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The net neutrality rules, published Friday, represent the realization of a long dream of Democratic President Barack Obama and his appointed FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski (pictured).  (Source: Television Broadcast)

The rule ensures that content delivery services like YouTube can not be discriminated against by ISPs.
Limitations to new rules won't please everyone, though

It was the night before Christmas and all through the halls, not a creature was stirring -- except for the U.S. Federal Communication Commission's five man board.  They were busy delivering a special holiday present to internet firms -- the first publication of the net neutrality rules, which they (largely begrudgingly) passed on Wednesday.

The rules, available here (PDF; 1.0 MB) directly from the FCC, offer many predictable terms and a few seasonal surprises as well. 

I.  What's Inside

The rules will give the FCC for the first time the ability to regulate internet networks and prevent service providers from blocking any "lawful" traffic or throttling it. 

Some companies, such as Comcast, America's largest cable internet provider, have already been accused of trying to shake down internet content providers to maintain access.

One slight surprise is that the rules also make it difficult for service providers to accept fees to speed up traffic.  Many expected this to be legal. 

Telecom attorneys fought to allow it.  But Democratic Commissioner Michael J. Copps ardently opposed it, saying it would stifle innovation and make providing internet content a business only accessible by the wealthy.  The FCC apparently agreed with Mr. Copps' complaints, writing, "In light of each of these concerns, as a general matter, it is unlikely that pay for priority would satisfy the "no unreasonable discrimination" standard."

II. Tiered Usage Fees?

Parts of the bill bear some ambiguity.  The bill does seem to allow for tiered data usage schemes, but it indicates that it would monitor such systems for abuse.  This make it unlikely that telecoms could achieve their dream of charging heavy users (such as those who stream Netflix) hundreds in monthly fees ($0.01-$0.03 MB fees has been proposed by some).  Ultimately, with little profit incentive, telecoms may be reticent to adopt tiered usage.

III. Throttling "Illegal" Traffic -- Allowed, but is it Feasible?

Another ambiguous concept is the idea that "illegal" traffic may be throttled.  States the document:
In the Open Internet NPRM, the Commission proposed that open Internet rules
be subject to reasonable network management, consisting of "reasonable practices employed by a provider of broadband Internet access service to:(3) prevent the transfer of unlawful content; or (4) prevent the unlawful transfer of content."
The problem here is that ISPs like Comcast would have to prove that bittorrent or peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic was illegal.  Some legal services use these formats to distribute music, movies, or other file types, and the academic world often relies on them for file transfers.  All it would take would be one case of mistaken throttling and the ISPs could be slammed with big legal fees and fines.

Of course the government is considering, under the pending ACTA internet treaty, forcing taxpayers to fund the government monitoring networks for copyright infringement and other illegal behavior.  However, it is questionable whether this is even possible why maintaining sufficient service fees and avoiding false positives.

IV.  Mobile Limitations

As widely assumed, the document makes exceptions for mobile internet, something that angered FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's Democratic Commission colleagues.  The document states:
However, as explained in the Open Internet NPRM and subsequent Public Notice, mobile broadband presents special considerations that suggest differences in how and when open Internet protections should apply... Moreover, most consumers have more choices for mobile broadband than for fixed (particularly fixed wireline) broadband... In addition, existing mobile networks present operational constraints that fixed broadband networks do not typically encounter.  This puts greater pressure on the concept of "reasonable network management" for mobile providers.
The document suggests that mobile internet "openness" may be revisited by rulemakers once it becomes more established.  And pending schemes -- like the idea of "pay per site" revealed by top telecom firms at a recent conference -- may be ruled by the FCC to be outside the realms of "reasonable" management.

V. Could this "Gift" Get Returned?

Ultimately the rules could face challenges from multiple sources.  Telecom firms and internet service providers could file suit against the provisions in federal courts.  Their fate in such cases, though, would be uncertain.  While they won past suits, such as the spring federal court ruling that Comcast could throttle traffic, those wins came largely because the FCC had been unable to ratify an official series of rules -- which it has now done.  With those rules in place, the courts would likely be more hesitant to override the FCC and diminish its Congressionally granted ability to regulate national communications.

Other challenges could come from Congress.  Telecoms have funneled millions to the campaigns of certain politicians, which will likely help them secure future challenges to the legislation by Congress.  The funded candidates are largely Republicans -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) alone accepted from AT&T and Verizon $237,000 in direct donations, $3.6M in lobbyist-raised funding, and free personal service to his Arizona ranch.  Republicans are about to gain control the House of Representatives, but are in the minority in the Senate -- plus they do not control the White House.  Thus the possibility of legislative opposition remains very viable, but will have to wait for future election years.

ISPs, besides wireless firms, likely will be less than happy with the new rules, which set limits on their internet profiteering.  However, they still have many viable options to maintain their profits and tight control of local markets.  One option is to lobby state officials to ban citizens in counties or townships from banding together and creating their own faster, cheaper municipal Wi-Fi services.  ISPs have already tried to kill several municipal efforts in such a fashion.

For content deliverers like Google (owner of YouTube), the rules definitely fulfill a key item on their wish list.  But they have expressed concerns about the rules apparent allowance of telecoms breaching net neutrality in the mobile realm.  Thus it might not be exactly how they wished for it, but the ratified and published "In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet Broadband Industry Practices" regulations document still gives them something thankful for this year.

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Just me...
By chagrinnin on 12/25/2010 4:58:04 PM , Rating: 5
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) alone accepted from AT&T and Verizon $237,000 in direct donations, $3.6M in lobbyist-raised funding, and free personal service to his Arizona ranch.

How is this not considered a bribe?

/rhetorical question about crooked politics

RE: Just me...
By headbox on 12/25/2010 5:38:52 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, it IS a bribe, and nothing will be done about it. Americans are aware of corruption, but never take action. The next election will be another 2-party joke, where we'll pick from politicians based on market appeal.

Despite several million on colonists, George Washington could barely form an army of 8,000 at any single point. This nation was built upon the sacrifices of the few that benefit the majority. As long as we are fed and entertained, politicians can openly commit crimes.

RE: Just me...
By FITCamaro on 12/25/2010 9:37:23 PM , Rating: 1
George Washington could barely form an army of 8,000 at any single point.

Don't know where you're getting this, but it is horribly inaccurate. Even wikipedia shows at least 27,000 men at one point in the general army. Maybe Washington only DIRECTLY controlled 8000 men at one time though. If they only had 8000 men at any given time across all the fronts, they wouldn't have had a chance.

And considering that the war was largely fought in the Northern colonies, that is where the majority of the people in the army came from.

RE: Just me...
By ShaolinSoccer on 12/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: Just me...
By bupkus on 12/27/2010 1:40:38 AM , Rating: 1
Rather than venting your feelings of powerlessness and blaming someone else why not participate in a blog and work on creating a consensus? From there you can promote an action group starting at a local government level. You needn't carry the whole effort on your back. There are probably such groups already active in your community.

RE: Just me...
By LilBambi on 12/26/2010 12:47:43 PM , Rating: 2
exactly! I get so sick of this!

RE: Just me...
By glennforum on 12/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: Just me...
By bupkus on 12/27/2010 1:42:02 AM , Rating: 3
Commie lover? Are you a member of AARP?

Now I am enlightened
By diggernash on 12/26/2010 9:19:47 AM , Rating: 2
I now understand that if you are earning more money than the alloted government handout, not only are you not nice; you are actually engaged in DISCRIMINATING against those earning less. If you make the dastardly decision to purchase faster internet with your earnings. OH THE HUMANITY.

They shouldn't have F'N power, much less internet.

RE: Now I am enlightened
By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 12:00:53 PM , Rating: 3
It's not about paying for faster internet, but for paying fees to ensure that your fast data plan stays fast under "special" conditions.

I personally want my 30mbit plan to stay at that speed without paying extra fees to ensure that speed. After all, I hired 30mbits not 30mbits unless someone else in my neighbourhood is connected.

RE: Now I am enlightened
By bodar on 12/27/2010 3:33:18 AM , Rating: 2
FFS, they're referring to TRAFFIC discrimination. You may now un-jerk your knee.

FCC Net Neutrality Rules
By LilBambi on 12/26/2010 12:41:00 PM , Rating: 2
This is all fine and dandy for people in more populated areas, but in areas where broadband (DSL/Cable) are within 4 miles, but where there aren't enough people to make it viable to lay cables supposedly, this still is totally obnoxious.

We have to pay for Verizon Cellular Internet (3G/EVDO) at $60/mo per USB gizmo for 5GB (we are paying $120/mo for two of them and still can only get 10GB).

Sure, we could purchase the MiFi for up to 5 devices, and get 10GB/mo for $80/mo (plus overage fees) - if we would pay for the MiFi - but we have already paid for TWO USB gizmos and Verizon won't allow us to move either of those to 10GB plus overage fees!

I am still very upset about the new rules. They don't help us at all. And we live in a little town in VA. Verizon refuses to upgrade lines and CO to accommodate DSL, neither Charter or Cox Cable will lay cable to our little town. This is nuts. Do they think we are made of money in rural towns?

RE: FCC Net Neutrality Rules
By sleepeeg3 on 12/26/2010 2:08:51 PM , Rating: 2
Do you think cable cos and telcos are made of money to cater to just you?

Government regulation does nothing, but increase costs. All plans are likely to go up to pay for the increased data usage, now that companies can no longer throttle the top tier of their networks. Hopefully this gets overturned in the courts. Thank you lobbyists and socialists of this country...

RE: FCC Net Neutrality Rules
By FlyBri on 12/26/2010 2:11:41 PM , Rating: 3
No, the gov't doesn't think you're made of money, which is why they have been talking about providing affordable broadband internet access to rural areas and other dead zones.

While I'm all for free market competition, when it comes to a "utility" such as cable, and in many cases internet service in general, there are either few or no competitors, so it's really not a "free market" to begin with. As such, rules like this need to be in place.

I would love to get Verizon FIOS, but it's not in my area. I only have choices of Time Warner Cable, or AT&T U-verse. U-verse has much slower internet, TV is arguably worse, and it's the same price as cable, so I really only have one option -- Time Warner, or nothing. Until the wireless broadband market has a few players, the speed is equivalent or better than good cable broadband, and the price is about the same (thus creating real competition), then IMO net neutrality rules need to be in place.

By therealnickdanger on 12/28/2010 9:12:05 AM , Rating: 2
No Internet provider may discriminate transmission of data based upon content. Data is data.

The end.

A lump of...
By nstott on 12/28/2010 2:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
Who took a $#!+ in my stocking?

ESPN charges me for INTERNET
By Kary on 12/29/2010 10:57:31 AM , Rating: 2
Does this mean that the FCC will stop Comcast from charging every internet customer for access to ESPNs web site...whether we would ever willingly go to that web site or not?

That's about $5 a month I'd like to have back.

By knutjb on 12/25/10, Rating: -1
By Klinky1984 on 12/25/2010 7:56:03 PM , Rating: 3
A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can comprise the administration of any organization of any size, though the term usually connotes someone within an institution of a government or corporation.

Yep, you're right corporations & the government screw crap up.

By knutjb on 12/26/2010 8:47:12 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, you're right corporations & the government screw crap up.
I didn't comment on corporate bureaucracy. If a corporation does a poor job they lose business and that directly affects the bottom line. Since money is the goal of a business loss thereof will shape their behavior, eg. Best Buy and their restocking fee.

With a government bureaucrat they never go away. When they do a bad job it continues on regardless of the outcome. Taxes are still taken out successful or not. They create and enforce rules and if those rules are poorly written/implemented we all suffer.

I spent over 20 years in a government bureaucracy and once bureaucrats get their hands on new powers they are very reluctant and will thwart every attempt to rescind that power.

In this case they are creating rules to laws that don't exists and hopefully the Congress and the courts quickly rebuke them for such behavior.

By siuol11 on 12/26/2010 10:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
Ah yes, another "free market" argument... Boy, those never get old.

By knutjb on 12/27/2010 9:04:46 AM , Rating: 2
Ah yes, another "socialism" argument... Boy those are always so idealistic and academic...

So you'll have no problem when said bureaucrat redirects you to another site because they think you don't really need to go to the site you asked for. After all they really do know what's best for you. Why don't we just adopt the Chinese internet model...

Nanny state and Trabants for all!

By jeff834 on 12/27/2010 3:20:16 PM , Rating: 1
I am not arguing for or against free market or socialist thinking, as they both have their merits on paper, but usually both suck in practice. I do have to say, however, that the argument you make about being redirected to another site by a bureaucrat absolutely works both ways here. You are saying you'd rather be redirected to a site by your ISP because the site you wanted to go to didn't pay them enough money for your traffic and so the free market says you want to go to a different site.

I won't say one of those options is better or worse than the other, because they both are equally stupid, but I think the second one is waaaay more likely than the first. The Chinese internet model is in place to keep their people from free thinking, net neutrality is designed to protect the free thinkers by being squeezed out by corporations because they can't pay enough to get their messages out.

By knutjb on 12/27/2010 3:54:23 PM , Rating: 3
I do have to say, however, that the argument you make about being redirected to another site by a bureaucrat absolutely works both ways here. You are saying you'd rather be redirected to a site by your ISP because the site you wanted to go to didn't pay them enough money for your traffic and so the free market says you want to go to a different site.
If my service redirects me to where I don't want to go I can change my ISP, I can't change the bureaucrat or even get a choice in where they are directing me.
The Chinese internet model is in place to keep their people from free thinking, net neutrality is designed to protect the free thinkers by being squeezed out by corporations because they can't pay enough to get their messages out.
Outside of the Supreme Court show me where the US government has ever protected free thinkers. As for the Chinese example, bureaucrat are making those decisions. I don't even want American bureaucrats deciding for me. I will be limited by any, even well meaning, bureaucrat. I can choose with my wallet the best provider for my needs. Also, anytime another bureaucratic layer is added they will add fees to my service. Nothing comes free.

By Lugaidster on 12/27/2010 8:37:45 PM , Rating: 2
That is if you have a choice. In most places there is zero to no competition, so those companies have no incentive to change their actions. What do you propose to change the status quo in those circumstances?

By ekv on 12/28/2010 2:10:57 AM , Rating: 2
I'm in a relatively small town and I can think of 3 (or 4) "choices" off the top of my head. Even if there were no choices, then my choice could be to start my own ISP. [Business model could be to simply stay afloat long enough to be bought out.]

Now, in all of USA there is zero competition against bureaucracy. I do not have the option of starting my own bureaucracy [hint: it is considered sedition]. So, with the ball in your court, "What do you propose to change the status quo in those circumstances?"

By cjohnson2136 on 12/28/2010 8:15:13 AM , Rating: 2
I live right outside of Baltimore and I have 2 chocies Comcast or Verizon. Problem is I cant get Verizon because they dont offer FIOS in my apartment so that only leaves me with Comcast. I have no choice so what I am just screwed because you have choices so they should leave it alone. Not everyone has many chocies.

By knutjb on 12/28/2010 8:41:36 AM , Rating: 2
So punish those who do have a choice with a bureaucratic mess to "help" a very small minority? Instead of adding more layers how about removing Federal, as well as local, interference. Some areas the local cities create a disincentive for new companies to enter the market. That might be part of the problem you have.

Does this mean no rules, of course not. When legislators and bureaucrats attempt to "fix" everything they usually create bigger problems than they solve. Not every problem can be solved with more rules.

By Kary on 12/29/2010 6:37:58 PM , Rating: 2
Does that whole "Don't kill other people" bureaucracy keep you awake at night?
After having to deal with Comcast's blocking other ISPs by dropping prices in areas with competition(haven't seen personally, to be honest), slowing my network speed on P2P (at 4 am is letting me use more than 1/6th of my bandwidth really slowing anyone down?), making me pay to have access to web sites I don't even won't (thanks for that one ESPN)...heck, if it weren't illegal and they could make profit at it killing people might have been the next step (looking around nervously).

By Lugaidster on 12/28/2010 8:31:49 AM , Rating: 2
Start my own ISP? That's a whole lot of trouble just to get decent internet that doesn't regulate my speed based on what I'm doing.

Now, "with the ball in my court", I really don't care about bureaucracy. It's going to be there no matter where you go or what you do. It's a necessary evil, you either put up with it or you don't. America could have it way worse, but I guess I'm a glass half full guy. In any case, the bureaucracy part in this case will be there for the companies, not me. So I really couldn't care less, worst case scenario, it'll make it more of a hassle for them to screw me.

Now, if you really wan't to change that status quo, you could move to deserted place and create your own government, fight for anarchy so that everyone does what they want or you achieve something in between, create your own party (America could probably use a third political party just to increase competition) or whatever. But then again, the person starting that would probably get shot (America is, after all, a pretty conservative country and that's probably one of the reasons it's been so successful in the past).

I any case, that's not really the point of this discussion. We're talking about net neutrality and, at least as a concept, I see nothing wrong with it... Free speech, that's the whole point, right...?

By ekv on 12/28/2010 4:57:30 PM , Rating: 1
That's a whole lot of trouble...
And yet you're willing to take all that "trouble" and dump it on me, in the form of bureaucracy. Companies simply pass costs along to consumers.
the bureaucracy part in this case will be there for the companies
Which further strengthens my argument to start your own ISP, so you may experience the brunt of bureaucracy, which is not such a casual thing when you are the one fighting the paper-blizzard. We don't need more of that. It only serves to erect more barriers to entering the marketplace, i.e. it is anti-competitive.

Net neutrality is highly debatable, even as a concept, but especially as implemented by Genachowski. This guy was a major donor to the Obama campaign and was awarded the FCC chairmanship as a quid-pro-quo. The man is a lawyer for crying-out-loud, not a technologist. Great, he can write laws, but what vision does the guy have for the Internet? I think we just found out in the form of more regulation.

And all because your speed is being throttled? So what! My speed is limited on the freeway. My speed is limited going from cable to DSL. It's a fact of life. If you don't like the rules, start your own ISP and advertise the fact that you are "net neutral". If you succeed, great, I've got no problem with that. If you fail, then at least you didn't cost me. As it is, there will surely be an added cost to more bureaucracy. Thanks, for nothin' 8(

By Lugaidster on 12/28/2010 7:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
"And yet you're willing to take all that "trouble" and dump it on me, in the form of bureaucracy. Companies simply pass costs along to consumers."

Regulations are in place to make my life easier. Nothing is free (as in beer) in life, so sure they cost a little more. Prices will go up either way.

"Which further strengthens my argument to start your own ISP"

Do you know how much money do I need to actually start my own ISP? Enough said. I'd rather invest it in a better business if I had it. The entry barriers are already there, I don't care if they get higher to ensure that my content get's served unfiltered. The market isn't going to get more competitive for wired broadband access (Due to the high entry costs, permits, etc.). Wireless is a whole other beast and this set of rules don't apply (mostly).

"Net neutrality is highly debatable, even as a concept"

How? conduits of speech should always remain neutral. Internet is a conduit, so it should remain neutral. Free speech is a right, don't forget that.

"[Genachowski] can write laws, but what vision does the guy have for the Internet? "

He knows it should remain neutral. That's enough for me.

"And all because your speed is being throttled? So what! My speed is limited on the freeway. My speed is limited going from cable to DSL. It's a fact of life."

I was trying to make a point, but now that you make that comparison. If I'm paying for 30 Mbits I want that speed for all the content without regards of what it actually is and if I don't have that speed I expect it's because the server can't cope not because my ISP thinks it's not important. In the highway I'm not paying for my speed. Throttling is not the same as limiting.

By ekv on 12/28/2010 8:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
Prices will go up either way.
Maybe it's just me, but doesn't history demonstrate prices for most things 'computer' have gone down?
Do you know how much money do I need to actually start my own ISP?
So you haven't done any research into this. But you just KNOW that regulations are good for you and to hell with everybody else, they can pay for it. You're forcing me to pay for your bureaucracy. You neither know anything about business nor the cost of regulation. Furthermore, you don't even care.

The market for wired broadband could be a whole lot more competitive. Prices could go down. Entry costs could be lower. Permits AND bureaucracy could be streamlined and reduced. But, alas, you don't care. Pardon me, but such a position comes off as childish and more than a trifle indolent.
In the highway I'm not paying for my speed. Throttling is not the same as limiting.
You are paying for your speed (and your mileage for that matter). Throttling is essentially the same as a limit.

The implementation of your net neutrality ... is not so neutral. Don't force me to pay for it, since then it is no longer free.

By Lugaidster on 12/28/2010 10:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
"So you haven't done any research into this."
And you have? I know I don't have the money to start my own ISP.

"But you just KNOW that regulations are good for you and to hell with everybody else, they can pay for it."
I know that regulations are in order in non-competitive markets. Everything could be competitive, but when they are not they need regulation. When you have no form of regulation you get something like the OPEC (which can't be regulated BTW). Non-competitive doesn't necessarily mean monopoly. Again, I have said this somewhere else, there are 6 requirements for a free market to work. ISP market complies with, at most, 3. So yeah, it needs regulation. And regardless, as I said before. I want my content to be transfered, through whatever conduit I choose, unfiltered. Net neutrality ensures that, whether it's a competitive market or not.

"The market [...] could be a whole lot more competitive" Yes, but it isn't. That's the reality.

"Permits AND bureaucracy could be streamlined and reduced"
Yes, but that's arguable. Permits are there for a reason. You can't just eliminate them.

"But, alas, you don't care."
Don't take my words out of context. I don't care about the bureaucracy behind net neutrality, because I want net neutrality. Not bureaucracy in general. I'm not an extremist.

"You are paying for your speed. Throttling is essentially the same as a limit."
To who am I paying? I see a sign indicating a maximum. I'm not losing money if I'm not travelling at that speed. Whereas if my internet connection is running at half speed I am, because I could have had a slower plan to get the same speed. My internet connection is limited by my contract, I don't need, nor want, additional throttling based on some obscure QoS guidelines. Just as I don't want additional throttling while driving.

"The implementation of your net neutrality ... is not so neutral. Don't force me to pay for it, since then it is no longer free."
It's not my implementation, and I'm not forcing you to pay anything. If you get charged more it'll be by your ISP, not by me.

By ekv on 12/29/10, Rating: 0
By Lugaidster on 12/29/2010 7:25:59 AM , Rating: 2
I don't and won't start a company every time I find one that doesn't fulfill my expectations as customer if there is no other alternative. Simple as that. I expect my rights as a consumer to be respected.

Regulations are a fact of life, deal with it. And please, stop saying it's my implementation, it's not.

If you don't understand that monopolies and oligopolies damage the consumer and the market then it's your problem. OPEC (because of it's actions in the past) was used as an example of what happens when such a problem is left unregulated. It's practically a textbook example. My laziness to do something about it or not isn't relevant to this discussion. Solutions or not, the problem is there and it was used as an example.

"Technology marches on. But an F'ing lawyer wouldn't understand that." I suppose you meant Genachowski... So you know him or every other lawyer in the country?

"Your entire argument boils down to [...] I want net neutrality." Yes, I think that it is a sound concept and I embrace it. To paraphrase someone else in this article: "No Internet provider [should] discriminate transmission of data based upon content. Data is data.". The Internet is a conduit and as such, it should remain neutral. If you don't agree then let's leave it at that.

"So what if there is some kind of emergency, if somebody else needs extra bandwidth, request denied because, remember? me first." It doesn't deny extra bandwidth, it denies priority access, that's different. If you want extra bandwidth, you can pay for it.

"You are paying for your speed." Not in the same way, it's not directly accountable, if you can't understand something as simple as that then there's no point in debating it. For it to be similar I would have to pay someone for the right to go at 60mph in the freeway, I'm not paying anyone for that. That makes it different.

"One thing I'm curious about, did anybody force you to sign the contract with your ISP?" Nope, I did it all by my self.

By ekv on 12/30/10, Rating: 0
By Chaosforce on 12/25/2010 8:38:04 PM , Rating: 1
The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.

Man i have been playing alot of Civ lately :P

By theslug on 12/26/2010 3:36:04 AM , Rating: 3
No. The whole point of this, which net neutrality advocates point out, is to prevent ISPs from acting unfairly. The idea is to prevent problems from occurring to begin with. Without some sort of intervention, ISPs can just throttle, block, and slow down whatever data they want to. We can't trust them to police themselves, so some organization needs to step in and set standards. I'm not saying it should be the FCC, but someone needs to regulate this and make sure things are geared towards the consumer, not the telecoms.

By Shinei on 12/26/2010 5:49:48 AM , Rating: 2
"The idea is to prevent problems from occurring to begin with. Without some sort of intervention, ISPs can just throttle, block, and slow down whatever data they want to."

The problem is that exclusive domain allows ISPs to behave non-competitively, without legal repercussions. The FCC's net neutrality stance is just a band-aid for a much larger issue that they introduced years ago, giving ISPs essentially infinite authority over any region they decide to provide 'service' to and disallowing competition in those areas.
Also, ISPs can currently throttle, block, and slow down whatever data they want to; if they're all evil criminals waiting to take your internet away while twirling their mustaches, why haven't they done it already?

"I'm not saying it should be the FCC, but someone needs to regulate this and make sure things are geared towards the consumer, not the telecoms."

Companies that cheat customers don't stay in business very long in a proper competitive environment. Suppose Comcast decided to throttle the internet and create a sheltered garden for its users instead.
If Comcast has no competition (current situation), users are forced to suck it up or rely on FCC legislative beatdowns (the extension of government power never being released when its time is up).
If Comcast is forced to contend with competitors, users can tell Comcast to go die and use a company that doesn't throttle or mutilate the internet. The FCC doesn't need to be involved at all, since it's not their job to legislate what private companies do and don't do with the services they provide to customers.

By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 10:27:59 AM , Rating: 1
The problem is that companies already throttle, and, according to the article, have won suits further giving throttling strength. For competition to exist you need high mobility of factors and low market entry barriers. Neither exist in the market for obvious reasons.

Comcasts aren't in the business to take away my internet, they are there to charge me big sums of money just to check my email. So the whole "if they're all evil criminals waiting to take your internet away while twirling their mustaches, why haven't they done it already?" doesn't apply.

You can't force competition when there are no competitors. And it's pretty dificult to enter the market so I don't see new competitors in the horizon. In the end, you'd have to be a moron or work for any of those companies to be agaisnt the concept of net neutrality. Implementation is a whole 'nother deal though, but it can be improved upon.

Besides, companies that cheat consumers have stayed in business for a pretty long time, and will stay there as long as they have piles of cash and good lawyers. A small company might not be able to sustain bad press, but Comcast can't get much worse in that regard and it still exists.

By LilBambi on 12/26/2010 12:46:06 PM , Rating: 1
How long did AT&T keep us all shackled before the government finally stepped in to break them up and make it so we could actually buy our own phones, faxes, allow more than one phone and pay for each additional, and prevent their highly inflated pricing structures?

The corps in this country do not learn their lessons well at all.

By Kurz on 12/26/2010 1:41:03 PM , Rating: 2
And how long did government help AT&T keep their monopoly?
Research, learn and understand that government isn't here to help you.

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By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 2:33:50 PM , Rating: 2
"And how long did government help AT&T keep their monopoly?" The government changes because the people that constitutes it changes. But that really doesn't matter. A market needs regulation when it doesn't behave like a free market, and guess what, the internet providing market doesn't behave like a free market!

I want my ISP to stay neutral, whether I'm watching videos or reading my email I don't want to get throttled, simple as that. If you like to get screwed by ISPs, that's your cup of tea, not mine.

By Kurz on 12/27/2010 11:30:29 AM , Rating: 2
I must restate... The government (Local) caused the problem in the first place. So undo the regulation, Deals, contracts that the government made with the ISP's.

By aegisofrime on 12/26/2010 7:16:24 AM , Rating: 2
The free market is overrated.

I can cite for example, a situation where major players in a market collude to fix prices. Instead of a price war benefiting consumers as your free market dictates, the companies agree to keep prices at a certain level to prevent a costly price war that will hurt each other.

Sometimes, you need Governments to protect you. Businesses are out there to make a profit; The welfare of consumers is secondary to that, despite what you may think. Can you imagine a situation where for example, the pharmaceuticals market is unregulated and there's no FDA testing?

By kslavik on 12/26/2010 11:01:39 AM , Rating: 2
The Government allowed those major players to have dominant positions at the first place by creating barriers to enter the free market for the small players. Creating regulations and more restrictions to enter the market will only make the problem worth for the completion to enter the market.

If you take any case where you say the government needs to protect you, if you look a little deeper, you would realize the government itself created the problem by allowing a monopoly to exist at the first place by restricting competition by creating regulations. Creating more regulations will only make the problem worth.

I would love to see FDA gone. FDA is making drugs and food expensive and restricting consumer choice of what food to eat and what drugs to take. If you were sick and there was a drug which might help you, would not you want to have a choice to use it even if is not approved by FDA? I think FDA did more bad than good by prohibiting drugs from US market and waiting 5-10 years to see how those drugs perform in other markets.

By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 12:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
So you're basically saying that the government created a problem by not monitoring, then it can't solve it by monitoring?

You can't stop a monopoly without ensuring that monopolies don't happen. Besides, the government is not the same throughout the time. It certainly wasn't the same five years ago.

On the whole FDA thing, what do you prefer, go back to the times where pharmacies sold dog shit as medicine? The FDA certainly isn't ideal, but I'd prefer to keep it and have it change it's regulations than to eliminate it completely. In any case, let's stay on topic.

By Kurz on 12/26/2010 1:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
Did you fail at comprehension?

By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 2:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
No. And your point is...?

By Kurz on 12/29/2010 12:09:18 PM , Rating: 2
Reread what he said and what you said.

By jmunjr on 12/27/2010 3:13:33 AM , Rating: 2
If there is collusion it isn't a free market! There is a place for minimal regulation when dealing with antitrust issues. The market today effectively is monopolistic which is why we have these issues. Take away their ability to operate like this and net neutrality is unnecessary.

By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 10:31:39 AM , Rating: 2
Perfect competition in a true free market requires 6 conditions to be met, of which at least 3 aren't. For this cases and many others, someone has to protect the consumer. There's no panacea, nor a magic solution for everything.

By diggernash on 12/26/2010 10:48:32 AM , Rating: 2
Or people can choose to not consume and the companies will change. We are not talking about water here. You don't die without internet.

By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 11:55:01 AM , Rating: 3
Your statement is naive at best. I don't die without many things and yet I still want them: a car, a big house, a big hometheater, a computer, to travel to Paris when I want to, to eat sushi if I want to, etc. I thought that was the whole point of not living in a communist country, I can have what I want and not get screwed for having it.

And I know I have a choice, in this case get screwed by my ISP, get screwed for not having internet connection or have someone else screw my ISP. It's pretty obvious. I want to be connected to the internet and I don't want to be screwed by my ISP, so that leaves only one option.

I want someone else to ensure that I don't get screwed. Better yet, I don't want to be bothered with this things. That's why I have someone that represents me in the House of Representatives. After all, that's how democracy works ain't it?

By Kurz on 12/26/2010 1:36:27 PM , Rating: 2
Except if the government keeps limiting those choices, it'll end up costing more and becoming less efficient and the end product is worse.

If you have a Beef with your ISP go to your lower government and demand they finally allow others to compete in the market.
They often have contracts with ISP's to give them kickbacks.

By Lugaidster on 12/26/2010 2:37:44 PM , Rating: 2
The point is that new ones won't solve the problem. They will still have the same incentives. Every major telecom in whatever country that has no regulation behaves the same. That's the point. Changing a monopoly for an oligopoly won't solve the issues at hand.

By diggernash on 12/26/2010 11:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
Good luck affording a big house when government regulation of our faux footprint hits. I like big vehicles, now I'm going to get slammed with extra regulation on them. Based no these other products, I will be surprised if government intrusion at the federal level does anything except harm internet consumers over the long haul.

I don't want anyone telling someone that invests capital and maneuvers shrewdly to put them selves in a position of power in an industry that they've done too good of a job and now they need to play nice. I want the idea of becoming that billionaire to drive others to develop new and better products for me to consume.

And I don't need the guvubmint attaching greed taxes to anything that I wish to buy. This will evolve into a fee to cover the costs associated with enforcing this regulation. Write it down and wait for it to happen.

You failed to mention the 4th option of becoming the one what does the screwin', eliminating getting screwed all together. ;)

By Lugaidster on 12/27/2010 9:06:30 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not discussing all regulations, I'm discussing net neutrality. I want the consumer (me) to have some power (which is what happens when you have lots of suppliers which this market does not), maybe there are better alternatives to achieve the same but if that is for me to actively get involved in changing that status quo, I'd rather have some regulation in place.

I don't understand what's so bad about ensuring that my ISP stays neutral no matter what the hell I'm using my internet connection for. There's a difference between the possibility that my next ISP won't screw me and the certainty that it won't happen (well, almost). Even if the government had no involvement for a new competitor to appear, it's not that good a deal to become an ISP (it requires a lot of investment in infrastructure). Unless wireless broadband gets cheap, that won't change all that much. Since this barely affects wireless broadband it won't matter much when it becomes cheap and widely available.

That fourth option you mention would actually work if I had the power to actually screw my ISP, which regretfully I don't, unless I take it to some authority or, even, the court. Since there have already been previous suits that favor them, I'll refrain choosing that path. Another way would be if I cut my internet connection, since I don't have alternatives, it's my loss, sure they'll receive less money but that won't affect them all that much. So unless I'm missing something, there's isn't much I can do to screw them without actually screwing myself.

By HoosierEngineer5 on 12/26/2010 12:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
More and more, the Internet is no longer just a curiosity or toy. In the not-too-distant future, it will be as important as having a vehicle, mail delivery, or telephone service. Even the government is encouraging Internet use for tax filing. More and more software applications REQUIRE an internet connection for installation or execution.

By LilBambi on 12/26/2010 12:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
The Internet is the new phones of this age. We and many people we know do not even have landlines anymore.

We could never afford to pay for both cellphone/cellular Internet and landlines that we would not be using except in emergencies.

Thankfully the courts will throw this out. Again.
By hondaman on 12/25/10, Rating: -1
By diggernash on 12/26/2010 9:24:03 AM , Rating: 2
It is refreshing to hear from someone that believes the judicial system is effectively applying the constitutionality test.

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