By on November 24, 2017

You’ve no doubt heard about net neutrality over the last few years. But, in case you haven’t, net neutrality is the principle that forces Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet equally. It forbids them from discriminating on subject matter or charging different fees based upon the user, site content, website, platform, application, or method of delivery. Essentially, it makes the internet into a tap where you pay one flat fee for access to all content.

That could soon change. On Tuesday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to repeal the landmark neutrality order from 2015. FCC head Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, said last year that he believed net neutrality’s “days were numbered.”

Pai has been criticized for being overly supportive of telecom companies. But a few automakers support his cause, as some of the FCC’s regulations have been at odds with autonomous car development. 

The planned action represents a major victory for internet service providers, including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. According to Reuters and Automotive News, General Motors is also a proponent of the neutrality ban. The reasoning?

“From our point of view,” GM said in a letter to the FCC, “mobile broadband being delivered to a car moving at 75 mph down a highway — or for that matter, stuck in a massive spontaneous traffic jam — is a fundamentally different phenomenon from a wired broadband connection to a consumer’s home, and merits continued consideration under distinct rules that take this into account.”

To translate, GM wants ISPs to prioritize flow to autonomous cars that may need internet access at a higher rate of speed and at a greater density. That’s a legitimate concern. As anyone who has been to a concert can attest, wireless service can slow to a crawl when everyone starts uploading videos to their phones in a small area and the possible ramifications of a connected car losing service are immense.

However, General Motors is also looking to get into the data business. And with so much money on the table, it might be handy for the company to spend more to have ISPs prioritize its content over that of its competitors. And that’s one thing that has advocates of net neutrality and a handful of companies very concerned. In July, a group representing technology firms, including Google-parent Alphabet (which includes Waymo) and Facebook Inc., urged Pai to drop his plans to rescind the rules.

The concern is that the internet will no longer be “open” without net neutrality. The scenarios posited include multi-tiered payment strategies that would force buyers into cable-like packages that end up costing more in the long run, with limited access to specific content. If a certain website is unwilling to pay more to an ISP, that provider could slow down access to the site or block it entirely. But if one paid more, ISPs could also ensure a quick and crisp connection. The point is, you don’t get to choose where you want to go online anymore or how you get there — at least not like you could before.

“The FCC will no longer be in the business of micromanaging business models and preemptively prohibiting services and applications and products that could be pro-competitive,” Pai said in an earlier interview, “We should simply set rules of the road that let companies of all kinds in every sector compete and let consumers decide who wins and loses.”

While the debate on reliable web service to autonomous cars is an important one, it’s a little worrying that those vehicles might also be so dependent upon it. It’s also unfortunate that it’s connected to business aspects that have absolutely nothing to do with automotive safety. It would be great to have reliable internet access for futuristic automobiles that need it to navigate (an issue the FCC already dealt with), but it’s a little less wonderful when the end result could be a business model that gouges you on service fees and limits the availability of specific websites.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote on Twitter, “The internet is the public square of the 21st century. Unless we all speak out against the @FCC’s efforts to gut #netneutrality, the free and open internet we know today could be gone for good.” He has also claimed that his office found around 100,000 phony public comments submitted to the FCC intended to mask public opposition to Pai’s goals.

[Image: NHTSA]

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59 Comments on “FCC Prepares Repeal On Net Neutrality: Autonomous Car Victory or Orwellian Nightmare?...”


  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    If autonomous cars are totally dependent on internet connectivity then I can forget about seeing them here in Oz this century.

    • 0 avatar
      999

      If autonomous cars are totally dependent on internet connectivity then that’s pretty useless. If someone is so feckless and tech dependant that they can’t coordinate a wheel to aim the car and two pedals to make it go and stop, along with a suite of driver aids to ensure they don’t run into things then they should take a good hard look at themselves.

      I guess the upside is that these feckless, tech dependant people may breed themselves out of existence in a generation as they eschew human relationships in preference to ‘tubes’ and sex robots (giggity!). Science hasn’t yet worked out how to make a robot have a baby yet!

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Tough call for the left.

    On the one hand Obama’s pet project, Net Neutrality (aka govt control of the internet) must be preserved. But all good lefties also hate the freedom Americans have to get in their cars and go wherever and whenever they want. Autonomous cars will gut this freedom. But NN might get in the way.

    What to do, what to do…..

    I have the answer: the govt should control the internet AND car manufacturing.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Tougher call for the right.

      On one hand, the corporate elite’s dream (private sector control of services to parasitize the average American in order to enrich the already wealthy and powerful) must be preserved. But all good righties secretly hate the freedom to avoid discrimination based on economic class or the mere suggestion that money shouldn’t entitle one to greater rights. Preventing net neutrality will gut…wait, no it won’t. No wonder you love the FCC’s new direction.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You’ll have to excuse him, 30-mile.

        He’s having too much fun sticking his tongue out at liberals over the Internet – which, by the way, is what passes as “conservatism” these days – to realize that he’s going to just end up paying more for that privilege if this rule gets adopted.

        We’ll wait to see what happens when his ISP charges for accessing Breitbart but not Mother Jones.

        Preview: “LIIIIBBBBBBEERRRRRUUUUUUUUUUULLLLL BIAS”

        • 0 avatar
          Snooder

          Seriously.

          The thing that all the republicans apparently are forgetting is that what goes around, comes around. Every shitty dick move they do right now to trample on their political opponents will just come back around to bite them in the dick when the Democrats gain power.

          Which they will, eventually. The American political scene has always gone in cycles historically.

    • 0 avatar
      bkojote

      No, this isn’t really tough.
      Net neutrality = good. Pretty much everyone supports it minus the CEO of a sleazy telecom demographic or have no idea what it is and thereby think it’s government control of the internet.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You know, I must have missed the shady liberal cabal meeting where we decided we hated freedom. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I hate that we let some really awful, oblivious drivers loose on the road to f*ck traffic up, and if I ended up as as benign dictator, revoking their licenses would likely be my only action, but other than that, what do we stand to gain, or why could their freedom possibly bother us.

      Also, why is the assumption that autonomous cars will stand in the way of people going where they want, when they want? It’s not incompatible with private vehicle ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      Way to politicize this when it’s a TRUMP appointee trying to undo yet another Obama-era regulation that protects consumers. This is all done out of spite and petty partisanship.

      I would rather things stay the way that they are as it works and does not need de-regulation. That’s a lie that Pai and his cable johns want people to go along with.

      We already pay enough for internet access in this country. It needs to be regulated as a public utility.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        “Way to politicize this when it’s a TRUMP appointee trying to undo yet another Obama-era regulation that protects consumers. This is all done out of spite and petty partisanship.”

        Irony is your copilot.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Everything remotely socialist/communist is evil and unfettered/unrestricted capitalism is good.

      That message has been broadcast to citizens of the USA for the past 100 odd years.

      The results of that are:

      The top 3 richest Americans have the wealth of the bottom 50%.

      “In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoner’s.

      The USA’s infant mortality rate is twice as worse as the top 3 countries in the world.

      USA gun death is 10.4 per 100,000 versus Canada’s 1.97 and Mexico’s 7.64.

  • avatar
    George B

    Matt, you’ve mixed together several different issues in one article. Traffic shaping is a necessary to make sure some types of time-sensitive pieces of information like a phone conversation arrive without perceptible delay while preventing automatic peer-to-peer communication from taking too large a percentage of the available bandwidth. The major problem is making sure high bandwidth moderately time sensitive streaming video for entertainment flows smoothly. The issue is how to keep an ISP from discriminating against specific companies instead of necessary discrimination by type and who enforces those rules against anti-competitive behavior. The previous administration wanted the FCC to tightly regulate ISPs like a monopoly phone company. The current one wants to get the FCC out of the job of regulating the business practices of ISPs, shifting that job to the Federal Trade Commission instead.

    I don’t believe autonomous cars will be a major user of mobile broadband. Who pays for the driving car owners currently do for free? Instead, the major user of low-latency mobile broadband will be semi-autonomous remote driving of trucks. If driving a truck was a local office job without time away from family, truck drivers could be paid less. If the truck can be moved forward independent of sleep schedule, the truck travels farther in 24 hours. Improved efficiency pays for the cost of the technology.

    The next incremental update to the LTE standard, Release 14, greatly reduces latency to remotely drive a truck. The way to improve reliability using present LTE networks is to have both the primary cellular radio on the primary network and a backup radio on a second network running simultaneously. Today an ambulance would use AT&T as their primary ISP, for example, but they also pay Verizon a small amount to have a second radio connected to the Verizon network at all times but not transferring data. That way the paramedics have a very reliable data connection from the ambulance to the hospital emergency room.

  • avatar
    Number6

    So a shallow article about the automotive bend without staring the obvious. You didn’t mention all the pro-corporate bones this greedhead has thrown out, laying the foundation for integrated propaganda with zero recourse for Our Corporate Overlords. There’s vastly more to this than mere automated driving going on here. 2/3rds of this country is stuck with a monopoly for ISP, and nothing this waterhead is doing will improve the outlook…it’s just reinforcing the fail that passes for internet in the USA these days. Minimal add to the infrastructure and maximum suck to the consumer.

  • avatar

    It boils down to dilemma:
    Communism is good because everyone is equal and everything is free.
    Capitalism is bad because there are rich and poor and have to pay for everything even essential things like healthcare.

    Communism is the future and that is why tech companies support it – you already get today at least content like movies, book, music, phone calls free thanks to Google, MS and others. Wait until 3D printers will become commonplace. I am all for net neutrality. Government has to oblige ISPs to provide higher data bandwidth for free to everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      That is about the stupidest, most dumb-ass thing I’ve heard in a long time. You must be a Millennial. I’d say Joe Stalin must be one of your heroes but you probably don’t even know who he was. (I can’t even say go back to the Soviet Union where you belong because that shining example of the system you admire no longer exists. Ever hear of it or what happened to it?)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        As long as people charge for it, it’s not communism, and I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about. It’s a different phenomenon that also happens under capitalism – as resources become less scare, they become more “democratized.” In communism, in theory, the resources are simply given away and shared equally. In capitalism, those resources become so inexpensive that they become more or less universally available, regardless of class. Smartphones are an excellent example of this.

        You’re right when you say communism failed, but the reason it failed is simple: it was little more than a cover for a different kind of autocracy. In the Soviet Union, a monarchy was replaced by a different ruling class. It wasn’t communism at all – it was just a different kind of dictatorship.

        And the Soviet Union’s ultimate downfall was due to the same issue that dogs us, but in a different way: inequal distribution of resources. The poor folks in the Soviet Union simply got fed up with the people at the top spending all the country’s money on a) themselves and b) blowing stuff up while they stood in line for two hours for groceries.

      • 0 avatar

        The regime that existed in SOviet Union had nothing to do with communism. It was dictatorship evolved into totalitarian regime. Communism makes Government obsolete. According to theory Government will fade away along with money, Police and Army. Material wealth as a goal will be thing of pasr and people will do whatever they find exciting and beneficial for society instead of working just to put food on table or have a big screen TV. Societies in the West already are moving in that direction. It may take hundred years though.

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          If that is truly how the communist utopia comes to fruition, count me in. I’m all for peace, love, and harmony. “Imagine all the people living for today,” and all that.

          It’s the trend of the last two centuries of the communists slaughtering and/or enslaving those who don’t share the dream that gets my undies in a twist.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I can name any number of non communist regimes that have done the same thing. The Soviets got all the press because they had 10,000 nukes pointed our way.

            The problem isn’t communism, or any other “-ism,” per se – it’s dictatorship. Popularly elected governments simply can’t function as police states. Autocracies can.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “The regime that existed in SOviet Union had nothing to do with communism. It was dictatorship evolved into totalitarian regime.”

          Yes, if only we could try REAL Communism, everyone would see how great it is.

          The thing with Communism is that few people are interested in giving the fruits of their labor to others for nothing. The interest in Communism continues because most people ARE interested in receiving others’ labor for nothing.

          The only way Communism can function is to use the force of Government to make people give away their labour at the end of a gun. If one disagrees, they can go to labour prison, or die.

          REAL Communism in practice. Over and over.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      You, quite literally, have no idea what you’re talking about. Everything you wrote was completely fabricated by you. You’re really stuck inside that head of yours, aren’t you?

  • avatar
    Louis XVI

    Getting rid of net neutrality is the tech version of rolling coal–other than “woo hoo, let’s trigger the libs” it offers no benefit to anyone.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The big picture on NN is who will get to control what we see. Perhaps many are not aware, but Trump’s FCC (TFCC) recently allowed a company called Sinclair Broadcasting to buy massive numbers of local broadcasting stations. This would have never been allowed before because the percentage of coverage that this one owner controlled far exceeded the threshold of how much a media company was allowed to control. That rule was in place for years because it prevented one viewpoint from dominating the airwaves. TFCC chose to ignore that and rubber stamped the Sinclair approval. You can probably guess why – Sinclair is a hard right broadcaster who’s staff thinks calling those who have dissenting opinions “snowflakes” on the air is good journalism. Wonder why TFCC is blocking the Time Warner merge? No, not because it exceeds that coverage cap but TW is far more objective in political coverage. So no to them but yes to Sinclair.

    What does this have to do with NN? Everything. Because if you gut NN, you now give providers the ability control what you see. If I’m company X and I disagree with, say climate change, I can make sure the info you see first and quickest will be supportive of what I believe and not necessarily what the real story is. And if you do find it, enjoy that download at 2G speeds.

    The ramifications of this are enormous. You think the Russians were successful in 2016? Now imagine far greater control being legally wielded by the ISPs. Their political viewpoints are what you will see. This is “digital gerrymandering” on steroids. If this goes through, which it will, goodby to unfettered access that allows the user to research and find information. You will see what they want you see, and in time, you will think the way they want you to think. If by now Americans are not boiling mad at the systematic destruction of democracy by T-Rump, they are not paying attention. When the massive destructive march takes on Washington, it will be too late.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Exactly.

      And I wonder how the “conservatives” who support this will feel when someone like Jeff Bezos decides to screw with conservative media outlets. Then it’ll be a problem, no doubt.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    For one thing, what GM is talking about is QoS, which is a reasonable network management tactic. NN does not forbid reasonable network management methods; your ISP can, and does, prioritize traffic that’s latency-sensitive (like voice) or critical to the function of the network (like routing protocols).

    Conflating NN with the inability to do network management is disingenuous; it’s another “teach the controversy” attempt to muddle the issue.

    Scrapping NN is bad for anyone who isn’t a telecomm executive. Even Libertarians and right-wingers should be afraid: NN is what keeps, eg, George Soros, from buying a majority share in AT&T and forcing it to deprioritize or block conservative content.

    Of course, this doesn’t matter to “Freedom to be Exploited” libertarians or “Bet them libs hate this” knuckle-draggers.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    Let’s just imagine that, after Henry Ford made cars affordable for the masses, that we had a federal bureaucracy today which would declare the Model T a “common carrier” and the concept of “automobile neutrality” was created to insure that all cars, from that day forward, would be forced to comply to a design that conforms to that of an auto in 1908. Just think, that might have frozen the cost of a car to $500!!! That would show just how smart government regulations would improve that industry.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      That’s the dumbest thing i’ve heard in really long time.

      Jesus.

      • 0 avatar
        walleyeman57

        I bet you loved AOL, CompuServe, and 64 baud too.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          In fairness to the OP, we did go from the dial up era to the broadband era before net neutrality was a thing.

        • 0 avatar
          Snooder

          What does that have to do with anything under discussion here?

          For fuck’s sake, we’re not talking about rules any more stringent than “no, you can’t actively fuck over your customers just to fuck with your competition”. Seriously, that’s all Net Neutrality means. That even though the tv side of an ISP might be competing with video streaming sites, they still have to provide them and their browsers the same service they do for every other paying customer. It should be common sense.

    • 0 avatar

      I think what he tries to convey is that with NN ISPs have no incentive to innovate to increase bandwidth since cannot profit from that. Ford T is not good analogy though. I wonder how technical issue suddenly become partisan issue. In fact Pres.Clinton was the most republican president since Reagan if consider lower taxes, economic boom including Internet, budget surplus and reining in social security.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The reason ISPs have little incentive to “innovate” is that the ISP business is MASSIVELY capital intensive, leading to very little competition. In some areas, there is NO competition. For example, I live in an apartment complex and if I want Internet, I have two choices: Century Link (which sucks balls), or some kind of dicey wireless setup that works like crap and costs more. Guess who “earned” my business?

        The “last mile” costs for something like >100MB Internet access are HUGE given current tech. And perhaps in the future, that kind of speed can be provided by wireless technology. But that’s not without its’ costs either, and who carries the content from the provider to the wireless towers? Same folks who carry the content from the source to my Century Link wire.

        I think the idea that ending net neutrality will change all this is specious, and I’m being polite when I use that word.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      So…using the “Model T” analogy…

      If the roads were all privately owned, it’d have been a real boon for Model T (and automobile) sales if the road owners were able to charge you once to use the road, and THEN send a second bill to Ford or the same privilege.

      Yeah…no.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    The internet without net neutrality is just cable TV by another name.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I’m having trouble taking anyone seriously who gets bent out of shape over the removal of a set of regulations implemented two years ago. How ever will we carry on? I thought conservatives were supposed to be the ones with an irrational fear of change.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Yes it is like everyone totally forgets that the internet as we know it grew to where it is today without net neutrality.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Hey, Todd, did you hear?

      George Soros is going to buy your ISP and charge every conservative site you like 1,663% more to deliver content to you.

      And Jeff Bezos is buying the rest of them.

      Good scenario…right?

      No, it isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      It’s because of WHY those regulations got introduced.

      See, originally nobody needed Net Neutrality because that was the default state. Then Netflix got big and ISPs started losing mobey on the tv business part of their operations and started pulling shitty greedy crap. So we needed rules to gead the worst of it iff at the pass.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    The old rules pushed by the Obama administration had locked down the industry with regulation that only helped incumbent service providers and major content delivery services. They called it a triumph of “free expression and democratic principles.” It was anything but. It was actually a power grab. It created an Internet communication cartel not unlike the way the banking system works under the Federal Reserve.

    Net Neutrality had the backing of all the top names in content delivery, from Google to Yahoo to Netflix to Amazon. It’s had the quiet support of the leading Internet service providers Comcast and Verizon. Both companies are on record in support of the principle, repeatedly and consistently, while opposing only Title II which makes them a public utility – a classic “have your cake and eat it” position.

    The opposition, in contrast, had been represented by small players in the industry, hardware providers like Cisco, free-market think tanks and disinterested professors, and a small group of writers and pundits who know something about freedom and free-market economics.

    The public at large should have been rising up in opposition, but people were largely ignorant of what was going on with net neutrality. Consumers imagined that they would get censorship-free access and low prices. That’s not what happened.

    What was sold as economic fairness and a wonderful favor to consumers was actually a sop to industrial giants.

    Here’s what’s was really going on with net neutrality. The incumbent rulers of the world’s most exciting technology decided to lock down the prevailing market conditions to protect themselves against rising upstarts in a fast-changing market. The imposition of a rule against throttling content or using the market price system to allocate bandwidth resources protects against innovations that would disrupt the status quo.

    What was sold as economic fairness and a wonderful favor to consumers was actually a sop to industrial giants who were seeking untrammeled access to your wallet and an end to competitive threats to market power.

    Let’s grasp the position of the large content providers. Here we see the obvious special interests at work. Netflix, Amazon, and the rest don’t want ISPs to charge either them or their consumers for their high-bandwidth content. They would rather the ISPs themselves absorb the higher costs of such provision. It’s very clear how getting the government to make price discrimination illegal is in their interest. It means no threats to their business model.

    https://fee.org/articles/goodbye-net-neutrality-hello-competition/

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @thelaine – thanks for the informative post.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Well, kudos to you for posting the link to the story you cut and paste instead of trying to pretend you wrote it. Honesty counts. That said, the FEE.org is a pretty hard core libertarian think tank. Interesting story on how we would be safer without traffic lights and the like because lack of such control would force drivers to be better because they would have to think about their action instead of blindly assuming “green means go”….Uh, no thanks.

      NN has some downsides – perhaps overall costs might be lower in some markets without it- but at the added detriment of content being manipulated, eliminated, or pushed upon the user. I’ll take the possible higher cost for unfettered access to whatever I want. No problem. There are countries out there that limit and censor content that citizens can see. Whether it is the government or industry manipulating what content we can see, it is all bad.

      Interesting to note that this extremely important issue garners such limited number of comments. Telling, indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        Good analogy with the traffic lights. I’ve been to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I think I saw one stoplight in that whole city. Everyone ignored it. We had probably one of the best drivers I’ve ever seen, and his head was constantly on a swivel. Traffic was a chaotic nightmare. It made him a better driver, but getting around was tedious and dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Thank you for pointing this out. I think many people support net neutrality without actually knowing what it is.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “Well, kudos to you for posting the link to the story you cut and paste instead of trying to pretend you wrote it. Honesty counts. That said, the FEE.org is a pretty hard core libertarian think tank. Interesting story on how we would be safer without traffic lights and the like because lack of such control would force drivers to be better because they would have to think about their action instead of blindly assuming “green means go”….Uh, no thanks.”

        Genetic fallacy.

        “Thank you for pointing this out. I think many people support net neutrality without actually knowing what it is.”

        All most people know or care about is “Muh Neflix, muh YouTube.”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The article is interesting, but it’s the typical “competition for competition’s sake cures everything” thinking that comes from libertarianism – which, for my money, is just as utopian as pure Marxism.

      Here’s an example of how net neutrality works: when we subscribe to Netflix, we just pay Netflix. Netflix doesn’t get charged by the ISP to deliver content to us. The ISPs want that to change (of course) – they want to charge us to get Internet from them AND charge Netflix for using their network to bringing it to us.

      Doesn’t take a PhD in business to figure out what does to the cost of Netflix.

      But that’s not the worst of it. Let’s say Netflix decides to buy an ISP, and gives itself preferential treatment. And take it one step further: let’s say the folks who run Netflix are raving (insert political ideology that enrages you the most here), and decide to bring content from any other ideology to a crawl over its’ network. This doesn’t just hurt competition – it is politically chilling.

      Don’t think it could happen? Look at Amazon. Think it could buy an ISP? Of course it could. And last I checked, Jeff Bezos has a rather leftist bent (he already owns the Washington Post). Think he could just tell Breitbart or Fox News that if it wants to reach his subscribers, they now have to pay 123% more? Absolutely. That’s what ending net neutrality does.

      Of course, the argument against all this is that “the market” will magically start growing ISPs like your backyard grows weeds in the third week of May. And it’s nonsense. Why? Because as things are now, the Internet needs a wire to reach your house, and that wire is HORRIFICALLY expensive to put there. And in many places, you don’t have any real choices as to how that line gets to your house – in my complex, the only Internet access company is Century Link (a pox on their house).

      Perhaps wireless Internet will advance to the point where it provides the same kind of speed and security that wired Internet does, but those networks cost money to set up as well.

      Either way, ISP competition will NOT magically increase as a result of net neutrality. The bottom line will simply be a) existing ISPs will just make more money, b) they’ll become FAR more powerful and possibly more intrusive, and c) you and I will just pay more to buy goods and services over the Internet.

      Just say no.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The thing is, Netflix and Amazon don’t want to be in the ISP business. They would rather lobby to force ISPs to cater to their business. Cheaper, less risky. Perhaps if they did start their own ISPs, Netflix junkies or Amazon customers would prefer their service. Maybe they should do that and invest in the infrastructure that goes with it.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          So…assuming Netflix and Amazon don’t want to get into the ISP business because, as you say, it’s expensive, who does that leave?

          The same folks who are currently ISPs. And they’ll just get to charge their subscribers more. That just means you and I will pay more to buy stuff over the Internet.

          I think you just helped prove my argument.

          The argument for ending net neutrality is that it’ll somehow spur ISP competition, and I just don’t buy it. The business is HIGHLY expensive to get into.

          You know who I think is secretly bankrolling this? I wouldn’t bet against the brick-and-mortar retail crowd. They’d LOVE to figure out how to make a dent in Amazon’s sales. Well, here’s a way.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            You understand that the ISP business is capital intensive, but you still missed the point. NN essentially forces existing ISPs to cater to these content companies no matter how much they steamroll their networks. The reason this is coming to a head now is that without it, content providers would be forced to invest in infrastructure to get their products to market and they don’t want to. Rent-seeking at it’s finest.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Brick and mortar conspiracy? They’re too busy trying to keep the lights on and build their own online models to get involved in this. Everyone realizes that retail is going towards online distribution more and more.

            The question is who pays for the internet service and networks to distribute these goods. NN ensure’s that it’s not Amazon, Netflix or Sears for that matter. They don’t care if your ISP jacks up its rates to pay for network upgrades to support the consumption of their content. They just don’t want to be the ones paying for it or have to pass on any costs to their consumers.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, then, since their networks are being used more, and need upgrades, they charge their subscribers more. If the subscribers don’t like it, they can shop around. And if Company XYZ figures out how to provide an alternative to the current ISP structure at a good price, it wins market share.

            Sounds like a reasonable free market solution to me.

            What doesn’t sound reasonable, though, is giving a small number of companies who have no real competition (and don’t kid yourself – they still won’t if net neutrality is abolished) outsized power over what Internet content I see, and how it gets delivered.

        • 0 avatar
          Snooder

          The problem is that “catering to their business” is literally the definition of the purpose of an ISP.

          I have zero sympathy for anyone who claims that they don’t need to their actual goddamn jobs. Especially when they’re being already being paid to do it.

          Keep in mind, Net Neutrality doesn’t mean that ISPs can’t raise prices. If they need to charge more to increase bandwidth, they’re free to do so. All it means is that they can’t charge *some* people more for the same goddamn service.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      The problem is, the current proposal doesn’t foster innovation either. It’s taking a reasonable compromise that protects consumers (including corporate consumers) from some overreach by ISPs while giving some benefits to the ISPs in return, and chunking all the protections while keeping the benefits.

      It’s not like the FCC is planning to trust-bust the major ISPs and force them to compete more fairly with local and regional players.

      Again, the main issue here is that right now ISPs are forced to carry their competitors traffic. They don’t want to do that. Allowing them to stop doing so is inherently anti competitive.

  • avatar
    arach

    I’m torn on the concept of net neutrality.

    On one hand, I like it, On the other hand, it seems like Government over-reach.

    Why do I deserve a right to net neutrality? that’s the thing I can’t pinpoint.

    The second thing is the negative which is similar to what happens to people needing healthcare in other countries- with no controls, there’s no limits to demand. (My Mother’s family is from canada, so don’t give me the “thats not true” thing- there’s been multiple times they’ve come to the US for medical needs because of their age and constraints in Canada… although I’ll fully admit there’s positives also)

    It sounds great in theory, but we’re on the verge of cancelling our internet access altogether because of how expensive it is, and we’ve been looking at cheaper solutions like 4G and going back to dial-up. If we go back to dial up or 4G, we’re essentially “back-dooring” ourselves into the negatives of non-net neutrality, unable to access many content rich sources.

    On the flip side, why should my 85 year old parents, who sometimes go to “google” to look up the weather and check email, be forced to subsidize the immense consumption of a teen kid next door?

    I fully support Net-Neutrality in any service providers bringing information to Libraries and universities for example, but I don’t think I fully agree with it to your home. I have a hard time seeing “internet” as an “essential need”, and therefore I have a hard time accepting that it should have guaranteed, unlimited (not in bandwidth but in content) access.

    There will probably be a few cases where ending net neutrality will “backfire”, but there may be some areas where it doesn’t. For example, single-use-providers can flourish, as can plans structured in new and unique ways, like the ultra-low-cost educational-only internet access available in parts of africa. We may face specific issues of abuse, but we may face new unique solutions that help people and save money.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Net neutrality isn’t perfect, but the alternative is to a) start paying more for the stuff you buy over the Internet (which you will do), and b) give ISPs an insane amount of political clout.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Dude, the problem you are outlining has nothing to do with Net Neutrality.

      I pay $80 a month for 400mbps. My neighbor pays $15 a month for 12mbps. That’s perfectly ok even under Net Neutrality.

      What would NOT be ok is if no matter what I paid for internet access, i had to pay an additional $50 a month for Netflix. And then “coincidentally” the cable company’s basic cable service just happened to be $45. Meaning I’d have a “choice” of paying extortion for shit i already paid for, or surrendering and watching the shitty cable service i don’t actually want.

      Or hell, what if the ISP just straight up shut off some sites. Let’s say your ISP is Time Warner. Time Warner owns Warner Bros. (Not any more, but bear with me). Warner Bros is trying to negotiate a deal with Hasbro on toys for their latest DC blockbuster. Hasbro is being stubborn. Time Warner decides “hey, let’s turn off access to the Hasbro site and redirect users to splash page saying the reason is because Hasbro hates comic book fans”.

      The only thing preventing that from happen is a sense of shame and Net Neutrality, and we all know nobody at Time Warner has a sense of shame.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Competition in the market for internet service is still somewhat limited by the physical necessity of connecting your home to the network, but even a battle between the phone company, the cable company, a satellite company, and your cell service provider does a decent job of keeping prices in check. They’re all offering more of what we want for lower prices, and they’re about to face more competition still, once wireless goes 5G.

    This is why a lot of tech companies are in favor of ISP regulation. The model works for them. What if, and let’s just speculate, a startup ISP was offering you a superfast dedicated connection to three of your favorite streaming sites, plus Google and email, for $15 month, and threw in free slow wireless service for your devices? You think you might take it, and just use your work connection for any other online needs? How about $5 for a no-streaming plan?

    I have no idea if the future lies in that direction or any other, but when we lock a system in place through regulation, we always benefit the current entrenched interests at the expense not just of their future competitors, but at the savings the rest of us might enjoy from innovation.

    https://spectator.org/everybody-is-wrong-about-net-neutrality/


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