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FCC Declares Intention To Enforce Net Neutrality

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the play-nice-now dept.

The Internet 343

Unequivocal writes "The FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, told Congress today that the 'Federal Communications Commission plans to keep the Internet free of increased user fees based on heavy Web traffic and slow downloads. ...Genachowski... told The Hill that his agency will support "net neutrality" and go after anyone who violates its tenets. "One thing I would say so that there is no confusion out there is that this FCC will support net neutrality and will enforce any violation of net neutrality principles," Genachowski said when asked what he could do in his position to keep the Internet fair, free and open to all Americans. The statement by Genachowski comes as the commission remains locked in litigation with Comcast. The cable provider is appealing a court decision by challenging the FCC's authority to penalize the company for limiting Web traffic to its consumers.' It looks like the good guys are winning, unless the appeals court rules against the FCC."

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343 comments

Let me say.... (5, Insightful)

iamsolidsnk (862065) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193137)

I did not see this one coming....

Re:Let me say.... (1)

LS1 Brains (1054672) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193181)

Well, they really only said free for all Americans -- not American (or other) companies.

Cue a shift in the "net neutrality" definition in ... 3... 2....1...

Re:Let me say.... (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193219)

Me either, after the FCC being suspiciously absent from any meaningful reformist type discussions during the last 10 years.

Other than Google Voice and a bandwidth auction, I haven't heard much about the FCC in some years, aside of course from Janet Jackson's nipple.

Re:Let me say.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193629)

aside of course from Janet Jackson's nipple.

Which Michael, being dead, is no longer sucking.

Re:Let me say.... (3, Insightful)

Tenareth (17013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194079)

It's a simple tactic. Get people thinking you are in charge of the Internet by "protecting it". Once people take it as an unwritten rule that you are the police of the Internet, you can do whatever you want.

I guess Canada should be on watch (3, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193159)

Assuming they aren't already. You know Rogers and the other providers are going to be watching very closely how this develops.

Re:I guess Canada should be on watch (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193245)

Canada doesn't give two shits about what the FCC has to say about net neutrality.

The CRTC has been actively working against the entire idea of net neutrality, and the very few providers that don't have to answer to the CRTC perform lovely things like AD insertion/replacement and falsifying DNS, not to mention throttling competitor's VoIP service (but, of course, not their own).

Canada has the sort of internet you find in the 3rd world. The only difference being not the price, nor the bandwidth (the price and average available bandwidth is in-line with most 3rd internet world pricing) but rather the caps on the service (most 3rd world countries have somewhat smaller caps).

Way to go, Canada!

Cue complaints (-1, Troll)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193177)

cue /. republicans, bitching about how nothing good will come of this, and whenever the government try anything they just fuck it up and or it should just be left to the market!

Re:Cue complaints (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193259)

You know, nothing good will come of this, and whenever the government try anything they just fuck it up and or it should just be left to the market!

Re:Cue complaints (0, Flamebait)

LS1 Brains (1054672) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193261)

I almost started to bitch about now nothing good will come of this, but .... well the government DOES fuck up just about anything they try!

Then again so does the open market, which is now in many instances partially owned by the government, which is playing in the open market which is ...

OMG INFINITE LOOP, HELP !!!!

Re:Cue complaints (5, Insightful)

Yaos (804128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193849)

Remember when the US built out the electrical grid? Or when it built the interstate system? Or when it sent people to the moon? What a bunch of failures.

Re:Cue complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194095)

3 wins and a million losses. Odds are still against the government.

Re:Cue complaints (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193283)

of course the government would never have had any part in creating these massive corporate horrors like say local monopolies would they?... /sarcasm

prosecute fraud [as an example, unlimited isn't] and end the local monopolies and most of the problem should go away. the actions of these companies wouldn't likely be tolerated were there any choice for the internet user in the matter.

Re:Cue complaints (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193429)

of course the government would never have had any part in creating these massive corporate horrors like say local monopolies would they?... /sarcasm

Are you suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission should tell the States what monopolies can and cannot be setup within their borders?
I agree with your conclusion that more competition would drive out those who seek to limit services, but I seriously question your method.

Re:Cue complaints (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193663)

I agree with your conclusion that more competition would drive out those who seek to limit services, but I seriously question your method.

As opposed to now, where one agency of the feds has to undo some of the damage done by the states to their own citizens? I think the OP's suggestion makes more sense.

Re:Cue complaints (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193729)

government has one sole reason for existence: enforce laws restraining one person from doing violence/defrauding another. My feelings on the matter are the same as with the drug war- technically the states retain the right to create these monopolies/enforce their own drug wars.. but the results of doing either of these is often negative. The various governments have encroached too far into various parts of the market and the negative consequences are numerous. Currently the states retain the power to create monopolies if they are foolish enough to do so however, an amendment to the constitution forbidding state and federally created monopolies or one at the state level would suffice.

Re:Cue complaints (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193291)

"cue /. republicans, bitching about how nothing good will come of this, and whenever the government try anything they just fuck it up and or it should just be left to the market!"

Dare we flash back to the FCC under the previous administration and the complaints from /. democrats about how going after Comcast wasn't enough and that the commissioners were in the telco's pockets?

Re:Cue complaints (3, Insightful)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194289)

Better yet, let's review the FCC's anti-public good performance going back to the mid-90s. FCC has consistently worked on behalf of private interests to the harm of the public.

The FCC under Clinton did as much damage to the public as the FCC under Bush. Just looking at the FCC's most recent failures, I am not optimistic about FCC doing anything in the public good regarding net neutrality. At best, we'll get some immediate treat that will keep consumers happy in the interim at the cost of a loss of consumer rights further down the road.

Re:Cue complaints (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193307)

Well, to be fair this does seem like the kind of thing that should be established in, you know, a law or act or something. Not just one commission saying, "We've decided this is illegal now and will enforce it". I'd much rather see this on the books as a semi-permanent change, rather than something that will be easily reversed when the political winds change direction.

Re:Cue complaints (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194207)

In the long run, imposed "network neutrality" is bad for us as a society.

It means 20% of the population can hog 90% of the network resources without any technical measures being allowed to stop them.

Therefore, it is at best a band aid

The real sustainable solution is the one that should be put into law, not net neutrality.

The real solution is one that helps make sure the resources and ability is there for other companies to compete against their connectivity offerings.

Require monopolists offer interconnection to other ISPs on net neutral terms at a reasonable price (no more than X% above fair market), but don't require all connections (or consumer connections) are on those terms.

Re:Cue complaints (4, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194015)

Many Republicans and conservative organizations have supported net neutrality. Savetheinternet.com for example includes the Christian Coalition of America and Gun Owners of America. While it is true that Democrats have generally been more supportive of net neutrality, (McCain was awful on net neutrality), it isn't helpful to simply assume that Republicans must all have one view of this and Democrats all the other. This doesn't reflect a much more complicated reality. It is common human behavior to assume that because one disagrees with another group on some collection of issues they will disagree with you on everything but that's not always the case. Thinking that way really isn't helpful.

REPBULICANS?! sounds Libertarian to me! (-1, Troll)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194087)

As a libertarian I must say, No good will come of this, and whenever the government tries anything they just fuck it up and it should just be left to the free market!

this includes net neutrality, health care, environmental regulation, gun ownership/licensing, gas tax, income tax, all taxes, public education, community monopolies on utilities(phone/cabletv/water/electricity), social security, police offers using force against private citizens, national armies, spending money on illegal wars (civil war against your own government is okay though) and whatever else libertarians hate (hard to keep track of it all). Mostly I just hate the DMV and IRS, and I guess the FCC because it's the cool thing to do.

Careful what you wish for... (5, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193207)

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of source and destination", then GOOD.

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol", then BAD.

Re:Careful what you wish for... (1)

iamsolidsnk (862065) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193223)

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of source and destination", then GOOD.

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol", then BAD.

I can imagine bittorrent applications, im sure the govt is being pressured by interest groups about this.

Re:Careful what you wish for... (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193377)

I can understand prioritizing some protocols, in the manner in which Wondershaper does on my own computer. Interactive web applications take priority - basically, browsing and gaming. Torrents and downloads are automagically throttled JUST ENOUGH to allow the interactive stuff to go through first.

The ISP's practice of throttling torrents to some arbitrary value that might be as low as 1% of capacity is BS.

The customer who starts a torrent early in the morning sees that his download rate should finish the torrent in 6 hours expects to see the torrent completed when he gets home. If it takes 6.5 or 7 hours, no big deal. 10 hours might be mildly annoying. But, if he gets home, and the client says that ETA is 1 week and 19 hours, there is a serious problem. Such arbitrary throttling should never take place.

Re:Careful what you wish for... (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193537)

> I can understand prioritizing some protocols
I'm all for it - as long as I'm the one setting the priorities. All the ISP should do is provide a pipe, and enforce bandwidth limits and quality of service as specified in our service level agreement. I don't want them sticking their hands in my traffic and deciding what to do with it.

Re:Careful what you wish for... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194021)

I see your point - users should have a voice, IF there isn't enough bandwidth to go around. And, yes, the bandwidth that you pay for should be available, thereby negating any need to throttle bandwidth.

But, stuff happens. As happened a couple years go in Louisiana and Mississippi, a lot of infrastructure went down. That infrastructure affected people inside and outside the stricken area - some more than others, of course. Let's assume that over a period of months, for one reason or another, the ISP simply CANNOT deliver the bandwidth that would normally be available.

What is a reasonable metering method? Would my Wondershaper not be reasonable? Everyone's browser will work at normal speed, and every bit of the remaining available bandwidth is used for downloading, movie watching, etc.

Should, or should not, interactive applications have priority? I say, "Yes".

I think that we're agreed that arbitrarily throttling downloads to x Kb/s is wrong.

Re:Careful what you wish for... (5, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193413)

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol", then BAD.

Not in my opinion. I see no reason at all to have policies based on protocol. That's a static decision, and static policy decisions can be inaccurate for any particular connection, out of date or simply ignorant of new protocols, and can/will be largely decided by politics not practicality. I.e. bittorent bad, equally bandwidth heavy streaming protocols from ISP-approved media sites good.

You can get QoS while remaining protocol agnostic. You simply base the priority for any connection based on the amount of bandwidth it uses. Lower bandwidth, higher priority. Low-bandwidth latency-sensitive apps like VOIP work perfectly without having their protocol recognized, bulk data transfers are deprioritized but still get plenty of bandwidth (because the higher priority connections are by definition not using much) again without the protocol mattering. If you try to game the system by sending bulk data transfers though VOIP protocols, then you still get downgraded, while a static system would fail.

The only cases it doesn't work for are cases where there's not much you can do anyway -- like live (as in no buffering) streaming video.

What I don't know is if there is any routers out there that do this, or if it's still considered too much memory to keep the connection state info around for packets that are just passing through.

Re:Careful what you wish for... (2, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193559)

You can still game the system: Open many parallel connections.

Shortfalls (5, Informative)

kriss (4837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193911)

I'm sure it's not in your opinion, but you're sadly oversimplifying or ignoring every use case and ignoring the drivers behind QoS in general. If you want something simplistic and turnkey, there's certainly products out there. Netequalizer springs to mind.

But hey, let's throw in a few simple examples:

HTTP downloads vs. Flash video streamed over HTTP. One is decidedly interactive (even if buffering certainly helps), the other one is decidedly non-interactive (even if faster = neater, naturally).

SIP telephony vs. SIP videoconferencing. Agnosticism per your definition would make the algorithm punish the SIP videocon.

Or, let's take an even simpler example: P2P. Rather than a few very hungry connections, you get a large number of connections pushing less data per connection.

One can always argue that service providers should provide enougb bandwidth so that they won't even have to prioritize data the first place. Nice in theory, hard (or simply uneconomic) in practice. Take a cable provider - with a limited upstream bandwidth per channel, you need some sort of fairness. Simple per-plug fairness works to some extent, but you don't really want to punish the puny amount of upstream data your average HTTP request would generate just because the same user is P2P'ing like there's no tomorrow. Makes for a bad user experience.

When we get to wireless, it gets even messier with the limited and shared upstream and downstream.

I could go on for a whie, but I believe the point has been made. It's not a case of "You simply XYZ" at all.

FCC Network Neutrality Principles (5, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193423)

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of source and destination", then GOOD.

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol", then BAD.

The FCC's Network Neutrality Principles [fcc.gov] are:

  1. Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice;
  2. Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;
  3. Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network;
  4. Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

Neither of the principles you state are, as such, strictly necessary to meet those principles.

That being said, discrimination by source or destination could in some cases violated the principles (e.g., if an ISP that is also a content provider outright blocks access to traffic trying to reach competing content providers over its network, or blocks all port 80 requests, or all requessts that appear to use the HTTP protocol, going to their non-business subscribers IPs.) Likewise, discrimination by protocol might in some cases violate the protocol (indeed, the last example of discrimination by source or destination is also a discrimination by protocol.) Whether deprioritizing rather than outright blocking traffic using certain ports or protocols would violate the principles depends on the circumstances; presumably, deprioritization that made it impractical to use the protocol for its principal purpose would be problematic.

Re:FCC Network Neutrality Principles (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193721)

Neither of the principles you state are, as such, strictly necessary to meet those principles.

Yeah, it doesn't seem like the FCC means the same thing the average geek does by "net neutrality". The summary's quote talks about keeping the internet free of additional fees for heavy usage. Er, well, that's nice to have, but the right to hog your ISP's pipes to the detriment of other uses with impunity is not really what net neutrality is all about.

If networks want to prioritize users that don't download as much when they are at full capacity, fine. If they want to let traffic pick between low latency or high average transfer rate, fine. What becomes not fine and not neutral is when they want to charge more just because certain kinds of transfers are more valued (i.e. have a higher "consumer surplus") and thereby take more money "just because they can".

Re:Careful what you wish for... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193531)

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of source and destination", then GOOD.

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol", then BAD.

Please be more efficient next time and use a switch statement.

switch "Net Neutrality"
case "treat traffic the same regardless of source and destination":
      GOOD;
      break;
case "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol":
      BAD;
      break;

Re:Careful what you wish for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193921)

Poor form. You don't need that 2nd break statement!

Re:Careful what you wish for... (4, Informative)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193601)

The problem is, ISP's are already doing it based on protocol, and it's bad. If your internet service is provided by a cable company, they just may slow down video protocols as perceived competition on their own bandwidth, but allow voice ones through to take a stab at phone companies.

On the other hand, if you have a DSL through a phone provider, they just may slow down voice/audio protocols for the same reasons, but allow video ones through to take a stab at cable companies.

There was a LOT of competitions, back biting, and attempts at legislation between both of these types of companies a few years back, I remember TONS of commercials with each side trying to get the people on board. Both sides pretty much supported the concept of government intervention to keep the other out of their business while allowing their side to get into the others. I'm generally against most government intervention.

In most cases, a competitor will spring up when one type of industry is screwing the people at large that doesn't screw the people at large, at least at first. Unfortunately in communications industries those competitors are few and far between.

I would LOVE to start my own cable company that simply pushed analog and QAM TV without the need for converter boxes and was utterly lacking in all but absolutely require encryption. I think the public would love to use their own TV tuners again and be able to build their MythTV boxes/use their Tivos without having to clear it with some mystical gate keeper.

Re:Careful what you wish for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193817)

Agree! UDP should never have the same guarantee of delivery as TCP!

Re:Careful what you wish for... (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194057)

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol", then BAD.

Can you explain how to tell what protocol is being carried over a TLS connection?

Re:Careful what you wish for... (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194301)

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of source and destination", then GOOD.

If "Net Neutrality"= "treat traffic the same regardless of protocol", then BAD.

Agree, with some caveats such as with vocal and emergency communications.

Falcon

The dangers of vague phrases (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193221)

enforce any violation of net neutrality principles

I'd be happier if they vowed to enforce the principles, rather than their violation.

Re:The dangers of vague phrases (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193375)

"One thing I would say so that there is no confusion out there is that this FCC will support net neutrality and will enforce any violation of net neutrality principles," Genachowski said....

I'd be happier if they vowed to enforce the principles, rather than their violation.

So much for ensuring that there is no confusion!

principles vs. law (1, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193415)

enforce any violation of net neutrality principles

I'd be happier if they vowed to enforce the principles, rather than their violation.

What I'd like to know is on what grounds do they think they can mandate how traffic is managed on ISP networks. There are no net neutrality laws. "Principle" means jack squat legally. I don't think there are even any internal FCC regulations on the books regarding NN, let alone laws passed by Congress. This leaves a huge hole for ISP's to take the FCC to court for what is essentially a privately delivered service.

Re:principles vs. law (4, Informative)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193695)

Titles 3 & 4 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Specificially the preemption of franchising authority regulation of telecommunication services, and the elimination of most of the greedy/protective (depending on your political views) PSC boards.

The alternative is something they don't want, which is why they are trying to find some illiterate judge to declare the FCC impotent.

Re:principles vs. law (5, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193763)

What I'd like to know is on what grounds do they think they can mandate how traffic is managed on ISP networks.

Presumably because Congress, by law, has given the FCC authority to regulate interstate and foreign communication to acheive policy aims set by Congress, including, for instance, direction "to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet" and "to promote the continued development of the Internet" and to "encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans", and also because of the US Supreme Court ruling in Brand X, 545 U.S. 967 (2005) that "the Commission remains free to impose special regulatory duties on facilities-based ISPs under its Title I ancillary jurisdiction."

(Additional authority is cited in the FCC's Memorandum Opinion and Order [fcc.gov] in the Comcast case.)

There are no net neutrality laws.

No, there are net neutrality principles that the FCC has articulated that it believes are appropriate and necessary to acheive the mandates the FCC has been given by Congress with regard to the internet, and which it intends to use to guide its policymaking in that area.

"Principle" means jack squat legally.

True, principles, as such, have no binding force. The FCC Net Neutrality principles [fcc.gov] , one should note, are essentially a statement of how the Commission intends to acheive the objectives set for it in law, using its existing statutory authority; they aren't asserted to be independent legal authority.

This leaves a huge hole for ISP's to take the FCC to court for what is essentially a privately delivered service.

Anyone can take the FCC to court for anything they want; whether they can win or not is another matter.

Wait a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193227)

The FCC are the good guys now?

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193459)

Yes, sometimes they are. Often enough, it's hard to tell, but overall, yeah. They are better than anarchism, at worst, and better than corporate control all the time. They DO enforce law among private and corporate users alike.

Uh huh. (2, Funny)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193233)

What you don't realize is that by "neutrality" they mean politically; all Republican websites will be required to forward half the incoming traffic to liberal pages.

They'll swap that when (if) the Republicans come back to power.

Re:Uh huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193521)

What you don't realize is that by "neutrality" they mean politically; all Republican websites will be required to forward half the incoming traffic to liberal pages.

They'll swap that when (if) the Republicans come back to power.

Not that I think either party has a clue, but I find it interesting that you're using "Republican" and "liberal", instead of "conservative" and "liberal", or "Republican" and "Democrat".

Re:Uh huh. (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193605)

That's deliberate. I don't consider Republicans to be at all conservative. They are "neo-conservatives", as socialist as modern liberals.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193937)

As a libertarian, I agree. Neocons and Democrats have very little difference apart from window dressing. They have different masters, sure, but no real ideology of their own.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193657)

Funny or not, that's the basic idea behind the fairness doctrine [wikipedia.org] for radio which the dems are trying to resurrect [wikipedia.org] . It's not inconceivable this could somehow be applied to the internet but I can't imagine it going through without a lot of backlash.

Re:Uh huh. (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194249)

What you don't realize is that by "neutrality" they mean politically; all Republican websites will be required to forward half the incoming traffic to liberal pages.

You're smoking something if you think there are currently the same number of Republicans as Democrats in the U.S. :)

The really sad part is, there are a lot of conservative Democrats, which is the big reason Obama is having trouble getting things passed - the Democratic pols aren't one homogeneous group in the same way the smaller Republican party is, because the Republican party has been forcing its non-extremely-right members out for awhile now. As Bill Maher has said, the Democrats are the Republicans of a few decades ago, and are generally not all that liberal.

Too bad there isn't a functioning national Progressive Party anymore. *sigh*

Good guys my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193251)

>It looks like the good guys are winning

O rly? The same "good guys" that impose and enforce draconian censorship laws on TV stations?

There is no such thing as "good guys" or "bad guys" in government. There are agencies, issues, policies, and interests. A particular agency has a particular policy on a particular issue that appeases (or doesn't appease) a given interest group, and that interest group would then support (or oppose) the agency's policy on that issue. Which does not stop the same interest group from having an opposite support factor for the same agency on another policy or issue.

People can be good or bad, organizations (govenrments, corporations, etc.) cannot. And stopping anthropomorphizing them is the first step towards getting something rational done instead of generating knee-jerk reactions and emotional hype.

Wait a second... (4, Funny)

FiveDozenWhales (1360717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193275)

The FCC, working for the rights of the consumer and not the rights of the big corporations?

Is it April 1st?

Re:Wait a second... (-1, Troll)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193409)

>Is it April 1st?

No, this is what happens when you vote in competent Democrats to run things instead of Republicans like Bush and Cheney.

Re:Wait a second... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193463)

s/Democrats/individuals/;
s/Republicans/idiots/;

And you have a post that's non-partisan, and yet still true!
Note: I don't mean to imply that Republicans are idiots. I do mean to imply that Bush and Cheney are.

Re:Wait a second... (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193631)

>Is it April 1st?

No, this is what happens when you vote in competent Democrats to run things instead of Republicans like Bush and Cheney.

I agree. Democrats have consistently stood up for the little guy:

I think it's time to wake up. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are deeply, deeply corrupt.

Re:Wait a second... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194013)

That's what we need to keep drilling into the heads of the sheep. There is NO "left" and NO "right;" they're only trying to drive a wedge between the lower and middle classes while the globalist corporations fleece us *all* blind.

MegaGlobal, Inc. is the real enemy, not some puppet Republicrat.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194201)

But MegaGlobal, Inc wouldn't have power without government enforcing it's will. So in a sense the far left and far right are correct when they blame big govt and big businesses (respectively). They've both become one in the same. There needs to be a firm separation between corporation and state and a serious review of campaign finance law before any progress is made, but fat chance on the people in power who are benefiting from things they way they are doing anything to change it. I'd say revolution is the answer but that requires public support which is nonexistant as long as people bicker between (R) and (D). I also think the rulign establishment is also smart enough not to push it to that point. Boil the frog. People won't notice as long as it's gradual enough.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193649)

Whoever modded the parent post "Troll," please pay attention to reality.

Yes, yes, in many ways the major parties are depressingly similar; Democrats and Republicans alike take enormous bribes from corporate interests and the little guy is pretty much guaranteed to get screwed no matter who's in power. But on a few key issues, there is a difference between them, and this happens to be one of those issues. Pointing this out does not constitute trolling.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193547)

Big corporations like Google benefit from network neutrality; that's why they are lobbying heavily about it. In fact, virtually all of the think tanks and pundits are funded by big business; the neutralists are funded by content providers and the anti-neutralists are funded by ISPs.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194261)

ummmm they ahve always doen that.
Believe me, the media companies do not like the limitation on language.

Sadly, a few hicks in BFE write a letter and we all get to suffer.

One wonders... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193293)

I wonder if they'll go after ESPN/Disney for violating net neutrality with ESPN360, which forces ISPs to pay for their subscribers to be able to view it (article: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/06/12/1842243/Disney-Strikes-Against-Net-Neutrality).

Foundational concept (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193313)

Every so often, a foundational concept comes along that could affect development for decades or centuries hence. The concept of "network neutrality" is one of these.

Just imagine the future possibilities:

On one hand, you have a future where you can never be sure what's really "out there", where there are huge swaths of information that you simply can't access, not because you or the information owner have any disagreement, but because some third party that you don't even know has determined that you shouldn't or couldn't see it. In this world, many sites are slowed to the point of unusability simply because your carrier doesn't want to have to compete with them when they offer a similar service. Quality suffers due to the lack of open competition.

On the other extreme, we have a future in which the Internet consists of the "world of ends [worldofends.com] " so charmingly envisioned by Doc Searls and David Weinberger. In this world, every information provider competes on fairly level turf with everybody else. Services that are genuinely better are allowed to win out solely on their merits, and not on their competitive associations. Quality of service continues to progress at a lightning pace, friction for improvements is low, so the best man truly does win.

Some people would say this is esoteric, that it's not about the "real world". But these people miss the fact that in the world of the future, the Internet will be the primary means of communication around the world. Already we see whole industries being consumed and integrated into the Internet. I no longer have cable, no television antenna sits on my roof, since Hulu + Netflix does everything I ever asked of my satellite dish and then some. I no longer have a phone line, since Vonage lets me do what I wish, anywhere I like for less. I basically don't send letters anymore, Email does the job faster, better, and cheaper. It's easier for me to do my banking electronically than it is to drive downtown to the nearest bank branch.

The world of the future is the Internet. And it's up to us, our generation, to see that this gorgeous technology is established with social norms and laws that allow us to use it to its maximum potential. This is our time. SAY YES TO NETWORK NEUTRALITY, AS LOUDLY AND OFTEN AS YOU CAN.

Re:Foundational concept (1)

rta (559125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193651)

Video over the internet is exactly the issue (currently). Video streams, especially the higher qualities, are 1 to 2 orders of magnitude larger than audio and several orders of magnitude larger than text based communication like email and IM. One 2mbit video stream would be enough to serve a whole city's email needs.

I like net neutrality as a concept, e.g. i don't want Comcast blocking my port 25, but on the other hand there will eventually have to be some use-based pricing because transfer does cost money. So if networks don't impose some usage caps or use QoS to provide multiple tiers, then we're just going to end up with metered service (like water, power, gas, phones and cell phones)... and that's going to hurt enthusiasts just as much if not more.

Re:Foundational concept (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194299)

I like net neutrality as a concept, e.g. i don't want Comcast blocking my port 25, but on the other hand there will eventually have to be some use-based pricing because transfer does cost money.

Use-based pricing (by maximum bandwidth or total transfer) doesn't even come close to violating any of the FCC's network neutrality principles. There is nothing non-neutral about paying for what you use.

Re:Foundational concept (4, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194189)

On one hand, you have a future where you can never be sure what's really "out there", where there are huge swaths of information that you simply can't access, not because you or the information owner have any disagreement, but because some third party that you don't even know has determined that you shouldn't or couldn't see it.

I've always maintained that the opposite of net neutrality is censorship. Simply put, net neutrality and the establishment of ISPs as carriers of information rather than producers, filters, or surveyors will be every single bit as important to freedom in western civilization as free speech.

And before someone goes Mr. Pedantic on me, note that "censorship" is literally defined as the act or ability to censor. Other entities besides the government can censor information and ISPs would be the perfect example.

Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (5, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193435)

Most of the types who have traffic shaping explained to them - which is what usually happens when politicians are the ones pushing the cause - still don't understand the concept of port blocking.

When I pay for "Internet Access" I don't expect my service provider to be able to dictate what I can and can't do with my internet connection. This includes hosting my own mail, FTP, and HTTP servers! What business of it is theirs if I post an image on Fark and host it myself?

As long as you're not spamming and/or doing illegal things they need to back the hell off.

As far as I'm concerned, if I'm having select ports blocked I am NOT getting "Internet Access".

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (1)

Sprouticus (1503545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193569)

Im all for net neutrality, but you are missing a point. If I have a service which clearly dictates what ports I can use, I have no problem with it. Then again if that occurs I think that the company involved should lose any exclusivity they may have and be forced to allow other carriers on their lines. The problem is for the vast majority of users this is not an issue so it will never become part of the cannon. As for hosting pics on Fark using an alternate port for such things works most of the time.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (3, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193625)

The problem is, in most cases the companies DO NOT clearly dictate what ports you can use. If you talk to the people on the phone they generally don't have a concept of what a port is, and if you ask them if they block ports they will usually outright lie or say no to make a sale.

Verizon outright denies any port blocking yet they do it. So do several other ISP's. If you call their support about port blocking they generally blame the consumers computer and assume the person calling is a moron. Do your own research on this, there's many non-morons who will validate it.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (3, Insightful)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193577)

I would generally agree, but would point out two things:

1) if you intend to run servers etc, a business package may well be more for you, since the ISP probably won't restrict that so much - you get what you pay for, and if you pay for a generic consumer package that's what you'll get
2) It helps to block mail server ports for most people to stop people unwittingly becoming part of a spam botnet. The benefits of the blocking more than outweigh the downsides of a few geeks being inconvenienced.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (3, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193731)

1) The providers are rather stupid about what they allow/wont allow. For instance with most providers that do the "Triple Play" if you get a business package you're no longer even allowed to get television. AT&T is known for this. The only reason I could get a 20 up/down with Verizon when I got it was because TV wasn't available in my area. If it would have been I wouldn't have been allowed to get that bandwidth. (Never mind the fact they lowered my bandwidth after a few months, never notified me and still charged me for 20)

2) When I had Time Warner years ago, they did NOT block my ports. What they did do was occasionally attempt to send mail through my SMTP server, they failed. (yes, I read my logs) I'm pretty sure if they would have succeeded I would have heard from them, since they never did, I never heard from them.

How hard is it to have script look for problems on a subnet? Time Warner did it. I personally believe they should cut off problem customers, and notify them as to why they are being cut off if they're problematic. Back when people would attack my servers with bots (usually infected Windows machines) I usually notified the ISPs, they usually didn't give a rats ass. ISP's are usually talking out their ass when they give justifications, I've proved it more than once.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193861)

Another note -

Instead of some arbitrary "business" classification I would actually support bandwidth/traffic tiers.

I could see my grandmother getting a low speed low transfer cheap tier and doing fine. She doesn't do much more than email and goofy internet slot machine game.

I could see most average users getting a high bandwidth low/medium transfer tier and doing fine for browsing, email, and maybe a couple of digital movie downloads or some Hulu time.

Someone like me could probably get along with the previously mentioned tier. On the other hand gnutella/bit torrent types and people who actually get real traffic to their websites may have to pay for the high transfer stuff.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (4, Insightful)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194187)

1) if you intend to run servers etc, a business package may well be more for you, since the ISP probably won't restrict that so much - you get what you pay for, and if you pay for a generic consumer package that's what you'll get.

That's fine. Just don't refer to the "generic consumer package" with blocked ports and redirects as unlimited Internet access. If I am connected to the Internet, I expect to be able to connect and be connected to as I wish, because that's what the Internet is. Call it the Comcast Walled Garden Online Package instead, because that's what it is.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193661)

I completely agree.

I wonder how successful a net neutraility lawsuit would be on the basis that having one or more specific ports completely blocked is effectively just the absolutely maximum possible bandwidth shaping of a particular kind of traffic.

Or alternatively, a lawsuit for for false advertising, given all the cable companies generally do just sell their service as internet access, with no mention of limitations.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (0)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193761)

I've been contemplating this angle for years. I think it would be more effective if it were to achieve class action status.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193797)

As long as you're not spamming and/or doing illegal things they need to back the hell off.

I agree with most of what you've said. However, most port blocking of email that I've encountered has been made to reduce spam email. One ISP I worked for blocked SMTP ports only when it was a dynamic IP. If the person was willing to purchase a static IP then they got free rain the set up an email server. The logic was if you had a dynamic IP setting up an email server was pointless since you could never guarantee your address when somone wants to send you something. The logic (right or wrong) continues until they believe the only reason for having an SMTP server on DHCP must only be for spam since you could never relyable receive. I'm all for net neutrality but most of the port blocking I've encountered is used to protect users from viruses or from spam. However, the speed throttling I've encountered has been used to hamper quality of service like torrents, and throttling me down just because blizzard needs to update is just rude of them.

Re:Port blocking is part of Net Neutraility! (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193893)

I use DYNDNS, and even with DHCP I had the same IP for long periods of time since I just left my server/router on. Power on that side of Houston was rather crappy so I did occasionally lose my I.P address for that reason alone.

Last mile and motivation to innovate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193495)

Given the very few choices available for last mile and the high cost of wireless alternatives, couldn't this become a giant demotivator that causes the likes of cable and telephone companies to radically slow their investment in capacity and QoS improvements?

I love the concept of net neutrality but I don't know that the impact of this style of enforcement will result in service levels any of us will have been wishing for.

Re:Last mile and motivation to innovate (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193771)

Those companies aren't even pretending to be interested in rural network access now. The new FCC policy won't make a difference. In fact, the only interest they do show is when a local government decides to run their own local broadband network access. Then they are sued by the companies who refused to provide service for unfair competition.

In socialist countries where infrastructure is built by government or under massive regulation, they have better cell coverage, better broadband access and speed, and cheaper rates. But that's what you get when you choose the slow and dumb imperial government, which can only be trusted with nuclear weapons and secret armies and national defense, but not running twisted pairs or putting up cell towers.

Re:Last mile and motivation to innovate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194141)

Of course if those socialist countries had the square mileage of the US, they would have the same coverage you have in Siberia.

Re:Last mile and motivation to innovate (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194243)

Nope. Finland, Sweden, and Norway have similar population densities and much harsher climates, and have better cell coverage and broadband access.

you F4il It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193543)

Won't be standing OF AMERICA) is the than tFhis BSD box,

I still like pay by the byte (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193549)

However, I hate pay by the byte at rates that are way out of porportion to the actual cost of delivery, which includes the actual proportionate share of maintaining the infrastructure.

In other words, if Grandma and Grandson both subscribe to the same nominal maximum speed, but Grandma downloads 1 movie a month then burns it to a DVD, and grandson downloads 500, Grandma's Internet bill should be significantly lower than her grandson's.

However, Grandson should get the speed for the rate he's paying for.

A charge that would make sense is:

Base customer charge.
Charge per TB at a given speed.

In practice, most companies would add a few units to the base customer charge and call that their "non-heavy user" plan.

For example, rather than
5 North Eblonian Currency Units as a base customer charge
1 NECU for each TB at 1 Mbit/sec (slow speed/lifeline service)
2 NECUs for each TB 10 Mbit/sec (normal speed)
3 NECUs for each TB at 50 Mbit/sec (high speed)

They might have:
6 NECUs + 1 NECU for each TB over the first TB for lifeline service
10 NECUs + 2 NECUs for each TB over the first 5 TB for their standard plan
35 NECUs + 3 NECUs for each TB over the first 10 TB for their elite plan

Of course, there will be discounts for those who bundle their cable TV, wireless, telephone, and mud-supply-needs.

The principles are good... (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193683)

...but aren't we talking about private property owned by private private companies?

I don't want my traffic shaped one way or another, BUT allowing the government this kind of power is a dangerous road. If the government wanted the internet to be free of these kind of controls, doesn't it make sense for them to OWN the infrastructure so they can make the rules? As apposed to forcing the rules down the throat of a company?

I value lower government interference over funky tubes any day.

Re:The principles are good... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193915)

...but aren't we talking about private property owned by private private companies?

Most ISPs wouldn't be able to deliver service at all if it wasn't for public appropriation of property rights, via eminent domain, to put in their connecting infrastructure (often, established to support their operation as common-carrier telephone companies, which were often regulated monopolies), and many of them are protected from having much competition by the fact that governments aren't going to keep doing that to support multiple redundant sets of infrastructure.

If the government wanted the internet to be free of these kind of controls, doesn't it make sense for them to OWN the infrastructure so they can make the rules?

Government can make the rules whether or not in owns the infrastructure; being able to make the rules is pretty much the definition of "government".

Neutrality (0, Troll)

Jodka (520060) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193723)

What is meant by "network neutrality" is network bias. The proposed mandate is a pricing scheme biased in favor of those who consume more. If everyone is required to pay the same price regardless of usage, then those who consume little bandwitdth pay a relatively high rate (in dollars/bit) while those who consume much bandwidth pay a relatively low rate. This is a discriminatory pricing policy biased against small-time users. The grandma sending a weekly email to her grandkids is paying a much higher rate than the BitTorrent junkie sharing films. If you benefit from that mandate then go ahead and selfishly advocate for government to enforce a discriminatory pricing policy which benefits you, but at least have the honesty not call it "neutral".

How about "fuel neutrality," SUV owners pay the same price to fill up the tank on their Lincoln Navigators and Hummers as Toyota Prius users pay to fill up their tanks. Or "land neutrality", the buyer of a 100 acre estate pays the same price as the buyer of the shack on the wrong side of the tracks. Ok, you say, it would be absurd for the government to mandate that pricing and ludicrous to call that "neutral." Well, then you see my point.

Re:Neutrality (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193965)

What is meant by "network neutrality" is network bias.

What is meant by the FCC with network neutrality [fcc.gov] is four things:

  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

The proposed mandate is a pricing scheme biased in favor of those who consume more.

"Network neutrality" is not a pricing scheme.

If everyone is required to pay the same price regardless of usage, then those who consume little bandwitdth pay a relatively high rate (in dollars/bit) while those who consume much bandwidth pay a relatively low rate.

The FCC's Network Neutrality principles do not require that "everyone is required to pay the same price regardless of usage."

Here's the problem with your logic (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194063)

The ISPs won't reduce the rate for granny, they'll just increase the rate for Wayne.

simple (2, Informative)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193813)

The stimulus bill that was passed requires any firm getting stimulus money for infrastructure upgrades, to follow the FCC's net neutrality tenets.

Honestly, how hard is QoS on packets? (3, Interesting)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193831)

I just can't understand how ISPs make this a difficult problem. Obviously there are some users that use a lot of bandwidth, there are others that don't. They have tried to discriminate based on "type" of traffic for a while, but why not just on the users total traffic for the month? It is super simple, keep track of the volume of data for all customers. From this data generate a QoS ordering for every customer (quantized based on QoS technical limits) daily or every so often. Now people that don't use bandwidth get served first and others get their packets dropped when bandwidth is at capacity(which I imagine isn't 100% of the time). Essentially high bandwidth users get all the extra bandwidth left over after the low bandwidth people get as much as they want. Then there is none of this packet filters, port blocking, man in the middle TCP reset junk that they are doing now. If you really want you can guarantee a minimum bandwidth for each customer and make reservations for that in the system.

Re:Honestly, how hard is QoS on packets? (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194213)

It's difficult because I paid for my internet connection. Who the hell are they to tell me the people that use the service they paid for less often is the more important customer? Last I checked the people that used your service the most were your best customers. If I use the service the most I should get priority, not the people that use it the least. Either way we both paid the same amount and should get equal treatment. "Traffic shaping" (more accurately called packet forgery or fraud) is an insult to both parties.

The Good Guys? (1)

eball (1315601) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193941)

I'm not sure that the FCC is really the "good guys" here. They're doing the right thing, so it may be a triumph of "good over evil" (hyperbole a bit, but whatever), but I'm not sure I would say the good guys are winning. The FCC should NOT have authority over broadband companies, because their purpose is to control the airwaves. Every step they take into other domains is a step in the wrong direction. If anything, taking care of net neutrality should be something the SEC has domain over, because right now it's more of an antitrust problem than anything else. As long as it's a 2- or 3-party game, Comcast can get away with things like overcharging and dropping packets. Don't get me wrong; I'm definitely glad to see the FCC step up and be ready to put the smackdown on violators of net neutrality. I hope Comcast loses their case, because it's a good precedent to set for net neutrality. However, we should be wary of setting a precedent where the FCC gets more power over the Internet and how people do and don't use it in the United States. It seems good now, but if we decide they have the power to make decisions, what happens when they decide "maybe a little LESS neutrality would be better"? I really think this is an area where the government should be focusing on helping competition enter the market, rather than just smacking the hands of the few companies that hold a near-monopoly on broadband right now.

Re:The Good Guys? (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194119)

The FCC should NOT have authority over broadband companies, because their purpose is to control the airwaves.

Wrong. The FCC's original 1934 mandate included both the regulatory authority over the airwaves that had previously belonged to the Federal Radio Commission and that over wire communication that previously belonged to the Interstate Commerce Commission, so even if we're looking at their original jurisdiction and ignoring newer laws like the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the FCC has always had a broader mandate than the airwaves, and its always included communication over wires.

If anything, taking care of net neutrality should be something the SEC has domain over, because right now it's more of an antitrust problem than anything else.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that "net neutrality" was mostly an antitrust issue, and, further, assuming, again for the sake of argument, that this particular area of commerce isn't explicitly within the FCC's regulatory purview, that would make it a matter for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

"good guys winning"? (0, Troll)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194097)

The FCC, making a decision on its own and without direction from Congress, going after companies based on its own whims, basically completely ignoring the rule of law, is a "good guy", now?

If your cause is being approved-of by no one in government other than "that one guy who has a machine-gun and diplomatic immunity", you aren't winning.

Common Carrier status (1)

bandwannabe (160057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194101)

At some point, don't the ISPs risk their common carrier status? They like the protection of saying they don't know what the traffic is that is flowing around their network, then they try to work with the media companies to block downloads of copyrighted material. If they know it is copyrighted material from an unauthorized source, then they no longer can claim to not know what the traffic is.

Either you give me access to the internet to pass whatever I want and are not liable for what I pass, or you get to filter it and become liable when illegal content gets through.

Re:Common Carrier status (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194153)

At some point, don't the ISPs risk their common carrier status?

No, because ISPs, as such, explicitly do not have common carrier status the way telephone companies do (even when the ISP is a telephone company.) They have similar immunities to those given to common carriers under various laws, but they don't have (explicitly in law) most of the obligations of common carriers. OTOH, the net neutrality principles echo, in many respects, the obligations of common carriers.

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