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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: this
By LyCannon on 4/7/2010 4:34:40 PM , Rating: 2

I can't believe people think that there should be no regulation in anything, you know, cause corporations are so honest and ethical when dealing with their customers...

While I do agree that the free market can fix many of the problems, it will not work in this case.

The main driving goal behind a free market is that companies will compete with each other for customers. And it works great when the cost to enter or exit an industry is fairly low. However, the exorbitant cost of setting up even a town-sized broadband network prevents newer and/or smaller competitors from crating businesses. This prevents competition.

When will Comcast stop throttling their users and capping the bandwidth? When they lose enough customers so that the profits lost exceeds the cost of upgrading their network.

When will this happen? It won't! Why? Because there is lack of competition in many of the places where Comcast operates. Without competition, users have no choice but submit themselves to the whims of a company. Either you go with Comcast, get dialup, or not get online.

Government regulation in this case keeps the company from screwing it's customers from the power of its oligopoly (Google it if you don't know what it is).

Regulation is a good thing, when used in the manner in which is was designed for.

In the case of Comcast, the solution is simple...Allow the company to traffic shape/cap/whatever in areas where there are at least two other MAJOR broadband companies providing service. In places with only one or zero competitors, prevent any type of traffic shaping. If Comcast can't handle those areas, let them leave that area. A new business will be able to pick up.

RE: this
By zombiexl on 4/7/2010 5:34:43 PM , Rating: 2
The problem in this case is regulation. It is almost impossible for a new cable company to start in an area. The local government's are the one's who decide which cable company they'll allow to operate in your community. They do this to get that little kickback called the "Franchise Fee". Look at your Comcast (or other cable) bill, you'll find it.

RE: this
By Lerianis on 4/8/2010 5:13:44 AM , Rating: 2
The problem isn't the regulation in that case. You are saying that it is BECAUSE of the regulation that businesses cannot get into this arena.... that is not the case in the slightest. The PROHIBITIVE COSTS are the problem here, not the regulation.

RE: this
By foolsgambit11 on 4/8/2010 11:37:13 PM , Rating: 2
So you're saying the federal government should enact regulations on the scope of local government.... When you say "the problem in this case is regulation", you mean the lack of regulation?

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