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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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RE: No regulation
By Shig on 4/7/2010 11:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
The true problem is the monopolistic barrier of entry of laying fiber optics in the ground.

Remove that barrier of entry with government subsidation (like every other infrastructure in the country has) to private entities and you'd see more competition. I'm not saying the government should pay for 100% of it, and I am saying that making private companies pay for 100% of it is stupid. It should be split in some fashion with the private companies paying a portion and the government subsidizing the other portion.

But the super telecoms love those barriers of entry, no one can get enough money to even compete unless they have 10's to 100's of millions of dollars to invest. With major networks costing in the billions.


RE: No regulation
By Shig on 4/7/2010 11:58:06 AM , Rating: 1
Net neutrality isn't even the main problem, it's a micro problem to the bigger macro picture that the telecoms don't want anyone to address, ever.


RE: No regulation
By Yawgm0th on 4/7/2010 5:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Remove that barrier of entry with government subsidation (like every other infrastructure in the country has) to private entities and you'd see more competition. I'm not saying the government should pay for 100% of it, and I am saying that making private companies pay for 100% of it is stupid. It should be split in some fashion with the private companies paying a portion and the government subsidizing the other portion.
This is actually a much better argument for nationalization than subsidization. Even if ISPs operate as management companies analogously to utility companies (and really, Internet is practically a utility), there is no economic reason to have more than one providing the same type of connection, just as there is no economic reason to have multiple power companies lay down multiple lines and compete.

Even the oligopolous markets we see with two to five providers giving either different or re-leased service have better pricing than two competing fiber carriers laying separate lines to the same homes.


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