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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.

    • 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.

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

        by jxander (2605655) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:48PM (#45603053)
        Netflix (being called out by name in this instance) has offered a decentralization solution. They've offered to install storage nodes to hold the majority of their library within Comcast's network and minimize traffic... but comcast said NO, as it would compete with their own digital movie delivery methods.
        • 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.

        • My small ISP asked Netflix for a cache, but was refused. Apparently, unless you're a huge ISP like Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T, Netflix won't let you set up a storage node.... And they won't let you cache on your own, either. In short, if you are small enough to need a cache, you can't have one.
    • there is a place for QoS, which is useful for things like VoIP and streaming video. The question is who pays, and how do you insure it's fair?

      The solution may be to allow a source to pay for a better QoS classification (since that's where the marking is done), but also force ISPs to be charge all comers equally. That means separating existing companies which provide both content and transport into separate legal entities. Alternately, they remain combined but are not allowed to provide QoS treatment to the
    • by Wootery (1087023)

      Deep Packet Inspection is Piracy. Return the favor.

      Return the favour? ISPs aren't known for producing copyrighted music/movies/games/books...

  • News to me (Score:5, Informative)

    by paiute (550198) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:33PM (#45602137)
    Here I thought the outrageous check I write to Comcast every month was supposed to pay for them to pipe me the best possible signal from whatever website I choose. Silly me.
  • by oDDmON oUT (231200) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:34PM (#45602157)

    The revolving door of DC squirts another lobbyist/shill into a position of public power and we're left holding the bag.

    But there again, most shee..rrr...Americans will only complain if something keeps them from watching the latest Idol.

  • 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.
    • 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!

      • Voila, business opportunity for a third competitor to enter the market and immediately differentiate itself.
        • Nope, the monopoly franchises have already been doled out. The only new entrants allowed by law are crappy wireless ones.

          • There's a small competitor where I live that (afaik) runs on top of the major carrier's existing cable. Not wireless.
        • Ah, the imaginary "third competitor" capitalized at the necessary tens of billions of dollars (to set up a meaningful competitive network) that does not already have highly profitable monopoly turf to defend in an unspoken "gentleman's agreement" with other cable providers. Who would that be, now?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

  • 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.

  • Jesus, it's like he's testing the public to see if they can be convinced to care at all about net neutrality. NETFLIX is the example you choose? What were some examples you decided wouldn't be good to mention?

    Wheeler: "Say a hospital doesn't want children to die unnecessarily because they couldn't get information, maybe their ISP will charge them highway robbery to prevent your son or daughter from dying. Oh, my secretary is shaking her head at that, okay, maybe a bad example. Porn? If you don't p
    • by bagboy (630125)
      He likely chose Netflix due to the fact that it now accounts for 50 percent of all North American Fixed Network Data, per Sandvine report Nov 11, 2013. Those are big numbers and indicate that Netflix is big enough to use in examples.
    • He is deliberately muddling net neutrality with QoS. They are not the same thing. It is to the benefit of the telcos that he does this. They can try to kill net neutrality by arguing that QoS is fine (which it is), rather than arguing that blocking based on traffic type is fine (which it isn't).

  • Between the patent wars and the ISPs soon racketing you if you want to reach customers, the US is quickly becoming a very hostile place for tech and internet startups. The big guys will buy the few who somehow make it.

    Innovation, being risky, won't be favored by the remaining huge consortiums living off virtual monopolies, so any progress will have to come from abroad.

  • Is it OK for streaming communication (YouTube, Netflix) or online gaming (StarCraft 2, FPS) to take precedence over email?

    • Sure, but it's not OK for Email provider A to take precedence over provider B.

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

    Verizon might also say, "We're not going to allow Netflix traffic to a subscriber in excess of 1mbit/sec, PERIOD."

    • Most likely, it would be Comast saying that. Or does Verizon have a television service (AFAIK they don't in the West)?
    • Verizon will just point out that HD (or 4k) Pay per view is a lot more reliable when they do it.

      It doesn't take many "inadverterent" breaks in a movie to make people believe Netflix is garbage. Hey, look, the internet is fine, ok? Just see how good your speedtest numbers are.

  • by Traze (1167415) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:51PM (#45602421)
    Whitehouse.gov [whitehouse.gov] Sign the petition, and at least get your voice out there.

    Who know's? It might not fall on deaf ears.
  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:52PM (#45602431) Homepage
    If I am Netflix, Google/YouTube, Amazon, etc. and an ISP comes to me asking for money for preferential treatment, I would just say: "Pay me $1/subscriber, or I will block your users from my site--you know, just like how you pay ESPN for their content..." I find it hard to believe these sites need ISPs more than ISPs need these sites.
  • Hopey Changey (Score:5, Informative)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich.aol@com> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:52PM (#45602433) Journal

            "I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists â" and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."

            -- Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA
            November 10, 2007

    • by onyxruby (118189)

      Every once in a while a post comes along that needs attached to the story instead of the comment section. Editors, this is just such a post.

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      Im sure once he was seated in the oval office he was politely told "This is how the game works Mr. President." and promptly shut the fuck up.

  • 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 jjeffries (17675)

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

      You *want* video streams to have priority over non-realtime traffic across the ISP network and your last-mile though, don't you? It's generally a good thing.

      How this gets worked out, and who, if anyone, makes money from doing so is another issue.

      Is prioritizing one kind of traffic logically the same as de-prioritizing all other traffic?

    • by jafac (1449)

      Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted to buy access to ALL of the Internet? You only bought basic Internet.

      . . . not unlike Cable's approach to selling channel packages.

  • 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...
  • Can someone tell me how the cost of an Internet connection breaks down. As I see it there are 3 components:

    • 1) consumer residence to ISP point of presence (PoP) ''the last mile''
    • 2) PoP to ISP core infrastucture
    • 3) ISP links to elsewhere

    I do realise that my breakdown is somewhat simplistic; net neutrality is all about the cost of (3) compared to the cost of (1)+(2). If (3) really is much greater than there might be an argument for not streaming lots of data (eg video) round the globe. If (3) is not the lion's

    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      That's the problem: for residential ISPs #3 is a huge cost. Since they forbid users from running servers, almost all traffic is from the rest of the world (where the servers are) to their users. That means a big imbalance of traffic at their connections to the backbones, more traffic inbound to the ISP than outbound from it. Since payment and rates are based on balance of traffic, the ISPs end up paying a lot. The ISPs aren't in a good negotiating position. Individually they're each an overwhelming chunk of

  • Remember when the ex-cable lobbyist Tom Wheeler was appointed to the FCC chair back in May of 2013?

    No way, no how! Such a thing could only have happened during a RethugliKKKan Presidency. You must've gotten the date wrong.

    • A bit trollish, yes?

      Progressives are under no illusion about the Democrats in general and Obama in particular being corporatist sell-outs. The complete lack of prosecutions of Wall Street by the Obama Administration says all that needs to be said to make that case.

      Winning our democracy, our economy, our society back from corporate control is a daunting project, not even begun yet. I know some elements of the Tea Party agree, but are they willing to make common cause on this?

  • 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.

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:21PM (#45602773)
    On K Street whoever funnels the most money to a politician gets the most sympathetic ear. Wheeler is proposing the same corrupt concept for ISP traffic. It likely comes natural to him as a lobbyist and I doubt he even realizes there's anything wrong with it.
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:49PM (#45603065)

    While I tend to agree with most people posting and I'm generally in favor of net neutrality, I also like playing devil's advocate, looking at both sides.

    My SSH connection uses about 0.001 Mbps. Latency on SSH is really annoying, because it means each time you type on key you have to wait for that letter or number to show up on the screen. So for SSH you use very, very little bandwidth, but it needs to be low latency.

    Netflix is opposite - it uses up 1,000 times more bandwidth, and latency doesn't matter at all (though jitter does). During peak hours, when the ISP is 1 Mbps short of perfect performance in a certain area, does it make more sense to annoy the shit out of 500 customers using SSH and other interactive low bandwidth applications, or should the one customer's Netflix packets get queued, which he won't even notice. (The Netflix movie will just begin one second later).

    Given the very real choice of annoying 500 customers who aren't asking for much bandwidth vs. an imperceptible difference in one customer's movie, I think the choice is obvious. Better to not annoy any customers by giving the interactive packets priority.

    That's what I'd want my ISP to do even if both connections are mine. I'd much rather have an unnoticeable 1% quality reduction in the YouTube video I'm watching than have lost or slow packets in my SSH. I WANT my ISP to discriminate between low priority, high bandwidth sites (video) versus high priority interactive.

    It might also be useful to get real and talk about what this actually means in practice. YouTube and Netflix are HALF of the traffic load. Without those two, the existing infrastructure would deliver everything else TWICE as fast. Philosophical discussions are interesting, but at the end of the day, would you rather get stuff done much, much faster and allow the cat video to buffer for 1.5 seconds?

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

    Why? They're already paying for the bandwidth from their massive content network.

    And their clients are ALREADY paying their ISPs for "best effort" delivery.

    It's the ISP's customers who are requesting the traffic in their first place. If these providers don't want to deliver best effort, their clients can (ideally) move to services that WILL.

    But nooo! That'd mean that these fucking bloodsucking middlemen would have to compete solely on price and performance. Can't have that! We'll just hold everyone hos

  • Netflix is already turning this around by offering some ISPs higher quality streams for establishing partnerships.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2425696,00.asp [pcmag.com]

    "U.S. ISPs that have signed on for Open Connect include Cablevision, Frontier, Clearwire, and Google Fiber. British Telecom, TDC, GVT, Telus, Bell Canada, Virgin, Telmex, and more have also signed up overseas. Those who sign up have the option to stream Netflix content in Super HD or 3D." Other ISPs like Verizon Communications and Time Warner Ca

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:19PM (#45603363)

    You know what, sure, let's let ISPs discriminate traffic. Let's let them outright block any site that doesn't pay them enough. But in exchange, they lose their safe harbor protection.

    So anyone who launches a DoS or other "attack" over that ISP? They're partially liable. After all, they could have slowed or stopped that attack.

    Anyone pirates anything? Liable. If they're blocking sites for their own purpose, they can obviously block illegal downloads as well, right?

    Somebody posts a threat on Facebook? Cyber-bullying? LIABLE. Fraud? LIABLE.

    Basically, if it's illegal and done through an Internet connection provided by that ISP, that ISP is a co-defendant in any civil or criminal suit.

    Of course, the only way for an ISP to operate in such a legal environment would be to block everything by default, and only whitelist acceptable sites. Which of course cannot include anything with user-generated content - no Facebook, no Wikipedia, no Ebay. Of the 23 sites in my bookmarks bar, the only one that probably wouldn't get blocked is Wolfram Alpha.

    So sure! Let ISPs start filtering traffic - as long as they take responsibility for anything that they allow through.

    • You're talking like the law matters - a foreign idea in Corporate America.
    • by colinnwn (677715)
      Seems like it would be easier to allow traffic discrimination, but that automatically loses that company's exclusive franchise agreement, and the jurisdiction must then allow other companies to use the right of way to run last mile connections at the same rate charged to the incumbent franchise.
  • 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 3count (1039602) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:36PM (#45604321)
    This fast lane/slow lane analogy makes this sound more reasonable than it is. Netflix, or anyone else, can't pay to have their traffic go faster. They can only pay to have someone else's traffic go slower. ISPs are talking about taking bids to selectively slow traffic. How, exactly, is this different from a denial of service attack?

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