back to article Net neutrality victory: DC court backs full rules

Net neutrality rules that make it illegal for ISPs to interfere with data traffic across their networks have been upheld in full by the Washington DC Court of Appeals. The split decision (2-1 in favor) is a big victory, both for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Obama Administration, and a dramatic sign that …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    dramatic sign that the era of Big Telco as an unstoppable force has come to a close.

    It ain't over until the fat lady sings. In this case, until any and all appeals have failed. When the lawyers say " will be evaluating all of our legal options" you just know there's more court time and billable hours on the way. So no, it hasn't come to a close. One battle has been lost but the war continues.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But the thing is, as the article notes, there are only two options left: the full CoA and SCOTUS. But since the original panel were basically in agreement over the base issue of authority, both attempts to appeal are likely to be returned with "Refusal to Hear," which basically shuts the door. And as noted, Congress can't be expected to act on this because they're going into Campaign Mode, and any new Congress is likely to be as deadlocked as the last one, meaning No Such Luck.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        While that's all true, if Trump wins he gets to make an appointment to the FCC panel, which swings it from 3-2 democrat to 3-2 republican. They will likely reverse course on this and other things that it did under Wheeler. If Clinton wins then net neutrality is likely to become the law of the land.

        That's the problem when the two sides in congress are so polarized that they refuse to cooperate on anything. They essentially abdicate their power to the executive branch, or at least as much of that power as the courts will allow them to have. Compromise has become a dirty word in congress, especially on the republican side, and you can bet that if Trump wins the democrats will be just as obstructionist. The last eight years have made that the "new normal".

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "While that's all true, if Trump wins he gets to make an appointment to the FCC panel, which swings it from 3-2 democrat to 3-2 republican."

          Except given the composition of the Senate, anyone trying to nominate someone will have a recalcitrant Senate who lacks the votes either way to confirm anyone. That's why SCOTUS is minus a Justice for the time being.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            @ Charles 9:

            Alas, as with any "commission" they are not voted by the people, but by the politicians. EPIC fail!!

            With regards to SCOTUS, this has been the long term problem. Instead of the "Black Robes" defining the Constitution in the frames of Textualism, they have decided to use what they perceive the founding fathers have stated in print.

            Examples: Healthcare, confiscation of taxes for SS, Marriage (of any type), Immigration (defined only by Congress) ect.

        2. ITS Retired

          Hillary is a big money, business friendly corporatist.

          She will more than likely put in place a business friendly replacement, so net neutrality will probably be short lived..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      dramatic sign that the era of Big Telco as an unstoppable force has come to a close.

      It all depends on how many poli critters they can buy after the election.

      They are not going to give up their monopoly with out a fight. After all why should the punters stop subsidising them seems to be their view.

  2. Charles 9 Silver badge

    "But without some modern rules designed to guide it on internet issues, it won't be long before everyone is reminded why the United States has a long-standing preference for the free market over centralized authority."

    ...until captialistic avarice reminds us of times like the Gilded Age and why we don't ALWAYS like the free market.

    1. Dadmin

      The so-called "free market" aside. If it were not for rulings such as these, our favorite telco vendors would still have us dialing-up for 56Mb/s Internet access, and would be proud of their "efforts" to keep the USA "online" using these "state of the art" systems. It is known.

      1. Donn Bly

        No. Telco vendors and others responded to consumer demand and increased speeds and capacity all on their own.They did so because the free market provided a financial incentive to do so, and without any such rulings or government interference.

        If the GOVERNMENT had their way, access would have been limited to institutions of higher learning and defense contractors. You are, after all, talking about a ruling body that isn't the most technologically competent and thinks that you can get pregnant via a sexually explicit email, that an island will flip over if everyone stands on one side, or that if you place a standard bullet in a brass casing inside of a steel box that the steel will shield it and allow it to pass through a metal detector undetected..

        Now, whether the major providers CONTINUE to advance, that is a matter up for debate. However, if the government removes all profit motive then vendors aren't going to do much of anything in the way of improvements. The only time they will improve is when it is cheaper to upgrade than maintain the status quo.

        We have already seen in under-served areas that when municipal fiber networks are deployed that for-profit organizations reduce or exit the market, spending their expansion funds in areas where they can get a better return. Net Neutrality regulation - whether good or bad - is going to slow private deployments in those areas and FORCE the government to build out using tax dollars, probably via increases in USF and Rural Access funding taxes. Again, whether good or bad is a matter of debate, but it WILL be a consequence.

        Personally, I saw the writing on the wall several years ago, which is why I sold my ISP while I could still do so at a profit, then hooked up to municipal fiber so that I could take advantage of the cheaper rates. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

        1. matchbx


          "that an island will flip over if everyone stands on one side".

          That's was some funny stuff right there.... I remember when Hank Johnson said that.... I saw the video, he was dead serious.

          How this dude gets re-elected every year is beyond me... the icon is for mocking ol' Hank.....

        2. ecofeco Silver badge

          Put a sock in it, Donn Bly. The U.S. has the worst Internet and cell phone service of ALL first world countries.

          "Customer demand" my ass.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Post a sock in it ecofeco.

            You just want a free lunch, which means someone else pays for it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You seem to forget that the federal government has been subsidizing quite a bit of the telecommunications industry upgrades. The government financed most of the fibre optic that was laid out at my university back in the early 90's. AT&T enjoyed the needed and discounted upgrade to their system.

        4. Steve Todd Silver badge

          @donn bly - you seem quick to forget

          That municipal broadband schemes are a reaction to the cable companies failures to provide the coverage and service levels that they promised when they were granted their licences. Without incentive to compete and improve their service they have rested on their laurels while most of the first world passed them by.

          Put another way, they demonstrably weren't investing beforehand, so any argument that municipal broadband stops them investing is purest bullsh*t.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @donn bly - you seem quick to forget

            "Put another way, they demonstrably weren't investing beforehand, so any argument that municipal broadband stops them investing is purest bullsh*t"

            Uh, no. Consumers pay more once the bureaucrats gets involved.

            "In a new economic analysis released today entitled Do Municipal Networks Offer More Attractive Service Offerings than Private Sector Providers? A Review and Expansion of the Evidence, Phoenix Center Chief Economist Dr. George S. Ford evaluates claims by the New America Foundation and the Consumer Federation of America that municipal wireline broadband service providers offer much more attractive triple-play prices than do commercial broadband service providers.

            "As Dr. Ford demonstrates, the alleged price differentials between the public and private sector are the direct and sole consequence of New America and Consumer Federation improperly comparing the prices of unlike bundles. After correcting for New America's and Consumer Federation's numerous factual and technical errors, Dr. Ford shows that, in actuality, municipal systems typically charge consumers substantially more than their private-sector rivals for very similar triple-play offerings. Dr. Ford's analysis also suggests that the competitive price for a fairly standard triple-play service is about $100 in the U.S., and the expansion of municipal provision of broadband service won't alone alter that reality."

            1. Steve Todd Silver badge

              @ac - one sock puppet quoting another

              The problem is that cable companies aren't investing in expanding their networks to large areas of the US, and that their service levels are poor for the areas that they do serve. Some tame accademic claiming that the cable companies offer better value triple pay packages doesn't change that, and isn't useful if you only want broadband. Some service for less than the cost of an (expensive) triple pay package is better than no service at all.

              1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                Re: @ac - one sock puppet quoting another

                The cable companies and telcos don't have to expand their networks or upgrade them. There is no incentive as they don't compete with each other for the most part.. they do merge though. The only time in recent memory where I've heard of a cable or Telco upgrade to broadband service is when Google threatens to come in. Then either file lawsuits with the local municipalities or promise big upgrades. I note that their promises are worth less than the paper they are written on.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @ac - one sock puppet quoting another

                A Cable TV company's primary product is television. For you to go to them when you only want broadband is like going to a grocery store and complaining that they don't have your favorite magazine.

                Yes, cable in the US sucks. They have the worst customer service ratings of any company, across all facets of the economy. But you should ask yourself "why" - and the answer isn't because they don't have competition. After all, cable TV competes against satellite, and satellite coverage is ubiquitous across the US.

                So why? Because people in the US have an entitlement attitude and LOVE to complain. Their TV service could have 99.999 uptime and they will still remember when they lost service two years ago and complain about it. Because while they WANT service, they don't want to PAY for it, so anything that do pay they complain about it. They want only a couple of channels, but don't know or care that a cable company is a DISTRIBUTION network, not a content producer. Content producers sell their products in bundles of channels, so the cable company has to sell you bundles of channels. You only want one, so you complain, and because you don't ever see the content producer and only see the cable company, you blame the cable company.

                Of course, that doesn't mean consumers don't have legitimate complaints. Quality of service sucks, and sucks because they don't have enough money in the maintenance budget to maintain the lines, and farm out way to much to low-cost contractors because they can't afford to keep the full-time employees, and contractors (and employees who aren't well compensated) don't care about the end product.

                As for not covering areas... well, companies exist to make money. If there was money to be made in covering those areas, then they would cover them. The only way to have them covered is to charge more - and they already charge as much as the market will bear.

                If you decide to live in an area that doesn't have coverage, that's your fault, not the cable companies. However, it is also an opportunity. If the existing cable company can't service the area, why not start a company that will? That way you not only provide a public service by covering an uncovered area, you also get to make money from it. Of course, you would then find out that if the area could be served at a profit there would probably already be someone there doing that.

          2. Donn Bly

            Re: @steve todd - you obviously have no experience in the area

            Steve, you obviously have no experience in this area.

            First, since broadband wasn't even an issue when most cable companies were started or when they were issued operating licenses, it is impossible to TRUTHFULLY state they they promised coverage and service levels - because those products didn't even exist then.

            Competition does exist for broadband, but it exists between technologies - ie, Cable vs Telco. Cable companies don't compete between themselves, and landline landline carriers don't compete between each other, but cable and telco most DEFINITELY compete against each other.

            I have watched two different local cities where I own property start down the road to municipal broadband. In both cases incumbent carriers had already made massive investments in infrastructure and were rolling out continuous improvements. In both cases the cities LIED to the public about the needs and in the investments that private enterprise had made. In both cases existing ISPs stopped investing, and in some cases abandoned existing infrastructure.

            For you to say "bullsh*t" is, well, bullsh*t itself. Because unlike you I have personal experience. I was there.

      2. nautica

        Howzat again?

        I would be ECSTATIC to have 56 Mb/s internet dial-up service. Where do I sign up?

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    Amazing. Simply amazing

    While the fascist juggernaut that is modern USA continues along, there are finally some signs of slowing.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Amazing. Simply amazing

      It's not.

      Only in America can you get the person in charge of a governmental department hoping for the failure of said department

      "Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said he was "deeply disappointed" with the decision and praised the dissenting opinion. He still feels the regulation remained unlawful, unnecessary and counterproductive, and hoped "the parties challenging them will continue the legal fight."

      The Republicans have hit the ultra-nee low: get a person into office who is proud to be ineffectual.

      What a class act [/s]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Amazing. Simply amazing

        It's even worse when it comes to education in the U.S. Intentionally destroying science and history curriculum, cutting budgets and demonizing public schools/teachers to promote (fund with taxpayer money) private (religious) schools with no accountability.

  4. Mikel

    A long as we give them money

    They will continue to use it to fight for their interests and against ours.

    So stop giving them your money. You are not stupid.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: A long as we give them money

      Actually, we are. Read the El Reg article about the 60-million-year-old dinosaur bones that FAILED to turn a Creationist. And as the comedian says, You Can't Fix Stupid.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    In shock news...

    Ajil Pai not offered lucrative short hours job with big Telco.

    We only reward our successful minions.

    Now let's see how this works out in the UK.

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