The FCC Is Destroying Net Neutrality

From the Washington Post

Tech companies and Internet providers are poised for another dramatic showdown as the head of the Federal Communications Commission revealed a plan Wednesday for rolling back his predecessor’s rules mandating an open Internet.

The proposal from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai marks the first step toward undoing a key decision of the Obama era, one that forced Internet providers to behave more like legacy telephone companies. The stricter rules for ISPs had made it illegal to block or slow down websites for consumers — and they paved the road for other policies, such as one governing online privacy, which was overturned in a separate controversial move by Congress and President Trump earlier this year.

So not only are we poised to lose monuments, but we’re poised to lose Net Neutrality, as well. But it looks like we’ll get a chance to have our say, assuming it’s approved at the FCC’s open meeting on May 18th…

Pai’s proposal is set for a vote at the FCC’s May 18 open meeting. If it is approved, Pai will begin seeking public feedback on the plan.

One of the aspects that Republicans and ISPs hate the most is the classification of ISPs as “common carriers”…

The stakes are as high as ever, as Republicans and broadband companies prepare to overturn an aspect of the policy they dislike the most: the classification of ISPs as “common carriers.” In a move led by Pai’s Democratic predecessor, Tom Wheeler, that decision triggered a change in how the government may regulate the industry.

Classifying ISPs as common carriers enabled the government to legally ban some practices, such as the outright blocking of Internet traffic. And it also allowed the FCC to investigate other practices it viewed as potentially anticompetitive — such as when companies like AT&T and Verizon began exempting certain proprietary apps from their own wireless data limits. Critics of that tactic, known as zero-rating, say allowing it could give telecom companies the power to pick winners and losers in the Internet ecosystem.

Of course, AT&T is ecstatic about this, and I’m sure Verizon and Comcast are just salivating over it, as well.

The article ends with something I don’t entirely agree with, however…

But opponents of the FCC’s regulations say the government should not replace the net neutrality regulations at all.

“The government should do nothing,” said Daniel Berninger, a network engineer who joined ISPs in suing to overturn the FCC’s rules. “The government did nothing from 1995 to 2015, and everything worked fine.”

Uh… not really, no.

To be 100% honest, there is one way I’d support an overturning of the FCC rules. Let’s have the internet work like it does in other countries. Many other countries enjoy much faster internet than we do, at a much lower price, because their internet is basically socialized. Of course, there would need to be a balancing act, because we wouldn’t want the government to go overboard with censorship, but the way we do internet now isn’t really working, anyways.

I was looking for the clip from Adam Ruins the Internet about it, but I couldn’t find the clip. He does a whole bit on how other places in the world have much faster, much cheaper internet than we do in the episode Adam Ruins the Internet. However, I was able to find the sources for the episode. Here’s a few relevant links, with quotes…

From the New York Times

America’s slow and expensive Internet is more than just an annoyance for people trying to watch “Happy Gilmore” on Netflix. Largely a consequence of monopoly providers, the sluggish service could have long-term economic consequences for American competitiveness.

Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection. In Los Angeles, New York and Washington, downloading the same movie takes 1.4 minutes for people with the fastest Internet available, and they pay $300 a month for the privilege, according to The Cost of Connectivity, a report published Thursday by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

From New America

The Cost of Connectivity is an annual report that examines the cost and speed of broadband Internet access in 24 cities in the United States (U.S.) and abroad. Overall, the data that we have collected in the past three years demonstrates that the majority of U.S. cities surveyed lag behind their international peers, paying more money for slower Internet access. The report presents the 2014 Cost of Connectivity data, which was collected between July and September 2014.

And yes, those countries do, indeed, have competition… thriving competition…

From The Verge

A Center for Public Integrity analysis of internet prices in five US cities and five comparable French cities found that prices in the US were as much as 3.5 times higher than those in France for similar service. The analysis shows that consumers in France have a choice between a far greater number of providers — seven on average — than those in the US, where most residents can get service from no more than two companies. The Center’s analysis echoes the findings of several studies on internet pricing disparities worldwide.

In fact, there is very little competition between ISPs in the US… and that’s by design

From ARS Technica

It’s no secret that private Internet service providers hate when cities and towns decide to enter the telecommunications business themselves. But with private ISPs facing little competition and offering slow speeds for high prices, municipalities occasionally get fed up and decide to build their own broadband networks.

To prevent this assault on their lucrative revenue streams, ISPs have teamed up with friends in state legislatures to pass laws that make it more difficult or impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service.

So all those people who worship “free market competition” should be chomping at the bit for internet the way France and other countries do it, because they actually have more competition than we do.

And that is the only way I’d support a reversal of the FCC rules… if the above is what replaced it. More regulation, of the socialized variety, and forced competition, allowing cities to create their own ISPs if they wish.

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