back to article We've read all 400 pages of the FCC's baffling net neutrality rules – here's what YOU need to know

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally published its net neutrality rules this morning, comprising 400 pages of text. It was accompanied by statements from all five commissioners. We read it all so you don't have to. Four hundred pages [PDF] of legalese and formal definitions of an "open internet" in America. …

  1. John Tserkezis

    Who would have thought?

    "It is notable that on many issues within this whole complex topic that whatever Google said has happened. Google gets quoted repeatedly in the justifications, and so far at least we have not seen a single example of where anything Google opposed has been included."

    So, all those nubes who thought that Google WAS the Internet were right after all...

    Somebody hold me, I'm frightened.

  2. elDog

    Just to echo earlier comments - catch a glance at pages 321- (dissenting opinion)

    Talk about hacks.

    (http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2015/03/12/fcc_net_neutrality_rules/)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just to echo earlier comments - catch a glance at pages 321- (dissenting opinion)

      Yeash. Guess who the ghostwriter for that section...

      Parts of it were quite amusing, if you didn't know who he is and what his job is.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Missed

    I seem to recall the FCC redefining "broadband" with much higher floor values for network speed so exactly who/what does this order apply?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missed

      I wondered about that myself, but couldn't be arsed to dig for any relevant parts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missed

        I downloaded the beast so I think I have some reading to do and time to do it while awaiting a new processor.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Missed

      Here's the link: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/29/fcc_sextuples_broadband_speed/

      They changed the definition and thus, how the ISP's can label it for advertising, etc. From what I've seen locally, all the local ISP did was exactly that with no plans to upgrade to the "broadband" limit. What used to be called broadband here in my area has been changed to "high-speed internet".... It doesn't appear to be forcing any ISP to do any upgrades to service although that was the intent.

  4. Ole Juul

    The cheese shop

    The order says: "We noted that consumers continue to express concern that the speed of their service falls short of advertised speeds, that billed amounts are greater than advertised rates, and that consumers are unable to determine the source of slow or congested service.

    I fear that regardless of the new mandate, users will still not get the answers they are looking for. What are providers going to say about slow or congested service - that they don't actually have the bandwidth they claim to be selling? Guaranteed their answer will just sound like bouzouki music with buffer stutter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: The cheese shop

      What would be interesting about the mandated truthiness of advertising claims would be the FCC and the FTC getting into a regulatory competition. When two different agencies have overlapping responsibility/capability, it can be a real treat to watch the sparks fly.

  5. Tromos

    Doesn't seem to be anything limiting the number of drinking straws they can sell without putting a second pint on the table.

    1. Ole Juul

      second pint?

      Doesn't seem to be anything limiting the number of drinking straws they can sell without putting a second pint on the table.

      That's what worries me. Most end users see the straw as the problem. I suppose that the theory of mandating more detailed disclosure about the product is to provoke competition. That's all well and good, but will there be any discussion about a second pint? I'm not holding my breath.

  6. Mage Silver badge

    mobile broadband

    It's Mobile Internet.

    mobile broadband is a marketing fiction

  7. dan1980

    "This is the key distinction and change: broadband providers are providing two different things that can be viewed and legislated for separately. From this, all else flows. That may seem obvious to people, but legally it wasn't the way of things until now."

    Finally.

    This particular point and, specifically, the definition of the word 'offering' - in the context of 'Telecommunications Providers' being those 'offering telecommunications services' - has been at the crux of the argument.

    When it comes down to it, the Supreme Court's (split) decision to allow the previous FCC interpretation, that ISPs are not 'Telecommunications providers', comes down almost entirely to them arguing that the word 'offer' can be construed to have "alternative dictionary definitions" that result in the judgement that a broadband provider who offers Internet connectivity bundled with other services doesn't not actually 'offer' Internet connectivity, because it is not 'offered' as a "standalone service".

    Yes, really.

    The ridiculousness of this assertion was well highlighted by Scalia in his dissent. Much was made of his amusing comaprison with home-delivery pizza but I think the pet-store analogy was more concise.

    His point was that the precise definition of 'offer[ing]' matters less than the nature of the object(s) being offered. Thus, a pet store selling dogs does not 'offer' water, even though, as Scalia noted, "dogs and cats are largely water at the molecular level". Quite so. "But", he goes on to say, "what is sometimes true is not, as the Court seems to assume, always true."

    To highlight this, he gives the example of a pet store with "a policy of selling puppies only with leashes". As he rightly points out, any sane person would indeed conclude that the store "does offer puppies because a leashed puppy is still a puppy, even though it is not offered on a 'stand-alone' basis."

    This, seriously, is what is at the heart of the argument - if a broadband provider sells high-speed Internet access bundled with 'other' services, are they actually "offering" high-speed Internet access?

    There was no question that the offering of high-speed Internet access classifies one as a 'Telecommunications provider' so the interpretation had to rely on twisting the language and possible meanings such that ISPs could be deemed not to 'offer' Internet access. No matter that this access is the key part of their 'offering' and that the providers specifically advertise the speed of access as a selling point.

    As Scalia noted, this is clearly crazy and utterly at odds with what any normal person would understand. If you asked anyone if their ISP "offers" Internet access (and filtered out the smart-alec remarks) you can be pretty sure that everyone would say "yes".

  8. Palpy
    Flame

    If I had only one Molotov cocktail --

    -- I'd burn Comcast.

    No fan of Google, especially, but if the FCC rulebook had Comcast / AT&T fingerprints all over it, if THEY got everything they wanted, then it would be much worse.

  9. Herby

    As said before: "Be careful for what you ask for..."

    You may just get it.

    Of course, if you are a big company (there are many who have thumbs in the pie here), you can make up dictates and the people who you are trying to "help" get left out in the cold.

    In another context this was said: "No deal is better than a bad deal". It may apply here!

  10. Daggerchild Silver badge
    Pint

    Ingredients. May contain nuts.

    Oooh. Does this mean people stand an *actual* chance of knowing what they bought?

    In the past, a connection to the Internet meant you put a packet in the pipe, it went out, you aimed a packet at your pipe, it came in. Simples.

    Now, you've no actual guarantee that when you send a packet out (say, a SYN to a webserver, or bittorrent, or a DNS query) whether or not it will be intercepted (and you receive a 'managed truth') or whether it even leaves/enters the ISP. You're either being 'protected', 'accelerated', having your 'user experience enhanced' or just plain old capped. And if you ask the ISP in advance under what conditions they may piddle with your packets.. they genuinely don't know themselves.

    So, I'll raise a glass to (hopefully) knowing WTF I'm getting *before* buying it. But it *is* strange so few people notice that they don't know...

  11. Justin Pasher

    No priority for you!

    The big question that I still have that I haven't really seen answered anywhere (primarily since the rules just came out) is whether this affects QoS-type transmissions.

    The biggest thing I see toted is "you can't sell 'fast lanes' to a company to give their traffic higher priority" (which seems good on the surface), but I've also seen people say "you can't discriminate traffic". For services that require low latency (say VoIP or anything real-time between two or more people), how do the new rules apply? You could easily say that giving VoIP traffic a higher priority is discriminating against Joe Schmoe's torrent download, but if everything is a free-for-all FIFO/round robin approach, things will collapse.

    I obviously haven't read through it (that's a long set of rules), but I'm hoping someone as a take on this based upon the new rules.

  12. dormaj

    A fairly high level but quality read of how it will affect consumers/users here - http://recode.net/2015/03/12/what-net-neutrality-rules-mean-for-consumers/

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SOS, DD

    Not impressed ...with the FTC or FCC when it comes to protecting consumers. These federal agencies routinely fail consumers via ignorance, apathy and incompetence, IME. In reality most people who work in these agencies should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty from willful negligence.

    To highlight the point, Comcast cable has been illegally blocking international e-mail sent to many U.S. subscribers for over a year and the FTC has done nothing even after the crime has been documented. If you read other reports you also know that Comcast installs unsecured hotspots in people's homes without notice and then holds the customer responsible for illegal use of said hotspot. Then there is the illegal credit checks that Comcast performs even after customers pay them a deposit and Comcast agrees not to perform a credit check. The FCC and FTC are fully aware of these and many more crimes by Comcast cable yet they have failed to prosecute Comcast or even make them stop their illegal acts.

    What exactly does the FTC and FCC believe their responsibilities are to the citizens who pay their salaries?

    1. Keven E.

      Re: SOS, DD

      "On the other hand, it signals incredible micromanagement of an industry by a Western power that's supposed to favor of light-touch government."

      I'm not sure where it says "supposed to" favor light touch, anywhere. It does say "supposed to" be about the people... yet, that's been pseudo-redefined lately.

      The FCC isn't specifically a "light touch" kind of agency (conceptually). I can think of (at least) 7 reasons my freedoms are being *touched. 8 if you include "fire". I consider these very heavy-handed. (ok, maybe not the "fire" one).

    2. cortland

      Re: SOS, DD

      "Not impressed ...with the FTC or FCC when it comes to protecting consumers."

      THAT is another agency entirely. http://www.usa.gov/topics/consumer.shtml

      And good luck.

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