Print 51 comment(s) - last by marvdmartian.. on Apr 12 at 3:46 PM

Despite enjoying monopolies across much of the country, ISPs continue to look for new ways to increase their profits. One promising candidate is throttling certain kinds of traffic to cut the cost of bandwidth on "unlimited connections". A U.S. federal court has ruled that the FCC is powerless to stop ISPs from throttling.  (Source: CFC Oklahoma)
Uncontent with mere monopolies or duopolies, ISPs hope to use throttling, "speed lanes" to further increase profits

Is net neutrality dead?  The idea of protecting against the creation of internet "speed lanes" and discrimination against specific types of traffic -- such as P2P connections -- certainly still has powerful supporters, like Google.  However, the movement has been dealt several recent legal defeats which may in effect make it possible for the government to enforce net neutrality, leaving ISPs free to steam-roll the movement.

A D.C. federal Court of Appeals has overturned Federal Communications Commission sanctions against Comcast stemming from 2007 throttling of P2P traffic.  The court was highly critical of the FCC, grilling its lawyer.  It said the sanctions were "aspirational, not operational" and pointed out that the FCC couldn't identify a "specific statute" Comcast violated.  The judge commented that the FCC "can't get an unbridled, roving commission to go about doing good."

The FCC is likely to appeal the ruling.  They also are looking to give net neutrality a legal backbone.  FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has been one of the movement's most outspoken advocates and is currently working with Congress to craft legislation that would make protections against data discrimination the law of the land in the United States.  President Barack Obama included net neutrality in his 2008 campaign platform and he's pushing Congress to complete legislation on the issue.  Obama's 2008 presidential race rival Sen. John McCain is one of the biggest opponents of net neutrality.

Such legislation, though, may still neglect to protect certain kinds of traffic such as P2P connections.  ISPs complain that these connections are frequently used to commit copyright infringement.  More importantly to them, they take up a lot of bandwidth.  The public opposes metered connections, so many ISPs want to throttle P2P traffic as a more subtle means of keeping bandwidth on "unlimited" connections to a minimum.  This could increase their profits greatly, if rolled out across their entire network.

ISPs may be pressed harder by new competition, though.  The FCC has announced a plan to offer speedy 100 Mbps national broadband, to 100 million American homes.  The plan, basically a jumbo version of municipal internet efforts, would increase competition in theory.  Currently ISPs enjoy a monopoly or duopoly on services across much of the country, and consumers have been forced to endure higher prices.

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Misleading Headline
By tdawg on 4/7/2010 11:41:57 AM , Rating: 5
The ruling did not grant Comcast the right to throttle traffic, but rather ruled that the FCC overstepped its bounds of regulation.

Congress can pass legislation to guarantee net neutrality, or they can grant the FCC these sorts of regulatory powers of the internet.

RE: Misleading Headline
By AntiM on 4/7/2010 12:35:31 PM , Rating: 5
You are correct. The FCC is a regulatory body, not a law enforcement body. The FCC should stick to its original mandate... to manage sprectrum and regulate how the airwaves are used. The Internet is not wireless.
If Comcast is offering (advertising) "unlimited" data, or offering a certain minimum bandwidth, and then throttles that bandwidth, then it should be a matter for the FTC, since it is false advertising.

RE: Misleading Headline
By Krotchrot on 4/7/2010 12:54:42 PM , Rating: 5
The FCC has always been charged with regulating interstate communications. Wired and unwired.

RE: Misleading Headline
By AntiM on 4/7/2010 2:22:59 PM , Rating: 2
I was refering to the Federal Radio Commission, established via the Radio Act of 1927 to oversee the radio broadcast band.

RE: Misleading Headline
By walk2k on 4/8/2010 12:46:18 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed this is yellow journalism at it's worst.

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with ISPs cutting off access to competitors (aka so called "net neutrality" as if that really exists...).

It has to do with an ISP keeping its network FUNCTIONAL for the majority of customers! Realize that 1% of customers use something like 60% of the bandwidth (let's be honest most of it is ILLEGAL file sharing). They need the power to regulate their own networks just to keep them RUNNING!

Get back to me when any ISP actually starts throttling or cutting off access to a competitor's service because so far that has NOT happened EVER. What kind of service would it be if people couldn't get to Netflix/etc, they would cancel in droves, nobody is going to shoot off their own foot like that - tinfoil hat black helicopter conspiracy theories aside...

RE: Misleading Headline
By marvdmartian on 4/12/2010 3:46:58 PM , Rating: 2
Might actually be easier to simply pass a law stating what sort of penalty a company might face if they don't follow along with the FCC's lead first. Then pass Net Neutrality once everyone's afraid to oppose it, for fear of being fined.

Worked for income tax! ;)

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