back to article It’s back: America's net neutrality advocates begin push to return to pre-Trump internet protections

The decade-long battle over net neutrality in America has returned. Again. On Tuesday, several Democratic lawmakers as well as consumer advocates and city representatives held a congressional briefing on “restoring FCC authority to enforce Open Internet protections and expand affordable broadband." It’s worth noting that the …

  1. sbt

    Meanwhile, back in the real world...

    There are fewer and fewer limited plans and the real inequalities, market harms and barriers to access come from monopoly ISPs (e.g. Comcast) and monopoly content providers (e.g. FB, Netflix).

    Democratically run economies are going to surrender their advantages to the authoritarian, one-party states through political paralysis and stupid policy flip-flopping. Regulatory certainty even with stricter regulations is better for growth and investment than all the see-sawing between regulation and de-regulation. Same applies to the climate change and the environment. Democracies are trapped in the short-termism of the political cycle. Since I don't want to live in a one-party state, I'd like to see this problem fixed. Maybe it's not democracy, per se but the widely seen two-party system that creates these problems. Maybe it's like standards, there are too many, but not enough.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Meanwhile, back in the real world...

      The problem behind the problems is that one side of the argument (and half the population to go with it) doesn't want competition. They want to win and control everything. In such an environment, you just can't have nice things; the other side is always clamoring to take them for themselves. That's why the article notes there's no real solution possible; the goals are mutually exclusive.

    2. Tom 38

      Re: Meanwhile, back in the real world...

      Is Netflix really a monopoly OTT content provider? OTT content is heavily balkanised, I don't think you can have balkanisation and monopolisation. If I want to watch "Cheers", thats on Paramount+, if I want to watch "Iron Man", that's on Disney+, if I want to watch boxing, thats on DAZN, etc etc

      1. sbt

        Is Netflix really a monopoly ...?

        If the particular show you want to watch is only on Netflix, then yes. But sure, there are few technically pure monopolies; in terms of 'antitrust' style harms, factors like market share, the ability to control prices for consumers and suppliers as well as vertical integration all play a part. At least Netflix isn't also an ISP or a search engine.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is Netflix really a monopoly ...?

          Ridiculous - if the particular perfume I want to wear is only made by Chanel, it doesn't mean Chanel has a monopoly on perfumes.

          1. sbt

            Re: Is Netflix really a monopoly ...?

            You're thinking about this too narrowly. If you can only buy your Chanel perfume at Macy's, then there are elements of a monopoly, including a lack of price competition. The same applies to exclusive deals between studios and streaming services. Vertical integration, where the streamer produces their own content for exclusivity on their platform just masks this effect.

            1. Charles 9

              Re: Is Netflix really a monopoly ...?

              Is it? So is it Sony's fault they have the ability to make first-party content for their PlayStation consoles and so on? Because that's the same kind of vertical integration.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Is Netflix really a monopoly ...?

          That's not how monopolies work. If I want the kind of product and there's one supplier, that's a monopoly. If I want the very specific product and there's one supplier but several more supplying similar products, that's not a monopoly. ISPs can be monopolies when there is little or no competition at usable speeds. A streaming provider could be a monopoly if they had everything and you couldn't watch video without them or you could only watch really bad video. But they're not a monopoly if they have the exclusive right to a particular show. That's just them having a good product.

          1. sbt

            Re: Is Netflix really a monopoly ...?

            Content isn't that kind of product. I can't join in the watercooler conversation about Antiques Roadshow, if my streaming service only shows Bargain Hunt.

            Back in the days of video stores, any store could rent you a movie from the major studios as well as indies and art house, if they wanted. If Blockbuster was the only store with Paramount titles, how would that have gone?

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    1. Charles 9

      Re: Make each politician eat their own dogfood.

      That'll never work. Anything you propose is simply rules. And anyone with sufficient clout can always go around the rules. Hell, guys up top can simply change the rules to suit them, and there's no real way to keep them from doing just that.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    We regularly see articles discussing US Net Neutrality

    Like this one. But how about a discussion of other areas/blocs/countries and how they're handling it? If something in US legislation doesn't actually affect someone like me in Europe, it's nice to know but not hugely relevant - perhaps a comparison article, El Reg, please?

    1. John Savard

      Re: We regularly see articles discussing US Net Neutrality

      If the Republicans get elected in four years, it will definitely affect Europe. Learning to speak Russian may be advisable.

  4. John Savard

    One Step at a Time

    First, revert to the situation before Trump. Then, address the issue of ensuring that the American people will never again vote to unleash such a calamity upon the American people as the Trump administration.

    At the moment, it doesn't look good. It looks like after four years of a Biden administration, the energy won't be there to win another very close election. Legislation to make voter suppression impossible, and statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. will help.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: One Step at a Time

      Lovely. "Adjust the situation"--would that be by forcing a Constitutional amendment, or do we just scrap that part entirely.

      Living in a free society doesn't mean you are free to tell the rest of us what to do.

  5. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Not that long ago...

    And I'm too lazy to chase it down, El' Reg used to give the technical implications of this debate. Without NN, it is certainly true that the ISPs hold the whip, but with it Big Content does. NN allows BC to take whatever bandwidth it wants, and the ISPs have no reason to invest in infrastructure. It doesn't matter what data caps your plan says--when the pipes fill, you are done.

    After around 2012, NN has been 90% or more about big businesses trying to gain the upper hand against each other, using government and whipped up outrage to do so. As I have repeatedly said, I narrowly prefer NN, but I freely acknowledge the problems with it.

    I would much rather break up the sweetheart deals that the ISPs have with the local governments & then break them up until we have effective competition. But that might still weaken them too much.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Not that long ago...

      I would also like to see that, but it's not really correct that content providers have extra power. They in fact have less power. If the infrastructure doesn't get improved, then the bandwidth going to you can be bad but will be equally bad on streamer A as it is on streamer B. If there was no neutrality, then the streamers have more power since they can, at the cost of paying the ISP, kill their competition by making streamer B not work at all because everyone on streamer A is monopolizing the bandwidth.

      That also lessens the desire of the ISP to improve infrastructure. If both streamers' customers receive equally bad service, they will complain and that might convince the ISP to change something. If streamer A's customers are happy, they've cut their complaints in half. Also, if they improve infrastructure such that there's enough for streamer B again, streamer A doesn't get any advantage by paying them and would stop paying on the deal. Thus, the lack of net neutrality would encourage stagnation on infrastructure and empower both the ISPs and content providers.

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