Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality—and Obama's Scheme for the Internet—Are Lousy Ideas

"Net neutrality" and public-utility style regulation are about Internet freedom, just not the way advocates think.

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Obama surfing porn
White House

President Barack Obama recently came out in favor of both "net neutrality" and the FCC changing the way that Internet service providers, or ISPs, are regulated. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Ted Cruz opined "'Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government." Obama's and Cruz's statements fed into the popular misconception that the proposed FCC reclassification is the same thing as net neutrality. It's not. The policies are distinct, though both are bad ideas.

What Net Neutrality Is and Is Not

Net neutrality is about how traffic flows through the Internet. When someone sends a message over the Internet, it gets broken up into tiny bits called "packets." Each packet gets passed around from node to node, eventually arriving at its destination. It's like if you tore up a letter, put the parts in different envelopes, and then mailed each of them separately. When the packages arrive at their destination, they're reassembled in the proper order so you can view the content.

Net neutrality is a policy that mandates that all packets be treated the same regardless or source, destination, or content, with very limited exceptions for traffic that's illegal, malicious, or unwanted.

Sometimes people use "net neutrality" to refer to a whole swath of policy ideas that are not net neutrality. For example, some people think it's unfair that Internet speeds are usually faster in urban areas than in rural areas where there hasn't been as much investment in infrastructure, arguing for "net neutrality" as a solution.

Title II Regulation

To address perceived problems like slower access in rural areas, some people have advocated changing the way ISPs are regulated. Under Title II regulation, part of the Communications Act of 1934, in addition to a slew of other regulatory burdens, ISPs could be subjected to universal service requirements. That means they would be required to ameliorate bottlenecks caused by comparatively slow local infrastructure. Just like telephone companies are required to wire up every house more or less regardless of cost, ISPs would be required to bring all infrastructure up to a minimum standard. Let's be clear about something—it makes no economic sense from a society-wide perspective to make such a large investment to serve so few people. It's a handout to rural Internet consumers, pure and simple.

In exchange for the added regulatory burdens, the FCC has the power to set prices at a level that allows ISPs to make money. If that power were exercised, the cost of Internet access would no longer be subject to market forces. This is the default "public utility" model. Most advocates of net neutrality, including President Obama, don't want that to happen, suggesting the FCC make an exception for ISPs. But that process of making an exception, called "forbearance," isn't automatic. There are legal obstacles. If forbearance fails, we can expect a concerted lobbying effort by the ISPs to make sure rates are set as high as possible.

Weighing the Risks

Set aside for a moment whether the worst-case scenarios raised by net neutrality and regulatory reclassification advocates are terribly likely. They're not, as even this popular pro-neutrality cartoon attests. The nightmare outcome? The Internet becomes more expensive and less convenient for consumers, and it becomes harder for small content producers to compete.

That's what might conceivably happen. Here's what actually is happening, right now:

We know, indisputably, thanks to the heroic disclosures by Edward Snowden and the tireless work of journalists like Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, that the federal government is attempting to use the Internet to build a global Panopticon, capable of accessing everyone's personal information at any time for any reason or no reason.

We also know that one way the government is trying to accomplish this is by securing the cooperation of private companies. You can attempt to thwart surveillance by using encryption—but encryption only protects data in transit. Once it's received and decrypted, it's an open book. If the government can compromise private data custodians, encryption loses a lot of its efficacy. This is exactly what happened to Google, which had its internal traffic bugged by the NSA.

Sometimes instead of outright sabotage, the government pressures companies into turning over information about their customers. See, for example, the brave efforts of Ladar Levison, head of now-defunct secure email provider Lavabit, to protect his customers—including Edward Snowden—from the government's prying eyes.

But not all tech companies have the spine of Lavabit. What we risk doing by ramping up the government's regulatory authority over the Internet is to make it easier for the government to pressure ISPs, many of which are data custodians, to get what they want.

Is it crazy to think the government might use its "legitimate" regulatory authorities to bully private actors? Let's consider the financial sector, one of the most heavily regulated parts of the economy.

In his book The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure, former BB&T chief John Allison relates how Bernanke's Federal Reserve blackmailed healthy banks into taking TARP money they didn't want:

The day after TARP passed, we were contacted by our regulators. This was an informal contact over the phone. I received a very carefully stated nondocumentable message. The essence of the message was that although BB&T had substantially more capital than it needed under long-established regulatory standards, given the current economic environment, the regulators were going to create a news set of capital standards. They did not know what the standards would be. However, they were "very concerned" that we would not have enough capital under these new standards unless we took the TARP capital. They had a regulatory team in place to reexamine our capital position immediately unless we took the TARP funding. The threat was very clear.  (pp. 170-171)

Another example is the government's "Operation Choke Point" program, which puts pressure on banks to refuse to deal with people engaged in perfectly legal businesses the Obama administration, for one reason or another, doesn't like.

"Net neutrality" and public-utility style regulation are about Internet freedom, just not the way advocates think. Comcast and Netflix, two of the main parties in the public debate, are squabbling about who should bear the financial burden of building and maintaining the costly infrastructure needed to deliver streaming video to consumers. There's no dire threat to freedom hinging on the outcome of that fight. The threat to Internet freedom is government control. That means that if you care about liberty, you should oppose Net neutrality and Title II reclassification.

Thanks to Ryan Radia, Associate Director of Technology Studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, for his assistance with this article.

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  1. Because proponents are throwing around words like “fair” and “equal access” is a clear indicator that they are idiots.

    1. Those may not be the best choice of words but complex technical issues often are reduced to that at the mass consumption level.

      First – be clear about one thing. Your ISP is selling you bandwidth, not speed. Saying that 100Mbps is “faster” than 1Mbps is wrong. The packets which comprise the data sent all travel at the same physical speed. What you are paying for is capacity, ie more lanes on the highway.

      This ight is about attempts to prioritize some packets over others. By condoning this, you implicitly say you are also ok with prioritization of one users phone calls over anothers, one persons cable tv signal over anothers, etc. If you don’t think so, consider that all of those at some point now travel as data over the internet.

      For the ISPs, this amounts to double dipping as was clear from the Netflix fight. They claim to sell the end user bandwidth to do as they wish, in reality they get pissy when the data comming back does not traverse their network the whole route. They limit their peering with other networks (prioritization) to the point the enduser does not get the access he paid for. The end result will be elimination of all network providers who do not also terminate at the consumer. Rather than a business having a large choice of ways to provide their internet services, they will be forced to use the likes of Verizon, ATT or a big cable company.

      So be against net neutrality if you are for the creation of an internet oligopoly

      1. This ight is about attempts to prioritize some packets over others.

        No, this fight is about the freedom of people who own property to do what they want with it, and the freedom of people to contract with each other as they wish.

        So be against net neutrality if you are for the creation of an internet oligopoly

        You understand, of course, that utilities (which is what Obama wants to turn ISPs into) are state-sanctioned and enforced oligopolies, yes?

      2. Your ISP does not sell you arbitrary bandwidth to every other host on the Internet. They are selling bandwidth to their own network and in turn access to other networks through the Internet.

        If you don’t even understand how this works, you are not fit to comment on the matter.

        Prioritization is inherent to the effective functioning of the Internet. The physical hardware alone is not capable of handling the transfer of every bit of information from every host on the Internet to every other host. There is inherent scarcity which people seem obtusely unable to recognize. This scarcity can only be fairly resolved using prioritization and other high-level management techniques.

        But setting that aside, the issue between Netflix and Comcast was that there existed only so much bandwidth between the two. If every one of Comcast’s customers is streaming from Netflix and the bandwidth between Netflix and Comcast was not enough, then every person is going to have a degraded experience.

        In the end, Netflix paid Comcast to get better access to the latter’s customers. Presently, that reflects the market power of the two. If that market power is unfairly distorted by local monopolies, then address the actual problem.

        1. With regard to Netflix and Comcast, think of it this way. All of the Netflix customers are hogging bandwidth with their streaming video. Netflix doesn’t want to have to pay Comcast for that bandwidth. Net Neutrality advocates think that Comcast should just build up it’s network capacity to handle the extra traffic. But that means that the bill goes up for ALL ComCast customers, not just the ones that use Netflix.
          If you don’t have a Netflix subscription, you’re going to pay more so that ComCast can provide additional bandwidth to handle all of the Netflix traffic. So you’re effectively subsidizing the Netflix customers.

          What Comcast wants to do is charge Netflix, which will be passed on to Netflix subscribers.

          In one sense, this fight is over flat monthly rate vs. metered internet use models of how people pay for internet service.

          1. Sorry dude, wrong, Wrong, WRONG!

            I have a choice to purchase 5MB/s, 10MB/s, 20 MB/s, 30MB/s or 50MB/s service where I live. I have purchased that 30MB service to meet my needs, including the couple of hours a day Netflix is used.

            I get nothing at the expense of fellow customers who do not use that much bandwidth, they need only purchase the bandwidth they require to meet their needs.

            Comcast is a monopoly, or nearly one, in most of the places they do business, not due to the Feds, but because local communities give them exclusive, or semi-exclusive rights in exchange for local franchise fees.

            Since Comcast is also in the digital streaming business, they would like to make their competitors pay for the infastructure that both use, giveng Comcast lower business costs.

            In effect, Comcast want to charge Netflix customers twice, once via Netflix, and again via bandwidth charges to put competitor Netflix at a competitive disadvantage.

            Once again, government is the problem, only it is local regulators rather than federal regulators causing the problem. You will note that it is not permitted for my neighbors and I to put a high bandwidth dish in and run cable between our homes to share that bandwidth. We are banned from competing with Comcast and AT&T.

            1. You are conflating bandwidth from your locality to Comcast (what you pay for) with bandwidth from Netflix to Comcast. Hazel is correct.

              1. But this is also correct

                Comcast is a monopoly, or nearly one, in most of the places they do business, not due to the Feds, but because local communities give them exclusive, or semi-exclusive rights in exchange for local franchise fees.

                And that is where the solution to these problems actually lies.

            2. You pay for “up to” 30 MB/s. Read your providers website.
              There is no guarentee that your netflix stream will always run at 30 MB/s and indeed it owuld be physically impossible for them to make one. The speed at which Netflix traffic arrives depends on the level of traffic not only over Comcast’s network, but also over every other network between you and wherever Netflix is hosting the content.
              The more people who are streaming Netflix at once, the more congestion there is for everyone on multiple networks across the internet.

              1. That’s right. We don’t have to provide any level of connectivity based on our agreement, and if you don’t like it you can suck our dick. If there’s any service that competes with media subscription services over our wires, we’re going to throttle your connection and make you sign a NDA about how much you’re going to pay us to not throttle your connection. Our guy Wheeler, appointed by the legendary Obama, almost had codified that as how we get to offer out “premium” services, but you damn kids kept whining. We just want to remind Obama that our stream of funding to him and his cronies are not going to get funding from our racket if they pay anything more than lip service to the opposition. Just remember, you’re replaceable, and we’ve already bought most of the local governments.

            3. The ban on local competition is bad, but you like many seem to extrapolate all kinds of things from that without establishing any causal link.

              Comcast provides a connection from your home to the Internet. Netflix provides hosting for content available to the Internet. They address different aspects of the process of providing content to your home.

              It is entirely possible that without local franchise agreements, Netflix could start up its own ISP and compete with Comcast. But that would almost certainly force them to increase their prices. Right now, they run fairly cheaply ($8/mo although I think it’s going up soon) because they don’t have to bear (much of) the cost of delivery to your home.

              From another perspective, Comcast is delivering to you what’s advertised. The problem is that the link between Comcast and Netflix is (or rather was) insufficient for the demand Comcast’s customers were making. That link had to be upgraded to improve the situation, and Comcast had the greater market power here.

              Undoubtedly, the monopoly arrangement enhances Comcast’s market power and I agree that it should be abolished, but I do not necessarily agree that doing so will completely diminish Comcast’s market power relative to Netflix. Netflix needs Comcast more than the other way around, at least for now.

              1. Well, also from another perspective, Comcast wants to keep it’s monthly fees down because it IS facing competition from other providers. In order to keep monthly subscription fees down, it would prefer not to have to spend a ton of money to build out it’s networks to handle the extra traffic. It would rather charge netflix to pass the costs on to Netflix consumers, and keep rates low for it’s own subscribers.

                I think the underlying problem is that the flat-fee subscription model of internet service is not well suited to the needs of traffic management on the modern internet. The markets WANTS to assign costs back to their true originators, it wants to price service in a way that optimizes resource allocation, but the flat-fee subscription model gets in the way of that.

              2. The other concern seems to be (to run with this example) that Comcast will throttle Netflix for no other reason than to degrade the user experience and incentivize people to use its streaming services. I’m not aware of any evidence that such a thing as happened. There are reasons to believe that, even in the current system, such a move would be bad for Comcast. But to the extent that this could be a problem, increased competition is the solution.

                1. Like this dumbed down evidence, and all that whining about some complex thing called “racketeering”?
                  http://theoatmeal.com/blog/net_neutrality

                  At what point does a company steering the government to enforce its monopoly basically make the company the government in its sphere of influence? If democracy is the tyranny of the majority, and the majority really does not care much about a particular issue, then what is it?

              3. Comcast agreed to provide the access, so it’s on them.
                Comcast has informed all it’s customers that they have a bandwidth limit, something new of late.
                Just expect more of the same, 100 bucks a month from every household not filled with cavemen is not good enough for Comcast.
                They were voted most hated company of the year for a reason.
                From 15 dollars a share in 2010 to 55 dollars a share now, a rocket ship rise, and they are still whining and lining the politicians pockets and blurting out endless lies.
                Since they use all the easements like the phone and electric companies, public access to all residences, they need to stfu and deliver for less.

                1. Since they use all the easements like the phone and electric companies, public access to all residences, they need to stfu and deliver for less.

                  If you don’t like them having access to “public” rights of way and the like, then vote them out at the local level. If you can’t convince your local government to reign in Comcast, what in the fuck makes you think you will have any success at the national level?

                  Net neutrality is among many other bad things a trojan horse. You can be a useful idiot for it if you like, but be under no illusion that your say in the matter will carry any weight. There are many lobbies far higher on the national totem pole than you will ever be.

                  I would not lose one minute of sleep if Comcast died an ignominous death to superior competitors. But the only way for that to happen is to solve the problems at the local and state levels. The only thing to be done at the national level is to repeal the Telecom Act of 96. If you have the political capital to enact “net neutrality”, then you have the capital to repeal the Telecom Act.

          2. EXACTLY RIGHT! Should my neighbour have to pay extra to the cable company because I obsessively watch midget porn for hours at a time? No, if I want to watch midget porn obsessively for hours at a time I should have to pay for it.

      3. It’s not necessarily about the proritization on on user’s packet over another. It could be prioritization of streaming video packets or online gaming packets over email and text.

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

        1. Bigger buffer size…

    2. Because proponents are throwing around words like “fair” and “equal access” is a clear indicator that fairness and equality are the least of their intentions.

    3. What is central to this arguement is not the relative merits of regulation or non regulation but whether the government has any authority to regulate at all. I for one do not believe that they do.
      Just like medicine and medical insurance the government has no authority to establish fascist domination over that industry.

      Just like the ACA (obamacare) the goal is not improvement of services, increased access to services or lower costs, it is control over the industry, wealth redistribution and increased dependency on government. This gives politicians and bureaucrats a tremendous increase in power and money which is all that they desire.

  2. I thought net neutrality meant the rich were going to pay for my broadband. That’s what would have happened if it hadn’t been for Ronald Reagan.

    Now I’m going to spend the rest of the day here bloviating.

    Signed,

    Palin’s Buttplug

  3. What makes a man turn to net neutrality? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with heart full of neutrality?

    1. Funny– I can look back on a life of achievement, on challenges met, competitors bested, obstacles overcome. I’ve accomplished more than most men, and without the use of my legs. What…What makes a man, Waffles? Is it being prepared to do the right thing? Whatever the cost? Isn’t that what makes a man?

      1. Ummm..sure. That and a pair of testicles.

        1. You jest, but perhaps you are right.

          1. This is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.

            1. Compared to ‘Nam bowling is an insane free for all.

    2. It’s the corporations.

      They laid all this carbon fiber, bought all these right of ways, built all this infrastructure, mostly without taxpayer money.

      …and I can’t get behind that! So, I’m going to whine and whine and whine about net neutrality–until all the libertarians finally realize that Bush was a redneck.

      Love,

      Palin’s Buttplug

      1. The “Buttplug.” Ne’er a creature more befitting it’s moniker.

        1. yep him and Tony. Both useful idiots in the Big Socialist Workers Fantasy World. I cringe whenever I see them start spewing their ideological pure dogma/propaganda all over the comment section.

    3. For those pushing net neutrality it’s absolute power over all men that’s the gold they value most.

  4. broken up into tiny bits called “packets.”

    Aren’t all bits the same size?

    1. I’ve seen some pretty big bits.

      1. The Kim Kardashian thread is down there, Monocle.

        1. Kim Kardashian wearing a monocle? How do rumors like those get started?

    2. Yeah, “pieces” would have been a much better choice of words than “bits” in this context.

    3. No

  5. I just love the name Grant Babcock. Sounds like a Bond villain.

    1. “Do you expect me to talk?”

      “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to writhe in agony induced by sub-par internet performance.”

      1. KKKHHHAANNNNNNNNN… Wait.

  6. Am I the only one who read Giant Badcock?

    1. The furniture guy?

    2. I might have read it back in high school, I don’t remember.

    3. I read it as Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.

  7. So the problem is that there is only a small select number internet providers and they have the power to cripple our way of life on a whim with bandwidth limits….

    And the only reason that there’s so few is because other companies cannot enter the market due to regulations…

    So the remedy to this is more regulation on the already small number of providers telling them how to control the bandwidth…

    And said regulation is handled by a central monopoly who also (unrelated) used its powers to cause financial headaches for groups of opposing opinions…

    Yup. Rock solid plan. There is no way in hell that this can backfire.

    1. All of that and more. “Treating the internet like a utility” is just another word for “giving established companies a government enforced monopoly”. It is really that simple.

      Also, you don’t have to be a tech person to understand that forcing companies to upgrade the services to rural customers will result in the money not being spent elsewhere and slower less reliable services for everyone else. Sort of like how making people pay for covering the uninsured has raised everyone’s insurance rates. It is almost like there is some kind of set of laws operating here.

      1. Also, you don’t have to be a tech person to understand that forcing companies to upgrade the services to rural customers will result in the money not being spent elsewhere and slower less reliable services for everyone else.

        You don’t have to be a tech person. You have to be someone who understands opportunity cost. Unfortunately, such people are rare. Most people only see the seen, and deny that the unseen exists.

        1. Indeed, being a “tech person” but not understanding economics generally translates into vociferous support for “net neutrality”. See Slashdot, Hacker News, etc. I’d rather discuss the issue with someone who’s read Thomas Sowell than someone who’s familiar with the industry.

          1. Ugh, seriously. I don’t know when that happened either. Go back to any tech community in the 90s — any given Usenet group, early Slashdot, whatever — and tell them “The big problem with the Internet is going to be that Congress just doesn’t regulate it enough!” and you’d get flamed to a delicate brown. But now so much of the opinion is begging for the government.

            I mean maybe you’d expect that from shit like Ars Technica, because they pretend to be journalists, but the general groupthink of Hacker News, etc., falling for it is depressing.

            1. I was 7 when NSFNet ceased to exist and the Internet went commercial, but I can imagine that most people who lived through the early days of the Internet learned firsthand how the involvement of the government stifles innovation.

              What we have are a lot of Johnny-come-latelies who don’t even bother to learn the history of the Internet, never mind the economic principles underlying all human activity, and yet think they are in a position to enact a top-down “solution” that forces everybody into compliant mediocrity.

    2. “only reason that there’s so few is because other companies cannot enter the market due to regulations..”

      Shhhhhh, shutup. you’ll uncover the real solution for this issue.

      1. Come on now. If we de-regulated the wireless spectrum, it would be chaos. Why don’t you go live in Somalia if you are so in love with wireless chaos. You racist tea bagging bastard.

        1. Due to the nature of wireless, it’s actually one area where the FCC does some good. We have a plant in India only accessible by a wireless connection, and because everyone in the area’s trying to operate in the same frequencies, the result is a horribad connection to our network.

          Knowing the country in question it’s likely that some regulation or another is at fault, but the protecting the owners’ rights to actually use the parts of the spectrum they own is a proper government function. Deciding how that spectrum is allocated is another matter entirely.

          1. Of course, the FCC has no constitutional grounds to exist, even for the theoretically legitimate purpose of regulating the uses of EM frequency bands. It is yet another area where the fedgov has usurped authority from the states without any real justification.

            The FCC like other similar regulatory agencies (FDA e.g.) stands as a bulwark against innovation. There are better ways to handle this matter, much akin to the management of real property, easements, and liens.

          2. I used to think that but now I wonder. Really, how is wireless ownership any different than a trademark of copyright? If someone uses the bandwidth you own, you should be able to sue them and get an injunction against them using it and any damages they have caused you. It is no different than what coke would do if someone stole their formula and started selling counterfeit coke.

            Given that, really the FCC should operate like the patent office. Auction off the bandwidth to the highest bidder and then act as a public record keeper of who owns the rights. After that let the owners of the bandwidth take civil action to protect their property.

            And there is nothing wrong with auctioning it since someone has to own it and giving it away would have the same effect as those who valued the bandwidth the most bought it from those who had it given to them.

            1. The only real role in this that the national government can play is in setting up reserved frequency bands for the military. That doesn’t require a dedicated agency, it just requires a solicitor and a court.

    3. Well said. Net neutrality supporters often miss that second step – the regulations that started the problem in the first place. Of course, even if you bring this to their attention, they’ll still tell you that no, these new regulations have the best of intentions, that nothing bad can go wrong and nothing unforeseeable ignored out of convenience will happen.

      1. the best of intentions

        And that’s what’s really important.

        These people have no concept of how things work in the real world. Which is that you end up your LEC needing to verify every aspect of their costing and operating structures with both state PUC’s and the FCC. And for those sticking their heads in the sand about that outcome, just look at the tariffs Verizon has to publish and update on an annual basis.

        Oh, 75 pages and full public review to decide what a goddam phone line costs? And 150 to govern where, when, how, and why they’re operated? How reasonable! That’s a model that needs to be expanded!

    4. “Comcast and Netflix, two of the main parties in the public debate, are squabbling about who should bear the financial burden of building and maintaining the costly infrastructure needed to deliver streaming video to consumers.”

      There was a huge surge of broadband adoption when Napster went mainstream. A lot of it had to do with games like Quake 3, too.

      Those both went mainstream about 2000, which makes mainstream broadband adoption all of about 14 years old. That private companies were able to finance and build all of that infrastructure so quickly, to make things like Netflix and Skype even possible, is pretty astounding.

      I don’t see why you’d want to mess with that model even if you weren’t ideologically opposed to government interference. This isn’t the first time broadband providers have had to expand to accommodate more traffic.

      And I’m not sure I understand why a company like Netflix shouldn’t pay extra for flooding the infrastructure with all their traffic, or that people shouldn’t have to pay for access to certain services. It’s like people paying extra for content (like HBO or NFL Sunday Ticket).

      Why isn’t this as it should be?

      1. Those both went mainstream about 2000, which makes mainstream broadband adoption all of about 14 years old. That private companies were able to finance and build all of that infrastructure so quickly, to make things like Netflix and Skype even possible, is pretty astounding.

        Another crucial detail blatantly missed by “those with good intentions.” Remember… You didn’t build that. Corporations don’t create jobs. And only government can create infrastructure.

      2. Here’s the thing: you, the consumer, bought 25Mbps. Comcast has chosen not to give you that speed *specifically* when it comes from Netflix. Not when it comes from Amazon or Dropbox or Microsoft. How is the traffic from Netflix different than the traffic from Bittorrent or Dropbox or whatever?

        I’ll give you a hint: because Netflix competes with the providers Video On Demand.

        1. You “bought” access for up to 25Mbps downstream from Comcast. You did not buy a 25Mbps direct link to Netflix or any other content provider. This is the thing people do not understand: the Internet is a network of networks; you do not just “plug in” and get an automatically perfect connection to every other host in the world.

          It would almost certainly be prohibitively expensive to buy direct transit from your house to a Netflix CDN site. Much of the infrastructure management that takes place is about reducing the latency and increasing the bandwidth between you and content providers, but that comes at a price.

          Now, I will agree that Comcast has been intransigent in the past with regard to what Netflix wanted to do to improve bandwidth between you and them (i.e. install content caches in Comcast’s facilities), but the two did ultimately reach an agreement that has improved the situation significantly.

          As a consumer, you should have the choice of other providers if your local monopoly ISP fails to meet your needs, but that is almost entirely a local government problem.

          1. The agreement they reached is what Net Neutrality advocates want to ban.

            This is really kind of a fight over whether Netflix’s bandwidth usage should be paid for by Nexflix customers, or Comcast customers. Not all Concast customers are Netflix users.

          2. Actually whatever agreement they reached slowed down Netflix loading and response, which used to be excellent and then came their agreement, and as usual, screw job.

            1. While I thankfully don’t have Comcast, I’m betting you’re full of shit or either broke something yourself.

              1. Sorry, in a bad mood.

                I just find it hard to believe that it was “great” (when everyone was complaining) and now after the agreement it is suddenly terrible?

                Although it could very well depend on what area you have Comcast service as depending on what part of the country you’re in you’ll be taking very different routes and using different networks. They also seem to have different policies depending on the area and how competitive it is.

            2. Actually whatever agreement they reached slowed down Netflix loading and response, which used to be excellent and then came their agreement, and as usual, screw job.

              Your experience is an anomaly. That is not an excuse, but the data shows that Netflix speeds and response times have drastically improved for the majority of Comcast’s customers. Now, if you are feeling cheated, then you should take your voice to your local cable franchise administrator.

        2. Here’s the thing: you, the consumer, bought 25Mbps.

          No, you didn’t. Read the contract, or even the ads. Its “up to” 25 MBPS. Look at, for example, the Comcast Website. That’s what it says. They don’t guarantee your speed every second of every day no matter what you are accessing.

        3. “I’ll give you a hint: because Netflix competes with the providers Video On Demand.”

          Are you suggesting that Comcast is uncompetitive in certain ways?

          Or are you suggesting that competition ultimately brings fewer choices?

          There’s DSL, wireless broadband, …

          You don’t have to stream movies from Netflix. You can download them from iTunes, you can stream them from Amazon, you can pay to watch them on YouTube…

          Have there ever been more ways to access content?

          Has there ever been more content available online?

          The answer to both of those questions is “no”, and I’m not sure that would be the case with “net neutrality”.

          1. absolutely

            I stream a lot of content – from Hulu, Spotify, Amazon and YouTube. Even though I have a Netflix subscription, I don’t knwo the last time I personally used it (others in my family may have)

      3. “That private companies were able to finance and build all of that infrastructure so quickly, to make things like Netflix and Skype even possible, is pretty astounding.”

        Private companies got massive direct taxpayer subsidies and massive indirect subsidies via right of way and exclusive franchises.

        1. Well, without the rights of way, nothing would have happened, government, private, or otherwise.

          The subsidies they have received vary from place to place. They have not come from the national government, so the national taxpayer is not relevant here.

          Moreover, these subsidies were delivered on specific conditions which have by and large been met. What you are saying is that because subsidies were once given, therefore any arbitrary demands imposed by the government are justified.

          And people wonder why government contracting is so fucked up.

          1. They have not come from the national government, so the national taxpayer is not relevant here.

            I forgot about the godawful Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the bullshit “Universal Service Fund” it created.

            Still, the larger point is that subsidy is not claim to enslavement. If you don’t think the subsidy is doing something useful, then abolish it.

            Also, it is my understanding that participation in the USF is mandatory. So the slavery metaphor is especially apt here.

        2. “Private companies got massive direct taxpayer subsidies and massive indirect subsidies via right of way and exclusive franchises.”

          For the newcomers, a lot of that came by purchasing access through existing right of ways.

          Qwest Communications was formed out of a railroad merger, when some of the executives bid to buy the specialized railroad cars that laid cable and the right to lay fiber in their existing right of ways. They actually charged AT&T (and others) to lay cable for them–and then just laid their own cable at materials cost right next to it in the same easements.

          The telcos went on a massive easement buying spree in the late ’90s/early 2000s, but the telcos already had tons of easements they’d run copper through. It was a competitive advantage they had…

          Wireless broadband is making a lot of those problems moot, which is to say that the competition has made broadband access available to most everyone–despite easements, not just because of them.

          Net neutrality seems to be trying to kill the competition that made that kind of leapfrogging possible.

    5. Im quoting this post verbatim.

    6. “So the problem is that there is only a small select number internet providers…..”

      Nope – its a false ‘crisis” that the government is trying to exploit to justify the ultimate fascist takeover of a highly profitable industry that has absolutely no need for regulation. The free market and consumer choices will correct any problem the industry has.

      The government has already has done this with the health industry – – so think of this as Medicare/Medicaid and its eventual evolution into the ACA (obamacare).

      That is what happens when the government gets a foot in the door – eventually you end up with higher prices,lower quality and less freedom.

  8. Just like merger approval, it gives another spot to force the telecoms to accept spying. Like they did with Global Crossing.

    The agreements are also growing in scope. When Singapore Technologies Telemedia acquired Global Crossing Ltd. in 2003, it was required to give the government a comprehensive description of the new company’s telecommunications network in the U.S., as well as access to all domestic communications, by setting up a U.S.-based facility from which electronic surveillance could be conducted.

  9. Just like merger approval, it gives another spot to force the telecoms to accept spying. Like they did with Global Crossing.

    The agreements are also growing in scope. When Singapore Technologies Telemedia acquired Global Crossing Ltd. in 2003, it was required to give the government a comprehensive description of the new company’s telecommunications network in the U.S., as well as access to all domestic communications, by setting up a U.S.-based facility from which electronic surveillance could be conducted.

    1. It is a pretty clever and evil plan really. You use DOJ and merger approval to bully companies into accepting spying. Then after you get the ability to spy, you allow the mergers so the internet is more consolidated and easier to control and spy on.

  10. Let’s be clear, Obama specifically called out a provision to prevent the pricing controls:

    “I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act ? while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services.”

    The real problem is that there is no competition in the broadband market (eg 75% of US households have no choice in broadband provider at 25Mbps). Comcast itself has said it’s too expensive to compete with current providers so they won’t compete. This lack of competition has played out in speeds (14th fastest nation behind such luminaries as Latvia & Romania) and price (one of the most expensive at any given speed). If there were reasonable competition, this might not be necessary.

    So there are monopolistic powers held by providers and, as such, the real issue that needs to be solved is the one of “all bits are equal”. Why do providers want some bits to be more equal than others when I already pay for my extra speed (which is thus denied me when it’s from a provider they don’t like (read: NFLX)? Perhaps it’s because they compete with NFLX and so they exert their monopolistic powers over the last mile in order to get money from services they compete with.

    I’m free market but in broadband there is neither an operating market nor is it competitive.

    1. So, pray tell, how did we get to a non-competitive, non-operating market in the first place?

      You say you’re “free market” but ignore the fact that it’s the regulations that are responsible for the lack of competition in the first place.

      You don’t fix cancer by introducing more cancer. You cut it out and kill what remains with extreme prejudice.

      1. It’s not just regulation though. It’s a last mile business. It’s the same reason you only have one gas company. The only reason you have multiple phone providers is that the big bad government broke up Ma Bell and forced them to open their physical lines to competitors.

        Allowing Verizon and Comcast to run free is going to accomplish what exactly?

        1. Erm, the only reason Ma Bell existed in the first place is because of the government:

          In 1918 the federal government nationalized the entire telecommunications industry, with national security as the stated intent. Rates were regulated so that customers in large cities would pay higher rates to subsidize those in more remote areas … Potential competitors were forbidden from installing new lines to compete, with state governments wishing to avoid “duplication.” The claim was that telephone service was a “natural monopoly,” meaning that one firm could better serve the public than two or more. Eventually, AT&T’s market share amounted to what most would regard as a monopolistic share.

          Allowing Verizon and Comcast to run free is going to accomplish what exactly?

          Even without getting into the ownership aspects (really, who the fuck are you to say what VZ and Comcast can do wtih their networks?), the practical result is increased cost competition and better service as the necessary improvements to the networks are funded by the providers that actually need the increased bandwidth. Yes, the local monopolies need to go, and they will provided that franchise agreements are dissolved without VZ et al incurring huge lobbying expenses and increased capital becomes available for network expansion due to pent-up consumer demand.

          1. Allowing Verizon and Comcast to run free would also allow other ISPs to run free. Someone who valued net neutrality could use an ISP that didn’t prioritize, say, Xfinity over Netflix.

          2. really, who the fuck are you to say what VZ and Comcast can do wtih their networks?

            Keep in mind those networks were partially financed with billions of taxpayer dollars from the Universal Service Fund. So again, it was a public good when we were paying for it. Now that it’s built suddenly its private network.

            1. How many times do I have to link this?

              So now giving a Comcast and Verizon more power to control things at the FCC is going to make things all better, right?

              NN is going to be a fucking disaster. My only solace is I can laugh in the faces of idiots such as yourself when everything the NN pushers were supposedly trying to prevent happens as a result of it.

              1. I’m not arguing for NN. I’m arguing against defending the status quo, which is all the faux-libertarians here seem to want to do.

                1. I’m arguing against defending the status quo, which is all the faux-libertarians here seem to want to do.

                  I am trying to explain how the Internet works and you accuse me of carrying water for Comcast and being a faux-libertarian.

                  May I kindly suggest that you turn your brain on at some point.

            2. The USF should never have existed. But just because it existed doesn’t mean that every telecommunications company is enslaved to the government in perpetuity. Abolish the USF and the problem is solved.

    2. Also (as John mentions above), if you want to enforce the monopoly of current providers, there’s no better way to do it than regulating them as utilities.

    3. Let’s be clear, Obama specifically called out a provision to prevent the pricing controls:

      That will never happen. Once they are reclassified the ISP’s will have to go through the song and dance of rate publication and public review. It’s a red herring.

      Why do providers want some bits to be more equal than others

      The seeds of Net Neutrailty’s failure are present in the very dream of it. There are umpteen practical, technical considerations why bandwidth providers need to be able to manage the data that flows across their infrastructure, and those considerations will still exist even if NetNeut is passed in its purest, simplest form.

      Once the ISP’s inability to manage their data results in a worse experience for all, both sides of the current divide will beg either the FCC and PUC’s to step in and implement a rules-based system that allows data to be sorted in an attempt to repair user experience. That regime will be either favorable to content distributors or bandwidth providers depending on the political winds of the time, but it will not be Net Neutrality.

      1. No one has said they shouldn’t be able to manage their routing services. The question is why should they be able to determine how a packet flows, NOT based on network capacity, packets, dropoff and needs, but based on the sender of the packet. If Verizon doesn’t like Nflx, they get to slow you down just cuz? The packets are inherently indistinguishable from their sender.

        1. The packets are inherently indistinguishable from their sender.

          If that were the case, there would be no issue. The packets are distinguishable, if only in volume.

          ISPs should be able to manage their own infrastructure, and if you don’t like how they manage it, you should be able to choose another or start your own.

          But if in a free market there exist no ISPs providing the service you want and you are unwilling to create your own, then the practical reality is that you have to accept the situation.

          The alternative you are supporting is to force everybody to subsidize your personal consumer preferences.

          1. Total BS – I can tell you just about anything about any packet(or group of packets with a packet sniffer and a little bit of research. All of your surfing data and viewing habits are stored in various parts of the Net right now and are easily attainable. All that really has to happen is somebody has to want to find it and do something with it.

            1. Are you responding to me or to the point I took issue with?

          2. Total BS – I can tell you just about anything about any packet(or group of packets with a packet sniffer and a little bit of research. All of your surfing data and viewing habits are stored in various parts of the Net right now and are easily attainable. All that really has to happen is somebody has to want to find it and do something with it.

            1. I think you’re missing the point.

              Also, why should bittorrent traffic get the same priority as DNS traffic bound to the root nameservers?

              Why shouldn’t Netflix or Google/Youtube directly connect to your ISP with their own networks? This just means less congestion at other traffic exchange points for everyone.

        2. The question is why should they be able to determine how a packet flows, NOT based on network capacity, packets, dropoff and needs, but based on the sender of the packet.

          They’re the one providing the infrastructure and access. Obama’s fucking clueless, as usual, on this because he seems to think bandwidth is made from unicorn kisses and not everyone is getting their fair share of smooches.

          The lack of competition in some areas is a problem, but as others have pointed out, this is one that needs to be solved at the local level, not the federal level.

          1. Yeah, there is the whole “you didn’t build that!” attitude in all of this.

            Intermediaries like ISPs add value. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist.

            Now, some of the value they capture may be unearned. They are definitely rent-seekers w/r/t their local monopolies.

            But if you can’t even keep your local government from handing out a monopoly like candy, what in the hell do you think will give you control ultimately over the ISPs at the national level?

            1. Instead of the “you didn’t build that!” attitude, what they are really trying to say is
              “YOU DON’T OWN THAT – WE DO AND WE CAN TAKE IT AWAY FROM YOU ANYTIME WE WANT!!”
              Just wait this is the first attempt to weasel their way in.

              1. I’ve heard this same fearmongering since 2004 or so, it has yet to happen. Nothing but bedwetting fantasies, on the same level the neocons have about terrorism.

                1. Oops, seems I misunderstood Jeffrey for a net neutrality supporter.

        3. This is where it just gets into being a big spat between giant internet companies over who is going to pay who what and everyone is using the government to gain negotiating leverage.

          Comcast is throttling Netflix to gain negotiating leverage, and Netflix is using the FCC to gain leverage, and none of you internet nerds with your torrents matter a whit in this.

          1. none of you internet nerds with your torrents matter a whit in this

            Nonsense! They have a purpose; they’re useful idiots and water carriers.

    4. So there are monopolistic powers held by providers and, as such, the real issue that needs to be solved is the one of “all bits are equal”.

      So you want to ban blocking the open mail relays beloved of spammers? Firewalls, such as the Cisco ASA?

      I’d assume that you don’t. You don’t actually mean “treat all bits as equal.” You want lots of exemptions and special cases. That makes it harder than you think to regulate well.

      Your claim that there are monopolistic powers actually undercuts your argument about Netflix. With monopolistic power, the monopoly extracts the maximum amount of rent. Having the ability to charge the other side in a two-sided market does not decrease the total amount of rent charged (indeed, according to some theory it can decrease it, if the large party on the other side is a prime negotiator.)

      Your same claims about monopolistic powers are why we banned cable companies from charging broadcast stations fees to transmit. And yet, despite those claims of monopolistic power of cable companies, the retransmission fees actually flow in the opposite direction from the cable monopoly to the rights holders. Why? Because CBS et al. actually have their own monopolistic power, just as Netflix does.

    5. Fiddledeedee|11.12.14 @ 9:17AM|#
      “Let’s be clear, Obama specifically called out a provision to prevent the pricing controls:”

      ‘If you like your price, you can keep your price, period!’
      Hmmm, I wonder what Gruber is saying about this in committee?

    6. Is anyone really na?ve enough to believe that, once the internet is classified such that the government has price-setting power, it won’t use it?

      1. not me – I know what those government bastards are up to.

      2. The problem being of course one would like to assume they choke the price downward and reduce the terrible unearned profits stolen from the workers wages and customers, but we all know that as they mouth that wonderful communist ideal and 1%er protest march screed, the prices will skyrocket because the government shoved their nose into it, even as Barack the storyteller claims it will cost nothing and save half a trillion, he swears.
        I’m eagerly awaiting the deadnet boards who will mull for months and years over the new crisis problems that inexplicably occurred, hopefully they can have expensive taxpayer lunches with the death panels and exchange ideas for more action.

        1. The problem being of course one would like to assume they choke the price downward and reduce the terrible unearned profits stolen from the workers wages and customers

          First of all, profit is earned. Unearned excess revenue is rent (not the same as the rent you pay your landlord, if you don’t own a house). Learn some economics before you start spouting off.

          Second of all, such unearned rents are due to unfair privileges granted by and large at the local level. This issue needs to be addressed by the localities and the states. Your 1/100,000 (or better) say at the local level will carry far more weight than your 1/150,000,000 say at the national level.

          The rest of your post is an incoherent and irrelevant screed.

    7. Why do providers want some bits to be more equal than others when I already pay for my extra speed (which is thus denied me when it’s from a provider they don’t like (read: NFLX)?

      Some bits need to be more equal than others in order to reliably deliver streaming video. You can’t do streaming video reliably without prioritizing video packets at bottle necks.

      Netflix wants Comcast to pay to build up their infrastructure, a cost which will be passed on to all Netflix subscribers. Comcast wants Netflix to pay to prioritize their traffic, a cost which will be passed on to Netflix customers.

      This fight isn’t about treating all packets equally or strangling competition. It’s about who is going to pay for the cost of bandwidth. Is that cost going to be spread out equally across all consumers, or is it going to be paid by the heaviest bandwidth users?

      1. Er:
        Netflix wants Comcast to pay to build up their infrastructure, a cost which will be passed on to all COMCAST subscribers.

  11. I dislike the headline (as do others). Net neutrality is a good general engineering principle; it is one that is betrayed by necessary sacrifices, not just things like QoS but also firewalls and network security.

    However, precisely because it’s a good overall principle with difficult case by case exemptions, I don’t believe that the FCC regulation is the right way to achieve it. Not when the FCC has a history of abusing its regulatory power:

    Negotiating leverage has come from a seemingly mundane government power: the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to approve cable licenses. In deals involving a foreign company, say people familiar with the process, the FCC has held up approval for many months while the squadron of lawyers dubbed Team Telecom developed security agreements that went beyond what’s required by the laws governing electronic eavesdropping.

    This could easily achieve SOPA and PIPA via the back door of regulation.

    1. This could easily achieve SOPA and PIPA via the back door of regulation.

      Exactly. The FCC is already legally obligated to enforce anti-piracy laws. If they have the power and don’t regulate in a way that throttles pirated content, then the studios could sue them and force them to do so. No legislation needs to pass at all. All that has to happen is for the FCC to claim the power and for it to be upheld in court.

  12. Fantastic article. Thanks for the ammunition 🙂

    1. You’re welcome. The FCC has abused “seemingly mundane government powers” before. It’s a pretty major strike against them (just like the FAA using their power to enforce a media-only no fly zone in Ferguson.)

  13. Indeed. This article is mildly frustrating. It is clear that FCC regulation is going to get a low score from the libertarian (both l and L) folks. I have no confidence in public utilities, and the interwebs are too important in general, to trust to a committee (Or commie-tee, for that matter).

    But it doesn’t explain why net neutrality itself is a problem. I do not believe it is. It may not be an ideal situation in the Libertarian Paradise, but we are not there. Given the current environment, can somebody please address Net Neutrality directly and help me understand why it is a problem?

    1. “But it doesn’t explain why net neutrality itself is a problem.”

      What do you mean by “net neutrality”?

      1. Its a problem because it is an artificial restraint on property and business enforced, ultimately, with violence and threats of violence.

        Why is is this so difficult to grasp?

        1. CH,
          I’m still unclear as to the definition of “net neutrality”.
          I know it is a euphemism for some form of gov’t coercion, but I don’t know what form it takes.
          Is it simply price-fixing? Is it forcing every provider to provide the same service?
          WIH does the phrase actually mean?

          1. I know it is a euphemism for some form of gov’t coercion, but I don’t know what form it takes.

            Does it really matter?

    2. I refer you to the second part of my reply to Fiddledeedee and John Thacker’s comment in that subthread and on his own immediately following.

    3. Given the current environment, can somebody please address Net Neutrality directly and help me understand why it is a problem?

      There are a number of good posts upthread addressing various aspects of it.

      But if you want a simple argument, take this:

      The FCC has to address the interests of whatever the most powerful lobbies in Washington are. It is highly unlikely that a consumer lobby will ever be among them. Instead, it will be dominated by content creators and other monied interests.

      Comcast has a far better claim (albeit far from perfect due to the local monopoly situation) to represent your interests since you are the one paying them. Yes, the merger with NBC Universal puts dark clouds on the horizon, but by comparison the FCC is a Category 5 hurricane.

      1. Instead, it will be dominated by content creators and other monied interests.

        By “content creators” I’m really referring to media trade organizations (MPAA, RIAA, etc.) as well as their corporate backers, rather than the actual people who create content per se.

        Also, there will be moralistic busybodies and political interest groups involved. In theory, “net neutrality” should not be exploitable by them, but in practice it will translate into the FCC having greater control over ISPs, control which is just one law away from being modified to suit other purposes.

    4. Net neutrality is a very good general operating principle for network engineering. The problem is that there are lots of case by case loopholes. Things like Wikipedia Zero violate net neutrality. (MetroPCS got sued for something similar, when it still existed.) Technically, basically all firewalls violate net neutrality– and while it’s possible to use a firewall in a way that seems like a terrible violation that shouldn’t be allowed (using a Cisco ASA to block SMTP encryption for example), they are also useful in practically necessary ways. At one extreme, even blocking open mail relays violates a conception of net neutrality.

      Not everyone’s idea of proper net neutrality is the same. Many would allows some things that others wouldn’t. So whether regulatory or in the open market, you have to approach it case by case. So it’s a lot more complicated than people let on, and it’s not clear the regulatory body would get it right and change things quickly enough. It might even reinforce the position of existing monopolies who best know how to implement and get changes made to the regulations.

    5. Because te chnically there are all sorts of reasons why you really don’t want to treat all traffic equally.

      For instance, online gaming and streaming video is very sensitive to packet latency and email is not. You may want to prioritize those packets to deliver them with a low latency.

      For another thing, some packets may come from malicious websites doing DOS attacks. You might want to have software designed to throttle them.

      1. ^ Exactly this ^

        I guess bittorrent porn downloads are just as important as DNS traffic bound to the root nameservers too?

        1. Although better examples would be gaming and VOIP, not so much “streaming video”, as that can buffer. Realtime conversations not so much..

          1. So the solution is better bandwidth all around, and as we’ve all read, the USA ranks as fairly pathetic compared to others in the Western world.
            The question is, in my book, why do we suck so badly, and as we are sucking wind like losers, instead of doing it the American way and cranking up the bandwidth instead of having petty national arguments over losers who can’t handle it, only makes it worse.
            If we didn’t suck, this wouldn’t be such a problem.

            1. Is it now the strategy of NN pushers to show up and shitpost on threads after everyone has left?

            2. Apologies

              Maybe I mistook you for something you aren’t.

              However, if you compare us to Canada or Australia we’re doing quite awesome.

              I live in the Southeast USA, small town, and get over 100mbit service with no data caps for $40 a month.

              So sorry if I have a hard time believing we’re shitting the bed that badly. Things could certainly be better, but NN isn’t going to help one bit.

    6. But it doesn’t explain why net neutrality itself is a problem.

      I’m just going to copy and paste what I said in another thread the other day:

      I don’t think you seem to understand that there is tons of competition as far as national/international transit providers go. The problem that exists in some places is a “last mile” problem which net neutrality will do nothing but make worse.

      For example, under net neutrality it would be somehow “bad” for youtube(google) and/or Netflix to directly connect to your ISP and only allow their traffic over these “fast lanes”.

      Even though, this would mean Netflix and/or Youtube would work better AND it would mean your ISPs other traffic exchange points would be less congested as a result making it faster for everyone!

      Also the entire concept is absurd on it’s face. So bittorrent traffic should get the same priority as DNS traffic bound to the root nameservers?

      Your neighbor’s porn downloads will have to be treated equally to your VOIP traffic?

      Seriously?

      The FCC will never enforce strict net neutrality though. What will happen is they will get involved in a bunch of peering disputes between major transit providers where there is already a lot of competition and favor whoever has the best people working for them at the FCC.

      At worst it will be used by the FCC to censor things and ruin the internet like they’ve ruined television.

      1. What will happen is they will get involved in a bunch of peering disputes between major transit providers where there is already a lot of competition and favor whoever has the best people working for them at the FCC.

        This.
        The backend of how the internet works these days is very complex and there are soooooo many opportunities for rent-seeking if the FCC gets involved in deciding who wins these disputes.

        You’ll end up with companies winning in the market not because they rae better at delivering content more efficiently, but because they have political connections in DC. Crony capitalism at it’s worst.

  14. but Stormy Dragon hates comcast. isn’t that a good reason?

    1. I don’t know anyone who likes Comcast.

      1. Comcast…

        Yeah, giving the FCC more power here is going to result in Comcast being REAL sorry I’m sure.

        1. Thanks for that link Plopper.
          I note it’s almost all DEMOCRAT connections shown in those revolving doors, all the way back to Carter, lots of Clinton, a tiny bit of Reagan and Bush, and boatloads of Obama.

          I was always told ( by the left wing msm propaganda machine ) big companies are corporate pig republican 100% of the time, but let’s face it, that was a lie and every time I get a look a big fat demolib names string is the answer in corporate piggery.

          I know this place loves to say both the entrenched parties are the same, and to some degree that’s true.

  15. If you are going to write about something at least properly understand the topic.

    “Net neutrality is a policy that mandates that all packets be treated the same regardless or source, destination, or content, with very limited exceptions for traffic that’s illegal, malicious, or unwanted.”

    NO, mr author, that is not correct. Net neutrality is the idea if the network is going to prioritize some content, say VOIP traffic for Comcast, then it should apply the same prioritization for say Vonnage. Comcast should not be able to kill Vonnage by degrading their performance. You can see how they forced Netflix to pay up, eventhough Netflix already pays their ISP and Comcast customers already pay Comcast for said content.

    If Comcast did not receive massive taxpayer subsidies to build out their network, and massive taxpayer subsidies to “upgrade” their network, it would be a clear case of government get the F out.

    1. Until the recent agreement, Netflix did not pay one red cent to Comcast. Most content providers are not paying your ISP to deliver content to you. They are paying their own ISPs for access to “the Internet” not direct transit to specific consumers.

      Amazingly enough, consumers are able to respond to the “bad things” that ISPs might do. That is in fact exactly what motivated the agreement between Comcast and Netflix: each side had the interests of their consumers to resolve.

      The only claim you could possibly make for the involvement of the government is in forcing disclosure of pertinent information to the consumer. If Comcast is intentionally throttling a particular service in contravention of an agreement that exists between you and them, then provided you can substantiate an allegation against them, you should be able to subpoena them for pertinent information.

      This already exists, and if you think you alone are not powerful enough to do it, then launch a class action against them.

      The FCC will certainly not accomplish any magic objective that people on their own were unwilling to dedicate any real time and effort to accomplishing.

      1. Why the fuck should Netflix be paying Comcast to deliver content? Comcast already agreed to do so in exchange for payment from it’s customers.

        1. Please read the other comments I have made on this. You like many others fundamentally do not understand the way the Internet works.

          Now, as a fellow consumer, I am sympathetic to the claim that it should be made as simple and transparent as possible. But that simplicity and transparency is an illusion that requires significant investments in hardware, software, and the management thereof.

          Why should Netflix pay Comcast? Because Netflix is not willing to pay to build a wire between its data centers and every customer’s house. More specifically, Netflix’s customers are not paying it to lay fiber, they are paying it to provide hosting for video that can be streamed on demand.

          Netflix and Comcast address two different aspects of the very complex process of delivering content to your door.

          1. How the internet works is fucking irrelevant. Comcast is collecting payment to provide a particular service. They have an obligation to provide it. If they go around to other parties demanding additional payment, that’s fraud.

            1. The particular service they are providing is not the grandiose service you think it is. Please try to understand the issue instead of emoting about it.

              1. That’s the service they are advertising.

            2. They have an obligation to provide it

              Comcast is obligated to provide only what they promise to provide.

              And they promise to provide you with speeds of “up to” XX Mbps.

              The fact that you get speeds of XX Mbps from some sites, and lower speeds from others, is not a violation of their agreement with you.

              And, in fact, lower speeds can result from all kinds of things utterly beyond Comcast’s control.

              1. This is something within Comcast’s control.

                1. This is something within Comcast’s control.

                  No, it’s not. Comcast cannot arbitrarily provide you unlimited bandwidth to every other host with access to the Internet.

                  They have to build the pipes connecting their network to e.g. Netflix’s network in order to improve the bandwidth between the two. There are also caching methods and other techniques for improving the effective bandwidth between Comcast and you, but they only go so far. Also, many of those techniques are limited by the content protection and other restrictions imposed by the creators.

                  You pay Comcast for bandwidth to their network and access (not bandwidth per se!) to other networks through the Internet.

                  If you cannot understand this fact, you can bitch and moan all you want, but you are unfit to manage the industry and thus doubly unfit to legislate it.

                  1. If you cannot understand this fact, you can bitch and moan all you want, but you are unfit to manage the industry and thus doubly unfit to legislate it.

                    Yet perfectly qualified for the job of regulator.

                  2. They don’t have to provide arbitrary unlimited bandwidth. They do have to provide the specific limited bandwidth they sold to their customers.

                    1. They do have to provide the specific limited bandwidth they sold to their customers.

                      Can you spend one minute not being obtuse?

                      You really are inviting comparisons to communists. We don’t know anything about this matter, but we should be able to set the rules at the end of a gun!

                  3. “The internets is a series of tubes”

            3. How the internet works is fucking irrelevant.

              Clear proof you don’t have an actual argument here other than your baby feelings.

              1. If you enter into a contract to sell me a unicorn for $1, the fact that unicorns don’t exist isn’t a defense for breach of contract.

                Comcast sells their service as providing specific bandwidths to their users (and specifically they tout streaming video in particular as a reason to buy their service).

                1. Comcast sells their service as providing specific bandwidths to their users (and specifically they tout streaming video in particular as a reason to buy their service).

                  And they deliver. On off-peak hours my 105Mbps connection can download games from Steam at 13MiB/s (which is the equivalent speed roughly in bytes instead of bits).

                  But during peak hours (especially after a major new game release), my downloads can be as slow as 1MiB/s (about 9Mbps). That’s not Comcast’s fault per se; the link between them and Steam is insufficient to handle the load. Should they really provision a tenfold increase in transit which will sit idle most of the time?

                2. If you enter into a contract to sell me a unicorn for $1, the fact that unicorns don’t exist isn’t a defense for breach of contract.

                  Comcast sells their service as providing specific bandwidths to their users (and specifically they tout streaming video in particular as a reason to buy their service).

                  They (and EVERY OTHER ISP PROVIDER) sell it as “up to ___Mbps.”

                  Go ahead and try setting up a class-action lawsuit against them for not giving you 25 MBps at all times. You’ll get laughed out of the fucking courtroom because you clearly don’t have a clue how data transport works. You certainly haven’t shown any capacity for it on this thread.

                3. If you enter into a contract to sell me a unicorn for $1, the fact that unicorns don’t exist isn’t a defense for breach of contract.

                  Actually, “impossibility” is a defense in contract actions.

                  You may have a case for fraud, though, depending on what your contract says.

                  If it says “We have a unicorn and will sell it to you for $1”, that’s fraud.

                  If it says “We will sell you the first unicorn we find for $1”, not so much.

          2. Others? LOL. you clearly have no idea how the internet works.

            Customers pay Comcast for internet access, not access to specific sites. Considering Comcast made some 2.49 billion in profit last quarter, it gets paid quite a bit. But somehow, it has no money to provide said services to customers, so not it has to tax Netflix for the privilege of Comcast customers to be able to access Netflix services.

            Why did Comcast take untold billions in direct taxpayer subsidies and untold billions in indirect taxpayer subsidies to build their network?

            1. If you can’t be bothered to read the contract before you sign it, that’s your fault. You are not being sold 25Mbps guaranteed to every other host on the Internet. That is physically impossible.

              Netflix paid Comcast because the former needs the latter more than the latter needs the former. Understand this dynamic before you start spouting off about it.

              1. No, Netflix paid Comcast because Comcast has enough political power to extract monopoly rents in large areas of the country.

                1. No, Netflix paid Comcast because Comcast has enough political power to extract monopoly rents in large areas of the country.

                  That is not in disagreement with what I said. In fact, it is at the heart of the reason why Netflix needs Comcast more than Comcast needs Netflix.

                  So the issue is, as always, the local monopolies.

                  1. Not totally – there’s two components. First, the local monopolies that limit many (most?) consumers to two choices for broadband – cable or DSL, each provided by a locally sanctioned monopoly. Add on top of that the old-style vertical integration, where Comcast, Verizon, et. al. are content providers in addition to content deliverers, and the motivation for the throttling gets created. Comcast didn’t throttle Netflix content because of any inherent limitations on bandwidth to customers, nor through any serious infrastructure or bandwidth cost in the data centers. They throttled Netflix in order for Comcasts’ content to seem better to end users and drive Comcast’s ISP subscribers to Comcast’s content delivery options, which in turn would directly increase Comcast’s revenues.

                    1. [Citation Needed]

                    2. How is it a bad thing if Netflix and/or Google/Youtube directly connect to your ISP?

                      That just means Comcast’s already congested traffic exchange points will remain congested instead of being relieved of that extra traffic by allowing Netflix to have a “fast lane”.

                      While Comcast could conceivably have the incentive to do as you say, I’ve seen no good evidence this was actually the case. Just that they didn’t want to pay to upgrade their already congested uplinks.

                    3. Netflix offered repeatedly to provide (at Netflix’s expense) caching systems that would have releived the exchange point congestion by storing the most frequently request videos locally:

                      http://arstechnica.com/informa…..r-netflix/

                      Comcast repeated turned them down because congestion was more a convenient excuse for them rather than an actual problem they were trying to resolve.

                    4. Netflix offered repeatedly to provide (at Netflix’s expense) caching systems that would have releived the exchange point congestion by storing the most frequently request videos locally

                      And I wouldn’t host somebody else’s hardware in my data centers, either. Comcast and Netflix found a solution. Why are you still bitching about it?

                    5. I agree with that bitching because Comcast hammered the Netflix connection with their “agreement”.
                      That was the result here. It was great always, then not so great as in now as well.
                      So the purest implemented thoughts of the free market are also wrought with problems for consumers.
                      Comcast stock went from 15 bucks to 55 in the last 4 years.
                      Pigs at the trough and government connected money trolls. I just saw the link here from another poster, and it’s all demonrats.
                      So “the free market” never happened, “the agreement” has government paws all over it.

                    6. They still eventually came to an agreement that improved the situation for their customers.

                      Network neutrality isn’t going to fix a congestion problem is the point. It’s just going to make them worse if all traffic must be treated equally.

                    7. And yeah… It could be a potential security issue for them to have someone else’s equipment in their data center.

                      It makes sense on a ton of levels why they wouldn’t want Netflix’s hardware in their actual data centers.

                      Having them provide a direct pipe more or less is a much better solution.

          3. NextFlix and Comcast are indeed two different aspects.

            I pay Hulu for access to content. I pay Verizon to deliver that and any other content to my home, whether I have free or subscription access to it.

            It’s my opinion that my payment to Hulu would cover their costs of gathering the content, such as payments to the creators of the content (studios, etc).

            My payments to Verizon are for the costs of delivering the content. If I demand more content than Verizon is capable of delivering, then it’s their responsibility to upgrade, and that could result in higher prices to me (after all, I am demanding extra service from them).

            If Verizon doesn’t upgrade, or I don’t like their prices, I should be able to seek out another ISP.

            BTW, this is why I dropped Verizon for Atlantic Broadband two years ago – Verizon could not affordably deliver the bandwidth I need to be streaming from multiple devices.

        2. Why the fuck should Netflix be paying Comcast to deliver content? Comcast already agreed to do so in exchange for payment from it’s customers.

          I’ll just quote this from above since you seem to be clueless on the matter.

          “kbolino|11.12.14 @ 10:47AM|#

          Your ISP does not sell you arbitrary bandwidth to every other host on the Internet. They are selling bandwidth to their own network and in turn access to other networks through the Internet.

          If you don’t even understand how this works, you are not fit to comment on the matter.”

          Bandwidth costs money. If Netfux is flooding an ISP’s capacity with data, it’s going to fuck up the performance of everyone else on the pipe. That’s why data gets prioritized–and if Netfux wants to have greater access for their customers to access their service via Comcast, well guess what–they’re going to have to pay Comcastfor the privilege. “Net Neutrality” is nothing more than a technocratic buzzword for low-information goons who can’t think in concepts more complex than 140 characters at a time.

          1. You’re right, they don’t sell an arbitrary amount of bandwidth. That’s the problem: they sell a specific amount of bandwidth that they then fail to provide because they’re oversubscribing their network.

            1. If they didn’t “oversubscribe” their network, you’d be paying ten times what you pay now, at least. A T1 line, which only provides 1.544 Mbps dedicated transit to a major Internet backbone costs hundreds to thousands of dollars a month.

              1. So in the USA bandwidth sucks and the losers in charge are stuck sucking, badly, and poor consumer boy just needs to bend over more… got it…

                1. So in the USA bandwidth sucks and the losers in charge are stuck sucking, badly, and poor consumer boy just needs to bend over more… got it…

                  To the extent this is true, it is precisely why they should not be ignorantly voted a greater say at the national level through the vehicle of “net neutrality”.

                  I see a great analogy here to the banking system and financial industry. Once upon a time, people complained that the banks had too much power, but yet people made do even in times of monetary crisis and recovered quickly. Now, “the banks” really do have too much power and any downturn in one sector of the economy affects everyone.

                  The difference between then and now are things like the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, banking regulation, etc. The useful idiots who ushered in all of that crap thought they were reigning in the banks, but really they were just turning the country into a government-backed banking cartel.

                  Address the actual injustices, don’t create new ones.

            2. That’s the problem: they sell a specific amount of bandwidth that they then fail to provide because they’re oversubscribing their network.

              Actually, no–they sell “up to ___ Mbps” for that access. That’s in every damn ISP contract you sign, Comcast or otherwise. There’s no such thing as “oversubscribing the network” because it begs the question that the usage is running at max capacity all the time.

              It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get that data rate all the time–a concept you seem to have trouble grasping– because the ISPs only have so much capacity available, and prioritization is part of how they manage that data–especially when Netflix is flooding their servers with streaming video that takes up a shitload of bandwidth, which ends up screwing other users.

              So what you’re basically arguing is that Netflix customers should be treated special over the ISP’s other customers who are paying the same amount for an equivalent bandwidth capacity, and saying that it’s actually “neutral.” Talk about a fun-house mirror version of the term.

              1. Again, outside a government enforced monopoly or duopoly would anyone accept an agreement like that?

                Give me $20k, and I’ll sell you “up to” one car!

                1. Yes. My local gym doesn’t have a monopoly, and yet sometimes I have to wait for a swimming lane during peak hours.

                2. Again, outside a government enforced monopoly or duopoly would anyone accept an agreement like that?

                  Your arguments are getting more incoherent the longer you post on this thread. Your tortured analogies just undescore this.

                  You have no idea how data transport is actually managed, but by god, you’re sure vociferous in your ignorance!

              2. No I’m saying that local and state governments should be banned from blocking market entry to competing systems. Then we wouldn’t be stuck with a company who’s business is based on screwing over it’s customers, but can get away from it because it’s the only game in town.

                1. As I have said before, if you are feeling screwed by Comcast, then stop paying them. You clearly see more value to their service than not, because nobody is forcing you to pay them. Do not mistake monopoly for mandatory; you can cut your cord to the Internet any time.

                  If you want your state or local government to forbid franchise agreements, then address that at the appropriate level. The national government exists to resolve issues between states since you are generally not going to have a say in the affairs of other states. But for issues within your own state, there is no reason to involve the feds.

                  1. Too late for that last line in your dreamy non-reality, they’re already involved up to and beyond all their necks and eyeballs.

                    1. Too late for that last line in your dreamy non-reality, they’re already involved up to and beyond all their necks and eyeballs.

                      If you can amass the political capital to give them more power, then perhaps you should turn it instead to taking some away.

                      Repeal the Telecom Act of 96.

                2. That’s true, Stormy.

                  And when you have ten different ISPs competing for your business, they will all sell you access of “up to” XX Mbps.

                  It would be a better world than the one we have now, but it would not change, at all, the dynamics that you complain about re: internet speed, usage, and contracting between ISPs and various content providers.

                  1. There will be an incentive to keep as close to XX as possible though.

                    1. There will be an incentive to keep as close to XX as possible though.

                      Perhaps, but honestly Netflix only needs like 8Mbps to stream 1080p. People might rather purchase a 10Mbps service with priority access to Netflix than a 50Mbps service with “neutral” packet priority.

        3. Not all Comcast customers use Netflix.
          Is it fair that I should have to pay more for my internet service so that Comcast can build out it’s bandwidth for the Netflix customer’s use? Especially when they are hogging that bandwidth and making my user experience worse?

          1. Isn’t that why they have different price points for different maximum bandwidth levels?

            1. Maximum bandwidth between your house and your ISP is not relevant to the bandwidth between your ISP and a content provider.

              Really, this whole pricing model is antiquated and does not reflect modern usage. But net neutrality proponents are talking about enshrining this shitty situation in national law.

          2. So many whiners, Commiecast already addressed that and laid in that bandwidth cap so all the piggies would be stifled.
            Sad how America sucks so much more than it can handle.

            1. Yes, it is “sad” how data links that cost tens of thousands of dollars everywhere in the world are not available for pennies on the dollar in the US. An OC-3 link is $20,000k+ per month. If that’s what you think you are getting for $100/mo, then you need to read your contract a lot more closely. The pricing structure in place is archaic but it reflects franchise agreements established decades ago. If you want change to happen, then not only do you need to oppose “net neutrality” you need to start working on improving the local situation, too.

    2. Net neutrality is the idea if the network is going to prioritize some content, say VOIP traffic for Comcast, then it should apply the same prioritization for say Vonnage.

      Unless the network has monopoly powers, I don’t see why this is a problem.

      If the network does have monopoly powers, then you can address their abuse of their powers via the anti-trust laws.

      1. “Unless the network has monopoly powers, I don’t see why this is a problem.”

        That is the real problem which should be addressed. All franchise agreements should be declared null and void. Allow competition especially from local government/co-ops.

        But that would require people to not vote for Republicans and Democrats who only care about getting bribes, i mean campaign donations, rather than doing what is best.

        1. It would also require the political left to stop waging war against our freedoms for long enough that we can address the other issues.

          When I don’t have to worry about tax rates going up, new gun restrictions going into place, or even the first fucking amendment getting gutted, then I will make this a greater priority.

          This is not to exclude the political right from any blame, but they have not been ascendant for quite some time.

          1. This is not to exclude the political right from any blame, but they have not been ascendant for quite some time.

            Um, what?

            1. The left has declared all out war on the Bill of Rights. There is not I think a single amendment (except the 3rd) that they haven’t tried to undermine in some way. The Republicans won a bunch of elections lately not on the basis of their own policies but on the basis of rolling back the policies of the Democrats. Do not mistake reaction for ascendance; they will not hold power for long if they take to their own agenda.

              1. No I mean I don’t see how you can claim the right isn’t ascendant right now.

                1. I’m pretty sure I addressed that with the second half of my comment.

                  It would probably be more accurate to say that the left is a greater political enemy of libertarians than the right at the present time. We have some intersection with the right in terms of rolling back the excesses of the left.

                  When I can’t even buy a fucking gun or put out a political pamphlet or keep the money I made, then Comcast dicking me somewhat is not going to rank highly on my list of priorities.

                  This is part of the reason why libertarianism is superior to the vision of government put forward by both major parties. Issues that don’t need government involvement (i.e., most of them) are distractions from the core functions of government.

                  When the political left stops waging war on my freedoms, or if the political right returns to its usual role of aiding and betting them, then I will espouse a different perspective on the matter.

  16. All I know is that I would do nearly anything short of moving to the city to have competent internet where I live.

    I agree that government mandate is the wrong way to go, and actual de-regulation in order to create competition isn’t going to happen (I have 1 hard line choice or satellite – which notoriously sucks). So my stance is that if the government is intent on spending our money whether they should or not (and they are going to spend our money whether they should or not), I say spend it on giving me an internet connection that is something a bit more modern than the cutting edge technology of 1998.

    1. I would check on the “Satellite sucks” idea. My Lady and I had satellite for a while, and it was enough for our needs. Now, granted we weren’t streaming video at the time, and that was about a decade ago. Things may have changed. But we had heard that “satellite sucks” back then, and it wasn’t our experience.

      1. I gather there are new satellites that are better.

        However, my real problem with satellite internet when I had it wasn’t so much the slower speeds.

        It was the latency. Which I think is a laws-of-physics thing.

        1. The problem with satellites isn’t throughput so much as round trip time. It takes about a second for a signal to get from earth to a geostationary satellite, which means that any satellite based internet connection is going to have a round trip time of at least 4 seconds (house – satellite – rest of internet – satellite – house). That’s going to make any application with any sort of interactivity nearly unusable.

          1. So you can’t play World of Warcraft from a remote cabin in Arizona.

            You fucking whiners want everything.

          2. So you can’t play World of Warcraft from a remote cabin in Arizona.

            You fucking whiners want everything.

            1. This is why I don’t move far out, otherwise I would. (not for WoW but other online games)

              Not only latency, but the very stringent data caps for Satellite service…

              However, I’m not delusional enough to think network neutrality or any other government solution is going to address this problem adequately.

  17. And once again, Reason publishes a huge article that does a great job carrying water for Comcast, but mentions not one word about banning franchise agreements to open up the market to competition.

    1. Clearly, the Reason editors must support such laws, right? That’s the only reasonable explanation, huh? Christ, you do realize you’re as bad as John, right?

      1. What is anyone on the “libertarian” side doing about it? Has Rand written a law to reform the franchise system? Amash? Anyone?

        Instead all we get is a Curate’s egg.

        1. What is your point, exactly?

        2. Why don’t you write to one of them, then? If you can’t even be bothered to get involved in your local government enough to change the franchise arrangement, then why do expect somebody (who almost certainly does not represent you geographically) to do it for you?

          The franchise agreements bother me, too, but I’m trying to stem a tide of local and state infringements of my liberty far greater than this, and unfortunately we have a very fucked up system of government that only makes it possible to address so many issues at once.

        3. I mean, the Federal Criminal Code alone is so voluminous that the federal government has tried and failed to quantify it multiple times. So you could make this same stupid point about tens of thousands of laws and who knows how many more regulations.

          “Clearly libertarians aren’t serious about issue X because they haven’t proposed repealing unjust law #87,263!”

          1. If it’s within the specific context of a discussion of what to do about unjust law #87,263, then yes, failing to call for repeal is a sign of lack of seriousness.

    2. Odd, what you point out. While reason whoops up free markets, this article simply ignores franchise agreements, which are as anti-free market as anything can be.

    3. If you don’t like Comcast, then stop paying them.

      1. That’s like saying that if you don’t like the IRS you should just stop earning income.

        1. Comcast won’t fine or jail me if I don’t use their service.

          Christ, you’re so emotional about this that you can’t even make a proper analogy.

          1. They will if you try to use another service in an area where they have a franchise agreement.

            1. That would be basically impossible, since any alternate provider would have to obtain many rights of way in order to lay the wires connecting your home to their service center. How would they obtain all those rights of way without the approval of the local government?

            2. They will if you try to use another service in an area where they have a franchise agreement.

              Really? Comcast is going to get me thrown in jail for trying to use Centurylink instead?

              Give it up, you sound like a hysteric on this one. The issue here isn’t even franchise agreements, which, again, is a LOCAL ISSUE–it’s whether Comcast can charge Netflix for hogging up the bandwidth capacity that Comcast (or others) are providing.

              1. If I pay Comcast for an X MB/s connection, how is using that X MB/s to watch Netflix constitute “hogging” the bandwidth?

                You are such a corporate shill, you’re now actually accusing the customers of wronging poor Comcast by using the service they’re paying them to provide.

                1. You aren’t paying for an X MB/s connection, as has been explained a million times in this thread.

                  1. Only because Comcast is like the post office; walled off from actual competition by the government they can force people to accept a “well, this letter may get their tomorrow, or next week, or maybe never” deal that would never last in an actual competitive market.

                    1. So you concede the point.

                2. They’re avoiding the reality that Comcast has hard caps on useage, meaning use ANY streaming too much and Comcast whacks you.
                  So Commiecast is sucking down the pie and the icecream and is begging they get paid to eat all the cherries as well as kicking anyone out of the party for being a pig.
                  Glad I made a hundred grand on Coommiecasts extraordinary 4 year stock rise.
                  Thanks losers, now Netflix needs to pay me too.

                  1. They’re avoiding the reality that Comcast has hard caps on useage, meaning use ANY streaming too much and Comcast whacks you.

                    It is my understanding that those caps are not enforced. Documented, measured, but not enforced. That may have changed recently.

                    Nevertheless, that is irrelevant to the issue at hand. If you buy a product with a certain set of terms, you can’t complain that you got exactly what was promised.

                    If your issue is that you can’t buy products with terms you find more favorable, well then again we have already addressed that.

            3. They will if you try to use another service in an area where they have a franchise agreement.

              Oh bullshit.

              Jesus you are an ignorant fucking tool Stormy.

        2. You know what will really diminish Comcast’s power? If they stop making money.

          There is no way to diminish the IRS’s power except through the ballot box.

          The former is a far more powerful mechanism of control than the latter.

  18. Extremely useful, thanks.

  19. There may be injustices in the way the internet works now, however;

    1) I am unpersuaded that any politician with the seniority to actually affect the legislative process knows enough about the technical aspect to write a good law.

    2) While I think that some efforts by the State to push networks into low demand ares have benefitted society for beyond their cost (see; rural electrification), I am not convinced that the issue here is simple enough that regulators won’t screw the pooch, even assuming the absolute best of intentions.

    3) Since Obama is for this, I have to (based on his trace record) assume that it is a lousy idea, or that his implementation of it will generate a result vastly different from the one he’s selling. The man is a fraudster and a dolt.

    I think the nation would be better served by absorbing the Post Office back into the government, accepting that maintaining a baseline means of cheap communication would lose money, and dropping the price of a first class stamp to a nickel (so any wino who turns in a couple of cans can pester his Congressman).

    Or we could invite the whole boiling to go piss up a rope and stand under it while it dries.

  20. I really would like to see an in-depth article explaining the various relationships amoung ISPs, content distribution networks, content providers and regional and local carriers. What is a peering agreement? What are the arguments for an against net neutrality by all of the players? What are the interests of all of the players? How are those interests related to the lobbying for and against various aspects of net neutrality?

    Can’t Rreason find some industry expert who can properly explain all of this?

    1. If you can dig around on his website, and keep some rags handy to wipe the spittle off your screen, The Market Ticker has some discussion of these issues.

      He’s angry, opinionated, and dead wrong about some things, but this is his wheelhouse.

      http://market-ticker.org/

  21. If an internet provider is not delivering to you the product agreed to in your contract, then it is a matter for the courts under contract law.

    Becoming submissive and allowing the government to control the internet will only create monopolies, raise prices, increase government corruption and destroy individual rights.

    Why do people always want to be told what to do? Government is not your friend. Government is a violent tool used by a privileged few to impose their whims upon others.

    1. Government is a violent tool used by a privileged few to impose their whims upon others.

      For many, this is a feature, not a bug.

      Comcast customers complained about how poor Netflix streaming was for them, and lo and behold the two companies worked out an agreement solving the problem.

      This is how the market works. If you don’t like it, do it better. Fight the true injustices, don’t manufacture new ones.

      1. Actually Comcast then fucked Netlfix bandwidth, and it’s still that way.
        The happy outcome you proclaim is a fantasy.

        1. You keep saying this but it doesn’t make any sense, maybe Comcast is just incompetent at servicing your particular area — The routes you take can vary tremendously depending on the part of the country you’re in.

          Also, you’re not being very detailed in what exactly is your issue so it makes it hard to gather anything useful from your comments.

          Your problems could be completely unrelated to the agreement they came to and you’d have no way of knowing.

        2. I wouldn’t make the claim if I hadn’t see the results in action. Not only as a Comcast customer myself but also in graphs posted on the Internet by many people. You are an anomaly, and that is unfortunate, but your experience does not reflect that of most of Comcast’s customers.

          Even so, you failed to address my last point. If you aren’t being satisfied, then find a better way. Net neutrality isn’t going to fix your Netflix streaming. If anything, it will make it worse.

  22. I know it’s Gawker, but Lifehacker is usually readable and frequently has articles of use to me. However they and their sista sites can’t fit His Highness’s prowess far enough down their throats over this. Their basic argument is the Sean Penn one about the corporations being all corporation-y.

    1. Their basic argument is the Sean Penn one about the corporations being all corporation-y.

      That was Tim Robbins.

      Sean Penn went to Iraq, it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.

  23. “This piece ignores both history and the harm inflicted on us by the current regulatory regime which allows us to be effectively taxed by telecom providers. Until the author addresses those harms, his arguments will be morally insufficient.”

    What say you?

    1. What harms? The rights of way? How many people had to give up property for that (i.e. through eminent domain), and how would it be any different if it were government-run?

      If you want to fix the current regulatory regime, then fix it. Repeal the Telecom Act of 96 and petition your county council, board of aldermen, or whatever to rescind the local franchise agreement.

      Net neutrality does nothing to address the actual harm and the best argument anybody can put forth is that it’s a tiny bind-aid over a gushing wound.

      Never mind that it will stifle innovation in pricing and infrastructure, as well as open up a power structure through which various interests can ram their own agenda.

  24. There’s no doubt liberals are Stalinists, whether they realize it or not, but let’s be clear: the Fed makes transfer payments to the poor and rural areas necessary.

    1. Two wrongs…

  25. The one ring that controls them all.

  26. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

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