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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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By Chemical Chris on 4/7/2010 1:30:18 PM , Rating: 4
if you're hitting 250 GB/month, you're either doing something illegal or your needs exceed what a residential service offers

Actually, 250GB/month isn't unreasonable. Thats about 10 blu-ray discs (with compression, you could get about 10GB/movie, so 25 movies/month). But theres not that many movies you say, at least not sustainably. Well, yes, but there are TV shows. Most households watch lots of TV. I personally watch about 6 new, unique hours of TV media a week. At 5GB/hour for high def, that 120GB/month. I also have a roommate. I also download games occasionally.

Granted, not all of my usage is "legal", there are (or should be) legal sources for this. So, it is quite possible to consume >100GB month for a home user.
I know this is not indicative of everyone, but I only use internet, no cable, phone, etc. This is the direction the world is heading in, I would say.

In short, grandma may use 1GB/month, but I go through much, much more.


RE: Not the best method of solving a problem
By Drag0nFire on 4/7/2010 3:44:36 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know where you're getting legal HD streams, but Netflix might make a good case study. Netflix HD streams have a use a 3.8mbit stream (for the highest resolution available).

This means that a 2 hour movie would use at most 3GB. At 1.5GB/hr, you could easily watch 150 hours (or 6 full days) of HD video and have plenty of bandwidth left over for other uses. If your usage exceeds this, maybe you should consider other options (I have FIOS).

I'm not saying I agree with a bandwidth cap, particularly if advertised as unlimited. But I do think it would be difficult for a user to legally exceed 250GB/month in most scenarios.

By Yawgm0th on 4/7/2010 5:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying I agree with a bandwidth cap, particularly if advertised as unlimited. But I do think it would be difficult for a user to legally exceed 250GB/month in most scenarios.
I have a lot of difficulty exceeding even 150GB regardless of the legality of the content. Even with my unlimited USENET access, I'd really have to go out of my way to do it.

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