back to article Has Switzerland cracked the net neutrality riddle?

Broadband providers in Switzerland – a country synonymous with neutrality – have formulated new rules for ISPs that may save regulators and lawmakers from fruitless battles over "net neutrality". The code of conduct formulated by Swisscom, Sunrise, UPC Cablecom and Orange pledges to allow all subscribers "to use the content, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The basic problem in the US hasn't changed from day one. Regardless of various commentators' rabble-rousing to the contrary.

    We are seeing a massive upheaval in the way that content delivery is achieved over the world.

    The fact that most internet is delivered by cable companies in the US, means that they collectively have a very powerful (and in many cases either a monopoly or something so close as to make no difference to the consumer) control over the infrastructure. We are seeing all the major cable suppliers trying to position themselves to control this new era like they do with cable TV now.

    They will fail..miserably.

    Very few people in this forum have any confusion about what "net neutrality" is all about and in point of fact it hasn't changed at all. However, the various company's that have a stake have been trying to re-frame it to suit their own agendas.

    Once again:

    1) This is not, and never has been, anything to do with packet prioritisation based on traffic type.

    2) This *is* about favouring different vendors delivering the same traffic type but from different suppliers, in particular in preference to a cable company's own offerings to the detriment of those other suppliers (including the blocking of it).

    Now, defining properly what is fair traffic prioritisation and what is not is probably rather difficult in practice. But in principle, the core moral issues are fairly straightforward.

    What would go some way towards this end would be for Internet ISPs to be more transparent about what their policies are.

    I would agree that a better solution might be more competition, but given the natural monopoly that companies in the US have over the infrastructure, I think we can safely say that it will never happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This *is* about favouring different vendors delivering the same traffic type but from different suppliers, in particular in preference to a cable company's own offerings to the detriment of those other suppliers (including the blocking of it)."

      You, sir, are exactly spot-on. Are you possibly a Yank, and if so might you be available to become the next FCC Chairman after Tom Wheeler either resigns out of frustration or steps down to take a lucrative lobbying position at Comcast or Times Warner?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's a clearer description of the problem than appears in the vast majority of articles covering net neutrality. No one with an active interest is anything close to honest about their motives, the worst offender probably being the endless repetition of "stifle innovation" when what is meant is nearer to "stifle our ability to print free money". It doesn't help that the FCC seems to be stuffed with industry lobbyists or ex-chairmen entirely predisposed to give the cable companies exactly what they want - hardly a surprise then that net neutrality campaigners positions become more extreme, as there is simply no other way to counter the entrenched advantage the industry has than by vocally refusing to give an inch.

      Its one of the starker current examples of money simply riding roughshod over democracy, and were the lobbying cash and campaign contributions in which the whole thing is awash simply to disappear, its a certainty the arguments and their presentation would look very, very different.

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      "natural monopoly that companies in the US have over the infrastructure"

      That "natural monopolies" exist outside of the mind of legislators is doubtful. "Natural monopolies" are just code for "a monopoly granted by regulatory law", probably after some solid greasing of political wheels.

      For example, from The Myth of Natural Monopol

      The eventual creation of the telephone monopoly was the result of a conspiracy between AT&T and politicians who wanted to offer "universal telephone service" as a pork-barrel entitlement to their constituents. Politicians began denouncing competition as "duplicative," "destructive," and "wasteful," and various economists were paid to attend congressional hearings in which they somberly declared telephony a natural monopoly. "There is nothing to be gained by competition in the local telephone business," one congressional hearing concluded.

      The crusade to create a monopolistic telephone industry by government fiat finally succeeded when the federal government used World War I as an excuse to nationalize the industry in 1918. AT&T still operated its phone system, but it was controlled by a government commission headed by the postmaster general. Like so many other instances of government regulation, AT&T quickly "captured" the regulators and used the regulatory apparatus to eliminate its competitors. "By 1925 not only had virtually every state established strict rate regulation guidelines, but local telephone competition was either discouraged or explicitly prohibited within many of those jurisdictions."

      1. DragonLord

        I believe that a natural monopoly does exist, but only in relation to the wires in the road. Basically it doesn't make sense to put down more than one set of gas pipes, electricity cables, water pipes, sewage pipes, telephone cables, roads, train tracks, etc. Thus these are all natural monopolies. But beyond the management of the last mile infrastructure, I don't believe there are natural monopolies and the government should recognise that by forcing a separation in law.

        1. Ignorance is bliss

          'Natural' monopolies may only be temporary

          You are right if one looks at the present and assume that all your examples came along at the same time. But, looking back in history, one sees that decades or centuries separate the introduction of roads, train tracks and telephone cables. When someone invents fiberoptic cables, which are a huge (and disruptive) improvement on the telephone cables, then the telephone cable is no longer a 'natural monopoly', is it? And then it does make sense to replace the telephone cable. In fact, it is for the common good to replace the copper. So, maybe the question is, how does one regulate the speed at which disruptive technologies are introduced? There has to be enough incentive and time for investments in infrastructure to be repaid, yet allow the new technology to replace it at that moment.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Actually, a natural monopoly IS NOT a "de jure" monopoly. On the contrary, it's a "de facto" monopoly created due to its existence being something of a "necessary evil": IOW, we need it, but we don't like what it does to the place. Take utilities such as gas. These utilities are needed for modern society to function, but as a necessity, these utilities require significant amounts of infrastructure that raises lots NIMBY issues. We DON'T WANT more than one set of utility infrastructure crowding our communities, so we naturally choose a winner to avoid this.

        1. DragonLord

          For things like gas, water, and sewage I disagree as it's not so much an issue of want as it is practicality (Sewage and water esp. can use very large pipes) and scarcity of space. I would imagine that there are plenty of large houses that have more than 1 of a type of pipe going into the property, but they all come from the same mains pipe.

    4. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Net neutrality is like the traditional definition of obscenity (likely to deprave and corrupt) - you only really know it when you see it. Good analysis though.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    Yep.

    "Perhaps that's because nobody knows better how awful American utilities are than Americans."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Any sign of this yet?"

    You tell me, has Verizon and company stopped controlling the politics on this matter? It's not a question of yet or when, it's a question of how. From where I'm sitting, BigCorp is calling the shots, and if you try and change the rules, or even bend them, they step up and sue.

    Verizon has sued the U.S. government and won, and might do so again. So, you tell me, how exactly do non-millionaire people change anything at a state level, let alone federal? It's not like people don't want to change the laws, it's just they really can't if it affects BigCrop. Think you can vote to change laws? Assume voting changes laws for a second, then haven't we all voted to make laws so improbable to change? I know I didn't, yet here I sit with with a fist full of rotted votes that were never intended for this outcome. So where did all my votes go since so much changed changed that I didn't vote for?

    I'm not saying things can't change, but I'm starting to think that the answers to changing anything, not just IT matters, are far from "civil". However, the word "civil" might be in the correct answer.

    Ahhhh, still what I tell everyone holds true about my U.S.A.: I'm just happy China and Cuba aren't having a shoot out in my street, and if your country is the same, things aren't totally hopeless and wrong.

    1. Eddy Ito

      how exactly do non-millionaire people change anything at a state level

      You could start at the city level. Depending on where you are, it could be either city, county or some other governmental sector that signs the contracts with the cable companies in compliance with 542(f) of the Communications Act which allows the municipality to charge the cable provider a fee which is essentially rent for the space the company uses to lay and service their lines. Most of these contracts have an exclusivity clause that grants the company an effective local monopoly.

      You can work with your fellow constituents to get the village, town, parish, whatever to abolish the exclusivity arrangement when the contract is due for renewal. On the state or federal level it seems that a tweak to some legislation that prohibits or nullifies exclusivity clauses could be in order. That way if another cable company wanted to compete in an area, they could. It would certainly improve the situation for most people if they were given alternatives between the jitter that seems to be DSL and the stop motion that is cable when the local school lets out.

      1. TechBearMike

        Do what a nearby city did in Louisiana.

        Lafayette developed its own fiber optic network and fought tenaciously with Big Tele and Big Cable to operate it. Citizen backing for the creation and realization of the locally-operated network was tenacious. Internet-only top speeds are 1000x1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) $109.95/month. There are lesser speed tiers, all priced below cable providers' normal costs. Everyone who lives there brags about how fast their net is.

        Eighteen miles north, in my small town, had to settle for Charter with max down of 35Mbps and max up of 2Mbps, and that service was overpriced. I would give some credence to the idea of starting local and working up bit by bit where networks of the locally-owned kind are concerned.

  4. the spectacularly refined chap

    This seems as good an approach as any

    I'll admit I've never really jumped on the net neutrality bandwagon myself, it has always struck me as people wanting things for themselves with no thought to how it impacts the infrastructure. If net neutrality is applied exactly as many advocates have long pleaded you end up with one of either two scenarios - either you accept that applications with stringent real-time requirements (VoIP, gaming, even remote terminals) are not to work in an acceptable manner or the network is so massively over-engineered that everything works but you pay ten times your current tariff.

    This does at least allow for traffic management based on sound engineering reasons - prioritise the real-time stuff and allow the bulk transfers going on in the background to proceed as capacity permits.

    I still don't have a problem with no net neutrality if that is done in a responsible manner - after all, if you want a better service for some or all of your traffic and are willing to pay for it why shouldn't you be offered it - but I'll admit I can't see a neat dividing line between what you as a subscriber would wish to pay extra for and what may effectively be demanded of e.g. Netflix or another service potentially competing with the ISP's own offerings. So, no, it's not perfect, but it's probably the best of a bad job for the time being.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: This seems as good an approach as any

      <See the first post>

      It was never about not prioritising traffic, its about not prioritising/blocking organisations.

      We don't want the ISP to be the toll-gate for everything online because they have the local ISP monopoly.

      The cable companies get dragged in first because they have an obvious conflict of interest.

      1. Rebecca M

        Re: This seems as good an approach as any

        It was never about not prioritising traffic, its about not prioritising/blocking organisations.

        I think that's the point: a lot of net neutrality advocates have jumped on the wrong bandwagon. Anyone that suggests all traffic must be treated equally IS advocating the banning of that kind of traffic management whether they intend to or not - they are two sides of the same coin. That is the wrong thing to back but it is precisely what many advocates have been demanding, without any thought at all to how it impacts the integrity of the network.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: This seems as good an approach as any

          I don't know. I think their thought is sort of like, "Give an inch, they take a mile." The idea is that if you allow them to prioritize traffic one way, two things will happen. First, people will abuse the system and, for example, disguise torrent traffic as video or SIP streams (or simply encrypt everything so you can't tell what's what). This will then push the providers to say, in the interests of prioritizing "proper" traffic, they'll have to filter some other, necessarily improper, way. IOW, it becomes the thought that the only proper filtering is NO filtering because it creates a slippery slope.

          1. the spectacularly refined chap

            Re: This seems as good an approach as any

            First, people will abuse the system and, for example, disguise torrent traffic as video or SIP streams (or simply encrypt everything so you can't tell what's what)

            That's trivially easy to guard against, indeed in many ways it's easier than deep packet inspection. You can get a very good idea of what protocol a given connection is using by simply looking at the size and frequency (both up and down) of the packets flowing back and forth. My employer pays for MPLS now but before that I was using Plusnet at home, and that used precisely this technique for traffic shaping purposes for this very goal - i.e. prioritise the real time stuff. Encryption doesn't alter that one jot - you can tell the difference between an SSH terminal connection and SSH tunneling a mile off, even though you have no idea what data is actually being transferred.

  5. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    To my simple brain, the issue is quite simple

    ISPs are facing higher costs because with services such as Netflix, people are swallowing more data than before.

    Whilst Netflix may have highlighted the issue, they aren't the problem - the problem is that the ISPs have oversold their consumer packages, and now it's coming back to bite them.

    Basically, if their current model is not sustainable, they need to charge more to the consumers who consume more data, and let the market sort it out (though I admit there are other issues to address here in the case of cable monopolies/duopolies)

    Bottom line, why should Netfix pay more to feed in data (costs that would be passed onto the customer) meaning that ultimately, the cable companies would be charging more to watch a 3GB Netflix movie than it would to download a 3GB ISO.

    The issue - the cost - is the amount of data, not the type, and if they have problems, they should charge the customer appropriately based on volume, and not offer unsustainable 'unlimited' packages at cost.

    1. David Pollard

      Re: To my simple brain, the issue is quite simple

      It's not just the volume of data, it's also the rate at which it needs to flow. The 3 GB iso download could often be done at off-peak times or could tolerate patches of reduced rate. Movies need an uninterrupted flow.

    2. annodomini2

      Re: To my simple brain, the issue is quite simple

      You're also missing the content point, many of these companies are content providers as well.

      Therefore they have a vested interest in charging the competition more. Even if that is a different division.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To my simple brain, the issue is quite simple

      I don't doubt it would suit the ISPs nicely if they could charge Netflix or whoever for the 'extra' capacity/speed rather than the end user - the ISPs don't look bad for raising prices, Netflix etc do. Its always struck me that the way ISPs present the argument is specifically intended to avoid generating the even more furious and vocal public opposition that would surely come if there was an easy to make connection between their price increases and the arrival of 'VIP delivery'.

      Much of their PR approach really does smack of the music industry's tactics over copyright; they're very aware they're in dodgy territory that might blow up in their faces if they push too hard on the wrong buttons.

    4. NotWorkAdmin

      Re: To my simple brain, the issue is quite simple

      Precisely. If ASDA entice me into their stores to buy a loaf of bread for 50p I don't then accept it if they give me half a loaf for 50p when I get there because too many people also expected that many slices. I fail to see why an ISP is any different. Offer a product at a price, you're then obligated to provide it.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Net neutrality...

    What I expect out of net neutrality is... (this is similar to the Swiss solution)... no service blocking, and don't slow down some kind of traffic just because (i.e. not slow down particular services). I do think actually using low-latency, standard, and bulk options for some protocols is sensible. Ideally a service provider will not run any part of their backbone or backhaul at 100% utilization for long, but when and if this happens prioritization would make it far more usable for everyone. I have to agree also on heavy usage -- obviously, everyone wants to have never-throttled, unlimited data service -- but if some few users are running all sorts of traffic 24/7 and slowing down service to everyone else, it makes sense to at least slow this traffic down when it's impacting other users. And I'd rather have a usage-based throttle then have to worry about cash overages (paying more if you want more unthrottled data? Yeah. Finding out you went over and owe all this extra money? I'd rather not.

    Unfortunately, one problem people ran into in the US was Comcast running a system they kept insisting was "throttling", even to the FCC, but actually was forging RST (reset) packets to force connections closed; this was happening to both torrent and VPN connections. Customers trying to VPN into their workplaces were particularly pissed. Comcast kept insisting this was "throttling" right up to when they were told to cut it out. So some people here now equate any "network management" or "throttling" plans with generally breaking their service.

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Once upon a time....

    ISP's were local affairs (some in many cities) with rooms of dial-up modems. The Cable Companies laid cable, we could all then get MTV and were happy with our dial-up. Then things changed. The old ISP's wanted to offer broadband but two things stopped them. The first was the monopoly agreement between the locale and company and the second was many (probably most) got a "right-of-way" agreement and ownership. This effectively blocked any ISP from laying new cable. Yes, they could have rented bandwidth from the Cable people but at the rates set by the Cable company, a user would have had be out of their mind to pay double the price. And so the old ISP's died off.

    Seems the Telco's are showing interest in laying cable now so customers can get more than DSL but the Cable Companies wave the paperwork in their noses and the interest dies.

    It would cost a Telco a chunk of money to file a lawsuit for every municipality that has these agreements with the Cable guys.

    Where I am, it's Charter that owns most of the state. There's DSL, and a couple of Cell Companies but for all intents, real bandwidth is only available from Charter. I suppose one could lease a line from Sprint (who handles a lot of large companies and ties them into the backbone) but it's way too costly for the average guy.

    So Mr. Orlowski, in answer to your Bootnote... no... it would take too much money and too much time to fight it. If the packets were prioritized, that would solve a lot of problems. But with the monopolistic way things are now, it's all about raking in cash and if the customers are screwed, who cares? The Cable guys won't because they own broadband at least that last mile, anyway and they want their profits.

    Is there an answer? I have no idea. But the big ISP types aren't wanting to compromise apparently.

  8. Irony Deficient

    But American utilities such as water and electricity are privatised monopolies

    Andrew, the village where Deficiency House dilapidates has municipally-owned and -operated water and electricity utilities; they’re public monopolies in this rural corner of the US.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: But American utilities such as water and electricity are privatised monopolies

      They're privatised monopolies because no one WANTS a second set of pipes and so on. It's a NIMBY thing.

      1. DragonLord

        Re: But American utilities such as water and electricity are privatised monopolies

        Erm, how would a second set of gas, even work in a house as you can't exactly switch the supply of gas to appliances? Same with water and sewage. They're on a grid system because of the practicalities rather than desires, as to have 2 pipes of anything coming into the house would mean duplicating everything that used that resource.

        Electricity already has this available in the way of multiphase wiring, so you can actually have multiple electricity supplies, but the electricity company only generally lets you do this if you need more voltage than the standard 1 phase input allows.

      2. Irony Deficient

        Re: But American utilities such as water and electricity are privatised monopolies

        Charles 9, is this an instance of two countries separated by a common language? The water and electricity utilities in this village have never been privatized; they are, and for their entire existence (since the late 19th century) have been, publicly owned and operated. Since the choice of whether to have a second set of pipes, wires, &c. running to one’s home has never been available here, NIMBYism has nothing to do with it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: But American utilities such as water and electricity are privatised monopolies

          No, it's two entirely different countries. In America, most utility infrastructure is privately owned by the utility providers (probably the only exceptions are plumbing-related--water and sewage--and that's due to them being underground, usually under publicly-owned roads). Everything else clearly has ownership tags attached. I see power poles marked property of the power company (private) and buried cable markers with the logo of the phone company. So if utilities are publicly-owned, why the private ownership tags?

          1. Irony Deficient

            Re: But American utilities such as water and electricity are privatised monopolies

            Charles 9, where did I state that all US utilities are publicly owned? Please review my comments above; the water and electricity utilities where I live in the US are publicly owned.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: But American utilities such as water and electricity are privatised monopolies

              Lucky you. You're the exception except for the water. But most infrastructure is privately owned and operated. This is particularly true for communications infrastructure like telephone and cable. For the small towns, de jure infrastructure monopolies are pretty much the rule since they're the only way utilities would agree to reach all the way out to them; otherwise, they'd just go "no deal" and leave them high and dry. And if anyone tried to make the infrastructure government-owned, the minarchists would be crying abuse, waste, and taxes. Either that or the threat of China and Russia taking over the Internet. It's basically boiling down to a no-win situation.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    argh -- have to go anon for this one.

    Less sure about south of the border on things, but up north here we have our issues as well, with technically only two infrastructure providers (Shaw and VideoTron really just dont count, since the infra they have was built by someone else and traded to them). Cable has the capability to provide *far* better speed that UTP ever will (sorry, engineering thing).

    Since I *work* for a cable company, which has its fingers in all things communications, I'll point out some things.

    a) infrastructure is horribly expensive. Yes, there's *lots* of cables in the ground or hanging from the lampposts. But we're using more and more of that capacity. Some of the infra is capable of being "Upgraded" to faster speeds. A *hell* of a lot if it isn't. Running a cable from a CLEC, or HE, or a LN to your house or street is at *worst* a few thousand dollars, and will usually bring with it a number of additional customers. Backhaul on the other hand. *that* is where the real issue lies. And backhaul, either for cable, or wireless, or *BOTH* in many cases, aint no way ever cheap. Even a small loop to pull aggregation for say 10 or 15 cell towers and perhaps 5,000 cable customers can be a substantial cost. And don't yell "microwave" -- its NOT a solution at this scale anymore.

    b) last mile has *never* been the real problem. As long as the wire is there, the last mile is covered. In terms of real cost, it is a $0 expense in the overall scheme of "doing internet", and will rarely if ever provide a "huge" expense in terms of infrastructure. Typically it is laid in the ground by the subdivision builder even before the foundations for the house are poured.

    c) Services. OTT. InterNetCorp. Netflix. Peer2Peer. MMORPGs. FB. twatter. These things use the overall infrastructure. Some are lightweight, and can be aggregated/cached (FB, TheReg, InterNetCorp's sales portal static content, etc etc), Some are lightweight, can't be cached/aggregated (MMORPGs,RSS,) Netflix/hulu/etc both want to modify the business model of the cable companies, and *use* the infra that the cable companies are providing, and use it agressively.

    While I'll admit that mandated monopolies for infrastructure generally don't strive to provide excellent customer service, I think that in most cases this is a result of size, more than monopoly. Our electric/water are provided by our city (smaller than some, larger than many) and in the vast majority of cases they're very good, and *very* professional. (CIP, we missed reading our water meter for 3 consecutive runs and they'd estimated. When we did send in a reading it was so far off their estimate that they sent an engineer out, *after* calling me to make an appointment, at my preferred time, to verify that the meter was indeed functional, no charge to me, and after ascertaining that it was fine, placed an appropriate credit on our bill, no issues, no hard time, just a thank you, have a good evening)

    Large corporations that own huge swaths of what is effectively a utility have:

    a) stock holders. Who effectively are the owners of the company, but are typically less worried about the *ethical* operation of the company and more concerned with *making a dividend and stock price growth*

    b) Access to large pools of capital. They can *afford* to do backhaul. Small ISPs typically cannot afford to do backhaul.

    c) Access to legal skills/talents/regluations that allow them to scare politicians, people, customers into believing anything they choose. (Yes, They DO own media even)

    d) The ability to offer OTT services a customer base. (we have this many bodies. you want to make them your customer? Lets ASN and set up a link - this is part of reducing their cost for backhaul)

    To be honest, I want the internet to stay open. I don't want "channels" of internet availabilty or censorship. I don't want to see a business like netflix forced out of existence, and I certainly don't think that we should be paying an amount comparable to a monthly food bill for internet. I'm not entirely certain *where* the boundaries of what we call net neutrality are, but I will admit that competition HAS to exist, and not just duopoly competition, since thats just a fake competition. VOIP and VOD and perhaps digital 911 calls need to have priority delivery, but does *anything* else need that? I don't think so. QOS however is not the optimal solution since I can already game that.

    What the question that I believe we should be asking is - "If you are limiting/regulating throughput of a specific type of traffic/group of users/ASN/protocol, is that limitation/regulation of throughput required to ensure that that traffic/group of users are recieving their traffic in a manner that ensures the end users experience is acceptable, or is it being done in order to enhance revenue?"

    Part of the problem I have with the overall issue is that I understand what building the infrastructure costs. And perhaps the somewhat unique characteristic of living in the country with the one of the lowest population densities.

    1. DragonLord

      Re: argh -- have to go anon for this one.

      What we did in the UK is forced BT (the incumbent operator) to logically separate it's operations into 2 or more internal companies - BT Wholesale and BT Retail are the one's we're concerned with here. The next thing they did was they said that BT Wholesale is not allowed to sell access to the cables for more than it's charging BT Retail. It's also not allowed to sell access to the wires directly. Lastly, any ISP can buy access from BT Wholesale, and also put equipment in the exchanges.

      This means that the natural monopoly of the infrastructure to individual houses is owned and managed by a company that has a vested interest in maintaining the service and providing a fault free experience. While the back haul from the exchange is now open to competition.

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: argh -- have to go anon for this one.

      AC "...Since I *work* for a cable company..."

      What you wrote is all good, explaining all the difficulties in updating networks. Very difficult, very expensive, very slow. Sounds awful.

      But Bell (Aliant) is still rolling out FibreOp FTTH anyway.

      In one day, a few trucks of an outsourced installation company rolled through. There were more road safety folks than fiber optic cable installer folks. In and out and done very quickly. Then a week or so later a tech showed up and plugged in a FO cable, ran it through the woods, and left it dangling beside the house. Maybe two hours work. Then #3 tech showed up to screw some boxes to the panel. A few hours. Now POTS is on fibre, and 175 Mbps net.

      It did cost millions, but that brought FTTH for thousands of homes. Seemed pretty quick and relatively easy. Now the phone company offers "Cable" TV service. Better than Cable TV. Yikes!

      They're continuing to roll it out all over the place. Inexorable.

      Good luck.

  10. 100113.1537

    Thank you...

    ... for a very clear overview of the problem. I particularly like how you have emphasized the way the argument has morphed - even among the commentards here there is no agreement on what "net neutrality" actually means and now that we have lawmakers involved, I shudder to think how the vested interests will drive the argument. The best we can hope for is a legislative inertia big enough to outlast governments of whatever stripe.

    What we have on the - mostly - unregulated internet seems to me like democracy: the worst form of government - except for all of the alternatives. Yes we complain, yes we are grumpy, but we get access to things we never imagined possible at speeds which were science fiction just a few years ago.

    My handle here is my CompuServe ID. I first signed up 25 years ago when I bought a 2400 bps modem and moved to Australia. My cable connection now regularly delivers 80-100 Mbps. Does that mean that I never get interruptions in streaming video or slow downloads? No, of course not, but the fact that I can host a web conference with multiple clients across two continents from my home is an incredible level of progress that should not be under-estimated.

    In the interests of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I think we should all just settle down here and think whether anything really is so broken that we want to let government regulators in here with their "fix".

  11. Identity
    WTF?

    Where do you get your so-called information?

    Speaking as an American, living in America, most people are not upset by the quality of their electric service. It's actually pretty good — and I live in a small city in a fairly rural state. Now Comcast is another issue entirely. I spoke to an employee of theirs who said most of the calls he gets are for disconnections. The quality of their product is decent (but nowhere near as good, say, as S. Korea for internet...). It's their service, billing and everything else that turns customers against them. (Some years ago, the FCC held a hearing in Boston to find out what the problems were, and Comcast brought in street people to fill (and nap in) the seats.) Personally, I use a small, local company (that is in the process of being bought out by a slightly larger local company, so we'll see how that goes...) that is friendly, competent and consistent in it's billing. They do not throttle or prioritize. And by the way, most Americans do want regulation, to judge by the number of comments. Perhaps there's a majority that hasn't been heard from and doesn't give a s#*t, but how would we (and you) know?

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