back to article SPITTLE SPATTER as America weighs into FCC net neut shoutgasm

This morning, FCC bigcheese Tom Wheeler outlined his plans for firm net neutrality rules - and hence, the regulation of internet access. The issue has long been a source of argument and wrangling, and the responses to the news have demonstrated what we already knew: there is seemingly no middle ground on the issue. Verizon …

  1. Eric Olson

    The comments by the ISPs are telling...

    In short, they come across as scorned children, caught with their hand in the cookie jar. While the wireless industry isn't sure that they can be Title II'd, Verizon seems to accept that such a fate is within the rules, and their only recourse is to get that legislation they kept claiming was coming to show up and have enough support to either override a President Obama veto or contain all the things deemed important to net neutrality without the baggage of Title II.

    One can only say they brought it upon themselves. They tried to make this an R vs. D. issue, they tried to scare legislators into action through extortion, I mean using predictions that roll-out of broadband (now at 25Mbps!) to rural areas would be slowed or stopped because they couldn't build a fast-lane for AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast services while providing degraded or ala carte options (at extra cost) to have similar services from other providers available at reasonable speeds.

    At the same time, Mr. Wheeler has explicity ruled out some of the other rules that come with Title II, like forcing ISPs to lease their last mile connections to competitors to provide services over the same copper or fiber. In other words, he gave the ISPs an out by allowing them to cry poverty and beg for incentives to build out to rural or impoverished areas so that they could continue the lucrative business of franchise rights to a city or region, meaning they were the only cable provider in town.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Michael Powell's quote sounds almost like an endorsement of net neutrality

    He's saying you can do this without resorting to Title II. A year ago, he was against net neutrality at all, so maybe Title II is just a stalking horse threat to the cable/DSL/wireless companies to accept net neutrality principles in exchange for not using Title II to do so.

    Where "accept" in this case means signatories agree to such rules and more importantly agree they must abide by them in the future even if FCC rules or law changes drop such requirement. Then they'd all join the fight against new FCC rules or laws that loosened rules because it would let a new competitor that wasn't a signatory (like some future satellite internet Google is talking about, or if Dish uses its wireless bandwidth for anything but resource squatting) play by a different set of rules.

    It will be interesting to see how things plays out. Victory for consumers is by no means guaranteed, but the odds look far better than they did a year or two ago.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They had their chance

    The big access providers had their chance. Under former Chairman Powell and others they were able to build up a 4 way (Verizon, ATT, Comcast, TWC) monopoly on broadband service and a slightly larger group on wireless data, carving up service areas to ensure the absolute minimum in competition while at the same time keeping out any potential rivals from among "the little people" (not elves, but "mom and pop" access providers like there were back in the days of dial up). They also got millions in subsidies from government to broaden access but failed to make the investments necessary to get the job done. They had their chance. Time's up. That anyone, particularly those among them who at least bear the name of former telcos, would think that the gravy train would wind on forever, is astounding.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Wireless regulation

    Since the ultimate authority in the States over spectrum is the FCC, I daresay it's about time. They've regulated spectrum and it's uses and who and who may not use it and even how they use it and ignored, for the most part, the wireless companies.

    The Verizon's and AT&T's basically have had free rein over this area for too long.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Wireless regulation

      Ultimate authority over the spectrum in the States does NOT rest with the FCC. It rests with Congress. When challenged in court, Wheeler's power grab will be found unconstitutional.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        FAIL

        @ Tom 13 -- Re: Wireless regulation

        Bzzzzt!

        No, I'm sorry, that's not the right answer. Thank you for playing. Johnny, do we have some nice consolation prizes for the contestant?

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Wireless regulation

        No wonder our countries are going to shit. That's six people who think their opinions are more important than hard legal facts.

        1. Someone Else Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Wireless regulation

          Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'll bet you don't even play one on TV!

  5. William Donelson

    Lack of competition

    The lack of competition in most communities in the USA is depressing. You have poor service, kicked off often, at very high prices.

    Typical American corporations: Crushing their customers and bleeding them dry.

    1. OmgTheyLetMePostInTheUK
      Thumb Up

      Re: Lack of competition

      Commissioner Wheeler is also addressing that problem... It did not make it into this article, but he is pretty much going to force companies to compete.

      So "We the People" appear to have a double win with the FCC this week!

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Lack of competition

      Wrong place for the blame. The blame is on the politicians, not the corporations.

      1. earl grey
        Mushroom

        Re: Lack of competition

        Oh, you mean the politicians bought and paid for by the corporations. Tell us how that's working out for you.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Lack of competition

      The lack of competition in most communities in the USA is depressing. You have poor service, kicked off often, at very high prices.

      Typical American corporations: Crushing their customers and bleeding them dry.

      Crushing, crushing I say, those poor people! How do they we go on?

      Surely some modern Sinclair Lewis will come along to rake this muck and expose our plight.

      Kids these days &c.

  6. OmgTheyLetMePostInTheUK
    Thumb Up

    American internet users will win!!

    It is the greedy internet and wireless companies, yes, those humongous corporations whose only concern is to make as much money as is possible that are against this.

    The rest of "We the People" have been begging for this, and now it looks like it might happen. :)

    Its about damned time!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: American internet users will win!!

      Ah... hold your horses there. There's Congress in the wings about to re-write the FCC charter after being persuaded by a several million dollars worth of lobbyists. I wouldn't be surprised if the lobbyists actually will write the FCC charter for Congress to approve.

      I'll hold my breath on this one, but not until I turn blue. Just too many "ifs" at this moment.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: American internet users will win!!

        Two problems with your supposed plan: (1) Senate Democrats can still filibuster, and (2) President Obama can't be influenced by the lobbyists as he's a lame duck with nothing left to lose. He won't be afraid to veto it.

        1. theblackhand

          Re: American internet users will win!!

          But if either (1) or (2) happen, won't it result in re-drafting a new bill?

          More time will pass, with more uncertainity and almost certainly more significant changes in how Americans get their Internet access.

          Disclosure:

          I'm against net neutrality as it rolls up a lot of different issues (poor residential Internet services in many locations, lack of competition in many locations causing xDSL/cable services to be over-priced, disputes between how ISP's/content providers interconnect and how large ISP/content providers deliver services). I expect an regulation to only address part of it (most likely interconnects and fairness of delivery of traffic because they are easy to address by regulations AND are very likely to date quickly as the Internet continues to change.

          I'd prefer no net neutrality and regulations to encourage ISP's to provide minimum levels of service (within the limits of current technology) to prevent communities being left behind, provide caps for the cost of services (to prevent communities being priced out of faster services) AND (most importantly) remove any restrictions on regional competition between providers. The caps should be high enough to allow current ISP's to operate as they are but provide an incentive for new players to enter local markets.

          Being a telco/ISP is hard, so there needs to be rewards for the significant investment involved to encourage new players to enter - being given a monopoly on services in a region should not be one of the possible rewards. Note that these changes would require 2-3 years before the market improved for the consumer.

          For interconnects, companies need to pay for the connectivity. Most of the time it will be the content providers that need to improve their connectivity (sorry Netflix....)

          For QoS within an ISP providing better service for the ISP's own traffic versus a competitiors, I have no issue with this as long as there are sufficient players in the market to allow customers to move between providers.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: American internet users will win!!

            "More time will pass, with more uncertainity and almost certainly more significant changes in how Americans get their Internet access."

            Time plays against the Republicans. Trying to redo the FCC is in the exact same boat as trying to repeal Obamacare (which they've tried an umpteen number of times, including at least one this session, all without success). As long as they Republicans don't (a) hold 2/3 majorities in both houses to override the veto or (b) hold a majority in the House, 60 seats in the Senate (to force Cloture), and have the Presidency, any attempt to force the agenda is dead in the water.

            "I'd prefer no net neutrality and regulations to encourage ISP's to provide minimum levels of service (within the limits of current technology) to prevent communities being left behind, provide caps for the cost of services (to prevent communities being priced out of faster services) AND (most importantly) remove any restrictions on regional competition between providers. The caps should be high enough to allow current ISP's to operate as they are but provide an incentive for new players to enter local markets."

            Don't Common Carrier provisions include everything you describe, which is why telephone and railroads operate the way they do? Why wouldn't they be included here? As for the rural communities, as I recall, the main problem for them is that they're rural...and therefore so sparse that a rollout is an iffy proposition, thus why most carriers won't propose a rollout without a guarantee. Also, most of these communities lack the local capital to go it alone/ Furthermore, with Republicans in the House (which controls the budget), they can't expect any assistance from Washington, and even state capitals are typically out of reach due to their low populations (cities will tend to pull the strings).

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: American internet users will win!!

            I'm against net neutrality as it rolls up a lot of different issues

            I'd call that a generous description. As far as I can tell, "net neutrality" is, depending on the speaker, either a religion practiced largely by people with little understanding of technical issues (and little ability to think critically), or a shibboleth employed to organize camps for and against proposals that have little to do with said religion.

            I expect the main practical effect of these "net neutrality" battles to be even more of the locally-available network capacity occupied by streaming video.

            Circus? Check. Now let's see about that bread.

  7. frank ly

    Chairman Wheeler?

    What are the conventions for using job descriptions as titles? Is it about rank/appointment? We refer to "President Obama" and "Queen Elizabeth" but don't say "Prime Minisister Cameron" or "Director Jones".

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Chairman Wheeler?

      There are many. Some authors and editors employ a style guide - either developed in-house or one of the published ones - that determines these things. Others go with whatever style they prefer, which they may well vary from sentence to sentence.

      Personally, I think more people should go by their titles (as is customary in some other cultural situations, for example in a number of conditions in Japanese culture) - the more ornate the better. My title at Micro Focus is "Technical Specialist", which isn't particularly grand, but if I throw in the "Instructor" I get from the university when I teach, I can go by:

      Technical Specialist and Instructor Wojcik

      which is a start. Maybe I'll append my degrees for additional gravitas. Oh, and this would be a good time to get one of those online minister certifications (the sort people get so they can officiate at someone's wedding). Or buy a Kentucky colonelcy.

  8. ratfox Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "The important protections that President Obama and others have supported and that we have fought bitterly– no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization and transparency of business practices –can be enacted without the significant regulatory baggage that comes with public utility regulation; until we complain the FCC has no right to enact those rules because we are not a public utility."

    FTFY, Michael Powell…

  9. sixtyfourbits

    Sky+ for the internet

    Nothing more than a blatant exploitation of the internet to commercialize the whole thing and make as money off it as possible essentially creating the internet equivalent of a Sky satellite package where you need a set top box to access the channels.

    It was going to happen, no surprise there and most people will happily accept it and pay extortionate prices to access something is meant to be better/faster/bigger/glossier and give up their liberties in the process.

    "Just watch, don't think, consumer!"

  10. Someone Else Silver badge
    Flame

    Blah, blah, fscking blah!

    Looking at the responses from the newly reigned-in corps, I see a common theme.

    From Verizon:

    Heavy regulation of the Internet will create uncertainty and chill investment among the many players -- not just Internet service providers -- that now will need to consider FCC rules before launching new services

    From National Cable & Telecommunications Association:

    It will result in a backward-looking new regulatory regime, ll-suited for the dynamic Internet, with far reaching and troubling consequences.

    From the CTIA:

    We are concerned that the FCC’s proposed approach could jeopardize our world leading mobile broadband market and result in significant uncertainty for years to come [...]

    All emphasis added

    The point of that emphasis is that the Corporatists are howling about how all the new onerous regulation™ might somehow slow the pace of some nebulous, undefined innovationalso™. Manure. The only "innovation" this might scotch is new and "innovative" ways the Industry™ can figure out to soak its clientele. C'mon boys...do you actually expect anyone in the world to believe that you have this passel of great new and highly "innovative" services just waiting to be foisted uponbrought to the market, that will revolutionize the intertubes, only to be thwarted by this new spate of regulation™? If you do, you are bigger fools than you take us for!

    STFU, and just give us service already.

    1. Vector

      Re: Blah, blah, fscking blah!

      What I'd like to know is by what metric does the US have a "world leading mobile broadband market"?

      Unless maybe it's in greed and profit taking...

    2. Fatman

      Re: Blah, blah, fscking blah!

      Hey man, I like your style!!!!!

  11. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    um... yay?

    IF (and that's a very large if) I am correctly understanding The Whole Sordid Saga Thus Far©®™, then this is good news. Of course, there are still dozens of ways this could end up horribly wrong, even with the best intentions. I remain cautiously optimistic.

  12. Rick Giles
    Joke

    They provid health care now

    So why doesn't Obummer just make the Gov and ISP?

    It could be managed by the Communications and Information Alliance along with the Network and Systems Administrators.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's disgraceful

    The entire situation is one huge mess. We have the cable companies violating laws left and right and the FCC does virtually nothing. Every now and then the FCC does some minor policing to provide the illusion of actually protecting consumers, but the FCC choses to be impotent and allow the cable companies to gang rape consumers over and over and over. Regardless of the outcome consumers are going to lose and continue to be raped daily by large, unscrupulous service providers because the companies have enough money to "buy the outcome they desire" regardless of what laws are enacted.

    BTW, how many Comcast U.S. subscribers know that e-mail sent to them from outside the U.S. is frequently blocked in violation of law? You didn't read about this in any Comcast announcement, did you? How many millions of dollars in sales are U.S. companies losing by Comcast illegally blocking international e-mail to U.S. subscribers? How are you expected to communicate with family, friends and Biz associates in other countries with Comcast illegally blocking e-mail sent to U.S. subscribers?

    What has the FCC done about this issue when they were advised well over a year ago?

    Answer: NOTHING

    Thus U.S. Comcast customers continue to pay for world wide e-mail service but they do NOT actually receive what they pay for every month because Comcast insists on violating law. A class action law firm should be suing for hundreds of millions of dollars to deter Comcast's violations of law.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      WTF?

      @ AC -- Re: It's disgraceful

      Look, I'm no fan of Comcast, but what are you on about? I routinely exchange e-mail with my German friends, and always get replies.

      Now if Comcast is routinely blocking SPAM from known overseas SPAMMERS, then I say, "Good on Comcast!" (And this may be the only time I'll say that!) Spammers are the lowest form of life in the interwebs' ecosystem, and anything anyone can do to make their life more miserable is a step in the right direction. And if you, my good AC, are complaining because you are a spammer, and your SPAM emails are being blocked, then all I have to say to you is: Fuck Off And Die!. If you are not a spammer, then I'll need more details than your screed here before I'll join any class action.

    2. CarbonLifeForm

      Re: It's disgraceful

      OK, I'll bite... why does Comcast do this? Save money...? And how do we know it does so?

  14. W. Anderson

    It is not surprising that the debate on Net Neutrality in the USA may have devolved into a shouting match, when common sense, "fact based" reports and a 'national' desire for citizen and business competitive use of the Internet would clearly show that the large common carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Compcast, Time-Warner and their deceitful propaganda machines and dupe mouth-pieces - have made proven false claims and broken promises for destroying even the mere principle of Net Neutrality in the interest of their own own greedy and draconian financial gains.

    Fortunately most of the G20 countries and other nations are or have moved along to "protecting" their Internet infrastructure in the interest and well being of citizens and their entire countries, by fully supporting most all aspects of Net Neutrality.

    1. CarbonLifeForm

      For us poor uneducated Yanks... would someone kindly define wtf net neutrality means in e.g. the UK? And what benefits does it provide?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "For us poor uneducated Yanks... would someone kindly define wtf net neutrality means in e.g. the UK? And what benefits does it provide?"

        There are two basic basic tenet of "Net Neutrality", both of which involve nondiscrimination. First, that data passing through a provider's pipes cannot be prioritized by some arbitrary plan of the providers. IOW, they cannot discriminate data unless absolutely they have to (due to say contention), and even then the plan they use must be fair and reasonable (say, something along the lines of a FIFO scheme). Second, they cannot, the way I put it, play big stack at the poker table. They can't employ their incumbency advantage to block the entry of new players into the game through things like exclusive provider contracts. This is critical for rural areas that are otherwise disadvantaged when it comes to rolling out broadband. This is because geography matters in physical infrastructure like data lines; the longer the cables, the more expensive the infrastructure costs. Wiring up a small and dense country like South Korea is a lot easier than trying to wire up, say, the state of Wyoming, which is full of rugged, untamed wilderness, sparse of people, and some distance from any significant nexus of civilization (say, Denver, Colorado).

  15. DanceMan

    "could jeopardize our world leading mobile broadband market"

    I recall reading that general US (and Canadian) internet speeds are anything but "world leading," unless they're referring to cost vs. speed. Perhaps he means world leading profitability.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "could jeopardize our world leading mobile broadband market"

      Then again, I've yet to see a large and sparse country do any better with a universal broadband rollout. The US and Canada happen to be near the top of the leaderboard in regards to size, which in turn leads to issues when these countries have large areas of sparse population combined with long distances between the dense parts (in the case of the US, it's literally coast to coast).

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