Ars Technica reports on the latest Net Neutrality news:
“The US Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 today to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes eliminating the Title II classification and seeks comment on what, if anything, should replace the current net neutrality rules. But Chairman Ajit Pai is making no promises about reinstating the two-year-old net neutrality rules that forbid ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. Pai’s proposal argues that throttling websites and applications might somehow help Internet users.”
You can find the docket and add a filing against it here.
Really, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
A recently conducted survey found:
“…while politics may be as divided as ever in our country, consumers share a strong bipartisan consensus that the government should let the internet flourish without imposing burdensome regulations.”
You can read more about it here.
Or, at least several major sites wanted you to know what it might feel like if it were to slow down permanently due to what they say may result in Internet “fast lanes” where companies would be able to purchase the ability to have their sites served faster than others (ala, the Comcast/Netflix agreement made earlier this year). This would potentially disrupt what we’ve all come to know and love as the digital economy of the Internet.
Meaning, if another movie / tv streaming content provider tried to enter the market today without the ability to sign a similar agreement (if only because they were new) they would be unable to even attempt to compete and thus their service would fail before users ever had a chance to try something that may be better or more innovative than the current big kid on the block. While even without net neutrality, enforcing payments like this (rather than the two companies voluntarily entering an agreement) would be legally hard to do today due to current antitrust laws, that doesn’t mean the little guy still wouldn’t find itself in a precarious situation – but perhaps that’s as it should be given the ups and downs of the digital economy.
What is the purpose behind this? Well, the telecom infrastructure in America is largely owned and maintained by private businesses including but not limited to Level 3 Communications, TeliaSonera International Carrier, CenturyLink, Vodafone, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. You might recognize the last three as companies from which you purchase your Internet connectivity. It is in their interest to make a profit. But, from what they tell us, it is hard to do that while maintaining and innovating on the infrastructure at the same time.
To my understanding (which could be wrong, I am not a networking expert – feel free to correct me), companies are fighting against the need to use a standard which treats all data the same regardless of what is being carried (i.e. TCP/IP). As an alternative, each company would able to create their own innovations that would help their own networks move data along without that technology necessarily being shared with everyone else. Without chiming in on one side of the debate or the other, this could be very good for consumers in the long run as competition in this area would drive innovation further and further.
The fear is that while competition has somewhat driven the cost to connect down on the consumer side, these companies must find another way to make profits and are looking toward the providers of digital goods as a potential revenue option. To that end, many see these infrastructure companies’ waves against net neutrality as an attempt to charge content providers money to ensure their data reaches their customers as fast as possible. This idea is comparable to a tollway company claiming their roads need maintenance and thus charging stores along the tollway, that have no other way to access them, extra fares to make sure consumers can access the offramps to those stores without delay, while also collecting money from the consumers themselves in order for them to gain access to the tollway in the first place. However, as I said above, this would be difficult to do given the antitrust laws currently in place.
I hope I’ve been able to some what enlighten people as to what the big deal is and I hope I have shed some light on the topic that is not as black and white as most of us have been lead to believe. The lesson to be learned, as with most things on the Internet, is issues such as these aren’t always necessarily as they first appear and a little research goes a long way. This is especially so where government and technology intertwine.
Blogging hiatus is now over and what better way to get back in the saddle again than to start with a Webtwitch Wednesday post!
Big news today:
Good question posed by FastCompany:
And there’s also the issue that Google’s pull-out of China might make the overall human rights situation slightly worse. Because whether or not you approve of Google, while it was operating in China it was pushing for relaxations of censorship–using its size as a global giant to try to lever open some cracks in the censorship wall. And if it leaves the country, then what’s to stop the Chinese government running roughshod over any other players in the Internet tech game–likely far smaller ones than mighty Google–and forcing them to comply?
Rockstar San Diego Wive’s do as the EA Spouse did and post a letter to the Internet calling for better working conditions.
The WSJ reports that the US Court of Appeals reinstated an antitrust lawsuit against the major record labels over alleged price-fixing of Internet music downloads.
Ars Technica reports that Comcast wants clarity from the FCC even if it means Net Neutrality.