back to article Net neutrality: Someone WILL sue. So will the FCC's rules hold up?

More details about what is contained within new net neutrality rules outlined yesterday by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler have made it a virtual certainty that they will be approved by the watchdog later this month. But that will not be the end of the matter. US cable companies are fiercely opposed to being regulated, so there will …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    *sigh* isn't just enough to make you lose your faith in humanity. Perhaps if cable companies hadn't convinced lots of local government in the US to legislate against allowing local government to provide competition or simply plug the holes in their coverage stuff like this wouldn't be necessary.

  2. Dr Stephen Jones

    "You could make the case that in 2015 and with the internet having changed the telecoms environment so dramatically in the past 20 years that such a legislative effort would be timely. "

    And you could equally make the case that by explicitly treating the internet differently in 1996 - regulating it as an information service, and not as a 1930s Bell telephone company - Congress changed the telecoms environment for the better.

    The problem is lack of competition for lazy incumbents like Comcast. It isn't established that 1930s price regulation is the answer. Unless you're an activist who thinks all regulation is good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It isn't established that 1930s price regulation is the answer."

      Did you read the article?? The FCC proposals specifically state that price regulation won't be enforced.

      1. Oninoshiko

        "Did you read the article?? The FCC proposals specifically state that price regulation won't be enforced."

        And if I where challenging it, that would be one of my challenges. Particularly that the USF contributions MUST be paid by all Title 2 entities, and the FCC doesn't have the authority to apply it selectively.

      2. ThePractice

        Incorrect, I'm afraid. The regulations would fully enable the FCC to regulate pricing and levy taxes. The FCC is merely promising they won't do this. Unless they change their minds, but surely there is no precedent for government doing that.

  3. dogged

    US cable companies are fiercely opposed to being regulated

    Yes, and criminals are fiercely opposed to being arrested. Your point?

  4. Uncle Ron

    "US cable companies are fiercely opposed to being regulated."

    I don't get how companies that have been given competition-free monopolies, franchises and exclusivity in local territories, covering vast numbers of consumers, with very little-to-no price control, could possibly get any sympathy from anyone for being opposed to being regulated. In return for this juicy, profitable, government concession, and immunity from anti-trust monopoly laws, they should have to raise their skirts and be inspected and be regulated every 60 seconds. They get a free, open territory, and they have the nerve to be fiercely opposed to regulation to assure they don't abuse this gift from the people. I say, "Off With Their Heads!"

    1. Tom 13

      Re: I don't get how companies ... could possibly get any sympathy from anyone

      That's because you can't think.

      No one is in favor of them having a monopoly. And we'd entirely support an action by the appropriate agency to ensure competition in all areas. But that's NOT what the FCC is proposing because the FCC doesn't actually have that authority. That power lies with the FTC. Instead what it is proposing to merge the Verizon/Comcast/Time Warner oligopoly into a government controlled monopoly just like Ma Bell was before its court ordered break up.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge


        @Tom 13: "it is proposing to merge the Verizon/Comcast/Time Warner oligopoly into a government controlled monopoly"

        That's a most amazing interpretation and has no basis in reality that I can see. Who do you shill for? (It's to the US's shame that the Ma Bell government-endorsed monopoly was tolerated for so long, but this is *nothing* like that at all.) If large carriers fix prices, that is indeed one for the FTC not the FCC, but there's nothing here that favors price-fixing. Go Wheeler!

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Fiercely Opposed

    Proof (if it was ever needed) that greed has no limits.

  6. Pez92

    Information Provider?

    In the newspaper analogy, AT&T is not the newspaper company. They are the the company that makes news stand quarter boxes. They do not and should not have any say in what "information content" you access. Ironically the only thing that makes them the newspaper company in their own analogy is if they go against net neutrality and control the content you can access.

    1. jamesb2147

      Re: Information Provider?

      This analogy fails very quickly.

      Causing buffering on Netflix, for example, would be analogous to being able to pick up the paper from an ATT quarter-eating news-stand and finding that only the headlines are present, or only the first page, and that the rest is blank.

      IDK that analogies to existing media are appropriate when adjudicating whether ATT is an "information service provider."

      If you're really going to run with it, though... ATT owns the quarter-eater, but also the printing press, and blames the person trying to publish material (hereby the content producer) for not paying enough to print the whole run in a timely manner, resulting in some blank spaces. The content producer says he hired Bob to handle the whole process, and Bob blames ATT because he even offered to pay for the upgraded ATT equipment needed to produce the run in a timely manner but ATT refused and insisted on *service* terms instead of a one-off deal whereby Bob purchased equipment for ATT as part of Bob's capex. All parties thereby attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility.

      Even this loses some significant amount of the nuance of the situation.

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Money Talks....

    Given the dysfunctional Congress and then the lobbying going on with the cable's bottomless pit of cash available... Congress may very well be functional on this one issue and not necessarily in a good way. We'll have to see how many CongressCritters go with the public interest and how many go with the cash.

  8. Cipher

    My biggest fear...

    ... is that Government sez "You have to do this and provide that" and the ISPs reply "Fine. But we gotta charge more..."

    I really feel the consumer is gonna be the one taking a hit on this. "Equality" advocates will make middle class paying customers subsidize the poor because the Comcasts of the world are not going to foot the bill...

    Better plan is to say to TWC/Comcast "Advertise and charge for a certain speed, deliver or else." The "else" being prohibitive fines or loss of rights to provide...

  9. Brew

    FCC is Not The Answer

    Letting the FCC regulate the internet is a huge mistake. It seems to me that not long ago most on the internet whould have been aghast at the prospect, now we are all supposed to be applauding it. Some targeted laws against certain practices are all that is needed.

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: FCC is Not The Answer

      Actually, most of the internet has been for this regulation ever since ISPs started engaging in bad practices. It does seem that this started around the time when ISPs started collapsing into only a handful of companies, many which have a monopoly in their coverage area. ISPs must be forced to give the level of service they are offering (do nt lie to your customers) and they must only charge for transfer rates asked by the client. No double-dipping allowed. And that requires regulation!

      1. ThePractice

        Re: FCC is Not The Answer

        We have a well established legal system already in place regarding contract law. The proposed Title II regs are unnecessary.

  10. Aedile

    Pyrrhic victory

    With Title II on the way it seems that Verizon has provided a perfect example. I would have liked to see the FTC order unbundling which would go much further in fixing the underlying problem, but considering even a re-classification seemed impossible only a few months ago I'll take what I can get.

  11. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Inforamtion service versus service provider.

    I think this is pretty simple.

    If you are an information service then you have some say over the information provided, and you don't get to hide under "safe harbour" provisions. The MAFIAA get to target you directly for every copyright infringement that passes your network, and angry parents get to go after you for every child bullied, every bit of kiddy porn downloaded.

    If you are a service provider, you merely provide a service and content is provided by others, meaning you can hide behind "safe harbour" provisions. You simply pass the bits, so the copyright lobby and the angry parents can go after you.

    So which is it, telcos? Are you service providers, and information services? Are you dumb pipes, or do you curate the bits? Make your choice wisely.

  12. Tom 13

    This is the most shoddy analysis of a legal issue the Reg could have posted.

    The reason why the FCC rules are purely unconstitutional is plainly written in the third paragraph of your article, yet you glide over it as if it were not there:

    ...FCC did push ahead with Title II classification (which seemed likely), it would probably forebear all but six of its 76 sections.

    When you impose Title II, but forebear 92% of the law, you aren't enacting a rule you, are changing the law. ONLY CONGRESS HAS THAT AUTHORITY. Period. Full Stop. Do not pass Go. Do NOT collect $200.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: This is the most shoddy analysis of a legal issue the Reg could have posted.

      @Tom 13:

      OK, now we *know* you're a shill. ianal but there are gazillions of cases where regulations qualify the law.

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