The FCC’s plan to undo net neutrality is about to be revealed
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to reverse Title II changes could be presented later today.
Republican chairman Pai is expected to either unveil a formal plan on Wednesday while Americans are distracted by holiday preparations, or potentially on Friday, while Americans are busy shopping for Black Friday bargains.
Survey after survey (including those conducted by the cable industry itself) have found net neutrality has broad, bipartisan support. And yet Ajit Pai and his GOP majority in the FCC intend to dismantle the rules that keep the Internet a level playing field. Reports indicate that Pai will issue a "full repeal," reversing a decision to treat broadband as a utility and removing protections preventing ISPs from blocking, slowing down or charging extra to deliver different kinds of content, while also reassigning regulation of any anticompetitive behavior to the FTC.
Mike Turco says
"Net Neutrality" is just another way of saying "the government will fully regulate the Internet." I just don't understand how that could be a good thing.
Paul Hosking says
+Mike Turco that's the talking point. It is… inaccurate.
Paul Spoerry says
You fundamentally don't understand then.
You know how you can see every website from every internet connection, and there are no long distance charges or anything? That's because of net neutrality. Every website gets treated the same, so you don't have to pay your internet company extra for certain sites like you have to pay your cable company extra for more cable channels. When you buy an internet connection, you always get the whole internet.
Cable companies have shitty on demand video and other services that compete with the other services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc., and since most cable companies are the only game in town they can throttle or charge more for other programming to get to you. There's basically no one else you can switch to if you don't like what they're doing since for many there's a single provider (or at most two with the other being inferior DSL). So without net neutrality, Comcast can make you use Xfinity streaming unless you pay them more for access to Netflix. And that's on top of what you'd have to pay Netflix too! Or they can just slow down Netflix—and just Netflix—until it's totally unusable.
Without net neutrality, cable companies don't have to let you use the best things; they can just make you use their things unless you pay extra. Instead of making its services better, Spectrum/Charter can just make other people's services worse. It's like being forced to use AOL or Internet Explorer.
It's, of course, more complicated under the hood but that's the gist.
Pai has stated, "Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that's best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate."
Except you don't have choice in service plans when there is essentially broadband monopolies in place and they know it. His proposal would let internet service providers voluntarily promise to uphold net neutrality principles by including them in their terms of service with customers.You know the ToS that nobody reads because it's pages of legal jargon and they can change it at any time. Not only that but net neutrality has wide bipartisan support and massive consumer report… all of which he's ignoring.
Mike Turco says
+Paul Hosking, I was wondering where you were coming from on the issue. Thanks for letting me know.
Saying that I "fundamentally don't understand" is a bit over the top. I prefer free markets over government regulation. Just my opinion, of course, but the reason we now have these cable and service provider monopolies is because the government put them in place.
Lee Keels says
+Mike Turco When you start having to choose which websites you want to access and paying for those sites in "bundles"….you'll get it. That's exactly what they ISPs want to do.
Paul Spoerry says
FWIW +Mike Turco G+ flagged your second comment as spam. I have no idea why but I've unmarked it so it's now visible. It's clearly not spam and I have no issue with healthy debate.
I'll stand by 'not understanding' and double down (unless you clarify otherwise) because you believe in 'free markets'. That's the most continuously oversold and deceptive terms of recent human history. The idea that without any constraints the market will just magically do what's in the best interest of not just themselves but also their customers is not based in reality. Without government regulation, ponzi schemes would be legit. Without government regulation, poisons would be dumped in our water. Without government regulation, monopolies would be allowed to exist at the determinant to the citizens. Companies aren't bad for seeking to become and stay dominant – that's the function of a business… seek profit in any way possible. But left unchecked they will… seek it in any way possible. The more concentrated any organization becomes the more they can block any other type of competition. Net neutrality was to ensure an even playing field in access to data. Personally, it didn't go far enough as it didn't break the monopoly that exists for cable companies but that's really the topic here.
People use 'free market' as if rules are a bad thing. At the same time, we organize rules around how to deal with fires, how to organize our military, what's not societally acceptable and how to police it, and so on.
Mike Turco says
+Paul Spoerry thanks for unflagging. Maybe someone else flagged that post because they didn't like what I had to say.
I don't know how to respond to your comments in a succinct way, except to say most of that really is pretty opinionated. That's not a bad thing, I've got my own way of seeing things too.
I don't have any problem with rules and laws regarding most of the things you talked about. I'm not anti-government, I drive on roads and truly appreciate the police, fire departments and the people in the military. (I don't care for the military complex itself.) But maybe it's better to stick to the topic.
Clinton made great strides towards assuring that the Internet would exist in an open market, and the Internet grew like crazy. Over time, though, Government got more involved. The biggest part of that was Obama introducing the current regulations. That stifled growth, and for what it's worth, I haven't seen anyone's prices go down.
Another problem (as I see it) is the way most (all?) cities and counties have monopoly-like contracts with the major cable/internet companies. THAT is how things are when businesses are allowed to buy the government, and that's the environment that regulation creates.
If we push those two issues out of the way, capitalism will prevail… just my .02.
Paul Hosking says
+Mike Turco keep in mind that in the space between Clinton and Obama, the nature of the last mile drastically changed. Government had already invoked changes before Obama's administration decided to flip the switch and change it back. That change brought us more in line to the environment that saw a flourishing (commercial) Internet grow.
One monopolies – the same telecom companies that want to torpedo Net Neutrality also have put a lot of effort to ensure those monopolies remain in place. This isn't Government-induced control per se. And what Government control exists is largely about maintaining the public resources these companies need to operate their infrastructure.
Laws like the CDA and DMCA are the kind of concerns one should have with Government over-reach. Net Neutrality and maintaining the health of public resources – not so much.
Paul Spoerry says
+Mike Turco Yeah I don't know what it flagged it. Clearly, it's not spam, hateful, or anything of the sort. shrug
I'm with you on the "military complex itself".
"Another problem (as I see it) is the way most (all?) cities and counties have monopoly-like contracts with the major cable/internet companies. THAT is how things are when businesses are allowed to buy the government, and that's the environment that regulation creates."
– uh… what? The current revision would have been enacted in 2015 (and the discussions started in 2014). Are you asserting that prior to that we had no "monopoly-like contracts" and that now we do? That's wrong… in fact, in 2015 the FCC voted to help consumers by pre-empting the laws of two states that prohibit communities from expanding and building their own broadband networks… Pai dissented vociferously cuz… well, states rights and free markets of course! – https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs…/attachmatch/FCC-15-25A5.pdf
Now in 2017, in his order today, "Allowing state and local governments to adopt their own separate requirements, which could impose far greater burdens than the federal regulatory regime, could significantly disrupt the balance we strike here…."
"That stifled growth, and for what it's worth, I haven't seen anyone's prices go down."
– Really? My cellphone costs less now than it did. Many include unlimited text (used to charge for it), data (used to pay by mb), and voice with no long distance charges (used to pay by the minute).
There are also companies that will allow limited data plans with unlimited media. T-Mobile is the largest of these. For what it's worth, I believe THAT is in violation of net neutrality myself but it also shows people are getting more for their money currently.
As for it being my opinion here's just a few which come from Internet Association (which includes some of the largest Internet companies in the world and sources the facts with things like SEC filings, suits filed, etc.):
* Increase in telecom investment among Publicly traded companies from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 is up 5.2% ($7.3 Billion).
* Cable investment 2009-2016 up 56% ($89.9 Billion)
– and on and on: https://netneutrality.internetassociation.org/facts/
The argument that net neutrality stifled growth or spending is also unfounded.
Q1 2017 AT&T told investors it “expanded the company’s 100% fiber network powered by AT&T Fiber, which is now in parts of 52 metros with plans to reach at least 23 more metros, across the 21 states.” ….expects to add 2 million fiber locations in 2017.” – https://investors.att.com/~/media/Files/A/ATT-IR/financial-reports/quarterly-earnings/2017/ib_final_1q17.pdf
More than 40 small internet providers from across the country wrote the FCC stating none had experienced “any barriers to investment” as a result of the 2015 decision. – https://www.eff.org/files/2017/06/27/isp_letter_to_fcc_on_nn_privacy_title_ii.pdf
Q1 2016 Comcast’s told it's investors increased capital spending was due to an uptick in “investment in network infrastructure to increase network capacity.” – http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/CMCSA/4875807252x0x873205/811126E6-3CE1-48AE-9B1B-81A2B4AFA03A/Comcast_4Q15_Earnings_Transcript.pdf
Same story for Verizon… “In 2015, Verizon invested approximately $28 billion in spectrum licenses and capital for future network capacity.” – http://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-caps-transformational-year-strong-balanced-4q-results