|FCC's Open Internet Rules Update Published|
System: The following message was cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/foo/4637408.htm [webmasterworld.com] by engine - 5:03 pm on Apr 24, 2014 (utc +1)
So, this has happened now. I'm not going to try to link to a source, but Mother Jones is reporting that the FCC rewrote things so that:
(1) ISPs cannot slow or block services like Netflix
(2) But they can charge Netflix more for the use of bandwidth.
On the surface, this sounds fair. But the reason we have this bandwidth issue - the reason Netflix seems like a burden on ISPs in the first place - was explained the other day by a lobbyist for the industry, who has also been on the FCC, on NPR. He said that back around 2003, when the world was deciding how to classify the internet, most first world and several third world countries classified it as a utility. Then their governments poured money into infrastructure, so as a result, the US has less bandwidth and slower internet at higher costs than what the rest of the first world and several third world countries enjoy.
The US made this mistake because, as always, it assumed private industry would be more inventive than the government. It might have been, except that internet came over cables that WERE for utilities (cable TV, DSL), so there was no incentive to compete. Most Americans still can't just up and switch to a different provider of phone or cable if they don't like the service they're getting. And that meant we couldn't switch ISPs if we wanted fast access.
Oops. So now Americans will pay even more for lesser quality of internet services than the rest of the world, because we failed to classify as a utility something which comes into homes via equipment belonging to regulated utility companies. In effect, we have utilities getting to sell unregulated services to a captive audience because there is no other way to get high speed internet. No small business can wedge its way into that market.
|The Notice proposes the reinstatement of the Open Internet concepts adopted by the Commission in 2010 and subsequently remanded by the D.C. Circuit. The Notice does not change the underlying goals of transparency, no blocking of lawful content, and no unreasonable discrimination among users established by the 2010 Rule. The Notice does follow the roadmap established by the Court as to how to enforce rules of the road that protect an Open Internet and asks for further comments on the approach. |
It is my intention to conclude this proceeding and have enforceable rules by the end of the year.
To be very direct, the proposal would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet will not be permitted.Setting the Record Straight on the FCC’s Open Internet Rules [fcc.gov]
|To be clear, this is what the Notice will propose: |
That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network;
That no legal content may be blocked; and
That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.
The problem, as you rightly indicate, is the use of video steaming, which is a bandwidth hog. More an more people, around the world, are choosing to download movies and stream videos, so it's only going to become a bigger problem.
I'm still not sure how it might work without some form of premium being paid for video which somehow gets back to the ISPs so they can invest in their infrastructure. It has to be paid for somewhere along the line. Perhaps they won't charge more for bandwidth, but will charge users a one-off-fee for a bigger bandwidth capability.
System: The following message was spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/foo/4637408.htm [webmasterworld.com] by engine - 5:32 pm on Apr 24, 2014 (utc +1)
|I think you're all missing the big issue here is the cable companies really don't care what you do with the internet as long as you're not watching movies from other sources, like YouTube, Netflix, etc. as they're in the steaming video business as well. |
Bingo - We have a winner!
I have 7 adult children, all but one of them is VERY technology friendly. Of those 6, none of them subscribe to monthly cable TV packages, and prefer to watch Netflix, Amazon and other streaming video sources. Yes, they pay for high speed internet, but their $70/month bill is a far cry from mine at almost $250/month for TV, highest tier IP services, etc.
Bottom line... the old-school TV and phone services are not happy about being the highways to entertainment without getting more of a cut of the pie. They can charge the end user more (like electricity, pay per gb used) or they can shift the cost to the provider.
No easy answer...
|It has to be paid for somewhere along the line. |
There's plenty of fat for these companies to trim. It's not a lack of funds that prevents them from investing in infrastructure, it's a lack of incentive that comes when you don't really have to compete because you're a utility with a monopoly on a large slice of the market.
Consumer Reports just did a poll and 71% of Americans said they'd switch ISPs if possible (yeah, good luck) if their current ISP tries to block or slow access to streaming services. 70% said they'd complain to their ISP. There are several more options, but what should really scare these companies is that 10% said they'd drop the internet altogether.
What this suggests to me is that if most of the 71% is unable to switch, that 10% number might get higher. With wage stagnation the way it is, the middle and working class are re-thinking their priorities. The utilities are used to being thought of as necessities, but cable and internet just aren't for most people.
|when the world was deciding how to classify the internet, most first world and several third world countries classified it as a utility. Then their governments poured money into infrastructure, so as a result, the US has less bandwidth and slower internet at higher costs than what the rest of the first world and several third world countries enjoy. |
This is only partially true. The US did in fact pour a lot of money in. The money was meant to promote upgrades to fiber. The companies that ultimately received the money didn't spend it on upgrading infrastructure, however. And, because the US government is so infamously good at being a b*tch for large corporations, it did absolutely nothing about it.
Reference for some of the telecom crimes: [pbs.org...]
|The problem, as you rightly indicate, is the use of video steaming, which is a bandwidth hog |
There's plenty of bandwidth, globally speaking. It's the lack of fiber in the US that's the "problem". In quotes because the telecom companies are still managing massive profit margins despite the "problem". For companies providing vital services, for which many people don't have an alternative provider to choose from, those margins are far too large, but that's another conversation.
I'm reasonably happy with my overpriced, not as fast as it should be, internet connection. At least I live somewhere with an option besides Comcast. It's not the end of the world, the internet will go on without net neutrality. But make no mistake, this is ENTIRELY about corporate profits, it has nothing to do with changing internet usage habits.
Thanks for the clarification about the US government's actions. I have actually wondered if the big telecoms are trying to create artificial scarcity of bandwidth to drive up costs.
On a side note, apparently more and more cities are creating city-wide wi-fi networks. These networks cost a lot at first, but end up providing really fast, quality internet at low to reasonable prices.
Another side note, the telecoms have been pushing to block fiber at a city level: [washingtonpost.com...]
|The problem, as you rightly indicate, is the use of video steaming, which is a bandwidth hog. More an more people, around the world, are choosing to download movies and stream videos, so it's only going to become a bigger problem. |
The right solution is:
1) charge end users for usage - you download more, you pay more. The principle is the same as "calling party pays" for phone calls.
2) ensure plenty of competition - local loop unbundling was probably the best regulatory decision any arm of the EU ever made.
ISPs want to charge the sites the downloads are from, because that lets them double charge for the same service, and makes the pricing less transparent to consumers. It also lets them strike lucrative deals to favour some providers without it being too obvious to consumers.
System: The following 3 messages were spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/webmaster/4665652.htm [webmasterworld.com] by phranque - 8:35 pm on Apr 24, 2014 <small>(utc -7)</small>
|There are many ideas and proposals packed under the rubric of "Net Neutrality," but the core principle amounts to rent control on the Internet: all web traffic must be treated equally. In its undiluted, absolute form, this idea would work about as well as rent control does - it would destroy the Internet experience as we know it. The ability to sell high bandwidth to large websites that can afford it, adjust rates and access speeds for users who consume large amounts of bandwidth, sell unused bandwidth at a discount, and otherwise treat traffic unequally is crucial to the business model that sustains the fast, inexpensive, and powerful Internet we have come to take for granted. |
On the other hand, some ideas packed into Net Neutrality appeal to most consumers, particularly when discussion turns to Internet gatekeepers who deliberately sabotage traffic to certain websites they disfavor. For example, if an Internet Service Provider happens to sell streaming video, it might decide to artificially reduce bandwidth to other streaming-video providers, giving itself a competitive advantage. People who buy Internet access from this ISP will think, "Man, their streaming video service works a lot better than Netflix or Amazon Prime, so I'll buy it from them," unaware that Netflix and Amazon Prime are being deliberately slowed down to make their service look inferior. It's not surprising that this form of unequal bandwidth allocation is unpopular with end users.
|US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler has had a major change of heart when it comes to net neutrality, it's reported. |
The The Wall Street Journal claims the FCC will propose new rules on net neutrality that would allow companies to pay for faster access to their websites and services, so long as they are sold on "commercially reasonable" terms. This breaks tradition with years of net neutrality, which has allowed all internet users a level competitive playing field.
According to the WSJ, the proposed FCC rules would go further; the agency is reportedly backing away from designating internet services as public utilities which must be provided equally for all, in favor of keeping them as information services, which can be run in whatever way the ISP chooses, within reason.
|The Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler has confirmed reports that proposed changes to internet governance will abandon net neutrality principles and says companies can charge extra for some types of traffic so long as it's "commercially reasonable." |
"There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule. They are flat out wrong. Tomorrow we will circulate to the Commission a new Open Internet proposal that will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court's ruling in January," he said in a statement.
And it keeps on coming...
Breitbart almost nails it - except that it is not unpopular with consumers, because consumers have no idea what is going on, and rules with wriggle room will be exploited by ISPs.
>>1) charge end users for usage
We essentially pay for usage where I am. 10GB/month with your subscription (plus 10 "bonus" GB between 2am and 8am), then $8/GB after that. I can tell you that if that's what it ends up costing generally, all video services would disappear overnight. Basically, what those prices mean for us is that if we download a standard def 1-hour TV show, that's basically $3 in bandwidth. I have no idea what an HD movie costs, but I expect that in the end I could order the Blu-Ray for a little more.
That said, I'm with you. Internet should be treated like electricity and water - big users pay more and charges are tiered so that the really big users during peak hours pay more per unit.
|We essentially pay for usage where I am. 10GB/month with your subscription (plus 10 "bonus" GB between 2am and 8am), then $8/GB after that. I can tell you that if that's what it ends up costing generally, all video services would disappear overnight. Basically, what those prices mean for us is that if we download a standard def 1-hour TV show, that's basically $3 in bandwidth. I have no idea what an HD movie costs, but I expect that in the end I could order the Blu-Ray for a little more. |
My ISP - TimeWarner - offers three tiers of internet in my area. I have the slowest service, and there are two faster ones. They recommend the faster ones for people who download or upload a lot of video. This is another way ISPs control the cost of serving video/streaming - while you can choose the slower account even if you do a lot of video/streaming, the quality of playback will be throttled down to the service level you've paid for. Either way, TW isn't incurring unexpected costs for bandwidth.
Both your scenario and mine sound fair enough to me... but they are not really what net neutrality is about. Right now, they're talking mostly about videos and stuff that actually cost ISPs money because that's where it sounds most fair to break down neutrality (not all websites are alike), but the real problem is: what's to stop an ISP from charging MSNBC extra but not Fox News, or vice versa, because they have a media deal with Fox Corp or, worse, because they prefer Fox's political slant? The burden would be entirely on MSNBC to convince the FCC that something untoward is going on, and how are they going to get the documentation and data to prove it?
Much worse scenario: they demand payments of $1500/month from all widget bloggers, and all the huge corporate blogs say, "Sure, no problem", but you're lucky to make $1500/month from your widget blog. Well, what's unfair about that? They're rolling out that fee to all these blogs, not just you. So you can't even begin to make a case to the FCC that this is being done to favor brands. You're just out of luck.
@ergophone $8 per Gb sounds VERY expensive. No competition?
I assume that you are in the US and not in a very remote area? The principle is right, but the price levels FAR too high. It is not just very expensive compared to much of Europe, but even compared to third world countries with poor infrastructure.
My ISP does have limited price tiering - you get extra free off-peak usage.
@diberry, your examples are exactly what is worrying.
There are three issues here:
1) neutrality 1 - treating all websites the same.
2) neutrality 2 - not charging websites rather than users, because doing so means users do not get worse access to a website that has not paid their ISP
3) price levels - whether ISPs are charging too much (regophobe's certainly is).
graeme_p, it's that high because the US has worse infrastructure than several third world countries. That's what happens when your government asks a handful of huge companies that enjoy virtual monopolies, "Do you feel like innovating to lower costs?" They think it over and say, "Nah, we feel like over-charging our captive audience. And by the way, we need to be allowed to charge even more!"
Because there is no way ANY fee charged under this disaster isn't going to get passed onto consumers.
Actually there are three options
#1 and #2 are the same plus or minus (Wildblue/Exede and Hughesnet).
#3 was an AT&T T1 line at 1.5Mbps for $350/mo, no quota, but they could only provision 6 of those to our area and the neighbor got the last one. Now the system is saturated. No more until some natural disaster wipes out the current system and we get disaster relief aid to put in a new one.
|I assume that you are in the US |
|and not in a very remote area? |
Depends on your definition, but I suppose the answer is yes. We have no cell signal either.
|US has worse infrastructure than several third world countries |
The US telecoms got huge government money to roll out broadband throughout the US. They did want any smart business would do - they used the money to bribe politicians into changing the regulations and definition of broadband so that the ISPs could qualify for "broadband" subsidies while still offering the crappy internet that I have.
A few months ago I would have had all the tragic links - a friend was looking into the nefarious collusion of the telecoms and our elected officials and was sending me some of the better articles.
I forget the details, but it's pretty sick, which goes to diberry's comment about the fee.
In principle, I think consumers should pay for what they use just like water and electric. In practice, that would require a complete restructuring of the telecom system and, perhaps, our political system to make it work... or an "end run" around the telecoms, which some mayors are doing by subsidizing public broadband and, apparently, the Obama admin wants to do nationwide by subsizing 4G (but first we'll need 1G cell service before we can get 4G data): [theweek.com...]
As always it is "follow the money".
Until the internet is classed as a public utility there will fluctuations in pricing across the grid. That said:\
I rather like the USA version better than the other countries with higher level of service.. but then again, I'm more of a privacy fan rather than running on a government mandated service. Call it different strokes for different folks.
Aside: I still operate a telephonic (modem) ANSI based BBS for about 500 folks at 5700baud. :)
Sometimes bandwidth is not the only criteria, except when it IS...
|I rather like the USA version better than the other countries with higher level of service.. but then again, I'm more of a privacy fan rather than running on a government mandated service. |
I do not understand that. I am not sure what the privacy advantage of the US system is, given the NSA is everywhere!
As for government mandating things, if you look at how things work in the EU, the key government intervention is to allow more competition through local loop unbundling.
How do ergophobe's costs and options compare with those in major cities?
|How do ergophobe's costs and options compare with those in major cities? |
I'm in Houston. We don't pay that much. Perhaps a different city and different company rep?
|As for government mandating things, if you look at how things work in the EU, the key government intervention is to allow more competition through local loop unbundling. |
Er... the governments in EU and other world countries not USA makes that infrastructure available... complete with control and backdoors, et al. in same as all the "competitors" have to qualify to the government to operate. The NSA revelations ala Snowden are illuminating for the USA, but nothing like other national eavesdroppers. And Yes, I Know You Can't Prove A Negative so let us n not waste either one's time in that regard. :)
Some think this is a good thing. Others do not. At present it is just information of a possibility.
You think the US ISPs don't have backdoors and they're funneling all that info to anyone who will buy it? That's not even me being cynical - it would be smart to sell every bit of info you are collecting anyway, if you can do so without breaking laws.
At least some countries in the EU have some privacy rules about what Google et al can do with that information. The US keeps ruling that if you don't want businesses using your non-identifying data every which way they like, you should stop doing business and go live in a cave. Which is tempting, but not really a practical option for most of us.
|complete with control and backdoors, et al. in same as all the "competitors" have to qualify to the government to operate |
Um... no, it does not work like that. There are independent regulators and transparent rules. Its not very different from the US where telecoms companies need an FCC license. ISPs do not need a license, as far as I know, in either the US or the UK.
EU governments do have surveillance mechanisms, just like the US, but there is no link between that and competition regulation.
The difference is simply that the EU rules are better than the US rules.
If anything the EU rules reduce government influence by letter unlicensed ISPs take business away from licensed telcos.
[edited by: graeme_p at 6:03 am (utc) on May 5, 2014]
Looking at ergophobe's choices:
1) two satellite providers, who have a different cost structure to fixed line, and I am pretty sure much higher costs - so it is an intrinsically expensive service.
2) A provider with limited capacity that is full at a high price
3) his current provider.
That is definitely a lack of real competition.
Once you get outside large market areas, there is no incentive to compete. Many smaller cities and towns are being under-served while major cities and their surrounding areas have an abundance of choices. The choices and prices where I am are far more limited and expensive than ergophobe's poor options.
Satellite service providers like the current setup I believe, it lets them charge outrageous rates for limited service and rather than charge for surpassing their limits, they cut off your service until usage averages to the limit over a 24 hour period. That's not a good option even if it wasn't $90 a month for 450 Mb a day household limit.
This doesn't have anything to do with the net neutrality issues, but the FCC needs to ensure that internet options are available to less populated areas. I would be happy to pay metered rates. I don't live in a really "remote" location, I'm 2 miles outside town (over 50,000 pop.) and within 20 miles of a major city. I would guess there must be millions of households in the US without very good options to choose from.
My local phone company offers A/DSL service very reasonably and I would not consider options so important except that the main cable was cut on Feb. 8th and I have been fighting to get it repaired since then, including formal complaints to the FCC. They patched the fat cable with a skinny splice of cable and now my internet has a top speed of 7Kb/s - can't even check email. The phone company has loaned me a 3G wifi modem which only worked after I bought an antenna for it, I am in a fringe area for cell phones. So at night I have often seen speeds of over 500Kb/s but all day it drops off without warning and varies from .1 Kb/s to sometimes 77Kb/s and changes connections every few minutes. I had hughesnet for about 7 years, so I'm not even considering signing a 2 year contract with them.
@not2easy, I did mention it earlier, but you are quite right to repeat it: pricing is a different issue from net neutrality.
I live just outside a third world town with a population of 100,000. Real population in the entire built up area around it is much higher but the proportion of the population who are potential customers is much lower than in a developed country. I get ADSL with a 60GB limit for less than $40/month and I can get a MOBILE connection with 12Gb usage for approximately $12 a month.
I did have my connection slowed to 64kbps for nearly two days last month because my ISP mistakenly had us marked as having exceeded our usage when we had not so its not all good.
The US telecom market does sound like a mess outside major cities. Its something that seems to be common in the US: a mix of amazing competitive markets, and near monopolies; really good anti-trust laws and weird anti-comeptitive regulation.
And believe it or not, today they came and fixed it! WooHoo! Just had to share that after the long rant..