back to article Democrats pitch long-shot bid for FCC ban on prioritization deals

A group of Democrats in Congress have drafted a bill to bar the FCC from allowing "fast lane" prioritization deals. Dubbed the "Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act," the legislation would call on the FCC to ban carriers from making the paid prioritization deals in which content providers pay service providers to receive …

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  1. Sean Kennedy

    I doubt it's a serious attempt

    To me, this smells more like a political "look at what my opponent wouldn't support but I did!"

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I doubt it's a serious attempt

      Looking at the names involved, I suspect that you are correct. The question is though, what do the PTB get out of this if it passes? Or the other side if it doesn't pass. There's no such thing as an altruistic politician.

  2. Mephistro Silver badge
    Flame

    And why, oh why...

    ... hasn't the Internet been already classified as a common carrier? How else could it be classified???

    Perhaps the government fears -and has been fearing for a long time- that classifying the Internet as a common carrier would help give its users the same kind of legal protection that users of phone landlines have? No legal eavesdropping without a court order?

    Does any fellow commentard know of a better explanation?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And why, oh why...

      > hasn't the Internet been already classified as a common carrier? How else could it be classified???

      Believe it or not, no, it hasn't.

      Generous lobbying by the broadband operators and cell phone network operators in the US has convinced the FCC to classify broadband as an "Information Service".

      What makes it completely ridiculous is that your wired broadband connection may be carried over a Common Carrier network - such as a POTS line, and your wireless - cell phone or WiFi - connection is really nothing more than a radio + modem.

      But in the FCC's great thinking none of this matters. Cell phones are still considered some kind of super cutting-edge technology, and so is broadband.

      I don't know if the FCC even realizes how much collateral damage they are causing by resisting the Common Carrier classification. Wired broadband and cell phone operators are happy sitting on what is now 30-year old technology, and have zero incentive to invest in infrastructure R&D for something new and better. Consequence: monotonically increasing consumer prices for the same exact level of suck.

      1. dan1980

        Re: And why, oh why...

        @AC

        When the original decision was made to classify cable providers as 'Information Services' rather than 'Common Carriers', the landscape was significantly different than it is now.

        The FCC's stated goal for their decision was to make broadband Internet access widely available with competitive services and prices. It was an admirable goal though it's impossible to know if they ever really meant it. Regardless, what the said they were aiming for has utterly failed to occur so it is now time to re-evaluate.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: And why, oh why...

          Yep absolutely ludicrous that my current ISP who provides only my internet (DSL) is considered common carrier because they also originally offered land lines but my current cell phone provider is not and neither was my old cable company ISP who we actually paid for a land line through.

      2. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: And why, oh why...

        So, excuse the ignorance, but what does 'Common Carrier' status imply?

        1. Tom 13

          Re: but what does 'Common Carrier' status imply?

          http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/201

          Near as I can tell, it says the FCC will set ISP rates instead of the ISPs.

          So the question is, who do you want setting your ISP rates? A politician who doesn't know jack about what he's regulating, or the tech company selling the service?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: but what does 'Common Carrier' status imply?

            > Near as I can tell, it says the FCC will set ISP rates instead of the ISPs.

            Right-wing Bullshit Propaganda. Again.

            Explicitly stated in the statute:

            <QUOTE>

            [ ... ] different charges may be made for the different classes of communications [ ... ]

            </QUOTE>

            The FCC will not be setting your ISP rates any more than the FCC sets your local and long-distance telephone rates now, or how much you pay for satellite radio. Rates are up to the operators and market competition.

            The FCC does not coerce, and has never forced or coerced anyone into buying telephone services they did not want. For example, for POTS, local calling is separate from long-distance. No-one is forced to buy long-distance telephone service, or any other additional POTS services: Caller ID, three-way-calling, call-waiting, etc.

            What Common Carrier for an ISP network operator means is:

            - the bandwidth THAT YOU HAVE PAID FOR is the bandwidth that you actually get. I.e. no throttling of bandwidth. As it stands right now, when you pay for 30Mb/sec down and 5 Mb/sec up, and you only get half that speed at best, what is your recourse? You certainly don't get half your money back, and the Service Level Agreement is written in such a way that the operator is under no contractual obligation of any kind to deliver on their promises.

            - no arbitrary blocking of web sites or domains. Just like your POTS provider cannot prevent you from calling any number long-distance or locally, simply because they don't like that number

            - clear Service Level Agreement terms regarding availability and expected uptime

            - no price-gouging. Expectation that all charges will be "just and reasonable".

            - itemized bill. Meaning you will actually get to see how much data you have used every month, and what your ISP charges for the service.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: but what does 'Common Carrier' status imply?

              That's a very good description there.

              I'd only add that as an example, if phone service didn't have common carrier status, your phone company would not have to provide 5 9s service like they do now (for landlines, not cell/VOIP which aren't common carrier) and have I think some minimal percentage of time when calls can't be completed because "all circuits are busy".

              Imagine if back in the day your phone company had been allowed to make deals with Sears to insure your calls to them get through without a busy signal, and do "maintenance" on the circuits to Montgomery Ward's call center so you see busy signals there more often? Or if they limited how many local calls you could make in a month, by giving you a fast busy tone on some?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    chokefast is the only deal in town

    And is choking my internet fast.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    common carrier....

    the problem is the overly inclusive nature of the common carrier classification.

    it effectively means you have to over build in order to provide resources to sell to your competitors. which is easy to do with DSL services, since they were originally designed to terminate at a central office, with dedicated facilities to each customer.

    the cable systems are not quite so organized.... in fact, the big plus for cable is that it doesn't need a dedicated facility between each home, and the central office. that's not to say you couldn't come up with a way for cable to unbundle, but the tech you would need to do so would run up against all the net neutrality crap people are screaming for...

    if provider bobs ISP wants to resell cable connections, but wants a budget , $20 a month service, based on the idea he could buy something cheap from cable if it's less speed, with the proposed net neutrality stuff, that would be effectively against the law.

    so let's keep trying to kill the network by applying concepts that are not relevant to it, by all means.

    or, we could simply look at the operating best practices, as promoted by the groups who currently work together to make such things, and are made up of people who actually understand how this stuff works, and just do that... like we have been since the beginning.

    I really despise law makers trying to fix a problem that exists in someone's brain, but not in reality.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: fix a problem that exists in someone's brain

      Oh, there are a real problems.

      1) Too many large companies with too much money have been able to buy monopoly service areas in too many parts of the US.

      2) All the large carriers are now getting into the content delivery business as well as the service business. This opens a potential pathway for it to be economically feasible to gouge your competitors on the service end.

      But reclassifying broadband service as common carrier doesn't nothing to fix the first issue. While it can be argued that it would help with the second, as you have pointed out there are significant costs associated with that, most notably that there will be a decrease in technological innovation as well as a rush to the bottom for service delivery. It seems to be the better solution to the second problem is that your content delivery has to pay the mean cost of your commercial service charges.

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