The FCC's plan to end net neutrality is here, and the fight is going to get ugly
This week, the FCC, America's telecom regulator, announced its intention to bring about the end of net neutrality in an official sense, removing the Title II classification that has been bestowed upon the Internet and its service providers since the decision was made in 2015 to do so.
In a speech, Ajit Pai, a former FCC Commissioner under Chairman Tom Wheeler and, under President Trump, Chairman of a tonally different regulator, laid his plan to claw back the consumer protections enabled by Title II. In short, net neutrality prevents Internet service providers from differentiating the type of traffic going across its pipes, both wired and wireless, abrogating the use of "fast lanes" for content providers that choose to pay for it.
In his speech, Pai said that Title II classification was put forth as a way for the FCC at the time to assert power and prove its independence, and that it has hurt innovation and, in turn, consumers. "So what happened after the Commission adopted Title II? Sure enough, infrastructure investment declined. Among our nation's 12 largest Internet service providers, domestic broadband capital expenditures decreased by 5.6% percent, or $3.6 billion, between 2014 and 2016, the first two years of the Title II era. This decline is extremely unusual. It is the first time that such investment has declined outside of a recession in the Internet era," he said.
Removing Title II classification from Internet traffic will have the following advantages, according to Pai:
- It will bring high-speed Internet access to more Americans
- It will create jobs
- It will boost competition
- It is the best path toward protecting Americans' online privacy
But opponents of the repeal say that there is no reason to remove the classification, and that competition amongst the U.S. service providers has thrived since the change. The FCC claims that it should not be able to "micromanage" the Internet and has come out against forcing service providers to stop zero-rating programs like T-Mobile Binge On or AT&T's Sponsored Data, which it says promotes a healthy marketplace and provides greater choice to consumers.
In an interview with Reason.com, a libertarian resource, Pai said that "we were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015. By contrast, actually, the commercialization of the internet in the 1990s up to 2015 represented I think the ... one of the most incredible free market innovations in history. With light touch regulation, broadband providers spent 1.5 trillion dollars on infrastructure. Companies like Google and Facebook and Netflix became household names precisely because we didn't have the government micromanaging how the internet would operate. That Clinton-era framework is something I think served us well and going forward I hope it continues to serve us well."
But ISPs have put up roadblocks for consumers when given the opportunity. One only needs to look at the lawsuits levelled at AT&T and Verizon around their old unlimited plans, which were silently throttled after a particular data cap was hit. These days, those unlimited plans make it very clear when throttling will come into effect. On the broadband side, Verizon was sued by the City of New York for not following through with its contractual commitment to provide Fios access to all New Yorkers.
Pai says that he isn't opposed to net neutrality itself, just a heavy regulatory hand overseeing internet service providers that could limit customer choice and, in turn, competition. He thinks that Title I classification, which was established for broadband providers in the Clinton era, is the right compromise, and that under his proposal he would encourage, but not force, ISPs to follow net neutrality rules by codifying them in their terms of service — which could be easily changed, even retroactively, without informing consumers. It's no surprise that U.S. ISPs are already coming out in support of such a change.
Verizon issued a statement saying that, while it supports net neutrality, "[it] also supports Chairman Pai's proposal to roll back Title II utility regulation on broadband. Title II (or public utility regulation) is the wrong way to ensure net neutrality; it undermines investment, reduces jobs and stifles innovative new services. And by locking in current practices and players, it actually discourages the increased competition consumers are demanding."
Sprint said something similar:
T-Mobile and AT&T haven't yet issued comments, but have both previously come out in support of the reclassification. A group of companies, including Facebook and Google, oppose the change, and have previously filed briefs with the FCC to that effect.
The next step for Pai is to publish the full proposal and then put the Commission itself to a vote on May 18th. If approved, the FCC will open the proposal up to public debate before codification later in the year.
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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.
And yeah, I get it...These guys foot the bill for infrastructure, and something new and amazing, like Google Fiber will come along to compete. So how many new jobs and new pipes will Spectrum lay when everyone ditches them when costs are too high?
I don't believe in Federal oversight either...Think it's an excuse for companies to charge more to be compliant. But there has to be some form of consumer protection because the business is unique and doesn't really fit the an open market model. When can ditch net neutrality when I have the option to choose from 4 or more different high speed providers.
It will bring high-speed Internet access to more Americans
It will create jobs
It will boost competition
It is the best path toward protecting Americans' online privacy
**** It doesn't get better than this. I especially like point 1 and point 2. Obvious reasoning is obvious. I mean even Verizon support the change. Just look at how well they articulated their support, offering sound circular logic. ****
it undermines investment, reduces jobs and stifles innovative new services.
**** It's settled then. Where do we sign up?
-Roll back healthcare for the working class (proposed)
-End Net Neutrality
-Accomplish nothing else in first 100 days I hope Trump supporters are extremely happy. This is what they wanted when they voted for that moronic Cheeto manchild.
But take it from me, a guy whose worked in healthcare finance for 15+ years, the only people who actually benefitted from the AHCA are providers and insurance companies. I've been in actual meetings with doctors who were surprised at how much the AHCA added to their bottom line.
And remember this thing called 'HMOs'? They didn't use to have deductibles, just copays. Now everyone has deductibles. The idea was if you had to pay out of pocket, you'd shop around better for the lower prices. Except, most insurance companies don't give you the freedom to shop around like that. If your insurer only covers x-rays at a particular provider, then what real choice do you have? And it did nothing for stifling rising costs. In fact, deductibles discourage people from getting healthcare. Combine that with tripled premiums, the insurance companies are robbing everyone blind.
And the god awful uninsured heathens? They made up about 1 to 4% of a providers' business, or 'payer mix' as we call it. So the idea that some poor schmoe who didn't pay their bill was the single handed reason for high costs was utter bull.
So what we have now is people paying out higher premiums, getting less service, insurance paying out less, and cost still rising.
And I'm no conservative... I proudly voted for Obama twice, but the AHCA was one policy I could not get behind.
He should go and see if he can further help their situation. I have a friend there that is very hungry.
Fcu k him , f cuk Verizon and all corporate shills going through revolving door between govt and their Sugar Daddies!
And as for Trump - more days pass by more he reveals who he is. Not that it was a secret , but just more apparent to those who were fooled by some of his "many, many" talking points and promises.
Speaking of internet - whatever happened with his take on Assange??
He is either a complete incompetent wreck or one of the most corrupt people our public had seen. Or both.
On the Comcast issue, it depends on who you believe. From what I can tell, Netflix didn't want to use 3rd party CDNs anymore. They decided that a lower cost method would be to use transit providers with settlement free agreements with other networks. The problem became that the link between these providers (mainly Cogent) and Comcast became saturated. Cogent was expecting Comcast to just add more links (this is a significant cost to Comcast and possibly Cogent). You could easily make the case that Netflix own business decision led to this. The theory that Comcast was throttling for their own service is incorrect. The links in the transit network were full. Netflix just tried to do things cheaper and found it that it did have problems. Net Neutrality would not have fixed this issue. Unless your idea of Net Neutrality is that one company should be able to send another company has much traffic as it wants and require the company to provide an infinite amount of bandwidth to it.
The car analogy really doesn't fit. This scenario is more like the roads are full of traffic, why can't I drive the speed limit?
On cities doing their own broadband, it is more complicated than you think. They have to connect with others at peering points are probably piggy backing mostly on tier 1 networks. The CDN agreements are there. Because a gov't entity does it doesn't mean that the same problems don't exist.
On the tax money given to ISPs through most likely through CAF and CAF2, that money is mainly for connecting rural areas. Connecting rural areas is difficult simply because long distance transmissions in the last mile compared to more densely populated areas. It is a lost easier to connect people in a small area like South Korea. South Korea is about the size of Indiana with the combined population of Texas and Florida. That is a lot easier problem to solve than spreading them out like into Texas and Florida. And here are some countries with slower average internet than the United States according to Akamai.
Singapore, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Austria, Israel, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, and France. (Q3 2015 rankings). The numbers have likely moved in a year in and half, but still, we aren't near as bad as you suggest.
If you think this is good for the consumer I have a bridge to sell you all.
"regulate everything preemptively" Ajit trying to rewrite history.