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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 Lerianis on 4/8/2010 5:03:59 AM , Rating: 1
You are making a big assumption that there would be increased censorship. Personally, I don't see that happening in the slightest. Every single time people have complained about 'increased negative anything' with nationalized services, when you look at the PRIVATELY RUN services, they have just as many problems.

RE: No regulation
By Lerianis on 4/8/2010 5:10:14 AM , Rating: 2
On another point, since I pressed post before I was done:

Just as many problems, but not always the same problems.

RE: No regulation
By knutjb on 4/8/2010 1:31:54 PM , Rating: 2
You are making a big assumption that there would be increased censorship. Personally, I don't see that happening in the slightest. Every single time people have complained about 'increased negative anything' with nationalized services, when you look at the PRIVATELY RUN services, they have just as many problems.

You are making a moral relativism argument where it doesn't really matter who runs it both are terrible. In a lightly regulated market with a number of providers I can pick the best service for me and change whenever I want, when government runs it you have a number of bureaucratic problems and YOU DON'T GET TO CHOOSE.

Congress writes vague laws for the most part, go read the health care law or any other bill/law. It the goes down the chain with each level writing what the bureaucrats think should be in it and they are usually faceless nameless entities. Finally you get whatever they decide.

I know this because I spent 21 years in it much of it having to look back up that chain to figure out how some crazy interpretations ended up handicapping the end user. Changing those crazy rules is not easy. It can take years to find out who did what and why, let alone fix it.

Much of the time someone was trying to fix a general problem in one specific area but it ends up applying across the board, due to a lack of understanding or concern with how it impacts downstream rules. Usually it ends up with a very painful, rippling affect.

If the government were to do what it is supposed to, that is, regulate lightly , not restrict the market to just a few cherry picked providers so some gov entity can earn a "fee" which is just another name for taxes.

Current government rules only allow a handful of companies to monopolize a market, are overreaching, and stifle the open market. They limit choice, prevent competition, and lock the consumer into our current predicament, crummy service for many through lack of choice.

Don't fall for the "government can do it better" socialism BS. Nothing is ever free because the money will come from somewhere and that will be you.

Before complaining about a system learn how it works.

RE: No regulation
By Lerianis on 4/9/2010 10:34:32 AM , Rating: 2
"Congress writes vague laws"

Do you know why they do that? A very simple reason: so if something that comes in the future that they wanted to cover under the law appears, they won't have to go back and make an entirely NEW law for the thing in question.

It's meant to save on complexity of the legal code, although I have to admit that a lot of times it has the exact opposite effect.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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