The Net Neutrality Debate Is About Companies & Politicians Own Posturing

This net neutrality debate is getting ugly, political and only going to get worse. Cutting through all the garbage arguments and posturing by companies and politicians makes it clear that they want what’s best for their bottom line and politicians just want to stay popular. The President says, “the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality” but then says “the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act“. You can’t have both. If new rules are made, then you don’t need to reclassify anything under Title II. The President also says that, “no paid prioritization” should take place, but Title II does not cover interconnect deals.

Not to mention, the deals between Netflix and the ISPs don’t involve prioritization of Netflix’s traffic, at any level. Netflix pays to get a direct connection to Comcast’s network, but both companies have publicly said the data itself is not being prioritized. So how does Title II solve the Netflix/ISP issues? It doesn’t. Also, do we know of a single instance where an ISP is actually doing paid prioritization? I have yet to see a single example. So while it’s ok to say it should not happen, people talk about it like it’s something that keeps occurring. [Cogent was just caught doing it. See: “Cogent Now Admits They Slowed Down Netflix’s Traffic, Creating A Fast Lane & Slow Lane” and “Cogent’s Favoring Of Packets Disregards FCC Rules“]

The FCC was created to be an independent regulatory agency with no involvement from politics, yet the White House now throws their hat into the ring, which is pointless since they have no authority. Politicians and policy lawyers want to use net neutrality for their own agenda, without any transparency. Content owners like Netflix and the ISPs are also guilty as they have released very limited data to the public, that can’t really be reviewed without a lot of supporting documentation, which we don’t have, and is needed so we can see the bigger picture. Any company can slice off a portion of their overall data and make it look positive for their agenda, which is what’s been done.

I also find it funny that the President said that net neutrality has “been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation“, except that we didn’t even have that term until around seven years ago. The Internet is older than seven years. The President goes on to say he is asking the FCC “to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.” Except about 1 million of those comments were against Title II regulations, but as politicians like to do, they use the numbers as they see fit to their advantage. Yes, 75% of the comments were for it, but then use the real numbers, don’t inflate them. This is the problem in having a conversation on the topic of net neutrality because so often, very little in the way of real facts and numbers are used, not taken out of context.

There has never been any rule or understanding that certain networks must carry traffic for free. A lot of networks engage in settlement free peering, but that is purely at their option, as a business decision. If some want to argue that needs to change and be regulated, then lets review their proposals. Problem is, the companies arguing for change haven’t put forth any proposals on how they want to see it work in today’s economy. Where are their proposals? So far, I haven’t seen a single one, other than to say they want Title II reclassification, or free access to the ISP networks. That’s not a “proposal”, it’s an idea, with no details included to allow anyone to determine what the impact to content owners, ISPs and consumers would be. It’s easy for some to throw around terms like Title II and create wish lists of how regulation should happen without scratching the surface of what it really means to broadband companies and the entire Internet ecosystem. What’s the impact, both positive and negative, for everyone involved?

If ISPs got reclassified under Title II, no one is asking what that would mean for quality of video content being delivered to consumers. People assume that means the quality would improve, which is a big assumption. When Netflix did their paid interconnection deal with Comcast, they got three SLAs from Comcast. An install SLA, packet loss SLA and latency SLA. If ISPs get reclassified and have to provide access to their networks for free, where is there any language under Title II that says what the quality of that access has to be? Free access to their networks would be done on a “best effort” approach. If you look at the SLAs at some of the ISPs, it has language like “service is provided on a best efforts basis and cannot be guaranteed.” So while the topic of access and interconnects keeps coming up, no one is discussing or suggesting what QoS metrics need to be tied to that. Quantity means nothing without quality!

Without re-writing Title II language, classifying ISPs under Title II won’t fix anything. We need new language or better yet, a new law, not reclassification of an old law, applied to today’s economy. Title II allows for discrimination according to source of content and other factors. That’s what people don’t want, yet they are still calling for Title II classification to be enacted. That shows just how illogical this whole debate has become. Net neutrality is a an incredibly complex set of problems that people keep trying to simplify and politicians try to turn into sound bytes. As long as it continues like this, the net neutrality debate is not going to be solved anytime soon and we should expect more delays, unclear language, lawsuits, non-transparent data and politics instead of common sense. Be careful what you wish for.

  • Jon_Irenicus

    Dan, go look at network operations in other places in the world, and compare to see how they are handling network traffic and congestion. Stop pretending as if there is no data of alternative models than pay to play in other regions of the world we can take a look at.

    It reminds me of conservative/libertarian types decrying government involvement in healthcare, presuming that the current status quo is the ideal, because? Because it’s how we’ve done it. Lovely argument there. Empty of any persuasive force other than tradition for traditions sake. With healthcare, there are scores of nations the world over with different approaches to healthcare, more government, less, more free market with some subsidies, some with less. We can compare and contrast to see which produces the better results… or we can act like the typical american conservative, shut our brains off, and presume that how we’ve currently been operating is by definition the ideal operation.

    I actually don’t know the answer, which system produces the highest speeds? The least congestion? The lowest prices for the best service?

    • danrayburn

      Who said there are no alternative models to how things work now? I specifically said, “lets review their proposals”. But to date, the company and people complaining about how it has worked for so long have not offered up any proposals on how they now want it to work. What’s the point in complaining if you don’t want to do the work to explain how it can be fixed, but instead, simply say let the government do it.

      • Jon_Irenicus

        I do think it would be instructive for netflix and other large streaming companies like google with youtube to commission comparative throughput studies like m-labs performed in different countries with different peering models. I’m certainly in no position to perform those experiments as a lay person.

  • rrowntree

    preview Ted Cruz’s internet where the net, the FCC, and congress owned by Comcast… https://medium.com/backchannel/jammed-e474fc4925e4

  • Title II Is Not The Answer

    Dan as usual you see right through all the nonsense. Media wants Title II, but it allows for the very thing they say consumers don’t want. I really wonder if mainstream media has even read the language of Title II. As you mention, Title II language allows for discrimination but that’s what we don’t want.

    We expect mainstream media to be idiots on a topic like this, but I can’t believe how many so called “tech sites” who are suppose to know this stuff inside out can’t even get it right. Any tech site that says Title II is the answer, I know right away it means they haven’t done their homework.

  • wscaddie56

    Thanks for pointing out how dumb everyone else is. I can’t see any suggested way forward or how the debate should be framed to address the real issues at hand so I fail to see how this article helps the issues you raise.

    • danrayburn

      As I said, “We need new language or better yet, a new law, not reclassification of an old law, applied to today’s economy.”

    • BillBasham

      What happens if comcast gets unreasonable with Netflix? Is Netflix then incentivized to partner with Google or another comcast competitor? That sounds like exactly what I want, and I’m sure comcast will do nearly anything to avoid it.

      Regulation will lock in the incumbents. That doesn’t sound like the kind of internet I want to have 10 years from now.

      • danrayburn

        They can’t in the near term. Netflix has locked in a price with Comcast, via a contract, that lasts at least 7 years. Comcast can’t change the price or all of a sudden decide to increase their fee.

        • libertyftw

          Again, I’m left speechless here. Why would I want to create this SAME PROBLEM when 7 years is up? Why are you looking at short-term solutions?

          The ability to provide fast and unfettered access are mutually beneficial to both companies, which is why interconnect deals were historically not made among these companies.

          You COULD make the case that Comcast, Verizon, or any other provider does not benefit as much as someone like Google by speeding up internet access for a consumer. If you do, you then make another case for net neutrality: that there’s not enough players in the market that it operates competitively.

          • danrayburn

            I’m not looking at a short term solution, I’m saying the opposite. Create new language/law. Don’t stick it under Title II which won’t fix anything, will make it worse and will give people the false impression that the probem is now resolved.

            As the FCC said, this is complex, it takes time and they want to get it right. Good, that’s what they need to do and hopefully will.

          • libertyftw

            The current political climate won’t allow that. A bill coming to the floor has no chance of passing in the next two years.

            This is the most important issue we’re facing this century. What the FCC should do is exactly what FDR did with the TCA of 1934 — ensure they have legal precedent to take their action steps and move forward.

            We agree on a lot though: Title II is just the tip of the iceberg. The FCC does need to ensure that the last mile is protected, and I hope they spend time to do that right.

  • Highly disingenuous article. For one, you focus on the term net neutrality being coined several years ago, when the true debate is over the *concept*. In addition, no one is asking that content be delivered for free; rather, the complaint is that carriers want to charge twice for the same delivery. Finally, you omitted some context from Obama’s speech. He wants carriers reclassified with the caveat that a special version of Title II *may* need to created.

    • danrayburn

      There is no “concept”. This wasn’t talked about 10 years ago, it’s only just come up recently. Many say they don’t want ISPs to be able to block or slow down certain kinds of content based on different variables. Ok, but that’s within the last mile. And to date, have we seen any ISPs do this? Not saying they won’t, but people talk about it as if it’s a practice that goes on today, within last mile networks. Where’s the data to show it’s a problem?

      Netflix is asking that access fees that ISPs charge at interconnection points be free. Quote, “The Commission should ensure that

      access fees imposed at the point of interconnection are prohibited.” But that’s not within the last mile, so what Netflix is asking for and what Title II speaks to are not the same thing. Both are not covered under Title II.

      “may” be needed. Since Title II does not cover interconnections today, unless special langage is added/created, it’s not a “may be”. It’s a requirement.

      • ksj

        I don’t think you understand the technologies involved. At all.

        I know you don’t know a thing about the actual history involved with peering agreements, transit costs, and who’s double-dipping.

        ISP customers pay their ISP for access to the internet. They want to stream video, browse the web, whatever. They paid for the access. Not access to Comcast’s other users on Comcast’s network only, for example.

        Comcast accepted the contract from the customer and then wants to charge the content providers they told their customers they would be able to access as well. That’s double-dipping anyway you look at it.

        And let’s remember that Comcast, et al, sold that service with “speeds of up to ‘X'”. Not “speeds up to ‘X’ unless you are accessing Netflix, YouTube, Microsoft, Hulu, etc.).

        Oh, and forcing a paid direct connection into their network is absolutely a form of prioritization.

        But I’m not going to waste my time trying to explain it all to a cable industry shill…

        • danrayburn

          Nothing was “forced”. Netflix could have used CDNs like Akamai, that they used in the past, which don’t have any issues sending traffic into ISPs. Netflix had alternatives.

          You’re confusing “speeds” as in broadband access with interconnects. One has nothing to do with the other. Netflix is talking about access fees that ISPs charge at interconnection points, nothing to do with broadband speed.

          “cable industry shill”. lies don’t discredit anyone, only the truth does. so calling me a “shill” for the cable industry doesn’t mean anything. it’s pointless.

        • Michael Turk

          So I assume you think that cable is also double dipping by charging customers to watch programming and advertisers to reach those customers. Even though all of that money is pooled to pay for the programmin, build the network, etc. Multiple revenue streams that spread cost to consumers is simple business mechanics.

      • You’re either uninformed on this topic or choose to ignore critical details.

    • Michael Turk

      “In addition, no one is asking that content be delivered for free; rather, the complaint is that carriers want to charge twice for the same delivery.”

      Make no mistake, that isn’t what is happening. What is happening is that the cost is split between two parties – the customer and Netflix. What Netflix wants is for their share to be as low as possible and the customer’s share to be higher and spread out across all customers – not just the ones who use the service.

      Think of another cable service as an analogy – TV. Cable TV had a dual revenue stream of subscriber revenue and advertising revenue. The subscriber cost has risen dramatically as the revenue from advertising has fallen due to TiVo and timeshifting.

      The idea that there is a double payment is ridiculous. Net Neutrality – as defined by Netflix to include peering agreements – will guarantee that all ISP customers pay more, while a rebuke would ensure that only Netflix customers would be asked to pay.

      It’s ironic that so many people who want to spread bandwidth costs across all customers also want a la carte so they don’t have to pay for services they don’t use.

      • libertyftw

        The infrastructure built by telephone companies and cable companies were heavily subsidized – if not entirely subsdized by me. By you. By your next door neighbor.

        The idea that you don’t have a choice of your provider – on infrastructure you built – seems bit ridiculous, no? There’s a fantasy out there that it feels like you’re buying into — that private equity funds or stockholders or companies built the infrastructure.

        I wish they did. This problem may be simpler then. The reality is that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

        • Michael Turk

          Telcos were built out with subsidies. Cable was not. There is a specious argument that because they use public rights of way that cable is subsidized, but cable pays franchise fees to access those rights of way and pole attachment fees to attach to utility poles. So that’s simply not true.

      • I’m not making a mistake. What I posted is accurate, and you are incorrect.

        Example:

        As a Verizon FIOS customer I like to watch content on Netflix. I can’t reasonably do this on a slow connection, so I pay a premium for fast broadband. This is common for Netflix customers.

        Verizon charges us handsomely for the privilege.

        But they’re not content to stop there. They also want to charge Netflix a premium for pushing bandwidth-demanding content. Problem is, Netflix will pass that on to us customers– who have already paid the premium for high bandwidth.

        Amazes me how naive people can be on this topic.

        • markcuban

          If you use too much water, the water company charges you more. If you use too much electricity the utility raises your rates. If you go to a business that consumes a lot of water and electricity, they charge them more as well and that is reflected in the cost you pay for their products. All in an effort to reduce consumption

          The internet is a utility. For the most part unregulated which allows it to take the twists and turns needed to evolve with new technology.

          Let the market figure out where investment should be made.

          If the ISPs/Interconnects were smart they would all publicly agree to a customer bill of rights and work with a 3rd party that they are transparent with to ensure it happens. Neuter Net Neutrality before it happens.

          Explain where and how they will offer prioritized service. Explain that they will never block a customer’s access to a website or service (if legal), Make it public and allow for comments. Then live with it.

          If they cant follow it, then they should expect government intervention for their stupidity, and we can all hate them even more

          Where i agree with Dan is to be careful what you ask for. This is being positioned as a fight between two evil empires. Big ISPs and Government . Which is the least of two evils.

          Im on the No Net Neutrality side because I like where we have gotten with the internet so far and I guess Im an optimist about its future on the current path we are on.
          I dont see what Netflix does or doesnt do as being relevant because the promise of the internet is not showing movies. (disclosure i own a lot of Netflix stock)

          I do think the internet is a utility and has been for a decade now. But as an unregulated (for the most part ) utility it has thrived. Im not concerned with incumbent companies dominating an unregulated internet, because the beauty of the internet is that companies that act like incumbents rarely stay incumbent.

          That changes when their industries gets regulated. If you want the dominant companies to continue, regulate the internet. The one certainty in this country is that incumbents will try to buy anything they think can be bought, including politicians and their parties.

          Give me continuity of a mostly unregulated environment that has succeeded any day of the week over regulation.

          The scorecard for one vs the other isnt even close

          • I see you completely missed what I wrote. People who use more ARE paying more, upfront. No need to charge them twice for one service.

          • markcuban

            You arent required to tell them what you stream. They dont know what QOS you need. You probably have a cap on total bandwidth but its not weighted in any way for the QOS you need to get movies. As a result they have to build and spend more as more people want to be able to stream movies .

            If you were using the same bandwidth instead to download files that can be interrupted, the cost to support your needs is less.

            its not just how much bandwidth you use, its how you use it, how many people use it and what their expectations are. Thats specific to streaming movies and has a different cost to provide

          • You continue to miss the point. People who consume heavy services like Netflix tend to purchase the highest-performing carrier package they can afford, to ensure decent service. Again: they’re already paying for their high consumption.

          • Naw, it’s not that simple. ISP costs are functions of capacity, distance, and volume. The volume-related costs that Netflix users impose on the Internet should be paid for by Netflix and their users, not by the grannies who only send a few emails and look at pics of the grandkids.

          • It’s simple enough. The “volume-related costs that Netflix users impose on the Internet” ARE already paid for by Netflix users, as I stated. Your hypothetical grannies are straw men.

          • So why is Netflix trying to get unlimited carriage for free? They clearly haven’t paid for it.

          • The carrier customers are paying for it. Try to keep up.

          • Actually they aren’t. ISPs estimate usage-based costs and allocate them equally across all the bills that their customers pay. Outliers don’t pay their fair share under this system. So what happens is the ISP customers who are light users are subsidizing the heavy users. Now you could argue that ISPs should all go to usage-based pricing to correct the inequities, but that approach only works if you believe we should all pay our fair share. It sounds like you feel entitled to get something for nothing.

          • Who’s talking outliers? Another straw man. Netflix users are paying their fair share. Solved.

            Anyway it’s been explained to you and you continue to ignore reality. Your choice.

          • You’re dodging, but at least you’re trying to make sense. So there’s that. What you fail to realize is that there’s a disconnect between the prices that broadband consumers pay to ISPs and the ISPs’ costs of providing service: flat rate pricing doesn’t capture variable costs. Netflix has the same problem because it also has flat-rate pricing for streaming (but not for DVDs) while its costs are related to users, views, and differential content prices. I know this is complicated, but reality tends to be that way (outside of Texas, where things are always simple).

          • Jon_Irenicus

            Some ISPs have caps that address higher usage, but almost all ISPs have different tiers of internet service that allow for higher or lower bandwidth to the home.

            In Los Angeles where time warner cable recently (read FINALLY) completed a network upgrade, internet packages range from 15 dollars per month (for 3mbps down) to 65 dollars per month (for up to 300 mbps down). These are promotional pricing, but let’s use those for the moment.

            A “granny” who does not stream a bunch of video content has ZERO need to pay more than 15 dollars per month for service. The bandwidth tiers create a sort of natural sorting of people who actually NEED to and actually do USE more bandwidth vs those who do not. This is not to be contested, no matter how many times you try to deny this with weasel words like everyone “paying their fair share.”

            I’m paying 40 dollars more per month than that “granny” for 100 mbps down. This is done EXPLICITLY so that I have better streaming capability and speeds for downloads. I am not paying an identical cost to that granny, I am paying more through a higher bandwidth tier. It’s not a direct analogue for direct usage based billing, but it is pretty damn close.
            The fact that costs are variable is irrelevant. The question is whether those variable costs, on average, are costing the ISP enough money that they can’t bother to upgrade the interconnects into their network serving traffic on their own. My suspicion is that that answer to the question is a clear NO.
            And more to the point, what is the point of paying more money at all for 100-300 mbps down if the interconnects that bring that content into the ISP is so saturate that video stutters during certain times of the day? With respect to your attitude and standards, I don’t give a @#$% about 100 mbps down speeds to a tiem warner cable intranet, I want and expect best efforts from BOTH the network itself AND the interconnects into the network from players around the web, because BOTH of those are critical and under the aegis of control of the ISP. Perfectly reasonable, unless you are a Ted Cruz type.

          • Capacity (what you’re calling “bandwidth”) and usage are two different things, and they have different costs. To make this more understandable, let me re-type it for you: BANDWIDTH is not the SAME as USAGE.

            The main reason to buy higher capacity is to get faster interactive response when you’re playing Call of Duty or whatever shoot-em-up game you’re currently playing. The reason to buy more usage is to download/upload lots and lots of content. Gaming doesn’t move tons of data, but it does want to move it quickly.

          • Jon_Irenicus

            So what? Usage during peak viewing hours is more taxing to an ISP than usage during off peak hours, the reason they do not bother creating some Rube Goldberg like billing model to highlight the tiniest slivers of minutia that goes into the actual costs is because it does not matter. The average of the entire network matters.
            Heavier people cost more to fly than thinner/lighter people. You already see airlines charging for additional bags, should they create a scheme where bigger people have more expensive tickets? It’s only FAIR right? Who cares that some dude was genetically inclined to be 6.3 feet tall and weigh more than some 5 foot 8 waif.
            The light people of the world are SUBSIDIZING the taller/heavier/fatter people.
            Yes, SO WHAT. Life is not perfectly fair, deal with it.
            All the ISP has to do is make sure it has more capacity than peak demand during peak times. And the fact that some people contribute more to the demand during those peak times is part of the reason for being of the ISP, it’s their JOB to deal with that, and those EXTRA FEES the average higher bandwidth user is ALREADY paying should go towards helping them address those issues. IF that is truly not enough, then do as I’ve suggested, open up the freaking books, let us ALL see those unbearable cost burdens that the poor little LARGEST ISP in the US Comcast can’t seem to cope with, while smaller players like cablevision and sonic and google fiber seem to be able to handle just fine.

          • Your caps lock key gets an unfair amount of abuse, but I like your point about the unfairness of life. Please communicate that to Netflix the next time they whine about interconnection prices.

  • Fanfoot

    Well, you’re certainly not helping. The whole article reads as a rebuke of Obama, which I assume is what you intended.

    Why is he talking about paid prioritization? Well, the obvious reason is that the FCC was/is considering rules to allow it. So he’s saying don’t do that. Pretty straight-forward. Somehow you missed that part?

    Why Title II? Well, the Verizon ruling said that without reclassifying broadband as Title II the FCC has no authority to tell the broadband providers what to do. Also pretty straight-forward. Certainly Congress *could* pass something new to allow the FCC to do something different, but under the current legal framework this is the only option they have.

    Can Title II be applied indiscriminately? Well no of course not. There’s lots of stuff that isn’t relevant and nobody has suggested otherwise. Well, except maybe your reductio ab adsurdum article…

    More and more its obvious where you stand, and this sort of article diminishes your credibility.

  • libertyftw

    I see some of the commenters are tearing apart this article, and I’m inclined to agree. However nobody mentioned the most hilarious part of the piece. I physically face-palmed when I read this:

    “I also find it funny that the President said that net neutrality has “been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation“, except that we didn’t even have that term until around seven years ago. The Internet is older than seven years.”

    First of all, just because we don’t identify something by name, does not mean it doesn’t exist.

    Second of all, it did exist. Prior to broadband, the internet was networked using telephone lines which are – and I can’t believe no one called you out for this yet – protected by the Telecommunications Act of 1934.

    Further reading in one of the public comments: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022417994

    Having been one of the first internet families in my city, I can’t really be misled. But It’s sad to think that someone who’s trying to learn more about their government and their economy are being deceived by articles like this one.

    I’d actually ask that you retract that deceptive statement or elaborate on it with a comment. The term ‘net neutrality’ didn’t exist; the concept of net neutrality, however, absolutely did.

    • libertyftw

      If you want a source that isn’t an FCC comment: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140814/18050528220/ny-times-says-fcc-should-reclassify-broadband-under-title-ii.shtml

      Again, the idea that the internet does not exist because of its Title II protections isn’t true. Even a slight allusion to the contrary calls your expertise into question. Please deliver on this.

      • danrayburn

        Who said the internet does not exist because of its Title II protections isn’t true? I didn’t make that point.

        • libertyftw

          —-
          I also find it funny that the President said that net neutrality has “been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation“, except that we didn’t even have that term until around seven years ago.
          —–

          You’re correct. To paraphrase you correctly this time, you said that you find the president’s statement funny. Why’s it funny? Network neutrality was defended with the protection of Title II. Do you see anything wrong with that? Do you believe network neutrality existed before 7 years ago?

          I suspect you do. I suspect you’re already aware of all of this — that the cable companies took your taxpayer subsidies, took tax breaks for what was likely billed as public works projects, implemented a monopoly based on an idea that they are not common carriers, set up sub-standard internet speeds, and acted as if they weren’t subject to government regulation.

          https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131012/02124724852/decades-failed-promises-verizon-it-promises-fiber-to-get-tax-breaks-then-never-delivers.shtml

          With all the hard data at your disposal, I’d rather see you give recommendations to the FCC for how to write regulations that includes settlement-free peering. Based on your article, you’ve convinced me we need it.

          Anti-neutrality arguments aren’t rooted in history or technology. So if not that, what are they rooted in?

          • danrayburn

            Would love to make recommendations, but Netflix and the ISPs won’t share the data, publicly, that we all need to make a good case for how it does/does not need to change. Can’t make recommendations without the data, which we don’t have a complete picture of.

          • libertyftw

            I don’t necessarily know that having only Netflix’s data would be all that relevant. Substitute ‘Netflix’ with ‘all streaming video.’ It helps to do that, because the ISP’s seem to be making this about the success of Netflix.

            Streaming HD video and emerging technology is the cause of higher traffic. Netflix isn’t. Netflix is simply a provider. If Netflix went out of business right now, another content provider would be right there to do the same.

            If the market (who subsidized your instrastructure) is steadily increasing demand, it’s on the providers we subsidized to increase supply. If that wasn’t the deal they wanted, don’t take taxpayer money?

            The jump to digital has shareholders scared out of their minds (I don’t blame them) and the solution the cable companies have is to charge you and I more for an infrastructure we paid for.

            That’s not an option. We have a precedent in place that was well-written in 1934 and applicable today. This isn’t a strong case on the ISP side.

    • danrayburn

      Comparing “telephone lines” with langauge that was created for them in 1934 doens’t apply to today’s economy or Internet. If it did, then we would not be discussing the need for new laguage/laws.

      • libertyftw

        You didn’t really address the point. I’ll be more direct — Do you believe that the concept of net neutrality existed before 7 years ago?

        I will address your point for a minute — which (I think) is that “because technology has advanced, cable fiber is different than telephone lines when you’re considering them as infrastructure.”

        This could not be less of the case. Cable providers, telephone providers, anyone who is utilizing the wireless spectrum, railways, airlines, etc. who are receiving public money to provide an “interstate good” should be (read: are) subject to rules in the Commerce Clause. (Whose text and subsequent judicial interpretations were how the Telecommunications Act of 1934 was born.)

        I suggest getting a bottle of wine (trust me, you’ll need it) and reading through the Telecommunications Act (boring as anything) as well as the intent behind its birth. Then come back and take another swing at this article. In its current form, it’s not credible.

        • Zack Sargent

          Liberty, the spirit behind the Telecom Act of 1996 was broken in 2005 when “unbundling” died. But let’s roll back before that, shall we?

          Back in the 1980’s, we all dialed into SELECTED systems. They had certain content, and were not really interconnected. (Although FIDO was really ahead of it’s time, eh?) Maybe you got a service like Prodigy or Compuserve, and then you had access to some much larger libraries of content. All of which was curated by the service provider.

          Fast forward to the 1990’s, and this Internet thing starts to pop up. This is where the market drove interconnection and access: People wanted access to all of it in one shot. That’s what we’ve come to expect as the “open” Internet.

          That genie is out of the bottle. We’re not going back to the days of Prodigy, here, if someone has a “fast lane” and someone doesn’t.

        • markcuban

          Actually in the late 90s, any interconnect/ISP was more than willing to let me pay for premium service to deliver video and more importantly from my end, enable multicasting so that i could offer a premium video delivery service to the few broadband customers and businesses i could reach back then

          • IsThisGuySerious

            Nope. You are missing the point. Most companies already cap out your
            maximum bandwidth or offer faux-unlimited, meaning you do in fact pay for a higher maximum
            TOTAL usage. The more TOTAL BANDWIDTH you use, the higher plan you require (This is independent in theory of Mbps cap). If
            they cannot provide the speed sold with any service capable, they lied.
            Period. Please come down to earth with us plebs, thanks.

    • Michael Turk

      Actually, it didn’t. The only thing that any neutrality applied to was a phone line because that is the only thing that was regulated. Because phone lines were regulated, the telcos slow-rolled the deployment of DSL for 15 years. The cable industry pushed forward with building a broadband network and were – from the start – classified as an information service, not a telephone service.

      When Brand X sued cable under the open access provisions of the telephone regulation, they lost. The Supreme Court rightfully found that broadband is not the same as making a phone call (radical, I know). The telephone companies immediately petitioned the FCC to find that their data services were also not phone, and the FCC agreed (because they aren’t).

      • libertyftw

        You’re making the case that the telephone companies intentionally slow-rolled DSL deployment – meaning they fixed the market on this – because of The Telecommunications Act? That’s probably the strongest argument to classify cable companies as Title II common carrier yet.

        Along with taking your tax dollars to build fiber you paid for and then not doing it (https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131012/02124724852/decades-failed-promises-verizon-it-promises-fiber-to-get-tax-breaks-then-never-delivers.shtml) , that infrastructure is a public good. That fiber is being subsidized by taxpayer dollars and I’m happy to pay cable companies for setting that up for me and maintaining it.

        What I’m not happy to do is pretend that Comcast is responsible for the internet infrastructure and grant them a monopoly on something I paid for. That’s where anti-neutrality arguments fall apart.

        • Michael Turk

          It’s not a question of “market fixing” it’s a question of choosing not to invest in a new technology if you have to give it away to competitors.

          Or do you think Google fixes the market by dropping services like Wave?

      • That’s not what the Supreme Court decided in 2005. They ruled on the FCC’s power of discretion.

        The Supreme Court ruled that, even though it was clear that internet access over cable lines was more clearly a “telecom service” than an “information service”, the FCC has broad authority to classify services as it wishes.

        Which makes it just as easy for the FCC to put broadband internet service under Title II.

        • Michael Turk

          It made the decision that SINCE it had classified it as Title II the open access provisions did not apply. It ALSO said they had leeway to change that, and they’re contemplating doing that. However, the FCC is on record already saying they felt that cclassification was correct and re classifying telcos broadband. So the best outcome you get, without a more substantial telecom act rewrite, is a political football that can be reclassified under every Administration.

          • Yes, the football reclassification possibility is an issue. This is, in fact, the crux of Justice Scalia’s dissent in the BrandX case. Scalia argued that it was clear that broadband fell under Title II as a “telecom service” and giving the FCC “Chevron” leeway to choose otherwise was a mistake.

          • Title II was written for telephone service, not the “enhanced services” (in the language of the Telecom Act) like Internet Service Providers offer.

            The FCC’s reasoning for classifying broadband under Title I was that the service combined pure data transfer – the Title II service – with a strong information processing element, the stuff that makes routing work, email, web sites, DoS mitigation, spam mitigation, etc. IT companies like Amazon and Akamai do some data transfer too, but they also do a lot more, so they’re Title I services too.

  • jetsfan17

    Some of you make no sense in trying to argue your points. Dan is clear in saying that Ttitle II does NOT cover paid interconnect deals. That’s a fact. So Title II alone wont fix the problem. If you want to fix the problem, discuss how that can be done. Title II can’t fix it.

    Trying to argue over whether or not the idea of net neutraility existed before the Internet in the era of phone lines is simply dumb. Who cares. It doesn’t fix the problem at hand which is that there are a lot of very complex pieces here, as Dan points out, and politicans and some companies are tryign to make it simple, when it’s not.

    Simply reclassifying the ISPs as Title II carriers will trigger a vast flood of litigation, but bring little relief to consumers who simply want unfettered access to the Internet. Dan tweeted out earlier that “Many states impose taxes and fees on Title II services that they do not assess on broadband. Bills would go up for some.” Why is no one discussing that? Do we want our bills to go up? No one is talk real facts and details.

    We should look at the impact on EVERYONE involved in this debate, and there should be transparency from the companies, on both sides, yet we have none. Again, no one seems to be making this into an issue either, when that’s the biggest issue. Give us the info and let us decide. But we can’t, because we don’t have the details, as Dan has pointed out over and over again.

    • Jon_Irenicus

      I don’t disagree that title II alone, without going after the interconnects, will not solve the issues. I just chafe against giving the ISPs a pass when it comes to how they treat traffic at the interconnects when the actual cost structure is such a black box.

      I think the best way to solve the issues is to have better players enter the market that are not cable/telecom companies. That includes municipal broadband.

  • black friday deals: http://bit.ly/1sYYbUJ

  • Dan Rayburn misses the point of the President’s announcement, characterizing it as essentially pointless and futile. The wealthiest, most powerful interests in distributing media are drooling for the chance to create the equivalent of “toll roads” on the internet, and further fatten their already ample profits and cement their entrenched positions among MVPDs with no true competition and feeble regulation at best . The internet is the basis for countless business innovations over the past two decades–just as important it is a new source of liberty and freedom of expression globally for billions of people. It has also been a critical tool promoting social justice and protest for people living under the shadow of oppressive regimes. The internet to an extent allows any business or voice with the ability to publish content or distribute an app–the potential of innovation or affirmation in the marketplace, or in the theater of global online popularity. This medium is not the province or property of any one nation or regulatory body, and it shouldn’t be. The president does have a power implied by our constitution, referred to in the past century as the “bully pulpit.” In his announcement, the President has signaled that the internet should not be parceled into commercial subscription channels for faster access owned by the wealthiest and most powerful interests among communications “providers.” They already profit from charging consumers, households, and businesses for that access. What’s at risk here is a tool that has opened up new venues for societal and global innovation–and dissent. Once it’s backbones are carved up and sold to the highest bidder, the internet’s more “noble” attributes will be compromised. We can’t allow that to happen.

    • Zack Sargent

      Riptyde, I’m not sure what the f___ you are talking about, here. Just like Net Neutrality on the whole, the assumption of a “backbone” is a 2005 concept that no longer exists. Netflix connects to Comcast. There’s no “backbone” anymore to be “carved up.” Do you even see the dissonance between the “decades of innovation” with minimal government meddling and asking the government to force certain behavior now? (Especially based on straw man “if” thinking and “maybe” crimes?)

      As to “toll roads,” they have existed for a long time as private peers. Make no mistake, Netflix deserves to pay a toll: They consume 1/3 of Internet bandwidth. This isn’t about dissenters or mom-and-pop shops, it’s about the largest freakin’ freeloader on consumer networks in history. Add Amazon, YouTube and Porn and you get about 75% of the traffic out there. Streaming media is a distinct app with distinct needs for quality as the original author states. Ergo, it’s not politically correct to talk about, but they actually need a “fast lane.” Oh, and they bought some to Comcast and Verizon. Imagine that …

  • Matt_F6

    Dan Rayburn’s question of “do we know of a single instance where an ISP is actually doing paid prioritization?” can be simply answered with “Yes”. You simply have to go back to Dan’s article 5 days ago, where “Cogent Now Admits They Slowed Down Netflix’s Traffic, Creating A Fast Lane & Slow Lane”.

    http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2014/11/cogent-now-admits-slowed-netflixs-traffic-creating-fast-lane-slow-lane.html

    I hope this helps revive some short term memory.

    • danrayburn

      I would agree. But apparently many don’t see Cogent as an ISP since they don’t sell to consumers. And since the FCC’s own language is so vague, it would take a comment from the FCC to know if they think Cogent is in violation of their transparency order.

      It amazes me just how many people don’t care what Cogent did/is doing, as if they only want some people to play by the rules, but not everyone. All companies involved should have to play by equal rules, and they should be enforced. Yet, even after Cogent was caught in a clear lie, who’s holding them responsible? It seems no one. Even the media didn’t care. Clearly many, including the media, aren’t interested in what’s really taking place.

      • Zack Sargent

        Question: Why is the slow lane/fast lane bad? From a technology perspective, we have build a dozen constructs to tag and enforce differentiated quality of service over the years. So, someone starts DOING it – prioritizing Traffic A over Traffic B – and everyone gets their panties in a bunch.

        • danrayburn

          FCC says that ISPs are required to diclose it, something Cogent admidts they did not do. Shouldn’t we as consumers know what’s going on?

          • Zack Sargent

            To clarify – I don’t want to justify what Cogent has done. I’ve said elsewhere they are a terrible backbone provider, anyway. I would only use them as a last resort.

            What I’m asking is this: We invented QoS. Why can’t we use it? If a gamer wants to pay more for a “fast lane” to his favorite services, why not? If a VOIP provider (Vonage) wants to buy a “fast lane” for customers on another network, why not? Why is this considered some kind of evil? There are two kinds of folks complaining: People who are hooked on the sugar coating of “Net Neutrality” and understand almost none of the actual technology … and Netflix. So isn’t that the 800 pound gorilla, quite literally, that Netflix is 30%+ of ALL TRAFFIC? And they wanted to be “treated just like Little Joey’s Minecraft server.” The reality is that Little Joey is consuming one billionth of the bandwidth that Netflix is – or that we could support a billion Little Joey’s for each ONE Netflix. Internet congestion is CAUSED by Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, and Porn. PERIOD. So to say they don’t want to be treated any differently is like saying to the Airline, “Hey, just because I’m fat enough to take up a whole row of seats doesn’t mean I want to pay for more than one ticket!”

            Not only that, but Netflix has never peered (until this year) which is something nearly every other serious service has to do. Crap, I had to peer all over the country for a dinky little VOIP misadventure back in 2006! Just so our latency would be low enough that people wouldn’t hear echo on every phone call. But gosh, poor, overweight Netflix – it’s not fair that they have start peering.

            Zero sympathy.

          • dax

            the lack of investment to meet this demand is cause for concern- the subsidies and investments made in past – have proven that these companies didnt get it, or chose to ignore the growing demand.

            they failed

            if they were start ups, they would have BK-but because these are too big to fail- they were given monopolistic rights- and they have failed the mandate for delivering innovation. these companies have not kept up with market demands- but their are no consequences- period.

            so true innovation is bottled up and users are “taxed” by higher and higher fees –to cover up the sins of former corporate management failures.

            clearly- the internet has now become bigger than everyone assumed- and like public highways once before (there were private roadways at one time) …

            the commons good are far more important and greater than any industrialize private gain.

          • //

            NN doesn’t completely preclude the use of QoS, it only precludes Internet providers from degrading access to competitors.

          • Zack Sargent

            ^ Depends on how the rules get written. Lawmakers =/= router jockeys.

  • Zack Sargent

    Well thought article. Thank you. Now that this is in the political realm, people are just siding with the R’s and D’s regardless of the technical facts. (Starting to remind me of Global Warming – who cares what the scientists say if there are political points to score.) Nothing more embarrassing than waking up with Ted Cruz “on your side,” and then face-palming over his idiotic political hyperbole.

    Net Neutrality is bad. Anyone that knows about the technology knows this is not the answer. It was a term coined in response to the 2005 decision that last-mile owners did not have to “unbundle” their loops for competitive providers. Netflix picked up the term a couple of years ago because they did not want to be “bothered with” private peering: Something that EVERY performance sensitive content provider (think Vonage) has had to do in recent years. Boo hoo. You are over 30% of Internet bandwidth and you can’t be bothered to buy a few routers and fiber cables? Because: Net Neutrality. It’s not “fair.”

    I think the opposition simply lacks a snappy name for our point of view. I like “Peers Without Fears.”

    A last point, and it’s a bit pedantic, but a private peer IS prioritized from certain perspectives. The Comcast routing table changes when Netflix connects directly, and the private “fast lane” to Netflix is given priority for traffic. The reverse obviously happens in the Netflix network; reaching Comcast customers prioritizes the private link over the “everyone” pipe so that customers have a more direct network. By extension, this gives customers a better viewing experience (and probably saves Netflix a ton of money on their bandwidth bill, but we’ll let that slide).

    • Jon_Irenicus

      “You are over 30% of Internet bandwidth and you can’t be bothered to buy a few routers and fiber cables? Because: Net Neutrality. It’s not “fair.””

      More like they don’t want to be bothered with paying for comcasts share of the infrastructure.

      Netflix paid to deliver the content to comcast and friends door, or some party like cogent or whoever, those companies almost certainly paid to increase the number of routers and wires needed on their side of the interconnect to get the traffic into comcast, but when comcast sees all that cost on netflix side, they say they want to be paid for the privilege of increasing capacity into their network for traffic their own customers are requesting.

      They don’t want the costs covered, they want cost plus a recurring revenue stream, long after the larger up front costs of paying for new routers and wiring is finished with, they STILL want to be paid. Because traffic is Soooooooooo expensive to deal with once the hardware is built out.

      BS. Everything on comcasts network should be comcasts responsibility, including their side of the interconnects with the outside world. If netflix is using comcast to route traffic to ANOTHER network like most tier 1 networks do all the time, then it makes sense to ask a fee for that service. But when comcast is asking for fees to route traffic to… ITSELF, because THEIR NETWORK was the progenitor of the content/data requests in the first place by their paying customers, then that is out of line.

      I don’t care what you or Dan say about that, how the industry has operated, it’s a ridiculous standard and model of broadband payments you hold up as some ideal. It’s rent seeking garbage, and has everything to do with power and control going forward. Even if rates are less for companies who have SLAs TODAY, the devils deal is that the ISPs now have control over future contracts into their network, and perhaps after the time warner cable deal is a distant memory, the screws will be turned.

      • Zack Sargent

        Jon, it’s pretty simple. Comcast is going to buy a big router, locate it in some facility that costs money to maintain, pay people to configure, monitor, update, and maintain it. That cost is going to be paid by Netflix or an increase in access fees to Comcast customers. So why do you hate Comcast customers?

        • Jon_Irenicus

          Those maintenance costs should be part of the subscriber fees they are already getting paid. Don’t lie like they are not already being paid MORE from users, not everyone has the base tier speeds. I could be paying for 2mbps with time warner cable in my area, or 15mbps, or 30, but I chose 100mbps due to the fact that there are multiple streamers in the household and 4k is going to be more widespread and needs more bandwidth. THAT is us ALREADY paying MORE money to the ISP. Am I doing that for 100mbps access to a time warner cable intranet? Is ANYONE doing that? Lie to yourself Zack, but don’t lie to me or the rest of us. Does it make sense that the reason I am paying more money is to do something OTHER than be in a better position to stream video? And you are telling me it is unreasonable to expect the ISP to take on the responsibility of making sure the interconnects through which that data gets passed to its users is not saturated?

          That is where we differ, I have higher/SUPERIOR standards than you do. You expect the bare minimum for the money you pay, you have zero expectations of good faith. Pretend as if companies like tier 1 providers and netflix and google with youtube are paying NOTHING. What about the routers THEY have to buy? What about the maintenance THEY have to bankroll and the salaries THEY have to pay?

          But I don’t see them complaining, and do you know why? Because they are in a more competitive market, they don’t have time to play the rentier game trading on the knowledge that some other party HAS to go through them to get access to a customer base.

          • Zack Sargent

            Jon, I have built those backbones, and I have probably forgotten more about interconnect technology than you are ever going to know. Now that we’ve traded patronizations …

            The term “Tier 1” has been irrelevant for a decade. Which is why Net Neutrality is a non-starter. What do you think Comcast does, dump traffic onto a single “Tier 1”? No, they peer with DOZENS of other companies around the country because its required to disperse the insane amounts of bandwidth from the demand side. They peer with other services, like Box and Vonage to provide better experience to their customers. Sometimes, they charge those services for the connections.

            How much do you think an ever-increasing bandwidth demand (you mention 4k) costs? You think you can buy a router and that’s that? Never have to replace it? The interface cards just to go up to 100Mb connects cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The money you pay for your access fees is primarily spent on the “last mile.” Because you aren’t going to buy a new DOCSIS 3.1 head end for them, so the higher bandwidth possibilities give them new service tiers at higher dollars to pay for the new iron. And the people to install it. And people to make sure your neighborhood can even run DOCSIS 3.1, or 3.0, or 2, or whatever standard they just upgraded to. Or however close to your house they got fiber optics.

            As another hole in your argument, companies are somewhat required to run at a profit. No matter how much we love or hate them (Apple or Comcast, for example), they are not going to purposely lose money. So, again, I’ll say it simply: Either the CUSTOMER pays more, or NETFLIX pays more, but someone is going to pay for it. It does not “break the Internet” if Netflix has to pay.

            Like I said above, I have built these things. I was in the VOIP business and we peered directly with Comcast and Charter at co-lo spaces in St. Louis and Atlanta. Why? So that we could improve our service to customers on their networks. This has been common practice since Savvis popularized private peering in the late 1990’s. Since then, pure backbone providers (Cogent, Level(3), etc.) have become less relevant.

            I’m not just anyone. You are basically arguing against global warming with a climatologist. I have built this stuff for nearly 25 years.

          • Jon_Irenicus

            And until I see a detailed accounting explaining why standard subscriber fees are insufficient to cover the costs of the interconnects with plenty of room to spare for profits, I will take everything you just said with a grain of salt. And for the record, I am perfectly fine with companies making a profit.

            It’s a black box to me, but they could easily shut people like me up by showing me and others these TERRIBLE cost burdens. If a high end router costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but services millions of customers, that could easily pay for all those interconnect costs.

            What is the total revenue generated by subscriber fees? What are the total costs of all the maintenance and employee salaries and contractors and hardware? Add up all the costs, and give me a number. Has ANYONE done that? I don’t think they want that number out there, because it probably undercuts their argument.

            Has anyone studied how much more revenue is generated by ISPs like comcast due to the existence and usage of services like netflix? I am paying at LEAST 30 dollars more a month to make sure I have enough bandwidth for better streaming capability. But the ISPs want all the benefits of that streaming revenue driving consumer desire for faster broadband, and NONE of the responsibility of actually facilitating the transfer of that data into the network if they have to foot ANY of the bill. And the question of whether they are reluctant to make those upgrades because it is too expensive to make a profit vs them just wanting to pocket 40% profit off revenue vs 37% profit off of revenues is critical. Throwing off expensive localized router costs and maintenance costs tells us NOTHING of the larger cost structure.

          • Zack Sargent

            I don’t have Comcast’s balance sheet. What I do have is a lot of experience building networks and backbones. And what I can say is that in 1995, I installed a DS-3 for an ISP in St. Louis. 45Mb. And that now, I have more than that to my house. You cannot look at this as a static-state and think, “Well, after that router is paid for, they make 100% profit.” It’s a continuous operational expense. One the router is “paid for,” chances are, you need to replace that with something that does 10x the speed. And Cisco doesn’t give them away – they are the ones laughing all the way to the bank.

            Until recently, replacing the “shared infrastructure” of an ISP (those things past a head end) has been fairly cost effective. In the old days, you had maybe 2-5 peers, maybe just the old “Tier 1” backbones, and upgrading that one box was defrayed over the cost of subscribers. However, the modern “backbone” isn’t a backbone at all: It’s a neural network of thousands of connections for thousands of different reasons. There are hundreds of “bandwidth exchange” buildings around the country where you can easily peer without having to pay for an expensive WAN circuit. Of course, it costs money to be IN a bandwidth exchange, so you really only defray costs by peering with many other players.

            Business Case #1 for why to peer with someone is that they have a ton of traffic. Netflix IS the traffic. http://mashable.com/2013/11/12/internet-traffic-downstream/ It’s not maybe, it’s not what if, it’s not mom-and-pop freedom impacting, it’s one company. The other high-bandwidth folks on that list? Yeah, they already DO the things I’ve talked about. Because it costs THEM less money to operate that way, too.

            Believe me, it’s not sexy or desirable to be on the same side of an argument as Ted Cruz and Comcast. But this is the right side, factually and logically. I would SO MUCH rather this didn’t get politicized like it has because that means most people will just shut off their own logic circuits and go with the comforts of dogma. And it’s a huge impact to me. This is where I live. There are maybe 5,000 or so people on the earth that do what I do or have done what I’ve done. Netflix didn’t want to bother hiring one of us, so they threw a freaking tantrum. They have a snappy sounding name (Net Neutrality) and sinister-looking opponents, and they know they are winning in the court of public opinion. But as someone who has to work around whatever misguided bullshit comes out of the FCC on this topic, it is infuriating. It’s going to break things in predictable ways, and 5 years after any new rules go into play, the same people sheeple that went along with it will be rioting for change, again, to fix it.

          • Durango

            The telco companies have been discussing about “data tsunami” for many years now. What data tsunami meant so far was doubling the data traffic each year. This still means, despite all the new technologies, almost doubling costs and investments each year. On the other hand one might say double the traffic, double the revenues!!! But this is not what happens. Last year, AT&T could increase its revenues only by 8%. Compare that with 70-80% of increase in expenses, one could easily do the math, right? Guys, somebody has to pay the bills. If no one does, get ready for a filthy internet service in a couple of years, but with perfect net neutrality.

          • Zack Sargent

            Durango, exactly correct: “The Network” is not static-state. Investment must be made continuously. Not only that, but investment HAS BEEN MADE continuously, without thanks, for decades. I’ve gone from 1.2Kb personal bandwidth to 50Mb – over 40,000X increase. A dedicated modem line in the 1980’s ran me about $50/month, and adding Compuserve cost more. In the 1990’s, I had that same $50-60 expense. Eventually, I had ISDN, then DSL, and now Cable. I’m paying about $78 to Comcast every month for 50Mb, now, and I think that’s truly amazing. I’ve seen DOCSIS modems in the lab running 600Mb+ and I hear about new FTTH offerings at 1Gb. It’s truly staggering how much we get for nearly the same money I was paying 30 years ago!!!

            That said, no one is okay with standing still. There’s always more bandwidth we COULD have, bigger video streams (4K), and more cloud-computing experiences that dazzle our browsers and tax our routers. One company gets all whiny about it (Netflix), and suddenly the President of the US is involved. The Internet got here on the principle of community benefit: You have a service, I have a need, and someone provides the connection. We all win. Now, we want to say that how we are provided said services should be regulated? No “fast lanes?” All traffic treated equally? What about security attacks? No blocking! What about latency-sensitive apps(read: games)? No fast lanes! Stupid. Just stupid.

          • Durango

            Absolutely. Well and the fact that many millions are supporting what Obama said does not make it right. It just shows the ignorance of the community and the convenience of free “something” to millions, which is not really surprising. But still it is not right.
            The content providers did enjoy the free ride for more than a decade. Facebook and Youtube do occupy the first two ranks in internet consumption, both mobile and fixed.Hundreds of thousands of TB free traffic. The consumers did enjoy these free services, who wouldn’t? Well I do. Who can stop me to put a new 5K ultra HD free video service tomorrow, reach to hundreds of millions, and triple even quadruple the traffic? What happens to infrastructure? Who’s gonna pay the new investments required for such traffic? Well, I won’t. It’s neutral buddy, I don’t care. Apparently neither does Obama or the supporters.

          • Zack Sargent
          • Jon_Irenicus

            I still don’t have detailed balance sheets, I still don’t have proof, I just see people throwing out piecemeal numbers to shore up their arguments. It’s like trying to get the big picture of the constellations while staring up into the heavens with a straw.

            A doubling of traffic each year sounds terrifying. If the cost of transit stayed mostly constant that would bankrupt a company… except it hasn’t. Why did you not mention the cost of transit over time Durango?

            http://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/assets/4403551/Screen_Shot_2014-05-04_at_10.50.45_AM.png

            Don’t you think that’s kind of critical? The worst kinds of lies are the lies of omission, harder to weed out the deceit. Is it that the person was simply unaware, or was the missing critical data intentional? So hard to know.

            But let’s assume your numbers are correct

            Their revenues were up 8%
            Their costs on infrastructure went up 80%, (hell, let’s make it 100% for a nice doubling)

            OMG, that means they are LOSING MONEY !!!!!!!!

            Who effing knows. We need to know what % of revenues their infrastructure costs take up.

            If infrastructure costs were only 2% of revenues the previous year, and doubled in the latest year to 4%, that’s still a net increase in revenues. Even if it was not an increase, we don’t know the % of profit earned each quarter. If the gross profits went from 30% to 25% because the ISP started to do its job, I am not losing sleep over that. You seem very easily bowled over by proclamations of increased expenses on their part, you have an imperfect picture and presume from that that the ISPs in question have a solid leg to stand on. That’s not good enough.

          • Durango

            The picture is imperfect in your head only, and that should only come from ignorance. You want to see balance sheets? You do not have to look at constellations with your straw. These are public companies, if you know what it means! The numbers I gave were facts, the numbers you talk about is just an imagination of somebody trying to see stars through a straw. Use a telescope instead.
            And if you dare to look at the balance sheets, -I doubt that you’ll understand anything, so find an expert to guide you through- let me tell you that some portion of the assets are in fact money spent to OpEx. Any industry veteran would know what I am talking about. Innovation is about to die, no telco wants to spend to OpEx. It is not their desire, it is an obligation now.
            So please do not speculate on things that you really don’t know. It sounds ridiculous to a professional. Transit costs huh? You are really funny.

          • Jon_Irenicus

            So no answers and no numbers. They are public companies but the numbers are still clouded, they don’t neatly separate broadband infrastructure and maintenance costs from regular cable tv costs and it’s all sort of jumbled together when reported.

            Operational expenses are exactly what I Was talking about, that PLUS capital expenditures. It should not be hard to show, explicitly, that the cable companies are NOT wildly profitable.

            Comcast is on track to have around 10 billion dollars in profit this year. How much would that dip if comcast had to pay full freight to upgrade all their portions of the interconnects into their network to prevent them from filling to capacity?

            9 billion? in profit this year? 8 billion? My guess is that it would still be WELL over 9 billion, not even a blip in their total expenditures. If that is wrong, it should be trivially EASY to show me what the actual costs are. The reason you and no one else will, is either because you do not know, or the numbers are so infinitesimally small to their bottom line that it undercuts your argument. Likely both.

          • Durango

            It is not clouded. It’s for the professional eyes, like anything else in this world. I know how to read the numbers. But I am not entitled to give you lessons for how to read or how to find the balance sheets, unless you pay me of course. Well, you are so much used to not to not to pay your wildly increasing internet consumption, that you expect a free service from me as well: Find balance sheets and comment for your highness? NO! Go and do yourself or pay somebody to do it for you. It’s public. Oh, do not forget to look at trends, forecasts and profitability. Forecasts is what we, the pros, are discussing comparing with trends. We seek continuity. It’s not only nominal figures that you look.
            Facts:
            *We are not discussing Comcast only. It is the entire telco industry.
            *Who gives a f.ck about interconnect fees? Access Network capacity and costs are killing everybody.
            New technologies cannot comply with the rate of increase.
            *A general concept, for how the world operates today, in everything: If you use some service or product, either you or somebody for you shall PAY it. Netflix, Youtube, BitTorrent ARE NOT exceptions.
            *The bill that you pay won’t cover those companies
            gigantic appetite for bandwidth. And it does not anymore.
            *Why a company that transmits 1080p video compared to a company that transmit 720, which is exactly the same to my eyes on a 5inch screen, is treated equally? (Think on that before you comment anything. The thought on this and the impacts are deeper than you can imagine)

          • Jon_Irenicus

            Assertions abound, nothing to back anything up other than more assertions that broadband costs and profits have already been transparently released. Seeing as how you also claim that the US is about a free market, when home broadband that can handle streaming video is anything but in a large number of US cities tells me you are filled with far more lies and disinformation than truth.

            The assertion that the bill I and others pay (which has been as high as 80-100 dollars in the past cannot cover the costs of growing bandwidth needs, when we see the cost to do work (send bits in an ACTUAL FREE MARKET on the commercial fiber side) dropping like a stone is inconceivable to me. I think you are just flat out lying here.

          • Durango

            I do not lie. Learn to have some respect to others who disagree with you.
            You do not answer to most of things that I wrote. You just pick small pieces you think your argument is strong. This looks ridiculous. To start with, I see you don’t want to go the Access Network costs. You have no idea what I am talking about do you?
            I tell you the last time that any public company has to publish all their financial numbers. And they do! They are available, I honestly don’t care if you cannot find them, or interpret them.
            You first imply the costs and profits have not been transparently released. Then you claim the cost to do work is dropping like a stone. Wow, your integrity is astonishing.
            Your 80 $ bill won’t cover UHD videos. It’s 4 * more bits than your actual 1080 videos. This does not tell you anything either, right? You don’t truly understand this, do you?
            Btw, very good job in censorship Mr. Rayburn. You classified an f word in an expression and edited that as “care”. But no action when it comes to words like “lies”, I’ve been accused several times previously too. Very good job. If you want to control the language of the comments over here, then do it properly.
            I am done with this nonsense.

          • Jon_Irenicus

            The closest report I’ve seen is more of a general outline.

            http://www.cmcsa.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=821438

            As for the access network costs, I don’t know how much that stuff costs, but even with all those costs, presumably that is included in total expenses and comcast is not in the red. They have plenty of net income each quarter with plenty of room to spare. How much would that dip if they had to foot the entire bill of traffic generated at the interconnects and other associated costs with getting traffic from their network borders to homes? Would that put them in the red? Of the ~1.8-2.5 BILLION dollar NET income each quater, how much would that NET income drop? A hundred million? The numbers here matter, it makes all the difference in the world whether their claims and yours about it not being reasonable to absorb the cost burdens.

            You claim to have more detailed numbers that show how dreadfully expensive everything is, point to minutia while the net profit and expenses are already laid bare and it’s favorable to comcasts bottom line. But you do not need to explain anything, simply provide a single link showing the data where comcasts costs are so great that subscriber fees cannot provide for the total service people like me are requesting.

            I’d also like to know how much of their total revenue/profit comes from direct subscriber fees vs other sources like charging for direct connections into their network.

            It’s not enough to tell me that something does not work out because comcast and others have all of these high expenses, I need to know WHY it won’t work out, I need the details before I can come to a definitive conclusion. It’s not enough because liars use statistics, and omit data where they never need to tell direct lies, they only need leave out critical information deliberately that could completely change the perception.

            I have my suspicions about the cost structure, but I could be wrong, but I need to see the numbers for myself, and that overview does not suggest comcast won’t be able to pay its bills with room to spare if they did not charge players like netflix to send traffic onto their network that is being requested from comcast subscribers.

          • dax

            thats quite a bit of conjecture and fear mongering.

            if you truly believed in the so call profit motivation then you would also understand that any perceived “risk” would be righted by the innovation and new entrants focused on profits- but where are the new companies?

            they have been shut out of the market- by monopolistic companies capturing excess economics.-and hiding behind the “we invest lots of $$$ to forgive us” arguments

            if you look at industry R&D spends its a joke- but when you compare it to the spend in lobbying and political costs- its a farce. And Cisco and all the other embedded equipment providers build next generation products (just good enough) to support next years earnings- and either buy out or shut down any radical cost savings products for fear of cannibilizing quarterly revenus.

            to use 15 year old equipment arguments on why the internet, which has now turned into a modern day Public Commons right -just like public highways, doesnt need to be regulated is missing the point.

            special interests and incumbent always look to protect the status quo- no need to risk the golden calf…but tomorrows innovators can always pressured on costs, and shut out , or throttled back -because of threat to a competitor business model, (profit motive) but especially so when that monopoly also owns the pipes, it is clearly an inherent conflict of interest, and needs to be properly regulated . otherwise monopoly power create a drag on economies- which is already happening today as compared to the rest of the world- the US is WAY behind speed vs cost–

            said another way- the US consumer is paying an internet tax- higher marginal costs , for marginal speed and reliability- and this tax is a direct payment to the shareholders of Comcast, VZ, ATT, etc.- who would not want this taxpayer subsidy to continue in the name of less regulation? But where is the innovation promised??

            the promises these incumbents made 15 years ago- were the same we hear today- we are investing billions!

            yet why have these companies underperformed in their delivering high speed to home? where did all these investments go? Ill tell you- look at shareholders returns- they were privatized and paid out in dividends
            and because they scaled to the point no new competitors could enter the market- no innovation gains have been realized.

            enough protectionism for these big telecom companies.

            open up the net to true competition- if these old managers cant figure a way to profit- FIRE THEM then hire some young blood and innovate your way to the next generation, instead of resting on laurels and sweetheart govt deals, as incumbent quasi monolopolies tend to do.

          • Zack Sargent

            Dax, I’m sure your intentions are good, here, but you are just plain wrong.

            “truly believed in the so call profit motivation”

            The point is that companies, particularly large ones, do not lose money on purpose. Minimum wage goes up, so does a McDonald’s hamburger. Comcast is no different. The cost of streaming media is enormous, and Netflix is the 800 pound gorilla. Period. Comcast is going to charge SOMEONE to build that out. If it’s not Netflix, it’s the customer. It’s not rocket science. It’s not Comcast.org or Comcast.gov. They are not going to lose money on it. The way people want to enforce Net Neutrality, today, at the service interconnect, will force higher cost by end users. That’s Bad Thing #1.

            Bad Thing #2 is all this talk about “fast lanes.” Fast lanes bloody well should exist. There are services for which that technology was invented, like VoIP. Or on-line gaming. Or Skype. Saying that a provider cannot create “fast lanes” over their own network is simple ignorance of the technology in play.

            I have built Internet services providers. In the 1990’s as a CLEC and again in 2006 with a VOIP start-up, we competed with incumbent Bell and Cable companies. We still succeeded. So what was different then than now? Yes, it’s hard to compete against freakin’ AT&T because they are AT&T and I’m not. That just means my service has to be compelling.

            The only real success stories in Net Neutrality come from incentivizing competition. Kansas City did this by luring Google Fiber to their area. Some municipalities lay their own network using federal money. There are better solutions than forcing certain router commands, chosen by bureaucrats, at the interconnect.

          • webmaster

            Not sure I understand this model. Content providers have historically paid for Internet traffic delivery and included this in the cost of their service. Kinda like shipping costs included in the product price.

            With your view, do only the largest content providers get free, but the small guys still have to pay? What about my video startup? What about hosting companies? What about my web site? What about my enterprise with telecommuters?

            Who pays and who gets free delivery?

            Are you stating that the future Internet is only broadband users pay?

          • Jon_Irenicus

            It’s always been a lie to say companies like netflix want to pay nothing for delivering content. Everyone should pay to have their traffic taken from their own servers and sent out to other networks and destinations. That is a service provided by the routing companies on the net that deliver that traffic. But if you are a company like netflix that has so much traffic to send, it might make more sense to build out your own network capabilities to send traffic to different destinations directly instead of going through middlemen.

            Now here is where the obfuscation comes on. Dan and others think that netflix should pay to connect directly with companies like comcast and netflix. Saying that they want free delivery. First of all, the routers and salaries to people they pay to their own staff at the peering points is not no cost. THEY are footing that bill if they have that kind of setup. What they don’t want to have to pay for is COMCAST’s side of the interconnect and salaries of people at the peering points. They consider that something that should be taken care of by comcast out of their own subscriber fees. When Dan and others advocate a “sharing” of costs, that is a lie, they want netflix to take on the ENTIRE burden of broadband delivery AT THE EXCHANGE POINTS. All the routers and salaries, all paid for by netflix. In my view, if the destination is the network in question, that implies that people on that network are requesting content from a company like netflix, and so I expect SOME effort on the part of the ISP to facilitate getting that traffic to its users at the interconnect. The question is where does netflix responsibility end and comcasts begin? Just inside the network is comcasts answer, I extend that to the interconnects as well when the destination for traffic IS the comcast network. IF they were routing that traffic to some other network, then it makes more sense for them to be paid for the service of sending that traffic to SOMEONE ELSE. But they want to be paid to RECEIVE traffic THEIR network requested. That takes some balls as an expectation.

            I don’t think any company sending traffic to comcast customers ought to have to pay to maintain comcasts portion of the interconnects into their network that sends that traffic in. That includes akamai, and level 3, and cogent and others. That model would mean even cheaper transit costs for the “little guy” because it would remove the additional toll the ISP erects for the privilege of letting its users actually get the content they requested. Would netflix get an even better deal in the long run if they built out the infrastructure to connect directly, well sure, but that NOT imply ZERO EXPENSE. It just means that for their scale, it makes more sense to do some of that delivery work themselves vs handing it off to others. Nothing unreasonable there.

  • LibertyHawk13

    Unconvincing at all levels. Straw man arguments without any point. Bottom line, you don’t like the politicians advocating net neutrality on behalf of the many millions of Americans who have demanded it, so you find spurious, defensive, and generally silly arguments to spurn it.

    • chuckbuckethead

      “you don’t like the politicians advocating net neutrality on behalf of the many millions of Americans who have demanded it” LOL, nice one. If you think for a minute that the politicians are not doing exactly what the telecomm lobby wants, you’re delusional. It’s called regulatory capture. Honestly, in your heart of hearts, who do you think writes the telecomm regulations? A bunch of representatives and senators who don’t know the first thing about cable and internet? Or the FCC regulators, who — surprise surprise — most of them come from big comm companies? Wake up.

  • Hoffman

    “Also, do we know of a single instance where an ISP is actually doing paid prioritization? I have yet to see a single example.”

    Really? Comcast throttled Netflix to the point they finally paid for a peered connection in 2013. How about FIOS were in spite of the fact that Netflix PAYS them a peering fee, one gets better streaming over FIOS from a VPN connection rather than directly connected. Now, granted they were not opening additional ports as they had done in the past, but let’s be honest, that’s semantics. Comcast and Verizon knew they could degrade Netflix’s content through inaction to force them to pay and it worked. There’s two more in addition to the Cogent Case listed below.

    • youbetcha

      Sorry.. Since the “throttling” happened across multiple ISPs (at the same time), AND Netflix controls all the delivery paths (not the ISPs) the reality is:

      Netflix made all the routing changes designed to throttled specific ISPs to the point where Netflix finally realized they were not going to go get free peering (they always paid).

      Don’t just regurgitate what Netflix is telling you. Understand how Internet traffic flows and who ACTUALLY made the specific changes that caused the impact. This was always a business leverage negotiate that Netflix initiated.

      Netflix has, is and will always be in full control of their service performance.

      • Hoffman

        Yet a VPN connection via FIOS actually provides better Netflix streaming than one directly connected yet they control their delivery paths?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Net Neutrality is being fought by incumbent carriers who rely on legacy products, like voice and traditional video, for the majority of their revenues. Only 10% – 15% of their revenues come from Internet access, but it accounts for more than 90% of their network traffic. This traffic is cannibalizing their legacy services and they just can’t compete on price. The eight ISPs worldwide that are using cartel-like behavior trying to get companies to pay for direct peering and throttling bandwidth traffic because they refuse to upgrade their legacy networks. There is also bigger issues like Verizon throttling Netflix traffic because they want to create a bad experience for the end user only when they use Netflix but not other places? Oh wait they own Redbox, Netflix’s competitor.

    • Durango

      What you say is not accurate. Please define what you mean by legacy networks? Billions of dollars are spent each year for new piece of equipment and new technologies. Do you have any knowledge or idea about what is legacy network and what is not?

    • Jacob Mathews

      You are a complete buffoon to bring legacy services in the picture. Big players are going away from TDM. ISP’s are spending big money on pipes so you can enjoy watching movies. If you want things for free, call you dad at WH. He will give you handouts for free,

  • Bronx_Boy

    A utility is a life and death issue – as in no heat in winter kills you, no water kills you, no internet? So let’s get that straight right away in this foggy net neutrality debate. The internet is not a utility.

    • Windygirl

      True. The 75% who are in favor also believe it will make all internet access FREE. If they knew the reality, do you think they would care? It’s rather like Universal Healthcare. Someone has to pay, but most don’t give a $hhh as long as *they* aren’t the ones footing the bill. It’s called magical thinking.

      • Kristine S

        It is called not understanding the costs involved, the infrastructure or the history actually.

        • Jon_Irenicus

          And you know the costs? Have you seen comcasts balance sheets? If not then you have no idea what you are talking about. Just because some cable internet exec or verizon head complains about infrastructure costs, does not mean they are not solvent or still wildly profitable. It could just mean they are making 35% margin on revenue vs 40% and being a public company tasked to provide the greatest returns possible compels them to fight for every last scrap of profit.

          NONE of us understand the total costs involved, not individual contractors, not even Dan Rayburn, because they are not privy to the full details of the broadband operational costs. They are flying blind and PRESUMING perfect knowledge about why something is reasonable or not.

      • mrgingrich

        Uh, no? None of us think the internet will be free. Making something title 2 doesn’t mean it’s free. Is your electric or water free? Use some commonsense.

        • chuckbuckethead

          I think he meant free as in freedom.

          • Then he (or she) wouldn’t have been talking about payment.

    • mHerrera

      Then why is it a monopoly in some markets?

    • Jon_Irenicus

      We consider electricity a utility now but when it was invented people had been surviving just fine for millenia without it. Being life and death is not the proper standard for what a utility is.

    • Frank Sebastiano

      Unplug for a week and then come back and tell us it’s not essential to life.

  • Truth Will Set you Free

    The internet is working JUST FINE the way it is. This is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to eventually control it through legislation that appeals to people’s sense of ‘fairness’.

    DON’T BUY IT.

    • Chris

      Yes! You’ve got it exactly right – and yet your conclusion is backwards. The Internet IS working just fine the way it is. It’s the companies that are trying to undo the way the Internet has always worked – the companies trying to end net neutrality – that are in the process of ruining, and de-democratizing, the way the Internet works. Which, as you’ve just said, is working just fine.

      • Kristine S

        Exactly Chris!

      • Truth

        It’s called regulatory capture. Big companies want to inhibit competitors through regulations that are too expensive to comply with.

        Crony-capitalism at it’s finest.

  • Chris

    I also love the leap in logic the author makes that, because the *term* “net neutrality” didn’t exist until 7 years ago, then what that term represents therefore didn’t exist, either. It’s like saying the Internet didn’t exist until someone coined the word “Internet.”

    • smorkingapple

      Yeah article was pretty much bunk for me after I read that.

    • Frank Sebastiano

      I had the exact same thought when I read that.

  • James

    This guy is a douchebag milkshake, just like the guy ripping his blog to try and make himself look good, Ted Cruz

  • Common Man

    Net neutrality has become a Rorschach Ink Blot test phrase and because of it subject to spin of specific interpretations (free Internet, traffic prioritization, cost amortization, utility rate regulation, etc) based on vested interests. I don’t see how an article like this helps in that confusion. It is also missing the ends for the means.

    First, there is a far more fundamental concern of what Internet Access is for the society. There is no doubt that an increasing amount of reliance is being placed on Internet access – anything from filling applications/forms to getting essential information – that not having such an access becomes a serious problem. There is a need for a country to ensure some level of universal service to its citizens regardless of where they legally live in the country in the same way it needs to provide roads, power, water, etc. It is in this sense that there needs to be a utility like service that is guaranteed at a reasonable cost (does not have to be free or the highest tier). Such a service would result in a lot of savings to everybody – no need to necessarily have a huge bank of phones or process physical mail, etc – as many services can be moved online. This is the true transformative nature of the Internet. Not whether one has access to the latest movies or streaming of selfies or whatever first-world indulgences one wants.

    Obama, in a typical fashion, has confused the issues with pronouncements that create soundbites but seldom illuminate even when they may be well-intentioned. If he had just talked about the above need asking the FCC to insure the above via whatever means it has, there would be very little of the hyperbole we currently see.

    Net neutrality as most people understand it has nothing to do with the above. This is where the means have been confused with the ends.

    Not to say there isn’t a controversy over the BUSINESS MODEL of the Internet itself where Net Neutrality becomes an issue.

    On one side, network providers are afraid of becoming just bit pipes and not being able to go up the value chain. This has nothing to do with whether their costs are amortized from the consumers or content providers or both. As long as what they collect are just margins over the cost of building and maintaining networks (to whatever level is necessary), it would not be sufficient for their ambitions. So the arguments that someone has to pay for the network from the network provider side are ingenious and a bit of sophistry. It is a commoditized business otherwise. Comcast is not valued in the financial markets for (even a healthy) margin on their network.

    What they would like to do is to share in the value of the content and services provided over the bit pipes either by owning the content themselves or pricing the network to be proportional to the value of the content being provided. This is far and beyond just pricing for the cost of the network and a healthy margin on it. This is not based on the bits used but ability to pay (though ability to pay may be correlated with the higher usage).

    It is a valid debate as to whether they should be able to do the above or whether one should disaggregate the pipes from the content business models. Would you price the toll roads, railways, based on the value of the goods being carried over them or as a profitable margin over maintaining the roads/rails? No network provider would want to be just the latter.

    This is what creates the necessary conflict between the network providers on one hand and content providers and the consumers at the other. End consumers benefit from having competitive pipe providers that drives the cost down of transport and have no interest in paying part of the value of what they transact over the pipe with the pipe provider.

    It is more about this clash of business models than some ideological principles of Net Neutrailty in terms of pricing. Since most people are vested on one side or the other, the debate becomes spin and FUD rather than a more objective look at how this ecosystem should play out.

    The Governments are already meddling in this by providing exclusive franchises locally for a number of reasons including the legal “kickbacks” from these companies in cash or via school/park/community “improvements”. Anyone arguing that market forces should dictate as currently is happening are blind to this reality. It is not a free market by any means for competitive forces to shape broadband access. This is also what creates the artificial pricing power for current network providers in wired broadband where they are trying to use that pricing power on both sides – consumer and content provider. This is not an efficient market by any means.

    So, it is necessary for the local governments to get out of the way of handing out exclusive franchises and let anyone wire anywhere so there are multiple network providers in most areas.

    While the above is a necessity for true market competitiveness, it does not solve the earlier need of basic universal Internet Access (not necessarily free or best tier of service). Nothing prevents in a purely market based solution to cater only to cherry pick and provide the service only to rich markets and avoid others completely.

    The local franchises to a certain extent have prevented this by requiring the franchisee to provide universal service within the franchise area in exchange for a monopoly for all practical purposes.

    This is the problem that needs to be solved. How do you ensure a minimum universal service to most while encouraging competition to let market forces determine the costs everywhere. The latter does not preclude higher priced tiers in cherry picked areas when people can afford them so there is no equality concerns here as long as there is basic universal service.

    The above is complicated by the business needs of the network providers to share in the value of the content being carried over the networks. This article completely misses the point of assuming the current status quo is what will be the future. We are just at the beginning of the pervasiveness of OTT services that completely destroys the earlier lucrative business models of the traditional network providers (voice, TV, etc) and turn them into bit pipes. Network providers are going to fight this with everything they have got and the revenue they want (which as mentioned above would like to be proportional to the value of the content/services over the pipes than a margin on the network infrastructure) is entirely at odds with the interests of the end user or the content provider.

    This is the problem that needs to be addressed going ahead.

    Just creating competition between network providers is not going to solve this problem. Wireless broadband (despite spectrum issues) are arguably more competitive than wired broadband and this has resulted in that market becoming somewhat commoditized. Nobody is arguing wireless broadband has to be free. The wireless providers want to go up the value chain. But the only way to do that is to provide differentiated services, something that both consumers and content providers are afraid of for valid reasons. It is not what happens today that is the status quo for the future but what happens when the business models get sorted out. This problem is worse with wired broadband because of franchising regulations.

    The consequences a consumer wants to avoid is a situation of not being able to get reasonable access to non-mainstream content sources who is not able to pay the going prices for mainstream content providers to get minimum necessary services. This stifles innovation from the content/service creation side ad incumbents get pricing moats around them. Consumers are not sympathetic to a view that network providers should charge them for a certain amount of bandwidth that will give them less quality of service to sources they want than other sources that THEY DO NOT USE. Network providers are confusing this issue implying that users want free Internet. Users are saying do not double-dip for the same network. They need to find a middle ground.

    The consequence a content provider wants to avoid is to have to negotiate quality of service with every network provider in a fragmented world to reach their audience. This drives up the price for them where competition between network providers makes no difference since their end consumers are “attached ” to each of the networks. The fact that there is Android and iOS App Stores make no difference to an App developer who needs to reach both and there is no pricing competition between Google and Apple for the cut they take. An ideal situation for content providers is if the users could switch to any of the networks to receive the services/content they need so they can have the network providers compete to have them on their network. This has not happened in wireless networks and not going to happen in wired networks.

    So there is no competitive forces or free markets in the current situation and there is no reason to believe that free market forces will somehow provide a solution to the above.

    This is the complicated landscape that we have. Neither the free market nor the government regulations have an answer to this by themselves. It is how we figure out the boundaries between regulations and free market that makes a difference.

    Articles like this provide no solutions or even clarity on the above problem.

  • seal010101 .

    So, once again, we’re at the mercy of politicians who are too stupid to understand that this is a complex issue. Too stupid, or too lazy to take the time to understand it, or too craven to resist using the soundbites of the issue to make political hay. Have you noticed that this comment is not very complimentary to politicians? Did it load any slower?

  • ten years ago you couldn’t stream most forms of quality video unless you had access to a fast fiber network, or certain satellite connections using slooooow phone lines for requests. Now all of a sudden speed is a big deal, even though you can stream HD on an iPad over WiFi?

    The whole basis for this proposed legislation is a joke. By the time government gets around to a “solution” the tech folks will have solved it ages ago. Making it a law just saddles people with outdated bureaucracy that only gets bigger and more invasive over time.

    The fiber folks are already losing monopoly status due to the increased carrying capacity of the wireless technologies. Wireless hasn’t even begun to be exploited thoroughly, even with the current state of the art in network technologies. Move that price point a little and suddenly fiber “monopolies” will be about as current a “problem” as steam powered cars.

    Leave the net alone! (Don’t make me come over there and make you watch that stupid video.)

  • Elwood Billshot

    Providers have been in heavy competition to provide band-width since day-1 with this goal in mind. ISP’s partnering with entertainment providers becoming new forms of near monopolies. As with any dealer, build your customer base with low cost product. Develop a Vice into a Habit, now you can up the price. Minimize competition with aggressive tactics, divvy up customer base with those you can’t drive out of business. Now you have a good solid customer with no place to go. Jack the Price again. The sky is the Limit. Obama is just working off a little political Debt to his Dealer.

  • rshockey101

    Well if you do want an example of an ISP providing paid prioritization I can give you one. Voice. Real time communications over IP networks. VoLTE on your new iPhones. You Pay for this service this the very definition of paid prioritization. Dan should call me some time. The Voice Using IP community aka the carriers are using DIFFSERV all the time to make sure there is no jitter or delay in your calls. When you use cable voice or FIOS or uVerse etc you are using SIP. We have to take priority over your little cat videos.

    Of course Cogent used DSCP to prioritize their SMB traffic. Its the only way they could get the voice to work correctly.

    What is fascinating is the FCC is on the one hand calling for Net Neutrality and with the other calling for the transformation of the phone networks to all IP with exactly the same quality of experience. The PSTN Transition. Go Google it.

    http://www.fcc.gov/blog/ip-transition-starting-now

    If you are confused join the club.

  • Mark Able Jones

    Title II is about giving the FCC authority to enforce Open Internet Rules, just like the Court said they have to do to preserve the “virtuous circle” of innovation on the ned. And yes, the internet was conceived as an open network. You can read Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s mesh proposal.

    • Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a real nice guy, but he didn’t invent the Internet. The specification for the Internet Protocol includes a “Type of Service” field. That goes back to the 1970s, and its use is described in one of the three digit RFCs. This all took place while TBL was still on his mother’s teat.

  • Brian Ring

    Well written piece. I do love this line:

    “Yes, 75% of the comments were for it, but then use the real numbers, don’t inflate them. This is the problem in having a conversation on the topic of net neutrality because so often, very little in the way of real facts and numbers are used…”

    I really appreciate your professionalism and encouragement of important political discourse. That problem is rampant in our politics on **both** sides and I am really tired of it. 75% have been wrong about things in the past. We need to get Net Neutrality *right*. The right answer has to happen outside politics. It needs to be a well-run, disciplined process. We need someone like Steve Jobs to come in and run the entire process and then put it to a popular majority rules vote. Online.

    • Dave Morris

      Nah, Steve is dead. We need the market to decide. Nobody else knows what they are doing. The market is what runs the United States, and it’s the only thing that can sort this stuff out appropriately.

    • Mike_76

      “(…)and then put it to a popular majority rules vote. Online.”

      God, no. Are you crazy? Whoever promises the most free cargo, would get the most votes. Whoever appealed to the dumbest and laziest sectors of society wins. If there is anything that leads to a dictatorship more quickly than direct democracy, I am unaware of it.

  • Moxie

    i wonder if it’s like a utility will some people be subsidized. Is this the reason why obama is pushing it. The price will go up for everyone who doesn’t meet the requirements. That’s what has happen to food price,electricity, phone, college etc. the middle class is getting crushed.