Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Case Against Net Neutrality

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the who-needs-equality dept.

Businesses 702

jeek writes "While I certainly don't agree with it, this article tries to make the case that Net Neutrality may actually be bad for America. From the article: 'If the government regulates net neutrality, policies for internet access are set by one entity: the FCC. However, if the government stays out, each company will set its own policies. If you don’t like the FCC’s policies, you are stuck with them unless you leave the United States. If you don’t like your internet service provider’s policies, you can simply switch to another one. So which model sounds better to you?'"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Choices (5, Insightful)

space_jake (687452) | about 4 years ago | (#33219996)

What other service provider?

Re:Choices (4, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33220040)

The ones in another city or state... which is apparently less of a hassle than leaving the US entirely.

Re:Choices (5, Insightful)

kage.j (721084) | about 4 years ago | (#33220066)

Unless you're surrounded by a monopoly, or other 'choices' that are vastly substandard. Such as 56k or very-slow adsl, versus high-speed, low-latency cable. 'Choices' -- I'd have to move to get another choice. Hogwash to that point, I say.

Re:Choices (0, Troll)

thule (9041) | about 4 years ago | (#33220230)

There are always choices. It doesn't mean the choices cost the same or have the same feature set, but it is a choice. I don't know if there is such a place in the US where there are copper phone lines, but no T1 service. Yeah, it costs, but having T1 service means you have plenty of ISPs to choose from. There is also satellite and cell towers. Unless you live out in the middle of nowhere, your friendly cable company will sell you Internet service.

Re:Choices (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 4 years ago | (#33220336)

Yeah, that's a great mass of choices! Too bad a T1 costs a fortune by the time the same monopoly that gave you crappy Internet service adds their loop charge. Must be nice to fart $100 bills!

Re:Choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220374)

Must be nice to fart $100 bills!

Yes, it's true.

Re:Choices (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 years ago | (#33220086)

Oh I'm sure there'll be two but the real difference small. Americans seem to fancy that kind of duopoly system.

Re:Choices (4, Insightful)

butterflysrage (1066514) | about 4 years ago | (#33220148)

you mean like $30 a month with a $10 "connection fee", $5 "wire rental fee" and a $20 "because we say so fee".... or the other guy who is $65 all included?

Re:Choices (0, Troll)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#33220200)

we should have trademarked "Internet".

Then, make it a condition of selling "Internet" be that it is neutral.

People can make dirty net deals all they want, but have to sell it as "AOL" or "Compuserve".

Re:Choices (4, Insightful)

spikenerd (642677) | about 4 years ago | (#33220240)

What other service provider?

This is the very heart of the whole issue. NN is on the table simply because competition in the ISP business is dead. So why not solve the problem directly by breaking up ISPs that have market dominance in particular regions? Because there's no way our gov't would ever pull that off? Okay, I guess we need NN then.

Re:Choices (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 4 years ago | (#33220284)

What other service provider?

So if there are few choices for many now, we fix this by eliminating what choices that do exist?

My problem with NN isn't the traffic-equality and routing-priority regulation aspects. That only takes a few pages of legislation at most to accomplish. My problem is the huge, bloated, vaguely-worded legislation that Congress will pass that contains things most here would *not* be okay with, including things that have no bearing on NN at all, and/or remove individual freedoms we enjoy currently.

In order for government size and power to grow, citizens' wealth and freedoms must shrink proportionately.


Re:Choices (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 4 years ago | (#33220450)

So if there are few choices for many now, we fix this by eliminating what choices that do exist?

No, the point is that many of us have *no* choice right now. They use the ISP available to them, or they don't get Internet access.

So the question is, who do you feel is more likely to treat you fairly: a profit-driven organization with absolutely no accountability to anyone, the the same profit-driven organization with *some* rules of fair dealing enforced by a democratically elected government?

Re:Choices (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33220348)

Nonsense! I have plenty of choices. I can choose to let AT&T fuck me, or I can let Comcast fuck me.

Re:Choices (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 4 years ago | (#33220584)

Nice. In one sentence, you managed to point out the two massive problems with the argumentation. There is little to no competition in the vast majority of American markets, and the main providers all behave the same when it comes to customer service and packet handling. Network Neutrality will not happen in a world of rent-seeking monopolies/duopolies. The other part that I don't understand in the article is the obsession with letting corporations control how society operates. What exactly is bad about the FCC handling network policy? It can't be more fucked than letting it come under control of a profit-oriented corporation.

Re:Choices (1)

Kelex24 (1876412) | about 4 years ago | (#33220418)

What other service provider?

Exactly why the FCC should regulate Net Neutrality. There is no option of switching providers for most people. I have the option of Qwest and Comcast in my area and both of them charge a ton of money and have crap for customer service. I go with Qwest because they offer higher speeds, and the fact that Comcast has screwed me before left a sour taste in my mouth. Switching is out of the question, so if Qwest started doing things I didn't like I really have no options. I'm also sure that if Qwest started doing something so bad that I wanted to switch ISP's, Comcast probably implemented the same thing months before.

Re:Choices (3, Insightful)

Kirijini (214824) | about 4 years ago | (#33220462)

Which would you rather have - choice, or net neutrality?

I favor "open access" over net neutrality. Open access means telecom providers have to allow other ISPs to use their infrastructure. In fact, I would really prefer de-integrating (disintegrating?) telecom service from telecom infrastructure. I would have no problem with comcast, shitty company that it is, owning half of the cable infrastructure in the US, if all of the content services were run by competing companies.

So, if I could choose between having choice, versus enforced net neutrality, I would choose choice.

But, of course, you're right - there is no choice, and so this article is bullshit.

Switch to another one...? (4, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 4 years ago | (#33220014)

Wasn't the main problem that there are still few ISP choices in a lot of places? At least, based on numerous anecdotes I hear.

Re:Switch to another one...? (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | about 4 years ago | (#33220116)

Still few? Once line-sharing went away, a lot of options that people formerly had went with it.

Re:Switch to another one...? (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#33220168)

There are few ISPs because most ISPs are government-enforced monopolies.

For broadband Internet, I have three basic choices:

1. The cable company (government helped pay for the wiring and used eminent domain to purchase easements for same).
2. The phone company (government helped pay for the wiring and used eminent domain to purchase easements for same).
3. Wireless/Cell phone (more independent, but VERY expensive and much slower compared to the other options).

Comcast and Fairpoint are welcome to stop accepting government regulation the instant they refund the government dollars that helped pay for the wires they have up and vacate or allow competitors to use the poles that are placed on government-enforced rights of way.

In the meantime, the wires and the rights-of-way they traverse constitute public resources, and the public has a voice in how they are to be used. The government is the voice of the people in this matter.

Re:Switch to another one...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220412)

When I first moved to where I currently live there were about 20 dialup ISPs to chose from, and this is in a fairly small town. Now there in reality are 2 I can chose from. I went from a case of pretty good competition to a duopoly. This is common. With both of the dudes saying 'see you have choice!!!!'. Yeah right...

The only reason the FCC got involved in the first place was the phone companies wanted in on the action. Plus the fact you would have people tying up connections instead of for 20-30 mins, 10-15 hours a day and they were not equipped (financially or equipment wise) to handle that kind of phone usage. So phone companies started disrupting the ISP model. THEN the FCC got involved.

When it became 'you need special equipment installed every 5000 feet' competition evaporated. Then they managed to get themselves classified as both ISP and common carrier.

It happened in the first place because of the ability for anyone to connect to the phone network. Get the right lines in and poof your ready to rock with 100 line dialup pool. Now you need special access to the local huts and or boxes. Each of the regional carriers has a slightly different network underneath. Then ontop of that many states and in some cases federal level you cant even force sharing of lines anymore.

It was good while it lasted.... Until it is forced back into that state. It will get progressively worse for the customer.

Re:Switch to another one...? (5, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | about 4 years ago | (#33220590)

I live in NYC and ultimately I have 4 options:

1) Time Warner Cable
2) dialup
3) cell phone data plans (expensive, slow, and capped)
4) don't use the Internet

That's in one of the biggest/densest cities in the world.

Personally? (4, Insightful)

spicate (667270) | about 4 years ago | (#33220036)

I like the government model better, since there isn't really much competition and there probably won't be, given the cost of infrastructure.

Re:Personally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220124)

So do I. Cause I only have to buy off a single organization.


Re:Personally? (-1, Flamebait)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | about 4 years ago | (#33220138)

Uh, excuse me but when has government ever been good at doing anything? Look at the DMV! QED

Re:Personally? (5, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#33220186)

Meat inspections? Waging war on a grand scale? Roads?

Government isn't a good solution to many problems, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good solution to some problems. A wise society has government as one of the tools in its toolbox, but doesn't try to pound in nails with a wrench either.

Re:Personally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220342)

The last time I went to the DMV it was a perfectly agreeable experience. Of course, I looked up what documents I would need and what procedures I would have to complete ahead of time. The only real delays I saw were caused by other visitors who could not or would not follow simple and clearly posted instructions.

Any problem with the DMV is not caused by "goverment" it is caused by the individuals in the branch -- and there are always many more on your side of the counter.

Re:Personally? (1)

macintard (1270416) | about 4 years ago | (#33220446)

I always enjoy it when people rail on government while utilizing TCP/IP.

Re:Personally? (3, Insightful)

MakinBacon (1476701) | about 4 years ago | (#33220454)

Postal Service? National Do Not Call Registry? Making food companies provide the Nutrition Facts on the side of the box? Creating the internet in the first place?

Re:Personally? (5, Interesting)

tilandal (1004811) | about 4 years ago | (#33220460)

Last time I went to the DMV I walked in, picked up a number, waited about 5 mins, talked to a teller and was out the door all on my lunch break.

Last time I tried to buy high speed internet it took 2 hours on the phone, 3 customer service reps, and 2 canceled installer appointments (I got the self install kit) to get my cable modem registered. After all of that they didn't even remember to bill me for it. When they did remember to bill me for it several months later they sent some installers to put filters on the line. They didn't do it right and disconnected me instead. They sent another 2 installers over to fix it but those two forgot to put the filters on the line so it was all for nothing anyway.

Re:Personally? (2, Insightful)

gorzek (647352) | about 4 years ago | (#33220522)

Never had any BMV problems, myself. In fact, most of my dealings with the government at the local, state, and federal levels have been rather hassle-free. I also make use of those nifty interstate highways on a regular basis, which I understand are a federal invention.

Let's not forget that the Internet we enjoy today began as a government research project.

Saying "government isn't good at anything" is as meaningless as saying "business isn't good at anything." They both screw up. They both have their advantages and flaws. You just have to consider which advantages and flaws are preferable under the circumstances. I would much rather the Internet be treated as a common carrier with a level playing field than let it consist of a bunch of corporate-controlled fiefdoms subject to the whims of ISPs. Let the FCC bring everyone into alignment and then allow the ISPs to compete on service and price, rather than depending on their local monopolies and exclusive agreements.

Re:Personally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220142)

so you chose the benevolent dictator?

and later, when the government uses these powers in ways that you find less advantageous?

Re:Personally? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about 4 years ago | (#33220170)

Depends on what you mean by government.

Though the FCC has made some truly bone-headed, pro-collusion decisions in the past, there are certainly plenty of competent people there.

Rep. Joe Wilson on the other hand, I wouldn't allow him to work on my toaster. It isn't the "government" that scares me, it is the legislators.

Re:Personally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220442)

Also, while we're on the subject, wasn't an awful lot of that infrastructure subsidized by the government anyway? From what I understand, laying backbone cable is fairly pricey...

Some of us don't have many options here (3, Informative)

MakinBacon (1476701) | about 4 years ago | (#33220058)

If you don’t like your internet service provider’s policies, you can simply switch to another one.

Not quite. For most Americans, there aren't more than a couple of ISPs available (excluding Satellite and ye olde dialup modem), so you really can't. Where I live, the only available broadband has been Verizon DSL, from 2003 up until 2010, so if they had decided to start throttling bandwidth to unapproved sites, I would've been screwed.

Re:Some of us don't have many options here (2, Funny)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about 4 years ago | (#33220310)

That is why they'll have to pry my dial-up modem from my cold, dead fingers!

It's America. (5, Funny)

lymond01 (314120) | about 4 years ago | (#33220068)

If you don't like the FCC regulations, write your congressperson, get them changed.

Re:It's America. (5, Insightful)

Meshach (578918) | about 4 years ago | (#33220130)

If you don't like the FCC regulations, write your congressperson, get them changed.

You must be new here...

Re:It's America. (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#33220136)

If you don't like the FCC regulations, write your congressperson, get them changed.

Yup -- and if they won't, run for their office yourself.

A free market can provide choices in some ways; so can a democracy.

Re:It's America. (1)

MindSlap (640263) | about 4 years ago | (#33220306)

If you don't like the FCC regulations, write your congressperson, get them changed. Yup -- and if they won't, run for their office yourself. ========= Regulators are 'appointed'..not 'elected'. would be more accurate to say: Pay off the party in power..and hope for the best.

Re:It's America. (1)

BlargIAmDead (1100545) | about 4 years ago | (#33220398)

So all you have to do is save up somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000 (plus living expenses. You won't be working while you're campaigning.) just to get some low-level government position. You then spend 4-10 years escalating your way up the line till your somewhere that you can make decisions. Now if you're a clean and respectable politician, you will almost instantly be rejected. If you ARE elected, you be ostracized and put on some board overseeing the clam population in Nevada. So yes, you COULD make decisions if the entire system wasn't based around the fact that the people in charge don't want to give up the power or money they have accumulated.

Re:It's America. (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 4 years ago | (#33220408)

That's right. Run for Congress yourself because you got screwed by your ISP.

But wait, once you get in Congress you'll be besieged by powerful interests who stand to make lots of $$$ bearing paid-for specious libertarian arguments!
Just Like Today.

Why not skip the intermediate step and use arguments & power to convince the Congressdroids we have today?

Re:It's America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220296)

If you don't like the FCC regulations, write your congressperson, get them changed.

"I told you not to make fun of me yesterday. Now I have my revenge from beyond the grave."
- T. Stevens.

beware of idealists (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 4 years ago | (#33220080)

If you don't like your internet service provider's policies, you can simply switch to another one.

Assuming, of course, you actually do have a choice, the market works, the providers do not collude on anything and the big players don't dictate de factor policies.

Or, in other words: In the ideal dreamworld of the free market fanatics, there's always this "competition" solution that solves every problem and gives the best answer to every question. In the real world, things are quite a bit more complicated.

Re:beware of idealists (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220222)

Or, in other words: In the ideal dreamworld of the free market fanatics, there's always this "competition" solution that solves every problem and gives the best answer to every question. In the real world, things are quite a bit more complicated.

That's due to a misapplication of free market. The free market theory assumes an equilibrium in which demand and supply meet. Equilibrium dynamics only hold for large values of entities. Therefore, the free market theory completely breaks down in situations where small numbers of suppliers or customers exist. That's certainly the situation we have in the US with very few telecom options.

For that reason, it's completely inappropriate to believe that the free market will solve *this* problem, even if one believes (as I do) that a truly free market generally works best where it exists. For this commodity, there simply isn't a free market.

Re:beware of idealists (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33220302)

I thought it was earlier government interference (subsidies, etc.) that created this problem in the first place.

Re:beware of idealists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220308)

Alright, so the choices are:

No choice (FCC).

Sometimes a choice, sometimes not, depending on local conditions (ISPs)

I'll take my chances with the ISP's, thanks.

Re:beware of idealists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220444)

depending on local conditions

Yeah, up until AT&T decides to take its backbone and go home. Then it'll be based on global conditions.

We've already got bell canada throttling the customers of other ISPs, and we've got just as much protection from that happening here as they did up there, namely: none.

Announcing the all new Quad DSL and Cable Modem (4, Insightful)

Brit_in_the_USA (936704) | about 4 years ago | (#33220088)

Aggregates your two DSL ISPs and 2 cable modem ISPs so you can get to youtube , hulu, netflix AND facebook through one easy Ethernet connection! Eliminate that pesky unplugging and cable mess!

My state only has one provider (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220094)

So how about us folks who live in most the the country, and are only serviced by one provider? Or if all the providers available to us all have equally-sucky practices since they know we don't have a choice?

As sad and desperate as it is to admit, I want the FCC to "save me" from the crooks at Comcrap and Failpoint...

Monopolies (2, Interesting)

FrozenTousen (1874546) | about 4 years ago | (#33220102)

How about the one where if the two ISPs in my area (and I'm doing good to have 2) are governed by one body who, if I don't like the policy I can vote to change it. Since Verizon/Xfinity/ATT will not be any easier to get to change, especially when they have government granted monopolies in many areas. The real option for most is: FCC is in charge where you have an outside chance of influencing some change you like, or the ISPs running it where they have monopolies on access and can tell you to accept it or go without internet.

Transparency not Neutrality... (5, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | about 4 years ago | (#33220106)

What is needed is network transparency, not necessarily network neutrality.

EG, under some definitions of network neutrality, various useful traffic shaping (such as placing heavy users in a different QOS tier when compared with light users, implementing per-user fairness, or doing Remote Active Queue Management to mitigate the effect of overbuffered access devices), would not be allowed.

Yet such shaping would generally benefit all users: it prevents heavy users from impacting light users (in the first two cases) and even reduces heavy users self-inflicted damage (in the latter case). But the same devices which could implement such beneficial shaping could also perform amazingly anticompetitive traffic manipulation, such as disrupting a user's VoIP calls.

Thus what we need is network transparency: ISPs must disclose what their policies are: how they shape and manipulate traffic in ways that may benefit or may damage users. And we need active verification of such policies, because although most ISPs will be honest, some won't be.

Re:Transparency not Neutrality... (4, Interesting)

spiegel (39944) | about 4 years ago | (#33220242)

because although most ISPs will be honest, some won't be.

Where have you been for the past 10 years? Most ISPs (read: Telcos & Cablecos) have long demonstrated their inability to be honest.

And while transparency is certainly important, its only the first step. What the most NN people want is transparency + nondiscrimination based on traffic source. If you have no or few alternatives for internet access, it does very little good knowing that your ISP is screwing you.

Re:Transparency not Neutrality... (5, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | about 4 years ago | (#33220530)

Where have you been for the past 10 years? Most ISPs (read: Telcos & Cablecos) have long demonstrated their inability to be honest.

Where have I been? In the trenches.

I was one of the researchers behind the web tripwires project [] for detecting ISP injected advertisements. I was one of the developers of the RST injection detector [] that was used to monitor how ISPs were disrupting traffic with injected Resets. And I'm one of the developers of Netalyzr [] .

And overall, most ISPs are actually honest, and even the dishonest ones have gotten a fair bit better.

EG, Comcast was incredibly dishonest at the start on their BitTorrent shaping (denying what they were doing altogether), but in the end were honest about it once they got caught (it did indeed only affect upload-only BitTorrent flows, we were able to independently verify this), and has become much more transparent about their traffic shaping and port filtering policies since then (they even have done IETF drafts on how their traffic management is done today).

And this is why I believe that thing that really makes a difference is being able to validate that what an ISP says is actually true: If ISPs know that manipulations will be detected, they have a much lower incentive to manipulate traffic. This is why I believe in network transparency.

You notice how you don't have ISPs talking about doing advertisement injection. Why? because its detectable. You notice how most ISPs no longer mess with BitTorrent? Why: because its detectable.

This is the biggest benefit of transparency and enforcing transparency by measuring for violations: it keeps honest ISPs honest, and punishes the dishonest when (not if, but when) you catch them.

The most effective form of QOS... (2, Insightful)

AltairDusk (1757788) | about 4 years ago | (#33220266)

Stop over-subscribing the lines and actually invest in infrastructure. Verizon was for a while but it seems their FIOS rollout is over, sadly it never reached me.

Re:The most effective form of QOS... (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | about 4 years ago | (#33220486)

Sorry, that's simply ridiculous. Your proposal would have them guess the absolute peak rate of all users in their network, and then overbuild their infrastructure, even though a tiny fraction would be in use at any one time. It's a *massive* waste of resources.

QoS makes a *hell* of a lot more sense. Yes, the ISPs should build out anticipating higher average load thanks to streaming audio and video, etc, but QoS can be used to smooth out the peaks so that large transfers still happen in a timely fashion without impacting real-time traffic.

Re:Transparency not Neutrality... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220334)

I like that. Have what is done stated in advance. For example, an ISP should state:

1: How long packet and sendmail logs are kept, unless asked to retain sections due to motions of discovery.
2: What QoS is used.
3: What traffic has priority above other and the threshold that it drops to a lower tier. For example, SSL would have a high priority until the connection had x amount of megs, then it would be "reniced" because it likely is a bulk transfer or a VPN tunnel.
4: What ports are allowed/blocked. It would be understandable for ISPs to block outgoing port 25 unless the subscriber acknowledged a "yes, I know what I'm doing" statement.
5: How P2P traffic is treated.

Re:Transparency not Neutrality... (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 4 years ago | (#33220356)

"Thus what we need is network transparency: ISPs must disclose what their policies are: how they shape and manipulate traffic in ways that may benefit or may damage users. And we need active verification of such policies, because although most ISPs will be honest, some won't be."

Yes, there's this prominent neo-liberal idea that ever longer tracts of fine print are the preferred substitute for actual good policy.

That the theoretical outcomes which hypothetically might emerge from the vacuum in some ultrarelativistic limit of Adam Smith corpse-spinning matter just as much as What Actually Happens.

Re:Transparency not Neutrality... (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 years ago | (#33220402)

Thus what we need is network transparency: ISPs must disclose what their policies are: how they shape and manipulate traffic in ways that may benefit or may damage users. And we need active verification of such policies, because although most ISPs will be honest, some won't be.

I have one choice for highspeed internet.
Transparency will not help me if my ISP decides to implement shitty policies.
All things being equal, government regulation is less of a burden to me and millions of other Americans than boxing up our lives and moving.

Re:Transparency not Neutrality... (1)

ViViDboarder (1473973) | about 4 years ago | (#33220494)

What would you do if you lived in an area where Comcast is the only ISP? What would you do then if Comcast decided that the only sites you could go to were 200 sites on their "basic internet" package?.


Wait, what other ISP? (1)

sargeUSMC (905860) | about 4 years ago | (#33220110)

If the government wants to let competition sort the rules out, then by all means, do so. Make monopoly cable/phone contracts illegal. Let the market decide what companies do what in what in area.

Politicians vs Corporations (2, Interesting)

chirino (1862184) | about 4 years ago | (#33220112)

You really trust politicians to regulate the most open form of communication in the world?

Re:Politicians vs Corporations (3, Insightful)

spiegel (39944) | about 4 years ago | (#33220158)

You really trust big corporations to act solely in your personal best interest and not the interest of their shareholders?

False Choices. (2, Insightful)

Phred_Johnston (530218) | about 4 years ago | (#33220118)

In our region of the US, there are roughly two choices of ISP. Cable based, and DSL based. Sure you can go wireless, and get lousy speed. Maybe you have more choices on the coastal cities, but for a large population, there are too few choices to make this model work.

Problem with that logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220120)

With long contracts for both cell and some ISPs, simply switching is not that simple

The monopoly on policy though is a tough argument. I don't trust the corps or the gov't especially since they seem to be on the same page most of the time. I am not a Libertarian either, because businesses need to be kept from ripping us.

The case against government... (3, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#33220134)

... regulating work conditions. If you don't LIKE how the government runs the coal mines of the great british empire, your only choice is to leave for th ecountry and haul manure on a farm. If the coal industry self-regulates, you're free to go work at another coal mine if you don't like the labor conditions there. This is the case against government interference in the great industrial age.

Breaking ISP monopolies and laying FiOS cables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220156)

Where I live at least, there's only 1 high-speed cable internet provider (cox), so I don't have a choice. I'm stuck with whatever their rates/policies are, and often it's not the best.Only giant cable companies have the resources to lay thousands of miles of cables, which leads to these monopolies. The government should regulate and fund building of the physical cable infrastructure and then sell it to private business. Instead of wasting money trying to regulate the internet we have, how about just build a bigger, faster one and let private industry handle it?

So which model sounds better to you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220162)

The one that isn't based on a fairy tale. Thanks for asking.

Funny (5, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#33220166)

If you don’t like your internet service provider’s policies, you can simply switch to another one.

Hahahahaha! That's a good one. And here I thought I was already tolerating ISP abuse, crappy upload speeds, poorly maintained infrastructure, and false service tech. arrival times because I just felt it was the right thing to do. Now that I know I have a choice to work with an ISP that will treat me with respect and dignity well, gosh darn, I'll just hop on over this month.

Oh wait.

I don't know if this article was written by someone in another country or what, but like most of our shitty national industries (cell phones, auto insurance, medical services, political parties, etc.) we in the U.S. don't have any choice in what services are provided to us by our ISP. We might have the illusion of choice in one area or another, depending on how badly your local branch wants to maintain reputation, but real choice? Nah, this is the freedom lovin' US of A. We don't do that sort of thing here.

Which one indeed (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | about 4 years ago | (#33220174)

So which model sounds better to you?

How about the model in which it is illegal for a company to both own the pipes and have any interests in the IP that may be flowing through it? The model in which their would be huge fines (more than what they actually earned to make it an actual penalty) when it is shown that they had any deals to profit on the IP flowing through them?

Cuz, I don't know... maybe the worst possibility is one in which the vastly huge amount of choices I have in ISP providers will limit, or aggressively manage, the content I can access because it conflicts with their goal to monetize their own copyright catalogues?

Real Summary (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 4 years ago | (#33220194)

Be careful what you wish for. There are unintended consequences you don't anticipate.

The Case Against Labor Laws (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220196)

HR Policies are set by individual companies, but Labor Laws are written by the government.

If you don't like your company's HR Policies, you can change companies, but if you don't like labor laws, you would have to leave the US.

Therefore, we shouldn't have any Labor Laws.

Hmmm.... doesn't seem quite as logical in that context, does it.

Let's Rephrase the Same Old Argument (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | about 4 years ago | (#33220212)

Instead of wording the tired old argument "gainst the gubment", let's rephrase it:

Would you rather have choices among a few faceless corporations in which you have absolutely no power to modify ethics, principles, etc. (other than "talking with your feet")? Or would you rather have a group of your peers, appointed by your elected officials, whom you can replace, represent the interest of the consumer in general?

Yeah, you can make it sound *really* bad from both perspectives. Maybe the answer, as usual, is moderation.

Re:Let's Rephrase the Same Old Argument (1)

gatzby3jr (809590) | about 4 years ago | (#33220360)

In theory, I'd prefer the faceless corporations that I get to vote with my feet.

However, as has been reiterated many times on this thread already, there really isn't a choice to vote with your feet.

I wouldn't give a damn about net neutrality if we had real competition in the market, but that's not how it works.

As long as the industry is monopolistic, it should be treated as such with regulations by the government.

I hope it's been said already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220220)

Slashdot's telling me there's 24 comments already.

I *PRAY* someone has said it. If they have - no matter, because it bears repeating. But if not, someone has to:

"If you don’t like your internet service provider’s policies, you can simply switch to another one."

You clearly don't live in the United States, do you? The majority of people here *CANNOT* simply 'switch to another one'. There *is* no 'another one' for a great bloody many of us.

Damned if you do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220224)

There are no alternative options for the same type of internet connection in the U.S.

Free-Market Mad-Libs (5, Insightful)

Glires (200409) | about 4 years ago | (#33220228)

Hmmm... this line of thought sounds familiar for some reason.

If the government regulates [mortgages], policies for [mortgages] are set by one entity: the [FTC]. However, if the government stays out, each company will set its own policies. If you don't like the [FTC]'s policies, you are stuck with them unless you leave the United States. If you don't like your [mortgage banker]'s policies, you can simply switch to another one. So which model sounds better to you?

Simply? (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | about 4 years ago | (#33220260)

If you don’t like your internet service provider’s policies, you can simply switch to another one.

What if there's only one? Or what if I don't like any of them? What if they're all monopolistic consumer-gouging profit-maximizing companies?

I don't think there is a good historical precedence for the idea that market forces protect the consumer.

Net neutrality extends further than your ISP (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 4 years ago | (#33220272)

1) Net neutrality extends further than your ISP. You only have "control" over who provides you the last leg.
2) Control in #1 is quoted, because you may only have one viable option. Lucky if you have two. Very lucky if you have more than 2.
3) Most smaller DSL providers, fixed wireless, etc are backended onto one of the few major telcos. They are often at the mercy of these back end providers, and in turn the end user has no control either.

Regulatory oversight is needed when an industry is a monopoly or oligopoly (few participants, high barriers to entry, etc). Telecom is such an industry. The FCC may not be perfect, but it is necessary.

Did I miss something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220282)

I'm sorry, but why don't we just... I dunno, not have ANYBODY control the 'net? So far as I know, it's worked pretty well so far.

Better option is the first. (2, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | about 4 years ago | (#33220286)

So which model sounds better to you?

The first. At least there's a chance I can convince my elected representatives to make changes to public policy. I have no way to affect the behavior of the ISPs. "Vote with your dollars" doesn't work when you simply don't get internet access at all if you refuse to pay them for it, and you need it to do your job.

Unfettered free market = Jesus (4, Insightful)

dryo (989455) | about 4 years ago | (#33220288)

OK, I doubt that many slashdotters, who are typically Libertarian-leaning, will be able to hear what I'm saying. But here is is anyway: free-market fundamentalism is foolish and greedy. It's what got us into trouble with the current economic meltdown. Repeating the mantra "the free market will solve everything" is really very similar to belief in the second coming of Jesus, fairies, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Sadly, we cannot trust government to do the right thing (whatever that is), but neither can we trust the free market. And by "free market," I mean obnoxiously large and powerful corporations. I would rather take my chances with the government; at least there's a tiny bit of accountability there. They've done some good things in the past, such as abolishing slavery and setting minimum wages. Without government intervention, the sacred "free market" would still use the blood of slaves to oil the engines of industry. Now it's just overseas wage slavery, which is something of an improvement, I guess.

WHAT!?!?! (3, Interesting)

multimediavt (965608) | about 4 years ago | (#33220294)

If the government regulates net neutrality, policies for internet access are set by one entity: the FCC. However, if the government stays out, each company will set its own policies. If you don't like the FCC's policies, you are stuck with them unless you leave the United States.

  1. We live in a democracy in the U.S., and if we don't like a policy created by the government we have a mechanism for changing that
  2. If a company makes a policy we have ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to change that policy (except through government regulation, duh!), especially if that company has a monopoly (real or perceived) within a market of service
  3. This article must have been written by Fox News or some other conservative crackpot that obviously has something to gain from the end of Net Neutrality, so EFF YOU! We've heard your theory. It's BS. STFU!

Re:WHAT!?!?! (0, Troll)

Woldscum (1267136) | about 4 years ago | (#33220580)

We live in a democracy in the U.S

WRONG!! We have a Representative Republic. You need to watch more MSDNC or read more HufPo. Genius.

Govt. policies tend to be better for consumers... (2, Insightful)

rollingcalf (605357) | about 4 years ago | (#33220322)

...than policies set by monopolists or duopolists.

I'll take the gubmint, thank you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220328)

over self-serving corporations any day when it comes to asking for "good behavior".

At Least This Guy Makes One Valid Point (1)

twmcneil (942300) | about 4 years ago | (#33220358)

if the regulation was actually achieving its goals, this regulation should actually be opposed by the industry.

Good Idea! Let's try that. Let the FCC stand up and say "We're in charge here!", have them start making rules the industry doesn't like and let them keep doing so until the industry is so fed up with it that they choose to stop blocking the entry of new players and competition. Then we'll know we've made a good start.

Trends in "competition" go both ways (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33220364)

In the "services" marketplace, competitors often compete through means other than quality and reliability. They compete using marketing campaigns, exclusive gadgets (like iPhone) and other items. Meanwhile, the competition related to "services offered" tend to go in the direction of "what [abuses] the market will bear." Increasingly, various service providers are trying to out-do one another by screwing the user to see what they can get away with. Their latest triumphs include "caps" on service and unlimited service plans that have limits. But there's more, of course. It is rare when current market leaders try to compete by offering more any longer. They simply offer as little as possible and then keep taking things away hoping that no one will notice and/or that they will get away with it.

So no, it's not good for America or U.S. residents. We know how they behave already. Writing network neutrality out by law would result in the same problems we see today with deregulation of power. Competition doesn't help when it comes to services. "They all do it" is what we end up saying and hearing. Service providers compete to offer less and charge more.

Same old argument (5, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 4 years ago | (#33220394)

This is the same old anti-regulation argument, and for some things I agree. If one is talking about the price of widgets, the only rule should be that the free market must be free to operate, that is competing businesses can't collude to set prices. The Nixon price fixing scheme does not work. The rules against collusion simply set up a even playing field that enhance the free market, by setting an initial state from which to compete. Things like the minimim wage and the forty hour work week, extremely ill thought liberal plots that codify the disastrous theory that we have to pay people just because they have done some work, are beneficial as they set limits which helps a business compete on more useful things, like innovative product and process rather than simply trying to minimize cost of labor.

So what does this mean to net neutrality. Net neutrality is a basic rules, like not colluding, or the work week, or code of building, that will drive innovation. Without such a rule companies will compete on which data is delivered quickly, instead of the speed of quantity data delivered. Collusion will be the norm as companies form ties to deliver certain data quickly, while making competing data not quick. As most of us only have one ISP, particularly for the last mile, and often without choice, we will be forced accept service not on the quality of content but on the availability of delivery(And before people take this to anti-iPhone rant, everyone has access to a competing company and a competing smarter phone).

With net neutrality, companies will be forced to invest in innovation, which is of course why many do not want net neutrality. No one wants the government to force them to spend money on innovation. Can you imagine the uproar when building codes required indoor plumbing? Sure it makes sense where it is cold, but down south it is a waste of money! But the fact is with net neutrality companies are going to learn to make efficient use of available bandwidth so that all content can be delivered quickly, not just the content the ISP chooses. It will be create real jobs, with people installing fiber, people looking at the data, and engineers developing solutions, instead of simply provided money so that top executives can buy dates.

Utility (1)

rtkluttz (244325) | about 4 years ago | (#33220406)

The internet really just needs to be classified as a utility and be done with it. Just like the phone company and your telephone. All traffic must be carried equally and the carriers are responsible for nothing going across those wires. Each end of the call pays for ONLY their own traffic. No traffic is blocked. There are already all laws in place to cover any infringing activity one might attempt on the internet or over a phone conversation.

ISP contract choice is no choice at all (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 4 years ago | (#33220410)

We already see how industries with few players tend to mirror each others policies and pricing, creating a homogenized marketplace.
Even if you did have a choice between multiple large ISPs, you'd find that their terms of service, business practices and pricing would all be very similar.
So no, we've already seen how "consumer choice" is an illusion in the telecom markets.

Moreover, these anti-netneutrality apologists constantly fail to point out the very real damage disposing of net-neutrality will have on American innovation.
Without Net-Neutrality Youtube would never have happened, how would a startup afford to pay the extortionist pricing for QoS to every single major ISP in the nation on top of their own hosting fees? Without innovation means the market stagnates, new jobs aren't created as rapidly and we fall behind overseas competition whose markets are freer than ours.

The bottom line is "bad for America" really means "bad for big corporation who is scared of having to compete against new online services that may be better than their own".
Comcast, AT&T and others want to close the internet up and control streaming media. In essence, this is a brazen money grab.

Conservatives for Net Neutrality (1)

ViViDboarder (1473973) | about 4 years ago | (#33220428)

I'm a very conservative person and very much a small government kind of guy, but I'm also an avid lover of the internet.

The biggest point to make is that consumers in the US do not often have a lot of choices for internet. In my location I have the choice of FiOS or some cellular company with an expensive and slow plan. My parents are gearing up for a move and he's looking for internet now. He has one choice for broadband. Time Warner Cable. That is until At&t U-Verse gets to his area.

The thing is, building up a vast network of cables to provide usable access to the internet from scratch to compete with the big companies is not as easily done as starting a new sandwich store to compete with McDonalds. Choice is always good and I am a believer in Capitalism but with big expensive things like cable and internet which, as another /.r mentioned, were heavily helped out by the Government, it's nearly impossible to get good competition. Look at other large industries. The same things happen. Price fixing and all kinds of agreements along with anti-competitive behavior all hurt the consumers but they are wide spread.

I don't see any urgency for vast legislation to cover all aspects of business in the US, but Net Neutrality needs to happen. I'm not upset that the FCC got shut down either. I'd rather have it in the hands of Congress (elected officials at least) than in the hands of some appointed bureaucrats.

Source, not type (1)

jythie (914043) | about 4 years ago | (#33220432)


NN is about not discriminating based off SOURCE, not the type of content..... ISPs want to start either charging other ISP's customers for not degrading traffic to their actual paying customers, OR cut out other ISP's customers if they compete with companies that are owned by the ISP (or its parent).

Now, much of this would be mitigated if there was real competition, but since the FCC REMOVED the rules requiring line owners to lease lines to competitors, ISP choice dropped from dozens to, if you are lucky... 2.

I admit, I would personally just prefer to see those rules put back into place rather then complex NN rules.. but no one makes a political name for themselves with simple rules or putting someone else's rules back in place.

This is a bullshit argument. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220436)

If we were building the interstate highway system today, the project would still have largely been paid for by the taxpayers, but each freeway would be privately owned and run for profit. Expensive sports cars and corporate-owned trucks would be offered paid-access to sparsely highly-maintained, high-speed lanes while all the redneck riffraff in their jalopies would be crawling along in traffic. There would be metered tolls every mile. Many people would be unable to afford to physically ever leave their small towns. Billboards would block out every inch of scenery, except of course in the aforementioned premiere lanes. If you wanted police and ambulance service, it would be a subscribed feature. And you may find yourself driving along when suddenly the road diverts through a chain fast food restaurant.

Can we please leave some essential services to at least be regulated by government? Thanks.

Yes, regulation is bad (4, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | about 4 years ago | (#33220458)

I mean, really, why should there be laws against fraud? I mean, someone rips you off, you just go do business with someone else (who also rips you off, because it's legal). False advertising? I mean, if companies use false advertising, it'll catch up to them and you'll do business with someone else. Your roof caves in on your family's heads because the contractor cut corners on material or workmanship, and didn't build the supporting structures right? Do business with a different contractor next time. Airlines don't maintain their planes right, and kill or disable passengers? Well, people will just do business with other airlines, right?

Maybe your employer should be free to expose you to hazardous materials or unsafe working conditions? I mean, you can always quit and go work for someone else, right?

I'm sorry, but there's some business practices which businesses should never be free to do. I'm sure there is room for disagreement on whether Net non-neutrality rises to that standard, but my point is, just saying that people can take their business elsewhere is A) not always true - as others have mentioned, in some localities, there is basically a monopoly on broadband Internet, and B) dodges the issue of whether anybody should ever be allowed to implement such network management policies, to begin with.

Net non-neutrality will, over time, seriously degrade what the Internet is for many customers. It will lead to a lot of anti-competitive behaviors wherein ISPs disadvantage some content providers over other content providers (or their own in-house content). It will do so in such a way that customers will have *no idea* that their ISP is to blame (in some cases), and will wrongly blame the content provider, or in some other cases (prohibitively small/overpriced bandwidth caps, for example, where it would be more expensive to upgrade to a useful 'tier' of bandwidth allotment so they could use Netflix, Hulu, or something similar to get TV programming and movies, instead of subscribing/upgrading to the ISPs own cable-TV packages for the same or similar content), the customers might know the ISP is to blame, but not have much or any recourse to correct the problem.

Lets play with this (3, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about 4 years ago | (#33220464)

I'll just change out a few words a see how it sounds.."

"While I certainly don't agree with it, this article tries to make the case that environmental control may actually be bad for America. From the article: 'If the government regulates environmental control, policies for environmental impact are set by one entity: the EPA. However, if the government stays out, each company will set its own policies. If you don’t like the EPA's policies, you are stuck with them unless you leave the United States. If you don’t like your oil/chemical/waste/paper mill/ environmental impact, you can simply switch to another one. So which model sounds better to you?'"

See for me, a purpose for government is to stop (or slow) the wanton behavior of business since its goal is profit, not societal responsibility. Until everyone in this country had multiple choices for internet access we absolutely need a power that can step in between the consumer and business and say to business "you need to play nice now".

Before I moved I had two providers, Charter or DSL via AT&T for home broadband. Now because I went more rural I only have one (dsl and satellite for TV). In no way does that provide me the power to speak with my pocket book unless I turn off tune out and read books. The Government is not evil or incompetent in most ways and overall the FCC has performed a good balancing act between public interest and private interest. The last entity I want deciding access to what I consider a utility today is a corporate CEO who's focus is on his pocket, not mine. Try this with water or electric and people would scream bloody murder.

For fun, if NN is removed, I'd like to see taxes adjusted such that providers that throttle or tier access pay a higher tax vs providers that keep one tier, no limits, but adjust package costs by bandwidth (like now).

Not both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220540)

I get the feeling that most of the pro net neutrality people (I personally haven't developed an opinion yet) are the same ones who cry whenever an ISP talks about tiered bandwidth pricing.

If net neutrality passes, you'll get tiered pricing, guaranteed. You won't get both in the long run (the internet isn't all that new right now, and ISPs are starting to do at least one or the other).

Net Neutrality vs. Broadband (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#33220560)

The problem as I see it is that the telcos and cable companies have monopolies in specific market segments.

For instance, for non-metered broadband Internet service, my options at home consist of:

1. Broadstripe Cable []

That's right, AT&T doesn't even offer DSL where I live. And I live in the surburb of my state's capital city.

The Canadian case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33220574)

One of my friends owns an ISP. He has to lease his lines from Bell. He has to rely on Bell to connect his customers. He has to rely on Bell when their equipment or lines interrupts service to his customers. Bell provides very bad service to him and his customers. He has trouble keeping customers.

The bottom line is that competition is an illusion. I'm guessing that the same thing prevails in the USofA. One company owns the infrastructure and all the other local ISPs have to deal with it.

Even if there is more than one ISP, there will be no real competition. For instance, Bell throttles my buddy's customers the same as it does its own customers. If the ISP with the infrastructure doesn't have net neutrality, neither will the ISPs that rely on its lines.

Begin the fact-checking (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 4 years ago | (#33220578)

Decided I would actually RTFA. Here's my take on it:

Falsehood #1:

...right now internet service providers are voluntarily complying with the standards net neutrality advocates seek to codify. This is even after a federal appeals court ruled in Comcast v. FCC that the FCC (at least currently) lacks the authority to prevent companies from engaging in this behavior.

Service provides are not all voluntarily complying, or else the FCC would never have brought that suit in the first place.

Falsehood #2:

Since these internet service providers don’t really care about much except [STRIKE]internet aceess[/STRIKE] profits...


Actual insight #1:

History shows, however, that industry is heavily involved in the regulatory process and puts heavy pressure to implement them in its favor. ... This results in regulation that hurts consumers by distorting the industry away from customers’ true preferences.

This is actually an important thing to consider. Behind their relatively simple proposal, G&V probably have some idea of how the outcome would benefit them over their competition. So many times before we have seen regulators get in bed with industry and totally screw consumers that we ought to be suspicious of this.

Falsehood #3:

If you don’t like your internet service provider’s policies, you can simply switch to another one.

As pointed out by many others, in most of the US you simply cannot get decent service from more than one or two companies. Given the concern in Actual Insight #1, an actual market would appear to be the simplest way to deal with net neutrality. However, anti-trust enforcement becomes extremely important to make sure no company has a monopoly in any one area and that no group of companies colludes to uniformly deny services in an area.

Falsehood #4:

If the government regulates net neutrality, policies for internet access are set by one entity: the FCC. However, if the government stays out, each company will set its own policies.

If the government regulates net neutrality, the companies will collectively lobby to have them set policies in their favor. If the government stays out, the companies will collude to set policies in their favor. I'm not quite sure where the win is in either scenario.

Choices? (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 4 years ago | (#33220582)

So I'm one of the few who bought a Nexus One from Google, and paid 500$ because I'm one of those people who hate contracts and like the idea of canceling survive and turning my phone into a brick with no cell service if I'm particularly mad. My service provider choice is AT&T or TMobil. No one else if I want to choose Verizon then I have buy a new phone. Some choice. If I have dialup modem I can actually choose (or at least in the past) one of dozens of local ISPs if I didn't like them. So do I really have a choice. Yes, If i'm made of money then I do.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>