By on December 15, 2017

tesla model x, Image: Tesla Motors

You’ve probably heard all the brouhaha lately about “net neutrality” and its recent demise at the hands of Ajit Pai and the FCC. In my opinion, it’s a more complex issue than the multi-million-dollar avalanche of spam support suggests. (You can read more of that opinion here, if you like.) But it does raise some very interesting questions regarding monopolies, infrastructure investment, disruption, and opportunity costs. Some of those questions might be worth considering in the auto-industry context.

The proponents of Net Neutrality believe that your Internet Service Provider should be treated like a public utility or a public-supported railroad. But there’s a flaw in that argument: in most cases, the infrastructure owned by your ISP was built with private funds for private ends. Should that infrastructure be regulated like a utility even though it didn’t start that way?

Let’s expand this heretical line of thinking to something highly applicable to the car biz: Tesla and its dealership problem.


According to the neutrality proponents, your local cable company shouldn’t be allowed to restrict or slow your Netflix viewing, even though Netflix “disrupts” their TV/HBO/on-demand service. You can use my own situation as an example. I was paying $194 a month for the full-monty TV service, even though I didn’t watch TV. (See Katt Williams’ comments on silk pillow covers to understand why.)

I decided to buy a full commercial Internet pipeline for $89 a month instead, plus $35 or so for HBO GO, Showtime, and Netflix via Amazon Prime. This saved me a ton of money, at the cable company’s expense. No doubt they’d like to reverse that situation. Maybe they will now, at which point I’ll just turn everything off because watching TV isn’t worth much to me.

My cable provider, which was QUBE then was Warner Cable then was Time Warner and is now Spectrum, raised its own money and did its own work to connect my house to the Internet. But according to Net Neutrality, they have to roll over and let Netflix use that infrastructure for a low cost or no cost at all. This let Netflix become a billion-dollar company on the backs of all the ISPs out there.

Now think about Tesla. They’re in a similar situation; they have a product but very little infrastructure. The same goes for Alfa Romeo, and it would also be true of, say, Peugeot if they wanted to come to the United States. Shouldn’t we have “dealership neutrality?” Shouldn’t you have the right to have a Tesla sold and delivered to you by whatever dealership happens to be up and running in your neighborhood? And shouldn’t the profit margin on a Tesla be the same as the profit margin on a Chevy, at least for the dealership in question?

Think of the benefits to the public if every dealer was treated as a utility. You could get a Ferrari delivered to you in Peoria, or a Tesla in rural Alabama. The dealers might not like it, and some of the manufacturers might not like it, but the same was true of Comcast and Verizon during the Net Neutrality period. Most people don’t have all the dealerships near them. Why should they be penalized for a monopolistic lack of common infrastructure?

Or maybe something seems wrong to you about that. Can you articulate it logically? Or will the tide of American business continue to turn in the favor of the oligarch disrupters, regardless of its impact on local business?

[Image: Tesla]

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153 Comments on “QOTD: Are You Ready For Showroom Neutrality?...”


  • avatar
    theBrandler

    Bravo sir! Well said. It’s shocking the number of online blogs and tech organization parroting the “help save net-neutrality”. I don’t think anyone even realizes what it implies. They just hear “equality” and “neutral” and automatically think that means “good”.

    • 0 avatar
      Darkdowgow

      Great to hear it isn’t like a utility , I’ll send a bill to comcast for illiegal land use. Since they dropped a line through my land unlike public utilities they don’t have this right of way.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Exactly. And ISPs rollout out to profitable neighborhoods first — no argument here, that’s business. But to get them to rollout to poor and rural neighborhoods, they got subsidies from the government. So the pipes aren’t entirely privately owned. And treating them like utilities will encourage ISPs to compete on quality of service, rather than on deals with media companies (e.g.: Comcast owns NBC, and thus will deliver NBC programming faster than, say CBS which will have jittery playback).

        As for dealership neutrality, Jack is trolling us. Dealers don’t even know how to sell their own EVs, steering potential customers to gas SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        They do have that right since they are leasing the space on the poles or under ground conduit space from the company that owns the poles, be it the Phone or electric company.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I get the economic pressure to produce clickbait here, and I don’t care a damn about Tesla’s economic welfare (except insofar as I’ve paid to make them a recipient of it).

      But the distortion of the Net Neutrality issue can do serious harm to us all. The telecom giants didn’t build the Internet. They’re just profiting off an industry born from academia and government.

      But now they claim ownership of it, seizing through naked bribery (including the FCC chief himself being a revolving-door product of Verizon). What this means to the rest of us is a very big deal:

      •They claim the right to charge tolls to any business who has the audacity to want to continue to use the Internet, without being trapped in a “slow lane” behind the deep-pocketed Amazons and Netflixes who can afford to bribe Verizon, AT&T or Comcast. To repeat, they didn’t build the Internet and have no right to assume this position. This will favor Amazon over Mom & Pop, Netflix over the next programming innovator, big cities over small towns where Verizon doesn’t see the profit potential of maintaining infrastructure, and will generally stifle competition. It’s the online analogy of abolishing the Postal Service in favor of private mail delivery and expecting it not to further devastate Podunk.

      •The telco giants will clearly gain the power, despite their denials that they’ll use it, to censor dissenting views (just as surely as ABC TV doesn’t run news critical of Disney). This will gut citizens’ power to find the various truths denied them by the mainstream media, with inevitable collateral damage for democracy in general. Do you really expect, for one example, AT&T to Fast Lane a pro-Net Neutrality site that advocates civil disobedience? Do you prefer an America where AT&T can be the one to decide that?

      Jack, I enjoy your columns, but this is not a small matter.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        The telcos didn’t build the Internet, that’s for sure.

        But they *did* build the last mile.

        Net Neutrality was a one-sided piece of legislation. It tied Verizon’s hands and left Google free to plunder.

        IMO, we should have absolute and total neutrality of HTTP text and images. Streaming video, VOIP, Facetime, et al, can go pound sand. We treat them the way we treat Class III weapons: not deserving of the law’s protection because they are not considered part of a civil society by the majority.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          Does Comcast have to treat their own versions of streaming video, VOIP, etc. the same as that provided by other companies? Or can they provide their own versions faster and cheaper just because they own the wires connecting me to the main internet? If they can hamstring competitors to make their versions “better” without improving their own products, why would anyone try to make better products?

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            @clutchcargo on the flip side of that, if those that own the wire can’t profit by charging services who use a disproportionately large chunk of the bandwidth on the wire, why would they increase bandwidth?

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            They already do profit from those who use disproportionate portions of bandwidth by charging more for higher speeds, something necessary in order to use more bandwidth. They are incentivised to enhance bandwidth by the ability to obtain more customers, thus making more money from their infrastructure. Improved infrastructure also means increased up time, which also gives them an edge with customers. There’s plenty of money to be made delivering content without dictating anything about the content.

        • 0 avatar
          240SX_KAT

          Ahh, short memories abound.
          The public DID pay for the last mile build out, or are you forgetting the $300B the government gave the telcos back in the ’90s to do just that.
          Instead of building out the infrastructure, they pocked the cash and did nothing.
          It’s also a specious argument about allowing Netflix access for free and you know it. Netflix pays for their access just as like everyone else, peering agreements cover the cost between network edges and Netflix puts servers at the edge wherever they can.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            @240sxcat, what are you talking about. In the mid 90s I had 5 hours of AOL dial up a month for 9.95 with extra hours for 2.95 each all at a screaming 28.8k data rate over copper phone lines. By the end of the decade I could get Cable and DSL at data rates that may as well have been out of an episode of Battlestar Galactica in the early 90s. This ignores what was going on on the mobile side as far as the build out of that infrastructure. Do you think all that just happened?

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          Come on Jack, no need to be so harsh on Class III weapons…….

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          The problem with that last mile is that it has been protected. This is why you can’t get Verizon FIOS in Columbus but you can get AT&T, and vice versa in Pittsburgh. If the original protections that were afforded to the local telephone companies were pulled out, then you might have some real competition. We’re living on the same networks that were built in the 80s and 90s by the local telco (there can be only one) and a handful of cable operators.
          Additionally, trying to pick apart the Internet by protocol is absurd. Given the fact that most sites (ahem, except this one) are served via HTTPS, all you’d ever see is an encrypted TCP stream. How do you separate that traffic now? And VoIP? Any land-based telephone system has long abandoned POTS so now you’re blackholing and small to midsized business. Finally, the easiest way to evade all of that is to use a VPN–and since businesses rely upon that service to connect to other companies, remote sites, remote users, etc, it’s not like the ISP can justify slowing that down. Then comes the cat-and-mouse game of categorizing and sorting stuff by source/destination. Because fast flux dns isn’t a thing. Maybe part of the new way forward is to make subscribers install a Root CA certificate on all their devices so that now the ISP can decrypt on the fly “for our own good”. Nothing good will come of this; this is a handout to the telcos, nothing more. Anyone who believes that this is a good thing because it’s somehow unfair is a dogmatic fool who will accept abuse on the grounds of consistency.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          This Jack. Net Neutrality regulates the “last mile” and network owners because they may censor traffic while giving the FCC discretion in regulating the content providers like GoogleFacebook that actually are censoring. It was always cronyism because big tech was aligned politically with the people pushing it.

          Amazon and Netflix natural support it…4k streaming eats a ton of bandwidth and naturally they don’t want to shoulder any of the cost on that side of it. Crony Capitalism.

          Add to the fact that Tim Cook loves Net Neutrality while also loving him some Chinese internet and people should be skeptical.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        They didn’t build it? I believe they did make the physical connections from one end of the world to the other, as well as collaborate on wide area networks in the 1950’s before ARPANET. Yes, the feds gave money that was obviously added to other company monies in order to obtain and develop it into what we have today.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        Has your house caved in yet from the sky as it falls?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      What makes Comcast, AT&T et al utilities is that they’re generally granted exclusive or semi-exclusive rights to bring cables to homes and businesses by the local govt. Much like electric and nat gas, we don’t want an unlimited number of companies looking to string wire and bury pipes throughout a community. A limited number of companies are given a franchise, along with easements, to provide these kinds of services, making those companies monopolies which require governance to prevent them from taking unfair advantage of their special status. And yes, those companies are required to allow other companies to utilize that infrastructure to deliver electricity and gas. The owner of the infrastructure gets to charge the consumer a delivery charge to cover the cost of setting up and maintaining the infrastructure.

      Now if a local govt were to limit auto sales to just 1 or 2 dealerships in their boundaries, it would be reasonable for any mfr to seek the opportunity to deliver their product through those dealerships. The owner of the dealership couldn’t refuse the other mfrs the ability to deliver their cars there, but they could charge ALL buyers the same fee to cover the cost of building and maintaining the dealership.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        Thank you, that pretty much settles it. On the net neutrality front a lot of the problems could be quite easily resolved if we were actually allowed to have competition for broadband services, but in most localities we don’t. Your choice is (usually) the local cable company or the local phone company, both of which have a monopoly on their version of the service. Anyone remember the old days when telcos were required to allow third-party DSL providers? Anyone remember why that isn’t the case today?

        And don’t even get me started on the anti-competitive nature of these local monopolies, to the point where they’re buying off state legislatures to pass laws prohibiting local municipalities from building their own ISP utilities. There are some markets where the broadband ISPs have decided it’s not profitable for them to upgrade equipment to provide high speed broadband, but where they absolutely don’t want anyone else (even the local government) to come in and do it themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        Finally, someone that understands how things actually work, instead of making outlandish claims and unheard of or impossible assumptions.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Clutchcargo just did what I was planning on tomorrow, in terms of eviscerating Jack Baruth’s incredibly idiotic essay, full of idiotic arguments and even more imbecilic analogies.

        City, Township and Village councils grant monopolies to (typically one) fiber providers of internet connectivity.

        Residents in almost all such cities, townships and villages are essentially stuck with that provider to obtain even useable upload/download speeds in a content heavy world, or they are forced to choose a clearly inferior provider, with incredibly slower upload/download speeds, such as Dish or such satellite providers.

        Jack’s entire premise, his analogy, and his arguments, are beyond stupid.

        Finit.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        But they aren’t monopolies. Typically you have at least 3 types of service (some sort of DSL or phone based, some sort of cable based, and cellular. And there are typically at least a couple providers in each realm.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I agree with Jack and @theBrandler on Net Neutrality…

      But treating dealerships like a utility? I don’t know if thats being used as a silly analogy to make a point about net neutrality and somehow tie it to automotive, or if its a legit suggestion, but I’m going to assume its the prior.

      If its the latter, its just like making any retail outlet a utility…

  • avatar
    sjhwilkes

    The issue with Internet though is that most people in the US have AT BEST two choices for Internet to their home, many only have one. Where I live my choice is Time Warner (now Spectrum) or Verizon (now Frontier), both start at 60 per month and go up from there.
    If there were only one or two dealers in a town, then yes I think it would be logical for them to sell multiple manufacturers cars, but building a dealer, while expensive doesn’t require digging up the roads / adding cables to poles all over town – both of which have large external costs in damage to the roads / disruption which the providers don’t really pay. In return they’re supposed to provide universal access, at least that was always the deal when the wires were being used for voice alone. Now we’ve all using the Internet, and arguably it’s getting hard to function without it Net Neutrality just applied that logic to the Internet pipes. Sadly Verizon and AT&T have deep pockets and our corporatist overlords have seen fit to end that. Don’t get me started on the tax bill, where the effective corporate rate for all but retailers has been in the low twenties and will now be in the low teens, while my taxes will go up.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      Until I moved recently I had a few choices:
      * DSL: 1Mbps down/256 up for $40/month (no bandwidth cap). This used to be 1.5Mbps, but when Frontier bought Verizon’s copper they dropped my speed.

      * LTE: 20Mbps down/10Mbps up for $240/month with a 60GB data cap

      * Satellite: Doesn’t really qualify as internet, now does it…

      I’m fortunate to be affluent, so I chose both 1 and 2. Spent yet more money on expensive multi-WAN router to route my traffic through the appropriate pipe to make best use of both. At the end of the day I was spending about $5K/year on internet access. Not something that the poors could afford.

      The dealership analogy is stupid. Even Jack knows it, but this is a car site and he’s a car wonk so I’m not surprised he used it. There is a moderately free market for cars. There is /no/ free market for internet access. I’m not a government intervention guy, but IMO the real role for government is to ensure a functioning and free market to the extent possible. Once that is in place, let people make their own agreements with each other.

      But absent that free market, Jack’s real analogy is that there is a single dealership in Seattle, it is owned by Kia and sells only Kias, and it has rammed through legislation prohibiting, by law, any other dealership from opening.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The solution to that is the same as the solution for all other problems: More freedom. Not more mandates, laws, regulations and other welfare for the unproductive but sell connected.

      Let anyone dig ditches, and ram poles in the ground and hang wire, anywhere they bloody well want to, as well as set up radio antennas. Monopoly pricing and “lack of choice” will be cured virtually overnight. America will regain leadership in networking/transmission, and American companies in every sector will benefit from better price/performance from their communications infrastructure.

      It’s no different from any other sector: Let anyone build anything anywhere, and “housing affordability” is a solved problem as of a minute from now. Ditto lack of competitiveness resulting from excessive commercial rents. Let anyone from anywhere show up to “practice medicine” and sell drugs obtained from anyone, anywhere, and ditto “health care” costs.

      The world, tabula rasa, does not contain bottlenecks driving up prices and limiting availability. Never did, doesn’t now, never will. All the limitations and bottlenecks that renders our current dystopia what it is, are all man made. Put in place solely to protect well connected, unproductive incompetents. At the cost of everyone else, now and into the future.

      • 0 avatar
        jlbg

        the existing infrastructure exists because the government mandated it to happen. Without that, rural america would not have phone lines.
        ISP’s can make money(and do) by providing internet service. net neutrality is just meant to keep them from manipulating what goes through that pipe. It doesn’t stop them from giving you a bigger or smaller pipe and it doesn’t stop them from saying how much can go through the pipe per month.

        Without net neutrality, ISP’s can and will manipulate the content going through the pipe. They have only done it a little bit in the past, because they technology wasn’t there to manipulate it in real time. It’s here now and they will start using it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Put in place solely to protect well connected, unproductive incompetents.”

        That is one way to view the ruling political/business oligarchy.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Stuki, have you ever seen the photos of what major cities looked like in the early years of electrification and telephony, before cities began to limit the number of vendors allowed to string wire? It was pretty ugly.

        http://blog.nyhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/nyhs_pr020_b-92_f-1_001.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Stuki: every time that laissez faire approach was tried it has failed miserably.

        Building and Municipal Codes are in place for important reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      McCoy and wilkes: Yes. This.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      And this is why Jack’s argument is a load of crap. I am one of those people – I own summer and winter homes, and in each I have ONE choice of Internet provider. If there was legit competition in this everywhere, I could almost see it, but the current situation is that for all intents and purposes ISPs ARE utilities and should be regulated as such. No different than the electric company or the water company.

      Heck, just like many states have done with electric companies they should be forced to separate delivery from content. You can be a content provider or an ISP, but not both.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “If there were only one or two dealers in a town, then yes I think it would be logical for them to sell multiple manufacturers cars,”

      So the perfect example of this is just down the road from Jack in Lancaster, Ohio. It’s a smaller town of about 40,000 people, with only a handful of dealers. But you can swing by the Bobb-Boyd dealership there and they sell Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and (until recently) Mazda. The same sales guy would sell you a vehicle from any of their brands or take you on test drives while you cross shop.

  • avatar
    pinkslip

    I fail to see how you’re comparing the auto industry to ISPs.

    One offers dozens of options for the consumer and the other is an oligopoly (and even, effectively, a monopoly in some markets).

    • 0 avatar

      Agree this is such a stretch I feel bad for Jack that the ED let it be published.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        1) Jack Baruth ie making an asinine argument and attempting to draw an irrational equivalence (I will expand upon this tomorrow due to time constraints).

        2) I do not appreciate The Truth About Cars and Verticalscope allowing Jack Baruth to link back to his own, independently operated, and bizarre private blog (a pox on your house, TTAC/Ed/VS).

        3) Jack Baruth’s contributions to TTAC have so significantly declined in terms of quality and effort (mental effort) in the last 6 to 8 months, that it’s SAD!

        Get well, Jack. You may still have another one or two good articles and well-constructed, logical ideas rolling around in that cranium!

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          You mean the bizarre private blog that you were posting white-supremacist stuff on until you got shut down, right?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            That website disavows not only the white supremacists, but even the alt-right (such as Richard Spencer), and it is available in podcast form available on itunes and gab.

            I detest Trump and his Trumptards like you, so that should have been clue #1.

            But you obviously did not bother to do your homework, and instead, were so infuriated by my accurate takedown of your sloppy (Bannon-like, disheveled drunkard-like, former dope dealer – by your own admission) thinking and writing, that you lashed out with a blatant falsehood in response!

            SAD AND PATHETIC!

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Your white-supremacy, anti-Semitic rap isn’t welcome on my website.

            I have a Jewish son and I have no interest in people like you ranting about the Jews.

            I warned you twice about that.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Admit it, you two are actually crazy for one another…

          • 0 avatar
            Steve Lynch

            TTAC: Just another hate-filled political blog.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Jack pulls the anti-Semite card out of desperation, against someone, who not only has Jewish friends, but who, like Harrison Ford, is !/4 Jewish (not too shabby).

            Jack is just desperate, from an intellectual standpoint, and now, apparently (as he begs for $1,800 for annual web hosting services), financially, as well.

            Here’s the site, carried on Apple itunes, that Jack claims is “white supremacist,” for the record.

            http://thezman.com/WordPress/

            This is the same Apple that banned an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program for racism, by the way – http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/abc-racist-app-censored-by-itunes-but-broadcaster-pleading-with-apple-to-amend-decision/news-story/00044d0e3c41750a794a2455d7eedb84

            Not what Jack Baruth (former drug dealer, if his own admission is to be believed), would have anyone believe:

            And editors at TTAC, now about implementing a rule that Jack and his little brother are barred from linking to their Cabrini Green of a blog?

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            You have JEWISH FRIENDS.

            Good to know.

            But you probably wouldn’t let your daughter marry one.

          • 0 avatar
            Rick T.

            I can attest to Jack’s comment as a long-time reader but infrequent commenter on Jack’s blog. Mr. Deadweight is in serious need of an adjustment to his meds.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            “…against someone, who not only has Jewish friends, but who, like Harrison Ford, is !/4 Jewish (not too shabby)”

            I’M 1/4 Jewish via maternal ancestry, Jack.

            Reading is fundurrrmental..durrr.

            I love how you’re getting your a$$ handed to you on this incredibly idiotic argument that you’re proposing, btw.

            You’re not washed up yet…there is hope!

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            The old “I’m not racist, I have black friends…” Nice.

      • 0 avatar
        spookiness

        It’s some Class A trolley.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Okay so you’re saying that you have no problem with paying for (example) 50Mbps internet, but only getting 5Mbps internet when your ISP doesn’t like what you’re doing with your internet connection?

    I mean seriously? People are OKAY with that?!?

    The point of network neutrality is that all data is delivered at the speed the customer is paying for, regardless of what that data is. Whether I’m downloading “instructional videos”, playing an online game, watching youtube, or streaming Netflix, I should indeed be getting the bandwidth that I pay for.

    If the ISP feels like a non-cable internet-only customer isn’t as profitable, then they should charge accordingly for their services.

    A lot of folks on both sides of the argument don’t even understand what they’re arguing about! Get your noses out of the Huffington Post’s or Rush Limbaugh’s @55e5 long enough to do some real research and you’d know what’s going on.

    Oh, and I guess all you tinfoil “oh noes big gubmint” types never considered HOW your ISP will know when to throttle you… um, it’s because they constantly monitor pretty much everything you do online anyway! You might not want the gubmint’s nose in all your business, but you’re willfully paying Verizon every month to track every single thing you do.

    Personally I think the NN repeal will lead to selective throttling and painful data caps. In the end… we shall see.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Another option is if content providers (ie Google) decided to play chicken with the ISPs and force ISPs to pay THEM for the content. This is the scenario many local broadcast NBC, ABC, and CBS work on, and this is why Dish or AT&T will stop carrying those local stations. Many customers leave the ISP and go either to Verizon for news or to another ISP if they can.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “The point of network neutrality is that all data is delivered at the speed the customer is paying for, regardless of what that data is.”

      You actually get the internet speed you pay for right now? I’m pretty much always at around 60%.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I’m lucky enough that my neighborhood has Cox and Verizon overlapping / competing. In 6 years at my address, I’ve been on both twice just to get the better deal. I have always achieved my rated speeds, thank goodness.

        Cox had me on a 15 megabit plan for $40 for a year. I was fine with that; no one ever complained. That deal expired and the best they could do this go round was 100Mb for $60 per month. (Verizon had nothing even close to that deal) Hilariously nobody in the house besides me even knows that we now have 7x the speed. I would have stayed on 15Mb if they had extended the deal.

        I can’t believe things have gotten so stupid that I will have to research internet providers when time comes to sell the house and move elsewhere.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I have one choice where I live: Century Link, whose customer service rep is on par with repo men and the Mafia.

          And that’s the way it is in a lot of places. This is why “the free market” doesn’t fix this particular problem – this particular market is far from free to begin with.

          We’ll see the complaints from the freedom-‘n-whiskey crowd when someone like Jeff Bezos decides to buy an ISP, and throttles every website that isn’t in ideological lock step with the Washington Post. Don’t fool yourself – it can happen. I can’t believe people are OK with this.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Believe it or not, I switched to CenturyLink because I was so sick of Comcast customer service screwups and overbilling. Then CenturyLink took two unexplained extra weeks to start my service. This is why we can’t rely on “competition” to enforce net neutrality.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            “We’ll see the complaints from the freedom-‘n-whiskey crowd when someone like Jeff Bezos decides to buy an ISP, and throttles every website that isn’t in ideological lock step with the Washington Post. Don’t fool yourself – it can happen. I can’t believe people are OK with this.”

            Well as much as I disagree with Mr. Bezos’ politics, I would think he could run an ISP 1000 times better than the current companies.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    We need a Tesla death watch.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Terrible analogy. A much better analogy is if GM and Ford owned all car shipping trucks, and Tesla needed to ship its car to the end user. I said the same thing on your site. ISPs are NOT show rooms (unless the ISP owns my computer). ISPs own both Content and have MONOPOLIZED, due to local, state, and federal regulations, the “trucks” carrying the data.

    Deregulate the whole damn thing.

  • avatar
    geisteskrank9

    I’m pretty sure electricity which is regarded as a utility started off as private industry. It was Tesla vs Edison who were both vying for the top spot with their own companies.

    Then we decided we all need electricity and it became a public utility and expanded.

    The internet is just more recent but it’s pretty similar. To me it seems like an information pipeline.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I say skip the dealer entirely – I want to ability to use my 3D printer and Internet connection to print my Tesla or Alfa vehicle and any needed spare parts, although I think I better stock up on extra “ink” cartridges for those spare parts – especially for the Alfa.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The cable and telecom infrastructure that are essentially the only two options for delivering internet to your home certainly are utilities and are regulated as such. It seems odd that internet service over physical lines shared by cable/telco would lose its status as a utility Because Internet.

    “But according to Net Neutrality, they have to roll over and let Netflix use that infrastructure for a low cost or no cost at all. This let Netflix become a billion-dollar company on the backs of all the ISPs out there.”

    “On the backs of all the ISP’s?” Seriously? Netflix certainly DOES pay for getting the data TO your ISP, and you subscriber, have paid your ISP for getting the data the rest of the way. So what unrecovered cost is the ISP charging for?

    Charging extra for Netflix is like the power company charging an extra fee to power a building because it’s a factory that happens to make high-efficiency light bulbs.

    • 0 avatar
      pbx

      Netflix requires a certain data speed. If you want Netflix you may have to upgrade if all you been use the internet for is email and websites. Who are you going to pay for the privilege of having a fast enough connection for Netflix? In that scenario you definitely pay more to your ISP.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    “the infrastructure owned by your ISP was built with private funds for private ends”

    I’m thinking the opposite happens all the time — billion-dollar stadium complexes built with public funds, despite the fact most of the public will never use them, and even those that do will have to pay again in the form of ticket, parking, and concession prices.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Around here, the city signed lucrative deals with At and t and Comcast years ago so they would lay copper. They recently signed a deal with Google for fiber. The fiber backbone is actually supplied by the power company along major roads. Google is then finishing the last mile.

      Let’s not kid ourselves, cable companies are subsidized at all levels of government.

  • avatar
    slap

    Almost 3/4 of the people only have one choice in broadband providers. Only a few percent have more than two choices.

    For capitalism to work well, there has to be numerous choices – far more than one or two. With broadband, the costs for a new competitor to start up in an area are very high.

    “The proponents of Net Neutrality believe that your Internet Service Provider should be treated like a public utility or a public-supported railroad. But there’s a flaw in that argument: in most cases, the infrastructure owned by your ISP was built with private funds for private ends.”

    Your electric/gas/phone company built their infrastructure with their private funds for private ends.

    “My cable provider, which was QUBE then was Warner Cable then was Time Warner and is now Spectrum, raised its own money and did its own work to connect my house to the Internet. But according to Net Neutrality, they have to roll over and let Netflix use that infrastructure for a low cost or no cost at all. This let Netflix become a billion-dollar company on the backs of all the ISPs out there.”

    Spectrum’s customers are paying Spectrum to access things like Netflix. Without companies like Netflix, Amazon, Google, and other places on the web, most people wouldn’t need broadband.

    Look at cable TV. People get cable to watch ESPN (or other channels). Does ESPN (and others) pay the cable operators to get access to the people? No – the cable operators pay, because without content no one would get cable. Netflix (and others) is broadband’s content.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Where I live, electric companies are privately owned and were built with private money, but being “natural monopolies” they are regulated. Same goes for the internet.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I lost the rest of the post.

      I said that the electric power generation and distribution in PA is similar in concept to net neutrality. The local power company is paid a fee by the customer to deliver the power that he buys from any power generating company he wishes to. That separates the monopolistic part of the process form the more free market part.
      As I see net neutrality, it is the same concept. Connecting to the internet is usually through a monopolistic cable provider whose sole purpose is to provide a given service for an agreed upon price. Also, some regulation is accepted in return for the privilege of operating a monopoly.
      Car dealerships are more like rent seekers hiding behind franchise laws , but not monopolies. This is why they fear Tesla.

  • avatar
    EspritdeFacelVega

    Not sure where I stand on the net neutrality thing, but the following is exactly the argument made by AT&T in the 1980s to try to prevent long-distance (and other types of) competition, which had they been successful would’ve probably throttled the Internet in its infancy because the “unfair” economics of IP were so threatening to established operators:

    “My cable provider, which was QUBE then was Warner Cable then was Time Warner and is now Spectrum, raised its own money and did its own work to connect my house to the Internet. But according to Net Neutrality, they have to roll over and let Netflix use that infrastructure for a low cost or no cost at all. This let Netflix become a billion-dollar company on the backs of all the ISPs out there.”

  • avatar
    deanst

    Kind of a silly analogy – internet access is effectively – at best – a duopoly, with cable and phone firms “competing”. Anyone with money and a pulse can sell cars pretty much anywhere. The real argument should be about letting manufacturers sell directly to the consumer – it is effectively the dealers that have a monopoly now.

    Net neutrality is really an attempt by the cable firms to extract some money from the content providers. They saw how the networks eliminated margins on the cable side, and now want to prevent that from happening with their true cash cow – the Internet side.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    This is a thinly disguised redirect to Jack’s own website. It understands neither the arguments for (or against) net neutrality, nor the issues surrounding state-based dealer franchising, the latter of which I know Jack has at least shown an understanding of in the past.

    You’re better at constructing arguments than this, Jack.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You’re wrong and I’m willing to bet I know a lot more about the Net than you do.

      It wasn’t built to be cheaper cable television.

      • 0 avatar
        kefkafloyd

        I mean, you can bet, but you display none of it here or on the other site. Title II common carriers (i.e. regulated telecommuncations) have been a thing for decades, and are the exact reason why the consumer-facing internet was able to grow at such a rate as it was during the 90s. If the broken-up Bells were able to discriminate against what was attached or going through their phone lines, the internet as we know it today would be very different.

        This, of course, speaks nothing to the back-end networks which have their own politics, but suffice it to say that Ajit Pai’s claim that the internet was “the greatest free market success” is a complete lie based on the fact that without the early government-funded network projects there would be no foundation. Oh yeah, and all those fiber subsidies that the telcos pocketed in the 90s, too, I haven’t forgotten about those.

        The point is that, much like roads, electricity, and water, the Internet is a public good that should be regulated for the benefit of the public (of which also includes private companies). These companies (specifically Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast) have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted on their own to uphold what is best for their customer. Ajit Pai basically throwing away all of the FCC’s regulatory ability (including rules that were made well before the Obama administration) on the ISP’s promise that “We won’t do anything bad, we pinky swear” is such transparent hogwash that I thought you’d be able to see that.

        Stick to cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          As I stated in my own article, I’m willing to go awfully far to prevent censorship on the Web.

          Right now, it isn’t coming from the ISPs. It’s coming from the Valley crowd.

          Furthermore, the Web was never meant to be a television station. If you believe that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to the General Electric minigun, you should be cognizant of the difference between censoring speech on the Internet and doing QoS that discriminates against video.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @Jack:

            “As I stated in my own article, I’m willing to go awfully far to prevent censorship on the Web.”

            I’d be interested in what you would propose doing in the absence of net neutrality. Personally, I don’t see any way of ensuring that WITHOUT net neutrality.

          • 0 avatar
            notwhoithink

            “Furthermore, the Web was never meant to be a television station.”

            Lots of things were never originally intended to be what they eventually became. Hell, the phrase “quantum leap” was never intended to have a vernacular definition that is practically the opposite of what it originally meant, but it does. That’s just part of the beauty of the human race. We create something, and someone finds a way to create something else out of it. Things change, and it’s irrational to say “this thing was never meant to be what it has become, so we should actively let other people kill it”.

          • 0 avatar

            Seems like an argument to regulate the boys in the valley not deregulate the ISPs

          • 0 avatar
            Daniel J

            Why not? Data is data. Tv has be digital before 1990. Sdi tv has been broadcast on local UDP unicast networks since the mid to late 90s even before compression algorithms became formalized.

            These companies must have been idiots to think that even in the early to mid 2000s not to know that “data” was going to be competing content.

            Arguably, our government has been conned into believing by heavy paid lobbyists for years that content providers and ISPs owned by the same company is some how free market Enterprise while at the same time putting up huge barriers to allow others to setup ISPs.

            Even our own government doesn’t allow government contractors to be both technical consultants and bid on competing contracts at the same time. Its simply a conflict of interests.

            All we need to do is look at the history of rail to see how it turns out.

          • 0 avatar
            Daniel J

            What do you mean it isn’t coming from the ISPs. Court cases go back as far as early 2000s of ISPs censoring data. Are you distinguishing censorship of competing date from other data? Verizon and tethering apps, att and VOIP from Vonage, Comcast and peer to peer networks without disclosure, MetroPCS and YouTube…..

            All censored data.

            I trust ISPs as much as I Google when it comes to censorship, but I’d like the choice of going to Google if I choose.

            Also keep in mind that ISPs could censor VPN and proxies which would put my wife out of a job.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          ““We won’t do anything bad, we pinky swear” is such transparent hogwash that I thought you’d be able to see that.”

          THIS.

          Under net neutrality, how would ISPs fund their legitimate need to build more bandwidth? They’d simply raise their prices. Makes sense.

          Problem is, how do you raise prices on your customers when your record of service to them is unbelievably poor?

          In essence, this is the ISPs telling us that they need more money to build out their networks but can’t get away with raising their prices due to their own longstanding customer service issues. So they tell their lobbyists to go to the FCC, hat in hand, and try to make the websites that use their networks pay more.

          This just shifts the costs back onto the companies that use the networks to sell goods and services…and they’ll pass that cost along to you and me.

          I’d say the Comcasts and Century Links of the world have no one to blame but themselves for their “we need more money” bleats falling on deaf ears with their customers.

          • 0 avatar

            Yep trying to charge the customer and the content producer is an interesting idea. And I think your right they think if they raise their prices the will be hit with more regs.
            Look at the financials of the big players they have cash to build bigger networks they just want more.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    One shouldn’t compare internet to car dealerships but to the trucking, train and boats that transport vehicles and to the roads and waterways used to ship them.

    How many people on this site would be literally “up in arms” if all of a sudden the government were to dictate what vehicles we drove or if they allowed one or two car companies to control what vehicles are allowed on THEIR roads?

    This would be like Ford and FCA owning the majority of roads and then saying we won’t allow GM or Toyota on them or charge you what ever we chose to let you drive your Silverado down our highway.

    You can expand that further and that would be like the owners of those roads saying that even though you own a Ford, you can’t transport Hispanics or Muslims in your vehicle on our roads.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Ever driven on a toll road?

      Did you pay the same to drive on a toll road as an eighteen-wheeler?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Ever driven on a toll road where the road’s owner decided to vary the charge for an eighteen wheeler by who owns the truck?

        That’s what getting rid of net neutrality does on the Internet.

        If ISPs need to raise funds to expand their bandwidth, then the best way to do it is to raise prices for their services to end users. I’d be down with that. But giving them the power to charge different website owners a different amount of money based on a whim isn’t going to benefit anyone but the ISPs, and sets up a situation where ISPs are effectively our Internet gatekeepers. You want that? I don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          I think Jack is confusing bandwidth throttling with net neutrality. I’m all for throttling band-wdith hogs and charging them more for using more data. Net neutrality means services from all corners of the world are accessible, and arrive at my device at more or less the same speed and quality.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            I’ve written part of an Ethernet driver and I can recite the OSI layers backwards. I’m pretty sure I know the difference :)

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Toll road is a better metaphor than your dealership one.

        Why didn’t you go that route?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Correct, Lou, and here’s the bottom line: getting rid of “toll road net neutrality” would mean that toll roads could actually charge the drivers in Fords more than the drivers in Toyotas, based on the fact that they cut a deal with Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            In this analogy, a plaintext Web site is a car and Netflix is an eighteen-wheeler. They have different effects on the “road” and they can be charged differently.

            As a matter of fact, toll roads DO cut deals with certain manufacturers/retailers. Hertz, for instance.

          • 0 avatar

            Jack I would argue that deals with rental companies on toll roads is crony captalism and should also be banned.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Correct, Jack, but what I’m talking about is whether a toll road should be able to charge J.B. Hunt’s eighteen wheelers more than Old Dominion’s, based on a whim…or based on J.B. Hunt paying the toll road off to charge Old Dominion more.

            (Or, worse, because J.B. Hunt’s lobbyists paid off the state legislature to screw over Old Dominion.)

            Sorry, that’s not right.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            “Correct, Jack, but what I’m talking about is whether a toll road should be able to charge J.B. Hunt’s eighteen wheelers more than Old Dominion’s, based on a whim…or based on J.B. Hunt paying the toll road off to charge Old Dominion more. ”

            How does morality enter into this?

            Of course a toll road should be able to charge one trucking company more — if that toll road isn’t a public utility.

            You don’t have a right to enter a Corvette in a Spec Miata race.

            You don’t have a right to buy yourself a Boeing BBJ and just insert yourself into the pattern at JFK on Friday afternoon.

            FedEx can and will refuse to carry certain types of items from certain shippers.

            Your “ISP” at work can and will refuse to show you DeadWeight’s white-supremacy Jew-hating blog.

            Google can, and did, decide to aggressively de-list a controversial website.

            How is the last mile of an ISP all of a sudden sacred territory?

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “How does morality enter into this?”

            Ironically the “right” says morality should have zero bearing upon what happens in a capitalistic system but everything else is fair game.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            The proper way to consider the toll road analogy is not whether cars vs. semis pay different tolls. The question is whether the toll road owns J.B. Hunt, and either charges Old Dominion higher tolls, or lets Hunt use transponders to pay tolls but makes Dominion pay in cash at the toll booth. When the ISP can legally put a thumb on the scale when customers consider which of 2 equivalent services to buy, the free market is not so free anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            And just to clear up another bit of the toll road analogy, the ISPs did not build nor do they own the toll road. They have built interchanges along that toll road, and they have done so using franchises from the community that the interchange serves. It is not practical for an unlimited number of competitors to come along and build additional interchanges if the tolls for the existing interchange is unfair.

            This part of the analogy is apt since some states are looking at using their local powers to ensure that the tolls at ramps in their jurisdiction remain fairly collected.

      • 0 avatar

        Right but that’s based on axles not which company owns the truck. I pay for x bandwidth and x gigs per month. What does it matter how that gets used? If your system can’t handle people streaming videos make the faster plans more expensive.
        In this case the ISP’s are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They don’t want to compete just for consumer dollars they want content provider dollars too. Pretty simple.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Exactly…and the reason why companies like Comcast or Century Link can’t just go to their customers and say, “hey, guys, we need more money or your Netflix is gonna run slower” is that DECADES of poor service have poisoned their relationships with those customers.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        Reminds me of the old adage to “never underestimate the amount of bandwidth available from a station wagon full of backup tapes.” You need more bandwidth (bigger trucks) you pay more money, just like if you need a faster Internet connection.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Ever driven on a toll road?”

        Not very often since I live in a non-communist social leaning country.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Jack, your problem has been solved. Go to carsdirect.com, order any car and get it delivered to your house.

    And yes, I pay damn ISP to give me straight path to whatever internet resource I want.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Everyone is losing their minds over something that probably doesn’t matter.

    Verizon charging you more or throttling your Nextflix? Someone is going to come up with a business model that neutralizes the issue for you.

    Ending net neutrality is a change. Change breeds opportunity.

    The Tesla analogy isn’t a good one, though.

    Here’s the proper analogy:

    Pretend that speed limits were based on the car you drove. If you’re in a 1990s Camry, you get to go 65mph. Drive a late model German luxury car? You get to go 85mph.

    That’s the sort of world I think we should strive for. It makes no sense to impose the same speed limits on vehicles of differing capabilities.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      In fact, this happening in Europe. Cars can go faster than cars. And some trucks are marked by its max speed, so you know, you need to pass it to go faster because they wouldn’t

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      But all car guys know that it is the speed *delta* that poses the danger for highway accidents.

      Back to net neutrality, I want to watch an obscure independent film with the same playback quality as a popular blockbuster movie. Without net neutrality, chances of that happening are?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The flaw in comparing automotive dealerships to ISPs is simple: there are TONS of the former, and very few (and, in some localities, only one) of the latter.

    Getting rid of net neutrality is a whopping mistake. It’ll achieve little besides making it more expensive for everyone who buys goods or services over the Internet.

    Eliminating net neutrality also has one glaring flaw that the conservatives here should think long and hard about: it enables ISPs to pick and choose what political content gets delivered to its’ customers. Don’t think that could happen? It absolutely could. What if Jeff Bezos decides to get into the ISP business and charges the Washington Post less to access the network than Fox News? Technically, he could say, “hey, it’s my network,” right?

    And I suppose you could say “OK, then, Mr. Bezos, I choose another ISP.” Problem is, in lots of places, you only get one choice, and the reason why is that the “last mile” costs of Internet delivery are murderously high. This, not net neutrality, is the reason why there’s so little competition among ISPs.

    If ISPs need to beef up their infrastructure to support greater bandwidth, then I get that. In that case, charge me a few bucks a month more, and I can either pay it, or switch carriers. That’s the free market at work. I’d rather do that than pay the same for ISP access and an “ala carte” price for every single website I want to use.

    But putting ISPs in charge of deciding which websites have to pay more or less to access their networks opens a Pandora’s Box that I don’t think any of us have really thought through.

  • avatar

    Here’s how the ISPs manipulated customer service in the absence of Net Neutrality:

    2005 – Madison River Communications was blocking VOIP services. The FCC put a stop to it.

    2005 – Comcast was denying access to p2p services without notifying customers.

    2007-2009 – AT&T was having Skype and other VOIPs blocked because they didn’t like there was competition for their cellphones.

    2011 – MetroPCS tried to block all streaming except youtube. (edit: they actually sued the FCC over this)

    2011-2013, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon were blocking access to Google Wallet because it competed with their bullshit. edit: this one happened literally months after the trio were busted collaborating with Google to block apps from the android marketplace

    2012, Verizon was demanding google block tethering apps on android because it let owners avoid their $20 tethering fee. This was despite guaranteeing they wouldn’t do that as part of a winning bid on an airwaves auction. (edit: they were fined $1.25million over this)

    2012, AT&T – tried to block access to FaceTime unless customers paid more money.

    2013, Verizon literally stated that the only thing stopping them from favoring some content providers over other providers were the net neutrality rules in place.

    This is why it’s important.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      All of these uses you mention above are commercial enterprises that are layered on top of the original Internet and have little or nothing to do with its purpose.

      If you open up a lemonade stand in a subway, you’re going to get kicked out by transit police.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        Jack you are cherry picking your justification. If you think a grandma using skype or VOIP is a “commercial enterprise layered on top of the original internet adn have little or nothing to do with its purpose”, you really are either blind or sold out.

      • 0 avatar
        dartman

        Who may I ask, determined and defined the “purpose” of the “original internet”?

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          The people who wrote the code and did the work.

          • 0 avatar
            PandaBear

            You’d be surprise how many people here wrote more code than you on a daily basis, for a living.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            I wouldn’t be, actually. I can see where you’re all posting from.

          • 0 avatar
            stuart

            @dartman: agreed. The “end-to-end” principle applies here.

            Jack, I’m sure you know the greybeards that invented TCP/IP and WWW are on record as supporting Net Neutrality.

            While I think it’s a shame that the FCC “legislated morality” with NN, it’s preferable to the alternative (see @RickySpanish post above).

            As for the “private money” argument, those last-mile wires are strung across private land with easements that are worth a great deal. And the incumbent telcos have gone to great lengths to prevent newcomers from getting the same access (see Google Fiber in Louisville). This is why we don’t have real competition in the residential broadband market.

            In a perfect world, we would have real competition in at the last mile. We don’t (e.g. one or two broadband providers in most cities), and it’s unlikely we ever will, so regulated NN is the best alternative we have.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            “Jack, I’m sure you know the greybeards that invented TCP/IP and WWW are on record as supporting Net Neutrality.”

            Some of them are. Mostly the ones with ties to companies that depend on an unequal playing fields between the telcos and the Valley.

            And of course we will have last mile competition. At 900Mhz.

          • 0 avatar

            So really this boils down to Jack is a grumpy old man.

            Get off my lawn

          • 0 avatar
            dartman

            Fair enough. So it’s a pure democracy deal then. I propose a vote to decide to keep you on the island or not. I vote that the troll master known as Jack Baruth be voted off of TTAC.

      • 0 avatar

        Of course nothing stopping them from preferring Gawker sites over vertical scope.

        Also watching a YouTube video of someone wrenching on their car in Holland so you can do the same on your car seems pretty inline with the fundamentals you laid down.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Ricky in literally every one of those cases (except the 2013 Verizon case because it didn’t happen so we have no way of knowing itlf it would have), the courts or the FCC slapped the Telecoms down. All this BEFORE net neutrality.

  • avatar
    ajla

    We should have bailed out Blockbuster.

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    One argument I haven’t seen here is Netflix and the others DO NOT USE the internet. We do. They send me emails now and then, but I have to log on to their programming stuff, and I initiate any back and forth there. They do not.

    And like most here, it sure seems like a money grab by the big old nasty corporations.

    As to the obscene profits inviting competition, it’s kind of like oil companies. Sure, start your own, compete. How are you going to do that?

    Maybe there’ll be some data compression advance that will allow speedy, cheap, wireless phone connections. The “cheap” part seems a stretch though.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’ll check back in a month or two. If you’re still doing the political Fox/Breitbart repeater service thing …

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Dude, how in the world do you mix up a network connection “which you use to go somewhere” with a showroom “which you go to see a specific car”?

    Did you sellout to the lobbyist too?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Good God, this is dumb. Usually when you are wrong it is at least reasoned, but not this time.

    There is tons of competition in the car market.

    The whole reason we need net neutrality is that, for reasons partly inherent to the business and partly born of a completely industry-captured regulatory regime, there is little or no competition in the internet service market for the majority of users. I’m in a Tech Utopia City ™ and I have exactly two broadband choices, The CableCo and The PhoneCo, both of which are ancient legacy companies with decades-old traditions of customer contempt. Most places only have one choice, The CableCo, because The PhoneCo’s service is so slow as to not really be broadband. If The CableCo decides to take a bunch of money from YouTube to block Netflix, the consumer has zero recourse. And the barriers to entry mean that no one will provide competition anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Of course there is “tons” of competition in the car market. Where you live.

      Most of this country has no option to buy a Tesla. Much of this country can’t get anything but a Ford or GM product serviced. You would be genuinely surprised, I think, to know how many people are outside a 25-mile radius of, say, a Toyota dealer.

      “If The CableCo decides to take a bunch of money from YouTube to block Netflix, the consumer has zero recourse.”

      I’m failing to see the life-threatening emergency here that requires federal intervention. YouTube isn’t power, it’s not heat, it’s not clean water. It’s YouTube.

      If you can get hysterical over the vague possibility of not having access to YouTube or Netflix, you’re not in a position to question the reasonableness of others.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Alright, let’s rephrase that.

        If The CableCo’s coastal elite, Hamptons-summering, New York Times-addled senior managers decide that your blog is hateful and block it, neither you nor your readers have any recourse.

        If The CableCo decides that it wants to give superior QOS to YouTube, which has paid The CableCo handsomely to do so, then people who use their employer’s remote applications for a living may find themselves unable to do their jobs whenever there is high demand for YouTube videos.

        We use internet service like a utility. We count on it the way we count on utilities.

        Meanwhile, anyone who can afford to pay $100k for a Model S can also afford to travel to the nearest city with a Tesla store. And if they just need to get around, the Fords, Chevies. and Rams that can get serviced locally will do the job fine.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          “If The CableCo’s coastal elite, Hamptons-summering, New York Times-addled senior managers decide that your blog is hateful and block it, neither you nor your readers have any recourse.”

          That’s already the case at the domain-registry level. You’re telling somebody with a gun pointed to their head that there is a risk of someone holding a box cutter to their stomach.

          “We use internet service like a utility. We count on it the way we count on utilities.”

          Uh-huh, and there are XX million people in the United States using oxycodone like candy, but we don’t let those people dictate public policy.

          With that said, I’m willing to accept your argument and to have the ISPs regulated like utilities. But that regulation has to go all the way to Google and Twitter and any other common-carrier-ish major provider.

          The way Net neutrality was written, it was simply a power grab by the oligarch Web companies. It was separate and unequal.

          Most Net Neutrality types don’t care about freedom, censorship, or human rights. they want to watch Stranger Things.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            In theory, it should be much easier to create a major competitor to Facebook or Twitter than it is to create a major competitor to The CableCo. You need a few billion instead of hundreds of billions in infrastructure, and the regulatory landscape is far less daunting.

            But I know that’s not always true in practice (especially for Google and Facebook, because of the way they treat their advertising customers). And when it’s not true in practice, then maybe the benefiting companies should be treated as common carriers, as the big ISPs should be.

          • 0 avatar
            notwhoithink

            “With that said, I’m willing to accept your argument and to have the ISPs regulated like utilities. But that regulation has to go all the way to Google and Twitter and any other common-carrier-ish major provider. ”

            And that’s where your argument breaks down. Spectrum/Comcast/etc should be regulated like a utility because they are (generally) monopolies granted by municipalities. But Google, Twitter, and the like? Those are platforms where you actually have choice. If you don’t like Google, use Yahoo or Bing. If you don’t like Netflix then use Amazon. If you don’t like Sling then use Hulu or DirecTV Now or any of a half dozen new “live TV” services. We actually have the choice as to which content provider/information services we want to use, at least as long as our ISP utilities allow us to have that choice.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          No, we don’t. I count on utilities to keep from freezing to death in the winter and to cook my food so I don’t die. The Internet does not impact my ability to continue to be counted among the living.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Jack: “Much of this country can’t get anything but a Ford or GM product serviced.” Now you are relying on hyperbole. Surely the B&B can provide the truth regarding that statement.

        Being in Canada, we are currently ‘above’ this discussion.

        However, my fear is one of limiting citizens ability to access information. That is one of the first steps in creating an autocracy.

        You probably know more about this topic than I do, but what if the end of ‘net neutrality’ means that citizens will only have access to sites ‘allowed’ by these corporate business interests?

        What if they delete or eliminate content that is critical of their activities, or executives?

        What if prices rise to the point where a significant portion of the population can no longer afford access to all or even a large part of the ‘web’?

        Finally two days in a row you have published articles that appear to be barely disguised screeds supporting ‘small government’.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “What if prices rise to the point where a significant portion of the population can no longer afford access to all or even a large part of the ‘web’?”

          Substitute ‘web’ for health care, social services, education and justice.

          That will give you your answer!

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Anyone wants to go back to the AOL days?

    I remember back then you have to pay extra to use this and that, and it is all in their walled garden. Yeah, good time.

    The fundamental problem is we only have 1 or 2 choices in internet these days, and the big guys do not want to play fair (see above), they all want to leverage their influence to block this and that from competing with their own services.

    Netflix is not internet usage
    p2p is not internet usage
    Skype is not
    VOIP is not
    face time is not
    alarm monitoring is not
    security camera is not

    guess what? I remember back then keeping the dial up auto reconnect is not either despite the unlimited plan.

    p.s. Comcast is now selling wireless service, so if you don’t want a speed slowdown on your cable internet bill you better move from Verizon and ATT to Comcast mobile soon. Fun….

  • avatar
    pbx

    You could make the subject more topical by asking how net neutrality will impact the connected car and the several terabytes a month of data that will need to be passed between vehicles. And who will control that flow of data.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    I think the problem isn’t being served content slower or having to pay more for it, per se, as this essentially reverts us back to a pre-2015 status quo where litigation will occur to correct those kinds of problems. The more glaring issue that not many are seriously considering is that a few companies have outsized influence to squelch ideas and information.

    What’s really getting me today is that I am reading on some forums American citizens making statements like “I think it’s okay to censor offensive/hurtful/whatever speech.” Somewhere along the lines it seems that totalitarian control over others has become a much less maligned concept and those who espouse it never think about what could occur when the tables are turned.

    Anyways, I think the net neutrality thing is overblown given that we already have major companies executing a no-platforming policy against people they disagree with. YouTube (Alphabet Co) will demonetize or remove your videos if deemed “offensive, inappropriate, hateful” with no real repeatable guidelines; Twitter will deny you the ability to say what you want for similar reasons (but actual terrorist Twitter accounts inexplicably remain active for quite some time); GoDaddy will take down your site if they don’t like what you think.

    This brouhaha over net neutrality is missing the boat on what entities actually control the dissemination of information.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    Jack, I’ve worked with you in the past so I know you’re a clever guy when it comes to tech, but you are wrong, wrong, wrong on net neutrality. Or at least on the following statement:

    “My cable provider, which was QUBE then was Warner Cable then was Time Warner and is now Spectrum, raised its own money and did its own work to connect my house to the Internet. But according to Net Neutrality, they have to roll over and let Netflix use that infrastructure for a low cost or no cost at all. This let Netflix become a billion-dollar company on the backs of all the ISPs out there.”

    You cable provider **MAY** have used their own money to building their plants and infrastructure, or they may not have. There has been significant investment of public dollars into broadband services over the past decade or so. But more importantly, the cable providers (or AT&T, or whoever is providing connectivity to your home) did not buy all of the land required to run their cable infrastructure to all of the homes they service. They reached agreements with public entities (cities, counties, villages, etc) to use public rights of way (aka, public property), exactly the same way that other public utilities do.

    But more importantly, Netflix (and Facebook/Google/Hulu/etc) didn’t become billion dollar companies on the backs of the local ISP. The local ISP has a business model that is “connecting consumers to the Internet”. The only reason consumers are willing to pay an ISP for service is because having that Internet connection allows them to get to the services that they want to use. Nobody signs up with Spectrum for their ISP because they want to connect to connect to Spectrum’s network. They sign up so that they can get to Netflix/Facebook/Amazon/etc. Those companies provide the services that are valued by consumers and therefore create demand for the ISPs to even exist.

    And let’s be clear about this, those companies don’t get off scott free, either. They spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that their data centers are connected to each other and major backbone/peering providers so that the consumers can actually get data/services from them. That’s the way this works. Consumers want access to services, service providers have services to offer consumers. They need a utility to connect them, and that is what role the ISP plays. There is zero value to being an ISP if content providers don’t exist. We all pay for our connection to the larger internet, whether “we” are a consumer with a 100mbps connection or an Internet giant with a global network of data centers.

    And here’s the argument in favor of net neutrality. Before 2015, ISPs were regulated as “information services”. That is a category of services that for the most part no longer exists anymore. But some early examples would be Compuserve, GEnie, AOL, Prodigy, etc. They were services that provided access to their own content (or curated/partnered content). Modern-day ISPs don’t do that anymore, they simply do not provide information services these days. They literally are just data pipes that allow us to get to the information services that we actually want to use, which is why they should be regulated like utilities. And like utilities, most consumers have zero choice as to who their ISP is going to be, due to monopoly agreements with local municipalities.

    Think of telephone service for an example here. Everyone pays for a connection to the phone network. You don’t get charged more if you want to call your bank than you would if you called your mom. The phone company doesn’t care about the content of your calls, and they don’t care how much phone traffic your bank sends across their POTS network, because everyone is paying for simply a connection.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I think that would depend on where your mother lives, and what time you want to call her.

      If we are going to regulate the ISPs like utilities, we should regulate Google like a utility. And we shouldn’t have handed DNS over to another entity.

      I’ve said it a dozen times, but I’ll say it again here: If we regulate the last mile but let the rest of the Internet common carriers play by their own rules, that’s not fairness. That’s the government picking winners and losers.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        “If we regulate the last mile but let the rest of the Internet common carriers play by their own rules, that’s not fairness.”

        But I don’t think that’s what you’re saying. Regulate the last mile because it uses utility easements, absolutely. Regulate backbone providers and peering agreements as common carriers? Yeah, I can get behind that. Regulate content providers like common carriers? Uh…no. Content providers are information services, let them be regulated like information services (the way that ISPs wanted to be categorized). Saying that the companies that actually aren’t common carriers and actually are information services need to **NOT** be regulated like information services seems to go to even further extremes than either the previous or current FCC have ever asked for.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Know where ISPs aren’t monopolies? France.

    https://www.theverge.com/2015/4/1/8321437/maps-show-why-internet-is-more-expensive-us-europe-competition

    If ISPs weren’t monopolies – I’m outside of LA and I have 2 choices, and at my small office, it’s just ATT – I’d likely not support net neutrality. But if the queen had balls, she’s be the king.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Thank you Jack. You are 1000 percent right on Net Neutrality. People by and large have no concept of the fact that the Internet is simply a bunch of networks joined together and those networks in fact do have limited bandwidth no matter how high that limit is on certain chunks of those networks. They seem to think it is just some sort of magic cloud and that no effort or cost is required to get that 4k video stream to their TV. They just know Comcast and Verizon are jerks because once the cable guy was late and Verizon is expensive.

    I have no doubt Amazon and Netflix love Net Neutrality for the same reasons that a business selling steel would love for the government to tell railroads and other shipping companies that they can’t charge any more than they charge a pillow company.

    Net Neutrality was crony Capitalism at it’s worst. Silicon Valley played ball with the last administration and got a kickback.

    Interestingly it regulated a group on the basis of what it might do in favor of a group that was not only already doing what they claimed the Telecoms may do but had their platforms being used by Russian Intelligence to attempt to sway an election. But Facebook tows the political line so we’ll let them self regulate. Unbelievable.

    Tim Cook with the same mouth supports Net Neutrality and China’s vision for the internet. If Net Neutrality is what it was sold as then those two viewpoints should be completely incompatible.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      @Art Vandelay – Correct. As with all things in government “regulation”, follow the money. Businesses pushing for government regulations do not have altruistic concerns for the end-users, only with position/power increases and their bottom line rises with the regulation supported by law. Regulation mandating adulteration of gasoline with ethanol to accomplish environmental nirvana and green ecstasies enriched many folks (and halted regular crop rotation in my area; corn is grown on corn now) and elected some regulation-supporting politicians. Beware the buzzwords “neutrality”, “fairness”, “equal”, etc. @Jack – Great post. Good food for thought for anyone able to use the gray matter other than to cause salivation at the tinkling of a bell. Thanks, man.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I think in the end this may end up being a moot point anyway. As wireless continues to be built out and overall bandwidth increased I could see terrestrial ISPs falling out of favor for home users. Much cheaper to stand up a tower in one place than lay cable to literally every house and then re lay it in a few years when you need more capacity. At that point, assuming you can keep cronyisim out of the spectrum management process it gets much easier to offer services.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    False equivalence.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    To put the dealership analog in my situation would be:

    There is one auto dealership in my area and it is a Chevy dealership. I don’t like GM and don’t want one but I pay them $60 a month for their dealership “service” so I can get my maintenance done, or car buying done or car washed, whatever the “service may be.

    Now, you would think “service is service” but they really don’t want to service the Explorer you have because it isn’t a GM so you get your service done, but it takes 2 hours for an oil change where the Acadia is done in 20 minutes. Mind you, I am still paying them a monthly fee because they are the only game in town. Oh, and when I want to buy a new vehicle I have to do it through them because they are the only game in town so I pay 3% over invoice for a new Explorer through them or 1% under invoice if I get a new Suburban even though they don’t have to do any more work on their end, or less for the Ford because all they have to do is allow the truck to unload it in their parking lot so I can pick it up with the key that was sent to me. Sure, they have to provide a lot but everyone in the area is paying them $60 per month whether they buy a car, have an oil change, tire rotation or do nothing at all.

    Same with the corporate pipes, if we had interstates where Fords could only run at 50mph and GM cars at 70mph because GM “owned” those interstates it would not be any different than the backbone which some content providers do pay extra for to maintain quality.

    I am not saying it is a perfect solution but Verizon has already been sued for censoring multiple times and they aren’t the only one.

    I do agree that setting the ISP up as Title II was a stupid solution.

    One other example is a doctor putting in a pacemaker you bought somewhere else. If you are paying the doctor a retainer to do whatever work you ask of him that would be a reasonable request. If they were not med-neutral he would take your retainer but only do work he wanted to do like prescribe your meds.

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