back to article Net neutrality nonsense: Can we, please, just not all lose our minds?

Just because it was inevitable doesn't make it bearable. Having announced just before Thanksgiving that the FCC, America's broadband watchdog, was indeed planning to gut its own rules on net neutrality, it took until Monday for the full whirlwind of madness on the topic to pick up speed. And, friend, has it arrived, …

  1. DCFusor Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Pretty good analysis

    As a left-ponder I've noticed the fall from civility and reasonable discourse here - but not only here, just that when you're close, it's certainly louder.

    I happen to be "for" NN as Wheeler put it forth. It's worked well for most of the people I know.

    But it hasn't mattered to me, as I can't get enough bandwidth in rural VA for it to really matter how much someone charges differentially for their own content that I can't use, or someone else's I can't use. No one's willing to let me download it overnight so I can watch it the next day, at least if I don't cheat and pirate it (which is frankly, too much bother, the stuff is mostly not that good anyway).

    None of this would matter if there wasn't this vertical integration via merger. IMO if you don't like the way it is, that's perhaps worth a look. If content creation and ownership were separate from the pipes that push the content around, there wouldn't be much issue...There'd be no reason for AT&T or Comcast to prefer one content source over another. That's the real source of problems the way I see things.

    The other source of real problems is that...the best bandwidth I can get outside an expensive satellite plan with high latency is 4 mbit down and 1 up. I have NO choice. The big cable companies have shown their evil disregard for all of us by their anti-competitive law buying (one touch make ready and friends that make it illegal for even the people/government to create competition, and collusion to not step on each other's turf).\

    So, at this point, personally it doesn't matter to me if Comcast (who I don't have the option to pay, perhaps I'm lucky) wants to charge more for out of network content, or AT&T, Verizon, Cox cable and so on - none of them are available to me anyway.

    But I still resist the trend that's been going on for the 6+ decades of my life of the best law corporate money can buy, which is what we seem to be seeing here.

    1. AdamWill

      Re: Pretty good analysis

      "None of this would matter if there wasn't this vertical integration via merger. IMO if you don't like the way it is, that's perhaps worth a look. If content creation and ownership were separate from the pipes that push the content around, there wouldn't be much issue...There'd be no reason for AT&T or Comcast to prefer one content source over another. That's the real source of problems the way I see things."

      Welp, good news on that, as Pai is also systematically loosening rules intended to prevent such consolidation of ownership of content and transmission companies!

  2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Posturing

    In many of these 'debates' what happens is various people take a relatively extreme position and toss accusations of perfidious actions against the others. In reality, the ideal policy is probably a 'half-a-loaf' for both sides but neither are willing to actually talk.

    Yes the networks are hurting for viewers and yes people need easy access to any website. The old networks need to find away to get their products were the viewers will be. If this means cutting deals with Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix then cut the deals. Also, recognize the market has changed tremendously in the last 10 years. Also, how many networks do we need that are producing crappy content. I would be more concerned about search engines engaging in censorship than 'net neutrality'. Comcrap owns NBC so high speed internet is valuable to them; throttling could easily backfire. But Google can influence what information one sees by manipulating the search results and this is probably harder to detect.

    1. ST Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Posturing

      > high speed internet is valuable to them; throttling could easily backfire

      There are many areas in the US where there is only one broadband provider. For example, New York City. In Manhattan, it's Spectrum - née Time Warner Cable. The other boroughs have only one broadband provider as well.

      How would throttling traffic or paid prioritization backfire on Spectrum - née Time Warner Cable? As there is no alternative provider, there is no competition. That's a monopoly. What do Spectrum's customers do? What incentive does Spectrum have to listen to its customers' concerns?

      In the age of alternative facts, Spectrum won't even have to admit to throttling or paid prioritization, even if it did implement it. They would call it traffic management and that would be the end of the discussion.

      The whole notion of an unregulated monopoly holding their customers' best interests at heart is simpy laughable.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Posturing

      "In many of these 'debates' what happens is various people take a relatively extreme position and toss accusations of perfidious actions against the others. In reality, the ideal policy is probably a 'half-a-loaf' for both sides but neither are willing to actually talk."

      Part of the problem is that the increasing number of "echo chambers" is causing extreme viewpoints to be reinforced, justifying the perspectives and making them unlikely to waver because now they have "proof" they were right all along. It's reinforced delusion that seeps into fundamental identities, meaning challenging viewpoints are turned into existential threats.

  3. e_is_real_i_isnt

    Winning which argument?

    Every major ISP has been proven again and again to be basically liars at any number of scales. These are the people Pai is handing control of content availability over to. For decades AT&T has taken Federal funds to build out it's network to underserved areas and instead used it to build a more limited, more profitable network in areas already served. To make it work they, like other telcos, let their older networks rot or even sabotage them in order to force people to higher priced accounts.

    I am not in favor of allowing these same people have the option to cut off or cripple whatever they like. And I say that having experienced having ads being injected that create new browser tabs by my current ISP. Who also informed me they lost control of data via equifax based on my home account information.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Winning which argument?

      Dehumanizing the people who run the ISP's doesn't constitute a legitimate argument for NN.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Winning which argument?

        Or being racist about Pai, and posting poop through his letterbox.

        Saying "But Trump" is not an excuse.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Winning which argument?

        "Dehumanizing the people who run the ISP's doesn't constitute a legitimate argument for NN."

        As the saying goes, "Whatever works." And touching nerves ans stoking fears works.

  4. revilo

    Remember what Sherman said

    We only have to think about the forces which drive the world, in particular money. Give a corporation more power and leverage and it will use it. History has shown this. This is why the Sherman Antritrust act passed in 1890. Sherman said: "If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life." In our modern time, electronic communication has become an important part of the "necessaries of life". It is also obvious that words and promises don't count much. A corporation is not a person. It is an ever changing entity. In a couple of years the promises are forgotten. If an opportunity opens to make a few bucks more, for example by slowing down the competition, then they take it. This is why there are laws like antitrust laws. Without those laws, firms would try to band together to raise prizes or merge to be a monopoly. It does not need much imagination what happens if a few telecoms have unregulated control over the delivery of content. It is their instinct and necessary for their ability to survive that they have to take any opportunity to increase profit.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Remember what Sherman said

      But as we've seen, laws in the end are just ink on a page. Big business has found the solution to Sherman: control the government and they play YOUR tune. They're amassing enough power to do just that if not become pseudo-sovereign unto themselves a la Google. Once they're firmly established, complete with killer drones to defend themselves, it's going to be extremely difficult to stop the vicious cycle.

    2. c1ue

      Re: Remember what Sherman said

      Except you are missing the point of the article: this isn't David vs. Goliath, it is Alien vs. Predator.

      Whoever wins, we lose.

      1. AdamWill

        Re: Remember what Sherman said

        The error in that argument is it somehow supposes you can regulate ISPs *or* ad networks, but not both. Which is clearly not at all true.

        It's perfectly reasonable to point out that Google et. al. are hardly *disinterested* backers of NN. And it's perfectly reasonable to point out that there are areas of behaviour by Google, Facebook, Amazon etc. that are highly questionable.

        But the reasonable conclusion is not "...therefore we must not regulate ISPs", it's "therefore we must regulate all problematic cases of anti-competitive behaviour".

        If Pai's position was "look, there's a bigger picture here, it's not OK to regulate ISP behaviour while ignoring how Google, Amazon and Facebook abuse their dominance in their markets, so we're forming a partnership with the FTC and anti-trust regulators to come up with a comprehensive plan for defending the interests of the consumer when dealing with all these Internet giants", *THAT* would be an interesting and supportable position.

    3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Remember what Sherman said

      It's an interesting time and as much as I think the cable companies wish themselves to become the next walled garden of the Compuserve and AOL era, I don't see it working now any better than it did then. Sure, they currently have governmentally granted monopolies handed over by regional governments which is the source of the problem but it seems difficult to fix at the federal level. What can be done at the federal level is to lower the barriers of entry to competition and it just might be worth running that OC768 line into my basement and sell 3.6 GHz wifi service to a few neighbors in the hood. Of course that might mean changing the current spectrum auction rules so Verizon and @&T can't carve it up nicely ahead of time to avoid real competition.

  5. alpacaherder
    FAIL

    This Has Gone Far Enough

    Perhaps I should move back to the South Pacific and set up on UUCP? The derangement we’ve been left with from the Age of Obama, the failed false messiah, is tearing up civil society. I miss the simplicity of listening to the BBC World Service actually rather reliably via shortwave radio. With Brexit perhaps that global radio broadcast could return to the non-neutral network world of the USA?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: This Has Gone Far Enough

      Broadcasting the World Service to the yanks is a 'pearls before swine' effort, they just don't bother listening to anything they disagree with. Instead they seek out whichever broadcaster says the things they agree with, with none of those pesky uncomfortable truths.

  6. Cranky_Yank
    Facepalm

    Glass houses and all that

    The author alluded to a person's poor spelling yet used "rationale" in place of "rational" more than once.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Actually, Google and Facebook win either way

    With net neutrality ISPs can't prioritize their own traffic over Google and Facebook's and the power of Google and Facebook grows. Without net neutrality, if ISPs make companies pay to get their traffic prioritized then Google and Facebook have to give up some of their cash to Verizon and anyone else who wants to play that game (I'll be charitable and take Comcast at their word)

    But that's fine, because Google and Facebook have lots of money, and can afford it. Know who can't afford it? The Google of 1999 or Facebook of 2005, who could never have never grown beyond infancy if Altavista and Myspace were free to pay ISPs a lot of money to insure their traffic was prioritized and Google's and Facebook's was slowed to a crawl. Google and Facebook's money will insure that they are never challenged by any upstarts that are better than them in a world without net neutrality.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Actually, Google and Facebook win either way

      Indeed. It seems that repealing net neutrality rules would benefit all big companies, whether they're telcos or content providers.

    2. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

      Re: Actually, Google and Facebook win either way

      Sorry, that is nonsense. A new Google or Facebook today would have no problem with connectivity, because it's "light" footprint makes their data requirements practically sit in "noise": a random Google results page was around 0.65MB, Facebook frontpage was around 1.4MB...and Netflix is around 0.82MB / sec. Video is not a "human right", and Netflix's desire to avoid paying for peering with Comcast (which they had to eventually pony up for) is hardly worthy of government fiat.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Actually, Google and Facebook win either way

        But Universal programs have an unfair advantage there since they don't have to pony up at all. And since NBC carries an ongoing exclusive contract for the Olympic Games, there's potential for real abuse with the Winter Games coming up.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        @Rupert Fiennes

        You are missing the point. Without net neutrality, Google could pay ISPs like Verizon to slow down or even block a hungry young competitor that Google was concerned might have a better way of doing search. Doesn't matter if its footprint is "light" or not if you can't even connect to it, or it runs like it is connected via a 28.8K modem on the Moon.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Actually, Google and Facebook win either way

      Google and Facebook with a "Xanatos Gambit" approach? No surprise, really.

      The REAL problem, that nobody seems to be mentioning, is that there are a LOT of problems with the Obaka-era-style approach of attempting to regulate the internet. And, some people actually want MORE of that?

      _I_ do NOT! And, I *ESPECIALLY* do not want CONTENT regulation!

      It took DECADES to *FINALLY* get rid of an outdated FCC regulation on radio station licensing, the so-called "Fairness Doctrine", which DID (in a way) 'regulate content' by literally FORCING a radio station to provide what THEY claimed was "equal time". What it DID do is make "big media" possible, and they had a literal MONOPOLY on the news for DECADES. But, ABOLISHING the 'fairness doctrine' literally made Fox News and talk radio possible, where a host like Rush Limbaugh could simply say what he wanted to, without having the "fairness doctrine" stand in his way. And the reality is, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News ARE the "equal time" against the left-biased lame-stream media. And they KNOW it.

      Conclusion: DE-regulation caused "big media" to LOSE THEIR MONOPOLY!

      And if "big cable" really IS trying to stop people from watching TV via Netflix, by throttling or "DoS"ing the traffic, they would be in violation of an anti-trust law aka "unfair business practices". Some of these anti-trust laws have been in place for over 100 years.

      We do NOT need "more gummint" to REGULATE things because they *might* be happening. Consider WHO benefits from "more regulation". It's not the consumer, because WE END UP PAYING FOR IT through higher costs passed on DIRECTLY TO US by the same people that are TARGETED by the regulation. Their costs go up, and then OUR costs go up.

      De-regulating the electric power industry has helped to provide competing solutions. De-regulating telephones is similar. De-regulating works as long as you prevent "unfair business practices". Anything BEYOND "preventing unfair business practices" is WAY TOO MUCH.

      1. Naselus

        Re: Actually, Google and Facebook win either way

        " Consider WHO benefits from "more regulation". It's not the consumer, because WE END UP PAYING FOR IT through higher costs passed on DIRECTLY TO US by the same people that are TARGETED by the regulation. Their costs go up, and then OUR costs go up."

        No, it's the taxpayer who benefits, since he's not required to spend enormous sums bailing out industries that have collapsed from corruption. Think how much money the Taxpayer might not have had to stump up if we'd had some effective regulation in 2008.

        As a result, by arguing against regulation, you're actually arguing that the taxpayer should subsidize the consumer here. I do believe that's known as socialism, Bob. You're getting the hard-working tax payer to underwrite risk so you can get a discount.

  8. streaky Silver badge

    What's really going on..

    Netflix and a few others have managed to do something Russia could never do - bend the entire psyche of the planet to their will with zero blowback. What's relevant here is Netflix don't want to pay for infrastructure to carry all the bandwidth their service uses caused, ultimately, by no peers taking traffic off them because there's no mutual benefit. Never was, never will be. It really is quite impressive how their PR machine has completely deluded millennials into thinking it's about them. It isn't.

    There are solutions to this that won't cost netflix huge sums of money to deliver content, they're already using some of them - as much as I like stranger things and mr robot if these services aren't viable at a price point with the infrastructure we have and without netflix, amazon, google et al (to be fair to amazon they do have mutually beneficial traffic arrangements, google too to a lesser degree, it's mostly netflix causing the problems) et al investing then they're simply not viable.

    1. fairwinds

      Re: What's really going on..

      So, you pay Netflix $10pm for content and the a*holes who provide the rickety, unreliable pipe $50pm and you think it's Netflix's fault? Netflix works with all of the large ISPs to provide local cacheing servers, which *they* pay for and *they* manage, which alleviates backhaul traffic for the ISP.

      Let's look at this another way - without the content providers like Netflix, Google, Facebook, AWS et al, that IP connectivity which is so expensive and so flakey, would be pretty useless. But yeah, make the ISP argument for them; "we could provide so many more connections against the same backhaul, if only those pesky users didn't actually use the connections for real stuff..."

      1. c1ue

        Re: What's really going on..

        The point isn't how much is paid to who.

        If Netflix had to pay its fair share of overall internet backbone support costs as a percentage of IP packet traffic, their business model likely would fail. Ditto Youtube.

        Of course, the cable companies aren't pure as the driven snow either, but the point is that Netflix isn't David vs. Comcast as Goliath.

        It is Google/Facebook/Netflix Predator vs. Comcast/AT&T Alien. Whoever wins, we lose.

        1. streaky Silver badge

          Re: What's really going on..

          If Netflix had to pay its fair share of overall internet backbone support costs as a percentage of IP packet traffic, their business model likely would fail. Ditto Youtube.

          Pretty sure this is my point.

          You don't just magic a service into existence and expect everybody else to pick up the tab just so you can be viable, for much the same reason as I don't ask 'reg readers to buy me a new McLaren every year. i.e. the world doesn't work like that.

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: What's really going on..

      > What's relevant here is Netflix don't want to pay for infrastructure to carry all the bandwidth their service uses caused

      Horse feathers. Netflix pay plenty, for their access to the 'net (including edge servers). Netflix's customers also pay handsomely for access to the internet - which includes Netflix bits.

      A Netflix bit doesn't cost the ISP a penny more than one of yours.

  9. jmch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Pizza party :)

    Posting thratening notices outside someone's house for their kids to see is beyond the pale, whatever they are supposed to have done.

    The pizzas, on the other hand, always a good prank!

    1. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: Pizza party :)

      "But Trump", so it's OK.

  10. &rew

    Rational argument

    Rational argument is all well and good - if the right people hear it and are receptive to it.

    I am reminded of a piece I read not that long ago about gun control in America. Sure, there are huge amounts of rational arguments for gun control, but a small and loud minority who are against it are mobilised to block every attempt.

    Passion helps get your message across, and if large enough numbers of people become passionate enough about a topic, the chances are greater they will get their view heard - rational or not.

    So I don't really know what I am saying here, other than perhaps elected lawmakers need to put their adult diapers on and make a rational decision, rather than listen to raving lunatics and smarmy lobbyists. But what chance change?

  11. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    2 questions

    Would someone do me the favour of answering these two questions, if indeed they can be answered?

    1. Who will make money out of the loss of net neutrality? I understand it to mean that ISPs can charge different prices for different services. If you want Netflix, it will cost you more.

    2. What services will suffer as a consequence of the loss of net neutrality? If a more lucrative end of the Internet will cost more, will the ISP throttle the bandwidth so that the connections become slower? That is, if you want faster Internet connections, you have to pay for it?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: 2 questions

      And the answer to your two questions is - We Don't Know.

      I suggest we just let the Republicans get on with it and see what happens. It may be good, it may be bad - the simple fact is that we will not know one way or the other for about five to ten years which is a lifetime in Internet Cat Time.

    2. fairwinds

      Re: 2 questions

      1. ISPs. They already charge you for a pipe. With NN rules, they're not allowed to look into the pipe with a view to throttling back some services in favour of others. It's not that "if you want Netflix it'll cost you more" so much as "Why not try *our* streaming service, which streams at full HD rates, unlike Netflix with their grainy, low-res videos. You can watch 1970's reruns in 'high def'." If a well-funded upstart wants to make their mark in the on-demand market (hello, Jeff Bezos), they can do it by buying up the bandwidth rather than producing better content.

      2. Those services which won't pay bribes^H^H^H uh, tributes^H^H^H^H, uh, uh, priority service tariffs to the ISPs. As for the last part of your question, there is already a tiered pricing scheme for bandwidth. This is about selective filtering within that pipe. Some sites load very quickly, The Register takes ages to load.

      1. c1ue

        Re: 2 questions

        Sadly, the "pipe" concept is false.

        The electricity and water companies deliver "pipes" of electricity and water to consumers, yet nobody thinks they should be all you can eat.

        ISPs and cable companies do actually have to invest to maintain and improve pipelines - the reality is that the massive increase in video traffic imposes a real cost to them.

        The real argument behind net neutrality is that we all hate the ISPs and cable companies, so we want them to suffer by having them subsidize the Googles, Facebooks and Netflix of the world. I actually have no problem with this argument.

        But really, why are the gigantic internet companies any better?

        The real problem is that the ISPs and cable companies - at least the internet portion, should be fully regulated industries like water and power under the FERC.

        If Ajit Pai were to regulate the ISPs and (internet) cable companies as public utilities, then all would be good.

        Of course, under an FERC type regulation, all you can eat internet goes away and so does net neutrality.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: 2 questions

        "throttling back some services in favour of others"

        I doubt that actually happens, "throttling back".

        FYI traffic prioritization would happen at the routers, anyway. PAID traffic prioritization would help pay for BETTER routers (and faster wires between them). Is it such a BAD thing? In other words, it's another example of a rising tide "lifting all boats". THAT as opposed to the "create a FREAKING DAM and then TAX people to PAY for it" approach.

        keep in mind that if you reach into the back pocket of some cable company executive and plan on taking that money and doing "something else" with it, that cable company exec will pass the cost along to THE CONSUMER. EVERY TIME. So 'class envy' will never work. Just let them make money by PROVIDING SERVICES that people WANT [and the quality to go with it]. Just keep them from engaging in 'unfair business practices' (like forcing Netflix to pay more because otherwise they'd "throttle Netflix", for example).

        Then we'll all be better off with LESS REGULATION.

        "net neutrality" is such a MISNOMER anyway, like the way "Fairness Doctrine" was. GUMMINT chooses these names the way "the left" tosses around EMOTION BOMBS when they want something.

        And if regulations go UP, "who benefits" ?

        POLITICIANS AND GUMMINT BUREAUCRATS. And people who have THEM "in their back pocket".

    3. Munchausen's proxy
      Big Brother

      Re: 2 questions

      "2. What services will suffer as a consequence of the loss of net neutrality? If a more lucrative end of the Internet will cost more, will the ISP throttle the bandwidth so that the connections become slower? That is, if you want faster Internet connections, you have to pay for it?"

      In principle, ANY internet endpoint without the money to pay for its own distribution is at risk.

      In principle, in fact, some non-favored-by-ISP endpoints are at risk of having no distribution at any price.

      That means ANY internet forum run by amateurs for amateurs to discuss their interests.

      ANY website collecting, for instance, freely available software or documentation.

      ANY local organization who want a web presence for their members.

      ANY mailing list whose traffic an ISP doesn't like for some reason.

      Making the argument into Comcast vs Google is beggaring the question by assuming the internet is NOTHING BUT a top-down commercial entertainment distribution system.

      With net neutrality, amateurs have a presence. Without net neutrality, it's money all the way down.

  12. PapaD

    re: 2 questions

    Well, from what I can see

    1. Clearly the ISPs, as they will be able to increase the cost of purchasing online services that they don't provide (for instance, Netflix vs the ISP's own streaming video service) - not only by increasing the cost to the consumer to get access to Netflix, but also by charging Netflix more to send data across their services. This second cost will then end up being passed on to consumers by Netflix.

    2. Anything new will likely by stymied by having to pay the fees needed to get decent access to the ISP's bandwidth. Services may not suffer, but rather costs will go up, and all of that additional cost will end up in the hands of the ISPs.

  13. russsh

    The solution is simple and most countries already do this, with therefore little need for net neutrality legislation.

    Make sure the last mile (and maybe the "outer backhaul") is available in the wholesale market - either from a government-controlled entity or by imposing rules on private incumbents. And, ensure this wholesale traffic is not prioritised except as nominated by the retailer using it (eg. classes of service).

    Then, let the retail service providers compete with different offerings of free, subsidised or fully paid traffic. If a customer just wants unlimited cat videos - there's a plan for that. If they want a completely neutral service - somebody will offer that. If they want low latency and jitter for video along with bursty web browsing traffic - that can be done too. If they want a free walled garden with advertising - so be it. The pricing will reflect the costs.

    1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

      Exactly

      I was going to write your post, but you've beaten me to it :-)

      IPStream and LLU for baby Bells and cable!

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Problem is that it's not the government that builds the last mile (not that many Americans trust the government to get it right), plus there's the major issue of rural coverage (particularly bad in the US given its geography). Plus the major ISPs have enough clout to influence the government itself, just like Big Oil (think "better 10% of something than 100% of nothing").

  14. Bryan Hall

    Not a broadcasting issue

    The FCC should have no say over this, period. The FCC was created to regulate a fair use of public airwaves - that's it. What happens on fiber and coax should not even be in their wheelhouse as it has nothing to do with that.

    In short, KISS. The less government is involved with something, the more innovation and lower the cost it is due to choice. The more they are involved the beyond what is absolutely necessary, just costs us all money.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Not a broadcasting issue

      But the thing is, more public information is being transmitted over PRIVATE media (local channels, for example), thus the FCC has to step in with things like local carry obligations; otherwise, we'll just have the DSS "regular antenna" mess again. KISS sounds fine until you remember the GIlded Age.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not a broadcasting issue

      "The less government is involved with something, the more innovation and lower the cost it is due to choice. The more they are involved the beyond what is absolutely necessary, just costs us all money."

      RIGHT! ON!!!

      Now, here's something I just thought of: was this whole "net neutrality" thing thought up because ISPs were allegedly THROTTLING TORRENT TRAFFIC? So the "copyrighted media ripoff" crowd might have ACTUALLY BEEN BEHIND IT? (just pointing it out)

    3. strum Silver badge

      Re: Not a broadcasting issue

      >The less government is involved with something, the more innovation and lower the cost it is due to choice.

      The author asked for rational arguments. This is just dogma.

      Without government, there would be no internet (and the comms corporations did their best to kill that at birth).

      Without government, power reverts to the powerful. In this case, to the richest, most ruthless corporations.

      Government is the only chance a poor slob on the street has for anything approaching a fair deal.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Not a broadcasting issue

        Until the powerful usurp the government, which is what's happening now. Then we're basically screwed because there's no escape anymore.

  15. Palpy
    Paris Hilton

    I know everyone in USA loves cable TV tiers --

    -- where you can get 96 channels: 45 shopping, 20 weather, 20 all-table-tennis-all-the-time, and 5 showing 1960s re-runs. If you want sports, that's another tier and more money. If you want news too, that's another tier and more money yet. Want movies too? Oooo, that's cost ya more. And so forth.

    So I'm a bit puzzled by Internet users who seem complacent about giving ISPs the power to set up similar tiered service schemes -- by using selective throttling.

    Caveat lector: I don't actually have cable, and I don't watch television; nor do I watch much streaming content over the Intarwebs. So I probably have this all wrong -- hence Paris.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: I know everyone in USA loves cable TV tiers --

      "by using selective throttling."

      NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!!!!

      *PROVE* that "they" ARE doing this (selective throttling), HAVE done this in the past, and WILL do it in the future, before you invoke CONSUMER-EXPENSIVE REGULATIONS to STOP something that is NOT happening!!!

      PROVE IT FIRST! Because _nobody_ wants THAT, naturally, because "throttling" just SOUNDS bad.

      and are we sure it wasn't the TORRENT [ab]users that created this kind of FUD in the first place?

  16. Jonathan Schwatrz

    Ha!

    "....Comcast..... we support net neutrality and we won't block, slow or throttle your internet, we promise...." Seriously, having suffered Comcast's appallingly patchy "high-speed" internet service, I'm curious as to how they could actually make it slower!?! Not unless they intend to make non-premium users suffer by making them call the infamous Comcast customer (dis)service lines.

    As to the idea that the new incumbent of the Whitehouse is going to favour the telecoms, you must have missed Trump's sticking his oar in over AT&T's purchase of Time (because the deal includes CNN, aka The Clinton News Network), nor his bile for MSNBC (owned by the very Liberal-minded Comcast). Indeed, Trump recently went to bat for Google and Facebook in the EU, which suggests the opposite.

  17. Jonathan Schwatrz

    Fools!

    None of this would be a problem if the fools had bought SUN servers, because the computer is the network, and our servers are the best computers, and therefore the best network with bandwidth for all!

    Yours frustratedly,

    God (aka JI Schwartz).

  18. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    FAIL

    "Let's also stop pretending that life under Big Cable is going to be a dystopian nightmare – that we'll only get to see Fox Internet or AT&T Internet. It will almost certainly be a professional and perfectly pleasant environment – similar to the world of cable that everyone grew up with."

    I haven't had cable in well over a decade, on the grounds that I don't want to pay a shedload of money to subsidize and subscribe to crap I don't watch (e.g. ESPN, the Home Shopping Network, etc. etc.) I am fortunate enough to use a third-party ISP where I get gigabit fiber to the home and run Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on top of it, all for much less than I would pay Comcast or AT&T. My current ISP is professional and perfectly pleasant; they're also locally-based and gave me excellent customer service. I don't want the Internet to be constricted to a subset of what Comcast wants to show me or have to pay extra for the privilege of accessing everything.

    There is a reason that so many people are "cord-cutting," jettisoning their cable packages and moving to streaming, and this comment of Kieren's hand-waves it completely. Life under Big Cable already was a dystopian nightmare; now it's going to be one with government support.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "There is a reason that so many people are "cord-cutting," jettisoning their cable packages and moving to streaming, and this comment of Kieren's hand-waves it completely. Life under Big Cable already was a dystopian nightmare; now it's going to be one with government support."

      Except you forget the wireless providers are no saints, either. Consider the data caps. I've yet to see a wireless provider state in writing that their service has no limits other than purely physical ones.

  19. breakfast
    Alert

    What about that identity theft thing, though?

    I'm surprised this doesn't pick on the veracity of the accounts of huge numbers of people's identities being faked to send in the faked messages on the topic. I get that you're looking at the end as more important than the means, but if the reports are correct and potentially thousands of genuine citizens' information was used to create the impression that they supported a political point of view without their knowledge, that seems to me a pretty big story in its own right- possibly the first occurrence of a new kind of identity theft. Also it seems like regardless of the source it probably ought to be illegal.

    Certainly something I'd be interested to get a Reg angle on, seeing as most of the reports I have seen have been interesting and strongly suggestive but lacking in that necessary edge and sense of the big picture.

  20. AdamWill

    the problem with rational discourse...

    ...is that it doesn't work if only one side is interested in discoursing rationally.

    The pro-NN side has *attempted* rational discourse. The response from Pai and his allies has not been "OK, let's have a reasonable discussion about this and try to lay aside our biases and come to a reasonable conclusion". It has been "LALALALAL WE CAN'T HEAR YOU AND WHATEVER YOU'RE SAYING IS WRONG ANYWAY". Rational NN discourse like "your argument that NN rules discourage investment in network infrastructure is poorly supported by real-world data" and "ISP positions on this debate are clearly self-contradictory, like arguing that they're opposed to Title II regulation not NN, but litigating against attempts to implement NN without Title II regulation, or claiming to the FCC that NN rules are a threat to business but not doing so in their legally-mandated statements to shareholders" has not been accepted and treated seriously by the FCC. It's just been completely ignored.

    Note for instance that the FCC *specifically said* that it ignored all public feedback on NN which did not involve some kind of novel legal argument. Despite the fact that this has never ever been the qualifying bar for public comment in any other case I can think of.

    If the FCC were actually even remotely interested in just *appearing* like it was actually doing its job of representing the public interest in telecommunications regulation, then rational discourse might be a useful choice. But it isn't, so it isn't.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the reason for insanity

    or at least contributing greatly to it, is to see the content, FUD and hype pushed by those outfits with the most to lose by changes in the rules. If your target audience is ill informed tweens, entitled college brats, crazy cat ladies and political echo chamber fans, then you're gonna do all you can to rile them up so you don't have to risk any decrease to your profit margins. The lowest on the information totem-pole are inundated with End of the World claims. People who cry and scream about the wrong liar getting elected, are gonna cry and scream when told their cat videos will go away if Evil Corporate Cable gets their way.

    Cable people are busy watching shows, and bypassing commercials. They don't get blasted with Fear Uncertainty and Doubt as much as push-news and "trending algorithms" will do so for the Social Media crowd. Emotion wins if you scare people enough, even if its all BS.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: the reason for insanity

      More, specifically, FEAR wins, especially PRIMAL fear. And since it's instinctive, it's also hard to shake off.

  22. Pat Harkin

    "the moment the rules are rescinded we will have fast internet lanes for extra dollars – and by extension a slower internet for every not willing to pay a premium."

    Isn't that what we have now - and have pretty much always had, right back to "more expensive (voiceline) modems get you faster rates"?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Well, they're trying to make it permanent so that, even if more neutrality-minded people replace them, they'll be powerless to actually change it.

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