back to article Obama HURLS FCC under train, GUTPUNCHES ISPs in net neut battle

Barack Obama has set the cat among the pigeons in the battle over net neutrality – by issuing a blunt demand that internet access be treated as a public utility in the United States. In a two-minute video, also given its own page on the White House website, Obama warns that "abandoning the principles" behind the internet's …

  1. Wolfclaw

    Old School Rules

    I knew Title II was old but didn't expect it to be around when the Romans built the first highways ........ Title II on the cable companies: the legislation was written in 193

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Old School Rules

      That's why the article clearly states that it "in some respects is grossly outdated"

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Old School Rules

      1934, mate.

      C.

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      "Akamai and other CDNs accidentally outlawed"

      Next year's headline.

      (If you wish to rebut, the muddle is in the middle. Ignore the clear extremes, focus your definition on the boundary cases, look at examples straddling same.)

      1. Keven E.

        Re: "Akamai and other CDNs accidentally outlawed"

        Good riddance!

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: "Akamai and other CDNs accidentally outlawed"

          Kevin "Good riddance!"

          Whoa there! A great deal of high quality pR0n is delivered quickly and efficiently by various Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). If one watches carefully, one can often see a "cdn" flash by in the address loading bar (YMMV), unless one is distracted by other things.

          CDNs are generally considered to be Very Good Things.

          Is there logic behind your reaction? Or is it just a 'Yay! Net Neutrality' reaction?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Akamai and other CDNs accidentally outlawed"

            I've seen plenty of things flash past but none of them CDN unless CDN stands for Coc...

          2. Keven E.
            Alien

            General chaos

            More of a (knee) jerk reaction to marketing always getting its frickin mitts into centralized data/tracking systems. That sucking sound ain't from you getting *content. <snort> It goes deeper than that, but I'll stop now before I...

  2. btrower

    Fear...

    I worry that the banner of 'Net Neutrality' is sufficiently vague and poorly informed that it will be used as the name of convenience for a regime that nobody wants -- universally crappy bandwidth.

    Traffic prioritization is pretty much a necessity to support a reasonably efficient network. However, the incumbents, if not forced to treat packets the same will end up treating packets unfairly and using their leverage to gouge consumers.

    I am aligned behind 'Net Neutrality' because it is the lesser of a variety of evils. However, I wish to hell we could get a sane and sensible conversation on the go about making things actually right.

    1. Alistair
      Windows

      Re: Fear...

      " I wish to hell we could get a sane and sensible conversation on the go about making things actually right."

      I could make a dollar off that statement.

      CableCO.CEO:

      I could make $10,000,000 off my customers.

      "sane and sensible" go out the window with the second comma. Hell in some cases with the first comma.

      (grumpy sysadmin on a grumpy monday)

    2. noominy.noom

      Re: Fear...

      Net neutrality has nothing to do with traffic prioritization. Furthermore, I do not agree that traffic prioritization is a necessity (in the U.S anyway.) Capacity in the backbones is plenty good enough. The last mile probably needs upgraded because the larger ISPs have not maintained it or upgraded it over the years. And right now, very few if any packets have any QOS bits set so are you going to just wing it and guess a packets payload by it's IP address?

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Fear...

      "I worry that the banner of 'Net Neutrality' is sufficiently vague and poorly informed that it will be used as the name of convenience for a regime that nobody wants -- universally crappy bandwidth."

      But without the ability to prioritize, raw last mile bandwidth becomes a point of competition. If everyone is doling out universally-crappy bandwidth, the first to deliver universally-not-so-crappy bandwidth at decent rates is going to attract attention...and steal customers. You would think the incumbents would take notice at that point, much as how T-Mobile's audacity (pretty much forced being #3 in the mobile market) is making AT&T and Verizon take notice.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Fear...

        the first to deliver universally-not-so-crappy bandwidth at decent rates is going to attract attention...and steal customers.

        Steal customers? But that would require competing against each other.

      2. JeffyPoooh
        Pint

        Re: Fear...

        "...raw last mile bandwidth becomes a point of competition..."

        Really? The link from our house to the C.O. is not just the "last mile", it's the last 2.5+ miles. It's FTTH, possibly shared with up to 16 other houses, and provides a dedicated 175 Mbps (repeatedly confirmed) just for our house. Even with four video + gaming heavy users, not an issue.

        The solution to a bandwidth shortage is more bandwidth. Other ISPs can learn from Bell (Aliant) FibreOP. They're doing it correctly. Completely solved problem.

  3. ratfox

    Nice

    It's not like the broadband providers were investing in better networks anyway…

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice

      "It's not like the broadband providers were investing in better networks anyway…"

      No of course not. That $25,000,000,000 Verizon spent on fibre was just imaginary money, digging up imaginary streets and laying imaginary cables. FiOS customers imagined they thought the internet went faster.

      None of this really happened! Like the Moon Landings!

      Eh, Net Neutrality. You bring out more weirdos than Halloween.

      1. Gary O'Brien

        Re: Nice

        Yes they may have spent that money, BUT lets also not forget they were given Billions in tax breaks and government subsidies to do it. The tax payer financed the infrastructure upgrades not the shareholders.

    2. Eddy Ito

      Re: Nice

      Sure they were. They were doing it everywhere Google rolled out its service which gave legacy providers actual competition.

      Everywhere else the cable guys know the phone companies, like Verizon, are letting the lines rot and dumping the area on someone who will file chapter 11 shortly so no real worries about competition there.

      1. kend1
        Unhappy

        Re: Nice

        @Eddy Ito

        Verizon is very happy to rip out copper and install fiber in our area. My previously affordable $25.00 month Verizon DSL(copper) internet connection was replaced by the 'cheapest available' $65.00 month Verizon FIOS internet connection. And my only choices were Comcast or Verizon [shot or stabbed].

        1. ratfox

          Re: Nice

          That would be the FiOS that Verizon has decided to stop expanding four years ago? The one that people can't even get in rural towns such as New York?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Nice

            "That would be the FiOS that Verizon has decided to stop expanding four years ago? The one that people can't even get in rural towns such as New York?"

            New York? That's an old city. Across the water, the same can be said of London. They share the same problem. They're old cities, meaning they're all built up and full of old infrastructure that's more or less still in use. That means you can't tear anything up for fear of tearing something up you're not supposed to (hint: New York does not allow implosion demolition in case the collapse messes up stuff underneath). So you have to ask yourself: how does New York put in new infrastructure without messing up all the old infrastructure (on which lives can depend) in the process?

            1. roger stillick
              Boffin

              Re: Nice, but that's what GIS is for...

              Every City or Town or County here in the USA is mandated to maintain a single GIS map that places ALL facilities of any type either above ground, ground level or below ground, as built... these records are used by locators to mark what is above or below ground.

              IMHO= big storm sewers make ideal fiber runs...RS.

              1. Fatman
                Joke

                Re: Nice, but that's what GIS is for...

                IMHO= big storm sewers make ideal fiber runs...RS.

                Google has already started down """that""" road:

                http://www.google.com/tisp/

              2. Fluffy Bunny
                Devil

                Re: Nice, but that's what GIS is for...

                "IMHO= big storm sewers make ideal fiber runs...RS." - That would explain why some of the stuff that comes off the Internet is so sh....

            2. Chad H.

              Re: Nice

              The same way London did. Tell the councils to stop fucking around and let BT put its VDSL cabinets in - even if they were "ugly".

            3. Daniel B.

              Re: Nice

              New York? That's an old city. Across the water, the same can be said of London.

              Except London seems to be doing a better job in getting their bandwidth upgraded compared to NYC.

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: Nice

      Bell (Aliant) certainly is. Rolling out FTTH.

      Seems to be mostly funded by their new FibreOP "Cable" TV service, making a 'triple play' that wasn't feasible with copper ADSL.

      Last Mile and FTTH. It's a completely solved problem. T-Shirts available.

      There should be, like, a cake or something.

  4. chris lively

    I used to wonder if we (the US) would be better off if the internet companies were treated just like the water/electric utilities and highways.

    Then I remembered deregulation in which several (many?) states started privatizing electric utilities because government service was spotty and pricing was crap. Then I also remembered that, at least in my state, there are several large highways that are converting (or have converted) over to Toll Roads owned by foreign agencies because the states can't figure out how to maintain them. - This stuff happens when taxes originally marked for highway construction/maintenance are funneled into other services.

    I know that Internet service needs packet prioritization for proper functioning. However I also know that the US telcos are horribly opaque to the point that normal people consider ads with pricing to be outright lies; their "contracts" seem to say "we'll give you whatever service we want and will change it whenever we want, but if you leave then you will be ripped a new one."

    The right answer would be that ISPs do what they can to ensure that traffic is properly delivered at the speeds they advertise. However that seems to be near impossible to legislate. So a better answer would be: force the bastards to compete with each other.

    The fact that most areas of the US only have a single choice in ISP is problematic. The top action item should be for the FCC to come up with whatever rules are necessary to force competition. My business is paying around $500/month for 20Mb service. I pay $100/month for 100Mb service at my house. The difference? I have a choice of 3 providers at my home and there is only 1 provider at my business. If there was competition, I guarantee the pricing would change.

    1. jamesb2147

      Granny Smith and Pink Lady

      "My business is paying around $500/month for 20Mb service. I pay $100/month for 100Mb service at my house. The difference?"

      The difference is, in part, that you're a business. Therefore, you pay for "business class" services, which basically means F%$& you, the telcos can charge what they want because you'll still pay it (this is the same reason airline tickets are more expensive last minute; business travelers often buy last minute and will pay more for the privilege... because they can pay more for the privilege). With Comcast, that means, technically, that you don't have a usage cap, and legally, that your ass is covered (allowed to run servers and buy the connection as a business without violating the ToS).

      I'm not disagreeing per se, just saying that it's not a straightforward apples-to-apples comparison.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: Granny Smith and Pink Lady

        Business class vs Home service?

        24x7 support?

        Static IP addresses?

        Home service? We'll get to you when we get to you. If you call after hours... leave a message and call back in the morning....

        There is a difference.

        1. roger stillick
          Facepalm

          Re: Granny Smith and Pink Lady, IMHO= no difference..

          Home and Business service is the same in the USA per the FCC universal service policy... all except Static IP's are the same... Home gets single dynamic IP as default... it goes from a single to 5 statc IP's for either Home or Business internet ( recommended 2 up, 2 down, and 1 maint port IP for servers)... apparently Business subsidises Home as Home is always cheaper for like service.

          caveiat= as a retired Telco type, be assured it is NOT any Telco's policy in the USA to not offer customer service out of hours - it simply isn't done... if anyone hare experienced this, a documented call to your repair service supervisor will get you a return letter telling what happened and why... a copy to your State PUC will end that nonsence (eg= E9-1-1 is not a daytime only service, and you pay for it to be 24x7-365)...RS.

          1. Preston Munchensonton
            Facepalm

            Re: Granny Smith and Pink Lady, IMHO= no difference..

            Anyone who has worked for an ISP knows that residential customers do not have the same Service Level Objectives (SLO) as business customers. Business customers have higher demands for uptime and pay accordingly, even when multiple ISPs offer services in the same area. That's not rocket science, just economics. Residential customers will certainly scream loudly, but no one on residential services can expect the same uptime, packet delivery, or throughput as a business customer (the later accommplished mostly through oversubscription, which inherently assumes congestion will occur and thus not all packets can be treated the same).

            The entire discussion of Net Neutrality has nothing to do with protecting consumer rights and everything to do with forced consolidation of the industry. These regulations will force out smaller ISPs so that we're all left with Comcast/TWC, Verizon, AT&T, and Google (and probably InterNIC, but not for home use). Carriers have to be able to differentiate services. What the fuck would anyone go into business to become a utility? I guess 300 years of economics have taught us nothing.

          2. Ian Michael Gumby

            Re: Granny Smith and Pink Lady, IMHO= no difference..

            Nope

            Homes don't necessarily get a static IP address.

            And ISP can block mail servers , DNS servers if you're running a SOHO on a home network.

            They can also throttle your use of the network easier.

            Call after hours... see how fast you get a call back.

        2. Keven E.

          Re: Class of Service and Pandora

          Those differences themselves may be the value delivered for difference in price (cost of running a 24/7 customer service center + employees awaiting asleep or watching late night telly/Netflix while endless pizza's arrive) but it doesn't explain the reduction of bandwidth to businesses for the price. Since they can generally anticipate a consistent usage from the business side, they can reasonably "guarantee" you won't have any service degradation (or certainly won't notice it). COS management has already removed most any "net neutrality" from application... pretty much everywhere. Treating it as Title II is just opening the court doors for judges (mostly lawyers, tho) to bring definitions of "unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services" into the 21st century. That quote describes the pandora's boxes which have already been opened. I'm not saying I wouldn't welcome *neutrality... seems a bit late. It would create a hell of a lot of govmnt. jobs to attempt to enforce it, tho. <snicker>

    2. Robert Helpmann??

      "There should be no toll roads on the information highway,"

      ...in my state, there are several large highways that are converting (or have converted) over to Toll Roads owned by foreign agencies because the states can't figure out how to maintain them.

      I truly loathe toll roads, but the comparison is not apt unless you consider that pretty much the entire internet is currently made up of toll roads. It seems intuitive that in today's world, an ISP occupies the same place in society as telcos did 25 years ago. The only thing preventing them from being regulated in the US as such is politics (that is to say, "money").

  5. Rik Myslewski

    Time to speak up

    Whether you are in favor of reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act or are in opposition to it, it's time to let your opinions be known by making two short phone calls:

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: 1-202-418-1000

    President Barack Obama: 1-212-456-1111

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Time to speak up

      FYI... Obama is the kiss of death to any issue these days.

      But here's the rub.

      Suppose you're the ISP and you have all of this traffic from Netflix going across your pipes to another peering partner. In short, it costs you money to maintain and carry the traffic. Unfortunately you get no benefit from the traffic and its costing you money. Not to mention that you can't prioritize your customer's traffic. What then?

      The point is that net neutrality isn't as simple as some try to make it out to be.

      1. brainbone

        Re: Time to speak up

        "Unfortunately you get no benefit from the traffic and its costing you money. "

        Your customers are paying you for internet connectivity, and they expect to be able to access services, like Netflix. Is that payment of "no benefit" to you? Did you expect them not to use the service they are paying for?

        "all of this traffic from Netflix going across your pipes to another peering partner"

        Netflix will offer you free caching proxies to alleviate that traffic. They will even offer direct peering in some cases. The question is, should you be able to throttle Netflix to force them into a separate peering arrangement, then charge Netflix for that f#ckery?

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: Time to speak up

          Slime ball "Netflix will offer you free caching proxies..."

          That's like offering the landlord "free tenants". Other non-scum CDNs would pay rent, power.

          Do you think Akamai would get away with offering "free caching proxies"?

        2. Ian Michael Gumby

          Re: Time to speak up

          Perhaps I wasn't clear.

          The traffic is crossing your network, meaning NO BENEFIT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. IN FACT SAID TRAFFIC IS COMPETING WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS' TRAFFIC.

          Sorry to shout.

          But the peering agreements are based on the assumption that the traffic will flow in both directions and the difference will even out over time.

          Video and Music streaming... breaks that assumption.

      2. Eugene Crosser

        Re: Time to speak up

        "Unfortunately you get no benefit from the traffic and its costing you money"

        Consumer ISPs have paying customers. The more service (i.e. data transferred to customers), the more revenue (at least, that is how it should be - service must be paid for). For the customers to want the service, there must be people whose data the customers want to get. I.e. Netflixes etc.

        ISPs should praise those data producers, buy them flowers, and maybe even share some of their revenue with them. Not demand money from them.

        This is how it is when there is no monopoly.

  6. Dan Paul

    This is why the Carriers and ISP's......

    should nevr be allowed to own the physical networks. The network must be built out to carry the demand and there is no impetus (Other than the threat of title II regulation) for the carriers or ISP's to increase the bandwidth of the network.

    The buildout of bandwidth should be regulated by the government as should minimum bandwidth.

    If you carry ANY phone or data traffic, you are a telco. As far as I am concerned this does not matter if you are wired or wireless or an ISP.

    The wireless providers have tried to separate themselves from the wired phone providers for this very reason. They thought they could get away with not suppporting and repairing the infrastructure like the wired providers are supposed to. (This Maintenance Tarrif costs you and I roughly $5.00/month FOREVER for wired lines and they are STEALING THE MONEY)

    But that is not even good enough as the wired phone companies have a HUGE lead contamination liability to look forward to and they REFUSE to fix the infrastructure that THEY built and are trying to go bankrupt instead. Every main multi-conductor phone cable in many places has LEAD shielding around it. Disposal is required when they touch it so they are NOT REPAIRING IT!

    Give them all hell, they deserve it and there is not one provider out there that is not a crook.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is why the Carriers and ISP's......

      The cable companies originally WEREN'T ISPs or telcos. They just got into it because they found that they could enter new markets if their existing cable infrastructure was upgraded.

      As much as I dislike big cable's stance on net neutrality, I dont think its reasonable to ask them to divest their cable networks that still provide more than half their revenues.

    2. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: This is why the Carriers and ISP's......

      Dan Paul "This is why the Carriers and ISPs should never be allowed to own the physical networks. ... no impetus ... to increase the bandwidth of the network."

      And yet, Bell (Aliant) FibreOP does exist.

      A counterexample.

      A telco that is also an ISP.

      Spent and spending many millions of dollars to roll out FTTH.

      We chose 175 Mbps just because. Previously 1.4 Mbps ADSL on copper.

      The secret impetus is that the telco is now able to offer 'cable' TV service.

      Haven't seen any lead. That must be a very old neighbourhood. Traditionally telcos rely on twisted pairs, not so much on lead shielding.

  7. thomas k.

    poor timing

    Too bad he didn't make this bold statement of support *before* the election, not that it would have made much difference to the results.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: poor timing

      Yes, though on the other hand Obama is now deeply hated by many people, above all for being a sellout to corporate interests, and had he made his "bold" statement before the election, the GOP might have taken a more oppositional stance, just because they want Obama's party out.

      Unfortunately, most Americans seem to have only a vague understanding of the whole issue of net neutrality, and are thus easily persuaded by anybody channeling for the industry flacks.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good

    Verizon and the like are already being paid by their customers, the end users, to provide them with access to the Internet — all of it. Whether said customers want to watch YouTube cat videos or Wikipedia articles, Verizon's job is to deliver.

    The only reason they can get away with this is that they are essentially a monopoly in most areas where they offer their services.

  9. roger stillick
    Coat

    FCC= Title II for everyone... They are all the same...

    Here in an average corner of Suburban USA....

    1.= Telco is fiber to the node...

    2.= Cable is analog fiber to the curb...

    3.= Verizon is wireless broadband / TV / phones...

    4.= ATT is wireless broadband / TV / phones...

    suprise, they all manage to charge a lot for their services even if only item 1. (telco) is title II...even if telco's TV service is DIRECTV... the State PUC will rubberstamp any telco rate for service if Telco sez they need it to maintain universal servfice...

    Q= can someone tell me how the other 3 services manage to have rates that no one either State or Federal gets to look at all (extremely good unfettered business plans)...??

    caveiat= in 1987 the local Cable company got us all new remotely controlled set top boxes, and celebrated that by denying service from Dec.20 to Dec 31 if the currant month's bill was not on their desk by Nov 31st...small problem, those of us that paid the under USD $20 monthly bill every other month weren't notified...calls to everyone by the thousand of us who had the Christmas Season ruined was to no avail... the Cable company was sold the next year w/1k less customers, we all cut a 10 ft piece out of the incoming pole-house drop and wrapped it around the set top box and returned both to the cable co's service desk... cable is not an option here...RS.

    1. Telboy

      Re: FCC= Title II for everyone... They are all the same...

      "if the currant month's bill was not on their desk by Nov 31st."

      Do they add an extra day in November over the pond to make up for thanksgiving?

      1. asdf
        Trollface

        Re: FCC= Title II for everyone... They are all the same...

        >Do they add an extra day in November over the pond to make up for thanksgiving?

        Bit trollish but still made me smile. Too lazy to upvote though.

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: FCC= Title II for everyone... They are all the same...

          Asdf - "Too lazy to upvote though."

          ^-- That is 25+ keystrokes, as compares to one click.

          Just pointing it out.

          1. asdf

            Re: FCC= Title II for everyone... They are all the same...

            It was the principal of the whole thing. Merkins are low hanging fruit so the enthusiasm just wasn't there.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: FCC= Title II for everyone... They are all the same...

        "if the currant month's bill was not on their desk by Nov 31st."

        Do they add an extra day in November over the pond to make up for thanksgiving?

        Don't be ridiculous. It was added to expand Black Friday.

        Also, those are raisins, not currants.

    2. Mike VandeVelde
      Paris Hilton

      "the thousand of us who had the Christmas Season ruined"

      To be expected to find something else to do besides lay on the couch and watch TV, at CHRISTMAS TIME OF ALL TIMES!!!! What, spend time with family?!?! The horror!! Was there a statistically significant upswing in domestic disturbances? lol

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    here's a simple solution, but it uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut...

    ...Executive Order.

    "It shall be the position of the United States that an Open Internet, untrammelled by split-level access or premium access pricing, is good and beneficial for trade and the national economy."

    He's got that authority, as it hapens. And an EO is practically a precedent in the courts over there.

    Job done.

    Next problem, please.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: here's a simple solution, but it uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut...

      No can do. The Telecommunications Act, passed in 1934, explicitly puts the authority on Congress's table. They do this because the TCA can be amended by later Congresses (and it's been amended at least twice by later Acts). The President's EOs can ONLY be used to enforce terms spelled out in the Act (thus why it's called the Executive branch), and since the Federal Communications Commission is enabled by the Act itself, not by the President, Obama has no direct influence over the FCC. If he tries to overstep, someone in Congress can challenge the constitutionality of the EO in the courts (and EOs HAVE been ruled unconstitutional in the past).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: here's a simple solution, but it uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut...

        I was under the impression that he could override those pesky problems in the National Interest?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Mushroom

          Re: here's a simple solution, but it uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut...

          Actually he does, just not in the way anyone has bothered to bring up. President Obama need only have a fireside chat with a few other people seated in the room. Something along the lines of introducing people to his shiny new Attorney General, who will conduct a review of competition in the cable/telco industry, his Solicitor-General who will get any challenges by the industry in front of the Supreme Court as humanly possible, and his Trade Representative who will make sure that real competition is assured under all future trade legislation.

          Now how about them apples?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: here's a simple solution, but it uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut...

            Congress hates Obama already, and to them a do nothing Congress is a winning scenario. As for the Attorney General, fast chance on getting a confirmation from a GOP-led Senate.

          2. Oninoshiko

            Re: How about them apples

            I like apples, them ones in particular.

  11. RonWheeler

    I feel sick

    Obama just did something that doesn't fill me with contempt for him and everything Big Government American. My world-view has just gotten much more complicated. Or does democracy sometimes work?

    1. Kevin 6

      Re: I feel sick

      I think he's scared that the Demos might lose the presidency with how red the country went the other week so he has to do something to not seem like suck a huge fuckup that he is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I feel sick

        Presumably you meant "such" though "suck" works too ;-)

    2. dan1980

      Re: I feel sick

      Well, that is kind of how democracy is supposed to work - you align your policies with what you think the people want and, if they agree, you get elected.

      If it looks like you're in th poo then you should rethink those policies.

      Not that any of that is actually what happens, of course, but I really dislike when pundits criticise politicians for have 'populist' policies. Isn't that the point? Some brand it 'pandering to the people' but so long as they actually follow through, I don't care if it is in accord with their personal position.

      This post apparently brought to you by the letter 'P'.

    3. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: I feel sick

      Boy do i know that feeling... But, in this case its all hot air. As Obama said himself its up to the Sellouts at the FCC to kill off Net Neutrality. And, they will, and Obama,'s gonna be like don't blame me! When it does happen.

  12. dan1980

    That doesn't mean the issue is decided, however. As the president noted in the video – and previously – "the FCC is an independent agency and ultimately this decision is theirs alone."

    No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    It's wrong on two counts. First, administrative agencies only have that authority which is granted to them by congress, through statutes. The FCC only has any say in this particular matter because the statute in question (The Telecommunications Act) is ambiguous and does not classify these services as either "information services" or "common carriers". So, it is not telling the full picture to say that the decision is only for the FCC.

    As the FCC is bound by the statutes applicable, if the Act was updated to clarify the situation, the FCC would have to apply it.

    Second, even with the current state of affairs, with the uncertainty of the Act, the FCC aren't the only body who can interpret it and therefore make decisions.

    This is because their authority to interpret the Act is largely due to the courts' doctrinal position that, in instances of uncertainty around a statute, the body tasked with upholding the statute is the best placed to make those decisions - so long as they are 'permissible' constructions of the statute and not unduly unreasonable. This is the 'Chevron Doctrine'.

    So, in effect, the courts can rule on the interpretation of the Telecommunications Act, just as they rule on the interpretation of other laws. So far, they have stuck to the Chevron Doctrine and deferred to the FCC, which is to say that they have ruled in their favour when they (the FCC) have been challenged in this area.

    So, Mr President, the insinuation that this is all in the FCC's hands is just not correct. The simplest solution here is to clarify the wording of the Act. Once that is done, the FCC can - and must - apply it as written. I appreciate that this may not be an easy task to accomplish but it really is the only way forward.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "So, Mr President, the insinuation that this is all in the FCC's hands is just not correct. The simplest solution here is to clarify the wording of the Act. Once that is done, the FCC can - and must - apply it as written. I appreciate that this may not be an easy task to accomplish but it really is the only way forward."

      Just one problem. Congress will soon be in full Republican control. And the republicans are likely to be pushed by minarchist Tea Partiers who would gladly clarify the Act by simply stirking it. Meaning they'll be going in precisely the opposite direction from what President Obama (and apparently the general public) want. So if amending the Act is not an option, what now?

  13. Daniel Voyce

    Can we at least applaud him?

    No other government (that I am aware of) has really stepped in to back Net Neutrality (I am admittedly the other side of the world from the UK but I'm pretty sure Cameron tried to turn it around to something to do with his porn filter?), At least Obama is taking the first steps (and therefore a voice with some gravitas) that might bring this into the mainstream and get more people on board with it?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Can we at least applaud him?

      Didn't the EU back net neutrality? Still, it's not really an issue here in the UK. Everyone would jump ship if charged unfairly.

      The porn filter stuff was a load of political bollocks, but I don't recall it linked to net neutrality.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Can we at least applaud him?

        @Jamie Jones

        "Everyone would jump ship if charged unfairly."

        Where to?

        Or did I miss an <irony> tag somewhere?

  14. lambda_beta
    Linux

    Follow the f***ing money

    This is Merica where laws, policy and politics are ruled by money. Last year the major ISPs (the top nine companies) spent $93M in lobbying Washington. In the first two quarters of this year they've spent over $42M. Net Neutrailty is DEAD!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Follow the f***ing money

      Sadly, it is true that Washington is pretty much owned by lobbyists. If you haven't looked at the numbers, dollars and cents, they are quite sobering:

      http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/KI17Aa01.html

      So Obama's "bold statement" is more likely a self-conscious act of perception management. By "taking a stand" he appears to be doing something, and thus the Democrats can cover their collective asses and blame shift when the FCC sides with the industry in carving up the Internet while charging Americans more bux for sh*ttier service.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Net neutrality: the already solved problem

    It's actually very easy. Customer X pays for Y for Z Mb of bandwidth. That is what customer X gets, no less. However, in that Z Mb of bandwidth, it is possible to prioritize: e.g. S.I.P. traffic has a QOS tag so that it always wins over torrents. Netflix could also get a QOS tag so that it doesn't start lagging when a download is started. The total download and upload speed for the connection stays the same.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Net neutrality: the already solved problem

      Thing is, most customers in the US are used to flat-rate prices with the word "unlimited" attached. Plus some users are getting cheeky and abusing the QOS tags.

    2. Keven E.

      Re: Net neutrality: the already solved problem

      "S.I.P. traffic has a QOS tag so that it always wins over torrents. Netflix could also get a QOS tag so that it doesn't start lagging when a download is started. "

      And where does VPN (ie. unidentified) traffic fit in all that?

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: Net neutrality: the already solved problem

      MO says it's easy.

      What if the bottleneck is not near the customer's last mile link, but is actually somewhere between (for example) Netflix's undergroud lair and the ISPs?

      What if, unlike every other content provider of the same scale, Netflix didn't want to play by the same basic rules (share costs) as others with their own CDNs?

      What if Netflix participated in perpetrating a myth that the 3 or 6 Mbps of their stream speed readout was somehow a reflection of the actual speed of the customer's last mile link?

      Not so simple.

  16. Mikel

    Help us Google Fiber

    You're our only hope!

    I'm all in favor of granting Tom Wheeler extended accommodations at Guantanamo Bay Resort. President Obama did appoint the top cable and wireless industry lobbyist to chair the FCC though. It isn't like he can pretend to be surprised.

    I think I am going to go with my original comment on this. "If they can't get no regulation at all, muddled unenforceable regulation will do. Heck, it might even be better as they can tie up potential upstarts in red tape and sue them into submission."

  17. Fihart

    The internet as an advertising medium.

    Google has made internet search a game of picking through sponsored misinformation.

    And the same greedy bastards now see the internet as their private distribution vehicle for mindless Hollywood nonsense.

    This isn't what we came here for.

  18. Russ Pitcher

    Prioritize the type, not the source.

    I'm happy with different TYPES of packets being prioritized - video, voice etc - using some sort of QOS. What I'm not happy with is different SOURCES of packets being prioritized/delayed.

    If ALL vidoe packets were slowed, then that would affect ALL providers on that network. That's fair and provides a differentiator between this ISP and that ISP. If Netflix packets are prioritized and StartupVideoOnDemandCo packets are hindered then that is NOT reasonable.

    Surely the basic principle is simple: If you connect using my network then you pay $x/GB transferred and/or $y according to the top speed of the connection. Add price bands for volume and you're done. Simple. It shouldn't matter whether you are Joe Nobody with your 2MB personal link to the world or Jack Google with your 10TB backbone.

    If the peering connections are completely unbalanced then clearly peering as it stands does not work and you should create new agreements and balance the pricing and/or service between the ISPs, not charge the end users to carry their traffic! If the ISPs want the protection of Common Carrier status then they should behave like common carriers. Obama is in essence correct - an Internet connection is pretty much a necessary utility these days and will only become more and more necessary. I wish the UK gov would think the same and ensure that everyone in the UK has an acceptable connection if they want one. It should be part of the basic infrastructure now!

  19. DugEBug
    Facepalm

    Electricity Neutrality

    Treat it like a utility? We'll end up with the same system we have with electricity - tiered rates. Use more, pay (a lot) more. That ain't net neutrality. Message to government: Stay out of this - let me have more ISPs and then let them duke it out in the marketplace!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electricity Neutrality

      So what alternative do you propose? If they can't discriminate by quantity, they can't discriminate by ANYTHING. That means flat-rate all round, it becomes a buffet frequented by overeaters: IOW, no one will want to do business. Sheer quantity is the only way they CAN legally discriminate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electricity Neutrality

      There are multiple models for utilities. Some of the most efficient are where the infrastructure providers are separated from the service providers - e.g. someone owns the lines, and all ISPs provide end-users services over the lines.

      Naturally this makes the infrastructure providers a monopoly / duopoly and they need to be regulated, but the ISPs compete for business.

      In this scenario, it's the infrastructure providers who would manage QoS - in a regulated and standardised manner.

      This model works well from a neutrality & choice perspective. The main downsides are that there are usually/always more parties involved (& it costs a *bit* more) and there's a regulator involved who has to keep everyone as happy as they can.

      Works pretty well though in places it is implemented.

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