back to article FCC's net-neut rules now official

The US Federal Communications Commission's open-internet rules have been published by the Federal Register, and they're set to go into effect on November 20 of this year. The publication of the densely worded, profusely footnoted 42-page document makes it official: the FCC has come out strongly for what it deems to be " …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This will irritate all the right people.

  2. Jimbo in Thailand
    FAIL 'reasonable' discrimination is OK??!!

    "Third, no unreasonable discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic."

    And how is it that this only applies to "fixed broadband providers"? Of course the mobile Internet providers get a free ride to provide tiered access with corresponding higher fees for being higher on the food chain. And who determines whether network traffic is "lawful"? Why did they even waste their time drafting this ridiculous bullsh*t?! Net Neutrality my ARSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Oninoshiko

      And YES, reasonable discrimination *IS* ok. we call it "traffic shaping" and have built protocols into all of our routing gear. Your bulk-transfer of Ubuntu disks via BT (because you aren't doing anything illegal, definitely not) should be sent at a lower priority then <insert whatever the current FPSes are> traffic. One is bulk traffic, it doesn't have latency requirements, the other does. It is completely reasonable to take this into account.

      "Lawful" traffic is that which has been deemed legal by a court. In practice, this means that end-users would have the ability to make claims their provider was blocking "lawful" traffic. The provider then needs to explain why the traffic is unlawful, AND THE USER CAN CHALLENGE THIS.

      1. M Gale

        Slight correction.

        Lawful is whatever hasn't been deemed to be illegal. Or to put it in geek terms, "ALLOW ALL EXCEPT", as opposed to "DENY ALL EXCEPT".

        1. Oninoshiko
          Thumb Up

          Re: correction

          I stand corrected. My point was that it is the legislature that decides, and a court that interpenetrates.

      2. unitron

        Re: latency requirements

        If subscriber A is paying just as much per month to the same ISP for the same "package" as subscriber B, why should A's Ubuntu download take a backseat to B's gaming?

        Maybe A needs it in a hurry in order to get on with something else.

        I'd find it a bit difficult to defend with a straight face the proposition that A's time is less valuable than some gamer in mom's proverbial basement, all else (like monthly fees) being equal.

        If gamers have to have low latency, maybe they should band together and build their own internet dedicated to that instead of trying to claim that their "bits" are more equal than those of others.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge

          The real key here is the 'openness' doctrine. If all ISPs are required to disclose their traffic management policies (in English, not techno-marketing-gobbledegookese), then consumers can decide for themselves what type of Internet service they want

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      some 'reasonable' discrimination is necessary

      Imagine a situation where you're on a congested exchange because people are busily downloading software updates, watching IPTV and your chip pan catches fire. You reach for your phone, which is now an IP phone and you can't call the fire brigade. In that kind of safety of life situation, it's entirely reasonable to add QoS to VoIP traffic to make sure people don't die.

      Challenge for providers is how to do that in a reasonable and non-discriminatory fashion. Some broadband providers already do or plan to do this by VLAN's between customer router and DSLAMs for voice, video and general data.. Which means those services may actually work, but also means who defines which services run over which VLANs?

  3. Wintermute

    GIves a Government Override

    The three rules are good, but I would remove the word 'lawful' as it gives the U.S. Federal Government a veto on what can be sent over the Internet.

    Yes, yes, I know that 'lawful' was probably stuck in there to placate U.S. media lobbies, but it could also allow for a future Chinese-inspired Great Wall of America.

    1. Steve Knox
      Thumb Up


      Actually, it could easily be argued that, without the word "lawful", the FCC rules would be deemed unenforceable as they would be tantamount to government endorsement of crime. While logically absured, that position is legally defensible, and given the deep pockets of many of those opposed to these rules, they'd find a lawyer to do it.

      As mentioned above, "lawful" in the US still means (at least at the time of this writing) "not expressly forbidden."

      In general, yes, the rules are pretty good. For those upset about the mobile laxity, remember that the US is slightly behind the rest of the world in mobile technology, so over here it's still much slower and more expensive for the operators to implement than fixed data services.

    2. Drew V.

      Actually, it gives the judiciary a (potential) veto on what can be sent over the internet. The government writes the laws, but the courts decide whether something is conform to the law, i.e. "lawful".

      And the courts already had this power, otherwise we would never have had any copyright lawsuits whatsoever.

      So your point stands but only in those cases where the courts side with the federal government.

  4. Roger Jenkins

    I don't understand this litigation thing.

    In a democracy it is normal for a govt. department to issue regulations. If they really mean those regulations, then what's the point of taking them to court, they really mean it so all they have to do is change the regulation to bugger up a court case and get the result they 'really want'.

    The bit I don't get is, why would this dept. sit back and let business take the regulation to court and let it get watered down, weakened or nullified when with a few strokes of the pen, it's sorted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A fair question :)

      Executive departments can only enforce within the laws passed by the legislature and there is at least some question - enough to go to court over apparently - if the FCC has adequate legal authority to regulate ISPs.

  5. Herby

    Say goodbye to...

    "unlimited" bandwidth. Hello to $$$ when you want to download the latest Linux distribution.

    Welcome to 21st century internet.

    1. Dave Bell

      With the requirement to be "open" about how they manage traffic, I can see why some ISPs will squeal. I know it doesn't apply here in the UK, but I'm sure that everyone can recall instances of less than open advertising and management here. What does "unlimited" mean? Is it "open" to have usage limits or charges without having a tool to inform users of how much of the limit has been used?

      My ISP, back in 2005, had such a tool, and a usage cap. Then they dropped both. They've had a quite large usage cap for a while now, but no accessible measurement tool.

      As I said, not UK law. Not that strong. And things will have to be argued out in court. But a bit of honesty from the ISPs seems to be what the regulations are trying for. Only a bunch of crooks would squeal about these requirements.

  6. Eddy Ito

    Nice, but it shouldn't be necessary

    The problem with the "providers" is they want to be more than just a bit pipe even if that is what people really want. All this crap the ISPs put in the way and which normal folks have to deal, merely suppresses innovation. The value position wouldn't actually hurt the ISPs but might alter the contractual landscape for others.

    One obvious example is OnStar inasmuch as anyone can slam a smartphone into a car, connect it to an OBD2 sensor and install a program which; automatically calls for help when the airbags deploy, provides preprogrammed one touch access to cellular communications or anything else OnStar does and even more, like open your garage door as you approach from 100 meters away. Heck it could also set the heating system and lights from a mile away and even kicked off a pot of coffee or, with the necessary hardware, mixed a margarita just so. The reason you can't readily walk into your local electronics shop, plunk down the appropriate dosh, have it installed within the hour and connected to the wireless provider of your choice is because the ISPs all want some stupid lifetime sacrifice where swapping a sim card is the preferred way to say screw you to the BPP (bit pipe provider) is verboten.

    Yes, that connected future we all want is just waiting on these 4king wanks to let us do what we damn well please for a reasonable price. I already have and omap3 based double din unit for my car that I'm in the process of figuring out a TCP over SMS layer simply because I can get unlimited texting plans for $15 where "mobile internet" starts at $40 and nothing would please me more than giving an SMS finger to the phone company.

    1. Eddy Ito


      Just got to looking and would you believe this patent application turns up?

      I guess I need to patent a method of wrapping TCP in a bullshit wrapper and a second patent for wrapping a bullshit wrapper in an SMS message to get this totally legit. Then again since the SMS I'm talking about would be one machine I control to another machine I control it could easily be encrypted (rot13 anyone?) and I could apply the DMCA against anyone who "broke" my encryption for the purposes of monetary

  7. Diginerd


    That patent's pointless...

    Ignoring it being 5-15c to send a 163 byte "Packet" for many users ( may explain AT&T's mobile broadband pricing!)...

    1) use UDP

    2) use GRE to encapsulate "Traffic Contained Protocols"

    3) use whatever error handling the "Traffic Contained Protocols" has built in to request retransmits and deal with the inevitable out of order packets that will be involved.


  8. James Woods


    I don't think this wonderful government of ours realizes who really controls the country.

    They can write laws and have their police but the system is broke. We have bankruptcy courts in a country that itself is bankrupt.

    When will the foreclosures hit pennsylvania avenue?

    We are see'ing it everywhere; the states have no money. We have bridges falling apart, parking garages that have entire committees formed around them only to later have absolutely no money for repairs (because the money was squandered by government).

    So the internet; what internet? We are the internet and we'll define it.

    Other than social networking, online shopping, banking, and news there really is no _need_ for it.

    I can go back to banking with a pen and paper and im wise enough to believe the opposite of what's printed in the local media. Don't need any of it.

  9. kellerr13

    Do NOT be fooled

    This was nothing more than a power grab.

    Sure, we are less under the thumb of the corporations ripping us off, but now the government has all kinds of additional power.

    And the police declair things as "unlawful" whenever it suits them. Overall, this is a very bad thing, that will result in more censorship, without a Warrant.

    I would gladly keep the stupid corporations and their antics, to keep out censorship, or to even have it be less than it will be used.

    Make no mistake about it, this screws over the people.

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