back to article Berners-Lee, Woz, Cerf: Cancel flawed net neutrality vote

Internet and technology luminaries, including Web creator Tim Berners-Lee, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and "Father of the internet" Vint Cerf, have called on the FCC to cancel its planned net neutrality vote this week, arguing that it is based on a "flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology." "We …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whaaat?

    I'm sorry, I don't get it. If Republicans can fill their boots at the head of the queue and abuse everybody else on the planet, what's not to like?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whaaat?

      Sure you get it, don't pretend.

      What we see here is the same concerted demonization drive we've seen a hundred times for one PC cause after another, front-loaded with personal attacks and Good vs Evil language. And you eagerly respond to the not-so-subtle directive like you've been corn-ditioned to do so. Well done.

      I particularly like that "...abuse everybody else on the planet..." thing. If you're going to accuse people, go big! They are EVIL, and deserve whatever charges you throw at them!

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Whaaat?

        @Big John

        Are you really so deluded as to think that all these people are part of some evil conspiracy to push a political agenda.

        Can you not appreciate that these people, many of whom are the pioneering founders of what the internet is today, may be genuinely concerned by what they see as an ill-concieved and flawed plan of action?

        Have you actually read the open letter? I have, and I'm not seeing the "personal attacks and Good vs Evil language" which you mention.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whaaat?

          I wasn't referring to the letter or those particular people, but you bring up a good point.

          Is their moral authority such that it carries the whole NN argument? What happens to those with opposite opinions? Are they to be ignored because they aren't in the select group of "internet pioneers" that signed the letter?

          The fact is this NN controversy is not settled science (yet) and yet the proponents are starting to act like it is. As for getting personal, haven't you been reading the slew of pro-NN articles appearing on this site, machinegun-fashion, for the last two weeks? Personal attacks have become the norm.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Whaaat?

            NN is settled.

            If ISP charges company then company passes that charge onto customer.

            If ISP favours one company over another is that not wrong and against fair competition.

            Why add an extra point for ISP's to charge someone? Who do these governments work for? People of business?

            Does pro-NN allow for more competition or unfair competition regardless of who it is?

            No personal attacks but just the basic facts.

          2. Yes Me Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Whaaat?

            It isn't a question of moral authority. It's a question of knowing what they're talking about. There are hundreds of less well known people (including Yes Me) who also know the facts of the matter and therefore agree with the letter.

            The US very painfully broke up Big Oil and later Big Telephone. The capitalist lackeys (and I mean that very precisely) now in charge of the FCC seem intent on actively helping Big Cable to build and abuse a monopoly position in which they can legally discriminate against competitors. It's perhaps not surprising, but it's very wrong.

          3. Comments are attributed to your handle
            Mushroom

            Re: Whaaat?

            Just go away Big John - you're the only one here "frontloading" by dragging in good vs. evil and "PC" in an attempt to derail the conversation. All you do is attack how the viewpoints are presented, not the viewpoints themselves. You still haven't managed to give a substantive argument against NN since the last time I called out your bullshit: https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2017/11/21/fcc_net_neutrality/#c_3354515.

            1. MK_E

              Re: Whaaat?

              To be fair BJ is one of those special class of people who would try to breathe flourine if Obama ever said he liked oxygen.

              1. sabroni Silver badge

                Re: And you eagerly respond to the not-so-subtle directive like you've been corn-ditioned to do so.

                My irony meter's just blown...

          4. Triggerfish

            Re: Whaaat?

            What happens to those with opposite opinions? Are they to be ignored because they aren't in the select group of "internet pioneers" that signed the letter?

            What you mean people like Ajit Pai, Verizon, Comcast? You're right they don't have enough of a voice, they are not getting a chance to promote their ideas anywhere.

          5. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Whaaat?

            NN is a settled science, it's called peering arrangements. Additional charging is just double dipping by telecos and squeezing out the competition and it's nothing more complicated than that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whaaat?

        Let me guess. You voted for Trump, right?

        You like the NRA lobbying too?

        Perhaps even like Breitbart and Bannon, the walking scab?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whaaat?

          Thing to keep in consideration

          You can like Trump AND NN...

          The FCC Chairman came under Obama...

          It's never always Black and White until we make it so

          Trump derangement syndrome is a sign

  2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

    minor correction

    "Increasingly, observers are convinced that Pai and his fellow commissioners simply don't understand care how the internet actually works, and have formed a view of the internet built almost entirely on the cable industry's perspective what the cable industry has paid them to think.

    FTFY

    1. sprograms

      Re: minor correction

      In a minor note to the entire process, I've met several business folks who just assumed Ajit Pai was some sort of Indian tech wizard. They shocked to find he's just another political lawyer, and carries no brilliant resume even in that swampy domain.

  3. Daedalus Silver badge

    What Internet?

    As one of your columnists has pointed out, the "Internet" based on ARPANet is nothing but a fond memory, at best a network of dusty untraveled roads superseded by superhighways. When you communicate via your ISP, you are probably connecting from that ISP to a next-level ISP that hands it to a backbone provider from where your communication steps down levels to its destination. Exactly, in fact, like making an international phone call.

    Needless to say, except at the two ends these ISP's are going to be big companies, and indeed quasi-monopolies. You can argue that the law should not allow them to discriminate on content, as phone companies are not allowed to do, though they do price their services selectively. What you can't do is claim that they're controlling or throttling something that doesn't actually exist.

    And behind this, you have to realize that your precious ICQ, HTML or whatever, is sharing all those connections with a lot of content streaming that is overwhelming a network originally conceived for discrete, discontinuous communication. Yes the FCC are a bunch of ignorant artsies. But the EFF is not exactly singing the right song either.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: What Internet?

      And behind this, you have to realize that your precious ICQ, HTML or whatever, is sharing all those connections with a lot of content streaming that is overwhelming a network originally conceived for discrete, discontinuous communication.
      Well yes, which is why the existing network neutrality provisions don't disallow traffic management mechanisms, such that capacity can be shared appropriately between streaming services and interactive services. What they forbid is discriminatory or predatory traffic management that prevents fair competition. And as others have hinted, it seems that the alt-rights now in charge don't see unfair competition as a bad thing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What Internet?

      The standards and protocols define it. Just as in the 1970s. I couldn't care less what hardware it runs on.

      Trying to modify the standards and protocols to allow discrimination sounds like a very stupid and ill considered thing to do.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: What Internet?

        And yet standards and protocols DO change over time, like HTTP winning out over Gopher and FTP fading into relative obscurity, and why Telnet in the clear isn't used anymore.

        All that needs to happen is for this natural evolution to get co-opted in some usually subtle way. Another way is to simply shove the whole business aside through bullying and captive market tactics.

  4. goldcd

    I am quite bemused by this

    As a liberal-tree-fucker, from all the media I consume, I know net neutrality is 'good'.

    But maybe I'm missing out.

    I googled why it's bad, I f'in went to Breitbart and the rest - articles are ridiculous, and even 95%+ of their commenters are calling it out.

    I'm just bemused..

    I'm going to take a new position. "The US ending net neutrality is bad for Americans - but I'm not one, so I'm going to stop caring what happens".

    If the US keeps it "good". If the US ends it "good" - as the undoubted clusterfuck will at least serve as a warning to the rest of the planet.

    It's win-win.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: I am quite bemused by this

      > If the US keeps it "good". If the US ends it "good" - as the undoubted clusterfuck will at least serve as a warning to the rest of the planet.

      The trouble is, USian policies tend to leak to the rest of the planet, no matter if they are good or bad.

  5. captain_solo

    in the current debate over the FCC's absurd expansion of Title II to pretend like they implemented Net Neutrality and now TRUMP! is trying to take it away because big business/capitalism/the illuminati have neked pictures of him or whatever, both sides are acting in bad faith.

    Hopefully these guys are intelligent enough (I mean, they are like the gods of the interwebs) to know that sending it to the legislative branch is the right move since that is where this needs to be addressed. If for no other reason that that any meaningful neutrality will have to apply to providers who live above layer 3 and can influence and shape traffic on their platforms even though they are not telecom providers subject to Title II 1930s phone network regulations.

    Lets get real neutrality instead of the fake partially installed knock off neutrality we got by executive action. If that was being promoted by the people yelling the loudest right now I might respect their position and believe its about saving the internet, but since they don't want such regulation to apply to them, I can only assume this fright fest is related to their ongoing attempts to maintain their own unbalanced competitive advantage at the platform/application layer.

    The only thing these companies really fear is market pressure and competition. The government should be seeking to increase that across the whole stack instead of siding with one or the other side in this misguided debate by selectively caring about anti-competitive behavior.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Lets get real neutrality instead of the fake partially installed knock off neutrality we got by executive action."

      Except you have to realize that the Congress in session now is stacked AGAINST neutrality on the grounds they prefer walled gardens. Trying to ask Congress to intervene in a case that currently runs in their interests is like the farmer asking the viper not to bite.

    2. ST Silver badge
      Terminator

      fake?

      > [...] fake partially installed knock off neutrality we got by executive action.

      Wow. Are you really that ignorant? The answer is, sadly, yes.

      Current Title II regulations were established by the FCC after following due process. There were public hearings, there was a comment period, rules were voted on. Subsequently, the new Title II regulations were challenged in court. The court sided with the FCC.

      What exactly does fake partially installed knock off neutrality mean? Care to enlighten us? Does it have anything to do with the Muslim Kenyan Socialist Fascist Communist Not-Born-In-The-US O-Bama?

      1. captain_solo

        Re: fake?

        "Current Title II regulations were established by the FCC after following due process. There were public hearings, there was a comment period, rules were voted on."

        As are the new ones.

        Legislation is the only way this gets done properly. Can congress do that anymore? Probably not, but solving the wrong problem won't help.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: fake?

          So you prefer nothing at all to half-measures? In other words, all or nothing in a world where the nothing is more more likely?

    3. veti Silver badge

      The "real neutrality" you call for is something that can't exist. It would require competition between providers of a sort that is impossible in most of America - there are laws, and legal guarantees, against it. Practically every town and city in the country would face lawsuits and counter-suits - from incumbent cable providers, from would-be competitors, from Google and Netflix... To unpick all of that would take tens of thousands of lawyers, and years of billable time.

      Or Congress could pass a new law. That's the theoretically correct solution. But Congress doesn't know or care - and it can't get its shit together even on things it supposedly does care about, like healthcare. Realistically, this isn't something that the present Congress is going to address. Nor is the next one. (The one after - well, maybe. That's about how long it generally takes to build half-way respectable legislation.)

      The beauty of Title 2 was that it cut through all that bullshit. It worked, well sorta, where no plausible alternative would. And Pai recognizes that, because he's reversing it without so much as proposing an alternative, probably because he knows any alternative he could propose would be laughed out of court.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was going to comment...

    On how "freedom is slavery" as cynicism... but after reading the above posts, with possibly just one person noticing what is and is not reality... I think I just give up.

    Go on, burn your house down while sitting in it. I don't care anymore. I'm going to fight fires for people who need or want help. If you choose to be ignorant, then only a slap to the head may correct that, and I'm not going to be the one to deliver it. So nope, no correction from me here. I'll not say what I think of the article, but wow, I do think the responses are amazing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I won't argue with you

      But let's be clear, i'm much cleverer than you. Much cleverer. That is all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I won't argue with you

        I'm not saying it is down to being clever. I've seen people on both sides, and I'd assume most are more clever than me. But the *emotional* ties have left people looking to shoot their leg off, cook it and serve it to their jailers, attackers and the scam artists. :(

  7. LDS Silver badge

    Nice document, but it will just confirm Pai "need to act, in the interest of telcos!"

    When they wrote that in 2002 telcos offered services that could made them more attractive to customers, while now they have none because they moved to other companies at the "edge", they just confirm what telco paid Pai to bring the clock back - they want to be able again to offer the same services while blocking competing ones, and make more money (especially now you can make money from data and ads also). And they can make money also controlling access - think how much money you can make by menacing to block DoubleClick.... despite how much I can hate Google ad business, it's not up to the IPS to interfere with it trying to monetize it (I'll block it myself for free, thank you).

    Telco don't wont to become just "pipes" - they want a share of the cake. Till now they show they are not capable to compete with the Internet companies - even when they were small, they underestimated them greatly. All they could is to buy some corpse (Yahoo...) or try to merge with older media companies (Time Warner) - but they are still utterly incapable to think forward.

    So they need to bring the clock back, and Pai(d) is their man. He's an opportunist who saw his great chance. This document is telling him his on the right path to fulfill is Masters desires, and be handsomely rewarded for it. He won't care about anything else. Innovation, etc. etc.? Who cares. He will be richer and richer. And rich people don't need the Internet so much...

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Nice document, but it will just confirm Pai "need to act, in the interest of telcos!"

      Absolutely. Without control, you can't exploit the consumer and overcharge him. Hence no big fat profits. You'd have to actually do some valye adding work to make a profit, which is way too much work for large lazy corps. Better just control things and levy a 'tax' on it all. No different to how everything else works, but not good for progress, and not good for the consumer.

  8. W Donelson

    Republicans only listen if you have donations.

    This Is the Long Game of the Republican Coup d'Etat

    A tax "reform" scam to borrow a Trillion dollars from the young, give it to the rich in return for never-ending campaign donations for the GOP.

    Then they dismantle social security, pensions, healthcare, wages, cripple government revenues and end democracy in America.

    btw- They WILL BE FIRING Mueller soon. Sorry.

    The Atlantic - The Long Game

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/12/the-long-game-of-republican-economics/547721/

    The New Yorker - The Gutting of the Welfare State

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-next-step-in-the-radical-trump-gop-agenda-gut-the-welfare-state

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    ""flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology.""

    But very profitable for them.

    Remember folks, to slightly misquote the Bible*

    "Love of evil is the root of all money."

    *OK to blatently re-write the quote, but the goal is much the same.

    1. Slackness

      Re: ""flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology.""

      I was blown away by this comment.... I can't stop sniggering at it!! Love it!!

      Have a free Interwebs on me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ""flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology.""

      I've been in shops that make a lot of profit by being factually incorrect. Such as better performing cables, which vary only in the colour of paint used on them and the price tag stuck to the box.

  10. eldakka Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I don't think Berners-Lee has any leg to stand on about net-neutrality being the one who pushed for DRM in HTML5. That is going to have a bigger impact internationally than whatever the FCC decides about the local US market.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      That was more a case of picking your battles. Big content has enough control that they could make people abandon open Internet protocols, meaning they could make people abandon the World Wide Web by simply denying much-demanded content to the Web. Sir Berners-Lee can't force people to do anything, and as you have noticed with the likes of Facebook, Stupid has the power to outvote.

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "any leg to stand on about net-neutrality being the one who pushed for DRM in HTML5"

      Sorry, net neutrality doesn't mean you can watch Netflix for free...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reclassification of ISPs as Title II may have helped urban areas, but it definitely HURT rollout in rural areas where it was needed the most. That is something that needs to be addressed. I personally know of several ISPs that put a hold on expansion plans, and one that even shut down its wireless network, all because of the Title II classification.

    I don't think that repealing the existing legislation is the way to go, but I have issues with those who are fighting against it just as I do with those fighting for it.

    There is so much MIS-information, from both sides, and terms are so poorly defined, that it is hard to have an intelligent conversation about it. Both sides have valid points, but we might as well be discussing whether vi or emacs is a better editor.

    Net neutrality as currently defined didn't exist before 2015 - yet the Internet grew and flourished without it just the same. Repealing two year old rules isn't going to kill the Internet - but they should have something else in place first.

    In the end, however, consumer protection is the job of the Federal TRADE Commission, not the Federal COMMUNICATION Commission. The two of them need to get together and hash out the areas of responsibility instead of passing the buck. The FCC can then go back to handling the science/technology issues, and the FTC can stop ignoring their responsibilities and step up to the plate with consumer protections.

    Now for the part that will get me downvoted:

    This whole "art is better with net neutrality" is egotistical bull manure from artists who think that everything that came before them is crap and their own work is golden. There might be other reasons for NN, but that isn't one of them.

    The whole "ISP could block content" issue is covered by the Sherman act. Anybody who says that repealing Title II would allow that is smoking dope and/or believes their own propaganda - That unfortunately includes Berners-Lee and crew. The FCC may not understand the Internet, but they don't understand American law either.

    1. ST Silver badge
      Terminator

      everything collapsed because Title II

      > I personally know of several ISPs that put a hold on expansion plans, and one that even shut down its wireless network, all because of the Title II classification.

      Yeah. Name those ISP's who put their expanion plans on hold because Title II. And the one that shut down its wireless network because Title II. There's only AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon, so it's gotta be one of them. Sprint doesn't even bother going after the rural areas markets, so that leaves AT&T or Verizon, less likely T-Mobile.

      There aren't that many ISP's left in the US to begin with, so naming this ISP shouldn't be that difficult.

      A little bird told me you won't be naming anything anytime soon, though.

      I personally know a guy who knows a guy who heard from someone that the Internet is secretly controlled by the United Nations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: everything collapsed because Title II

        No, I will not be giving out names. That would be a breach of confidence. If they want to come out publicly they can, as it is their story to tell.

        Anybody who thinks that there are only four wireless networks in the US is ignorant. There are THOUSANDS of ISPs in the United States with wireless networks, especially covering rural areas. Ever heard of WISPA ( http://www.wispa.org/ )? Membership in that organization is only a small percentage of those ISPs.

        Title II doesn't hurt the big corporations, it hurts the small ones. The companies you mentioned were ALREADY Title II companies. The guy who covers a couple of rural counties with a dozen towers and access points off of grain silos isn't.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: everything collapsed because Title II

          Title II in terms of telephone, but NOT in terms of Internet, unless you can prove otherwise.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone thought about the copyright angle to all this? With net neutrality gone ISP's are free to block whatever streaming or torrent service they want without repercussion. Big game on the TV? Where's all our traffic coming from? Block it. Does this stop at services or websites as well?

    Down the rabbit hole we go. I'm sure the UK are looking at this with envious eyes.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Doesn't that run afoul of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, though, meaning it can create a law-versus-law situation?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They already do...

      AFAIK they already are allowed to block/stop "illegal" activity. Just so happens they put copyright infringement in that category.

      Without NN they can block or slow down any content. That is a massive difference.

    3. rmason Silver badge

      @AC

      Certain UK ISPs already do (attempt to) block football streams, especially on saturdays.

      Loads of IPTV providers/yoofs (i.e stolen Sky etc) come bundled with a VPN app now, other providers/yoofs have got around the block with no VPN required.

      There was a week (ish) period where all the hooky services struggled to get the football, it was swiftly overcome and all continued on as normal.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        But if this keeps up, there may soon be a move to restrain ALL encrypted communications except under (expensive, meaning limited to businesses) sanctioned circumstances.

  13. Dave Bell

    The USA is different

    One thing I have heard from American sources is that much of the country has little choice of internet providers. I can, here in the UK, fairly easily switch from one ISP to another. We have the BT Openreach monopoly on the physical connection, and a free choice over who provides the service. Most of the country doesn't have any practical alternative to that, no cable TV network, though mobile phone tech give a back-up in most places. There are still gaps.

    Most of the USA is served by vertically integrated phone/ISP operations, with no competition unless you can get Cable TV, or can pay mobile phone charges (again, with coverage problems).

    Setting up an ISP business in the UK isn't trivial, but it is still possible. In my time on broadband I've dealt with four companies, partly down to take-overs and re-branding, partly my choice.

    We have the net neutrality that the USA is trying to cling to. We have choice and competition for our custom by the suppliers. It's not that close to right, but it works.

    How would feel if you only had one practical choice of internet supplier, and no guarantee that you could use the bandwidth you pay for for what you want to do (assuming it's lawful)? It's a question of balance, and the USA is getting extreme.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The USA is different

      The reason is that when most telco monopolies in Europe were dismantled, the network was or transferred to a a "neutral" entity, or in some other way the incumbent still owning is legally bound to lease it to competitors - instead of breaking them along "regional" lines, as it happened with the "Baby Bells". After all, those networks were often subsidized with taxpayers money. The system may not be perfect, and ex-monopolists often tried to rig the game, but it worked.

      That allowed more companies to enter the market and reach customers, maybe investing only in creating their one backbones, but still being able to reach most customers on the existing network. And in many ways it makes little sense to duplicate an expensive infrastructure that requires a lot of work to be deployed (in most Europe pole cables are far less used), and may just mean high-revenue areas get several options, low-revenue one maybe only one, and rural areas none.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: The USA is different

      Most of the UK doesn't in fact have a monopoly supplier of the physical fixed link. Here in Sheffield there is a duopoly of OpenReach and Virgin Media, and I'm sure there's a triopoly in the city centre.

  14. Milton Silver badge

    Entirely the wrong model?

    I'm not against private enterprise and all in favour of people risking their cash in researching, inventing, building, manufacturing, investing and competing. The free market is a good thing provided monopolies are forbidden, healthy competition is fostered, excessive greed is punished and companies in general are reminded—forcibly when necessary—that with their rights come social responsibilities.

    All of which said, I'm increasingly of the view that some services—things you could fairly describe with the term "strategic, essential national infrastructure" should not be in private hands. In the UK we have seen frankly appalling things happen since the privatisation of energy, public transport and communications.

    How many of you remember when first post arrived by breakfast, and second delivery was done by 2pm? Now we're lucky to see any post at all by 3pm. Consider how much worse the rail services are now, even compared with much-maligned British Rail—the UK's rail services now being measurably worse even than Italy's, and costing far, far more. Look at the ridiculously contrived "market" in energy, where a bundle of different greedy under-investing companies all sell you exactly the same electricity and gas coming from the same sources.

    IMHO, the provision of internet connectivity falls into the same category of strategic, essential national infrastructure. Competition, such as it is, has not proven particularly useful, especially given the suppliers' usual gimmick, learned from mobile phone networks, of trying to confuse customers so that simple price like-for-like comparisons cannot be made. (Funny how those who squeal loudest about the virtues of competition are always the first to try to suppress it, isn't it?)

    Perhaps the answer is to integrate one robust national internet system, working similarly to how telecoms once did, with guaranteed service levels and coverage, with surpluses used for re-investment or sent to the Treasury for NHS topups, instead of siphoned off for greedy shareholders. It would quickly solve the problem of failure to invest in areas where geography and population are otherwise claimed to be unprofitable, too.

    There's no good reason why this wouldn't work in the UK and the US, and it sucks the oxygen out of the neutrality debate if we do what is sensible and logical: treat the internet as a necessary public service and free it from political bullshit and greedy lobbyists.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Entirely the wrong model?

      @Milton,

      I agree with you in principal, but I think you'd find that in the US there would be overwhelming resistance to the idea of a federally controlled Internet.

      Historically, Americans from both sides of the political divide have a rabid fear of central control by the federal government, considering it "Socialist" and yet, at the same time, close to "Communism".

      In the "Land of the Free", such a thing is an anathema.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Entirely the wrong model?

        Not to mention irksome to the taxpayer already under heavy burdens that can't be lightened without killing someone.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Entirely the wrong model?

        "I agree with you in principal, but I think you'd find that in the US there would be overwhelming resistance to the idea of a federally controlled Internet."

        Then ask them which they'd prefer: a federally-controlled Internet or a privately-run Postal Service where executive whims affect the going letter rate?

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Entirely the wrong model?

      "How many of you remember when first post arrived by breakfast, and second delivery was done by 2pm?"

      Here's the big question, though. Who's willing to PAY for that level of service? That's the problem in the US, too, given it's vast and sparse land area. Wiring up between New York and Los Angeles is hard enough given thousands of miles over two mountain ranges, but at least you have some 15 million people between them to spread the costs. Try doing the same math in someplace hodunk like the middle of Wyoming. Most of these types of places are money sinks, which is why ISPs who hook up these towns insist on sweetheart deals or they'll walk. They're otherwise not worth wiring up.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Entirely the wrong model?

      "In the UK we have seen frankly appalling things happen since the privatisation of energy, public transport and communications."

      It varies across the board but public investment has a very poor record overall.

      A large part of the privatisation of BT was to enable the private sector to make the levels of investment that governments of all colour had been unable or unwilling to make. What would the mobile or internet provision be like in the UK if left to government investment?

      The privatisation model of the railways was stupid. The infrastructure and the operators were separate and, therefore, had separate, likely conflicting interests and relatively short franchises weren't going to lead to long-term investments whilst also avoiding any competition between destinations. I can't see how it could have been expected to work out well and I can't see any government making investments except in high profile vanity projects.

      On roads we have the cheapskate addition of lanes by taking out the safety measure of the hard shoulder and such gimmicks. New roads such as M6 Brum bypass? - revert to the C18th turnpike financing despite having collected huge sums from road taxes in the form of VED, fuel duty, insurance premium taxes and VAT.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Entirely the wrong model?

      It may be OK if some critical infrastructure, which could be quite stupid to duplicate, is owned by the state, or neutral entity controlled by the state. But more often than not, states are very bad at offering services.

      You cite Italy - I can tell you that all the big state monopolies of the past, SIP (phones), ENEL (power), FS (trains) offered very bad services at very high prices. The postal service was and is still bad. There was no accountability and no choice.

      High-speed train got much better when they felt the low-cost airlines competition first, and then competition on the same rails.

      Is it perfect? No, and sure, the temptation to exploit the old monopoly position, or build cartels, is big. In the last months many utilities at once tried to switch from a monthly bill to a four-weeks one (13 bills in a year instead of 12, a more than 8% price increase) - thankfully, no Pai here yet, and with elections looming, this is going to be forbidden.

      But on average, the situation is better than when monopolies were thriving. When the state decided to subsidize fiber broadband in lower-revenue areas, the ex telco monopolist, now called TIM - dragged its feet, even when just deploying the lower-cost FTTC, with a very patchy support outside bigger cities, even in wealthy areas but where population is scattered in many small towns and houses.

      When a tender was issued, TIM was surprised by the ex-power monopolist - ENEL - which entered the market with a far more aggressive model to bring fiber along power lines. I'll get FTTH in a few months (works already underway), in a detached house in a small town. Otherwise, I would have had to wait for years still, and be OK with a 20/1Mb ADSL.

    5. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Entirely the wrong model?

      "The free market is a good thing provided monopolies are forbidden, healthy competition is fostered, excessive greed is punished and companies in general are reminded—forcibly when necessary—that with their rights come social responsibilities."

      But sometimes monopolies are unavoidable. Thus we have the term natural monopolies, where the market won't tolerate more than one provider due to things like NIMBY concerns. Utilities happens to be one industry where monopolies tend to be natural because no one wants a second set of eyesore infrastructure in their neighborhood. Rural services is another one because of geography; there's simply no other way to reach out to a population that sparse without lots of expensive infrastructure, threatening the RoI picture.

      Which means rural Internet access (a utility) suffers a double whammy, especially in a country as large as the United States. AFAIK, the only larger country with (arguably) better service is Canada (and again I emphasize, that's arguable given the complaints from Canadians about the likes of Rogers), and they have the edges of a heavily-skewed population distribution and a contiguous geography.

  15. a pressbutton Silver badge

    The USA will be great again?

    All I can say to the USA is

    The UK remains a fairly civilised place and open for business with any high-tech company that wants to relocate.

    and

    Good luck on your own long path from economic dominance to where we are.

    Doing fine so far.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All about the money

    Ajit Pai is doing it because Trump appointed him probably on the promise a big pay cheque later. I have a bad feeling Trump is just abusing is position to set himself up for when he leaves office. Putting in place actions that will allow him to make more money once his time is up. This is probably one of those ideas and Ajit Pai doesn't care about anyone, just how much he's getting paid from what I can see.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They wrote to Congress?!?

    Oh dear, they really are desperate then.

  18. James Anderson Silver badge

    Careful what you wish for.

    If the telcos are allowed to shape traffic according to content and destination it difficult to see how they can keep thier "common carrier" status.

    This "we are just provide the wiring" defence excuses them from any responsibility for the malware, smut, hate speech etc. that they carry.

    However if they can shape traffic according to the content, source or destination this defence no longer holds as they must be aware of the content to do so. Go get em Lawers.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Careful what you wish for.

      How is this different from the Royal Mail shaping their carrier traffic according to the price paid for the traffic - first or second class stamp?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Careful what you wish for.

        In the US, a single First-Class stamp lets you mail up to one ounce from anywhere in the US to anywhere else. That includes Alaska, Hawaii, and territories like Guam. The package equivalent is Priority Mail, and if you use one of their flat-rate boxes, weight is no longer considered as long as it fits in the box without bulging. I believe it's been this way since the Post Office was first established soon after the US assumed independence, on the grounds, that communication is of such paramount importance as to not be subject to distance rating.

      2. Aedile

        Re: Careful what you wish for.

        I dislike discussing this topic as an analogy but:

        You go to ship a package 1st class with the Royal Mail. First class stamps are advertised as 1 Euro and are delivered by plane.

        First they charge you a flat 1 Euro first class shipping fee and then tack on 2 Euros of hidden below the line fees bringing your actual total to 3 Euros.

        Next they look at the destination. If you are shipping to some place popular like Google or Amazon they charge an additional popularity fee.

        Then they see if your destination has paid the first class delivery fee. If they haven't they will pick your package up from your home with a plane and deliver it to their local hub. From your local hub to your destination's they'll ship it by foot.

        See the issues?

        First they advertised a low rate while hiding a bunch of fees which greatly inflate the cost.

        Then they want to charge you more based on who you are shipping to not based on distance, weight or speed.

        Finally, despite paying for 1st class service, you STILL can't actually get that speed unless your destination has also paid their post AND yours.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. LDS Silver badge

        How is this different from the Royal Mail shaping

        Net neutrality doesn't forbid to sell different speeds. It forbids to threat packets different based on contents. As if Royal Mail long ago slowed down love letters while speeding up invoices, even if they paid the same stamp.

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