, etc., etc. don’t want it to happen then you can bet your pension that it has NOTHING to do with how it will affect the end users but has a lot more to do with corporate profits.

    • Mike Crews

      Yes, it’s quite interesting to see all these incumbent tech companies who have already secured their fast lane access urging the public to demand that the FCC prevent any more fast lane deals. And somehow this is supposed to be good for startups.

  5. Hmm, adding a layer of government is not going to help. We know that the worst elements of humanity rise to the top where power is so abundant and a lot of people want to give the government power more over the internet.

    As soon as this happens, the lobbyists will go to work to make sure the actual rules favor the big companies and keep out competition.

    Over time, the new “problem” will be fixed by even more government intervention – further hurting startups, etc.

    This whole notion is really a big government power grab.

  6. David M

    The problem is NOT prioritizing video over text, or pictures over audio. The problem is prioritizing COMCAST’S video over NETFLIX’S video.

    Net Neutrality is about treating everyone PROVIDING THE SAME TYPE CONTENT equally.

    An example of NOT network neutrality is where AT&T proposed “sponsored data” plans that will force content providers to pay extra to make sure that their streaming data doesn’t count against customers’ caps. Small companies or free content cannot compete with a company that can afford to pay extra for better treatment. And don’t forget that YOU will eventually pay that extra cost. So you end up paying twice for the same internet access.

  7. johnwerneken

    Well IDK. Maybe rural people should move. Maybe local governments should NOT validate local isp monopolies. Maybe abusers of the physical connections such as Netflix SHOULD be charged – why should the isps and/or all the users who HATE streaming video have to pay to subsidize Netflix?

    And why should I care about start ups? If the idea is good someone will try it and find out if it’s profitable.

    It’s Netflix’s USERS who should not get stuck, either by slow lanes or usage caps or over-use charges.

    • Vasis

      so, you are paying for the bandwidth that you want to use. if netflix users pay for 5mbps connection they are not going to get anything more because netflix is pushing the content.

      if the lastmile connections by ISPs are setup to only handle low bandwidth assuming that most people will not stream netflix but anyways advertise/sell higher bandwidth packages to end-users (based on same assumption). Now that more users streaming netflix is putting burden on those connections, who would pay for upgrading those connections? ISP that over-sold the bandwidth? end user who is already paying for the said bandwidth? (or) netflix which is sending content based on user request?

      • Once you connect to Netflix, there is nothing to stop them from sending you whatever they please. They could fill your pipe with trailers, promotions, or pre-caching what you might want to watch next. Even if you never watch any of it, they will have succeeded in blocking out competing traffic. Of course they don’t do this today because it costs them money. That forces them to deliver only what you want, as efficiently as possible. E-mail spam is a good example of what happens when the marginal cost to send is negligible.

    • Travis Fleenor

      Don’t forget that tax-payer money funded the AARPA projects that launched the internet and wrote Google’s algorithm. We deserve a little payback for all that R&D we shelled out for no? If I want that payback in the form of streaming video all month long at the unbelievably low price of $7.99 per month, so be it.

  8. Albin

    These “last mile” providers all get “net neutrality” themselves, right up to the microsecond they put their own sticky fingers on the data. Why can’t Level 3 or ATT out on the internet superhighway come up with a “commercially reasonable” case that they want to surcharge Comcast, Verizon, etc. for everything that passes through their own servers and routers, before it gets to the “last mile”. What’s good for the goose will be good for the gander.

  9. Sorry, but if you think they’re going to trust the priority (.1p or DSCP) bits YOU put on your packets you’re dreaming. The packets coming from the consumer will come into the network on a link that in Cisco parlance has “trust.1p=no”. If they allowed the consumer to set priorities we’d all be hacking the hell out of things, trying to make our traffic faster than our neighbours.

    This is about allowing prioritization (or different lanes, or shaping, or weighted priorities on discard or …) for paid arrangements like traffic from Netflix or Google or NBC. That’s what we’re discussing here. You’re confused.

    • I didn’t see anybody talking about setting priorities without a cost. Obviously, there must be a cost associated with performance. Obviously, anyone with more money to spend may spend it to get better performance. GigaOm seems not to grasp this. See “tragedy of the commons.”

      • Justin Collery

        It’s a little like “tragedy of the commons”, except there is now commons. The fact is that both sides are already paying, the consumer is paying the ISP for internet connectivity. The content provider is also paying for connectivity. There is no free common ground bir, it’s all paid for.

        It beggars belief that people believe that this is good / rational / sensible / nothing to do with competition.

        Lets say you had to pay a monthly sub to use the road to your house, call it a local property tax. As it happens, the company that owns your local road also happens to run a pizza franchise. No if we allow that company to charge what ever it likes to anyone using the road, what do you think they will do to rival pizza companies who want to deliver to your house? What will this do for your choice of pizza? Do you think the price of your pizza will fall or rise as a result?

        I like pizza, and Netflix, and hope that bits are treated with parity in the future!


        • On the other hand, if there is no charge to use the road, some enterprising business might decide to fill the road with hamburger trucks, so there is no room left for any pizza trucks. The pizza companies might fight back by putting more pizza trucks on the road, until traffic stops moving entirely.

          This is not just hypothetical. A variety of ways to gain an unfair share of network bandwidth have been deployed, e.g., TCP striping, TCP parameter tuning, FEC, some P2P protocols. This has only been kept in check by the cost to send.

          • Vasis

            you are paying, monthly, for the road, the point your are missing is that, in your anology, the hamburger trucks will only be there on the road because you are asking them to deliver it to you. i.e. hulu/netflix are not sending data to your house that you haven’t requested through the bandwidth you are paying for.

            • Right, they do not send you data now because they have to pay for it. But Netflix and the Network Neutrality nuts have been arguing against that principle. They want the network to be paid for by home subscriber fees. They call it “double charging” when networks want to charge both ends of the connection. But, the home subscriber cannot actually control what is sent to them. Again, this is not a problem because through the entire history of the Internet, both ends of a connection have had to pay. And end points how pay more get faster connections. Gasp, a “fast lane.”

            • Brian Joy

              Great theory. Works well for the last mile. Doesn’t work for the backbone. Or for peering. Or for failover within the backbone.

              If the backbone business becomes commercially unviable why would the Telcos bother to stay in it? Close it down and reuse the bandwidth. It’s a perfectly viable and valid business decision to make if it’s not profitable enough to pay the requisite dividend to all the pension funds etc. (i.e. the investors). Wonder what will happen then?

              Look at Cloud as a technology. Large Enterprises that are investing in Cloud (private and public) are piling out of public internet based services and back into private network access to their Cloud services. Due to the lack of guaranteed QoS in the Internet. So guess what, less cross subsidization of big business funding large chunks of Internet backbone meaning the end consumer will end up paying more anyway. Or gradually Netflix etc. doesn’t get the necessary QoS (bandwidth and inter packet variability) and the service becomes unusable.

              The bulk of the arguments here seem to be bound up in emotion and philosophy, not any real commercial knowledge of how the internet works.

  10. Is there anything in the framework that distinguishes between video files and all other file types? If not, the FCC will miss the mark. Open, democratic, equal, fast public internet infrastructure is a must for public policy reasons – except when it comes to video. We do in fact need a public + private infrastructure here. We don’t let private jets land on CA Hwy 101, for example. We’ve decided the Highway is a useful and necessary public good for all cars & trucks to be able to travel freely about the country. As a society, we all benefit from having an ‘open’ 101 in addition to a ‘closed’ infrastructure of small airports for private jets.

    • Good point. Currently, a small population of cord cutters are consuming more than half of all Internet bandwidth in the US so they can watch TV on the Internet. At least with YouTube consumption ends when you doze off. That is the traffic that will begin to bury GigaOm and every other www site if there is no cost based pushback.

    • Travis Fleenor

      Nope, not buying it. Much of the real reporting being done in the United States and elsewhere is done by independent journalists. YouTube videos are powerful 1st amendment weaponry in the peaceful fight to speak truth to power. Governments, disreputable police departments, greedy corporations and the like know there is far less they can do behind the backs of citizens so long as any schmuck with a cell phone might break the story of the century and go viral with the most recent beating, theft or racist tirade. Video is the single most important tool for leveling the political playing field and annihilating the false “left/right” paradigm. The Republicrats and Democans will use this as an opportunity to shut down the greatest threat to the status quo since LSD with reasoning just like you stated in your comment. We cannot allow this to happen. The free exchange of evidence from individual to the whole planet in such an efficient manner cannot be lost to the people if we are to ever see the machinations of the military/paramilitary law-enforcement-industrial-complex brought to heel in this country.

  11. Rick Bullotta

    Priority traffic is a requirement and a reality. We can debate how it should be applied and regulated, but do you really want alerts from your mother’s cardiac monitor or your home fire alarm given the same network priority as the latest episode of Walking Dead? I don’t think so. Many many other implications and considerations as well.

    An obvious alternative is for cable/fiber broadband providers to return to a pay-by-the-GB approach, so that the consumer who goes on a Breaking Bad binge pays the toll. But that’s frought with issues as well.

    I for one get really pissed off when I hit a web page from a mobile device that includes a sh!t-ton of rich media. I know that the advertiser is sucking up my bandwidth and I’m paying for it. Now this would hit my broadband ISP bill too.

    Bottom line is that there is a technical and business requirement for multiple levels of service priority, quality, and availability, from both the content producer(s) and consumer(s) POV. Thus, the network infrastructure will need to deal with it. Period.

    • Alex Yuriev

      Rubbish. Quality of service is nothing other than quantity of service – i.e. if you pay me more money I will drop his packets on the floor before yours.

      • Travis Fleenor

        Amen Alex. 100% correct. That goes double for small independent media outlets (see Truth) and monolithic dinosaur media (see Lies).

        • Brian Joy

          Sometimes I really do wonder if people don’t understand how the Internet works from an economic viewpoint. Philosophy and utopian views are great to form an opinion around. But emotion tied to this subject is founded in a technological view of the internet that is over a quarter of a century out of date and completely incorrect.

          Here’s the deal – you want HD video and all the other stuff you and your family consume delivered across multiple devices at home, and on the move seamlessly and without missing a beat? Then who takes the investment risk on being able to deliver that? Not you. Not the Government. Not Netflix. Not Spotify. Not a Heart Monitoring Service. Not Facebook. Not WhatsApp. None of them nor any of their brethren.

          The sole investment risk takers are the ISPs and Internet backbone companies. If you look at the big two in the US, Verizon with Fios and their LTE rollout, and AT&T with U-Verse and their respective LTE rollouts (then there’s the Sprints etc as well of course, and then all the small guys operating on a shoestring). Think they’ve recovered their investments yet (which of course are ongoing)? Think they will next year or the year after? Sure they might go cashflow positive, but it takes years to recover that sort of investment and actually have a profit generating asset. By which time of course it’s spend again on 5G (not forgetting the vast chunk the Government will demand in license fees).

          So here’s the deal. If you want everything now, with no discrimination, then the infrastructure has to be sized to accommodate the never ending exponential growth in bandwidth demand. Want to pay for that on an access basis everyone pays irrespective of consumption – a nice communist ideal, but realistically the poorer parts of society will be penalized? Or want to pay for that bundled in with content on an individual service subscription basis – pay for what you use, meaning the poorer elements of society don’t end up subsidizing what you view on your 8 foot TV?

          Society’s choice. Make it a good one. But remember “The Internet” isn’t a charity. It’s a closely coupled set of independent business who all have cost and revenue lines and who all want revenue to be higher than cost. Keep that out of kilter and ultimately no one will win. Of course, the Government could always nationalize the entire Telco and ISP industry for total control. I’m sure we’d all benefit from that. Not.

          • Youre diatribe is made mute by the fact that these very same ISP have already long abused the system to build out their networks on the back of someone else or at a subsidy cost not due them, (thats right I am looking at you Verizon motherfrakers,)

            So I am not going to have sympathy for their profit margin. ISP charges me for bandwidth and total datacap, (thats right YOU POS Comcast,) and I am supposed to let them compromise the service I pay for?

            I dont think so. And trust me I have no problem monitoring the level of service and paying you based on what you DELIVER, no matter whos content it is!

            Back up and try again Brian!

            • Brian Joy

              Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was the regulatory ability for you to be billed on the basis of what you consume. Thanks for supporting my view.

              Cheers, Brian.

            • Also too bad that the service providers have their own content they want to promote which creates a conflict of interest for serving anyone else.

            • Lawrence

              Amen Ric. The ISP’s own content can include a service or product they own and promote. This is an egregious conflict of interest, putting their small business competitors in a precarious position. They are forced to not only do business with a competitor, but at the same time be at their competition ‘s mercy.
              How does this not run afoul of federal regulations?

          • Bruce Kushnick

            “The sole investment risk takers are the ISPs and Internet backbone companies. If you look at the big two in the US, Verizon with Fios and their LTE rollout, and AT&T with U-Verse and their respective LTE rollouts (then there’s the Sprints etc as well of course, and then all the small guys operating on a shoestring).”

            Well, no. The game has been rigged — you neglected the part that the wires have been part of the state utility and that the ISP portion is a separate subsidiary —

            and the FiOS deployment and construction is being funded through rate increases on customers.

            Our new report documents that in new york, Verizon POTS customers had multiple rate increases to pay for ‘massive deployment of fiber optics’ — about $4 billion collected since 2006 in just new york state.

            the internet part appears to have paid little or no construction budgets– and the special access wires Verizon has been able to have the local service customers pay a disproportionate amount for construction– of the regulated special access while the other parts are in a ‘black hole revenue area that are most likely the FIOS online broadband revenues — which we uncovered by comparing different financial Verizon New York books.

            in fact, we found that Verizon Wireless is able to charge the wireline side for the ‘special access’ construction and gets major discounts over the other companies for access fees

            The report

        • Rick Bullotta

          Travis, it isn’t just about media and ad content – the Internet is used for a WHOLE lot more than the consumer content that seems to be the flash point for this debate. The web is connected to and controls/monitors physical devices, handles B2B commerce and supply chain interactions, and much more. Pure net neutrality is simply naive – it makes no practical sense. What DOES make sense is neutrality within similar classes of content.

          • Brian Joy

            Rick, I’m with you. The one thing this article has really exposed is the wealth of ignorance out in consumerland.

            You’d think people would be able to work stuff out from first principles. But I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Google has created an environment where people are so used to a search delivering information that they’ve largely lost the ability to work stuff out for themselves.

      • Rick Bullotta

        Well, I live in a world where if systems malfunction, people get hurt, the environment gets damaged, things can blow up. So I would COMPLETELY disagree that there’s no need for tiered QoS on the internet. It’s a concept that was introduced into IPV6, but will probably be implemented in other ways.

        Over in fantasy land where much of the web lives, maybe it doesn’t matter. If an ad doesn’t show up, a selfie is slow to get sent, or your porn is a bit choppy, you can survive. Not always so in the M2M/IoT world.

        I would recommend that you accept the reality that there will be different QoS levels for legitimate reasons. Now let’s discuss how we can ensure fair and neutral access within similar classes of content.

    • Dave Anthony

      I would debate that it shouldn’t be regulated at all. Basically the net neutrality supporters have been demanding the FCC step in and regulate the internet, and when the FCC, an organization that is highly influenced by the companies it purports to regulate, actually came out with regulations, everyone was unhappy with the results.

      You want the best possible internet?
      1. Repeal FCC local franchising rules that give ISPs a monopoly in many municipalities (especially outside of large cities).

      • Mike Schleif

        Isn’t this just another example of why government interference is usually – almost always? – counterproductive? What is the reason for rules, law or legislation? What guarantees that the FCC cares one iota about users?

        • rjmcmahon00

          Ever ask how and why “consumer” internet access formed in the first place? It was thousands of ISPs buying PRIs and T1s from the phone companies and leveraging the efficiency of statistical multiplexing. Begs two questions.

          1) Why didn’t the phone companies do this themselves?
          2) Why did the phone companies sell these to third party ISPs?

          Common carriage regulation is the answer to the latter and natural monopoly the former.

          • Brian Joy

            Nice neat explanation that that forms a great soundbite. But completely incorrect of course.

            1) Why didn’t the phone companies do this themselves?
            Simple. Complete lack of skill in the space and complete lack of agility due to the bulk of services they did sell at the time being regulated.

            2) Why did the phone companies sell to these ISPs.
            See above. It was the only products they had at the time. They had other major infrastructure projects to deal with like getting all the stuff under the ground on a common SDH platform from PDH.

            Deregulation didn’t happen until 1996 until such time “the phone companies” (assuming you mean the biggies) couldn’t even offer end to end services complete with CPE. Alternates like MFS did start prior to ’96, but only a few years before.

            Jeez, some of the comments on this article are amazing.

        • Amen to that. You are right. Let the free market decide. Government interference always messes things up and had unintended consequences.

      • Travis Fleenor

        “Regulation — which is based on force and fear — undermines the moral base of business dealings. It becomes cheaper to bribe a building inspector than to meet his standards of construction. A fly-by-night securities operator can quickly meet all the S.E.C. requirements, gain the inference of respectability, and proceed to fleece the public. In an unregulated economy, the operator would have had to spend a number of years in reputable dealings before he could earn a position of trust sufficient to induce a number of investors to place funds with him. Protection of the consumer by regulation is thus illusory.”

        -Alan Greenspan

        He sense recanted this in regards to financial markets but it’s still on the money regarding most forms of regulation. Regulation is a threat to the little guy as long as there are imperfect, corruptible people in the world. One of the sad facts that makes freedom from solutions a solution within itself at times.

    • “I know that the advertiser is sucking up my bandwidth and I’m paying for it.”

      This is the simple reason why usage based pricing must fall on the data originator, not the recipient. Consumers simply do not have visibility or control over what is arriving on their pipe. So, yes, that means content providers must pay to send data, and the ones who pay for faster connections will indeed have a fast lane to their customers. This has always been true. A www site on a 100 Mbps connection delivers traffic faster than one on a 1 Mbps connection. Let’s get real.

    • Here is some help – it’s fraught. I shook my head in despair at your asinine comment, after that misstep however, I just put you int the “yapping dog” category.

    • Marius Telemacher

      If the severity of possible loss of life and limb is your sole concern, then why isn’t there blowback from corporations to get poor people offline so they don’t consume life-saving bandwidth that could jeopardize civilians?

      Probably because like the sentence I’ve written above, it’s full of hyperbole.

      • Travis Fleenor

        Besides, safety is overrated. Ask any rock star, international man(or woman) of mystery or hot person you want to sleep with you. Outside of prophylactics, safety is for lames.

    • Jake Diesel

      When will pigs like this guy and the other bureaucrats making “rules” be put out to pasture and slaughtered for the tyranny of man?

      Seriously where is the fucking venom for these pieces of shit people?