back to article OK, who had 'Montana' in the net neutrality state pool? Congratulations

Montana has become the first US state to lay down its own net neutrality protections. Governor Steve Bullock signed off Monday on an executive order declaring that, as of July 1, all ISPs that want to do businesses with state agencies must adhere to basic net neutrality tenets including bans on paid prioritization and …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Montana

    Known for it's high speed limits!

    1. wayward4now
      Linux

      Re: Montana

      You mean NO speed limits! Lived there, loved it.

  2. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    Subject to reasonable network management practices. Or in otherwords, it's a lovely piece of virtue signaling on behalf of Montana and otherwise utterly meaningless. .

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Except the state gets to decide what is reasonable and can simply withdraw their custom from those that aren't - they don't have to prove it

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      QoS is a reasonable management network practice.

  3. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Big Sky Country wants Big Sky internet. Interestingly, when I was in Tanzania in 2010 I got faster speeds with no throttling and no capping using a tri-band cell network USB dongle than I do in the US. Sad.

    1. captain_solo

      that Fibre drop coming into Dar Es Salaam & Mombasa made a huge difference. When I was in Kenya/TZ in 2006-2007 all the ISPs were using Satellite backhaul - expensive, slow, and huge latency. It was like 256Mb advertised, but it felt a lot slower.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Montana is an interesting state...

    You would expect them to be solid red, but they're an independent-thinking bunch. Elected the first woman to Congress, Jeanette Rankin. On the other hand, she is also the LAST female elected to Congress from Montana. Jeanette has the distinction of being the only Congress-critter to vote against WWII, and indeed voted against BOTH world wars. That last vote cost her the seat. She is reported to have said "As I woman I cannot go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else." Like I said, an independent-thinking bunch, so Hail Montana! (Me? No. I'm from San Francisco.)

    1. Scott 26

      Re: Montana is an interesting state...

      upvoting you as a proxy to upvoting the State of Montana

  5. Amplex

    Better cancel all those state contracts with AT&T. Zero rating is absolutely the same as paid prioritization. So much for that FirstNet contract.

  6. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Take there business where?

    I have to imagine that Montana has even less competition among providers than, say, California. So, when the one provider decides to implement a "no s*it in the soup" surcharge, Who they gonna call?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and what happens if all the providers refuse to play ball? Does that leave the Montana government agencies without internet or with a slow service? What about any contracts they currently have? When do they end? What if they are getting it from a re-seller that is still throttled but not by them?

    It's a start but I can't see it working.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      and what happens if all the providers refuse to play ball?

      It's America, I imagine they get sued by the state for lots of money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They're under no obligation to provide service to the government so I can't see how they could sue them, this legislation only forces local government to choose a provider that is net neutral, it doesn't ban net neutrality.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Government contracts tend to be good money. Either one of them breaks or an upstart gets the jump on them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I don't know, I know how these big cables companies work. I hope it does work but just can't see it.

            You would think that the smaller companies would be for the removal of net neutrality because they could then sell a service without it getting more customers.

            Source: https://missoulacurrent.com/government/2017/08/montana-internet-providers/

            "Blackfoot Communication, based in Missoula, and Treasure State Internet in Bozeman and Helena, want to keep it that way. The two Internet providers are urging Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines to fight congressional efforts to regulate the Internet."

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        I imagine they get sued by the state for lots of money

        And/or the state tears up any no-ISP agreements (written by the ISPs for their paid-for politicians to pass) and goes into the ISP business themselves..

        Like quite a few cities in Colorado have done.

    2. ShadowDragon8685

      If no "private" solution exists which meets regulatory requirements, there's all of jack smack crap stopping the state from building its own - IE, a thing which the ISPs are desperate to prevent because then the state will be in competition and will be proving just how badly they're scalping EVERYBODY.

  8. DougS Silver badge

    This may be a trial balloon

    Literally and figuratively. This will inevitably be challenged by those opposed to net neutrality, but Montana is a small state with few ISPs so it should be able to move through the courts fairly quickly compared to a state like California or NY.

    A state being able to simply declare "net neutrality is the law within our borders" like Montana has just done would be the ideal for proponents, but it is the method of undoing Pai's work that is least likely to succeed. California, NY and other large blue states will probably still proceed along the lines of "you can't get state contracts if you don't enforce net neutrality for customers located in our state" since the federal government can't stop them but that's something only really large states can make work. If Montana succeeds they can always adopt their policy down the road, though by that point it probably wouldn't matter as net neutrality would effectively be the law of the land and the FCC wouldn't be able to stop it.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: This may be a trial balloon

      "A state being able to simply declare "net neutrality is the law within our borders" like Montana has just done"

      That's not what Montana has done. What Montana has done is stipulated conditions required for ISPs that provide service to state offices. Nothing they've done forces ISPs to adhere to net neutrality with other customers in the state.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: This may be a trial balloon

        You're right, I had read this story elsewhere and either misread it or they got it wrong. I thought they were requiring net neutrality within the state not just to provide service to state offices.

        In a state as small as Montana they're probably the same thing, however.

  9. James 51 Silver badge

    If the big players pull out of the state they risk smaller players and local gov owen/operated ISPs sprouting up and having a base to operate from

    1. midcapwarrior

      small pop over a large area makes it not very attractive of a broadband market

      Reality is Montana has a population of a little over 1 million spread over 147,164 sq miles (381,154 km²).

      There is only one city with a population of 100,000.

      It's very expensive to provide service and the low density is a barrier to entry.

      It's a nice thought that competition will swoop if the big guys step away but's it's not the reality.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: small pop over a large area makes it not very attractive of a broadband market

        Which is why a local gov ISP will need to pick up the slack.

  10. unwarranted triumphalism

    They have no right to do that

    And they have no right to destroy the internet through excessive heavy-handed regulation.

    1. James 51 Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: They have no right to do that

      Care to explain? NN does mean you can't priorities netflix over facebook in terms of speed but it's hardly destorying the internet, that is how it has worked up till now. Throttling websites and apps unless they pay, that would destroy the internet.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: They have no right to do that

        Care to explain?

        I doubt whether he/she/it/they will. It seems to be a badly-written bot that reflexively shouts about anything to do with anything to the left of D. Trump..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They have no right to do that

      We're all doomed, the sky is falling, somebody think of the children, it's going to destroy the internet!

      Now for the common sense bit.

      The regulation is designed to stop providers putting restrictions on the internet for their users.

      I'll let that sink in.

      If you still think this is not the case then please state your argument as to why because I haven't got a Betty Boo what you're going on about.

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: They have no right to do that

        Wrong. So-called NN regulations prevent ISPs from giving the best service to their customers because traffic from all other ISPs has to be give free reign on their network.

        1. James 51 Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: They have no right to do that

          The same thing is true of roads. People on different networks cooperating is how the internet works. It is a network of networks. Of course that the internet functions now undermines your argument. Could you point me to an example (outside of the likes of DDOS which is a crime) to support your argument?

          1. Alistair Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: They have no right to do that

            @James51:

            Don't expect *rational* argument with UT. Given the handle, I'm guessing UT is Chelsea Clinton, trolling as a really really dense Trump supporter.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: They have no right to do that

              There are any other types???

              1. James 51 Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: They have no right to do that

                @AC The types who know how to get billions of dollars through the tax system.

            2. James 51 Silver badge

              Re: They have no right to do that

              @Alistair, yeah. Most of the time I let it pass by but every once in a while I'll just dig my heels in and keep asking the same question until they give up. I am still secretly hoping that they're a performance artist trolling us all a la Black Mirror.

            3. unwarranted triumphalism

              Re: They have no right to do that

              And who are you trolling as? A really dense leftwinger?

              1. James 51 Silver badge
                Headmaster

                Re: They have no right to do that

                Yes, which is why I keep asking you to explain things and cite evidence but you're not doing much for my education.

              2. kiwimuso
                Trollface

                Re: They have no right to do that

                Ah, leave the stupid troll alone.

                The fact that most, if not all, of the rest of the Western world and a lot of the non Western world manages to operate quite successfully on an open internet without breaking it will never convince idiots like this.

                They simply spout bollocks to hear the sound of their own voice and don't even have the wit or intelligence to realise that they ARE talking a load of bollocks.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: They have no right to do that

                  Worse, they may even BELIEVE their own bollocks with absolute conviction, in which case they're basically irrational, and it's impossible to argue with the irrational.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: They have no right to do that

          Right. Remember, Comcast owns NBC and Universal. What's to stop them penalizing Netflix, CBS, and others and giving NBC/Universal content a pass?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They have no right to do that

          You're getting confused here.

          You pay a provider for a services and in my example we'll say that's 10mb.

          Currently you get 10mb.

          Without net neutrality some of what used to come down at 10mb is going to come down at 2mb because it's being throttled because either you or the company sending you the content didn't pay extra to the ISP.

          With net neutrality the provider can't charge you extra for something you previously got for free as part of your internet connection.

          That is what is at stake here, you gain absolutely nothing from not having net neutrality and lose what you already have.

          Do you really think the ISP's aren't going to start signing lucrative deals with certain providers of content? What if the provider you use doesn't sign up or a competitor gets in first? Are you happy to get a rubbish service from something that you didn't have a problem with before?

        4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: They have no right to do that

          Wrong. So-called NN regulations prevent ISPs from giving the best service to their customers because traffic from all other ISPs has to be give free reign on their network.

          Like you, so many people get this the wrong way around. (Most do so intentionally)

          What you need to realise is that from a conceptual point of view (i.e. avoiding technical pedantry on how services may literally send requested data) with a consumer ISP, the customer is pulling in data over the ISP. You and others are thinking of it as internet providers pushing data over the ISP.

          Customers pay to pull data over the ISPs network. The amount that affects the ISP is related to how much the customer pulls. Therefore, it's fair that ISPs can have plans with various data caps if they want.

          What is not fine is them somehow differentiating between the data. Bits are bits.

          I'm sure the whole argument against net neutrality formed because companies got stupid, and offered larger monthly data caps (or uncapped usage) that they couldn't afford, but assumed the customer would never attempt to use up.

          Then, along comes youtube and netflix, and people are using more data (out of their already paid for allowance) and the ISPs want to get netflix and youtube to pay for their screwup.

          Obligatory analogy:

          If my bus company offers free transport on a little-used bus route, and then one day some big shopping centre opens up along that route, making the route more popular, then it's up to the bus company to renegotiate how much it charges passengers whenever it's contractually able to. You and others seem to think the shopping centre should pay the bus company for the fact they are getting more passengers...

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