Net Neutrality

Did President Obama Break the Internet with His Call for Net Neutrality?

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So President Obama has announced that the Internet should effectively be regulated as a public utility along the lines of the old-time Ma Bell phone system. He's asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify internet traffic from information services (or Title I services under current Communications Act rules) to telecommunication services (or Title II services).

Obama is old enough to know better. If you think cable companies and internet service providers (ISPs) absolutely suck at customer service (and they pretty much do), they're simply faint echoes of the old Bell system, which set the standard for awfulness. "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company," joked the comedian Lily Tomlin back in the late '60s and early '70s. Public utilities and government-granted monopolies — the only sort that actually stick around for very long — are rarely famous for their customer service and innovative practices. "The Phone Company" was enough of a cultural shorthand for all that was bad, rotten, and bureaucratic in American life that it was the super-villain in the 1967 black comedy The President's Analyst

That's from my new Time column.

One of the main arguments undergirding calls for reclassification and Net Neutrality more generally is the idea that ISPs are monopolies and thus immune to market forces that increase customer choice and satisfaction. That's simply not true.

According to the FCC's own findings, the speed and variety of American Internet connections are growing substantially every year. Despite claims that monopolistic ISPs don't have to listen to customers, 80% of households have at least two providers that can deliver the internet at 10Mbps or faster, which is FCC's top rating. It's in the increasingly intense battle over customers that a thousand flowers will bloom; all sorts of interesting, stupid, and dumb innovations will be tried; users will be empowered; and tomorrow's Internet will look radically different from today's.

And maybe, just maybe, customer service will be light years better than what was offered by the phone company of Obama's youth.

Read the whole thing here.

NEXT: Ira Stoll Advises the Incoming GOP Congress Against Passing New Laws

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  1. So the federal government needs to regulate the ISP’s “because” they are monopolies ? Wut ?

    1. I’m so pissed off at my monopoly, Comcast, that I’m seriously thinking of switching to Centurylink.

  2. There are also the phone cops from WKRP.

    Increased regulation of the Internet is a stupid idea. Naturally Obama supports it.

    1. My favorite is where he said, “no company should be able to pay extra for priority.” When he really meant, “Netflix and Google are pissed that they are asked to pay extra to guarantee their customer’s experience via a third party.” And yet Amazon has to pay extra to get stuff to me second day like my Prime membership states. What’s the difference?

      1. If you can’t pay extra for better service, what they hell *can* you pay extra for?

        Oh. Pull. Now I get it.

        1. This is a good point. Perhaps no company should be able to pay extra for regulatory capture. Won’t Disney and Google be pissed.

        2. You can pay extra for some FCC fees and regulations to make sure nobody gets better service.

          It’s called freedom my friend.

        3. Paying extra for better service is racist.

    2. Yes!

      Loved the phone police scene.

      Obama is my age. . . he should remember that the phone company used to own ALL the phones.

  3. Just when you think he can’t get any worse…

  4. Did President Obama Break the Internet with His Call for Net Neutrality?

    No, because it hasn’t been implemented. What a silly headline.

    1. That’s what they said about the $15 minimum wage.

  5. I’m pretty sure he just called for Verizon to be turned into Comcast and still got all the cable haters to cheer. So for that, I applaud him.

  6. I have two cable company options. There’s no reason ISPs have to be monopolies, even if they use the same technology.

    1. Lucky you. I have one.

  7. Dr. Sidney Schaefer: You know, one thing I learned from my patients… they all hate the phone company. It’s interesting; even the stock holders of the phone company hate the phone company!

    V.I. Kydor Kropotkin: I know. Bedouins hate the phone company. Matter of fact, I’ve never been in a country where everybody didn’t hate the phone company.

    -The President’s Analyst

    1. read the first line of the article and started searching for President’s Analyst clips …

      http://youtu.be/MJi5Ry855H4

  8. Blow me

    This idea that Republicans would honor the fact that he was elected ? twice ? almost seems quaint. It angered; it didn’t assuage.

    Last time I checked, the election does not bestow upon our President dictatorial powers.

    1. Not to mention the giant repudiation last week.

    2. checks and balances are so last century

    3. What an idiot. Do you want to know what actually not honoring the fact that he was elected would actually look like? Ignore the elections and installing their own, Republican president. Overthrowing the executive branch. You know, violent revolution, that sort of thing.

    4. Well, then I guess you haven’t checked since January 2009, then have you?

      /Progtard

    5. Don’t you remember how much the left “honored the fact that Bush was elected – twice”?

    6. And none of Mr. Obama’s opponents ever got elected. The Koch brothers placed a call and poof! the guys are in office.

    7. What is it about these simpletons that they can’t grasp even the most simple and basic concepts about government?

      This stupid cocksucker managed to graduate university and get a job where he is published in the ….oh. Now I get it.

    8. What a child.

    9. I like the part where he tells the Republicans to go out and win an election.

  9. They’re going to fuck this up. One of the best things we have going right now, and they are going to fuck it up.

    Damn them. Damn them all to hell.

  10. Ernestine calling Martha Mitchell is one of the great moments in TV history.

    1. +1 ringy dingy

  11. So President Obama has announced that the Internet should effectively be regulated as a public utility along the lines of the old-time Ma Bell phone system.

    so remind me again what happened after the break up of Ma Bell. Something about a lot of competing carriers, lower prices, and the development of new technology comes to mind, but I could be misremembering.

    1. All the pay phones disappeared, that’s what happened. It’s chaos out there.

      1. The pay phones disappeared because people kept ripping off the coin boxes in them. That and the fact that inflation is so bad that the boxes aren’t large enough to hold all the coins it would take to make a phone call these days.

        Even if they used only credit cards, now people would steal the phones for the copper and other metals in them. Society is being over run with human cockroaches.

        1. It’s strange that your explanation omits the fact that everybody carries a phone around with them already.

          1. Yeah, I think that might be the bigger reason. I don’t think that the rise of cell phones coincided with a massive uptick in payphone thefts. As the last person in the world to get a cell phone, I found that annoying.

          2. It’s strange that your explanation omits the fact that everybody carries a phone around with them already.

            Yes, most people do now, but they didn’t always, because they were expensive. Providers used to charge for both incoming and outgoing calls – still do, I guess, if you don’t have a monthly plan of some kind. I’ve no doubt that cells played a part in driving out pay phones, just as they are presently driving out land lines.

            So which came first – pay phone ripoffs or cell phone ubiquity? Or did they more or less occur simultaneously? And if there were no cell phones, would there still be pay phones? If so, how much more expensive would they be? I know for a fact that in many cases business establishments stopped having them because the phone companies wanted the establishments to make up for any losses.

            Btw, not everyone carries a cell phone – I’ve never owned one. I almost don’t really need a land line either.

      2. They still have pay phones in Canada. Not sure why…

        1. Check this out:

          http://www.techvibes.com/blog/…..2013-05-03

          I’m left with the impression that Canada still has them because they’re not allowed to get rid of them.

          1. That makes sense.

          2. Yeah, sounds about right.

        2. Getting rid of payphones is racist.

    2. Competition made us great. Regulation is making us ungreat. So, by all means, let’s do more of the latter.

      1. Competition made YOU great. But what about all the little people out there who got screwed over by competition?

        /sincere academic

        1. But there are so many countries without any hint of a free market. Why not move there, and let the oppression of America’s resurgent capitalism fund your dreams?

          1. And ABANDON America to you psychotic greed monsters?!

            /sincere academic

  12. I can think of only two reasons why Obama would want to regulate the internet as a public utility:

    1. Taxation. The Feds have had a raging hard-on for implementing a sales tax scheme across the internet. Doubtless that once the FCC gets involved, the IRS won’t be far behind.

    2. Censorship. Obama is no stranger to using the federal bureaucracies to impose his will on those who disagree with him, whether it’s sending the Justice Department after whistleblowers, or the IRS after conservatives. Any enforcement of the internet as telecommunication services will likely fall heavier on TEAM Red supporters than TEAM Blue.

    1. The primary purpose of the announcement is merely to change the subject.

    2. Maybe I’m not out in the wild enough, but net neutrality seems like such a niche issue with such little actual negative impact that it’s hard to see anything but ulterior motives.

      1. this is a big boy game not for the hoi polloi.

        Being knee deep in this pile of shit myself I understand clearly why this is a big deal to many parties involved. The consumer will be little affected in the early stages but in the long run will be screwed.

        1. In which way?
          The way I see it Net Neutrality basically makes it impossible to reliably do streaming video.

          How are you supposed to reliably deliver streaming video without prioritizing video packets at bottlenecks?

          1. Net Neutrality means everyone has the same crappy service or the same outstanding service, and everyone pays the same price regardless of individual consumption.

            The fundamental contradiction of government is that that the equal protection clause requires a one-size-fits-all solution for every fucking government-provided or -regulated service. At the same time, one-size-fits-all is inherently a lie.

            Everything the government touches turns to shit eventually (see VA hospitals).

          2. The debate and vested interests are primarliy located in the ISPs, CDNs, LECs/CLECs?MSOs, and the Content creators (Viacom, Sony, etc.) While the little guy WILL BE affected, he will not notice right away and he will have ZERO say in the final result. This is a giant pissing match between big companies which are using the government to get their way, one way or the other. Netflix and Acamai Vs. Level 3 Vs. the MSOs was a perfect example of what is going on.

            I could write a white paper on it. There is a ton of nuance and dozens of competing interests at play. Nowhere does Joe Schmoe fit into that discussion.

            1. That is an article I would really like to see written.
              The writers at Reason don’t seem to have too deep of a grasp at it.

              However, I do see how a lot of this is a fight between content providers and ISPs over whether heavy-traffic websites basically get to use third party networks’ bandwidth for free.

              And the internet nerds who are agitating for net neutrality for their torrents are basically bit players. Pawns in what is really a big fight in which Amazon and Netflix are enlisting the state in their negotiations over what they should pay Verizon for using their fiber.

              1. That is an article I would really like to see written.

                Seconded

                1. What is this? Some kind of poll?

                  1. As a millennial, I’m also in favor of seeing this white paper.

          3. You really can’t under a pure version. I’m guessing that Netflix figures they (and other content providers) will be able to game the regulations to mandate fast lanes for specific classes of traffic, which will naturally include those types that are especially sensitive to congestion like video. Which is to say that it ends up like every other regulatory apparatus in history.

            So the internet will be screwed in the name of Net Neutrality and the statists out there will continue to claim that their ideas were great but those damn corporations just hijacked them to their own ends.

          4. Duh, everyone gets superfast Internet that can easily stream HD video.

            It’s so easy!

    3. I think both of these have been the FCC’s motives all along. The Internet is, in many ways, not under government control. They crave that control.

    4. I see no.2 as his biggest motivation.

      1. It’s kind of a workaround for the whole warrant thing isn’t it?

  13. Until the average American has TWO choices for broadband the ISP businesses are monopoly providers.

    1. I have 4 in a small market. Cable, two DSL and Setellite. I can get any deal between 5Mb/s down and 200kps up to 25MB/s down and 8 up. That’s just residential service without having fiber run from the box to my house. This is a non starter.

      1. DSL averages 4Mbps. It is just twisted pair copper from the mid 20th century.

        1. Ok, so you pay for a service and aren’t happy with what you’re getting?

          How does the government being involved solve that problem? Are they going to guarantee quality? That should be guaranteed in the terms of your contract.

          Name one other industry where the government regulated quality into existence.

        2. I live in a rural area with a single copper trunk on a 60 mile run to the nearest metro and the phone company offers 6 Mbps. Given the national and state averages, I kinda doubt your figure, unless the cable cos are pulling the average up by 6 or 7 times. And if they are, by all means, let’s regulate their pricing model…

          1. He is an idiot, ignore him.

          2. Damn, I must live in the worst place in the country for internet service. I can get satellite or long range wireless at 1 Mb/s. No DSL for some reason and no cable. And no cell service of any kind (can sometimes send text messages from my house if you wave the phone around over your head).

        3. What does it matter if that is sufficient for someone?

        4. Yeah two twisted wires of copper, otherwise known as an impedance controlled differential transmission line, with PAM encoding delivering multiple bits per symbol change. Completely worthless.

    2. 80% of households have at least two providers that can deliver the internet at 10Mbps or faster, which is FCC’s top rating.

      Derp.

      1. 10Mbps is pathetic. My cell phone gets 18Mbps. Of course they charge by the Gb.

        1. Way to introduce cellular service to undermine your own point even further, shit for brains.

        2. I just clocked my connection and got 34 Mbps download and 11 Mbps upload. I work from home and actually need to do some data-intensive stuff, relative to the average American. My connection is more than sufficient. Further, a substantial portion of that 80% could have access to speeds in excess of 10 Mbps. And according to Pew, 70% of adults have broadband home internet. The number that have access to such and simply don’t use it could be higher.

          So, once again, derp.

          1. More importantly, my connection is more than sufficient for streaming and downloading porn. So derpity derp derp derp.

          2. It’s only pathetic because The Weigel says so. That is the extent of his intellectual capacity.

          3. I have one choice – Charter. Their service is superb but they keep raising their rates. TV/Broadband is now $160 per month. I doubt they double that but I would have to pay.

            No satellite for me.

            1. Their service is superb but they keep raising their rates.

              Is it because they’re greedy corporatists?

              Gee, the price of a lot of things seem to be going up. I wonder what could be causing that? Since the economy is fully recovered thanks to the great insight of our dear leader, it couldn’t possibly be inflation.

            2. To the extent that you’re unhappy with you service, FCC regulation will make it worse. The status quo isn’t good but this is going to make it worse.

              But getting back to your derp, you said “average American” not “me”. So you’re anecdote does nothing to support the claim you made above.

    3. Go fuck yourself. Your constant bullshit adds negative value to any discussion on H&R. You are an egregious polluter, way beyond basic trollish behavior.

      1. I am convinced he is a paid liar. Acorn or some such Obumble fellators pay him.

        He would lie if the truth served him better.

        Tell us again shreek how the stock market is flat after the midterms.

    4. Furthermore, to the extent that monopolies do exist, FCC regulation will only help to entrench and perpetuate them. So double derp.

      1. Exactly. How exactly does government regulation help that fact that there’s not a lot of competition among ISPs?

        It’s just going to legitimize regulatory capture in that industry. The big money among ISPs is going to lobby for tough restrictions and regulations that smaller ISPs can’t afford, creating barriers to entry in the market.

        Meanwhile, censorship is going to run rampant because no ISP that doesn’t agree to share information (probably without a warrant)with any agency that asks for it is going to be denied a license to provide services to people willing to pay for it.

        1. Raise the barriers to entry, get the big players to sell out there customers to the government – taxes, data, restrictions.

    5. Do you even read the articles, asshole?

      1. In demfag’s defense (ugh), most of us don’t read the article.

        (I actually did read the article this time and somehow I knew he’d be along to fellate Obama and lie out of his ass.)

    6. “80% of households have at least two providers that can deliver the internet at 10Mbps or faster,”

      Reading is hard.

    7. Until the average American has TWO choices for broadband the ISP businesses are monopoly providers.

      Why is that? I just can’t figure out WHY some municipalities only have one provider…

  14. My favorite part of arguing with the Neutrality fascists is that when you tell them that we shouldn’t let the government decide pricing for internet service the conversation goes like this-

    them: “It’s not about letting the government set prices, it’s about stopping Comcast from blocking websites because they use more bandwidth.”

    Me:”So how are you going to stop Comcast from doing this?”

    Them: “By making them charge the same for people no matter what sites they visit.”

    me:”So you want the government setting prices?”

    Them: “THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID YOU AYN RAND LOVING SELFISH MONOCLE WEARING KOCH SLURPING LIBERTARIAN WEIRDO!!!”

    1. Them: “By making them charge the same for people no matter what sites they visit.”

      The rate a customer is charged is the same isn’t it? But the speed might vary depending on what sites you visit?

      1. “The rate a customer is charged is the same isn’t it?”

        People get different rates depending on the amount of bandwidth they want to pay for.

        “But the speed might vary depending on what sites you visit?”

        Comcast has been found to delay or deny access to heavy data sites like Netflix because the user is taking up more bandwidth than they pay for. NN advocates want to make it so that Comcast cannot determine how much BW you receive based on your usage, and that all websites -whether Netflix or Reason- get the same speed of access as the others.

        How are they going to do this? By telling Comcast what they can charge for BW.

        1. Got it. So this is just another case of there being a scarce resource (bandwidth) and people what the government to legislate to change the rules of reality.

        2. They think everyone will get the same fast speed. I think it more likely that everyone will get slower but equal speeds.

          1. At best, everyone gets an equal slice of the pie. As opposed to the slices being cut according to what one needs – instead of being efficient about distributing the resource.

            At worst, you get the internet equivalent of bread lines.

            1. Who, by the way would be regulating said new “Net Neutrality” law? That would be the FCC, currently chaired by the former lobbyist for the Cable lobby’s- National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).

              If you want slower speeds, higher prices and government sanctioned monopolies, then Net Neutrality is right for you!

  15. All the pay phones disappeared, that’s what happened. It’s chaos out there.

    Superman haz a sad.

    1. He now changes in the bathroom of the nearest Starbucks.

      1. When I was a kid he used to change in an empty storeroom at the Daily Planet Building and fly out the window. Did the newspaper go out of business?

  16. My wireless(!) ISP provides different levels of service (speed) for various prices. I, cheapskate that I am, opt for the lowest priced bottom tier, since I don’t do streaming video or on line gaming or any of the other things which require super fast download speed. What are the chances my rate won’t go up?

    1. Your wireless plan doesn’t cover streaming video? It should, just like your healthcare plan should include birth control and pediatric dentistry.

  17. For many years after I saw it during its theater run, The President’s Analyst was my favorite movie. It even contained my favorite parody-pastiche, the “industrial” on the cerebrum communicator. Ultimately The President’s Analyst is a satire on violence; you don’t often get satires on subjects as basic as that.

  18. On NPR today a lady was advocating for the gov. to provide all internet services.

    1. Where did all these communists come from?

      1. Team Blue.

        1. No that’s where they went.

  19. Here’s what feminists are doing on Twitter. Expect this everywhere when the government regulates the Internet:

    “I see this as a free speech issue,” Friedman said. She said she knew some would see the work WAM does as “censorship,” but that a completely open and unmoderated platform imposes its own form of censorship. It effectively prevents women, especially queer women and women of color, from getting to speak on the service.

    “a completely open and unmoderated platform imposes its own form of censorship.” Wow.

    1. That is disgusting.

    2. Prevents them from speaking in what manner?

      I think that means that they don’t get to prevent opposing points of view. That is the same as preventing them from speaking.

      1. These are all printed in the same article, with no sense of irony.

        Because of Twitter’s open nature?any user can send a message to any other user, in public

        She recalled when “speaking in public” meant putting a literal soap box down in an public park and advocating some point of view. But online and elsewhere she said, “our public squares are now privately held.”

        “These public spaces?or their equivalents, now?are controlled by private companies. That’s exciting in some ways, because of what they can do, but also it’s dangerous.”

        WAM, in effect, got super powers within Twitter’s moderating environment. After submitting an abuse report to Twitter, users can now also submit one to WAM. WAM will make sure the users’s claims are credible, then “escalate” the report in Twitter’s system, flagging it for immediate handling by the company’s moderators.

        […]

        “We’ll be escalating [harassment reports] even if they don’t fit Twitter’s exact abuse guidelines,” Friedman said. WAM intends to “cast a wider net” and see what Twitter’s moderators address.

        You can’t make this stuff up, it’s so absurd.

        1. I am guessing that that ‘wider net’ will have a huge hole in it where any and all insults/harrassment aimed at white males will fall through.

        2. I’m pretty sure public parks still exist and people still go there.

          Go ahead and set up your soapbox, lady.

        3. Wow, trolling for moderators.

    3. “I’m frustrated. For all the money they make off their users, not to be able to spend a little more to make this safer…” seems wrong. Though she said she was excited and encouraged by the project, she lamented in no weak terms that it had to be done at all.

      “I don’t think we should have to do this work,” she said. “I think it’s a scandal that a tiny, under-resourced nonprofit with two staff members is having to do free labor for them.”

      Wait, so Twitter is forcing them to do this? Like, by going to their houses with armed thugs and forcing them into service? No? Oh, then Twitter must be actively preventing them from starting/using an alternative service with stricter usage policies and a taskforce dedicated to policing content that is paid for by that alternative company’s own revenues, right? What, no? Hmm.

      1. Dude, the internet has to be made SAFE. Do you hear me? SAFE!

        1. I was out on a run last evening. Not all the streets around me are well lit. Twitter Ave is notorious, but I didn’t think much of it, so I turned on, nary a care in the world. When out of the corner of my eye, I caught something moving. I kept going, but it started speeding up. I looked back, and sure enough, it was the Internet, eyes ablaze, teeth bared, raging boner. I sped up, but it kept gaining on me. At the last second I managed to turn onto Salon Street and the Internet broke off pursuit. But it was a close call.

          And that is why we need net neutrality.

    4. This is exactly what I’m talking about.
      Eventually some people will lobby to make THEIR websites specially prioritized. There’s just so much potential for abuse.

    5. Make Twitter “safe” for women? Does Twitter know when women are accessing it and install viruses on their computers or something?

      1. Free speech is icky.

  20. Despite claims that monopolistic ISPs don’t have to listen to customers, 80% of households have at least two providers that can deliver the internet at 10Mbps or faster, which is FCC’s top rating.

    So if all political commentary was limited to two government designated websites, would you say that was a free market because 100% of housholds have a choice two providers?

    1. Just because there may not be enough business to economically support more than one or two providers does not mean there isn’t a free market.

      1. Even if that was true, that doesn’t mean the one sustainable provider necessarily must be the incumbent. Absent barriers to entry, a new provider could displace them. But thanks to franchise agreements, that won’t happen.

        1. But the presence of franchise laws is hardly a free market.

    2. It’s certainly not a free market. But it’s also, by definition, not a monopoly.

      You bring a good point, though. In criticizing government regulation of the internet, we shouldn’t defend the status quo. We should point out the regulation already on the books contributes to crappy service, and that adding more is only going to make things worse.

      1. Yeah, it is important to remember how government meddling contributed to the not-too-great situation that exists now. Most people have one phone company and one cable company to choose from. And that is the case because of government granted monopolies.
        Lots of places woudl still have limited choices without those monopolies, but more populated areas would probably have a lot more choices and lower prices.

      2. I don’t think that was ever MY endgame. It is sometimes enough to point out when people advocate for worse than the current status quo that it is simply worse.

    3. Why would you buy internet service from an ISP that only let you read two government designated websites?
      Wouldn’t you prefer the ISP that lets you read all sorts of other websites?

      1. Wouldn’t you prefer the ISP that lets you read all sorts of other websites?

        Under my metaphor, there wouldn’t be “all sorts of websites” because the government franchise agreement would ban anything but those two websites.

        Where I live, there are two ISP’s. Verizon and Comcast. There are no other ISP’s because there is a franchsie law banning any others.

        Gillespie apparently still considers that a free market, since I have a choice between the two government mandated ISPs.

        1. Fair enough. I don’t think Gillespie meant to include areas where there are still local restrictions that prevent more than a few ISPs from operating.

          That shit definitely needs to end.

          For one thing, you can deliver internet access in so many different ways, it’s not dependent on one set of underground cable.

          1. How likely is it to end, when even libertarian sites are heralding a government monopoly or duopoly as “incredibly competetive”?

            I honestly don’t know if, as a consumer, I’d ultimately be benefited by a “network neutral” ISP. If we had an actual free market where there were “network neutral” and “network biased” providers, we could find out.

            I do, however, know that a vertically integrated content producer like Comcast definitely doesn’t benefit from network neutrality. So when I see the conversation solely focussed on obstructing network neutrality while maintaining the rest of the status quo, I question if the claims that network neutrality harms the consumer is actually true or just the sort of very hard to discern bullshit Comcast spends lots of money propagating.

            1. I think it’s a lot more complicated than that. There’s a rather complex network of intermediaries that route traffic between ISPs under various agreements, all of which has evolved to guarentee faster content delivery to those who pay. This is really all a fight between content providers like Netflix and ISPs like Comcast over who is going to have to pay who for using their bandwidth, with some parties enlisting the FCC as a weapon to gain negotiating leverage.

        2. My recollection is that exclusive franchise laws became illegal in 1992. However, by that point the exclusive franchisee cable companies had been protected for so long that they effectively had monopolies and many local governments in practice ignore the ban on exclusive franchising by just refusing to enter into new franchise agreements, or making it prohibitively expensive for a new provider to enter.

          1. They may have become illegal only in the sense that the local gov’t would no longer be allowed to explicitly guarantee exclusivity to a franchisee. There was no mandatory license stipul’n, nor anything that specified shall-issue terms. It’s like the difference between no-issue and may-issue, not shall-issue.

            1. IN point of fact, AFAIK no local authority ever did explicitly guarantee exclusivity of its franchise, and the licenses were always explicitly nonexclusive. But all that meant was that the local gov’t, supposedly looking out for the interest of its serfs, reserved the right to issue competing franchises even during the duration of the existing one. Don’t you worry, people, if this service turns out to be bad, we can always issue another franchise to someone else; this is no great handout to a favored interest, folks!

        3. Nick didn’t say that that was a free market. He just said that it wasn’t a monopoly.

          Which it, by definition, isn’t. (Of course in your case it’s just an enforced duopoly so not really better, but all the NN nutters continually harp on monoplies.)

        4. Gillespie apparently still considers that a free market, since I have a choice between the two government mandated ISPs.

          I can’t speak for Gillespie, but I certainly wouldn’t call that a free market.

        5. Where I live, there are two ISP’s. Verizon and Comcast. There are no other ISP’s because there is a franchsie law banning any others.

          Ah, I understand now. So we need more government to open up that which government closed off.

  21. IMO, an aspect of the net neutrality debate that deserves more attention is the potential for rent seeking that is created by giving the FCC the power to regulate whose packets can be prioritized (or not).

    It would be nice to believe that the FCC is going to create a rule that says every packet must be treated equally, and leave it at that, but that run contrary to everything we know about politics in a democracy. Once the FCC has that power, someone is going to want to use that power to benefit themselves. Sooner or later someone is going to demand that SOME packets be treated better or worse.

    For instance, the movie studios are going to want to clamp down on online piracy, and one thing they could do is demand that the FCC require that ISPs throttle or block certain websites. Technically, they could sue the FCC if they don’t, since online piracy is already illegal, and the FCC has a duty to enforce the law.

    Similarly, there are other lobbying interests that may stand to benefit from having their packets prioritized, or someone else’s throttled. And there are always moral panics over this or that out there ready to demand that undesired speech be suppressed.
    IMO, once the FCC gets this power, it’s just a matter of time before they start using it to make the web LESS neutral, to prioritize the most politically influential voices.

    1. What’s great about Net Neutrality is that we simply don’t know all the various and sundry ways it’ll be abused. All we do know is that (as your Doctor warns you) we’re going to feel some ‘pressure’.

  22. The Obamanet? I’m sure it won’t be retarded or anything.

  23. Obama wants to treat the Internet like a utility. Like the phone company used to be. Next thing you know he’ll be saying that ATMs are job-killers.

  24. No jokes about a porn parody “The President’s Anal List”? in a comment thread about the internet? #tsk

  25. What we need is to decentralize the internet at the software and hardware level. I think we are getting close to that.

    1. What is that supposed to mean?

  26. Good piece harmed by the dismissal of the state of the monopolistic state of most areas in the country. Comcast et al have horrible customer service and the resulting ratings because of a lack of competition. There is a definite problem now with an uncompetitive marketplace. I live overseas and could make a phone call this morning to one of 5 or 6 available ISPs and have new service installed this afternoon. That needs to be the situation in the US.

    Sure, there will always be areas with less competition and maybe there will always need to be some sort of system to ensure that more rural areas are serviced, but the first thing that needs to be done in regards to the Internet is to open the market up.

  27. BTW, this debate is being badly lost by opponents of Net Neutrality. I say lost but it’s hardly been engaged. And I’m starting to think the debate has already been lost. The selling points of proponents have permeated the media to a degree that it will take a tidal change in public opinion to stop it. I think this has been too long ignored and too poorly presented by outlets such as Reason that normally should be at the forefront of providing an opposing view.

    Who’s leading the charge against NN? If you look at the media right now, it’s Ted Cruz. How the hell did Ted Cruz become the leading voice in this issue?

    1. I’ve tried my best to educate people on this issue, but I can’t do any good just being one person.

      I even hear plugs for this crap on shows on Comedy Central.

      The most angering thing is when they lie and say that the FCC has been enforcing NN all this time and that the FCC is planning on stopping or some crap.

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