back to article Senator Kennedy: Why I cast my Senate-busting vote for net neutrality

The shocking lack of choice and competition in America's ISP market is why Senator John Kennedy crossed the aisle and voted for a repeal of the FCC's efforts to end net neutrality rules last week. Speaking on Morning Joe on Tuesday morning, the Republican senator from Louisiana explained his decision to go against the party …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Does not compute

    "Cable companies that provide internet access contend that in a free market, so long as they disclose it, they should have the right to control their product including which websites download quickly, which websites download slowly and which don't download at all... in principle, I agree with that" followed by "Internet is a necessity: it's like water, it's like electricity it's like a telephone".

    How does the first part tally with the second part? A necessity shouldn't have artificial restrictions unless you pay more to make it work the way it was supposed to in the first place.

    It's nice he's decided not to follow the party line (we scratch their backs and later on they'll scratch ours), but I still can't follow his argument.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does not compute

      Simple.

      Ideally, companies would be free to choose how they operate, and consumers would be free to choose the company they think delivers them the best value.

      However, since he believe that there's a lack of competition, and since he believes that Internet access is essential, he believes that market conditions aren't right to allow companies free rein.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Does not compute

        A utility company would not be able to add artificial restrictions to their supply and remove them if the customer pays a special fee.

        So if the Internet is to be treated like a necessity (which it probably is these days), paying extra to unlock certain parts of it goes against that.

        1. Andrew Moore

          Re: Does not compute

          "A utility company would not be able to add artificial restrictions to their supply and remove them if the customer pays a special fee."

          Phone companies already do: Different rates for phone calls depending on distance. Charges for essentially free services like Caller ID. Different rates for the same service depending on tariff...

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Does not compute

            They wouldn't bar you from calling specific people or businesses unless you and and whoever you were calling paid a special fee.

    2. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Does not compute

      You could think of what he's saying this way: It is absolutely fine and dandy to have a company which will only deliver a service to white people but only so long as there's another company which will deliver the same services to non-whites.

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Pai is so full of shit...

    It's a wonder it doesn't spray like an over pressurized fire hose through a too small nozzle every time he opens his mouth.

    How can you tell if a politician is lying? Check to see if their mouth is moving.

    1. JassMan Silver badge

      Re: Pai is so full of shit... @Shadow Systems

      "How can you tell if a politician is lying? Check to see if their mouth is moving."

      Often they are not lying, just telling the truth as they has been paid to see it. Don't forget that the US democratic system is: government of the people by the rich for the rich.

      1. Alistair
        Windows

        Re: Pai is so full of shit... @Shadow Systems

        @JassMan:

        : government of the people by the rich for the rich.

        Damn. Sounds like the South won after all...........

  3. Youngone Silver badge

    Competition?

    It might be a little off to call this system "Trumpian" (although I am sure he is in favour of it).

    It seems to me that the whole telecoms industry in the US has been set up to enable regional monopolies to gouge their customers and retain their monopolies.

    I can't really see how network neutrality will reduce prices for end users in the system as it stands (although routing packets equally has made the Internet the great thing it is).

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "the whole telecoms industry in the US has been set up to enable regional monopolies"

      The original sin was to break Bell along regional lines, instead of separating the network from commercial services.

      Also, if you need a country-wide high-speed network quickly, hoping a very few commercial companies will build it is wishful thinking - they will compete in high-return area with uselessly duplicated infrastructures, while leaving low-return ones uncovered. You'd need to distribute available resources better.

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Competition?

      Yeah, but Hillary, lover of the poor and representative of the underdogs in society, would have crushed the big Telcos, just as she would have crushed the banksters, and Wall Street, and the tired old insider culture of the Beltway, and Walmart, and Putin's Mother Russia, and the power of lawyers in America, and the oppressors and warmongers everywhere.

      1. DCFusor

        Re: Competition?

        You forgot the sarc tag, so people didn't recognize how deliberately ridiculous that statement was?

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Remarkably, he then argued that "in principle, I agree with that" but there was one big problem: internet access is not a free market in the United States.

    Well, kudos for him on this vote as his reason is logical. Next time,...???? Now if the House and Dear Leader would only apply some logic to this issue.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with him that 5G will be a solution in 5-10 years

    That doesn't help competition today, or in the near future, though.

    1. DCFusor

      Re: I agree with him that 5G will be a solution in 5-10 years

      So, when are they coming to the Appalachian mountains where I live, and you'd need almost one tower per customer?

      Don't project - only about half the people live in a dense unsustainable city where such things amortize easily.

    2. Alistair
      Windows

      Re: I agree with him that 5G will be a solution in 5-10 years

      5G needs more bases. More bases need more backhaul. More backhaul means more .... cables in the ground.

      Pointless.

  6. chuckufarley

    Even is we get the...

    ...Pie (or is it Pai?) in the sky of 5G in five to ten years, I'm willing to bet that the same forces at play in the current market will wall it off and make it a play ground for the $999/mo target market while the rest of munch on 10GB cake at 10Mbps.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cable is for television....

    Has America considered having a new market?

    You could call them "Internet providers".

    They could provide Internet access.

    1. defiler

      Re: Cable is for television....

      Now that's using your noodle. That's bold, dynamic and forward-thinking. The sort of thing that the French, for example, wouldn't come up with over their backwards comms. And that's because they don't have a word for entrepreneur.

  8. Kev99 Silver badge

    We have a choice between POS Frontier and WTF Frontier for internet service. How they can get away with claiming <3Mbps is broadband. And to add insult to injury, Frontier refuses, and has said so inwriting, to apply for either federal or state grants to provide true broadband. They've gone so far to claim the FTC definition of broadband does not apply to them. And the FTC, FCC and AG refuse to do anything.

  9. Tomato42

    Senator's opinions...

    "Cable companies that provide internet access contend that in a free market, so long as they disclose it, they should have the right to control their product, (...) including which websites download quickly, which websites download slowly and which don't download at all."

    "Internet is a necessity: it's like water, it's like electricity it's like a telephone,"

    doublethink is a helluva drug

  10. JLV

    Not a problem

    The man is ideologically opposed to regulation, yet reasonable enough to realize that with very limited competition and hefty barriers to entry "the free market" isn't really applicable. If more Republicans knew how actual free markets operate, what their limits are and how doling out pork, rigging laws and accepting massive donations isn't free markets at all, then US Rep voters would be much better served.

    There is no real reason to make him out as somehow deficient in judgment, especially as he ended up doing the right thing, i.e. telling Pai to go copulate vigorously with a hornet nest.

    To put it differently, if 100 cable companies were in fact competing against each other to offer their services to Joe Average, then, yes, Joe Average could choose based on their merits and there would much less need for regulation. Absent that, then companies need to held back from abusing their market dominance.

    Somehow, US legislators grasped this in the 1900s and passed anti-monopoly laws.

    He deserves praise for crossing the aisle - something so few are capable of doing - not damning because his worldview doesn't agree with the author's.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Not a problem

      In principle, I agree with you. However, there is a case to be made that, even with an actual market, ISPs shouldn't be allowed to intentionally block or limit access to services. Otherwise, you could deal with a situation where eight companies (let's call them A through H) offer services in an area, and each of them bolster their only partial hold over the market by also having a video platform, as many American service providers do. They don't like each other, so they all block each other. If you want to watch video on A's network and C's network, you can't just buy service from A and then pay for C's video, as A will block it. Instead, you could either buy service from them both or hope that someone else will unblock if you pay enough. I wouldn't want to deal with the plans they make available, each with a different set of sites that work, sites that lag, and sites that you just can't get to. They already make it hard enough with the different plans for how much data you can use, what speed you can expect, and how much you're going to pay. Don't add more complexity, because that gives them more control.

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Not a problem

      "If more Republicans knew how actual free markets operate, what their limits are and how doling out pork, rigging laws and accepting massive donations isn't free markets at all, then US Rep voters would be much better served."

      Oh, I think they know.

  11. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Play to win

    Leaving aside who or what is to blame, politics in the US has become much more partisan. Truly winning an issue therefore requires framing it for both sides, thereby making it "non-partisan". In the case of net neutrality, there are several different approaches that can be taken.

    As a free-market conservative, I would go after the cozy deals that the cable companies have with local governments & the states. There can be no question of federal authority here, as almost all content comes from out of state (except for CA, where only most does). These deals are clearly anti-competitive. If eliminating/substantially limiting these does not bring in significant competition, that becomes prima facie evidence of collusion.

    But breaking up the ISP monopolies does not solve the problem--it just changes the abusers. If ISPs become weak, then content providers become strong. The major providers then muscle the ISPs for preferential treatment---or else. Or, they just gobble the profits. Note that we already have non-trivial verticals forming between the major ISPs and the major Hollywood studios, for instance.

    A lot of people talk about internet service as a utility. That might be workable--but who insures that upgrades happen in a reasonable fashion? I don't like the idea of potholes in the local internet...

  12. Francis Boyle

    Wait

    This is the "pointless" vote that was destined to be defeated.

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