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The Internet Government

FCC Chair: It's Ok For ISPs To Discriminate Traffic 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the pay-per-bit dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Remember when the ex-cable lobbyist Tom Wheeler was appointed to the FCC chair back in May of 2013? Turns out he's currently gunning for Internet Service Providers to be able to 'favor some traffic over other traffic.' It would set a dangerous precedent, considering the Open Internet Order in 2010 forbade such action if it fell under unreasonable discrimination. The bendy interpretation of the 2010 order is apparently aimed somewhat at Netflix, as Wheeler stated: 'Netflix might say, "I'll pay in order to make sure that my subscriber might receive the best possible transmission of this movie."'"
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FCC Chair: It's Ok For ISPs To Discriminate Traffic

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  • What Internet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neuroelectronic (643221) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:32PM (#45602123)

    All I see is a bunch of telecom fiefdoms expanding their influence. It was nice having an internet for a while, but TCP/IP was never built to enforce network neutrality, and you can't stop technology from breaking old protocols and extracting value from communication before that value can be delivered to the real intended recipient.

    Deep Packet Inspection is Piracy. Return the favor.

  • well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:35PM (#45602177)
    I might be okay with this if it came with a regulatory requirement that ISPs practice full disclosure of their preferences w.r.t. traffic type. That way at least consumers can "vote with their wallets" in markets with more than one provider.
  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:39PM (#45602237)

    Netflix already pays for their connections to the internet. Consumers already pay in kind for their connections. The middlemen are already making money hand over fist. They would just like to avoid playing in a free market so they can make even more money.

  • Re:well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:42PM (#45602287)

    LOL, as if the exactly two providers (one cable, one DSL) in each market wouldn't "coincidentally" adopt exactly the same anticompetitive policies!

  • Re:well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:44PM (#45602319)

    Why would you be OK with it? It cannot and will not provide any benefit to you, but it will drive up costs. You can only be at a disadvantage. In the example provided in the summary, Netflix would pay ISPs to provide "better" service. To offset that cost, Netflix is now going to cost you extra. If your ISP is providing a crappy service, that needs to be taken up with your ISP. No bribes need to be involved in this.

    Now, this is before it becomes accepted and abused, even. If this is allowed, then what do you think is going to happen to services that refuse to pay off ISPs? They'll get "limited" bandwidth as a punishment. That means the services you may want will essentially become unusable.

  • Re:What Internet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:45PM (#45602325)

    There are technological countermeasures that can be investigated. Encryption, obstucated protocols, decentralisation. Ideally some day truely decentralised mesh networking (I personally think CAN is key to making that workable), but that depends not just upon improving technology but also having a dense enough population of activist-enthusiasts.

  • What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HeckRuler (1369601) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:01PM (#45602535)

    Wheeler: "Netflix might say, "I'll pay in order to make sure that my subscriber might receive the best possible transmission of this movie."

    Huh, that's funny. I though I ALREADY PAID the ISP to get the best possible transmission.

    Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted to buy access to ALL of the Internet? You only bought basic Internet. That simply doesn't include Netflix. But it includes Youtube now that Google ponied up some cash. You need to pay the premium rate to get Netflixs. Plus an extra surcharge for Wikipedia because they said something nasty about us once.

  • by Thruen (753567) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:02PM (#45602553)
    Three cheers for letting cable companies abuse their government-assisted monopolies! At this point, most of us get our internet from the same people who offer on-demand video services on top of regular television for a much higher price than Netflix. Options in most areas are limited to one sometimes two sources for broadband (Sources that also provide TV) or dialup, if you can still find that. Now, they're going to take advantage of their near complete control of the internet to shut out any possible competition to the outdated and undesirable cable TV overpriced bundle business model, full of stuff nobody will watch. If only there were some system of rules that was already in place meant to prevent businesses from leveraging a monopoly in one market to take control of another... If only...
  • by JonBoy47 (2813759) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:05PM (#45602605)

    The internet already provides the viable infrastructure for on-demand video delivery, as demonstrated by the litany of devices that support Netflix playback.

    The Great Recession already saw many people belt-tighten by canceling their cable TV. Subscriber numbers are in slow decline. Netflix, YouTube and Hulu are just a few content deals away from completely destroying the value proposition of cable TV for remaining subscribers. Cable companies believe their only hope of keeping that revenue from disappearing is to make sure their internet service isn't viable for video delivery. Net neutrality means they can't manage their network traffic and make netflix et al unusable for their subscribers.

    Cue the new FCC chief.

  • Re:well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:06PM (#45602609)

    Netflix paying money to my ISP creates a new equilibrium in which the rates charged to me by my ISP may be lower.

    No. It only ever creates a new equilibrium where your ISP's profits are higher.

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:25PM (#45602821) Journal

    So what? I pay my ISP for 20Mbits/s so that I can watch Netflix.

    This is good for Netflix, the ISP and the consumer. The bandwidth is paid for on both ends.

    The alternative is cable or dish, which is way more expensive.

    The "percentage of traffic" argument is meaningless when most of that Netflix traffic is cached on Netflix provided boxes at the ISP. The last mile wires are not shared. The incremental cost to use them vs. not use them is 0. The incremental cost for the ethernet in the plant is also 0.

    If it wasn't Netflix, it would be someone else. Or spread across multiple someone elses. The streaming is pulled by the viewers and the viewers are going to stream.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:31PM (#45602871)

    No, Netflix is paying a service provider for every bit of bandwith they use. If this isn't enough, their service provider should raise their fees.

  • by JonBoy47 (2813759) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:54PM (#45603147)

    I have every confidence that Netflix is paying for all the bandwidth they're using, as are Netflix's subscribers. If there's congestion In-between then it's the backbone providers to upgrade, and build that into their cost structure.

  • Re:What Internet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:55PM (#45603151)

    "This has been a cat and mouse game for a long time now... and the cat is starting to be the one winning."

    Gaming the political system is not "winning". It's cheating. There is a very big difference.

  • Re:What Internet? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:57PM (#45603173) Homepage

    Where are these official rules that determine what's allowed and what's cheating?

  • Re:OTOH... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brainboyz (114458) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:27PM (#45603437) Homepage

    Yes, but that works to the ISP/Cable/Phone companies' advantage. Driving up the price of Netflix reduces the competition force.

  • Re:What Internet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:33PM (#45603489) Homepage

    The oft repeated lie. The content creator creates traffic, 'LIE'. The end users creates the traffic by requesting the delivering of content, 'TRUTH'. So what they are saying is the end user should pay for band width and traffic and after they are charged for it, ISP, should be able to cripple the supply so they can charge someone else for it again.

    What is it all really about. The current Telecom incumbents all want to become digital publishers, so their intent is to put competitors out of business including those who self publish by either throttling their delivery services to the customers to the point of making them unusable or by over pricing them to make them non-competitive.

    Oh look it's yet another Uncle Tom Obama the choom gang coward corporate appointee, who would have believed it.

  • Re:What Internet? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:57PM (#45603675)

    "Where are these official rules that determine what's allowed and what's cheating?"

    An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Dr. Adam Smith, 1776

    "Lobbying" and "monopoly" are not "capitalism". Even Smith recognized that a capitalist economy must have a reasonable body of antitrust laws to keep everybody "playing within the rules".

  • Re:OTOH... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:40PM (#45603941)

    there is a place for QoS,

    Yes, and it's not in this discussion.

    But it's all pretty pointless unless the various backbone providers agree to honor the markings coming into their network

    QoS is not and never was meant to be preserved or honored after it leaves your network. If you want your markings preserved, you need to set up some type of tunnel to your remote endpoint.

    How does a service on ISP A get better service guaranteed for traffic going to a customer on ISP B?

    Both customers pay their respective ISP's for a dedicated bandwidth internet connection. Or if both endpoints are yours, you purchase a point to point circuit instead of an internet service.

  • by Chuckstar (799005) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:54PM (#45604031)

    'Netflix might say, "I'll pay in order to make sure that my subscriber might receive the best possible transmission of this movie."'"

    Isn't that exactly what net neutrality people are worried about? Because it's hardly a big jump from that to "pay us or your subscriber will get the worst possible transmission of a movie".

    My position has always been "I am the ISP's customer. I am not the thing they sell to Netflix." If it's more expensive for the ISP to deliver me video than emails, that should be a negotiation between my ISP and me. It shouldn't be a negotiation betwen my ISP and Netflix, that I end up paying for anyway. Or even worse, that negotiation goes bad, and Netflix just sucks for me with no way for me to improve it... and my ISP tells me "but Hulu works fine... you should just switch to Hulu... trust us."

  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:15PM (#45604591)
    But exactly how is this Netflix's problem? It's still a problem with the ISP being unhappy that people are actually using the service they paid for.
  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:37AM (#45604995)
    Essentially since the ISP is having trouble collecting more money from heavier users, they're angling for Netflix to charge these users more then collecting that money from Netflix

    Meaning the ISPs are too cowardly to actually charge the *users* of said bandwidth, i.e., their customers. They would rather try to foist that charge off on another party with whom they have no business relationship and to whom are not providing any service, and have that other party deal with the bad PR. That's bullshit - Netflix is already paying for the bandwidth they use and has already spent a lot of money attempting to mitigate everyone's costs (via colo'd cache boxes), and if the ISP is not happy with the amount of bandwidth their customers are using, they need to charge *them* more, not Netflix. In the process they can also explain to their customers how oversubscription works, and that the new charges are a result of their own poorly-thought-out business model. Bonus points if they include information about how much they're already subsidized by the government in the form of rights-of-way, municipal franchise agreements, etc.

    Given that half of all internet traffic comes from Netflix and YouTube, it's going to be a hoot when they start obtaining metrics proving their traffic is being throttled by the ISP, and providing said proof to customers that complain about the resulting sub-par video experience, and it will be trivial for them to do so. The ISPs may find their bargaining position isn't as strong as they thought if customers start cancelling or downgrading their cable/DSL subscriptions as a result.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun