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February 4, 2015 9:15 AM   Subscribe

 
Way to not be the terrible industry shill that I thought you were, Tom Wheeler.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:18 AM on February 4, 2015 [52 favorites]


Is this as much of a win as it sounds like?
posted by Artful Codger at 9:19 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Huh, neat.
posted by boo_radley at 9:20 AM on February 4, 2015


Glory be.
posted by GrammarMoses at 9:21 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I believe the actual rules get released tomorrow, so I suppose we’ll see what’s up then. But this is at least some positive-sounding noise.
posted by sidesh0w at 9:21 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I approve this message.
posted by monospace at 9:22 AM on February 4, 2015


Well, hell yay.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2015


Thanks, Obama
posted by Flashman at 9:24 AM on February 4, 2015 [61 favorites]


That's a much stronger statement than I was expecting. Not quite ready for a happy dance but I'm pretty encouraged.
posted by octothorpe at 9:24 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why, WHY did I read the comments? My mind is boggled.
posted by cooker girl at 9:24 AM on February 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


Wow I wasn't certain that anyone could outlobby AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, etc but apparently they were able to . I figure that the incumbent carriers will swiftly move to get their legislative congress critters to undermine the FCC if these rules actually go forward.
posted by vuron at 9:25 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Finally some good news! This is a huge relief in the short term. Longer term: still a good idea to keep watching 'em closely.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:28 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


He didn't use the magic words 'common carrier,' but I wish to retract my previous statements about Mr. Wheeler and the specifics of his parentage, pending analysis of the actual rules.
posted by echo target at 9:29 AM on February 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


I guess Mr. Wheeler is not actually a dingo. Good on him.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:29 AM on February 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Why, WHY did I read the comments? My mind is boggled.

Look, I have important things to say about the One World Government and all the bus kiosks are full of snow right now.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2015 [38 favorites]


Why, WHY did I read the comments? My mind is boggled.

It took them six moves to get from "I don't like regulation" to "the antichrist is coming", that's pretty moderate
posted by anazgnos at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2015 [20 favorites]


echo target: the "title II" he keeps mentioning is the authority to regulate common carriers.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:32 AM on February 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't have a great understanding of the FCC rulemaking process, but this is just the opening salvo, I believe. The major ISPs have already stated that they will sue the FCC to block a redefinition of Internet services under Title II (using what legal theories I have no idea).

My guess is that they're going to try to find a friendly judge who will put a wrench in the gears temporarily, while they create delays in court with various specious arguments, during which it'll be a full court lobbying press in Congress to try and get them to take away the FCC's authority to do anything other than provide free coke and hookers to Comcast executives.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


It took them six moves to get from "I don't like regulation" to "the antichrist is coming", that's pretty moderate

Yes but the antichrist is coming at the same speed as everyone else! (except of course the antichrist has surely contracted with a CDN)
posted by srboisvert at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


Wow. Color me surprised.
posted by dejah420 at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. The modems that enabled the internet were usable only because the FCC required the network to be open.

Companies such as AOL were able to grow in the early days of home computing because these modems gave them access to the open telephone network.
Oh man, I really like where this is going, are we going to get last mile unbundling back?
To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling.
*facepalm*
posted by indubitable at 9:36 AM on February 4, 2015 [18 favorites]


Colour me incredulous.
posted by fullerine at 9:37 AM on February 4, 2015


Way to not be the terrible industry shill that I thought you were, Tom Wheeler.

No kidding. Jesus Christ! I used to cover Wheeler when he was President of the CTIA - that's the surviving cellular industry trade association. (There were two for a while. CTIA won what amounted to a back alley knife fight with the former PCIA to take the throne.)

This is pretty much like Vladimir Putin announcing that he's decided gay people are pretty cool after all and he's going to have a pride parade around the Kremlin and a huge party and everyone's invited, especially Ukranians because he feels kind of bad about what a douche he was being to them. He's sorry, it was some bad cold meds he was on.

So much so that I'm a little suspicious they're only doing this because they know the courts will smack it down or something.
posted by Naberius at 9:39 AM on February 4, 2015 [28 favorites]


Tim Berners-Lee on Monday wrote a guest blog on the website of the European Union, about why net neutrality is such a good thing.
Imagine if a new start-up or service provider had to ask permission from or pay a fee to a competitor before they could attract customers? This sounds a lot like bribery or market abuse - but it is exactly the type of scenario we would see if we depart from net neutrality.

These worries are not just abstract - net neutrality is already under attack. The Web Foundation recently released its 2014 Web Index, a study across 86 countries. 74% of Web Index countries lack clear and effective net neutrality rules and/or show evidence of price discrimination. In 95% of countries surveyed where there are no net neutrality laws, there is emerging evidence of traffic discrimination - meaning the temptation for companies or governments to interfere seems overwhelming.
posted by ijsbrand at 9:40 AM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why, WHY did I read the comments? My mind is boggled.

Apparently, a lot of Comcast employees read Wired. Who knew?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:40 AM on February 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yay. I wonder how much Netflix is gonna make when they sue to get all their anti-throttling bribe money back. A ton, I'd guess. (Prob a good time to buy stock)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:42 AM on February 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Let's examine that statement again, more closely this time:
To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling.
What possible incentive do the incumbents have now to invest in their networks? Does he actually see horrendously expensive wireless data plans as competition for wireline providers like Comcast? Or is he relying on someone like Google Fiber to invest billions in a whole separate wireline network to compete with the incumbent's natural monopoly?
posted by indubitable at 9:43 AM on February 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I guess Mr. Wheeler is not actually a dingo . Good on him.

The dingo-deciding jury is still out, and let me tell you, they are merciless. Still, there does seem to be a noticeable lack of animal dander and scat.
posted by JHarris at 9:43 AM on February 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


it's really impossible to say anything without looking at the specific regulatory changes but... it's the job of people like Wheeler to push regulations which give away money to the telecom and cable industries through Congress without raising a hue and cry. The idea that Wheeler's FCC is motivated by *anything* other than making more money for the cable and telecom industries is just completely naive.
To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling. Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernized Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition.
If you think modernizing internet regulations based on what has happened in the wireless broadband industry is good for consumers... well, I just don't know what to say.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:44 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is great- but there are still things to be concerned about- namely, the FCC role as the US Govt's primary censor, historically speaking.

"These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban ... the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services."

" Under that authority my proposal includes a general conduct rule that can be used to stop new and novel threats to the internet."

Note the word "lawful" in there. At some point, there's clearly going to be a requirement to block "unlawful" content. This could certainly be extended to support banning "obscene" and (under the right administration) "indecent" content. It will almost certainly be extended in the service of the copyright-protecting industries.

This is promising; but we probably need a strong technical solution to keep people from looking at the traffic- and I believe that the idiot UK PM just tried to outlaw encryption?
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:44 AM on February 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


So is the FCC gonna require the broadband companies to actually build the infrastructure we paid them to build , too, or is that too much to ask?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:46 AM on February 4, 2015 [22 favorites]


What possible incentive do the incumbents have now to invest in their networks?

The FCC is also saying it is going to help municipalities override laws passed by state legislatures (generally in the pockets of telecom carriers) preventing them from establishing their own broadband networks. In my experience there is no better way to get the attention of an RBOC or a cable company than to start talking about a publicly owned broadband network in your town.

They will shit all over you with push polls and propaganda campaigns and frightening the old folks and so on. But then they'll upgrade their network.
posted by Naberius at 9:46 AM on February 4, 2015 [18 favorites]


This is the argument that I expect the ISPs will advance against reclassification, incidentally.

(It comes direct to you from the "Progress and Freedom Coalition", a name so Orwellian that I am surprised the entire thing isn't written in newspeak.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:48 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


the only way you are going to get "net neutrality" is by using the FCC and *anti-trust* legislation to rigorously segment the industry. Comcast can't be allowed to get into content. The hardware and contract lock-in policies of the cellphone companies have to be banned. You have to outlaw the business plans of both the telecom and cable industry and turn broadband providers into operators of "dumb pipes."

Basically, you are only going to get net neutrality after the revolution.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:53 AM on February 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


The FCC is also saying it is going to help municipalities override laws passed by state legislatures (generally in the pockets of telecom carriers) preventing them from establishing their own broadband networks. In my experience there is no better way to get the attention of an RBOC or a cable company than to start talking about a publicly owned broadband network in your town.

It still requires building out a completely separate, redundant network, though. That's basically wasted money when the alternative is to open up the existing last mile to competitors' services.
posted by indubitable at 9:54 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't get it. Where is the part where I get screwed?
posted by mazola at 9:56 AM on February 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


At the moment, given the age of the cable infrastructure and the very limited parts of the country served by fiber, we're basically looking at building out a new (fiber based) network anyway.

If this leads to that new network being publicly owned rather than owned by Verizon, the end state is just as good—if not better—than if VZ built it and then there was an acrimonious 'unbundling' argument that led to a bunch of other ISPs trying to use it but always being the red-headed stepchildren on VZ's infrastructure.

Municipal broadband is the goal. Unlike local loop unbundling, which leaves the infrastructure in the hands of the private ISPs where it can be snatched back at the whim of a future FCC (as happened with unbundled DSL services), municipally-owned systems that are then leased to ISPs are harder to kill off down the road once they're built.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:00 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Where is the part where I get screwed?
I'm sure it's coming. I'm giving this the suspicious side eye until people have combed through the actual final legalese.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:01 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I, for one, embrace what I hope becomes a new regimen of clear thinking regarding the internet coming from the FCC. Yes it is a utility, in that we utilize it in one form or another, every day. Imagine a future where, like me, if you live in the boonies, you still have blazing fast internet, as well as electricity and water, just like everyone in an urban area does. That's what I hope to see emerge from this new-to-me attitude I perceive at the FCC.
posted by Lynsey at 10:02 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


i learned a long time ago, mostly from glowing corporate announcements, to ask "what's the catch?"

what's the catch?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:05 AM on February 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's interesting to see press releases released under the heading of high-ranking public officials on sites that aren't old-guard journalism entities, like Wired and Medium. Initially, I was excited for this, seeing that the current administration reaching its audience through broader channels. For example, this article wasn't written as a press release, but as a more personal article, more akin to an Op-Ed:
I personally learned the importance of open networks the hard way. In the mid-1980s I was president of a startup, NABU: The Home Computer Network. My company was using new technology to deliver high-speed data to home computers over cable television lines. Across town Steve Case was starting what became AOL. NABU was delivering service at the then-blazing speed of 1.5 megabits per second—hundreds of times faster than Case’s company. “We used to worry about you a lot,” Case told me years later.

But NABU went broke while AOL became very successful. Why that is highlights the fundamental problem with allowing networks to act as gatekeepers.

While delivering better service, NABU had to depend on cable television operators granting access to their systems. Steve Case was not only a brilliant entrepreneur, but he also had access to an unlimited number of customers nationwide who only had to attach a modem to their phone line to receive his service. The phone network was open whereas the cable networks were closed. End of story.

The phone network’s openness did not happen by accident, but by FCC rule. How we precisely deliver that kind of openness for America’s broadband networks has been the subject of a debate over the last several months.
Anecdotes from personal experience, speaking in the first person. Openness matters for an even playing field and broad distribution of a utility, and that only happened thanks to the FCC.

But on reading this, I realize it allows the government to bypass the normal filters of journalism, so they can get away with soft language that doesn't really address what he'll do:
All of this can be accomplished while encouraging investment in broadband networks. To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling. Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernized Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition.
Modernize how? Stripping away rate regulations, tariffs and prohibiting last-mile unbundling? What else?

The Daily Dot has a good article that relates to this: Title II is the key to net neutrality—so what is it? (May 20, 2014)

In short, Title II covers common carriers, a term that is expanded in the US to also refer to telecommunications service providers and public utilities.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:08 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wonder how this relates to the new FCC standard of 25mbs down/3mbs up for broadband.
posted by klangklangston at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the most shocking thing about this whole announcement is finding out that people still read Wired!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:15 AM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


If this leads to that new network being publicly owned rather than owned by Verizon, the end state is just as good—if not better

It's also good because that public broadband network itself becomes a public asset--a real, piece of physical capital that the public owns a piece of. Public utilities grow the commonwealth.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:18 AM on February 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I wasn't expecting the bit about the rules also applying to mobile broadband, so that's better than expected, but the whole no-rate-limits, no-loop-unbundling thing is a huge mistake. The last mile is a natural monopoly and should be regulated, full stop.
posted by fedward at 10:19 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


this new-to-me attitude I perceive at the FCC

Yep, the best thing about this is that it's not happening in isolation - which would indeed suggest it's mainly bullshit, like the awesome concept car at the Paris show that shows up at the dealer three years later looking like the boring sedan you're driving now with a different grill design. Instead, this is part of a growing slate of FCC initiatives that strongly suggest they're tired of letting the telecom trust keep the US a second-rate broadband nation. There's also the federal override of state anti-municipal-broadband laws I referenced above, the ratcheting up of speeds someone else noted above, and possibly others I haven't noticed because I don't work in this area anymore.

From any FCC these would be heartening developments, and long overdue. From an FCC run by Tom Wheeler, they're nothing short of astonishing.
posted by Naberius at 10:27 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


This may be intended to spur a Congressional bill into action.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:38 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is great. Best news I've read for a while.

As long as the networks have to lease their lines, I don't really care about them allowing bundling because it will go away as soon as everyone starts ask each ISP which bundle will get them what they want at the best price and choose based on that. So what if I have to get a phone service I won't use with my internet as long as I get the bandwidth I want for a competitive price.
posted by Schrodinger's Gat at 10:44 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


This seems like enough of an about-face on Wheeler's part that one almost wonders if he was visited in the night by three spirits who taught him the true meaning of the Internet.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:52 AM on February 4, 2015 [18 favorites]


Well, I'm not going to hold my breath on this. It's hopeful news, sure, but it's still got a long ways to go before it's put into effect.

And the cable companies seem very, very, very good at making sure they get what they think they're due.
posted by qcubed at 10:58 AM on February 4, 2015


\o/

Pending a reading of the actual rules
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:08 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Modified rapture!
posted by chonus at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2015


(except of course the antichrist has surely contracted with a CDN)

I see that you've worked with Akamai before.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:13 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


cooker girl: Why, WHY did I read the comments? My mind is boggled.

Why, WHY did I not take your word for it?
posted by brundlefly at 11:15 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


The FCC chair's Internet pivot, the backstory (including John Oliver) from Politico.
posted by maggieb at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's okay! The Tampon Game FPP link is currently comment-free! Bask in the emptiness before self-assured, ignorant critics come in!
posted by halifix at 11:24 AM on February 4, 2015


But, the commenters were crucial to this outcome. See (including John Oliver) above.
posted by maggieb at 11:24 AM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


For anybody (like me) who was convinced that there had to be a catch, it looks like the EFF is pretty enthusiastic about this news (albeit with some slight reservations about implementation) so that's a good sign.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:26 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


As long as the networks have to lease their lines, I don't really care about them allowing bundling because it will go away as soon as everyone starts ask each ISP which bundle will get them what they want at the best price and choose based on that. So what if I have to get a phone service I won't use with my internet as long as I get the bandwidth I want for a competitive price.
Schrodinger's Gat

Unbundling does not mean what you think it means. It means that the last mile providers are forced to grant access to their lines to the competetion (through leasing agreements), allowing small ISPs to flourish. (See the UK, Australia etc..) More details here: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/we-dont-need-net-neutrality-we-need-competition/
posted by defcom1 at 11:26 AM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


This may be intended to spur a Congressional bill into action.

Maybe I don't get it, but more Congressional direct involvement in communications regulation looks like it could be a big win for the industry and a big loss for consumers. I wouldn't be surprised if the GOP's Glibertarians could push the less insane wing to support it, and with so many Democrats soaking in industry money (including the 'Hollywood Liberals' for whom all Show Business is the Best Business), they might just deliver a veto-proof poison pill. Even if we dodge this bullet, after 2016, everything's up for grabs, and NOT just if a Rubepublican wins. Mrs. C.'s going to want a lot of money to counter the Koch campaign bomb and Comcast might just be willing to provide it, for a price (nation-wide monopoly, maybe?).

/appropriate cynicism toward Washington
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:32 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


jenkinsEar: Note the word "lawful" in there. At some point, there's clearly going to be a requirement to block "unlawful" content. This could certainly be extended to support banning "obscene" and (under the right administration) "indecent" content. It will almost certainly be extended in the service of the copyright-protecting industries.
Obscenity is an ever-rising hurdle to prove; that's not worrisome to me. The 'net's data liquidity means that it will tend to safely cruise a bit further afield than print magazines, which are already difficult to regulate until they run afoul of CP laws.

Copyright protection: now there is where the FCC will lie down with the dogs.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:37 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: "The white mouse will not explode".
posted by cashman at 11:40 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


"These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban ... the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services."
Note the word "lawful" in there. At some point, there's clearly going to be a requirement to block "unlawful" content.
Unlawful content is already illegal, and this is merely saying ISPs are allowed to block it. That is a very big difference from saying they are required to do so. And it is an completely separate step to reclassify what is considered unlawful.

OTOH, the alternative is to require ISPs guarantee delivery of all traffic regardless of legality, and this would cripple ISPs' ability to limit spam, hacking, and DOS attacks coming out of their network.
posted by aubilenon at 11:42 AM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is great- but there are still things to be concerned about- namely, the FCC role as the US Govt's primary censor, historically speaking.

"These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban ... the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services."

" Under that authority my proposal includes a general conduct rule that can be used to stop new and novel threats to the internet."
I'm unaware of the FCC ever trying to censor the internet. Yeah, public airwaves - broadcast TV and radio. But honestly self-censorship by industries has been worse than the FCC's influence (movie rating system, comic code, parental warning stickers on music). All of the self-censorship (that I listed anyways) was preceded by threats of (probably illegal) laws to curtail content congress didn't like.

Censorship is a continual concern in all countries, but I'm more concerned by the FBI than I am the FCC (eg: if you are white supremacist advocating genocide you're fine, if you're a radical Muslim translating extremist materials you might be arrested on terrorist charges).

ISP's need to be able to block malware traffic and FCC rules would endanger the internet if they prevented ISP's from doing that work.

If the FCC starts allowing ISP's to block all TOR traffic or all torrenting traffic (regardless of the content), I'll grab my pitchforks, but as it stands the above statements by them aren't concerning.
posted by el io at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2015


I wonder how this relates to the new FCC standard of 25mbs down/3mbs up for broadband.

Holy shit, that's almost bigger news. Defining super slow DSL as "broadband competition" in most markets is a go to talking point for Comcast et al.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:55 AM on February 4, 2015


It's important to note that even though Internet Comment Land is the realm of the Idiot and the Coot, Comcast engages extensively in astroturfing efforts, including not just Disqus comments, but also every other medium.

If you see a pro-Comcast comment anywhere on the net, the odds are about 99.9% that it's a guy in Bangalore. If you see a pro-Comcast article, the odds are 100% that it's a PR drone who works for AEI.
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 11:57 AM on February 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


Awful Peice of Crap: Wait, are you trying to say that the people express their undying love for Comcast might not be sincere?

Oh yeah, okay, that makes sense, never mind.
posted by el io at 12:01 PM on February 4, 2015


Nice all my phone calls and targeted emails were not wasted.
posted by Samizdata at 12:28 PM on February 4, 2015


Holy shit, that's almost bigger news. Defining super slow DSL as "broadband competition" in most markets is a go to talking point for Comcast et al.

It would be a valid talking point, if Internet access was ubiquitous. The reality is that the US broadband is basically where it was with landline service in the 1930s. FDR's government had to step in when Ma Bell claimed it wasn't possible to serve rural areas with telephone access. Comcast and AT&Ts complaints about net neutrality sound awfully familiar in the context of denying access to maintain profitability.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:01 PM on February 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


indubitable's comment is right on the nose. This:
To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling.
is a total fail. But, on the off chance you don't believe in 'functional separation', Wheeler failing to call out Comcast over the Netflix extortion is also a big fail.

I spend my time following this stuff from the Canadian perspective. I don't know nearly enough about the US experience. That said, looks to me like Canada's Kafkaesque regime of regulated tariffs for third party access to the last mile has at least made it impossible for Rogers to extort Netflix the way Comcast has--regulated rates combined with stronger Undue Preference rules, possibly. I don't know enough about the UK experience either, but I believe their Functional Separation model is far superior.

The EFF's stance on this is really bizarre. In particular:
Fortunately, it appears that the FCC also heard us on another issue: the need for forbearance. Forbearance is crucial to net neutrality because it helps limit FCC regulation. Again, we need details, but we are encouraged that Chairman Wheeler plans to, as he put it, “modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks.”
In the Canadian context, forbearance would mean the end of competitive access to the last mile, which would be a total disaster for the public. Strange to see the EFF squinting to see an up side to the word.
posted by Chuckles at 1:04 PM on February 4, 2015


The idea that Wheeler's FCC is motivated by *anything* other than making more money for the cable and telecom industries is just completely naive.

just to be even more (positively?) cynical, judging by his fundraising visits to silicon valley, obama is in the pockets of the netflix/google/facebook/&c.'s of the world who benefit from the internet being regulated as a public utility.

lobbyists gonna lobby :P now if we can just get plain vanilla 'public options' on health care, pre-k/higher ed, broadband and banking/finance!
posted by kliuless at 1:06 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Despite Threats Of Disaster, Investors In Comcast, Verizon, Etc. All Seem Totally Fine With FCC’s Plan To Reclassify Broadband" In the hours after Wheeler's announcement, Comcast stock up 4.6%. TWC up 5.2% and Charter (my local cabal company, who provide the bandwidth for me to write this) up 6.9%. Apparently due to the part of the announcement that "the FCC is steering well clear of rate regulation and changes in fees or taxes". The market has spoken... or it would be speaking if it weren't drooling so much.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:17 PM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


saulgoodman: It's also good because that public broadband network itself becomes a public asset--a real, piece of physical capital that the public owns a piece of. Public utilities grow the commonwealth.

It does not mean this at all. A public utility is an organization providing a "public service." That does not mean that the organization or its property are owned by the public, but that the service being provided is an essential service for the general public.

Here in California, we have a Public Utilities Commission which regulates private corporations such as electricity providers. Municipal electric utilities, utility districts, etc. -- which are publicly-owned -- are not under the jurisdiction of the Commission.
posted by univac at 1:45 PM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "fact sheet" is up now (PDF):
Rate regulation: the Order makes clear that broadband providers shall not be subject to tariffs or other form of rate approval, unbundling, or other forms of utility regulation
Pretty clear that utility-like regulation is not going beyond common carriage concerns.
Interconnection: New Authority to Address Complaints About ISPs’ Practices
For the first time the Commission would have authority to hear complaints and take appropriate enforcement action if necessary, if it determines the interconnection activities of ISPs are not just and reasonable, thus allowing it to address issues that may arise in the exchange of traffic between massmarket broadband providers and edge providers.
I'm not sure what that means, but Netflix stock is down 2% today.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:24 PM on February 4, 2015


there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling.

There have been some comments looking askance at this. Rightly so, this looks like a roadmap for how the incumbents will continue to extract their cartel rents even if reclassified as a common carrier. Ultimately, this is more or less inevitable I think. Don't mourn the death of tariff rates and last-mile unbundling, because this will just prolong the agony, like it's doing in Canada.

The CRTC (our equivalent of the FCC) has forced the incumbents* to unbundle the last mile for around a decade. They set wholesale tariff rates for both cable and phone lines, with independent ISPs leasing these lines and interconnects at the point of presence.

Don't get me wrong. I like the independent ISPs. I have the most experience with Teksavvy and have nothing but good things to say about them as both a consumer and as a business client. When I was stuck between the rock of a boss who refused to co-locate or cloudify the server our remote workers relied on, and the hard place of suburban light-industrial telco-siberia, they helped me develop a solution that got us by, at a cost that was way below any competitor. This was using MLPPP to bond multiple lines of slow-as-fuck DSL. At the time, the phone company was in the process of upgrading to a remote DSLAM and we were constantly getting disconnected as they fucked with the OPI. Having redundant links was also a lifesaver.

But the problem remains: the last mile is a natural monopoly. While last-mile unbundling is a step in the right direction, it really just masks this reality by giving the illusion of choice and preserves the legacy twisted pair and coax providers' gatekeeper cartel.

Currently, I have 25/10 VDSL through Teksavvy at home. Of course, it's actually 22/7, because even though the DSLAM is 200ft away, the ancient underground copper is too shitty to support anything better. Then there is the DSLAM itself, which has precisely one OC-12 backhaul to serve 72 customers who are all theoretically offered 25/10 service. So in reality, the system becomes congested when customers are using 1/4 of the advertised speed. Guess what happens every evening? The OC-12 line hits capacity and everyone is stuck at 8M/s down from roughly 7pm until enough people get tired of Netflix not working and go to sleep. This is in a neighbourhood with a population of 21,000 in a little over 1/3 of a square mile. Not only that, but the population density only goes up from here as you head down King St. towards Downtown Toronto.

What is happening right now is the cable incumbent (Rogers) is pulling out of this neighbourhood because the population density is high enough that the Bell, the incumbent phone monopoly, has lower costs. The coax in my place is so bad that you can pick up OTA radio on it, and I suspect it will never be replaced, because honestly, why would you? It would be like replacing the old lead water pipes new lead pipes.

So basically, we are stuck with Bell's last-mile "broadband" that will remain crappy VDSL on crappy copper with a crappy OC-12 backhaul until the regulator forces them to upgrade.

The obvious solution is a publicly-owned utility, but the illusion of choice masks that reality in Canada.

If the FCC puts ISPs under Title II, but allows the incumbents to preserve their control of the last mile, and allows them to charge whatever they want, that's fine as long as the FCC blocks state laws preventing publicly-owned networks from ripping the rug out from under them.

Even in rural areas, an end-run around the incumbents is the obvious choice. Here in Ontario, rural communities are increasingly relying on independent wireless ISPs. Rural municipalities are finally starting to realize that they can install WISP infrastructure at a modest cost and make their communities much more attractive places to live.

Of course, all this presumes building public infrastructure is politically possible, which in both the US and Canada seems doubtful. Toronto's anti-tax insanity is gradually pushing us towards total collapse in this regard, and I figure we will probably come to our senses once commuting becomes basically impossible and a few hundred thousand of us die of cholera. But KPMG surveyed 51 global cities and Toronto has the lowest tax burden! We're number one at something I guess. But don't bring that up to the people who complain constantly about all the tax we pay.

So really, we're all fucked I guess. If you want good internet, live somewhere else.

*Really calling them cable TV and phone companies is outdated, because where I live, both incumbent carriers (Bell and Rogers) provide landline phone, tv, wired broadband and mobile phone services. Also, the only way to get even halfway-reasonable prices from them is to lock yourself into a multi-year contract for all of the above costing at least $150/month. They are essentially integrated telecom companies, providing you with access to bits. The competition boils down to a choice of legacy twisted pair or legacy coax for your wired connection.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:45 PM on February 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


Even in rural areas, an end-run around the incumbents is the obvious choice. Here in Ontario, rural communities are increasingly relying on independent wireless ISPs. Rural municipalities are finally starting to realize that they can install WISP infrastructure at a modest cost and make their communities much more attractive places to live.

Oh that could be nice if your community is farsighted enough to do it. I have a feeling that mine (Brunswick, GA) might not be.
posted by JHarris at 4:11 PM on February 4, 2015


And there's another analysis of what it all might mean at Ars.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:23 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


fast, fair and open.

Safe, legal, and rare.

Wait--what were we talking about, again?

Oh, yeah. If **I** were king of the FCC for a day, that would be my slogan: The internet--let's make it safe, legal, and rare.
posted by flug at 7:57 PM on February 4, 2015


Why, WHY did I read the comments? My mind is boggled.

Taking the safe & sane course and not reading the comments, but a bunch of the Koch-type astroturf groups have taking on the "Don't let the GUBMENT regulate my interTUBES" tack, and stirred up zillions of zombie letter writers & comment-posters to rant and rave a bunch of vague tea-party-related nonsense against this proposal.

It's quite honestly the most blatant and self-serving campaign you could possibly imagine, because it is literally the companies that stand to gain billions/trillions if the new regulatory scheme is defeated, funding massive astroturfing campaigns in their corporate favor.

Whether the messages are sent by real but deranged people or simple spam-bot scripts with random tea-party like messages programmed into them, is nearly impossible to determine, if you're going only on message content.
posted by flug at 9:53 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The cynic in me thinks that Google, Netflix, Amazon, etc just have better lobbyists than the legacy telcos. Which great, I'd rather the net neutrality side won. And if Wheeler's revolving door lands him at Google instead of Verizon, well, that's still a net win. It's also still corrupt.

I give the odds of this plan being implemented at about 20%. The legacy telcos will immediately sue to block it, of course, and then it will flop around in a court for a few years. In the meantime the bad people will figure out how to let the telcos weasel out of it so they end up making more money and screwing consumers even more. And America devolves into an Internet backwater.
posted by Nelson at 4:27 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow. Those Wired comments are a foaming froth of stupid.
posted by echocollate at 5:59 AM on February 5, 2015


Rural municipalities are finally starting to realize that they can install WISP infrastructure at a modest cost

In the case of my municipality, their strategy has been to throw a bunch of money at a big WISP from a city far away. Over the past few years, so far as I'm aware, they have managed to do nothing but spend some of that money to buy out the already-extant local WISP so that they can continue to provide the same low-speed (maybe 1Mbps) service to the same small fraction of the residents, only with worse support since it's now going through their far-away call centre instead of directly to the guy who lives down the road. I don't know if the average rural municipality would be able to successfully start its own ISP, but this one should not be allowed to. It may be substantially below average in the area of Internet competence, as suggested by the fact that the links to "3d hentai porn" that some spammer managed to insert into their web pages are still there three weeks after I reported it.

So, my limited experience with it does not suggest that Wireless is all that great an option for rural Internet service. Certainly not as a replacement for DSL, not in places with hills. If the municipality wants to divert some money from road maintenance to start subsidizing fibre to the home, that'd be another matter worthy of consideration. Bell recently installed DSL in my little neighbourhood, so at least I can get 7Mbps from TekSavvy.

This weird Canadian "unbundling" situation will probably last forever and is far from ideal, but living with it is a whole lot better than the nothing that the FCC is apparently proposing.
posted by sfenders at 10:33 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


The article was posted on Drudge Report, which could explain an influx of new commenters on WIRED's site.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honestly, that explanation of the comments makes sense, but I prefer to believe that they are the result of markov-chain conservabots. The idea that these are real people...it's like staring into the abyss.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:42 PM on February 5, 2015


"fast, fair and open.

Safe, legal, and rare.
"

Hell, I'd take "fast, fair and open" for abortions too.
posted by klangklangston at 4:46 PM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Univac: I was talking about the proposal to allow municipal governments to establish their own broadband networks, as you'd know if you'd been reading closely.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:15 PM on February 5, 2015


sfenders: "as suggested by the fact that the links to "3d hentai porn" that some spammer managed to insert into their web pages are still there three weeks after I reported it"

Maybe they are just enthusiasts.
posted by Mitheral at 5:56 PM on February 5, 2015




Republicans launch attack on FCC’s net neutrality plan.

Because of course they would.

I don't get it. Is there no common-sense issue where the Republicans don't shamelessly land on the side of more money? And where's all the lobbying cash from Google and Amazon and Netflix to sway them?

[The Republican commissioner on the FCC] said he believes in “a free and open Internet,” but said the Internet is already free and open and that net neutrality rules are thus “a solution in search of a problem.”

Does this person even know what Netflix is? Does he understand how a hypothetical Comcast video-on-demand service might compete with it and how there might be a wee conflict of interest if Comcast is allowed to play favorites with the last mile of connectivity? Has he never seen "... Buffering ..."?
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:01 AM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kevin Drum: Republicans Are Shooting Themselves in the Foot Over Net Neutrality.
... The obvious and cynical explanation for the Republican view is that President Obama is for net neutrality, so they're against it. The more principled view is that they hate regulation so much that they don't care what it costs them to oppose net neutrality. It's regulation, so they're against it. Neither one truly makes sense to me, and I suppose their real motivation is a combination of both. ... All in all, it's an odd fight. It remains unclear to me why Republicans have chosen this particular hill to die on.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:23 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


They could just be courting donations from NN opponents. The broadband industry is huge and not necessarily as liberal as the content producing tech industry.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:39 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, "Content producing" is just another word for "Hollywood." Hollywood lobbyists own a lot of the Democratic party. Some California dems are in bed with the entertainment industry as much as Texas Republicans are with the energy industry.

In that context, it's not really about opposing the industry, it's about the two party system making politicians attack everything the other side supports.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:34 AM on February 14, 2015


Net Neutrality has passed.
posted by suelac at 11:22 AM on February 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


And now we wait.
posted by cashman at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2015


And now we wait.
Didn't have to wait long: Verizon thinks they are funny.

I'm really hoping more people start actually paying attention to the details of this versus arguing ideological stances. The statements from the dissenting Republican's is almost unbelievable. It's like they have some corporate PR person with their hand up their ass, moving their mouthes for them like a strange meat puppet.
posted by daq at 2:40 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


cashman: “And now we wait.”
Given what my Usual Suspects on Facebook have been saying, apparently the "Obamanet" propaganda is working.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:54 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Obama PR team has been busy posting thank you notes on Twitter and on Reddit. I'm struck that they both talk about "the internet", with a small "i". It seems odd enough to have been deliberate? I kind of like it.
posted by Nelson at 7:27 PM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Republicans launch attack on FCC’s net neutrality plan.

Because of course they would.

I just listened to a relatively wealthy right-winger bemoan the ruling because they claim it'll cause poor people to lose access to the internet. Because of course when the government gets involved in regulating anything the cost goes up. The beleaguered service providers will decide to concentrate on those who can afford to keep paying more and more for the same (or worse) product. Oh for the days when monopolies were all the rage...
posted by fuse theorem at 6:12 AM on February 27, 2015


From daq's link:

"Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others," Verizon further said.

No, no, no, no, no. That is not what I want my broadband provider to be doing. That's really the perfect justification for being regulated as a common carrier - if Verizon isn't regulated, this is what they want to do, explicitly in their own words. Just, no.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


> ... broadband providers may feature some content over others," Verizon further said.

Well, seven days ago you would have been right, Verizon. But not today. Do try to keep up, Verizon. Maybe you've blocked the FCC's website 'cause they wouldn't pay extra? Go check your filter list — we'll wait.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:54 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


If broadband providers may feature some content over others, they are no longer exempt under the common carrier regulations and thereby assume liability for e.g. any child porn sent through their network. Or: You can't have it both ways, assholes.
posted by klangklangston at 11:32 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


New post.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:54 PM on February 28, 2015


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