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The FCC approved net neutrality "lite"
Old 12-21-2010, 04:32 PM   #1
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The FCC approved net neutrality "lite"

Well, they finally got around to doing something about net neutrality.

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Reaction to the FCC's decision was met with criticism coming from groups on both sides of the seven-plus-year net neutrality debate in Washington, D.C. Several consumer and digital rights groups pushing for strong net neutrality rules called the vote a missed opportunity. The rules, pushed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, prohibit broadband providers from blocking legal Web content, and they prohibit wired providers from unreasonable discrimination against Web traffic. The exempt specialized, or managed services, offered by broadband providers and exempt mobile broadband providers from the prohibition on unreasonable discrimination.
FCC's Net neutrality vote hit from both sides - Computerworld
It seems no one likes what they passed - which means it doesn't satisfy anybody but also isn't really unfair to anyone. It will limit somewhat the ability of the ISPs to intermediate between web sites and internet users, which is probably a good thing.
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:07 PM   #2
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How did we get to the place where a NON-ELECTED commission started regulating the Internet without Congressional approval? Seems the FCC is a little big in the britches........they are supposed to regulated radio, phone, and TV. How is the Internet any of those things?
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:14 PM   #3
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The communications companies have battles regularly.

IMO - the network providers are trying to use the network ownership and control to squash competition in the area of content!

The entrenched content providers (cable companies) do not want internet startups (e.g. netflix) to use their network. The problem is that the people using netflix are paying comcast for internet access.

I am all for anything that lowers the outrageous cost of cable TV. Competition is good!

Level 3 Disputes Comcast's Position On Netflix Traffic - WSJ.com





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The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.
Network neutrality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:59 PM   #4
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How did we get to the place where a NON-ELECTED commission started regulating the Internet without Congressional approval? Seems the FCC is a little big in the britches........they are supposed to regulated radio, phone, and TV. How is the Internet any of those things?
That's my big problem with this. The executive branch circumvented the legislative process and made law. I don't beleive they have the authority to do this, especially since congress decided not to. Same with deeming CO2 a polutant. The EPA told congress that if they didn't regulate CO2, the EPA would. That's not how it works. The executive branch derives its authority to regulate from Congress.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:41 PM   #5
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How did we get to the place where a NON-ELECTED commission started regulating the Internet without Congressional approval? Seems the FCC is a little big in the britches........they are supposed to regulated radio, phone, and TV. How is the Internet any of those things?
Well, it's a funny story. They don't have the authority to regulate the Internet, but they do have the authority to regulate broadband Internet access providers. A long time back, the companies that provide Internet service were sued because one of the things people found via their services was porn. Yup, dirty pictures over the Internet. Shocking, I know.

Now, the Internet service providers (ISP) could try to address this by attempting to filter all content, over all the various transit protocols (HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, UUCP/TCP, NNTP, SMPT, and so on) for all the possible sources. This sort of setup is often called a 'walled garden.' That turns out to be pretty hard, especially for encrypted channels.

The other alternative they could try was to plead that they were a common carrier, just like the phone company, a simple provider of communications service, and so not liable for whatever data moved across their service. Now, a common carrier holds itself out to provide service to the general public without discrimination for 'public convenience and necessity'. This would allow them to ignore the content of the packets of data moving through their service, so they wouldn't be liable for the naughty bits, but would make them a regulated and licensed service. That wouldn't do.

Ah, but the Internet is sort of built atop the telecommunications networks, which are common carriers. So, they came up with the idea of being an Information Service which merely made use of common carriers, to try and dodge common carrier regulation while hiding under the common carrier's skirts for content liability.

This worked OK for a while, and let them play under Title 1 of the Communications Act of 1934 as Information Services or Enhanced Services, just like those 'party line' conversation services one could reach over the phone. Then Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which set up regulatory regimes for cable TV, voice services, and information networks. The Act specifically stated that a carrier is not a 'telecommunications carrier' when it is simply selling broadband access. There are specific regulations for 'telecommunications carriers', but not for pure 'information services', such as broadband providers.

The bits of Title V of the 1996 Act that survive provide ISPs with protection from liability for third party content on their services, and legal definitions of the Internet, so they were still protected from those pesky porn lawsuits. They did get tucked under the FCC, though. This was confirmed by a declaratory ruling back in 2002.

The fun comes in where we have telecommunications carriers that also want to be information services, often over the same pair of wires. DSL service, or cable internet service from a company that also does phone-over-cable hit this, as do various third parties (Magic Jack...) that offer phone service that relies on the Internet access to the customer for transport. This puts competing telecommunications carriers head-to-head on the same 'information service'.

The whole net neutrality thing comes from the concern that a telecommunications carrier that controls an information service might manipulate the behavior of the information service to the advantage of the controlling telecommunications carrier and the disadvantage of others. This can be done with modern packet switches algorithmically to give priority to one particular packet format, source, or destination over another.

For example, there was some suspicion in 2008 that the ATT network routers were de-prioritizing Skype and similar non-ATT voice over IP traffic, based on statistical traffic analysis. COMCAST has used it's Sandvine packet filter system to slow some traffic, including IPTV applications, at it's peering points where it connects it's private network to the Internet.

The Net Neutrality policy says that it is naughty to use their position as an information service to promote their own telecommunications carrier business over that of others. Information services, that is, Internet access, is to be impartial.
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Old 12-22-2010, 07:52 AM   #6
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Who believes Comcast is the better judge of how to manage volumes and charge business like Netflix and Vonage - especially when they are buying Hulu?

The conflict here is outrageous. Our government has helped individual companies build legislative and regulatory walls to protect their individual business interests for so long that anything that protects consumers or keeps the field open to all players is now called anti-business.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:38 AM   #7
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Well, it's a funny story. They don't have the authority to regulate the Internet, but they do have the authority to regulate broadband Internet access providers...
+1 Good summary. These carriers have to be regulated or they will screw us one one way or another. The question is how to regulate them. I haven't paid close enough attention to have a strong opinion but I have paid enough attention to know I don't want my ISP choosing what content to deliver to me at what speed. At the same time, I am alarmed that Netflix comprises 20% of total Internet backbone traffic. I don't like paying for other people to watch their movies. Ultimately some sort of tiered pricing based on data volumes may be in order -- unless capacity increases so quickly (via whatever the telecomm equivalent to Moore's Law is) that bandwidth becomes irrelevant.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:43 AM   #8
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+1 Good summary. These carriers have to be regulated or they will screw us one one way or another. The question is how to regulate them. I haven't paid close enough attention to have a strong opinion but I have paid enough attention to know I don't want my ISP choosing what content to deliver to me at what speed. At the same time, I am alarmed that Netflix comprises 20% of total Internet backbone traffic. I don't like paying for other people to watch their movies. Ultimately some sort of tiered pricing based on data volumes may be in order -- unless capacity increases so quickly (via whatever the telecomm equivalent to Moore's Law is) that bandwidth becomes irrelevant.
Gotta be careful for what you wish for, though, if the govt tightens regs, then people will see their Internet access fee go up substantially. I already think broadband access to the Internet is expensive, and likely to go higher.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:58 AM   #9
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Gotta be careful for what you wish for, though, if the govt tightens regs, then people will see their Internet access fee go up substantially. I already think broadband access to the Internet is expensive, and likely to go higher.
Competition and technological improvements will keep prices down. Right now you and I are paying for iPad users who stream movies and indy rock fans listening to Internet radio at work. With some sort of data use pricing scheme those users could pay a bit more and I could pay a bit less. Seems fair to me. By the way, I occasionally listen to Radio Paradise on line so if my data use is higher that average I wouldn't mind paying a bit more than others. The charges need not be usurious under a well regulated scheme Leave these guys to themselves and you will get the same crapola you got from the credit card companies. That nonsense finally led to law and regulation.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:59 AM   #10
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That's my big problem with this. The executive branch circumvented the legislative process and made law. I don't beleive they have the authority to do this, especially since congress decided not to. Same with deeming CO2 a polutant. The EPA told congress that if they didn't regulate CO2, the EPA would. That's not how it works. The executive branch derives its authority to regulate from Congress.
I don't know enough about the issue and the regulation to comment on the substantive policy. However, I also have a problem with the procedural way this was done and the distortion of the separation of powers. You can go a step further and argue that the enabling statutes establishing the FCC and EPA are too broad and violate the Constitution as unlawful delegation of Congressional legislative authority. Unfortunately I foresee no challenges to the status quo on this basis because the agencies provide such an easy way for elected officials to deflect accountability for unpopular actions.
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:43 PM   #11
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Gotta be careful for what you wish for, though, if the govt tightens regs, then people will see their Internet access fee go up substantially. I already think broadband access to the Internet is expensive, and likely to go higher.
The cost of access will go up. It's not regulated, so there aren't any really high hurdles to jump. Operators of cable internet services are finding their networks running at capacity, particularly in afternoon and evening hours, and much of that traffic is due to a very small portion of their customers, around 1-2%.

I expect we'll see charge by usage appear over the next year, with current flat fee rates 'capped' at around 5-10 gigabytes a month. (We use around 1 Gb a month for the family.) Usage beyond the cap will be charged. This will primarily impact folks running BitTorrents all day and similar such stuff.

Note that 'net neutrality' has nothing to do with billing for usage of the end user. Charging by the gigabyte for very high use is just a way of recovering costs. At the peering points (sort of the wholesale side of Internet access) the ISPs already charge, and are charged, for the amount of data traffic. I have no problem with passing that charge along to customers.
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:55 PM   #12
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I don't know enough about the issue and the regulation to comment on the substantive policy. However, I also have a problem with the procedural way this was done and the distortion of the separation of powers. You can go a step further and argue that the enabling statutes establishing the FCC and EPA are too broad and violate the Constitution as unlawful delegation of Congressional legislative authority. Unfortunately I foresee no challenges to the status quo on this basis because the agencies provide such an easy way for elected officials to deflect accountability for unpopular actions.
Having seen Congress in action, and read the remarks of too many Congresscritters, I am not entirely sure I would trust Congress and their 'advisors' over on K Street in the detailed implementation of technical regulations. It might be amusing to observe Boehner and Black debating the finer points of limitations on effective radiated power in the 3 GHz spectrum allocation with regard to interference with established public service radio repeater links for utility management using non-wireline control protocols. "The use of a twelve channel tone control system is Destroying Democracy and is a Trojan Horse for further meddlling by The Government!"

Oh, yeah, this would end well.
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Old 12-22-2010, 02:16 PM   #13
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Having seen Congress in action, and read the remarks of too many Congresscritters, I am not entirely sure I would trust Congress and their 'advisors' over on K Street in the detailed implementation of technical regulations. It might be amusing to observe Boehner and Black debating the finer points of limitations on effective radiated power in the 3 GHz spectrum allocation with regard to interference with established public service radio repeater links for utility management using non-wireline control protocols. "The use of a twelve channel tone control system is Destroying Democracy and is a Trojan Horse for further meddlling by The Government!"

Oh, yeah, this would end well.
You forgot states rights.

Thanks - very informative posts. This new regulation will likely be challenged and end up in court. In the meantime some new initiative will be slowed. At the very minimum the ISPs will have a harder time carving out unfair advantage or enabling others to do so for a price.

As for pricing, it's hard to say. If the heavy users pay a higher share, its possible the average price stays where it is today. Not predicting because there's still too many unknowns.
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Old 12-22-2010, 02:36 PM   #14
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You forgot states rights.
Oh, yeah. For the radio waves that have been trained not to leave Rhode Island, and the IntrastateNets.

The more I think about it, the more I like SunsetSail's idea of declaring the FCC et al unconstitutional and forcing Congress to deal with these issues. I do purely love the idea of a Congressional Committee being tied up for weeks determining whether or not a 30' cell tower should be permitted at a particular site, or if the tower should be limited to 28'.

It would keep them out of trouble, as long as the rest of us were content to stick with the more lightly regulated tin cans and strings.

(I expect Congress to go after this net neutrality business next session, with lots of hearings, circuses, and maybe some clown cars. After which we'll see the Communications Decency Act of 2011 come out, declaring the Internet to stop at the border for Homeland Security inspections, subcontracted out to Comcast and ATT. )
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:12 PM   #15
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Having seen Congress in action, and read the remarks of too many Congresscritters, I am not entirely sure I would trust Congress and their 'advisors' over on K Street in the detailed implementation of technical regulations. It might be amusing to observe Boehner and Black debating the finer points of limitations on effective radiated power in the 3 GHz spectrum allocation with regard to interference with established public service radio repeater links for utility management using non-wireline control protocols. "The use of a twelve channel tone control system is Destroying Democracy and is a Trojan Horse for further meddlling by The Government!"

Oh, yeah, this would end well.
Claiming that a delegation of legislative power is too broad is a far cry from claiming that there should be no delegation of the implementation of technical regulations. The point I was making was that there needed to be accountability at the elected official level. The general policy in Net Neutrality should be part of legislative action. The details should be delegated.

I actually think that you understood my point, but saw my post as an opportunity to attack small government ideology by extrapolating way beyond anything I claimed. Maybe not, but it sure looks that way from here.
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:21 PM   #16
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The more I think about it, the more I like SunsetSail's idea of declaring the FCC et al unconstitutional and forcing Congress to deal with these issues.
This was your idea, not mine. I will repeat that just because an enabling statute is too broad doesn't mean it can't exist in a more narrow form. If you carefully read my post you will also see that I was merely stating that constitutionality is a potential argument that could be made, not that I was advocating it.

Disagree with the actual point made using logic; don't try to ridicule something that wasn't stated using your technical knowledge. I really just don't like how Congress can escape accountability so easily.
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Old 12-22-2010, 06:33 PM   #17
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SunsetSail, don't take it personally. M Paquette's post was not mean spirited. I actually take exception to his comparison of congress to a circus - because at least with the circus there are more than clowns and you usually get your money's worth.

I see no reason why the FCC should not regulate internet service in the same way it regulates TV, radio, landline and wireless telephone communications. In the absence of regulatory framework ISPs are doing whatever they please, building businesses that cross multiple sectors and adapting some anticompetitive and uncompetitive practices in the meantime. Comcast is already an ISP service provider, a telephone service provider, a content owner and a content provider.

Small government works when and where there are other reliable forces to control or induce types of behavior and punish excesses or deviations. These do not exist here. We don't need new legislation just because internet is no specifically spelled out in the FCC charter. I don't like much what they did, but I would agree it is the best it's going to get any time soon.
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Old 12-22-2010, 06:48 PM   #18
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SunsetSail, don't take it personally. M Paquette's post was not mean spirited. I actually take exception to his comparison of congress to a circus - because at least with the circus there are more than clowns and you usually get your money's worth.
And the circus has peanuts, and cotton candy, which you just can't get in the Visitor's Gallery.
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:34 AM   #19
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Here is a cute cartoon primer on Net Neutrality. Too simplistic for a serious understanding but it does expose the worse sorts of approaches Comcast, Verizon and the like would prefer to impose on us. I don't mind flat data use charges but balkanizing content into "premium packages" like Cable TV would be awful.
The Open Internet: A Case for Net Neutrality
The key image:
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File Type: jpg open_internet.jpg (65.0 KB, 1 views)
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