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The Internet Government

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules 631

muggs sends word that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted 3-2 to approve an expansion of their ability to regulate ISPs by treating them as a public utility. Under the rules, it will be illegal for companies such as Verizon or Cox Communications to slow down streaming videos, games and other online content traveling over their networks. They also will be prohibited from establishing "fast lanes" that speed up access to Web sites that pay an extra fee. And in an unprecedented move, the FCC could apply the rules to wireless carriers such as T-Mobile and Sprint -- a nod to the rapid rise of smartphones and the mobile Internet. ... The FCC opted to regulate the industry with the most aggressive rules possible: Title II of the Communications Act, which was written to regulate phone companies. The rules waive a number of provisions in the act, including parts of the law that empower the FCC to set retail prices — something Internet providers feared above all. However, the rules gives the FCC a variety of new powers, including the ability to: enforce consumer privacy rules; extract money from Internet providers to help subsidize services for rural Americans, educators and the poor; and make sure services such as Google Fiber can build new broadband pipes more easily.
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FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:14PM (#49139685)

    4-5 years in the courts...

    • by aaron4801 ( 3007881 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:33PM (#49140005)
      In an ideal world, the free market would step in and protect consumers in place of the government having to do so. The Republicans are right on that point (IMHO), but what they re missing, and this is big: broadband is NOT a free market! Municipal governments grant monopoly access to cable and phone companies who double as ISPs. 85% of the country has access to two or fewer choices, and that's at 4Mbps. Faster speeds offer even more pathetic "choice." For a party that decries government monopolies in other sectors, they don't seem to understand that monopolies of ALL kinds are dangerous in their own ways.
      • by mjm1231 ( 751545 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:49PM (#49140221)

        Given that this ideal world is completely imaginary, and the things that the free market is supposed to do in it never actually happen in the real world, why imagine a world where it's specifically free markets that have these magical powers? Why not an imaginary world where these things happen without free markets? Why not one where elves come in the middle of the night and solve everything?

        Or, if this ideal world you've imagined doesn't map to the real one, why not try to imagine one that does?

        • by maligor ( 100107 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @05:03PM (#49141261)

          Given that this ideal world is completely imaginary, and the things that the free market is supposed to do in it never actually happen in the real world, why imagine a world where it's specifically free markets that have these magical powers? Why not an imaginary world where these things happen without free markets? Why not one where elves come in the middle of the night and solve everything?

          Or, if this ideal world you've imagined doesn't map to the real one, why not try to imagine one that does?

          I find it odd that there's the sort of idea that government regulation is somehow inherently anti-competitive in the US. If the government wants to be anti-competitive, they'll just say that business isn't allowed to do X and monopolize that function themselves.

          If there were no limits to free market, the majority of the population would be morphine addicts, or possibly something even more addictive.

      • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:09PM (#49140499)

        Wireless spectrum is limited. Right-of-way access is limited. The number of potential customers is limited. Sources of capital needed to build infrastructure is limited.

        I heard your technical monopoly (artificially created by government) theory before, but I believe that when it comes to supplying "the last mile" of high speed internet there is no such thing as pure technical monopoly.

        • We call that a natural monopoly. It doesn't make any sense to have hundreds of competing last mile providers just like it doesn't make sense to have hundreds of different sewage systems or electricity grids.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:50PM (#49141079)

        Municipal governments grant monopoly access to cable and phone companies who double as ISPs.

        The harsh reality of building physical infrastructure is that you MUST have government force involved, for the power of eminent domain. Otherwise it would be impossible to negotiate contracts with individual landowners for rights-of-way, easements, etc for every single plot of land that needs to be traversed. And one person could block construction (or make it too expensive to route around) for everyone else.

        The only real answer to this is having the government (i.e. the public) own all infrastructure, and lease it out for service providers. That would have required some long term planning to contract out all the building work but retain ownership.

      • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @05:06PM (#49141297)

        In an ideal world, the free market would step in and protect consumers in place of the government having to do so.

        You think so? Isn't it the free market which lead to the situation that we have today with a few major companies having the power to control the network and shut out competitors? Did all that happen in some sort of socialist vacuum?

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:19PM (#49139751)

    Is there is no local loop unbundling. This was the real solution. With competition to supply the service who cares if comcast or time warner are pieces of crap. You can drop them like hot potatoes. Instead we have more control and less freedom.

    • Had this on DSL 15 years ago. It was great. I had a choice of at least half a dozen ISPs. Never happen today with the politicians in the pockets of Big Tubes. (Yes I just made that up).
    • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:49PM (#49140235)

      local loop unbundling may have been a better choice, but just like actual single payer socialized healthcare, it's likely a bridge too far in the current political climate.

      more control is not the same as less freedom. they aren't antithetical.
      in this case, we are simply preserving the current status quo of the internet, which is that Comcast cant block Netflix and force you to use hulu.

      which by the way is still a concern even if actual forced competition were to occur.
      in an ideal free market, the companies wouldn't be able to force you to use their service, but an ideal free market along with ideal competition doesn't exist regulatory intervention anyway, because by their very definition free markets inevitably devolve.

    • by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:54PM (#49141145)

      Once again, this is about logical net neutrality, not physical net neutrality, which is a whole other ball of wax. This is about making sure that Comcast doesn't charge you extra for access to NetFlix or Twitch.tv, and then turn around and charge NetFlix and Twitch.tv more to access you. Because prior to Title II classification, that was entirely possible.

      Local loop unbundling is not a simple thing and does have significant technical barriers and significant cost. Politics is a slow, gradual, arduous process. It will take time to get where we need to be. Don't proclaim the journey a failure because the first step was taken with the left foot instead of the right.

  • by diamondmagic ( 877411 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:20PM (#49139767) Homepage

    So when do they release these 322 pages of new rules? With all this transparency, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?! /s

    I mean, after the broadcast flag incident, how is it everyone so comfortable with letting the FCC become the packet police? The regular court system has proved to be inadequate... when?

  • by KClaisse ( 1038258 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:21PM (#49139785)
    Anyone know if this will have an immediate effect on the throttling ISP's seem to be doing to Netflix content unless they make special deals with the ISP's (I'm looking at Verizon specifically)? Does this mean it is now illegal to demand third party websites pay extra for their content to not be throttled (which is exactly the kind of scheme Verizon and other ISP's are currently running)? If so I wonder how this will effect deals already made to speed up content.
  • by Some_Llama ( 763766 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:22PM (#49139819) Homepage Journal

    this seems to good to be true... it's what the populace wants, what the corporations didn't, and it makes sense.

    I can't correlate this with being a current government agency that interfaces between the public and commerce...

    after so many time being disappointed by the choices our government makes i guess im in battered wife syndrome type shock.

    • this seems to good to be true... it's what the populace wants, what the corporations didn't, and it makes sense.

      Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix aren't corporations, now?

      I don't understand the need to delude oneself about the parties on each side of the debate.

    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:16PM (#49140595)

      it's what the populace wants, what the corporations didn't

      All sorts of corporations wanted this passed.

      It's 300 pages. Does what *you* wanted take 300 pages to express? No? HMM.

      Good luck with that, as the saying goes. I am really looking forward to you all finding out what has really happened today.

  • by allquixotic ( 1659805 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:25PM (#49139843)

    "IT'S (probably*) A TRAP!"
      - Rear Admiral Akquixotic of the Mon Calamari

    *: There's a small chance that this will end up actually helping consumers. A broken clock is right twice a day, and a reg-captured FCC occasionally does things that benefit the common man.

    For example, the Block C Open Access provisions on Verizon and AT&T's LTE bands (or at least some of them) are what prevented these carriers from preventing tethering or the use of custom devices. Any FCC-certified device, rooted or not, tethering or not, can be on those bands, and there's nothing the carrier can do to stop it without breaking the law.

    Those provisions have been a lifesaver for many customers of these two carriers who want to use the LTE from their phone to tether a laptop on the go, but don't want to pay extra or buy dedicated hardware for it. So the FCC definitely helped in a pragmatic sense with those rules.

    Then again, I'm sure the industry coalitions have fully formed lawsuits written up, signed, in the envelope, and just waiting to be mailed when this decision hit. Who knows how long it'll be until the results of this trickle down through carrier policy and plan offerings to affect the everyman?

  • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @03:28PM (#49139901) Homepage

    It doesn't go far enough. What we really need is to separate content creators from the network providers. Have a separate utility company that only provides your internet connection and nothing else. That way, every company that wants to sell you product is on 100% equal footing. Make the market truly free for everyone to participate on a level playing field. After all, isn't that what's most fair to everyone? Distributing your cable TV service over your now independent internet link will open it up so you can get your TV service from anyone you want. Think of what the competition will do to the industry and how much better it will be for the consumer.

    Oh wait. I forgot that the cable companies will bribe everyone in congress they can in order to keep their municipal monopolies firmly entrenched. So much for real free markets and competition. Rats.

  • Comcast:no,
    FCC:...thats a nice internet you have there....
    Verizon: No.
    Time Warner:NO
    Republican party: NO!
    POTUS: sure would be nice if it were just....
    AT&T: NO GOD NO
    FCC:......a little more neutral.
    Rogers: ...eh we're more of a callcenter these days anyway.
  • by hwstar ( 35834 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:08PM (#49140485)

    I approve of the FCC decision, but I have a concern about lack of regulation on pricing matters.

    I suspect this will end up like POTS. Here is a sample of a future bill.

    25/5 Broadband Service Base Fee $39.99
    Advertising Fee $20.00
    Plant maintenance Fee $20.00
    Regulatory Capture Fee $20.00
    Washington Lobbying Fee $20.00
    Bandwidth Fee for data over the cap limit 100.00

    Total amount due this month: $219.99

    Some action on the FCC's part to limit these fees will be required in the future.

  • by Cutting_Crew ( 708624 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:10PM (#49140509)
    Last year netflix was paying comcast extra fees to not be in a 'slow lane'. I imagine by now Netflix is going to stop payment.
  • by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <dredd@megacity.org> on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:29PM (#49140781) Homepage

    How companies like Time Warner will defeat Net Neutrality: Self-divestiture.

    The "Time Warner Cable/Internet" you know of today becomes a myriad of companies specifically designed to continue on with business as usual while still adhering to the letter of the law:

    - Time Warner Broadband - a company which does nothing more than operate Hybrid-Fiber-Coax outside plant (the actual wires on the actual poles).

    - Time Warner Cable - a company which leases spectrum from TWB (above), and provides cable-video service on that outside plant

    - Time Warner Transit - a company which does nothing more than provide wholesale (non-retail, non-mass-market) internet connectivity to ISPs and other service providers. As a wholesaler, TWT is not encumbered by net neutrality regulations.

    - Time Warner Internet - a company which leases spectrum from TWB (above) to provide IP connectivity to end-users. It obtains *all* of its internet connectivity from TWT (above), and charges metered billing to all its end-users (you pay a flat rate PLUS you pay "by the bit", the same way you pay for water or electric today).

    Netflix, et al, will have to tithe properly to TWT if they want access to TWI's customers, since TWT is the only path to GET to TWI's customers. The FCC can't really punish TWI for this move, without opening up an even messier Pandora's box of trying to tell ISPs "which upstreams they HAVE to obtain connectivity from".

    Yes, it'll all be a LITTLE more complicated than that, but they've got teams of lawyers to work out the details.

    • Doing that would probably just push the FCC to move to mandate local loop unbundling though. After all, the various companies have already divested, so it's even easier to say that the one who owns/maintains and rents out the physical infrastructure to the ISP company is itself a utility, and that it needs to offer that same service to anyone who wants to compete with the ISP.
  • by kisak ( 524062 ) on Thursday February 26, 2015 @04:54PM (#49141133) Homepage Journal
    Elections matter :)

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