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Wireless Industry Lobbying Hard to Keep Net Neutrality Out

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

The Internet 85

Taco Cowboy writes: The net neutrality issue has become a hot topic recently, but on the mobile side, net neutrality rules are absent. Why? The wireless companies successfully convinced regulators four years ago to keep mobile networks mostly free of net neutrality rules. Now that FCC officials are looking into whether wireless networks should remain exempt from net neutrality rules, the mobile carriers are lobbying hard to maintain the status quo. "Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum," said Meredith Attwell Baker, the new head of CTIA, the wireless industry's lobbying arm. Baker previously served as an FCC commissioner. On the other side of the issue, net neutrality advocates are "hoping to convince regulators to include wireless networks more fully under any new proposed rules. They are pushing for the FCC to re-regulate broadband Internet under a section of the law (called Title II), which was written with old phone networks in mind. ... The FCC will be taking public comments about what it should do about new net neutrality rules through the end of July." You can comment by emailing to or go to file a Consumer Informal Complaint on the FCC's wesbite. Meanwhile, AT&T says that strong net neutrality regulations will ruin the internet.

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Under the increasing pressure from China (-1, Offtopic)

charles05663 (675485) | about 2 months ago | (#47264793)

I would expect Japan to re-militarize. With China ever increasingly flexing its military power in the region it might be good to have a strong military in Japan. And notice it is the Chinese who are worried more then anyone else.

Re:Under the increasing pressure from China (0)

charles05663 (675485) | about 2 months ago | (#47264803)

Crap...mis-posted comment.

Re:Under the increasing pressure from China (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47264957)

Are you implying that because the Amazon Fire phone will likely be made in China, and due to the pervasive nature of the Great Firewall, Japan might need a strong military to protect itself from Jeff Bezos?

Re:Under the increasing pressure from China (1)

Adriax (746043) | about 2 months ago | (#47265189)

Well, Amazon is developing drones capable of delivering heavy "packages" with pinpoint precision. They just need to make sure their control commands to the drones have priority on wireless channels so they work uninterrupted.
Nothing spoils an invasion worse than your mechanized troops crashing into walls because your target was watching netflix.

Netflix and the FCC, working tirelessly to protect Japan.

Re:Under the increasing pressure from China (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 months ago | (#47265419)

Frankly I think we all need strong military protection from Jeff Bezos.

sometime... (5, Funny)

guygo (894298) | about 2 months ago | (#47264797)

AT&T also said their service representative would be there at 10:00am. How'd that work out?

Of course they do ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47264839)

Of course AT&T is going to say that.

They're one of the entities who stands to profit from no net neutrality, and they're one of the companies who are actually ruining the internet.

Net neutrality is an assault on the business model of gouging successful ventures, because it prevents the extra rent-seeking they like to do.

I've never understood how ISPs aren't common carriers.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

sribe (304414) | about 2 months ago | (#47264965)

I've never understood how ISPs aren't common carriers.

A good guess: in the old days, they actually were data services, not just connectivity providers.

Re:Of course they do ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47267993)

In the old days it was brand new tech that nerds just started to get to explore. Remember when the average person thought AOL was the Internet? The nerds realized that other companies just sold access to the world wide web (aka Internet) and that was all you needed unless you wanted access to AOLs walled garden.

So really, the majority of ISPs started out providing access and that was it. Remember, you made your computer CALL their switch board that would then connect you to the local hub, etc. That was why there was 20+ ISPs in any given metro or even large city.

AOL was the only data service I remember. The rest were just ISPs.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

grahamm (8844) | about 2 months ago | (#47270071)

Even before AOL there was CompuServe with its octal user IDs

Re:Of course they do ... (4, Interesting)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 2 months ago | (#47264983)

ISPs aren't common carriers only because the FCC saw some of the issues that AT&T's CEO pointed out - Title II isn't perfect for regulating ISPs because of its origins as a means of regulating telephones - and tried to find a way to work around that. Unfortunately, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruined that when they said that the FCC had exactly three choices: Get Congress to give them explicit authorization to regulate net neutrality without classifying ISPs as common carriers, classify ISPs as common carriers under Title II and use that to regulate them, or don't regulate at all.

Title II should still be implemented as a stopgap measure to prevent ISPs from ruining the internet. However, the FCC would probably need to selectively enforce some things which will probably be challenged in court and have a small chance of being won by the ISPs. This is why Congress should give the FCC the explicit authority to regulate ISPs and internet service, so that the ISPs can never hope to get their way again.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265327)

ISPs tend to be monopolies or near monopolies so need some regulation.

Be careful calling for a new round of government regulation though. The powers have to be extremely narrowly defined and not "at the discretion of the director." For instance we want some of this regulation because the ISPs are now selectivity filtering (slowing). We would not want that replaced with selective government filtering.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

Arker (91948) | about 2 months ago | (#47267475)

Very good points.

Rather than letting some government agency subject to inevitable capture make up rules for the industry, this would be better addressed with legislation. Simply make it a rule that ISPs have to be ISPs only so they dont have all these conflicts of interest. The reason American ISPs hate the internet is because they are huge conglomerates with lots of operations whose profits are threatened by the internet.

Of course the chances of the US Congress passing a clean bill that does one thing well and isnt loaded down with pork barrel spending on unrelated issues, and amendments effectively reversing the intended affect, approximate zero.

Re:Of course they do ... (3, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47265533)

> that the ISPs can never hope to get their way again.

I agree with the sentiment, but that seems optimistic. After all, if at first you don't succeed, lobby, lobby again. Sooner or later the public will get tired of protesting and you can slip your new rules into the system. At least that seems to be a common strategy across the board in recent years.

Still, no sense making it easy for them. The battle to maintain any semblance of a functional democracy is never-ending, and we can't hope to win if we don't fight.

Re:Of course they do ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47268731)

It would be nice if it were the other way around. If they had to continually lobbied to keep the **** laws they lobbied to put in, i doubt they would be able to maintain their lobbying budget. The problem is that once they get it in it's nearly impossible to get it out. That needs to be reversed, we should be allowed to vote or pull bad laws as quickly as they are passed. And even reverse political decisions like going to war if necessary. I thought it was supposed to be for the people not wear the people out.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47269001)

Personally I'd be in favor of most laws having an automatic sunset of a decade or two - if they can't get a renewal vote on a regular basis then maybe they shouldn't have been passed in the first place. And if you consider just how many laws we have, well perhaps we could start winnowing them down to a quantity small enough that a responsible person could hope to have at least a basic understanding of the laws of their country.

And while we're at it maybe we could throw in a requirement that no single law can be longer than the constitution itself - no more of the 700-page monstrosities riddled with loopholes, unrelated riders, and legalese so dense even lawyers can't agree on the meaning.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

grahammm (9083) | about 2 months ago | (#47266893)

Why should ISPs not be regulated the same as phones? They both do basically the same thing - provide the infrastructure for party A to connect to party B and exchange information. The only real difference is that a phone line only (normally) allows communication with a single peer at one time but communication to multiple peers can be multiplexed over the connection to an ISP.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47268033)

If more then 5% of the population understood what you just said, this would be a moot issue. 5% of people may even be overly optimistic. People really do not understand shit about computers and can barely operate them, let alone understand how they actual work.

Re:Of course they do ... (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 months ago | (#47267245)

Back in the day, everyone was afraid of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. THAT is why ISPs arent common carriers, yet. That time has passed and they think we forgot about it. We have not.

Data caps (3, Informative)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 2 months ago | (#47264841)

With wireless data caps are already so low, what do they care?

Re:Data caps (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47264967)

Because, if they launch their own video streaming service for their clients, for instance, they wouldn't be able to give it preferential treatment to their packets over those of Netflix.

If there was net neutrality, the ISPs wouldn't be able to push their own services to compete with others, and they'd have to do it on merit.

Same goes for music, TV shows, and possibly even app stores.

If they serve the interwebs to people equally, they have less of a way to make sure it's easier for the consumer to use their products, and instead they might use those of someone else ... and then executive bonuses might suffer as their offerings flop.

Won't someone think about the executive bonuses?

Re:Data caps (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 months ago | (#47265205)

This is totally untrue and unfair. Executive bonuses won't suffer; they'll lay off significant portions of their US workforce before they let that happen. And they'll only do that if they can't avoid putting that money into promised infrastructure upgrades that the government loaned them money to do 20 years ago Yes, the money that currently goes into the investment portfolio that pays off the annual executive bonuses..

Re:Data caps (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 months ago | (#47274739)

So much for my attempt at humor.

Re:Data caps (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47265343)

Because, if they launch their own video streaming service for their clients, for instance, they wouldn't be able to give it preferential treatment to their packets over those of Netflix.

If there was net neutrality, the ISPs wouldn't be able to push their own services to compete with others, and they'd have to do it on merit.

Same goes for music, TV shows, and possibly even app stores.

If they serve the interwebs to people equally, they have less of a way to make sure it's easier for the consumer to use their products, and instead they might use those of someone else ... and then executive bonuses might suffer as their offerings flop.

Won't someone think about the executive bonuses?

That's not it at all. That may be a future revenue stream but I guarantee that's not what they plan on. What this is more about is "Don't regulate us!"

Think about it this way: The feds wanted to pass a law making it illegal for YOU to throw out dirty diapers. You don't have kids... what do you care? But you were asked your opinion. Of course you're going to say you oppose the law. Why put limits on yourself? What if you do have a kid some day, do you want to be washing reusable diapers? Maybe you wont mind... maybe you'll want to save the environment. But that will be years from now. You have no idea what the situation will be then, so why limit yourself now?

and that's the way the ISPs see this. Regulation always limits options and is therefor fiscally bad.

Re:Data caps (2)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 2 months ago | (#47266019)

No, that's pretty much it, at all. Right there. If there's no regulation, they can launch and push their own services and degrade everybody else's services.

regulation or no, all companies seek to turn themselves into monopolies, so as to maximize profits. We regulate to prevent monopoly behavior.

As for your dirty diaper law analogy? What? That made as much sense as a hat on a llama. Actually, less. And then it leaped to regulation limits options is always bad, which does NOT logically follow. You need to read up on your logical fallacies. https://yourlogicalfallacyis.c... []

Re:Data caps (0)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 months ago | (#47266391)

I thought the analogy made perfect sense FWIW, and your comments claiming it was a logical fallacy were far off the mark - which makes sense, because you were commenting on something knowing you didn't know what he meant!

What he said was basically you might feel obliged to oppose a law that doesn't affect you now because you worry you may make decisions later on that would result in the law affecting you.

You're not a parent, but you'd still actively oppose a restriction on the disposal of dirty diapers, in part because you may become a parent in future.

He added that this is how ISPs see the situation: that regulations concerning the Internet should be opposed because they may affect the ISP in the future even if they don't affect the ISP today.

This was a very reasonable description of why AT&T might oppose regulation in areas that don't directly affect them today.

Re:Data caps (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 months ago | (#47267275)

Delivery companies should be absolutely forbidden by law to provide content. There is no public good reason to allow it at all.

Re:Data caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47275299)

Delivery companies should be absolutely forbidden by law to provide content. There is no public good reason to allow it at all.

Interesting, but it leads to very slippery slope arguments. What about Starbucks? They provide food & beverage for a cost. Under your argument they cannot provide reading material of WiFi for free because that is not a service they "deliver".

On the other hand, if carriers only "delivered the bits", then all content is hosted elsewhere on The Internet, and that content is subject to increased latency and network congestion that is outside the control of the "delivery carrier". So you might argue that the "delivery carrier" needs bigger Internet pipes and connect to more carriers. Do you think that comes "for free" like Starbucks WiFi? Nope. You will pay for it. You may even pay for "delivery carriers" adding infrastructure (routers, "pipes", etc.) that you don't even use (your Internet habits don't generate traffic over those pipes, but others do). Are you ready for higher prices?

How do you handle the issue of network congestion outside the control of the "delivery carrier", such a congestion at peering points between "delivery carriers" or between "delivery carriers" and "backbone carriers"? I expect you to say, "Add more routers and/or "pipes", right? Who pays for that?

If you regulate "delivery carriers to such a degree, there is an obligation to ensure they achieve some sort of profit, otherwise nobody would want to enter that business, right? If you live in the USA, are you old enough to remember the days of regulated telephone service? I am and I do. Basically you got a phone and you could call anyone you wanted. Rates generally varied by distance, but you were not charged for Directory Assistance calls nor for "time service" calls. Toll-Free services were rare and generally only "big business" could afford it, and it was a sign of a "reputable business". There was no choice in long distance carriers. There was almost no choice in the styles and colors of phones available. As for "features", they did not exist. No voicemail (didn't exist). No answering machines (illegal to attach). Phone cords were not detachable and you could not legally install your own jacks. If the phone broke you could not substitute another phone while waiting for the phone guy to come out. Would you like those days to return? Sure, the monthly charges may seem "cheep" compared to today's bills (someone else can do the economics comparisons), but what you got for it was pretty minimal.

Things started to change in the USA with the "Carterfone case". Go look at ...and they are still changing today.

Re:Data caps (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | about 2 months ago | (#47275461)

Well you need to be a bit careful there... 'Delivery' can be a pretty broad word unless you narrow it and that can be kind of hard even.

For instance over the air tv reception is 'delivery', but most of those provide some content of their own (usually 'news') that they don't purchase through an affiliate program. If we went by your wording they would suddenly have to shutter any home brew content and act as dumb pipes to whatever affiliate company they are paired to... It could even kill some tv advertising as I know several local tv stations that provide 'consulting' or 'editing' services in regards to local tv ads. That could be perceived as 'providing content' that they then deliver.

Even if we exclude this to only refer to 'the internet' we could still run into an issue like some smaller broadband ISPs that offer local TV broadcasts, internet, phone, and conventional cable. So an aspect of the same company does provide 'content' which is then relayed over their 'delivery method'. Some of those places have no other source for local 'news' because they can be relatively small communities.

Re:Data caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47275151)

Because, if they launch their own video streaming service for their clients, for instance, they wouldn't be able to give it preferential treatment to their packets over those of Netflix.

I would agree. All services should be treated equally, and by the same logical reasoning the carrier should subject all traffic to "network management treatment" (QOS, rate-limiting, etc.) in times of congestion (happens more frequently in wireless than you think) so that All Customers have their traffic "treated fairly".

If there was net neutrality, the ISPs wouldn't be able to push their own services to compete with others, and they'd have to do it on merit.

Interesting premise, but not truly accurate since any "legally proveable prefential behavior" would probably invite an anti-trust investigation.

I am fine with services competing on merit, content library, and so on. Competing on speed is relative since a carrier has in inherent advantage in being able to place their own CDN hardware within their own network at the closest point to a customer and all other content providers are "out on The Internet". I expect complaints on that, but to make a fair setup for every content provider in every carrier, they all have to host content from the exact same locations (everyone has to "network & latency equidistant from every customer to maintain fairness", yeah right!), and that's hardly ideal (massive duplication of infrastructure with associated costs) or possible in some cases (carriers do not all meet at the same places, and why penalize a carrier by preventing it from using it's own service offices to host it's own content).

Same goes for music, TV shows, and possibly even app stores.

The concept of "economies of scale" comes at a cost. Many of these operations you mention are probably making pennies in profit on every download, so they have to make their profit "in volume". They benefit from having their infrastructure centralized; it's a "minimizec cost" business model. Once content providers decentralized via 1 or more CDN it will cost the provider more money (contract arrangements, and bandwidth isn't free...seriously!), so they have to charge the customer more for the same content. Now, none of that even applies to services that provide content for free. In the case of "free content" providers, the goal is to keep operating costs as low as absolutely possible.

If they serve the interwebs to people equally, they have less of a way to make sure it's easier for the consumer to use their products, and instead they might use those of someone else ... and then executive bonuses might suffer as their offerings flop.

Disregarding the argument on bonuses....

If a carrier provides their own CDN inside their own facilities, they have an inherent advantage over any other content provider because they are closer to the customer. Currently there is not legal prohibition from doing this, at least in the USA. Every other content provider is located somewhere on the Internet, and by logical extension they will suffer higher latency (they are farther away from the customer) and greater risk of Internet congestion (just look at Netflix). You gotta know how the Internet actually works to understand this argument.

Next, there is nothing to stop a carrier from signing content hosting contracts with content providers if the carrier has a CDN system they can fill with 3rd party content (definitely not the Netflix model, right?). To some that could be viewed as the carrier giving preferential treatment, but I call "BS" on that argument; it's a business arrangement. Perhaps you want the FCC (in the USA) to regulate all of those arrangements? Fine, then you will have the US government involved in this process, and possibly in ways you don't really want (NSA snooping, or worse?). Be careful what regulations & legislation you ask for, especially in the USA, because sometimes you get what you want along with a "large helping" of stuff you don't want ("warrantless wiretapping" anyone?).

Finally, what if content providers want to place their CDN boxes in the carriers, like the Netflix model? That concept is interesting "on it's face", but comes with various difficulties for the carrier: (1) physical access to the device for service & installation (most carriers very strictly control 3rd party access & work inside their service offices, partly for safety reasons, partly for secuity reasons, and partly for service impact reasons); (2) space, power, and cooling cost money (more than you think) and that is capacity lost to the carrier's own systems (so why not charge for it?). If I understand the Netflix model correctly, they provide the hardware, they manage the content, and they expect the carrier to power & cool it "for free" under the false assumption that having the box onsite saves the carrier in bandwidth costs. Honestly, I think power & cooling cost more than carrier bandwidth in "big pipes".

Re:Data caps (3, Interesting)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 2 months ago | (#47265039)

Easy. With the exception of Verizon*, they can charge extra for things like tethering your phone. I'm sure there are other examples as well, but there's a starting point.

(* VZ got their hands slapped for charging extra for tethering. They got slapped because VZ is using some spectrum which, thanks to Google's playing in the auction, has a net neutrality string attached to it. The other three carriers are not bound by this provision)

Re:Data caps (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 months ago | (#47267291)

What sucks is I have 3G service form Verizon, so i cant exploit this at all. It only applies to 4G spectrum.

Re:Data caps (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 2 months ago | (#47350395)

Unfortunately, that is true.

Re:Data caps (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 months ago | (#47265713)

Exactly. Nobody is suggesting that people should be able to download 24x7 at peak LTE speeds for free on their phones - clearly there just isn't the bandwidth for that as wireless is far more oversold than wired data is (well at least in an unlimited model - right now most providers have caps so it isn't really oversold).

What this is about is that your 2GB/month or whatever is good for any data from anybody, and that some providers are not better than others.

If anything there is more of a case for wireless to be neutral. With wired internet the border routers are a big choke point. With wireless the big choke point is the actual over-the-air connection and a packet is a packet no matter where it comes from as far as that link is concerned. Locality of data doesn't get you anywhere with wireless the way it does with wired networks.

Typo in Summary (3, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 2 months ago | (#47264859)

Meanwhile, AT&T says that strong net neutrality regulations will ruin their ability to squeeze more profit from the internet.

There, fixed it.

Re:Typo in Summary (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 months ago | (#47265237)

Meanwhile, AT&T says that strong net neutrality regulations will ruin the internet they have pitched to their shareholders .

There, fixed it.

Oh seriously, her again? (5, Informative)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 months ago | (#47264865)

She approved the NBC-Comcast merger, then immediately quit the FCC and started working for NBC! [] I wouldn't trust a single thing she says since she's a poster child for corruption in the FCC and a prime example of the revolving door problems. While Congress is elected and has to try and hide its corrupt doings by making confusing laws no one can understand except lawyers and the corporations that wrote them, the FCC is on a tear of doing whatever it pleases. Believe it or not, there's still some people who think governmental officials are acting for the good of people, but the more the FCC brazenly does actions that are for their corporate overlords and not for the good of the people, the more people are losing faith in the government.

Re:Oh seriously, her again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265115)

Believe it or not, there's still some people who think governmental officials are acting for the good of people, but the more the FCC brazenly does actions that are for their corporate overlords and not for the good of the people, the more people are losing faith in the government.

This is true. I was astounded to meet a person recently who actually believes the TSA does a good job and isn't unreasonable. (sorry for the offtopic comment)

having it both ways (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47264917)

"Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum," said Meredith Attwell Baker, the new head of CTIA, the wireless industry's lobbying arm.

There is absolutely nothing about Net Neutrality that affects the final leg of transmission. Doing away with Net Neutrality helps a bit with peering issues. Limited bandwidth from the tower to the phone, or in the final mile of wired service would be almost totally unaffected by any change in net neutrality. You'll still have limited bandwidth, you'll still have people poorly served during peak usage. Net Neutrality simply changes WHO gets poorly served.

Re:having it both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47264987)

        I'm not so sure about that.

Consider a case of two over the top video providers operating over a congested final leg.
  Depending on what 'reasonable traffic management' the ISP uses, he could favor one set of video packets over the other.
  This could make one video service work much better than the other.
  Presumably, Net Neutrality would prevent this sort discrimination.

Re:having it both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265333)

There is absolutely nothing about Net Neutrality that affects the final leg of transmission

If you have a perfectly working pipe, except for this one section here that's clamped shut by an evil middleman, then none of the pipe works.

Net neutrality is meaningless if the final leg is exempt.

Net Neutrality simply changes WHO gets poorly served.

YEEEEAAAAAH that's EXACTLY the problem. More specifically, a world without neutral networks changes WHO CONTROLS WHO gets the poor service and who gets favored. It's about the service providers having the power to pick and choose who wins and who loses on the internet and that's EXACTLY the fear that NN proponents are worried about.

Re:having it both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265745)


Please, let us at least get that correct. Why is it that the people who complain the loudest about not being able to tell when you're supposed to use either one, or that using "whom" is snobby or whatever, do not seem to have a problem knowing when to use "he" and "him"?

Re:having it both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47266819)

Uuuuuhhhh.... I believe it would be "who controls whom" if it ended there with a period. But it doesn't, it continues, just not shouting. You don't say "whom gets the cheese". It's "who gets the cheese". Shall I make it clearer for you?


Nothing like a grammar nazi that gets it wrong.

Re:having it both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265571)

No. Just, no.

Net neutrality is an ill-defined term that needs clarification. Let's do that, then beat these greedy assholes over the head with it until they bleed from their eyes.

What it originally was intended to mean was "content neutrality by internet service providers". What the ISP's who see that as a threat to their business model want it to mean (and thus try to steer the conversation toward) is "routing neutrality by network peers".

Routing neutrality is stupid and bullshit. That's why it universally looks like a raw deal when the ISP's frame it up. The internet isn't supposed to have routing neutrality. It's a network of peers and that relies on each peer being self-contained and dealing with their peers based on reputation. Basically, the ISP's should not be forced to peer with anyone else without due compensation, whether in the form of money or peered-traffic credit.

Content neutrality, however, is what we actually need. The ISP's don't like content neutrality because it cuts into their ability to extract money from their suckers^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcustomers. They constantly try to frame this debate in terms of "priority traffic" and "fast lanes" and "QoS". None of those things could be further from the truth. Yes, video on a UDP stream needs to be higher priority than HTTP traffic. But video from Netflix should not be treated any differently from video provided by your ISP's streaming service.

This is the net neutrality discussion we need to be having with people.

Smaller Tubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47264927)

> "Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum,"

Everybody knows that when the tubes are smaller the only packets that will fit are the ones from companies that have been extorted to pay extra. All that extra money they lose to the wireless carriers is just a side-effect of slimming down their packets in order to fit!

The exact reason we need net neutrality (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47264989)

Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum.

This is precisely why it needs net neutrality. If they are allowed to create high priority "lanes," there will be nothing left for anyone else. Everyone will be forced to pay extra or effectively have no access at all.

Re:The exact reason we need net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265393)

Quality of Service is already a thing; broadcasters and businesses can pay to have their traffic prioritized beyond consumer standards in order to ensure a smooth, steady link. It's been around for some time, actually. Long before the Net Neutrality talk ever started. It never stopped.

Re:The exact reason we need net neutrality (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 2 months ago | (#47266859)

QoS is different than Net Neutrality. QoS has to be set up by the sender of the packet and classifies the type of service for the same sender. It could potentially be a direct link between two (or more hosts) and typically the sender pays to set up dedicated bandwidth between end points. The rest of the network still gets the same amount of bandwidth as they had before and gets treated fairly among each other.

Net Neutrality is basically the absence of packet mangling by the providers. Net neutrality implies that when someone asks and pays for QoS priority access, they do not negatively affect other customers. It implies that the providers actually purchase an extra 1Gbps from their peering partners if a customer buys 1Gbps in access.

It also implies that nobody can pay to slow down competing access. If Netflix or Amazon wants a dedicated 1Mbps in my home, that's fine, but I shouldn't have to pay for it (if I want to pay Netflix for it, that's between me and Netflix); if you give up net neutrality, the provider would basically take 1 Mbps out of the 10/15/100Mbps you purchased and sell it (again) to the highest bidder without giving you a discount. So you end up with 9Mbps for the price of 10Mbps and they won't just stop at selling 1Mbps - TWC/Comcast wants to sell the entire bandwidth you already purchased over and over again to the big players and if someone doesn't want to buy priority access, they would get artificially slowed down until they do (see the infamous Netflix vs. Comcast graph)

I'm pretty sure... (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 2 months ago | (#47264991)

I am pretty sure that if/whenever net neutrality gets passed, it will be something that does exactly the opposite of what it's initial proponents wanted (i.e. worse than if no law at all were passed), and the politicians will be able to claim to be heroes for passing net neutrality. Look at who we are dealing with. Republicans and democrats. I think the goal of net neutrality is perfectly good, I just don't trust politicians to know anything about how to regulate the internet. It's pretty safe to say that they have already demonstrated that they don't.

Re:I'm pretty sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265439)

I am pretty sure that if/whenever net neutrality gets passed

You've been mis-informed about the nature of network neutrality. It's not a piece of US legislation. It's an operating framework, a way of doing business, a mode of operation.
It's (more or less) implemented right now with only selective examples breaking away from the principles of neutrality.

Imagine a bunch of servers across the world talking with each other and passing long messges between each other. If you connected to one you could send any sort of message anywhere in the world. They are more or less neutral when it comes to where the message came from, where it's going, who it came from, what sort of message it is, or why it was sent. Imagine that. Does that sound like the Internet? It should because that's how it bloody well operates. For the most part.

There have always been exceptions. UDP isn't treated the same as TCP. Some websites really do care about who pays for access. The lag between Japan and Kansas is going to be different.

But by and far we HAVE network neutrality. It's the consolidated telecom industry that wants to tear it down, control the internet, play gatekeepers, and milk the system for all it's worth.

It's not legislation.

I just don't trust politicians to know anything about how to regulate the internet

Ok. Fair enough.
Do you trust a handful of telecom CEOs to compete with each other so that they don't need to be regulated?

Net neutrailty == Netflix wants free peering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47264993)

I wish the current debate would be over REAL net neutrality, and not the co-opted one we're having today.

Real net neutrality would mean internet access is effectively a public utility.

The "net neutrality" argument we're having now is effectively nothing more than who has to pay for Netflix's et al non-symmetrical bandwidth usage, where each side has hired guns trying to bribe lawmakers.

Corruption (1)

mfh (56) | about 2 months ago | (#47265055)

The thing about corruption is that it will fester wherever it is allowed to fester. The only question we must answer is if we will tolerate a corrupt world or if we will cure the patient BEFORE the cure would KILL the patient. So far the big money is on keeping the world corrupt.

Why would mobile networks be any different than other networks? What possible intrinsic technical difference that applies to our privacy or traffic speed have to do with the difference between a computer plugged into the net or a cell phone connecting remotely? None? Okay at least we passed Grade 9 technology class.

Everything is based on finite bandwitdh (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 months ago | (#47265065)

If the terrestrial cable had unlimited bandwidth, we wouldn't be worried about net neutrality because there would be room for everyone. It's just amplified over wireless.

The one place they could have a point is for VoLTE, where the voice network probably should have priority over other traffic. But, slippery slopes and such...

Re:Everything is based on finite bandwitdh (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 2 months ago | (#47265159)

No land lines it's simply a matter of adding more/better gear. It's far harder to add more towers for wireless.

Re:Everything is based on finite bandwitdh (1)

Altrag (195300) | about 2 months ago | (#47265883)

Its much simpler to add more towers than it is to add more wire.

What's not so simple is adding more channels to the wireless spectrum. Its very hard to keep dividing spectrum into finer and finer chunks without running into overlaps and collisions. And while the electromagnetic spectrum extends infinitely (as best we can tell..,) there's only a finite amount of it that's useful for the purposes of wireless transmission.

AT&T and whoever isn't wrong about wireless spectrum being a finite resource -- they're just wrong about that being an argument against net neutrality. As at least a couple other posters have noted, it should actually be an argument for net neutrality.

Re:Everything is based on finite bandwitdh (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 2 months ago | (#47266425)

You need not add more wire, putting in a strand of glass to every location from a central point is worth doing as it need only be done once. Anyways the point a cell based network is to divvy it up into small segments to use the same spectrum over and over again.

As it relates to net neutrality it's all BS, beyond prioritizing an emergency services call over everything else.

Re:Everything is based on finite bandwitdh (1)

Altrag (195300) | about 2 months ago | (#47270117)

I meant "wire" in the more general sense of "not wireless." The exact technology wasn't really relevant.

Divvying it up into small segments (geographically) only works to a certain level. If my phone has 100 tiny little towers all within its range, its going to have a hell of a time deciding which one to use.

But then I'm not a wireless technician so maybe they've come up with ways of handling that such that they can divide an area the size of a stadium (ie: much smaller than your average cell phone's reach) in such a way that everyone can use the same piece of spectrum at the same time without confusing the hell out of the handsets. My impression so far though from what I HAVE seen is that this isn't really how its done and they mostly just divide the spectrum itself into smaller and smaller chunks.

Ie: instead of having 100 little towers that each use one chunk of spectrum, they have one big tower that can use 100 chunks of spectrum simultaneously. Or something. I'm sure my gross oversimplification doesn't really do the problem justice but hopefully it at least gets my point across.

Re:Everything is based on finite bandwitdh (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 2 months ago | (#47271671)

Pico cells and similar do just that create smaller and smaller cells while using the same spectrum as the towers. Devices like the airvana's do this at a tiny scale so a home or small office can put a tiny tower in and backhaul via voip. I've used larger version that were a tower just for an office building.

even for VoLTE it doesn't really make sense (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 months ago | (#47267153)

Even for VoLTE, why should your voice get priority over my data? What if my "data" is actually voice via a different app?

Arguably, all packets should be shaped initially based on the subscription plans of the subscribers without regard for data type. Then *within the packet stream of an individual subscriber* they could prioritize based on traffic type, but it should be up to the subscriber to indicate whether they want this to be done, what should be prioritized, etc.

AT&T (1)

Tiger Smile (78220) | about 2 months ago | (#47265075)

A strong AT&T has been the Internet ruin for a long time. They have lobbyests and have far more input than most. It's their fine work that kept the telephone under their control for almost 100 years. A strong AT&T is part of the reason South Korea has Intenet speeds 200 times faster at half the price. AT&T doesn't care about anyone other than AT&T and have proven this over and over again whenever they can.

Basically, here AT&T and the wireless carriers are asking the vioctim to go out of a 2nd date with their rapest.

The US and the world would be a better place without AT&T. It's time we grow up and throw out the monoplies, and the congressmen they own.

Re:AT&T (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 months ago | (#47265235)

It's their fine work that kept the telephone under their control for almost 100 years.

While the attributes of AT&T have followed the name, the current AT&T isn't really the same company as the old AT&T.

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47267583)

It isn't really a different company either. It reconstituted itself like the terminator, only it's here to kill the internet instead of John Connor.

Vote with your wallet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265093)

Face it if you're an AT&T customer you're helping them.

Is this an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265141)

Since Net-Neutrality is largely an issue of "I own this last mile, if you want my 'customers' pay me to reach them", it seems that wireless is less of an issue, since if one company has a reputation for providing poor Netfilx performance (for instance), people that care about that can switch to a different provider.

Contrasting this with people that have to option to switch from Comcast to... Comcast?

They may be correct... (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47265221)

How does one write "net neutrality" rules which accommodate voice on modern cellular networks, when it's carried as data? Customers expect their voice calls to always work, and not get interference from an email getting downloaded in the background.

With carriers moving toward VoLTE for voice services, there's a legitimate desire to apply QoS for the voice services the carriers themselves offer. QoS is an integral part of VoLTE, so there may be legitimate concern that net neutrality rules will get in the way of VoLTE rollouts.

OTOH, net neutrality could be met in a reasonably equitable manner by allowing each device to mark, say, up to x% (or x bps) of its traffic for preferential QoS treatment. That would allow third-party VoIP apps to somewhat compete with carrier VoLTE services. VoLTE would still receive preferential treatment due to the IMS support it receives for things like roaming and handoff. But considering that cellular network are not obligated to provide data service, that doesn't seem unreasonable.

Re:They may be correct... (1)

Altrag (195300) | about 2 months ago | (#47266127)

Net neutrality only affects certain aspects of traffic shaping.

Prioritizing a type of traffic is generally fine under net neutrality. And since phones are generally tied to a single carrier (at least at one time.. even if you unlock your phone you generally can't have more than one SIM card installed,) voice services will pretty much by definition always have to be prioritized to that carrier.

Now if voice calling stops being an integral part of the phone and AT&T just runs voice through a standard app installed right beside Skype's app, then net neutrality would apply because you're talking about the same type of service.

Its true that QoS shaping is not technically "neutral" but its rarely what people are referring to when they're talking about the common term "net neutrality." Typically that term is used to mean provider-neutral service rather than protocol-neutral.

It wouldn't be hard to codify that difference in law. But of course AT&T and friends don't want any law. Equating standard voice calling with VoIP would be a huge boon to AT&T's position because it would mean you can't apply net neutrality without (theoretically) screwing up the regular telephone service.

Re:They may be correct... (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47266759)

Traffic shaping (which deals with big pipe/little pipe issues, or where there is an artifical bandwidth cap) is different than QoS (priority).

Your argument ignores the fact that there may be competitive voice offerings (e.g. Skype, 3rd party SIP gateways) which can run side-by-side with a phone's integral voice capability, and in a net neutral world, deserve QoS similar to that given to "integral voice" at least while traversing the carrier's network.

You fail to explain exactly how a carrier is supposed to identify the "type" of traffic - how are they to know one RTP stream is a voice call and another is someone listening to "Internet radio?"

Re:They may be correct... (1)

Altrag (195300) | about 2 months ago | (#47270085)

My argument did not ignore competitive voice offerings. In fact I specifically pointed out exactly such a case (where AT&T removes regular the regular call function and replaces it with a direct VoIP competitor.)

Skype may be an alternative, but it is NOT a direct competitor. Its kind of like comparing Coke to tea vs comparing Coke to Pepsi. In both cases you're comparing beverages, but in the former its not really a direct comparison except at the very vaguest "its a beverage" level.

As for how they identify the "type" of traffic.. they have lots of ways. They're free to prioritize RTP over BitTorrent. But if some clever person comes up with a way to run her BT client over RTP in such a way that they can't be distinguished well... onus is on the carrier to deal with that. And if they can't figure it out then tough shit. (Though in this case, I can't really think of an argument for prioritizing voice over radio anyway -- choppy tunes are as annoying if not moreso than a choppy telephone chat.)

Its similar logic to why so many protocols have an "over HTTP" mode -- HTTP is open pretty much everywhere whereas many firewalls (and most business-level ones) are set to block pretty much everything else.

As for how the carriers can do it.. things like deep packet inspection exist. And while DPI has gotten a bad wrap due to its potential ability to be a massive privacy invasion, it also has plenty of non-nefarious purposes such as differentiating different types of traffic that happen to use the same protocol. And I'm sure more tricks will exist in the future.

The thing that we really want to avoid when we talk about "net neutrality" in the common understanding is carriers shaping traffic purely for profit (things like selling preferential treatment.) Shaping traffic to deal with actual network limitations is fine and in some cases necessary.


Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265239)

With BLAST, how can they claim to be spectrum limited?

Sen. Leahy cant be depended on (1)

blackair (1967466) | about 2 months ago | (#47265313)

I fully expect him to cave to whatever the lobbyiest want just like with Patent reform bill

Wireless Spectrum is Finite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265317)

Which is exactly why the customer should be deciding how they want to use their finite slice of bandwidth, not their cellular provider dictating what is more important.

I find it amusing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47265371)

that whenever Google rolls into town carrying a wad of Fiber over their backs, suddenly the stagnant ISPs in the area start ponying up competitive services at a competitive price, screaming "WE WERE WORKING ON IT".

In socialist Europe... (1)

thrill12 (711899) | about 2 months ago | (#47265385)

Net Neutrality .... (paste catchy phrase here).

But seriously, whatever argument they come up with, I am sure it has been discussed in Europe where the same lobbyists were active, but *failed* to kill real net-neutrality. I suggest the politicians and those interested read the reports on that debate [] .
Good luck US, in the mean-time: here's to European Internet leadership ! :)

Vertical Separation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47266805)

If socialism is defined as being opposed to free markets/capitalism, then regulation to create markets isn't socialism. Regulating to limit the number of players or put in coercive pricing could be. (Companies lobbying to keep players out/keep prices up can at least be considered anti-free market and anti-consumer.)

The fundamental problem is that Comcast, Time Warner, and the others are too big and too willing to use their market position to beef themselves up. Comcast produces movies/content, distributes it with cable, and provides internet access over that same cable. Time Warner does the same, though they are trying to sell their cable/internet portion. So when they start limiting Netflix's bandwidth, it's not just them doing business, it's an anti-competitive action.

We do see questionable business practices in other sectors. Apple notoriously overcharges for storage on its iPhone and iPad line, but there's competition from Android and even Windows phones/tablets. Android phones/tablets frequently come with microSD card slots which allow for cheap and convenient storage. You can live anywhere in the US, buy the tablet of your choice, and expect it to work.

When it comes to telecomms, that's not always the case. In many areas, there's only one network that provides decent access. A lot of times this is Comcast (cable internet) or Verizon Wireless (cell phone). These networks aren't bad, but their prices are.

However, in Verizon Wireless's case, it's possible to use an MVNO to buy cell phone service instead of from Verizon directly. They commonly cost about half what Verizon charges. (If it weren't for MVNOs, I wouldn't have a cell phone.) In Comcast's case, there is no such option, but I have a feeling we'd see a similar effect if there were virtual ISPs/networks.

Back in the '90s on dial-up, the ISPs were vertically separated from the phone companies. The modems used phone lines, but weren't owned by them. Consumers had some choice in which ISP they used. These days, it's just whatever regional companies are available. Allowing third parties access to these networks could help.

In the long run, breaking up this vertically integrated companies could help the market and consumers overall.

the only thing net neutrality will ruin is profit (1)

NynexNinja (379583) | about 2 months ago | (#47265499)

AT&T and others stand to profit billions of dollars by creating slow lanes and fast lanes on the internet. The real issue here is that customer already paid for an internet connection at a certain speed, so its some level of fraud or deception (false advertising, bait-and-switch) to be selling a service at a certain speed and then not delivering the service that the customer is paying for.

Re:some level of fraud or deception (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 2 months ago | (#47266079)

I think you've hit upon an important point. I believe many ISPs are actively sabotaging customer's connections to some of the internet's content. Since ISPs now have bundled services that they can make good money on, the ISPs have incentive to slow and sabotage their customer's connections to internet based competing services. This would cause customers to quit the competing services in disgust and use ISP services instead.

Re:some level of fraud or deception (1)

mc6809e (214243) | about 2 months ago | (#47266895)

I believe many ISPs are actively sabotaging customer's connections to some of the internet's content

They don't have to. The protocols we use are more than capable of screwing with things.

Consider TCP: the protocol is BY DESIGN meant to exponentially increase the amount of data dumped on a link until it overloads and begins dropping packets. TCP then throttles for a little while and then soon goes back to bashing the network with packets until it breaks again.

spot the mistake (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47265621)

> "Wireless is different ... it is dependent on finite spectrum,"

um, ok. I suspect she means by this that for a given area, there is finite data carrying capacity to cellular phones.

Ok. Name the network that doesn't have a finite data carrying capacity. Of course it might be more than the capacity of a cell tower, but in no cases is it not finite.

Probably it would have been more correct to say "the maximum data carrying capacity of wireless is significantly less than traditional network connections" but I'm not even sure that's true.

Re:spot the mistake (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 2 months ago | (#47266087)

Wireless is finite in a different way than wired. It isn't just about the bandwidth the network is already capable of. Wireless can only be expanded so much. Adding more cellphone towers indefinitely eventually means that they are too closely spaced and interfere with one another. This can be helped by transfering more spectrum away from other services and to the cellular service however even if we gave up all other forms of radio communication and just used the whole RF spectrum for cellular there is still only a finite amount of spectrum available and no expansion may be had beyond that point.

Fiberoptic cables however may each contain their own set of channels. Lay two cables across one another and they do not interfere. The network may "always" be expanded just by adding more cables. Copper cables might interfere with one another a bit but this can be mitigated with shielding.

Techincally even this IS fiinite, I suppose there is some number of cables where the earth becomes like a giant "yarn ball" however I don't think we really have to worry about reaching that point.

Re:spot the mistake (1)

Altrag (195300) | about 2 months ago | (#47266221)

Area doesn't mean a whole lot given that your iPhone has to work just as well at a stadium packed with 50,000 people as it does when you go back to the 'burbs and there's only 100 people in the tower's service area. I mean there will definitely be some realistic upper limit on the number of cell devices you can expect to be in use in a certain area at a certain time, but you basically have to plan for that upper limit regardless of how often its likely to be hit because eventually it will be hit.

And there's a limit to how much you can divide up the spectrum no matter what you do. Whereas there's not really a limit to "run another fat wire out to the backbone" for physical connections (well, at least up to the point that the backbone gets full but that's an upper limit no matter what tech you use to get there. Not that backbones can't also be upgraded of course!)

crooks (1)

Tom (822) | about 2 months ago | (#47265979)

Anyone who listens to telco companies is an idiot, and I say that as someone who worked in one for a decade.

Wireless carriers are the worst. You should assume they're crooks until they've proven the opposite.


Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47266085)

Except the FCC and Mr. Obama failed to mention that THEIR version of "Net Neutrality" has a bunch of controls in it to give the FCC effective control over the Internet, require the ISPs to record your online information, so police can go direclty to them without a warrant.

It does a lot more than that, but it's all bad!

I thought Verizon already agreed 4G=Broadband? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47266489)

Referencing an earlier /. article:

Start over fresh? (1)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 2 months ago | (#47266723)

The fact that Title II rules were written so long ago is a point that net neutrality opponents like to hammer on all the live long day. If you want to aggravate them quickly just point out how some like to say the same about the second amendment. That argument aside, though, I do often wonder: Why not rewrite Title II altogether? Even if for no other reason than to close the argument about 'outdated' regulations.

AT&T (1)

mbone (558574) | about 2 months ago | (#47268797)

AT&T says that strong net neutrality regulations will ruin the internet.

AT&T thinks that the Internet is an amusing toy, but real men use switched circuits.

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