Patterico's Pontifications

11/12/2014

“Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality?”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:45 pm

This piece is months old, but is highly relevant today:

The U.S. government has shown time after time that it is ineffective at managing much of anything. This is by design. The Founders intentionally created a government that was slow, inefficient, and plagued by gridlock, because they knew the greatest danger to individual freedom came from a government that could move quickly–too quickly for the people to react in time to protect themselves. If we value our freedom, we need government to be slow. But if government is slow, we shouldn’t rely on it to provide us with products and services we want in a timely manner at a high level of quality. The telecoms may be bad, but everything that makes them bad is what the government is by definition. Can we put “bad” and “worse” together and end up with “better”?

I don’t like how much power the telecoms have. But the reason they’re big and powerful isn’t because there is a lack of government regulation, but because of it. Government regulations are written by large corporate interests which collude with officials in government. The image of government being full of people on a mission to protect the little guy from predatory corporate behemoths is an illusion fostered by politicians and corporate interests alike. Many, if not most, government regulations are the product of crony capitalism designed to prevent small entrepreneurs from becoming real threats to large corporations. If Net Neutrality comes to pass how can we trust it will not be written in a way that will make it harder for new companies to offer Internet services? If anything, we’re likely to end up even more beholden to the large telecoms than before. Of course at this point the politicians will tell us if they hadn’t stepped in that things would be even worse.

That’s what government does, from health care to education costs to the Internet: they regulate the market into dysfunction, and offer to cure the mess with (you guessed it) more regulation. As libertarian Harry Browne said:

Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, “See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.”

Ted Cruz had it just right when he said:

“We’re from the government and we’re here to help” is scary whether they’re “helping” you with your health care plan or your Internet provider. Maybe they can promise us that if we like our Internet, we can keep it.

Corporations often wield too much power and become infuriating — but if the government stays out of it, this is cured by competition. If the government steps in, you’re screwed.

Too bad these net neutrality folks can’t see that.

78 Responses to ““Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality?””

  1. Here is one place where an insistence on universal access with costs evenly spread throughout a system is a good.

    To me, everyone should have roughly equal access to a telecom “utility pole.” Now, that last 100 feet between the domicile and the pole? Must be wide open to competition.

    With the coming massive opening of wireless spectrum on the way, the build out, and even the necessity of hardwire buildouts, will be greatly lessened.

    My sister has dealt with the Death Star in court. They refuse to abide by the rules. We need more than one branch of the government to keep them in their place.

    We simply cannot afford “too big to fail” in communication. Is it not instantly easy to see the harm when one private entity can dictate terms of service and content?

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  2. There is only one reason for the government to regulate access to the Internet and it has nothing to do with neutrality.

    So, if anyone wants to say that allowing business to control the flow of information for business reasons is wrong or scary, I would have to say yes that may be true, but an ISP is not the IRS.

    Business is in business for profit. Government is in the business for control. I will take my chances with the ISP. I can fight business, but I am powerless against the government.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  3. SDN will change everything.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  4. Ed from SFV sez:

    We need more than one branch of the government to keep them in their place.

    More government regulation is the answer!

    Ag80 sez:

    Business is in business for profit. Government is in the business for control. I will take my chances with the ISP. I can fight business, but I am powerless against the government.

    A-f*cking-men!

    Also, you don’t have to fight business — other businesses will do that for you.

    If the government stays out of the way.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  5. There are other techies against a blanket ‘net neutrality’ , especially if the way it
    is done is by making all ISP as the old phone company utilities.
    people forget that there was extremely little innovation or push to cheaper services
    back in those days. International call for pennies? forget it. Car phones? only for the
    very wealthy. As SNL put it: the greatest innovation from the phone companies in the
    60s and 70s was the curly cord.

    ‘Net Neutrality’ would also cut both ways. Amazon/NetFlix/Hulu could not pay carriers
    more money to give their 4K content desired premium bandwidth.

    seeRpea (d2c6e3)

  6. I don’t trust business and trust the government even less. However, I know that when you have competition between businesses, the consumer wins, every time. The net is better without the government there to screw it up.

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  7. The markets are already really screwed up; there’s no competition so the ISPs are getting away with murder. They’re adding ads to every page you view, or stripping out the ads and replacing them with their own. Every site you load over an unencrypted (http) connection is logged by your ISP and used to guess what ads you might click on. They’re tampering with email traffic to prevent you from using encryption, because if you encrypt your connection to your email server then they can’t spy on it. If they could do the same to HTTPS they would be. Extorting money from Netflix (and probably others) is merely the latest abuse.

    Why is there no competition? Because the cable and wireless companies got themselves out of the existing regulation that provided for competition over the telephone network.

    The internet was built on the assumption that any machine on the internet could send any packets to any other machine on the internet without interference, and without having to clear anything with a central authority. Without some form of agreement that ISPs must be neutral, that simply isn’t true any more.

    Making all ISPs into common carriers (with all the baggage that entails) might hurt competition, but in practical terms that may not matter. Prior to the breakup of Bell, MCI was able to compete by building a parallel network (they used microwave transmission instead of copper wires) that could interoperate with the the telephone network. An MCI customer could call a Bell customer, and vice-versa. Bell sued them, MCI won, and suddenly it was legal to connect devices to the phone network that you hadn’t rented from Bell. This led to a wave of innovations like answering machines, automated voice mail, cell phones, dial-up modems, ISDN, DSL, etc. All of this innovation was possible because the telephone providers were made into common carriers.

    How is it different today? Google is building a parallel but interoperable network to compete with cable-based ISPs (fiber this time). Towns are building parallel but interoperable networks. ISPs are building parallel but interoperable networks. This is good, but because they’re not common carriers, each of these networks helps only one company or one town. If the cable companies were common carriers, then they could poach each other’s customers. If the fiber networks were common carriers, then they could do the same. DSL might be slow by today’s standards, but you can buy DSL service from a lot of companies with varying degrees of evilness. Don’t like how one runs their operation? You can switch and get exactly the same connection speed because the DSL is coming in over the same telephone wires, from the same telephone company’s POP. The traffic you send over that connection is simply handled by different people. This is how it should _always_ work.

    In spite of all of that, I doubt anything we do now except encrypting _all_ traffic will have any effect on the traffic tampering/spying; Bell used to record phone calls my the millions and never got in trouble for it, even though it was clearly illegal. I wish it were still illegal, but apparently it isn’t because everyone is doing it all the time. I don’t really trust users to get up and change providers, because it’s so hard to notice the problems. If your email client fails to get an encrypted connection to your email server, it doesn’t complain (or if it does, it’s in technobabble). If you’re getting popup ads, is that the website’s fault or your ISP’s fault? It’s basically impossible to tell, unless the traffic is all HTTPS. Videos that are slow to buffer are simply the way videos work, etc.

    This got super long. Basically, I think regulation is a good idea only because in it’s absence the big ISPs have become evil, directly harming their customers. In spite of that I think the only long-term solution is to encrypt everything, all the time.

    Patterico, I have to call you out. If you don’t want regulation, then you must protect your visitors yourself; enabling SSL isn’t all that difficult (actually, you want your server to speak TLS 1.2, but we still mostly call it SSL).

    db48x (275db6)

  8. “The next IMF meeting on SDR inclusion is not set, but will probably take place in early 2015. It is expected that China and the Yuan will be officially added to the SDR basket. Gold should also be watched carefully. There is a reason why the BRICS have been accumulating thousands of tons of the precious metal. The IMF introduction of gold into the SDR basket is inevitable, and a new Bretton Woods style-agreement has already been called for by a number of elites.”

    DNF (d34af1)

  9. Crony capitalism is a term for the hand-in-glove collusion of big business and authoritarian government.

    I hate to moot the subject, but a period of Republican Congressional control is an ideal cover for the trap door to be tripped.

    DNF (d34af1)

  10. Pat – when businesses rise to the power levels e.g. Wall Street, Insurance, Big Food, there simply has to be some brakes applied.

    When the judiciary refuses to hold the biggest entities to even basic rules of procedure and/or allows them to simply buy victories by forcing outrageous litigation costs on plaintiffs, there needs to be another weapon available.

    Why bother with the SEC? Right? Better to have something than nothing, in my opinion.

    We have got to have some TRUE neutrality imposed on the ISPs. Otherwise, the planned obsolescence will rise to epic levels.

    I don’t trust the weasels in DC, either. But, I do trust that enough of them could, just maybe, recognize enough votes to be had if they side with the angels that something decent could emerge.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  11. There are plenty of techies at verizon and comcast that aren’t so hot on net neutrality.

    jbroulie (da8bcd)

  12. I don’t understand what useful role, of any kind, the FCC can play in the internet except limiting the strength of wifi signals so they don’t step on the people’s next door. Can anybody help? Waht I think Chimpears Obamao McHollywood has in mined is blackmailing ISPs into giving free wifi to hsi foodstampers.

    nk (dbc370)

  13. Protecting competition, for one.

    jbroulie (da8bcd)

  14. Amen, Ag80. The idea that the government stepping in to control a problem that doesn’t really exist is absurd. We made it to this point without their meddling and interference. Surely they just want to make it cheaper, and faster, and more readily available.

    JD (285732)

  15. Protecting competition, for one.

    You mean like, “You have too many customers in Chicago, AT&T. Divest some to Daley & Janecko Wifi Inc.”? That kind of protecting competition?

    nk (dbc370)

  16. So, what number is jbroulie, imdw? 384 or 385?

    nk (dbc370)

  17. What number *alias*.

    nk (dbc370)

  18. Comment #8: Indeed, SSL/TLS can be done very cheaply – even free of charge. My webhost (DreamHost, but I suspect just about any shared host, much less the VPS or dedicated host Patterico is probably running on) and cert provider (StartSSL, though you may or may not agree with their business practices) charges me nothing to enable it for almost everyone save a few unfortunates still on Windows XP and IE, as well as the Android 2.x default browser.

    But the issue with Net neutrality is a complex one, and the conservative/libertarian approach is the less government, the better. I absolutely agree… it’s only that there’s already so *much* government. I don’t know that two wrongs will help make a right, though, so maybe we ought to leave it alone and let the markets (encumbered as they are) sort it out.

    Gregory Kong (dfcef0)

  19. I work in network security (I consult in one of the agencies.) One of the purported drivers for net neutrality is that we must have it to protect our infrastructure. Centralizing control will allow that!

    And Obamacare will let you keep your plan and your doctor!

    Why should we expect different results this time? Changing control of Congress won’t stop politicians from being politicians, or bureaucrats from being bureaucrats (nor will it replace many of the latter.)

    All net neutrality will do is give the government control over one more piece of our economy. And place it in a better position to control speech. And create more opportunities for our “representatives” to enrich themselves, along with the additional (and preexisting) bureaucrats who will be hired to enforce those regulations.

    If you think it will improve our overall security by 1% you are still a believer in keeping your own doctor under Obamacare. By adding layers of humans with normal human vices into the security process the overall security will most probably be decreased. Government is not held accountable for its failures and individuals working in government are mostly shielded. Companies who fail often disappear. Individuals in the private sector are fired out of hand. Often. Which system is more likely to produce the results we want, one where there are incentives against failure and for success or one whose only incentive is personal power and the players are mostly shielded from failures?

    Wall Street, insurance, big food are the problems they are perceived to be not because they are not sufficiently regulated, but because the regulators have been captured. Nonexistent regulators cannot be captured. Over time all regulators are captured. I have personal experience (on a lower level) with that phenomenon from both sides. Work with someone in an oppositional position long enough and you figure out ways to get along (aside from the less savory ways to capture the opposition, like blackmail, bribes, future considerations, etc.)

    An unregulated (or lightly-regulated) market may have its less-than-optimal moments, but overall they function far better (and with fewer bubbles, which mostly result from regulatory tampering in the markets) than the regulated ones.

    And the risks of tyranny increase with every notch we ratchet up government control.

    Government is not here to help. Government is here to control. And once that control is ubiquitous enough there is no help, there is only submission or revolt.

    Dan (00fc90)

  20. I voted for Harry Browne.

    (carlito pours out a little malt liquor for Mr. Browne and Big Bank Hank from the Sugar Hill Gang)

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  21. Just the IDEA of the Government getting involved in the internet has slowed
    the internet down.

    AT&T is halting new installations of Fiber until they find out what exactly
    the rules, if any, will be.

    Thanks government.

    jakee308 (d409c2)

  22. Seriously? That’s why I couldn’t get U-verse?

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  23. Trust the government, carlitos. They are looking out for you.

    JD (285732)

  24. I don’t get the uproar over Net Neutrality at this moment in time. What exactly is the issue that people dream is being tackled. I’ve heard people arguing that companies are paying to restrict or block access from competition. I’m not aware of this actually happening. Plus, the argument is made that ISPs have a monopoly in the market. Where is this monopoly? I’ve always been free to change a service provider. It isn’t like Electrical or Water where I only have one source coming into my home.

    Dejectedhead (393701)

  25. it’s the less stupid thing he’s tackling, first would be the bogus pledge to ji, second would be closing or transfering from Gitmo,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  26. The standard way Net neutrality is framed (for reference) is like this: Most of the large network providers (think Cogent, or Level3) work on a peering arrangement; if 1TB of data passes through from your network to mine, and 1TB of data passes through from my network to yours, then it netts out and we don’t pay each other for it. Which is fine for most purposes, because even if you download more than you upload from users, the same is true of all users, and assuming an even distribution of website activity across all the large networks, it will more or less nett out. And then you have Netflix, who *isn’t* on all the large networks (just a few), and HD video streaming, and suddenly, so much data is being pumped from Network A (where Netflix’s servers are) to Network C through Network B that Network B’s own customers get slowed down.

    So, obviously Network B is going to charge Network A for data transfers FAR in excess of peering arrangements, and guess who Network A is going to charge for it? Okay, fair enough so far. But Network B is probably also going to rate-limit whatever traffic is swamping its pipes (Netflix, obviously, but could be potentially anybody doing large one-sided streaming transfers), to better serve its own customers. If you want faster pipes for *your* traffic, Network B says, either you pay for my upgrades to my network required to carry it, or you pay to locate some of your servers within my network, so that you are now my customer.

    Now imagine what happens if Network B is Comcast. “OMG!!1! Anti-competitive!!!1!” (can’t you just hear the screams now)

    The proponents of Net neutrality argue that if ISPs can charge different bands for different speeds of different *types* of data, then customers will get shafted, because Netflix (a Comcast competitor) will have to pay higher fees, while Comcast IPTV traffic gets a free ride. That’s the essential issue – the Net neutrality guys essentially want all ISPs to be dumb pipes, and not care about what kind of traffic they’re carrying, or from where it’s from.

    Which, if that was all it was, won’t sound so bad, right? Except I think we can all see where this is going…

    Gregory Kong (dfcef0)

  27. narciso @25

    What is ji?

    Sammy Finkelman (dfa011)

  28. Dan (00fc90) — 11/13/2014 @ 6:23 am

    Government is not held accountable for its failures and individuals working in government are mostly shielded. Companies who fail often disappear.

    Very important observation.

    The only check on government is the poor check of the ballot box.

    Sammy Finkelman (dfa011)

  29. The only check on government is the poor check of the ballot box.

    From time to time there is another kind of check, involving heads, pikes and walls.

    Kevin M (56aae1)

  30. #28. That’s how I’ve understood the situation too. But if Comcast owns there own network, why in the world would they be required to give give there competitor a free ride over the infrastructure that they built and own. ISPs must control traffic and must charge for access.

    This seems so basic that I am having trouble determining exactly WHAT the complaint is.

    I guess it comes down to the “you didn’t build that” mindset.

    Dejectedhead (393701)

  31. Dejectedhead: the problem is that an ISP’s customers have already paid the ISP to deliver any packets that the customer requests, from anyone, at some more or less predetermined speed (50 or 100 Mbps isn’t uncommon for cable). The customer sent a request to Netflix asking for a video stream, and Comcast arranged for that stream to be delivered at a fraction of the rate the customer had paid for. Had the customer made a similar request for a video stream from Comcast’s own video streaming service, that request would have been served promptly and at as high a rate as possible.

    Similarly, Netflix has it’s own ISP, who they pay and who delivers those incoming requests and the outgoing replies.

    Feel free to put yourself in Netflix’s shoes here; They’re merely the most high-profile victim. Imagine how you’d feel if you had to pay your ISP to deliver your traffic, and then found that you also had to pay every other ISP that exists in order to deliver that same traffic to your customers. Ultimately, of course, you would end up having to pass that extra cost on to your customers; Comcast is simply shafting their own customers. They can do this because there’s no competition for those customers, and there’s no competition because they’re not required to act as a common carrier.

    db48x (275db6)

  32. #33. I’ve thought about it from Netflix’s perspective, yes, it runs counter to their business model. But the issue is that they are bandwidth hogs and ISPs have to manage the bandwidth otherwise all customers on their networks can suffer slow down. I don’t see what Comcast is doing as screwing their customers.

    I can see the anti-competitive angle if Comcast is willing to be a bandwidth hog itself. But, why is there no competition for the customers? That’s the aspect of this that I don’t understand, ISPs don’t have a monopoly. Why not handle these practices through anti-competition laws? The problem is not as pervasive as they make it seem and the solution is totally overblown.

    Dejectedhead (393701)

  33. Comcast has no competition because they’re not treated as a common carrier. This means that they don’t have to allow other parties to sell services using their network the way the (wired) telephone companies do. Even though there are multiple cable companies, each town or neighborhood is only served by one of them.

    Contrast this with DSL, which operates over the (wired) telephone network. I buy my DSL service from Sonic.net, but AT&T owns the lines and actually provides the DSL connection. Because Sonic.net provides the actual internet service though, I don’t have to put up with AT&T’s shenanigans.

    Why are cable and telephone networks treated differently? It used to be because they were used for very different things. A telephone call or a DSL connection are point-to-point connections between my local equipment and the telephone company. Every time I pick up the phone to make a call the phone company can update their billing records accordingly. Compare that with cable, where the cable company is broadcasting multiple channels down every cable connection simultaneously. If two companies were sharing the network, they would have to broadcast on different channels, and there would need to be a authorization mechanism allowing the customers access to one or the other set of channels, rather than both. Of course, after the invention of pay-per-view this was possible, but the precedent had been set and there was plenty of advantage to keeping the network to yourself.

    Today though all of that traffic can be sent via IP, television included, and IP is packet-switched. This makes it really, really easy to allow many companies to sell service via the same network, even easier than with the circuit-switched telephone networks.

    As for throttling Netflix to prevent congestion to Comcast’s customers? That’s hogwash; it’s actually quite easy to prove that there is no congestion within Comcast’s network to mitigate. Besides, if there were, that would mean Comcast simply oversold and underdelivered. The specific way that they slowed down Netflix here was to make sure that there was congestion at the _edge_ of Comcast’s network, where traffic entered it. Upgrades here are especially cheap, because each side of that connection pays for a single router, and a few inches of cable to plug them together. (Usually the router has many ports, and you connect together one port from each side at a time, as needed; this splits the cost of the router over several upgrades with several peers.) That router might cost $10k or $20k, but that’s peanuts compared to the amount their subscribers are paying them.

    That congestion affected lots of people other than Netflix; there was an interesting article recently about a company having a huge amount of trouble getting their employees VPN to work which turned out to be caused by that same congestion. Thus Comcast’s actions harm everyone, not just Netflix. Any other ISP that does the same will similarly harm everyone. (I don’t have the link handy though; I’ll have to go find it.)

    db48x (275db6)

  34. When the Federal government gets involved with market regulation, it almost always turns into a disaster. If you like regulations that locked you into only black telephones for over 60 years, you will love what the FCC will do to the internet. Government market regulation invariably stifles competition, chills innovation and investment, is unresponsive to the needs of consumer and producer and ends up making political, not rational decisions. Innovation and risk taking will slow to crawl if the FCC treats the internet as a utility. Just look at the ratemaking procedures of any state or federal utility regulatory agency and you will see what I mean.

    In the days since the President announced support of utility status, AT&T has announced it will halt fiber optic installations until it knows the ramifications. 3 years ago when the FCC said it would issue internet rules, both of the leading cell phone companies, AT&T and Verizon, established tiered pricing fearful the FCC would permanently lock them into unlimited usage it might not be able to deliver on.

    There will be a need to “ration” speed when demand exceeds capacity. The CEO of Verizon once stated that 50 individuals live streaming video will bog down a cell tower. Already the Federal Trade Commission is taking on AT&T for slowing down unlimited users after usage exceeded certain limits. The FTC is the agency that should handle unfair business practices, not the FCC. DOJ should handle anti-trust issues. The FCC will make a mess of things.

    Corky Boyd (f38e2c)

  35. Saying Comcast has no competition is an unmitigated brazen lie.

    JD (fb69bb)

  36. > If you like regulations that locked you into only black telephones for over 60 years, you will love what the FCC will do to the internet.

    These regulations don’t exist any more; they went away when MCI won their case against Bell. I’m not even sure that prior to that there were any laws restricting interoperable devices; I’ve always understood that it was simply that subscribers had to agree not to attach non-Bell equipment to the network. The common carrier regulations that came about after this were intended to make it possible to innovate by restricting how the network operators could interfere with their customers.

    Of course they’ve mutated over time to become a tool to prevent new players from entering the market. I don’t say it would be a great solution, or even a good one; only that it’s the only legal solution readily available. It’s the only existing set of laws that could be used to solve the problems at hand.

    The only long-term solution is to encrypt all traffic, all the time. Even then your ISP can play games based the source or destination of your traffic, and then you can step up your game with VPNs to disguise that. Your VPN provider could play those same games, but there’s a huge amount of competition there; once you’re on the net you can use any VPN provider.

    > Saying Comcast has no competition is an unmitigated brazen lie.

    There are some alternatives but they’re not equal. You could get DSL, but it’ll be one tenth the speed. You could get wireless, but it’ll be one percent of the speed on a good day. (And yes, cell towers have truly anemic bandwidth capabilities today). Maybe you can get fiber, but those networks are quite small. What you cannot do is subscribe to a different cable service, short of buying a house in a different town or neighborhood.

    db48x (275db6)

  37. Having unequal choices does not mean there is not competition. Period. Full stop. Yet you continue to lie. I can choose between multiple cable providers – Comcast, AT&T, Brighthouse, satellite, not to mention services available via cell.

    JD (285732)

  38. I had better customer service with Bell than I do now.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  39. Lying about the little easily disproven things calls everything else into question.

    JD (285732)

  40. “What you cannot do is subscribe to a different cable service, short of buying a house in a different town or neighborhood.”

    Objectively untrue

    JD (285732)

  41. “In the days since the President announced support of utility status, AT&T has announced it will halt fiber optic installations until it knows the ramifications. 3 years ago when the FCC said it would issue internet rules, both of the leading cell phone companies, AT&T and Verizon, established tiered pricing fearful the FCC would permanently lock them into unlimited usage it might not be able to deliver on.”

    Fiber infrastructure facilities shoot out the arses of rainbow unicorns… you can google it.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  42. “You have too many customers in Chicago, AT&T. Divest some to Daley & Janecko Wifi Inc.”

    More like “AT&T, you can’t require that people rent phones from you to use your phone lines.”

    jbroulie (da8bcd)

  43. “I can choose between multiple cable providers – Comcast, AT&T, Brighthouse, satellite, not to mention services available via cell.”

    Oh if you can get it, no problem then.

    jbroulie (da8bcd)

  44. Karl Denninger at Market-Ticker.org had an article a few months back that clarifies some of the issues here.

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=229021

    (It was titled “The Net Neutrality Debacle: A Submission To The FCC” and dated 5/17/14)

    He followed up later with

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=229528

    (“On Net Neutrality (Again)”, dated 10/24/14)

    These (especially the first) give a good basis for understanding the arguments about what is “fair” (and why Gov’t should keep its ever-lovin’ nose OUT of business).

    A_Nonny_Mouse (e74685)

  45. Given the recent stories about attacking conservative users on Twitter(?) and Obama’s TRUTH SQUADS during the election, plus memories of the fairness doctrine that still gets thrown around, I can only imagine the rampant and open abuse we would see of government regulation of the internet. They are already floating the idea. I’m sure the Democrats would not dream of sniffing around this site for signs of “bias” or “hate speech”, right?

    The lines of men with bags of money at legislator’s and bureaucrats’ offices would stretch around city blocks.

    machinist (313c6a)

  46. I remember when, as a conservative, I was so desperate for unbiased news I resorted to PBS as the lessor evil.Then came talk radio and Fox. Then Paul Weyrich’s NET network. Then the internet…WONDERFUL! FREEDOM!! Patterico’s!!!

    Now people want to give control of the internet to a politically weaponized FCC in the hands of a corrupt Democrat President, like the ones that politicized the FBI, IRS, SEC, DHS, the Pentagon and so many other organizations? God help us.

    machinist (313c6a)

  47. The claim was NO competition, which is objectively untrue. Imdw is just playing its normal silly word games.

    JD (fb69bb)

  48. Machinist – you should just trust their naked power grab. One that the Courts laughed at previously. What could possibly go wrong?

    JD (fb69bb)

  49. You might enjoy reading the Scalia opinion in Brand X, if you like to read about the executive ability to ignore legislative text when it comes to regulating broadband.

    jbroulie (da8bcd)

  50. SQUIRREL !!!!!

    JD (fb69bb)

  51. Ironically that’s big ask on net neutrality: follow Scalia’s opinion.

    jbroulie (da8bcd)

  52. @db48x: Yes, generally speaking, it’s the edge of the networks that are an issue – the routers that shunt the traffic between the ISP’s network (rather than right through it) and the next ISP’s network. But if you have a large number of Netflix customers within Network B (as per my example), then yeah, that huge bandwidth-hogging amount of data is going to clog up the pipes for everyone else, because it’s going to go right /through/ the network.

    Here’s how it works where I am, though. My fibre ISP gives me an unlimited all-you-can-eat 10Mbps connection, but specifically states that my (home/consumer) service is ‘best effort’. It also sells me IPTV services, which come on a separate VLAN and is not subject to the bandwidth constraints. If I want to watch Hulu, or BBC’s iPlayer, or CrunchyRoll, that stuff comes through on my standard connection along with my email, Web access and filesharing. And you know what? I’m fine with that.

    So what’s happening now is that Net neutrality wants to regulate how ISPs make money. And you know what? No, just no. Sure, that’s how it *starts*, but that’s never how it ends. Let the markets sort it out.

    @Dejectedhead: The issue is that this is the *one* thing most proponents focus on, not realising that the moment you bring in Net neutrality, you open the floodgates for everything else. The problem we have is with current pricing models. Consumer pricing models no longer reflect the way usage patterns have shifted over the years… but people are used to the current pricing models (if you tried to impose a bandwidth cap where I am, you would hear the howls from two continents away). ISPs are trying to work with content providers to see how they can make the costings work… and Net neutrality will, well, neuter their efforts.

    Gregory Kong (dfcef0)

  53. Who seeks this “Net neutrality?” LIBTARDS. game over.

    Gus (7cc192)

  54. Free hand capitalism, huh? Wow. Except to do that, we need laws to make the cables available to use, like England. They were paid for by the public, and we should rent them out to lots of companies, not just the one.

    Considering Europe has internet that is roughly 5-10 times better than ours, as well as cheaper, and currently the government is not involved in our internet at all – I think this argument is trash.

    We already have very less oversight than most. Our internet is awful.

    Also, Comcast has no competition – for approximately 75% of americans, there is only one choice in high speed internet.

    The market has failed – and you guys just don’t want to see it. Argue based on real facts, for once. Or maybe read about what England did, and why it worked.

    Jeez, but don’t pretend to be ‘pro-business’. At best, you guys are hired PR reps.

    Brian (dabd65)

  55. Gregory: if your ISP can deliver really fast streams at full rate from their own video streaming service, then they can deliver 10Mbps streams from Netflix to many, many customers without a problem. You’re more likely to experience congestion from your ISPs streaming service than from Netflix. Luckily TCP already handles congestion quite well; once it detects congestion the sender will start the exponential back-off and within a few seconds everyone on the network will be sharing the network equally. And yes, that’ll happen even if the other traffic is on a different VLAN.

    It doesn’t really matter though; if you’re experiencing congestion then your ISP has oversubscribed it’s network, and needs to expand it. In theory that’ll cut into profits, of course, but profits have gone up continuously since the internet was commercialized. Equipment gets cheaper and faster and easier to manage every year, and so is replaced regularly regardless, reducing costs and increasing available bandwidth at the same time.

    All that aside, the situation with Comcast and Netflix is worse. They’re actively creating congestion at the edges of their network in order to extort more money from Netflix, harming their own customers interests not just with regards to Netflix-related traffic, but for all other traffic headed through the same interconnections as well.

    They can do this because there’s no competition.

    db48x (275db6)

  56. Thanks for your fact-free rant, Brian.

    JD (fb69bb)

  57. Repeating an overt lie seems to be the MO for the authoritarians.

    JD (fb69bb)

  58. Even IF the “market has failed”, that does not lead to the conclusion that more government regulation will be better.
    That’s the problem with many things. Some people see a problem and jump to the conclusion that “they” being “independent” “experts” and government “working for the good of society” will automatically do it better. No, they are people too, subject to corrupting influences, just in different forms and often with less accountability. Once entrenched in a government bureaucracy with government unions and work rules and only distant oversight, they’re off to the races.

    If nothing else, as long as something is in the private sector you can get a lawyer and bring a civil claim against someone, if not criminal. Once it is part of the feds, who are you going to turn to for redress???

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  59. Gregory: the concern that I have is that, for example, Time Warner (the dominant provider in my area) has a strong incentive to charge more for Netflix than for HBO-Go (because of the way it effects non-internet-providing parts of their business), and in much of my area, Time Warner has *no* competition for broadband dollars.

    Which means that, until and unless such competition arises, my ability to do what I want online is subject to the whims of my ISP – even though I’m paying my ISP to deliver whatever packets I request.

    aphrael (b8e786)

  60. MD – they want a government power grab. They yearn for it. It is their go-to for any “problem”.

    JD (fb69bb)

  61. Aphrael – you cannot have Time Warner. Comcast has a monopoly. NO competition.

    JD (fb69bb)

  62. Similarly, i’m surprised that readers here aren’t concerned that someone like Comcast or TWC will filter traffic from blogs and independent news sites and route it more slowly than traffic from CNN, Fox, and other big news sources who can pay for delivery.

    aphrael (b8e786)

  63. JD – I suspect that in many of the cities where Comcast is a provider, they have no or little competition. Usually cable is a local area monopoly (says the man whose first job was for a cable company :)).

    Now, you can always *move*, right? But that seems like an unreasonable measure of effective competition.

    aphrael (b8e786)

  64. > That’s the essential issue – the Net neutrality guys essentially want all ISPs to be dumb pipes, and not care about what kind of traffic they’re carrying, or from where it’s from.

    Yes, exactly.

    aphrael (b8e786)

  65. As I said above, that is not my experience, I have at least 3 choices. But several of the authoritarians above have unequivocally stated, falsely, that Comcast has NO competition.

    JD (fb69bb)

  66. JD – in NYC, at least, there are three broadband providers:

    * FiOs (Verizon)
    * RCN
    * TWC

    that said, FiOs is only available in part of the city, as is RCN, and a large percentage of the city *only* has access to TWC.

    Now, there are non-broadband options. But, honestly … for many purposes non-broadband isn’t an option any more.

    aphrael (b8e786)

  67. Addendum: evidently *some* parts of the city also have service through Cablevision, which I’d not heard of.

    aphrael (b8e786)

  68. Usage patterns and trends would interest me. I bet the percentage of people using smartphones, tablets, iPads, etc … Is dramaticallt growing in comparison to wired computers.

    JD (fb69bb)

  69. @aphrael: Sorry, your name always reminds me of David Eddings’ Child Goddess (Elenium/Tamuli series, a rollicking good read).

    Yes, I agree that in theory, getting the ISPs to be basically dumb pipes is a great idea. However… it *never* ends there. ISPs even now are not dumb pipes. They limit access to port 25 (SMTP). They do deep packet inspection to ensure that BitTorrent can be blocked or rate-limited. They get subpoenas to hand over their server logs. They offer triple-play services (Voice, Video, Internet). They may even provide you private, non-routable IPs. Do you think that additional regulation will make them into dumb pipes?

    I admittedly don’t know what the outlays for laying cable are. From what I do know, the last-mile is usually the most expensive (and therefore the most contentious) part of the whole thing. If you truly wanted competition on that basis (dumb pipe provision), then the answer is not Net neutrality, it’s actually opening up the last-mile market. Just as any number of people can sell you ADSL or electricity in Australia, for example (including a Tasmanian power company selling to people in Melbourne, which is rather much like an Alaskan power company selling to people in Washington). And guess what the FCC did to the states who told BellSouth back in 2005 to start selling naked DSL (and let others do the same thing)?

    I, too, want dumb pipes. You know how I get them? By subscribing to a VPN. All data goes through SSL, no ISP in the world knows what I’m doing, hence no prioritisation of any traffic over any other traffic – you use a technical solution for a technical problem.

    Gregory Kong (dfcef0)

  70. Data, sure.
    At 25mbps and above, the fcc reports 75% of Americans have no choice in service provider.

    Europe’s service is cheaper, faster, and better – I won’t bother with all the links.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/upshot/why-the-us-has-fallen-behind-in-internet-speed-and-affordability.html?abt=0002&abg=1

    Creating a competitive marketplace is not ‘authoritarian’. It’s common sense.

    Brian (dabd65)

  71. > By subscribing to a VPN. All data goes through SSL, no ISP in the world knows what I’m doing, hence no prioritisation of any traffic over any other traffic – you use a technical solution for a technical problem

    Until your ISP decides that VPN traffic should be given lowest priority on its network.

    > Just as any number of people can sell you ADSL or electricity in Australia

    The way that worked when California deregulated its electricity market is that the owner of the physical last mile was hived off into a seperate company from the providers, and was allowed to charge *them* regulated rates to use the last mile to deliver to the customer, who then had a choice between providers. The owner of the last mile was not allowed to discriminate between providers or between traffic.

    This was fought tooth and nail by the large providers.

    A similar system would work for broadband, but its adoption would be assiduously opposed by many of the same interests that are opposed to net neutrality.

    aphrael (b8e786)

  72. > @aphrael: Sorry, your name always reminds me of David Eddings’ Child Goddess (Elenium/Tamuli series, a rollicking good read).

    No reason to be sorry!

    I’ve read the books and enjoyed them. The name wasn’t intended as a reference to that character when I picked it out of a hat for my first shell account 23 years ago – but it’s been my name online ever since, and I can understand how the reference would arise. :)

    aphrael (b8e786)

  73. Actually, here in Los Angeles, where TWC is the only cable company (having traded properties to make it so) there is competition, of a sort. There is FiOs is some areas (only where Verizon is the incumbent telco) and there is AT&T, the other phone company with DSL and faster broadband in some places (not mine). There are also other players like COVAD with smaller fiber operations.

    The real problem for the other competition, though, is that TWC Cable is rolling out 300M/20M service throughout the region, and moving everyone up in speed without charge. 100 -> 200, 20 -> 100, etc.

    FiOs can’t compete, AT&T DSL is still at 6Mbps, the other fiber options are below 50Mbps.

    THAT DAMN TWC is competing UNFAIRLY by providing far better service at far lower prices. We need a LAW!

    Kevin M (d91a9f)

  74. @aphrael: Actually, VPN traffic mostly flows through SSL/TLS (HTTPS or port 443) now, due to PPTP having massive security issues. There are a gazillion VPN providers out there. With the entire WWW going secure, it would be a nightmare for ISPs to put lowest priority on HTTPS traffic, because that will soon be 90% of all Web traffic anyway.

    Be it as it may, my contention is that we should not give regulators more power, but deregulate further. Net neutrality is the wrong *method*. Maybe opening up the last mile is the right one to encourage competition, I don’t know – but as long as we don’t hand more powers to a regulator, or worse, *create* a new one, the options should be studied carefully and not jumped into straightaway.

    Gregory Kong (dfcef0)

  75. The Internet may be dying and replaced by Apps:

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-web-is-dying-apps-are-killing-it-1416169934?mod=trending_now_4

    The artivle says this is very bad, as there is no search function for apps, and the charge for third party vendors is much higher than with credit cards. It says that developers are now not making things available for the web – at least Google is writing something called Inbox, only for Android and Apple’s iOS, and it’s own browser: Chrome.

    It’s probably not really dying.

    If you want universiality, you want something something to be available on the web. Business and news content will not go away – Android and iOs is additional (private) stuff. It may be replacing, to some degree, laptops, but not the Internet.

    Sammy Finkelman (a248bd)


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