back to article FCC MUST protect net neutrality to preserve AMERICA, say Google et al

The biggest names on the web – from Google and Level 3 to Microsoft and Facebook – have urged the US Federal Communications Commission to safeguard net neutrality. In a signed letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, more than 100 companies urged …

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  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Uh-oh...

    Looks like the serious money folks have leapt into the fray. Since corporate profits are at stake, they've come out on the side of net neutrality. I wonder what side they would have come out on if the profit would result by killing neutrality? I won't wonder too hard though since it's probably a good thing that they come out for it.

    1. VernonDozier
      FAIL

      Re: Uh-oh...

      I think your right there.

      However, you'll find that all these companies are in the Bay Area, and none of them have infrastructure investment.

      Actually, I don't think any company in the Bay Area owns a network. Cisco is there... They'd happily sell new products to telecos but... I just don't think any of those companies physically own a network.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Uh-oh...

        One of the companies listed is Google. Last I checked, they DO have a ton of infrastructure investment. So much that they're trying to become last mile ISPs themselves.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Uh-oh...

          And if Google becomes a major ISP someday, they'll probably have some different ideas about net neutrality than they do today.

    2. SoaG

      Re: Uh-oh...

      You mean like the phone and cable companies that want to increase profits by charging both the sender and receiver for transferring each packet?

      Yes, of course companies are going to argue for whichever rules allow them to maximize their profits. Fortunately in this case, at least some of them are on the same side as consumers and arguing against the big telecoms.

  2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    'Net Neutrality - Step 1: Define "net"

    The Internet is mostly private property. The 'Last Mile' 5 km of brand new fibre from my friendly neighborhood telco/ISP certainly *is* private property; they're spending many tens of millions of dollars to install it. ...Bless their cold calculating hearts. The telco certainly has strung plenty of their own fibre all across This Great Land ™.

    If Alexander G. Telco wishes to rent space in their CO for a Netflix server, who has the right to tell either of them that they can't? If they want to click on QoS on their routers, so be it. If AGTelco offers the Triple Play, including interleaving POTS and 'Cable' TV IP packets on the same fibre, *their* bought and paid-for fibre, who has the right to tell them they can't? All of these are effectively indistinguishable.

    So, what precisely do y'all mean by "net" anyway? The 'Last Mile' is certainly private property. So good luck. Whatever definition you present will be sliced in two by whatever unexpected tech arrives next year.

    Disclaimer - I'm in favour of 'Net Neutrality, but I can't see how the terms can be defined to get what you *really* want.

    PS: the real solution is FTTH. Bandwidth surplus. Problem solved. Nobody fights over water if there's a surplus of water.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Net Neutrality - Step 1: Define "net"

      That "last mile" is basically like in the Gilded Age where a conglomerate would own BOTH the source of raw materials (the mine, the forest, etc.) AND the means to transport it (the railroad company). Thing is, transport has a natural tendency to monopoly because infrastructure raises NIMBY issues (even with telecommunucations; tearing up the roads one time is one thing, but again and again with each new rival in town?). What ends up is a lot of potential for abuse. Especially with a company like Comcast which owns BOTH transport AND content, giving them a natural tendency to favor their own content over a third party like Netflix.

      At some point, the federal government will need to intervene in the name of interstate commerce and say that if one wishes to run a transport (a common carrier), they need to let everyone have a go. It happened with the railroads. When World War I broke out, the feds had to step in because none of the railroad companies were cooperating; they forced a common standard and established interchange rules. The railroads decided to keep them after the war and by World War II no intervention was necessary; they had decided to keep playing that way, and even today while some consolidation has taken place no one railroad dominates the country; it's mostly a matter of region.

      Look at it in terms of the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Comcast owns NBC Universal, so if the merger concludes, a large area of the country is going to be inherently biased in terms of content. That's why some are proposing that Comcast be forced to sell off NBC Universal if they wish to merge with TWC (remove the bias and they become just a transport provider again).

      PS. FTTH isn't the problem (Verizon FIOS and AT&T uVerse do this already, and Google's working in a similar vein). The REAL real problem lies in the backhaul where no one's interested in investing more due to a captive market. I hear in Canada it took government intervention to break the deadlock but such a move would be perceived as socialist in the US.

      1. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: 'Net Neutrality - Step 1: Define "net"

        Your first paragraph nailed the issue squarely on the head.

        Transport (or as I prefer to call it - Internet ACCESS) should be separated from content crap delivery.

        Transport should be regulated as a common carrier, content crap delivery doesn't need such regulation.

        End of story.

    2. auburnman

      Re: 'Net Neutrality - Step 1: Define "net"

      There will never ever be a surplus for any length of time. Give everyone FTTH and it will become 'the acceptable standard' within a month and 'pretty slow' within three as everyone gets used to watching Bluray quality films over Netflix while also doing HD Skype and someone in the same household plays the latest PS4 game over OnLive.

    3. borg95

      Re: 'Net Neutrality - Step 1: Define "net"

      You're very right bandwidth surplus is essential. But I see two major issues to tackle. 1 is IPv4 really has run now. all publicly available network blocks are officially sold as of a month or so ago. therefore there is an impending concern that sub-blocks will be sold, which will add exponential complexity to the DNS network. the consequences - a current average 15-16hops will increase to 50-60hops. currently most software is written to only handle 32hops as default! So we need IPv6 to be implemented broadly as of yesterday.

      Then on top (problem 2) despite the surplus supply, corps will always want to up 'shareholder value' and therefore up profits. So, i don't think they really give a crap about whether there is plenty of bandwidth or not. they just want $$$

    4. Ancalimon

      Re: 'Net Neutrality - Step 1: Define "net"

      Telecoms and their infrastructure are National Security, Economic and Free Speech priorities here in the U.S.. While everyone does support the Free Market there are some things such as Electricity distribution and Air Traffic Control that private companies must adhere to the National concern. If they do not like it, they can sell out and some other greedy corporation will certainly take over and rake in their billions a year, but that new company certainly will follow our National priorities or they too can get out of the business.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Net Neutrality - Step 1: Define "net"

      You can attempt to read all the mail passing through "your" network. It's your network to do with as you like. However, a paying customer may not be happy with you doing what you like with their property or information (note the two can be differentiated as some things are not physical).

      So a customer may look to argue either legally or economically for their benefit of you not reading their date travelling over your network. This would mean you do not block or charge differently depending on the type or content of the packet. You may however charge if costs to you or additional services you provide are taken up.

      Remember, some of the customers are also some of the companies supplying the network. Just like roads and other infrastructures, many companies rely on each other to keep things flowing.

  3. PAT MCCLUNG

    Re: Uh-eh

    Some bay area company called google has a network. Couple of them, Kansas City, Provo, and lots more coming.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple

    I'm amazed that Apple are not on this list. ;)

  5. GregoryAtl

    When companies with this much money are against something, I am for it. Our interests are seldom the same. These companies want to use huge chunks of bandwidth hawking their wares but they want everyone else to pay for the network upgrades.

    1. KjetilS

      The network upgrades are already paid for by the consumers, but the big ISPs want the content producers to pay for the same traffic yet again (ignoring the fact that the content producers must also pay to get their traffic onto the web in the first place).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CAR ANALOGY

    Because we all need at least one.

    Currently the government maintains the roads. We buy a car, pay for tax and fuel and can drive on those roads.

    This is net neutrality.

    What the FCC has done is gone "Okay that's all well and good, but now companies can cap your speed at 20mph unless the car manufacturer pays up" so now your crappy honda can legally be limited to 20mph while ferrari are paying this new 'speed tax' to let you go at the max speed possible.

    What does this do? Well honda et al aren't going to lose money so you can drive at full speed, but they aren't going to lose customers by leaving you driving at 20mph. So they'll pay the fee, but at the same time they'll pass this cost onto the consumer. That new car that used to cost £12,995 on the road is not £15,995 on the road.

    Who looks like the bad guy from this? Honda of course, because they're an enemy with a face, meanwhile the government (who own the roads) happily keep charging everyone they can so they can get a bigger profit. Explaining why netflix / google / others are against the currently proposed allownace for these charges, because by the end of it they'll look like the bad guys.

    Thus ends the analogy.

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: CAR ANALOGY

      actually its more like having a Toll road next to a normal road that has waaaay to much traffic.

      Instead of expanding the existing infrastructure that people are already paying for, they build a new road and charge for use.

      M6 come to mind at all ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CAR ANALOGY

        Wrong analogy - they're not talking about building a new road but charging differently for the existing one. It's more like the London congestion charge except all the users would pay different prices depending on what the company could gouge out of them.

        1. Graham Marsden

          Re: CAR ANALOGY

          As I've commented before, it's really like the government selling off a lane on the motorway to eg Ford to make it a "Ford Only" lane and which has a speed limit of 100mph whereas everyone else has to stick to 70mph (if they can achieve that speed on an increasingly overcrowded road as more traffic is forced into less space).

        2. auburnman

          Re: CAR ANALOGY

          Didn't we in fact have a 'priority lane' during the Olympics that, surprise surprise, you could pay a charge to use?

        3. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: CAR ANALOGY

          It's worse than "charging a toll". They already do, at both ends of the road, to both consumers and companies, suppliers and buyers... They are saying they will now charge extra depending on the colour or brand of the car! Something that has no cost implications to them, or logical reasons, beyond price gouging.

          Charging depending on packet content, is very arbitrary. Amount of usage, routing and many other things have very physical effects. The ordering of the ones and zeros at each end does not. :/

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: CAR ANALOGY @Lionel Baden (off topic)

        Ah yes, the M6 toll road - one of the most underused pieces of tarmac in the country. There are unsurfaced roads in bits of Scotland with more use per mile. When I lived down in the Midlands I occasionally used the toll road just to have a few miles without seeing another car, compared to the still overcrowded M6 untoll, which people seem to prefer, despite the regular roadworks and accidents that can easily add half-an-hour to a journey.

        I used to think it was just Brits who are too tight to use a decent bit of road for some money, but I was recently in Portugal for a holiday. The choice to get from Faro to the west is the toll A22, or the free N125 (once listed as one of Europe's most dangerous roads). I used the autoroute several times, and was really worried about the state of Portuguese tourism - hardly saw a car (the plus side being no lorries). However, I took a journey on the N125 from Portimão to Lagos ... and discovered all that missing traffic - tourists, artics and locals all - stuffed onto a hugely inferior road, and still dangerous. Again, people too tight to pay for a safer, more comfortable journey.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon, Microsoft, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook and Twitter. Yahoo, Redit, Ebay and

    other usual suspects. Fighting the world of evil empires, to bring fairness, justice, democracy, and prosperity to all (well, all of them). We are lucky they have a finger in the pie, otherwise they'd be be fucking us over with the other lot, claiming the same virtues.

  8. Robin Bradshaw

    Summed up nicely by CGP Grey

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtt2aSV8wdw

    or ViHart

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAxMyTwmu_M

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems pretty clear to me

    The big names have realised that if this goes through then they might not be the ones who get to rule the internet with an iron fist after all, so they want freedom for all because they'd rather not be ruled with an iron fist please.

  10. Moosh

    The entire concept is staggeringly retarded

    And I'm shocked that its actually gotten so far as to almost be allowed.

    I'm legitimately confused as to how anyone could possibly approve of such a thing.

    Also, in this instance I'd urge people to be more capitalist and opportnist; the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  11. mtcoder

    Problem is monopoly bound setups

    reason we need net neutrality isn't because we need to slap the telecoms, it's cause they all run a monopoly and because of that there needs to be oversight. In probably close to 85% of the US there is only 1 provider for high speed internet. In most cases only 2 providers period, meaning 1 cable and 1 dsl. Only cause DSL is running across unused copper phone that were built out decades ago.

    So that means the consumer has only 1 choice, which means the content provider only has 1 choice to reach that customer. With the telecomm being in between, saying well Netflix you want to reach my customers it's going to cost you extra. Oh and customers that want to watch Netflix we going to charge you extra, but... if you would like you could use our services which run much faster.

    I mean they already get to double dip. They charge the content providers for bandwidth then they charge the consumers for bandwidth speeds / bandwidth. Now they looking to nickel and dime the system to improve their less valuable offerings. Also in normal monopoly situations you can't bundle none related items together in order to get an unfair market value.

    1. Matt_Lohr

      Re: Problem is monopoly bound setups

      The only problem here is that local governments have created monopolies. Destroy those monopolies, and competition will sort all problems in short order. Adding layers of government intervention will only make things worse.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Problem is monopoly bound setups

        The only problem to your problem is there was a reason for those monopolies in the first place. NO ONE wanted to reach them OTHERWISE. For many small towns and rural communities it was a Hobson's choice. Getting all the way out to the boonies like that took some serious money that may not be recoverable, so anyone who made an offer demanded a sweetheart deal or it was no deal at all. Even now you have to wonder if anyone else would bite if rural monopolies DID come to an end. There are plenty of places in the US where the norm (if any) is the old-fashioned POTS modem (DIALUP, IOW).

  12. TheHinac

    It's easy. Net neutrality, internet is a utility.

    It's easy. Net neutrality, internet is a utility. You pay for ether a amount of flow, or amount of total usage. As such is what is supplied to the user. Only filtering broad threats such as DDOS, worms, viruses, or anything that could cause harm to the users of the paid service. Even if total user usage has over subscribed the current capabilities of the ISP network, only then may an ISP throttle all of it's user as a whole to maintain the stability of the network, and not that of individual users.

  13. Black Road Dude

    what about Googles own private internet

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/foremski/google-is-building-a-private-internet-thats-far-better-and-greener-than-the-internet/1266

    What's the point of net neutrality when you can do this? What's neutral about googles private network only for Google data?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: what about Googles own private internet

      As long as it's a closed private intranet, that's their business. Hook it up to the Internet at large, though, and we'll need to talk.

  14. Grampa

    Why do we even consider handing controls of a system developed by American ingenuity and resources.

    I know of no one or nation I would trust. As a small company I worked hard to get to the point where I am regularly profitable, would I hand control to someone I do not trust? Even someone I trust wouldn't exhibit the same decisions I would. This path of logic eludes me.

    Grampa

  15. Ramon Zarat

    The NSA spying on *everyone* all the time was not enough. Big Bother is angry and on a mission to crush everything on its path even remotely associated with freedom of speech.

    This is only the beginning. Part 1 of many more to come. If we let this one slide, this IS the beginning of the end. The genie will be out of the bottle and impossible to put back in, unless something catastrophic happens, such as a civil war.

    History has the propensity to repeat itself. When the elites abuse their power, like when they turn a democracy into the oligarchy the USA has become, they inevitably loose their heads. Ask Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette...

    The 1% should be very careful, there are threading on VERY thin ice. Tons and tons of revolving doors to infiltrate politic, legal bribe called PAC, out of control agencies like NSA working AGAINST its own citizen interests, gigantic bailout for banks and corporations paid by the electorate after said banks and corporations tried to f*ck us all over, militarization of police force and implementation of police state like rules and policies, and now the FCC disgracefully 100% packed with former telecoms lobbyists trying to kill net neutrality... Welcome to modern 'Murica. The land of the "free and justice", whatever what that means now in 2014.

    Many lines have been crossed by the 1% in the last few decades. Far too many for their own good. Despite they have the money, the technology, the military and the police on their side, they simply can't kill all 315 million Americans, they can't silence us all. Those motherf*ckers must be reminded who's the real boss here and the answer is NOT THEM.

    We need to get money out politic and we need to get our institutions like the NSA and FCC back. Bribes and revolving doors in politic must be 100% illegal. Unelected bodies like the FCC must controlled to represent the electorates with balanced representation, not just biased former telecoms lobbyists. The 1% will NEVER give any of this back willfully, we will have to pry it out from their cold dead hands. The clash is inevitable. The clash is coming. Are you ready?

  16. Simonzee1

    South America leads North America on net neutrality. How can this be?

    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2014/05/09/the-fcc-can-learn-some-net-neutrality-lessons-from-latin-america

    At least 10 right minded Senators who have turnes their back on the billionare lobbyists are waking up to what getting rid of "net neutrality" will mean.

    I still don't think they realise the extent of the reverse engineering aspects of the FCC proposals that will hit Google...Facebook...free speech. Of a huge....enormous concern is that it is moving towards political interference, "on steroids," of the internet. We already see the FCC trying to get monitors into newsrooms and the FEC warning about the war that the Obama administration and Democrats want to wage through these agencies on conservative America.

    http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/09/10-senators-blast-fcc-proposed-internet-fast-lane-net-neutrality-rules/?ncid=rss

    This is great news. Thank you Senators.

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