The fight continues against higher bills, bigger monopolies...
May 26, 2006 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: The US House Committee on the Judiciary today approved the Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act (HR 5417) in a vote of 20-12, helping to improve the provision of equal network service regardless of who receives it, without added surcharges, along with other antitrust measures. Carriers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon suggest no problem exists that requires this legislative solution, despite pushing their lobbyists hard to get Congress to enact opposing laws, and suggesting that prioritizing network traffic is required to develop newer products, such as high-definition video. Meanwhile, the FCC continues to encourage mergers while prices for telecommunications products continue to rise at rates manyfold higher than inflation, despite price gouging provisions enacted in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
posted by Mr. Six (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Official info for HR5417. Note that the committee action has not yet been updated, possibly due to the on-going shots-fired investigation in the building where the committee meets.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:28 AM on May 26, 2006


As Ars suggests it's not clear what will happen with the bill, but this is still a step in the right direction.
posted by Ryvar at 10:36 AM on May 26, 2006


So... did we win?
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on May 26, 2006


Prices are rising? I pay $18/month for 3 megabit/512kbps ADSL here in SBC/ATT land (Texas). 2-3 years ago I was paying $50/month for the same service from the same provider.
posted by mrbill at 10:40 AM on May 26, 2006


Wait a minute - you mean they actually did something right? There has to be a catch.
posted by 2sheets at 10:57 AM on May 26, 2006


The catch is they haven't actually done anything yet.
posted by pointilist at 11:14 AM on May 26, 2006


This is important. It's not just prices at stake, it's freedom of communication to some degree.

Without net neutrality:

1. Your ISP could charge separately for every protocol (email, web, bittorrent, ssh, a/v stream) or application.

2. If the ISP gave favored treatment to one or a few providers of a given service, such as VOIP, video or gaming, all others in that category would get very slow - maybe to the point of unusability in the case of services like VOIP that need real-time/low-latency. That's because if they can get away with this kind of scheme, they're not going to add any bandwidth, and guaranteeing QOS to one service means degrading others (literally, the technical implementation of QOS for one service is dropping packets of others if necessary).

3. If they wanted to charge more to sites or services such as Google for example, and the party was unwilling or unable to pay it would be in the slow lane. This would include all non-mainstream sources of news and information.

---

That's not even mentioning the dire effects on innovation and technical progress.

Of course the above is exactly the scenario the curernt government would like to see. It's exactly in accord with their crony-capitalist/neo-fascist ideology: more money for big corporations, and more control of what the public has access to. This is why the FCC kicked off the whole mess by exempting internet service from common carrier requirements.

All the talk about "make people pay for what they use" is just FUD and astroturfing. It's a red herring. Everyone is already paying their own internet bills - Google on their end and the surfer on his/her end. If bandwidth or transfer amounts were the issue, it could be addressed with usage tiers or rate differences. None of this explains or justifies discrimination by protocol/application, content of traffic, or origin or destination of traffic.

/ 'scuze the rant.
posted by jam_pony at 11:17 AM on May 26, 2006


Artw writes "So... did we win?"

It's just a committee vote in one chamber of a bicameral legislature. There's a long way to go.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:30 AM on May 26, 2006


Wait a minute - you mean they actually did something right? There has to be a catch.

The catch is it's supported by big content providers like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc, etc, etc.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 PM on May 26, 2006


This is why the FCC kicked off the whole mess by exempting internet service from common carrier requirements.

Uh, actually the telecom companies fought these restrictions in the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court, and won. The legislation is an attempt to return to the original situation.
posted by delmoi at 12:05 PM on May 26, 2006


Do the ISPs have a point about Video On Demand being a bandwidth hog that needs a priority channel? The link above seems to say so, but I just don't understand the issue well enough to know if their argument has any weight. It sounds reasonable but it also sounds like a PR-distraction away from the broader implications to small businesses that these moves could have, not that it couldn't be both reasonable and a purposeful distraction.

I see what jam_pony just said, but I don't understand how the ISPs plan differs from "usage tiers or rate differences". Isn't that exactly what the ISPs are proposing?
posted by aburd at 2:09 PM on May 26, 2006


aburd: Do the ISPs have a point about Video On Demand being a bandwidth hog that needs a priority channel?

Irrelevant. If you sell me X amount of bandwidth for unlimited use, don't bitch when I actually use it, or bitch about what I'm using it for.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:55 PM on May 26, 2006


Do the ISPs have a point about Video On Demand being a bandwidth hog that needs a priority channel?

Its called 'more bandwidsth used' and there is a solution - $ per meg at the server end and $ per meg at the client end.

This 'divided' interent was tried before. AOL and Microsoft had thier network with ties to the Internet. That went away.

Understand how Telcos work. The NEED the cover of government laws allowing them to charge. That way, when they do something that would not survive in the marketplace they can say "the law requires it".
posted by rough ashlar at 5:28 AM on May 27, 2006


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