In the big business vs. big business net neutrality battle, go with the Google-Obama viewpoint over the Cisco-Comcast one
The net non-neutrality crowd is not only wrong; they're not being straight with us
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July 9, 2019 at 11:33 PM
The open Internet IS a good thing, which is why Chairman Wheeler and the Democratic members of the FCC are focused on preserving it. Thing is, the Commission doesn’t have to reclassify to get the job done. The DC Circuit said that the Commission had the ability under it’s section 706 authority to enforce its open Internet rules; the problem with the 2010 Order was that it used the language of common carriage, and as such, the DC Circuit threw out the blocking and throttling rules on those grounds. With a simple linguistic fix however, the Commission has more than adequate authority under 706 to effect enforceable rules.
You’re half correct: the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC could not enforce regulations relating to anti-blocking and anti-discrimination under Section 706, finding that these were “per se” common carrier regulations. In other words, the Court held that the FCC violated the Act by attempting to impose a regulatory framework that was incompatible with the ISP’s current classification as “information services” under Title I of the Act.
The best that the FCC could hope to achieve under Section 706 would be to prevent “commercially unreasonable” discrimination: legally ambiguous language that would allow ISPs to establish a baseline level of service (i.e. a “slow lane”) while retaining the ability to charge content providers (e.g.: Google, Netflix, Facebook, Salesforce, Addepar, Tamarac, etc.) additional fees for improved quality of service (i.e.: a “fast lane”). This breaks the open internet by creating a new, pay-to-play scheme where none existed before.
And that’s an important fact that keeps getting lost in this debate: Internet Service Providers are already getting paid to provide consumers with the last mile of service. Most broadband consumers will pay their ISP hundreds to thousands of dollars each year to ensure internet connectivity at a certain throughput (measured in megabits per second). This bandwidth is only used when the consumer requests something from the Internet. In other words, Netflix isn’t blasting Comcast’s network with random, heavy, and unused traffic (as Comcast would like you believe)...Netflix is only sending data that an ISP’s customer has requested—over network resources that the ISP’s customer has already paid for.
Allowing ISPs to prioritize traffic based on financial incentives from edge providers amounts to double-dipping; these new, private taxes will ultimately be born by the consumer.
A robust, competitive market would prevent these types of shenanigans, but decades of mergers and acquisitions have left us with a handful of dominant providers who rarely compete in the same geographic region. Most consumers don’t have a choice of which ISP to use, meaning that we’re left with an imperfect government referee to try and protect consumers. Section 706 has proven to be unenforceable. Reclassification under Title II removes this ambiguity.
Beware of Kristal’s remarks. She is paid by the phone and/or cable companies for being a mouthpiece of their policies. And as such, her opinions are their opinions!
To be clear, the phone and cable companies, as correctly stated in this article, have a very different goal. They want to extract as much revenue from their customers (aka hostages) as their monopoly positions allow. This gives them all the incentive they need! If the FCC does not preserve a neutral Internet, you can expect your ISP to begin REGULATING your internet experience.