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Why Net Neutrality Was Mistaken From the Beginning (AOL Edition)

It turns out that Tom Wheeler, the FCC head who imposed the rules, doesn't know what he's talking about.

Reason.comReason.comCurrent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai memorably told Reason that "net neutrality" rules were "a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist."

Yet in 2015, despite a blessed lack of throttling of specific traffic streams, blocking of websites, and other feared behavior by internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers, the FCC issued net neutrality rules that gave the federal government the right to punish business practices under Title II regulations designed for the old state-enabled Bell telephone monopoly.

Now that Pai, who became chairman earlier this year, has announced an FCC vote to repeal the Obama-era regulations, he is being pilloried by progressives, liberals, Democrats, and web giants ranging from Google to Netflix to Amazon to Facebook, often in the name of protecting an "open internet" that would let little companies and startups flourish like in the good old days before Google, Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook dominated everything. Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which back in 2009 called FCC attempts to claim jurisdiction over the internet a "Trojan Horse" for government control, is squarely against the repeal.

Pai is also being targeted by net neutrality activists, who have posted signs naming his children by his house and reportedly ordered pizzas as a nuisance:

Yet the panic over the repeal of net neutrality is misguided for any number of reasons.

First and foremost, the repeal simply returns the internet back to pre-2015 rules where there were absolutely no systematic issues related to throttling and blocking of sites (and no, ISPs weren't to blame for Netflix quality issues in 2013). As Pai stressed in an exclusive interview with Reason last week, one major impact of net neutrality regs was a historic decline in investment in internet infrastructure, which would ultimately make things worse for all users. Why bother building out more capacity if there's a strong likelihood that the government will effectively nationalize your pipes? Despite fears, the fact is that in the run-up to government regulation, both the average speed and number of internet connections (especially mobile) continued to climb and the percentage of Americans without "advanced telecommunications capability" dropped from 20 percent to 10 percent between 2012 and 2014, according to the FCC (see table 7 in full report). Nobody likes paying for the internet or for cell service, but the fact is that services have been getting better and options have been growing for most people.

Second, as Reason contributor Thomas W. Hazlett, a former chief economist for the FCC, writes in The New York Daily News, even FCC bureaucrats don't know what they're talking about.

Hazlett notes that in a recent debate former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who implemented the 2015 net neutrality rules after explicit lobbying by President Obama, said the rise of AOL to dominance during the late 1990s proved the need for the sort of government regulation he imposed. But "AOL's foray only became possible when regulators in the 1980s peeled back 'Title II' mandates, the very regulations that Wheeler's FCC imposed on broadband providers in 2015," writes Hazlett. "AOL's experiment started small and grew huge, discovering progressively better ways to serve consumers. Wheeler's chosen example of innovation demonstrates how dangerous it is to impose one particular platform, freezing business models in place."

Deep confusion reigns on this point. In an explainer video posted earlier this year by the Wall Street Journal, net neutrality is analogized to package delivery. The overnight shipper, FedEx, delivers boxes to Amazon's customers, treating them all the same. This, says the video, is exactly what net neutrality rules applied to ISPs do.

Wrong. FedEx is unregulated. The firm chooses to offer terms and conditions that apply generically. Its rival, UPS, not so much: "UPS is not a common carrier," says the company's website, "and reserves the right in its absolute discretion to refuse carriage to any shipment tendered to it for transportation."

The firms are free to blaze different trails, with markets deciding the outcome.

Read the whole thing here.

And watch/read an interview with Hazlett from earlier this year where he discusses his epic history of the FCC, The Political Spectrum, and argues that deregulation gave us cable, HBO, and the iPhone.

Indeed, even more worrying than the decline in investment following the implementation of net neutrality is the attempt by its supporters to assume that the current moment is how internet access will forever be delivered. Last year, for instance, mobile traffic surpassed fixed (or desktop) traffic for the first time, so the territory is changing fast. Pai told Reason about a variety of moves that will allow for new ways to deliver the internet, especially to rural areas that are currently lagging behind. He also noted to Reason that many of the legal actions lobbed at mobile carriers by net neutrality proponents have been to challenge "zero-rating" plans that allow customers to stream unlimited amounts of music, video, and other services without counting against a monthly data cap. Exactly how such services are bad is unclear, especially since they don't block or throttle anything. In most contexts, giving customers something extra and unlimited is usually considered a good thing.

For Pai, repealing net neutrality isn't being done to bolster the bottom line of ISPs. Rather, it's to enable the very sort of innovation and experimentation that has worked so well from the early days of the commercialized internet. As Hazlett suggests, giving the government the ability to regulate business models is rarely a good idea, especially in fast-changing tech fields; there will be many competing models and many will die while some flourish. Pai's FCC would still insist on transparency from ISPs and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be able to investigate anti-competitive practices by ISPs (Pai says that the FTC is actually better suited to this sort of role than the FCC, which is open to question). And in his interview with Reason, Pai also laid out some benchmarks by which to judge whether the repeal of net neutrality is successful or not.

Listen below, read a full transcript here, or go to iTunes and subscribe to the Reason Podcast and never miss our thrice-weekly conversations about politics, culture, and ideas from a libertarian perspective.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Sevo||

    "...the rise of AOL to dominance during the late 1990s proved the need for the sort of government regulation he imposed"

    Which company held the 'monopoly' for buggy whips?

  • Juice||

    AOL was never dominant in the market, nor was it any kind of monopoly. Maybe with old people, I guess.

  • Dalben||

    Sure, but it looked dominant to the "old people" who wanted regulation. And if you don't understand how markets prevent monopolies a million AOL CD's or Amazon being successful cries out for the need for regulation. Although to be fair everything cries out for regulation to some people.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Like comments on Internet websites should be regulated? Just kidding.

  • FredipusRex||

    The one problem with the FedEx / UPS analogy is that FedEx doesn't own all the roads in your town and have exclusive access to them. That's precisely what landline internet has - Comcast has government mandated monopolies on the lines going to your house. Phone lines or mobile do not compare when it comes to home-based Internet.

    In my very average suburb, Comcast can offer speeds of up to 1Gbps, 1 TB/month. Phone line competitors can offer 3Mbps - 333 times slower. Mobile is a joke - capped at 22GB/month at wildly intermittent speeds. That is not "competition" in any reasonable sense - it is NOT a market.

    If we had utility last mile, we could have a true market - competition to offer over the top services (TV, backhaul, streaming) on an equal basis. The utility would only handle maintenance of the physical infrastructure (wires/server closets) while the market could provide multitudes of services thru an open connection process to those closets (far easier to do). Smaller ISPs could provide internet services, as could the EFF, coops, big vertically integrated commercial firms and more.

    The best deals might be from the Comcasts and Charters of the world, but you could decide that "net neutrality" or "solar powered circuits" fits you better. And it would open competition between big giants - the current monopoly system is good for them, but if it went away, you can bet the smaller ones would eagerly jump on the opportunity to expand their market share.

  • Sevo||

    "In my very average suburb, Comcast can offer speeds of up to 1Gbps, 1 TB/month. Phone line competitors can offer 3Mbps - 333 times slower. Mobile is a joke - capped at 22GB/month at wildly intermittent speeds. That is not "competition" in any reasonable sense - it is NOT a market."

    It IS a market. You would prefer more choices, but that's what you have available where you live.
    And nowhere is it written that anyone has an obligation to sell you what you want where you are.
    Grow up.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Not really - by force of law, nobody but the cable and telephone monopolies is allowed to run wire on utility poles.

  • Sevo||

    You should really try to find some instructions in this activity called "reading".

  • bvandyke||

    Wrong, it is NOT a market if the government does not allow competition. Comcast is the only one allowed (again - allowed) to provide cable service in our neighborhood. I've talked to other providers, they would like to be able to provide service but the local government will not let them.

    I have no problem with Comcast service but, it isn't any kind or market or competition.

    Are there other options for TV - yes, antenna or satellite but these are not options for Internet.

  • GILMORE™||

    if the government does not allow competition.

    strange how you would characterize "force" as "allow"


    I've talked to other providers, they would like to be able to provide service but the local government will not let them

    i'd believe you if it weren't for a little thing called 'lawsuits'

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The core problem is that your municipality granted a monopoly to ComCast. Your solution is more government regulation. Like every statist and central planner that ever was, you want to pile on regulation after regulation in a pathetic attempt to emulate what free markets do without regulation.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • FredipusRex||

    And your problem is that you don't live in anything like the real world. In the real world of Nashville, there have been an endless series of law changes to attempt to allow Google to compete by running new cable on existing utility poles and they *still* don't have access - Comcast and AT&T won yet another injunction preventing them from competing.

    The local government has tried as hard as possible to undo the monopoly they originally granted and have found it impossible to do so.

    Plus, laying a new cable line to every house in a city is prohibitively expensive - Google has basically given up even trying to do so in Kansas City, their original test market.

    So what do you do if you have what looks to be a natural monopoly (water lines, gas lines, cable lines)? You can pretend that you could actually have 10 sets of underground water lines from various suppliers all going to every block, or you could say "this is not physically or economically feasible". In which case, you attempt to minimize the market disruption by separating the utility infrastructure from the service provision.

    We did exactly this for phone service nationwide - and it was considered a libertarian win. Long distance phone service is essentially free now. Why this concept is fought by so-called libertarians is a mystery to me. I'd rather have a real market built on top of a low-level utility than a phony market of one monopoly cable company and a bunch of useless dial-up or mobile "competitors".

  • <Unpastable>||

    Comparing last mile service to long distance is apples and oranges.

  • FredipusRex||

    Then compare it to ILECs and CLECs. Again, we've disrupted the phone market to such an extent that hardly anyone cares any more, but I can purchase "phone service" from Comcast, AT&T, Vonage, Ooma, etc. There are at least a dozen internet phone companies - any of which could be shut out if Comcast decides that Comcast Voice is the only VOIP allowed on their network.

  • <Unpastable>||

    And apparently Louisville has gotten around that problem.

    The Nashville situation appears to be due to some stupid laws (a) granting the electric company complete authority over publicly-owned poles in the city charter (so the city council can't undo it), and (b) Tennessee not opting out from FCC regulation of poles. Both of these are solvable by changing the laws at the state level to address the root problem.

  • Brian||

    This is why proposed net neutrality laws allow exemptions for companies that don't have government-granted monopolies, right?

    Oh, wait: it doesn't?

    Then fuck off, slaver.

  • Libertarian||

    The guy is trying to have a civil discussion and you come back with "fuck off, slaver."

    Nice.

  • Sevo||

    Which guy?

  • Tony||

    It's how they know they're right.

  • Brian||

    Oh god... I feel like such a ... jerk!

  • Brian||

    Well, at least I'm not a bitchy progressive. Or a bitchy socialist. Or a bitchy communist.

    Low bar, but it's going for me.

  • Sevo||

    If "Libertarian" was smart enough to tell us to which comment his/her post was intended, we might have some idea of the intent.
    Given that is not the case, and given that it's a brand new handle, I'm calling 'false flag'; some dimbulb lefty.

  • commentator||

    smart enough to tell us to which comment his/her post was intended

    What's ambiguous about "The guy" meaning "The guy you just told to fuck off," which would be the comment two replies up the reply tree from "Libertarian"?

  • Devastator||

    Fuck off, slaver. What a pathetic, weak argumentative style.

  • Utilitarian||

    You're no different than the SJWs who scream racism/sexism/etc at anyone who disagrees with them. People like you are part of the problem.

  • Bra Ket||

    "Plus, laying a new cable line to every house in a city is prohibitively expensive - Google has basically given up even trying to do so in Kansas City, their original test market."

    Your old cable wasn't put there by a charity. It's factored into your bill. A competitor would have to invest similarly and bill similarly to pay for it. The only question is would they make a profit if they did. The answer depends on what they can charge. As long as your current cable company keeps prices competitive and doesn't give people any other good reason to switch, the incentive for competitors won't be very strong. Nor would you care.

    Also if your doomsday scenario came true then your stupid legislature would be a lot more motivated to change the regulations protecting the "monopoly".

    Just because shit is being done a certain way at a certain time, does not mean you have discovered new laws of economics or political science that will hold true even in the face of big changes.

  • FredipusRex||

    No, it wasn't a charity - it was a monopoly that was granted that status for the primary purpose of building out that cable. They got to reap monopoly pricing to build said network and that network has been paid off handsomely over the years. We have plenty of systems around here that were built out by firms that have long since been bought out by multiple times - which, bully for them, they now own it as they paid for it - but have not put any significant money into the wires and switches since the early 2000s.

    I have no problem with the "utility" being the incumbent provider - they can keep their monopoly on wires if that makes you more happy. They just can't keep their monopoly on services - open local loop. The wires have been (and will continue to be) paid for.

  • Bra Ket||

    Cable was only a "monopoly" on cable tv. Which is of course a contrived way to define a market. In reality it actually competes with regular TV and blockbuster rentals and others. Don't forget netflix mailing movies to people in ye olden days.

    Phone internet came out first. ISDN came out practically before the internet and DSL came along in the 90's. These won less market share because cable companies provide a good solution that people prefer for a good price. The second they stop doing that they lose that market share. If they were actually stupid enough to charge "monopoly pricing" they wouldn't exist by now.

    And besides the fact that they amortize those infrastructure investments over however many years there are in the service life, making it meaningless for you to cite that number in absolute terms, they are always having to perform maintenance and upgrades. Or do you think the current products like digital video and higher internet speeds are just stuff no one thought to offer before?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    ^^ This wins the internet for the day, and it's exactly why Comcast is desperate to be Brer Rabbitted into being a Title II utility.

    Comcast is about to lose their cable investment to wireless technologies, and their only hope at this point is more government intervention to save them.

  • mcsandberg||

    No, wireless spectrum is shared by everyone and hence is extremely limited. I just checked my router's stats and I used some 150 GB of wired data last month. My wireless plan is capped at SIX GB. That won't even support an Xcode update.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    You make a good point, but it's based on a couple of assumptions.

    The first is that we continue to allow broadcast television and radio to monopolize spectrum that would be better used for IP traffic.

    The second is that broadcast spectrum is not tunable. You can tailor your wireless emission in shape, direction, and power. If the relationship between a broadcast and receiver antenna is fixed in space, you can significantly reduce the amount of overall bandwidth spectrum needed.

    It's a solvable technical problem, and it's being worked on all the time for the cell phone network.

  • Utilitarian||

    Broadcast television and radio monopolize only small portions of the VHF and UHF bands. The total of all that bandwidth is around 230 MHz and it is non-contiguous. That's less than the 5GHz wifi band, which has 460 MHz of bandwidth.

    There is room for expansion in the SHF, but there are some downsides. The biggest is that the low end of the band does not penetrate obstacles (like walls) particularly well. It's why 5 GHz wifi routers have less range than 2.4 GHz wifi routers (with equal power output). At higher frequencies, SHF signals are line-of-sight (i.e. DirecTV satellite signals). The consequence of this is that the so-called "wireless fiber" solutions are not a replacement for all wired infrastructure. ISPs wouldn't need to run a wire to every home, but the "towers" would still need to be wired to the backbone.

    The EHF band isn't useful for communication distances greater than 1 km (it's also highly susceptible to rain, fog, etc) and the THF band isn't useful for communications, at all.

  • Utilitarian||

    The future is wireless? Existing bands dedicated to wifi are inadequate. In which part of the electromagnetic spectrum do you expect all this expansion to take place?

  • JudoPete||

    Wireless is less reliable, especially during storm conditions, and provides top speeds only under ideal conditions. Even worse for satellite based IP's (like HughesNet). Data caps are a LOT lower on wireless accounts than on "land lines".
    I currently live in a no choice zone. Rural enough that there is no cable company, one phone company (CenturyLink), which also provides internet and TV subscriber services like cable.
    Currently, I subscribe to the internet only product and do all of my TV watching via Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. But if CenturyLink is allowed to make my experience with those providers subpar (perhaps by throttling their speeds or dropping packets), they could conceivably push me toward their overpriced TV offering that doesn't really offer what I want to begin with.
    Does CenturyLink own the wire drop to my house? Yes. Do I pay them to use it? Yes. Should they be allowed to tailor their services to adversely affect my relationship with their competitors? No.

  • DesigNate||

    We're you born this stupid or does it take work?

    I mean seriously, you think defacto government monopolies like water, gas, roads, and cable are somehow "natural"?

  • FredipusRex||

    I won't comment on your cognitive abilities, but "natural monopoly" is a very specific term of art. It covers situations where it is difficult-to-impossible to have multiple providers, not who is doing the provision.

    Only so much of a town can be driveable pavement, so roads are a "natural monopoly" in that they are a resource you can only have so much of. While you certainly could have each neighborhood block own their own road (and, in fact, there are private roads within my own town), in general this is so inefficient and capital intensive that local roads tend naturally toward monopoly providers (usually governments).

    The same thing is true for water lines into homes - there is only so much room for these lines, only so much money that can be extracted for such service and you need rights of way that are so tricky that it again tends to natural monopoly. Who provisions said monopoly is a wholly different question - the pipes could be owned by one entity while the water provisioning might be owned or operated by multiple entities.

    Open up an economics textbook once in a while. If you seriously think there is a way to have ten different water line companies providing me water lines in an open market that is more cost-effective and profitable for both user and provider, I'd love to see your work.

  • Bra Ket||

    Roads aren't actually monopolies because they aren't businesses, they are pathways on the ground.

    Anyway your actual arguments are not very compelling. "inefficient, "tend naturally". Says you. And compared to what? Central planning and govt-created monopolies are well-known to not be "very efficient" too. Hilariously so. And there's "only so much room" for restaurants or any kind of other market that requires a building.

  • GILMORE™||

    ^this

  • Nuwanda||

    "Natural monopoly" is a perfectly valid concept and is a common occurrence in a free market. Unfortunately, for those new to these ideas, the words natural and monopoly used together have a triggering effect since monopoly seems only to be valid in the context of "coercive" monopolies.

    Granted, it's an unfortunate combination but is in common use and understood well by free market scholars. You could substitute "dominant market position" which would avoid the triggering use of natural and monopoly together.

    Most importantly, no one is suggesting a natural monopoly is in any way made possible by law. That the state often turns a natural monopoly into a coercive monopoly is neither here nor there as one doesn't imply the other.

    Also, it doesn't help that the word monopoly is often used where a monopoly clearly doesn't exist but is used a pejorative to describe a very successful business that has established a dominant market presence. As it may seem like it can now exploit its position, it's often confused with an actual coercive monopoly.

    Your interlocutor's solution to the problem of COERCIVE monopolies established by law is not satisfactory, but his description of natural monopolies is accurate as far as it goes.

  • Bra Ket||

    Argument by assertion. Economics is full of stupid ideas. And your "triggering" theory is just being dismissive to one side of the argument so why should anyone bother debating the concept with you either?

  • Nuwanda||

    Argument by assertion? Wow, that's a strange way to excuse yourself from the necessity of thinking. And kind of ironic since your summation is an assertion in its own right.

  • Bra Ket||

    "And kind of ironic since your summation is an assertion in its own right."

    It's not irony, it's exactly as intended. Kind of annoying isn't it?

  • Agammamon||

    So, government created a problem, government is trying to solve that problem with more regulation, government is failing to do so because it has allowed entrenched interests too much power, and your answer to this is to let the government try *more* regulation to fix the two fuck-ups their previous work has created?

    Is this a 'third time's the charm' thing?

  • FredipusRex||

    This isn't "more regulation" - it's substantially *less*.

    The current system allows monopoly power in two areas - infrastructure (wires and routers) and service (TV, internet). A single entity controls both areas - a large grant of monopoly power.

    In my proposed solution (which is used in other countries to great effect), you take away the monopoly of service, leaving only the difficult, "natural" monopoly of infrastructure. If we can get rid of that monopoly too, all the better, but there are real, legitimately difficulties in terms of capital, rights of way and physical capacity in getting rid of the "infrastructure monopoly". On the other hand, getting rid of the services monopoly is relatively easy - your incumbent telco has everything needed to almost immediately connect to that infrastructure, doubling competition almost overnight, and new parties can fairly quickly jump in as well.

    The problem that lots of my fellow libertarians have is being utopians - anything less than a perfect minarchist state is wrongthink (hence the copious "fuck off, slaver" responses). I think the point of libertarianism should be to move a statist system toward liberty whenever we can - I'll take half a loaf if the alternative is none. I can always try to get another half loaf later.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    A single entity does NOT control both the service and the infrastructure. The fact that DSL service is poor in your area does not entitle you to claims of convenience. And while you love to bring up water service as your convenient example, let's examine a much more analogous and appropriate one: electrical power. There is nothing preventing me from contracting with any generator on the grid EXCEPT your precious government. In fact my lovely utility decides for me exactly which forms of generation it uses and thoughtfully charges me an extra .02/kWh for its green desires. THAT is exactly what your "practical" net neutrality will result in. It happens every single time.

  • FredipusRex||

    A single entity absolutely controls both the service and the infrastructure. No other entity is legally allowed to lay cable line in the vast majority of communities served by cable. And the same entity is the only one allowed to offer TV and internet service over that cable line - not necessarily by government fiat, but because they own the line (by government fiat) and refuse interconnection.

    It's funny that you mention electrical power - in my state of Illinois, the utility (power lines) and the power service (electrons) are decoupled, so I can, in fact, pay ComEd for the power lines and a host of providers (including ComEd parent Exelon, ClearViewEnergy, Constellation Energy, Direct Energy, Champion Energy Services, Xoom Energy, North America Power, Ameren and many more). There's even a handy dandy website for comparing rates and plans (www.chooseenergy.com). I also have 5 different natural gas providers I can choose from (including, ironically, Comcast).

    The system works great - the infrastructure is run as a regulated utility (not perfect) but the actual product I consume (electrons, gas) has a large and competitive market of providers all looking for my business. I can choose based on rate, length of term, source (coal, nuclear, solar) and a host of other reasons.

    Look at that - an actual, working market instead of the old ComEd/North Shore Gas monopolies.

  • Rockit1||

    "A single entity absolutely controls both the service and the infrastructure. No other entity is legally allowed to lay cable line in the vast majority of communities served by cable."

    You keep saying this but it hasn't been true for nearly 30 years by federal law -the1992 Cable Act.

  • GILMORE™||

    "allows"

    better than force

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I'm curious how well the "which is used in other countries to great effect" really maps to the USA.

    I met a couple from the Netherlands when I was hiking in Bryce Canyon and their big complaint was how terrible cell service was in the USA. If you've ever been to Utah, you'd probably suspect there is a distinct difference between the terrain there and the terrain in the Netherlands.

    Most of the comparisons between countries are between urban area's in other countries compared to rural areas in the USA. It's not a fair comparison, and fiber is never going to reach every home in Montana. The USA needs good wireless infrastructure, and that isn't going to happen when Comcast is a favored utility.

    My electric utility offers me some sort of option to buy solar energy. It doesn't offer me the option to buy nuclear energy, despite Minnesota having two excellent nuclear power plants that supply the bulk of my electricity.

  • NealAppeal||

    Plus, laying a new cable line to every house in a city is prohibitively expensive...

    Somebody else paved the roads already so I shouldn't have to pay taxes to use those roads since somebody else already did...and it is too expensive for me to build my own roads.

    There, that should keep you busy for a while.

  • Libertarian||

    The guy is trying to have a civil discussion and you come back with "fuck off, slaver."

    Nice.

  • Sevo||

    Libertarian|11.26.17 @ 7:34PM|#
    "The guy is trying to have a civil discussion and you come back with "fuck off, slaver."
    Nice."
    Still waiting for the false-flag to admit we have a new handle for commie-kid.

  • flyfishnevada||

    "The core problem is that your municipality granted a monopoly to ComCast. Your solution is more government regulation. Like every statist and central planner that ever was, you want to pile on regulation after regulation in a pathetic attempt to emulate what free markets do without regulation."

    And more regulation at the federal level at that. Sounds like a local problem so why saddle all of us with regulation? Why impose the regulation at all. There are already regulations concerning certain business practices that can be applied to specific situations. If this was about a free and fair internet, that's what they'd do...apply current regulations on a case by case basis when and if problems arose. But it's not about making the internet a better place. As usual, it's about money and power. It's so much easier to pick winners and losers while getting huge campaign contributions from big corporations when you've nationalized the internet.

  • <Unpastable>||

    How do you incentivize the last mile utility (which itself has a monopoly) to keep their equipment in working order and invest in new technology to increase transmission speeds?

  • FredipusRex||

    You let the service providers negotiate with the utility - if enough of them want to provide better service, they can pay the utility to do that build out. Dealing with ree-riding would have to be negotiated as well. I see no reason why the utility needs to provide much more than the physical wires and places to connect into them - all the rest of the infrastructure can be provided by the service providers.

    The utility is wires and the equivalent of a patch panel and server racks - the service providers do everything else. Regulating the capacity of the wires and minimum standards for connecting to them isn't rocket science.

    It's a *lot* lighter touch than the current system and reflects best practices in other natural monopolies - electricity and natural gas in Illinois, for instance, split the utility charge and the service charge. You can buy your electricity or gas from dozens of providers - they simply push gas or electrons into the utility wires/pipes. It comes as one bill for convenience sake, but you could split those if that makes it more obvious.

  • FredipusRex||

    *free-riding

  • <Unpastable>||

    Dealing with free-riding would have to be negotiated as well

    that's going to require more than a hand wave. It's the crux of the problem.

  • Agammamon||

    its only a problem if you've got a nasty case of jealousy.

    If A pays for something, A still gets the benefit of that something even if B also benefits from it.

  • Sevo||

    You mean the asshole who prefers that someone can't copy and paste the handle is an asshole? How could that be?
    Hey, asshole who chooses to be unpastable? Yes, you, you slimy piece of shit!

  • Bra Ket||

    Comcast has government mandated monopolies on the lines going to your house. Phone lines or mobile do not compare when it comes to home-based Internet.

    In my very average suburb, Comcast can offer speeds of up to 1Gbps, 1 TB/month. Phone line competitors can offer 3Mbps - 333 times slower. Mobile is a joke - capped at 22GB/month at wildly intermittent speeds. That is not "competition" in any reasonable sense - it is NOT a market.

    No it's still a market. The above is like arguing that because your shit town has only one restaurant, the whole country needs price fixing and menu controls on restaurants. Note how there are other towns where competition exists, despite having the same single-firm "monopoly".

    The phone line can and will be upgraded to be better than cable if there's money to be made from that investment. They probably already are working on it. I always have preferred DSL/fiber wherever I lived because it's more consistent bandwidth.

    Wireless competitors can also enter the market at will and upgrade their performance as desired to be faster than almost anyone needs. Again it just has to be worth the investment.

    Your one shit restaurant can't charge whatever it wants or competition will swoop in and take advantage.

  • FredipusRex||

    Again, apples and oranges. If my town has one lousy restaurant, it's not because my town grants only one restaurant license, it's because there is no market for anything better (I must have neighbors with lousy taste in dining).

    When it comes to cable/fiber, my town only grants one license to put wires on poles, so I have zero choice. My town does allow one phone line too, so you can technically claim two - one cheap and crappy one and one expensive and crappy one. Whoop-dee-doo.

    And this is largely true throughout the country, so I can't just move (like I could to find a more restaurant friendly town).

    I'm not arguing for net neutrality (which is largely a fight between ISPs and streaming services). I'm saying that fight is better served thru true competition, which we categorically do not have. Vaporware gigabit wireless services (which also, BTW, purchase monopolies on radio frequencies) and phone companies (which, due to ILEC/CLEC competition, have no incentive to upgrade to cable speeds, as their wire has to provide competitive services while the cable side does not) are not providing competition now or for the foreseeable future.

  • Bra Ket||

    For the 10th goddamn time, your town can have high speed DSL and wireless regardless how many cable companies they allow.

  • Greg F||

    If we had utility last mile, we could have a true market - competition to offer over the top services (TV, backhaul, streaming) on an equal basis.

    The problem with people arguing for net neutrality is they don't understand how this thing called the Internet works.

    Company A streams video. Company C is an local Internet provider. Company B is a backbone and charges Company C for transport from Company A to Company C. Company C offers company A a direct connection to their network to avoid charges from company B. Company A rejects this idea because it would cost them more money in infrastructure. Company A would rather have the extra costs spread across all of company C's subscribers rather than having their subscribers pay those extra costs. Essentially, net neutrality was an attempt to have you pay for other peoples data.

  • Hunthjof||

    Yup it is basically a P%^sing contest between two groups of corporations. The difference is one group has convinced a bunch of people that they are a victim and this is somehow a struggle against "The Man"

  • commentator||

    Why would Company A need the FCC's help in just refusing to sign an agreement with Company C? Does 'net neutrality' even have anything to do with peering and transit agreements?

    And how is not signing that agreement resulting in anyone "paying for other people's data." Customers are the ones wanting that data, it's what they pay Company C for: internet access. Not to mention Company A already also pays Company B to carry its traffic, they're not sending that data for free.

  • Greg F||

    Why would Company A need the FCC's help in just refusing to sign an agreement with Company C?

    Company A rejects this idea because it would cost them more money in infrastructure. The FCC's net neutrality would have forced Company C to pay Company B's transit charges.

    Does 'net neutrality' even have anything to do with peering and transit agreements?

    Yes. It ignored the existance of Company B and subsequent costs imposed on company C.

    And how is not signing that agreement resulting in anyone "paying for other people's data."

    If forces company C to distributed the costs to all its customers or set up data caps on its users making company C the bad guy. Data caps are a PR nightmare.

    Not to mention Company A already also pays Company B to carry its traffic, they're not sending that data for free.

    Wrong. The charges generally are billed to the recipient of the data.

  • commentator||

    Obviously Company A rejects C's deal. You already said that. That still doesn't remotely explain why they would need to go to the FCC just to not-sign a voluntary agreement that doesn't appeal to them.

    The FCC's net neutrality would have forced Company C to pay Company B's transit charges.

    Their customer's demands are what drive the need to use Company B, or a competing transit provider, and they are already paying this in the status quo. If net neutrality "forced" that, which you haven't explained how, it doesn't seem to have changed anything at all since that was already true.

    And distributing the costs of acquiring data that customers want to... the customers that want it is "paying for other people?" It's pretty much what you'd expect to happen.

    Wrong. The charges generally are billed to the recipient of the data.


    Where are you getting that from? Why would Company B limit itself to that principle when its customers often have a lopsided inbound/outbound traffic ratio?

  • Agammamon||

    So, your suggested fix to this problem created by government is to let the government have more power?

  • JoeBlow123||

    I appreciate your commentary and your legitimate points :) Some of our brethren may like to pretend these are not real issues but if they want to defend the current state of affairs I believe these are fair points to address and not to just dismiss them as "too bad" instead :)

  • Bubba Jones||

    Your phone company already has wires and monopoly access. Why isn't it competitive with Comcast? Not enough demand?

    In that scenario, who is really going to come in and offer service?

  • ||

    In my very average suburb, Comcast can offer speeds of up to 1Gbps, 1 TB/month. Phone line competitors can offer 3Mbps - 333 times slower. Mobile is a joke - capped at 22GB/month at wildly intermittent speeds. That is not "competition" in any reasonable sense - it is NOT a market.

    Is there a law preventing the phone company from providing you 3 lines at 3Mbps? I know plenty of home offices and small businesses that maintain such redundancy and interoperability and gladly pay AT&T for voice and DSL and Comcast for TV/Streaming/Data. Hell, private households of infirm 80+ yr. olds who manage to juggle a satellite bill, phone bill, and internet bill. They probably bitch less about it too.

    It sounds to me like you want decentralization and investment in infrastructure, you just don't want to do it yourself or have pay someone else for it.

  • Brandybuck||

    The solution to government mandated monopolies is to get rid of the monopolies, NOT to further regulate their few competitors.

  • Eidde||

    You know your cause is just when your supporters put hand-scrawled signs near your opponent's home listing his children's names.

  • dantheserene||

    Yeah, when they've sunk that low they don't have a real argument. And ordering pizza? What is this, junior high?

  • Eidde||

    I thought pizza joints would only deliver if they knew they had the right number. I guess I was in error.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Maybe they idolize Deadpool?

  • rudehost||

    A shorter version of this article could have been

    "Progressives are sociopathic assholes"

    Then again we would get bored of that eventually if 70% of the articles consisted of a headline and that text.

  • Finrod||

    Well, it would give us more free time to spend on the other 30%.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Oh no you didn't!

  • DajjaI||

    I find this mindless hysteria about the repeal of "Net Neutrality" particularly baffling since having narrowly escaped the Trumpocalypse why would anyone want to give MORE power to the government? They will immediately use it to oppress us. Trump recently criticized CNN International and required RT to register as a foreign agent. There are endless shenanigans they can do to disrupt internet traffic and claim it's for our own good. If your favorite site is being slowed down just let me know and I will call your ISP and give them an earful and believe me that will be the LAST time they throttle your porn.

    "We need to shut down parts of the internet. We gotta do it, folks."

    Anyone remember that? Net Neutrality is for INSANE RETARDS.

  • Tony||

    Non-anarchists do not favor merely any available government. Just as people who like roads aren't satisfied by roads made of 5-inch diameter rocks, it's necessary that the technology of government not be composed of horrible, ignorant people. This is a concept St. Ronald confused a bunch of people about. "The government which governs most poorly governs best," I believe was the line.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    The problem is, when you make government stronger, it is only a matter of time before that newfound strength comes back around to bite you. It will happen every time.

    As for it being necessary to not have "horrible, ignorant people," in there -- that's who goes into government. All of 'em. Do you think it really matters whether they have an R or D after their name? In truth, they should all have an H after their name, for Horrible.

    You see, the problem is that the sorts of people who want to be in government is exactly the sort of people you want to stay the hell away from government. Other than making sure government is extremely weak in order to limit the damage, I don't see any way around that.

    I suppose maybe you could have a sort of universal lottery where the entirely random "winners" are then forced to serve a period of time in randomly-assigned government roles. Apart from the obvious problem of forcing people to do a job they want no part of, at least then you'd get the occasional decent person who has no desire to lord it over others and run their lives. You have ZERO people like that in there now.

  • DesigNate||

    Tony is one of those types of people so he doesn't see anything wrong with what you just said.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|11.26.17 @ 9:29PM|#
    "Non-anarchists do not favor merely any available government."
    Assholes like Tony prefer mass murder; it gets what he wants.

    "Just as people who like roads aren't satisfied by roads made of 5-inch diameter rocks, it's necessary that the technology of government not be composed of horrible, ignorant people."
    Anyone care to try to make sense of that word salad? At best, it's a sort of a non-sequitur, but I think that's being generous.
    I don't know what Tony drinks, but he seems to have had a lot of it.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Can anyone pro net neutrality describe a thing they had on the internet in 2015 that they couldn't get in 2013 because it was blocked by your isp?

  • josh||

    They believe it. That's enough.

  • Rcrabtree||

    Apparently, use Google Wallet, since AT$T, Sprint and VZw were blocking it in 2013 in order to force people to use Isis, their own payment solution.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Verizon's blocking of Google especially ironic, because Google and Verizon fought together to lobby the Federal Communications Commission to allow carriers to determine what services can be used on smartphones running on their networks. That agreement is coming back to haunt Google.

    Last year, as the industry thrashed out so-called "net neutrality" rule, Google and Verizon stuck a controversial compromise: They jointly agreed that open Internet proposals should not apply to the mobile market. Their position was that the wireless field is more competitive and changing more rapidly than the wireline broadband market, and shouldn't be constrained by added regulation.

  • KBeckman||

    That's an anti-trust issue.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Protection from free music.

  • <Unpastable>||

    At some point you would think he'd call every pizza place that delivers in his area and tell them he wasn't ordering any pizza tonight.

  • Finrod||

    Don't know about his area, but in my college town there were something like 27 different pizza places listed in the phone book, and that counted all the Dominos as one, all the Pizza Huts as one, etc.

  • josh||

    What a perfect metaphor for how screwed up this all is. One side is ordering pizza, and expecting someone else to pay for it.

  • fafalone||

    Stopped reading at the first blatant lie. There absolutely were problems before this.
    Free Press

    Are you being ignorant or malicious Nick?

    I don't understand why libertarians are so vociferously advocating for policies that stomp the free market competition they hold so dear. ISPs are a monopoly, so helping them is not helping competition. And letting them pick winners from among their own services and major competitors is the opposite direction of where we should go.
    Title 2 regulation wasn't perfect, but until Congress gets off its ass and legislates either way (the four horseman of the apocalypse appearing will be a bigger concern at that point however) it's better than allowing free-for-all anti-competitiveness from monopolies.

  • Sevo||

    "I don't understand why libertarians are so vociferously advocating for policies that stomp the free market competition they hold so dear."

    It takes an ignoramus of real depth to presume that that government price-fixing is somehow 'free market competition".
    I'm guessing it takes an ignoramus who is a lefty to be THAT stupid.

  • Principal Spittle||

    That's an impressive list if you like two sentence summaries. They are about the most complicated lawsuits generated in the first decade by a rapidly growing and changing technology credibly assesed as more revolutionary than the printing press. And just pointing out they exist is supposed to make the case for a specific policy?
    That website seems to specialize in providing simple answers for simple minds.

  • Sevo||

    "...for simple minds."

    If you've been tracking the net-price-fixing threads, fafalone qualifies.

  • Rcrabtree||

    I don't think they are libertarians. Do you really think Sevo is an actual reader?

  • GILMORE™||

    Do you really think Sevo is an actual reader?

    Let's play a game.

    - Here's sevo from 10 years ago on these pages.

    (he's been around longer, that's just a nice round number)

    Now see if you can cite yourself, "reader"

  • Bra Ket||

    We tend to assume that normal people just "lose it" somehow when they get carried away in arguments about politics. But I've noticed the most vociferous elements in these mobs tend to be the same people who are always extremists. Like Neo-nazis or left-anarchists who are just rioting and shouting like they always were, just getting more attention and some extra attendees at their protests as long as they bill it to sound mainstream.

    I wonder how many of these over-the-top net-neutrality advocates are just full-on socialists pushing their same shit as always, just inserted into a mainstream issue.

  • Finrod||

    I wonder how many of them are paid protesters.

  • Lester224||

    I've read all Pai's reasoning and lot's of back and forth debate. Here is one of the best summaries I've found (remove carriage returns for link):

    http://www.businessinsider.com/
    internet-isps-competition-net-neutrality
    -ajit-pai-fcc-2017-4/#-3

    Face it. Pai is not looking to increase competition. He is an advocate for the ISPs. The ISPs were not impeded from building more infrastructure by the 2015 net neutrality regulations. They have been sitting on huge piles of cash for a long time and have not been building out more infrastructure. Will additional piles of cash help? Maybe... but I'm not convinced. Certain areas are more lucrative to build out, and being a second competitor in a small market is often not a profit-maximizing thing to do. Which... leaves lots of market with just one last-mile provider. There may be a way to increase competition for the last mile with other sorts of incentives than the present net neutrality regulations. One suggestion is in the article.

    In many areas there is no robust competition for broadband. According to the reference above just 24% of developed areas offer 2 or more broadband providers. It's monopolistic. Handing over more power to monopolies does not decrease prices or improve service.

  • Bra Ket||

    "According to the reference above just 24% of developed areas offer 2 or more broadband providers."

    The fact they they used a cutoff of "Developed" areas (which probably means census block containing at least one residence) suggests they aren't making fair comparisons of regions. Especially given that a few percent of the area of the US contains the overwhelming majority of the population. How many people actually live in the 24% percent versus the remaining 76%?

    Are you suggesting we socialize the internet of everyone in urban and suburban areas, despite most of them having lots of options, because of the lack of providers who happened to feel like offering service to podunkville right this moment (despite nothing preventing them from doing so if they chose to)?

  • Lester224||

    Nope. Just making it clear that there is a broadband monopoly in many places. If you add up the numbers of people spread out in podunkville, there's a lot people who really don't have the benefit of competition.

    Solutions that increase competition are the best ones. Personally, I'm hoping that wireless technology will eventually reach broadband speed (5G or more) and make it impossible for ISPs to choke out competition by favoring their own content.

  • Bra Ket||

    But you want net neutrality for everyone, not just those people, isn't that right?

    Much like if podunkville only had one grocery store you'd want price fixing and other controls on the entire nation's food supply?

  • Sevo||

    'Nope. Just making it clear that there is a broadband monopoly in many places. If you add up the numbers of people spread out in podunkville, there's a lot people who really don't have the benefit of competition."

    So your argument is that some people living in certain areas where they choose to live don't have as many choices of a quality they'd like to become accustomed to, at a price they'd like to pay, means that the rest of us should pay for their choices at the point of a gun?
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Re: Lester224,

    Nope. Just making it clear that there is a broadband monopoly in many places.


    Sure. Just like at one time there was a Piggly Wiggly monopoly within Greene County until *poof* there isn't one, no thanks to regulation but to good-old competition.

    I've heard arguments similar to yours to justify the monopoly status granted to Ma Bell in the 30's onwards: so that the farm in the middle of fly-over country could have a phone just like 'em city folk.

    Statists always find a way to justify their statism even if their arguments contradict themselves.

  • Kivlor||

    You know Mexican, your hatred for flyover country will never change the fact that Trump was elected.

  • Kivlor||

    The US Census designates ~6,300,000 out of ~11,100,000 "blocks" which have a residential population. It would appear that this does include any population, no matter how small. So podunkville is included. It would be interesting to see this broken down on a population level, instead of "developed census blocks" which literally tells us nothing.

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Re: Lester224,

    The ISPs were not impeded from building more infrastructure by the 2015 net neutrality regulations.


    Right. Just like zoning laws do not 'impede' building affordable housing or commercial development.

  • commentator||

    Which part of Title II says "you can't build infrastructure here"?

  • U.S. Custom Stickers||

    is the internet gonna explode? being an isp these days would be a costly adventure if you want to be remotely competitive. im all for the free market, but to think a bunch of mom and pop isp services will set up in your town is highly unlikely due to cost and competition. however, the opportunity should be there.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    You have to appreciate the ones who bother to actually write original text to go along with their spam comments.

  • Sevo||

    '...im all for the free market, but..."

    OK, folks, let's hear it for a fan of the (but) free market!
    You're nothing of the sort, scumbag.

  • Zeb||

    Several mom and pop ISPs have set up in my area. There are a lot of small companies setting up fixed wireless services in rural areas.

  • Rcrabtree||

    This comment thread is a textbook example of Russian trolls and US astroturfers arguing with each other's alt accounts. I read a few screens worth and I didn't see a single actual reader comment.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Look, man, you ever tried bring home the borscht on bear cavalryman's salary? I make more rubles doing this for one day than on entire fortnight's patrol!

  • Doug Heffernan||

    There are a couple of comments that might be genuine reader comments. But the substantive discussion gets killed off quickly because the genuine comments are quickly followed up with a succession of;

    "F' off, slaver"
    "So, your solution is socialism and/or communism?"

    I hope it is just the russians and astroturfers filling up every comment thread with this crap.

  • Bra Ket||

    I see 76 comments and the phrase "fuck off slaver" hurled as a flame in three of them. I only see socialism/communist used in two. Did you actually read the "business insider" article that was linked? It openly pushes nationalization and "mildly socializing" the internet.

    Anyway I'd bet the general flaminess here is way lower than you'd see on most other political sites.

  • Sigivald||

    Man, it's a BI link. Only masochists read BI links.

    (Nationalization? Has anyone told them what that would cost?

    I mean, here in America we have the Takings Clause which mandates the government pay market value for nationalized assets.

    We can't afford to nationalize the internet, just at the budget level.

    We also can't afford to, practically, given how badly the Feds would ruin it.)

  • GILMORE™||

    substantive discussion

    Is this your term for whining about invisible russians?

  • Zeb||

    You must be new here.

  • GILMORE™||

    Are you a wizard?

  • Detroit Linguist||

    Interestingly, John Dvorak, whom some of us may remember as a very long-term computing commenter (going back to PC Magazine in the eighties) said exactly the same thing a couple of years ago:

    http://bit.ly/2hUZbba

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Mania is peaking over the "open Internet," but the last thing you should want is the FCC getting involved.

    This is the elephant in the living room I can't get any NN supporters to acknowledge. They're utterly convinced that a federal agency that tells ISPs how to design their networks, and how their packets should flow is an excellent idea that could never go wrong. And they couch their insistence in free market language.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The basic idea is that this bit hog, Netflix, should rake in the dough and Comcast (and others) have to suck it up and turn over their private networks on demand. Why? Because this is what the "open" Internet is all about. Equal access for all comers. All packets are equal. And because we think that the ISPs are going to for sure violate these principles if given a chance, the government has to get involved and regulate the Internet to protect the public.

    Per the previous thread, I presume everyone demanding Net Neutrality to be a shill for Netflix.

  • commentator||

    I don't even see how Netflix and Level 3 tried to hook their issue to the 'net neutrality' bandwagon. There is zero discriminatory traffic-shaping involved in the game of monopolistic ISP chicken they were bringing attention to.

    ISPs refused to invest in improving the service for their customers, which don't have real alternative ISPs to switch to, resulting in bad experiences for internet-based streamers. That's not really a good thing but it's not a net neutrality violation.

  • Spamtasticus||

    When you were told by Pai that there were not instances of throttling then he is other ill-informed or disingenuous. I can remember at least one case of Comcast throttling their competitor Netflix:

    https://tinyurl.com/nxwxr94

  • Bra Ket||

    According to your source: "Much like Netflix's ongoing standoff with Verizon FiOS, the drop in speeds wasn't an issue of the ISP throttling or blocking service to Netflix."

  • GILMORE™||

    lol

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Spamtasticus must be PB's cousin, since he apparently doesn't read the articles he links, either.

  • Sigivald||

    Look, reading is hard, okay?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The FCC will only use its powers for good. There is no evidence that any government anywhere would use its regulation of internet connectivity for evil.

  • commentator||

    It wasn't a "systematic" problem across the entire industry as the article carefully qualifies, but some basic googling shows Comcast and Rogers Hi-Speed Internet interfered with P2P traffic (Rogers actually ended up throttling all encrypted traffic) https://tinyurl.com/y9tpy4ap

  • Hunthjof||

    People keep framing this debate as the people versus the evil ISPs. It isn't almost every argument for NN basically boils down to "Muh Netflix" The proponents of NN don't give a damm about the average user. This is Netflix versus Comcast Google versus ATT. The difference is Google, Netflix Facebook etc have convinced people they are victims. If they feel they are victims of unfair trade practices go to the FTC that is what is there for. There is no need to create an additional bureaucracy.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    I like this explanation the best.

    You got wealthy rent seeking corps, vs wealthy rent seeking corps.

    Yet one group of corps has convinced people they are looking out for the "public interest"

  • GILMORE™||

    ^this

    which is why the best thing is to keep the goddamn govt out of it; and keep demanding less of them

  • commentator||

    Being on the same side as the EFF on the issue is at least weak evidence that at least on this, their self-interest aligns with the public interest.

  • Sigivald||

    This was the explanation I heard about a decade ago the first time they tried pushing NN.

    And I think it still pretty much holds up, and also explains why so many of the arguments are untenable or incoherent or "what if?!?"

  • Brandybuck||

    Net Neutrality supporters imagine that they will get gigabit streaming for their daily dose of Game of Thrones at the same price their Grandma gets for her email. Truth is, it would be Grandma rates that would be raised to meet the equality demands.

  • Hunthjof||

    Pretty much they expect Grandma to subsidize Joey who streams Netflix while playing COD while pirating Justice League.

  • Hunthjof||

    Pretty much they expect Grandma to subsidize Joey who streams Netflix while playing COD while pirating Justice League.

  • commentator||

    What does that have to do with net neutrality? Grandma is still free to pay for a cheaper tier, 7 Mbps maximum download rate from the ISP while others take higher bandwidth options.

  • Sigivald||

    He also noted to Reason that many of the legal actions lobbed at mobile carriers by net neutrality proponents have been to challenge "zero-rating" plans that allow customers to stream unlimited amounts of music, video, and other services without counting against a monthly data cap. Exactly how such services are bad is unclear, especially since they don't block or throttle anything. In most contexts, giving customers something extra and unlimited is usually considered a good thing.

    If you're Google, and YouTube's competition is zero-rated because they'll colocate and Google thinks it's an 800lb gorilla ... then zero-rating is "bad".

    For you.

    Not for the consumer, who either likes it (if they use it) or doesn't care (if they do not).

    The handwaving attempts to tell me zero-rating is Just Bad Because Reasons are yet another reason I'm opposed to their little power-grab plan.

    (I mean, you'd think we live in a world where Congress couldn't pass some laws if evil ISPs really were super abusive of customers or freedom.

    But they seem to think that's impossible, and we can only be saved by unilateral executive action - which is odd, since the Progressive proponents all think the President is literally Hitler*.

    * This is even more baffling for the bizarro view I've seen once, that the Internet should be nationalized. I can only assume the person in question had no idea what that would mean, and had never heard of the Takings Clause...)

  • commentator||

    Of all the companies that can afford to make a deal with an ISP to get zero-rated, you think Google can't? The ones who can't are gonna be newer, smaller streaming or other services that will be at a huge disadvantage thanks to the data caps that will only apply to them.

    And zero rating goes hand in hand with data caps, which are something consumers absolutely despise.

  • Greg F||

    Of all the companies that can afford to make a deal with an ISP to get zero-rated, you think Google can't?

    Google is not a Tier 1 provider. If they want to get "zero-rated" they are going to have to provide a direct connection from their network to the ISP's network. Get back to us when you understand how the Internet is structured. You might want to start with understanding Tier 1 providers and how they relate to service providers and ISP's.

  • commentator||

    You don't actually have to be a Tier 1 provider or colocated in order to get an ISP to offer zero-rating for your content. I mean Google literally already had a zero-rated mobile internet initiative, ironically.

  • Greg F||

    You don't actually have to be a Tier 1 provider or colocated in order to get an ISP to offer zero-rating for your content.

    Your link fails to support that statement.
    1) Most telecoms are Tier 1.
    2) Zero-rating

    Zero-rating (also called toll-free data or sponsored data) is the practice of mobile network operators (MNO), mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), and Internet service providers (ISP) not to charge end customers for data used by specific applications or internet services through their network, in limited or metered data plans.


    3) The plans included Google Search, Gmail, and Google+ but not Youtube. Ironically.
    4) The link doesn't preclude a direct connection between Google and the telecoms.
    5) You should avoid red herrings

  • commentator||

    2) Wait, seriously. This is a ridiculous quibble, over wording from Wikipedia of all things, when the other linked Wikipedia page, along with basically all the coverage of things like Google Free Zone, Facebook Zero, and Wikipedia Zero, clearly label them as being zero-rated. The customers are normally charged for data, but aren't for this whitelist of 'free' web sites. That's what zero-rating is.

    Regardless, that's a tangent, yeah. The original point is that whether they use a direct connection or financial compensation, Google can and has gotten zero-rated. They're hardly the ones to fear an incumbent having an unfair competitive advantage, they are that incumbent.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    Light the ArsTechnica/Gizmodo/IFL/The Verge retard flare.

  • commentator||

    one major impact of net neutrality regs was a historic decline in investment in internet infrastructure,

    Except the ISPs themselves say "Title II, it didn't really hurt us; it hasn't hurt us."

  • josh||

    Most of the problems -to the extent they exist- can be resolved by the state and local governments who are limiting competition, getting out of the way. To say we need government to help fix the problem that government is mostly responsible for, is like saying you think it was brilliant to bring in all these financial geniuses who helped cause the financial collapse in the first place to help you clean up the mess. And then, with a wink and a nod, assure the public that the very government you were afraid would get anywhere near the internet a few years ago, is now there for your protection.

    I try very hard to think that, when politicians treat us like we're stupid, that it's demeaning. But people are making it very hard for me to not think that they might actually be onto something.

  • Thetruth56||

    to help cable grow they gave out monopolies,they do not need protection anymore.so yes get rid of monopolies or regulate it.one of the 2.

  • Nuwanda||

    An interesting aspect to this whole debate is the way in which supposedly pro-market types have reacted by supporting Net Neutrality.

    Check out the places where staunch Trump supporters hang out. The opinion is split between actual free market advocates and the kind of I'm-suspicious-of-big-business types that Trump attracted in almost the same numbers as Bernie Sanders attracted them. The latter support NN as a necessary check on the power of business, just as Trump's people have demanded with the current CNN merger deal.

    This one is really sorting the men from the boys.

  • commentator||

    Were Trump supporters ever really pro-market?

  • Nuwanda||

    Sure. But it's a big tent with lots of noisy flaps.

    Fact is, if your were pro-market and you wanted to prevent Clinton becoming president, you only had one choice. Well, you could have voted for Johnson, but nobody who voted for him stopped Clinton.

    Although I suspect many Johnson voters would have preferred a Clinton victory mainly for open border reasons.

    Oh what a pickle it was for the fencesitters.

  • UltraModerate||

    It will be a fine bit of irony if net neutrality is destroyed and, in the aftermath, some Reason.com article pisses off a communications exec who decides to block the entire site. Fine irony.

  • KBeckman||

    Good luck with that. Since some of the larger ISP's also own media outlets any attempt to block a media site would likely face an anti-trust suit.

  • 153GreatFish-dot-com||

    Net Neutrality was Obama's gift to GOOGLE APPLE and California Dems for their online support.
    Get real people....evil is evil

  • Micu5||

    Instead of screaming about all the terrible things ISPs "might" do, proponents of Net Neutrality need to make a better case as to why the FCC is the solution to those imaginary problems. Seriously, they're not going to make the cable guy show up on time. Stop being more afraid of the big, bad corporations than you are of the organization that has a monopoly on the legal use of force and imprisonment to impose its will.

  • janon||

    Same tired arguments on Reason because Libertarians have complete myopia and worship the "free" market since it's worked so well for *them*

    Arguing that something isnt going to happen because it didnt. As if telcos havent spent 30 years consolidating power, and being allowed to, and forming regional oligopolies.

    And yet the same faulted logic wants to pretend that "infrastructure investment" has *slowed* since *2015* (2 years ago). WOW! that "net neutrality" worked fast!

    Odd though... WHY would the investment SLOW if there was *no problem to fix*?

    Explain that geniuses... if there was NO NEED for regulation because telcos were SUCH honest actors, then WHY ARE THEY AFRAID OF THE LEGISLATION and WHY did investment "slow"?

    And when they DO abuse power... then what excuse will you zombies come up with do defend your impotent "free" market worship?

    Libertarians have turned into a *joke* dying on the hill defending the likes of VERIZON and COMCAST, among the most hated companies in *history* because of their *abuse* of their customers.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Not a single word you wrote was accurate, shitlib.

  • DarrenM||

    Because the "solution" created a likely problem where there was none. Whether it had time to manifest yet is arguable.

  • Duelles||

    I am all for an open market, but do declare that Verizon throttled me. We went homeless in 2007 and bought a Verizon "MiFi" WiFi unit with unlimited use for traveling around the country. Verizon had the best coverage for anyone on an extended road trip. However, as time went on we used too much bandwidth and they did slow us down - just to be irritating. All our Netflix movies were buffering 5-6 times during the show. I changed plans, recognizing that they owned their business and as a stockholder I wished for V to make money, increase stockholder value and increase the dividend. Anyway, still a customer. Still take road trips. Use iPhone hotspot if needed, can download most of what I want anywhere, and now everywhere we go there is WiFi available. An amazing world in which we live.

  • Thetruth56||

    europe,one company owns the wire,but cannot have content.you can subscribe to any content you want.any cable company.in the us we have by law ONE cable company in a community,to your house it IS a monopoly.in most cases people have one choice,for broadband.the cable companies and phone agreed to provide high speed to every house in the country.when they got to 70% they quit.you want expansion,eliminate the monopoly of cable.that is how you have expansion competition,not with a monopoly.
    go to your power company and tell them to cut your price or you will go to another,can't.same with cable.the 'investment' is thru google forcing them,and only in areas that google moves in.

  • e.h. behr||

    I don't want to live in your world no matter how close-to-perfect you think it is. Is there a world for me? No, there is not. So, f**k me! I just lose, lose, lose. So much losing. You are without heart, but that is of no consequence to you.

    I just want a world that makes sense to me. You get that. Why don't I?

  • buybuydandavis||

    2015 was before Trump, before the Left lost control of The Narrative.

    At schools, in media, and on the internet, the Left has gone berserk with it's counterattack. They're after power and they mean it. Europeans increasingly monitor the internet and punish WrongThinkers.

    Pretending that 2015 is today is just disingenuous. Things change, and what's necessary for the Left to win has changed.

  • NeighborDave||

    Not mentioned:
    In 2005, Madison River Communications was blocking VOIP services. Comcast was denying access to p2p services.
    In 2007 through 2009 AT&T was doing the same thing, including Skype. They took away choice.
    2011 brought us MetroPCS blocking all streaming except YouTube and AT&T, Sprint and Verizon blocking Google Wallet so that their service didn't have competition. They took away choice.
    Then along comes 2012, where Verizon blocked tethering apps, despite promising not to do it as part of their winning bid on an airwaves auction.
    AT&T tried to block access to FaceTime unless consumers paid extra. They took away choice and replaced it with 'choose to pay extra.'
    How did 2013 go? Verizon publicly stated that the only thing stopping them from limiting consumer choices was net neutrality.
    In 2014 Comcast literally extorted Netflix for bandwidth(and yes they did; despite controverting claims in the linked article in the story, their own graph shows the Comcast traffic returning to normal after the extortion payments were agreed to on 2/24/2014)

  • DarrenM||

    A couple of these were familiar. I'm sure there are violations, but the response was overkill, as it usually is. The author here is in favor of net neutrality, but not the ham-handed way the government wanted to implement it.

    re: Madison River
    "The most famous example of an ISP acting badly was a company called Madison River Communication which, in 2005, blocked ports used for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, presumably to prop up their own alternative; it remains the canonical violation of net neutrality. It was also a short-lived one: Vonage quickly complained to the FCC, which quickly obtained a consent decree that included a nominal fine and guarantee from Madison River Communications that they would not block such services again. They did not, and no other ISP has tried to do the same; the reasoning is straightforward: foreclosing a service that competes with an ISP's own service is a clear antitrust violation. In other words, there are already regulations in place to deal with this behavior, and the limited evidence we have suggests it works."

  • DarrenM||

    re: MetroPCS
    "Perhaps the most misrepresented episode, though, is MetroPCS. Net neutrality advocates claim that the discount carrier (since bought by T-Mobile) "blocked all video sites except for YouTube"; the reality is that in 2011 MetroPCS unveiled a new pricing plan: $40 for unlimited webpages plus YouTube, $50 for several other additional services, and $60 for unrestricted data. In other words, it wasn't a net neutrality issue at all: it was an early prototype of what is known as "zero-rating."

  • DarrenM||

    Reason won't let me add the link. It's too long, so I added a space before "pro".

    https://stratechery.com/2017/ pro-neutrality-anti-title-ii/

  • DarrenM||

    It does make me wonder which of these other examples are bogus.

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