Verizon Lobbyists: That Deaf, Dumb And Blind Kid Sure Could Use An Internet Fast Lane

from the to-paraphrase-the-who dept

As we’ve discussed, big broadband companies love to pretend that their anti-competitive efforts will somehow benefit less powerful groups. It’s a cynical ploy that goes back to the famous statement about GM that “what’s good for GM is good for the country.” It is even more cynically done here, since it often involves marginalized groups, allowing the big companies to tug on heart strings of politicians, while actually making life worse for those marginalized groups. The latest in this arena, according to Mother Jones, is that Verizon lobbyists are swarming Capitol Hill telling folks in Congress that it needs to be able to offer “fast lanes” on the internet to help deaf, blind and disabled internet users. Of course, there’s a big problem with this — namely, the groups that represent those folks appear to disagree.

Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea. But groups representing disabled Americans, including the National Association of the Deaf, the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Association of People with Disabilities are not advocating for this plan. Mark Perriello, the president and CEO of the AAPD, says that this is the “first time” he has heard “these specific talking points.”

The basic argument is that if true net neutrality is allowed, then somehow, magically, Verizon and others won’t be able to offer priority services that are more “necessary” for these groups. Except, of course, that’s not even close to true. There are plenty of great and useful online services for these different groups, most of which are built by organizations that are not Verizon and which actually rely on the fact that they don’t have to double pay the big broadband providers to make sure their offerings work properly.

Even more to the point, though, this lobbying effort makes it pretty clear that, contrary to FCC boss Tom Wheeler’s own claims, Verizon (and AT&T and Comcast) recognize that the current FCC proposal will, in fact, enable “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” on the internet. It’s even more obvious from the fact that AT&T has flat out come out in favor of the current proposal.

Either way, lobbyists playing cynical games to rope in groups that don’t want their help in support of breaking net neutrality just shows how incredibly desperate the big broadband players are getting in trying to block any real shot at net neutrality.

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “Verizon Lobbyists: That Deaf, Dumb And Blind Kid Sure Could Use An Internet Fast Lane”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Pinball Wizard

Dear Pinball Companies,

We at Verizon applaud your efforts to bring deaf, dumb, and blind kids up as pinball wizards. However, in order to connect your pinball machines together, we will need to charge you our standard fees of $1,000,000 connection fee and $50/MB for each device you’d like to connect together. It would sure be a bad thingTM if you couldn’t connect your machines together, for the deaf, dumb, and blind pinball wizards out there. Yo, Tony, make sure you’se got the bat ready in case they tries to go elsewhere.



Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pinball Wizard

Ever since I was a young man
I’ve used the Internet
From kittens to goatse
I really love the web
But I ain’t seen anything like him
He browses like a jet
That deaf dumb and blind kid
Sure requires a fast lane in order to access content because currently the Internet discriminates against him somehow apparently

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I find it disgraceful that these faceless corporations would use disabled people as a pawn to further their agenda. It’s very distasteful and shows a lack of character. How can they possibly expect anyone (other than bought politicians) to take them seriously when they do something like this?

Anonymous Coward says:

Uh, what? Most accessibility processing is done on the client machine, and has nothing at all to do with bandwidth requirements. I’ve done a heck of a lot of coding for compatibility with screenreader software and the idea that for some reason they need more bandwidth is absolutely insane on the face of it. Blind people are generally not going to be burning through their connection streaming videos all the time anyway.

The argument for deaf people is even more asinine – what, are subtitles somehow that bandwidth-intensive?

What a crock of shit.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The argument for deaf people is even more asinine – what, are subtitles somehow that bandwidth-intensive?

Good point. Why do I have to pay the same for my internet connection when I don’t need the subtitles? Deaf people should have to pay more because they use more of the bandwidth they paid for. There should be some kind of extra subtitle charge that they receive that the telcos can use to build out a better network to support their extra usage – it’s only fair.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is this one of those word association games? Quick: ‘Fast lanes’ and ‘deaf people’ – what do they have in common ? Uh, I dunno boss. Uh-oh, there goes my Ivy League entrance pass.

In other more sinister news: I use Verizon and when I clicked to read this article MY INTERNET SLOWED DOWN. Techdirt – have you forgotten to pay the fast lane fee again?

PaulT (profile) says:

They should get together with the MPAA, who have spent years trying to deny DMCA exceptions to blind people – because they might possibly pirate something so who cares if they get access to the content legally? But there might be profit from the disabled or an excuse to push forward their own agenda? You must be against them if you don’t agree… Sigh…

Meanwhile, this still makes me facepalm so hard I think I crushed something:

“if true net neutrality is allowed”

They still don’t know what that term means, do they (or are so corrupt they’ll pretend they don’t when they might profit)?

Anonymous Coward says:

With Google Fiber starting to roll out in more places, all the fast lane bullshit arguments fly out the window. Google charges $70/mo for nominally 1 Gbps connections and lets large content providers like Netflix colocate their servers with Google’s servers for free.

If Google doesn’t need to charge more for consumer internet service or for “fast lanes” to provide better connections, why are Verizon and Comcast so stupid that they can’t figure out how to do the same? Oh right: money…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“With Google Fiber starting to roll out in more places, all the fast lane bullshit arguments fly out the window”

No, they just change. We’ve already seen them here. For example, scarmeongering about ads slowing down connections, “concerns” over piracy (as if existing ISPs don’t violate it), whining that Google are not competing fairly because they use it to promote other services (as cable companies already do).

It’s tiresome either way, but hopefully those being lobbied at least recognise how silly this particular argument is without too much additional help.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

and lets large content providers like Netflix colocate their servers with Google’s servers for free

Yikes. I didn’t know they did this. You mention it like it is a good thing, but if Google does this for “select” content providers, they are doing the exact same thing Version is doing with the interconnect fights.

The question becomes, how do you get to be one of these select providers? How can someone compete if they are not in this group?

I would be curious if you have any links to reliable sources that talk about how this works.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

AFAIK, Netflix will provide servers to any final mile ISP. It costs them less than paying for backbone bandwidth. However, Verizon and Comcasts, being cable providers as well as ISPs, do not wish to improve streaming services unless they can make up for the money they are losing through cable cutting. This is why the wish to charge the likes of Netflix, rather than accept their servers.

Ruben says:

Re: Re: Re:

” We give companies like Netflix and Akamai free access to space and power in our facilities and they provide their own content servers. We don’t make money from peering or colocation; since people usually only stream one video at a time, video traffic doesn’t bog down or change the way we manage our network in any meaningful way – so why not help enable it?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Net What?

Pardon my lack of knowledge on this subject but don’t we already have fast and slow lanes on the internet?

I mean if I want I can go the cheap route with Comcast (or just about anybody)and for xx.00 @ month get 10mbs or pay more and get 50mbs.

As for collecting on both ends, doesn’t Techdirt pay for Bandwidth to get out there so I can pay for bandwidth to get to their site?

Hasn’t this always been this way?

Wasn’t Netflix already paying an interconnect before they went direct to comcast?

And as to the poor struggling startups, isn’t that what you do as a startup, compete? I mean if your not ready to compete with your established competitors, perhaps you should wait until you can.

Or maybe we should just ask all the startup’s competitors to suspend operations until the startup can get up to speed.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Net What?

“don’t we already have fast and slow lanes on the internet?”

What you’re describing is a different thing entirely. In the NN context, “fast” and “slow” lanes aren’t talking about your connection’s bandwidth. It’s talking about carrier’s deciding to speed up or slow down packets based on who is creating them rather than how much bandwidth they’re buying.

“doesn’t Techdirt pay for Bandwidth to get out there so I can pay for bandwidth to get to their site?”

Again, this is a different thing than what is meant in the NN context. In the NN context, the issue is that large ISPs want to double-charge at one or both ends (so that, for example, Netflix is paying twice for their end of the bandwidth).

“I mean if your not ready to compete with your established competitors, perhaps you should wait until you can.”

In a free market, this is true. The idea of NN is to try to ensure that it’s a free market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Net What?

isn’t that what you do as a startup, compete

In an ideal world, startups would only have to worry about:
Marketing – making a new idea as a different and better and better enough to warrant the limited time of people
Financially – making enough money to pay bills (resources, employees, investors, equipment, loans, etc).
Talent – finding the startup core that can take them from 0 to profitable – not just collecting a paycheck
Patents – to protect good ideas
Storefront/Internet Domain – people need a way to buy it, right?

In reality, they have to worry about the above list plus:
Liabilities – making sure that someone/anyone doesn’t misunderstand the intended use and sue
product trolls – making sure that someone doesn’t ship it off to china to produce a knockoff before you get established.
Patent Trolls – patent search to ensure that no one patents your idea. Like the idea of using a colored background when photographing your product to put on the internet.
Legal – making sure that the other trolls aren’t around
Lobbyists – who can surprisingly make an Uber idea suddenly become a bad idea.

And, now we are introducing a new troll – the ISP troll? All in the spirit of competition? I think startups (and you, in the future) will value NN in the future. Like when, all of the sudden, you have to watch Verizon On Demand, because YouTube and Netflix are both just too slow. Or, you have to eat Domino’s because they paid the ISP Troll tax, and the VoIP lines won’t let you call anyone else.

Oh, and “Verizon On Demand” is just a startup – but they found the money to pay the ISP troll and get you better service.

Yeah, this sounds fair.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Net What?

When established competitors benefit from anti competitive laws that make things more difficult for startups then it is time to abolish anti competitive laws (like exclusive rights of way that ISPs benefit from) and ensure the legal system is fair to everyone. Laws should not be based on the ability of established companies to buy politicians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Net What?

“And as to the poor struggling startups, isn’t that what you do as a startup, compete? I mean if your not ready to compete with your established competitors, perhaps you should wait until you can.

Or maybe we should just ask all the startup’s competitors to suspend operations until the startup can get up to speed.”

All the shills around here claim to have no problems with laws intended to help startups and small businesses, claiming (deceitfully) that IP laws are intended to help the little guy (when everyone knows that it is big incumbent businesses lobbying for these laws the most and if these laws were really about the little guy then they wouldn’t exist because big businesses have the necessary influence to write, change, and remove just about any law they like). Yet the moment we suggest ways to ensure that the legal system doesn’t discriminate against the little guy all the shills here cry foul. What dishonest hypocrites.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Net What?

“And as to the poor struggling startups, isn’t that what you do as a startup, compete? I mean if your not ready to compete with your established competitors, perhaps you should wait until you can.”

They should be allowed to compete on a level playing field. When existing laws unlevel the playing field (ie: govt. established rights of way) then either laws should be passed to level the playing field or the existing laws that unlevel the playing field should be abolished. But the shills want it both ways, they want to maintain (and advance) laws that unlevel the playing field while suppressing laws that level it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Net What?

In response to one of your questions, from the article “In Harm’s Way: The Dangers of a World Without Net Neutrality”

Of course, Internet providers have long offered different qualities of service to consumers for varied pricing. For example, a small business that makes extensive use of video conferencing has the option of paying more for a more robust connection, and that?s fine. Problems arise, however, when instead of allowing consumers to choose what quality of service they want to receive, ISPs decide to make choices for their users, playing favorites and providing faster or slower connections to certain websites. At that point, user choice becomes a smaller and smaller driver for innovation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Net What?

You misunderstand the issue. You did, indeed, describe the system we currently have. This is not the system being lobbied for.

Lets say you enjoy watching content on vimeo. Vimeo pays for servers, bandwidth, etcetera from whatever local service provider they deal with. You pay your local ISP for X speed, and when you request content from Vimeo, your ISP connects you to the content, and gives you that content at X speed (or as close as real world circumstances allow.)

But then things chance. Youtube is paying for fast-lane service, so they can be accessed at X speed, but Vimeo isn’t! Dispite Vimeo having no business with your ISP beyond the fact that someone on that ISP wants to watch their content, your ISP decides that since Vimeo isn’t paying them directly, like Youtube is, you will get Vimeo at 1/2X speed. If you don’t like the slower streaming, well you’ll just have to use Youtube won’t you? Youtube doesn’t have the content you want? OH well, they should have paid every ISP everywhere so that that specific ISP’s customers aren’t gimped for trying to view your content.

Here’s the crux of the argument for me… imagine if every ISP globally worked like that? For high bandwidth services like video hosters, how much would that cost? You want people to access your service at top speed, and if you don’t surely other companies will. What happens when those ISP’s try to make their own internet offerings? Why bother making a quality product when the system is heavily slanted to let you favor your own offerings over anybody elses? You don’t need a superior product, you just need to hamper the competition sufficiently that yours is preferable.

This is only the start of potential issues. You want to play WoW at a reasonable speed? Well then you better get the ‘Gamers Package’ that gives express data transmission to ‘Sponsored Services’. Playing a game not on the sponsored services list? Well I hope your ‘slow-lane’ connection is sufficient…

Currently, services are expected to give net traffic equal footing. Without that expectation, what you have are ISP’s finding ways to further segment their service. You want to watch streaming movies? Get the moviegoers package for an extra $5. Games? That’ll be the gamer package at $8. Want them both together? Well you can get the ‘all inclusive’ package for 12 dollars, thats a $1 savings! 😀 Aww, your service isn’t paying us for fast-lane privlidge? Well why aren’t you watching a ‘sponsored service’? They’re better anyway. How do we know? Cause they pay us so you can connect to them faster, assuming you pay as well.

As a startup, you now have to make a choice. You can’t afford to pay for premium service in all ISP markets, so now you have to chose specific service providers to sponser. Will Comcast customers find my service preferable to Verizon customers? Do I want to even PUT my offerings in the US, or should I focus on paying off local ISP’s? Will the 3 or 4 select markets I can ‘afford’ to compete in be sufficient for me to build a following? How much of my offering am I going to have to gut just so I can offer a quality service to a couple of markets? Will I even be allowed to register a fast lane deal with this ISP that is offering a competing product. Will that ISP STILL put their own offering above mine, dispite paying their fast lane fee?

All the while, as a consumer, you now have less choices, more fees, higher expense, and likely the same service speeds you’ve had all along if not MARGINALLY better (Read As: Still worse than most 1st world offerings). The ISP’s gain more and more power to TELL you what is good and bad, rather than letting you decide for yourself, and the ‘good’ content just keeps getting worse, as sponsored parties have to put less and less effort into competing, since their service is ‘by default’ better, simply because they have the established capitol to pay ISP’s to prefer their content over anything superior.

With fastlane/slowlane, its not about having to pay for your content to be on the internet, its about having to pay for your content to be on the internet, AND pay a large number of intermediaries a premium so your content is reasonably accessable, while your customers are paying to access your content, AND do so at a reasonable rate. If a service in Australia wants to compete in the US, they now have to pay twice. Their own connection, and (effectively) yours, while you also have to pay twice, both for your connection, and for a ‘premium’ speed ad-on. Tiered packages will change, and instead of buying ‘high speed’ packages, you’ll have a standard low speed connection, and have to pay for ‘tiered access’ to various forms of webservice.

Does this offer a little more context? 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

A fast lane isn’t going to do the blind much good, unfortunately. Audio isn’t bandwidth intensive, so I don’t see how a fast lane would benefit them.

I don’t know what the ratio of deaf population is, compared to the non-deaf. I imagine it’s not that high. So I don’t believe there’s a risk of them bogging down the cellular networks while using FaceTime video calls, and communicating using sign language over the phone.

The biggest risk to deaf persons comes from Verizon, itself. They have such low data caps on their phone plans that a deaf person will probably max out on data usage from hand signing over FaceTime before the month is over. Then Verizon will price gouge the heck out of these poor people for going over their data usage plan.

Fast lanes aren’t going to help with that at all. If anything, we need “high data usage lanes” for deaf persons, not “fast lanes”.

I also see these lobbyists are talking about medical implant devices needing fast lane priority over cellular networks. That’s just absurd!

If you have a medical device implanted in you, and if that device looses connection to a cellular tower for a few seconds it causes you to die. Well, why the hell would you put such a device into a person to begin with!? Pure stupidity, and I hope the doctor and hospital that comes up with that disastrous idea gets sued by the deceased patients family and lose their medical licenses.

Implant a device that needs a constant connection to a cellular tower into someone. That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard!

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Implant a device that needs a constant connection to a cellular tower into someone. That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard!”

That’s not the argument being made. The argument is that they could give priority service to hospitals so that a doctor in one hospital can help out in real time at another hospital that doesn’t have access to experts. Remote surgery is a recent development where a doctor in one country can perform surgery via robot in another country. You need a really good connection for that.

But even in that situation Net Neutrality is a red haring. The infrastructure of the Internet is so piss poor now a days that one wire can get cut and the entire city loses connection. I had that problem before. Half of my state is wired threw a small handful of nodes in the next state. If one of them goes down, we lose connectivity to half the Internet. We don’t have the infrastructure to support what these guys claim Net Neutrality laws will kill.

If these people would fix their damn networks and make it redundant like they should, we wouldn’t need to argue about neutrality or bandwidth crunch or anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree, it is a red haring. I would hope that hospitals would run their own dedicated fiber optic lines directly from the hospital, to a data center. I say line(s), because I’d hope someone who’s performing an open operation over the internet, would have a secondary backup line to fall back on.

The remote hospital would need the same setup, with their own dedicated fiber optic lines running directly into the data center closest to them. With backup diesel generators in case of a power failure.

Then all the hospitals would need to do is negotiate with the transit providers in those data centers, in order to secure dedicated interconnect ports with major Tier 1 transit providers, such as Level 3, who would then transmit the surgery feed directly over an internet backbone cable, directly to the remote data center. From there back over dedicated fiber optic cables ran to the remote hospital.

I would hope that any sane person wouldn’t attempt doing a life critical procedure over a Comcast Business class internet connection. In fact I’m pretty sure it says right in their service agreement that they can’t be held liable for service outages.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A fast lane isn’t going to do the blind much good, unfortunately. Audio isn’t bandwidth intensive, so I don’t see how a fast lane would benefit them.

The fast Lane is idea is not about the actual bandwidth required, but rather about last mile ISPs being able to charge content providers to provide enough band width for a smooth delivery. A packet filter can cause problems for any streaming provider by slowing the delivery down far enough to cause stuttering and break up of the stream.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The fast Lane is idea is not about the actual bandwidth required, but rather about last mile ISPs being able to charge content providers to provide enough band width for a smooth delivery.”

That’s what the fast line idea originally started out as. Now it’s being spun as a health and safety issue, thanks to the disingenuous arguments of Verizon lobbyists.

All such disingenuous health and safety arguments, I can successfully knock down all day long using purely factual statements on how technology actually works.

Such as Quality of Service (QoS) packet prioritization being stated repeatedly to not be a viable solution to traffic congestion. The only viable solution is traffic congestion, is network upgrades to relieve that congestion.

Which major last mile ISPs refuse to do at Internet Exchange Points (IXP). Due to their desire to extort money out of competing video services. Forcing them to raise their subscription costs and hindering new startup video services from coming to market.

As said earlier, the biggest obstacle facing deaf mobile internet users is data usage caps, not bandwidth. Verizon’s main market is wireless mobile services. They’ve almost completely abandoned their land line service, leaving their land line infrastructure to rot and decay.

It just pisses me off Verizon lobbyists are attempting to disingenuously turn this into a “health and safety” issue, using blind and deaf persons as disposable pawns.

To top it all off, it’s Verizon who’s writing the script for the lobbyists to read, and they manage to get all the technical facts completely wrong by stating bandwidth is the issue facing deaf people. Instead of stating the real issue for these people, which is low data caps so they can sign language over video call apps.

I just enjoy shooting down all of Verizon’s false arguments, using facts that are impossible for them to dispute.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:


That is such a remarkable rationale.

Re-framing it for another legal area, every murder should be legal because: self defense.

It is especially annoying because, if any attempt was made to impose a requirement on Verizon to make any accommodation whatsoever for blind/deaf/dumb people, Verizon would immediately say, “Too expensive, excessive regulation, interference in the free market, blah blah blah.”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Recipe for Failure

Unfortunately, when it comes to internet access, for the vast majority of the US, a boycott is simply not possible. You either sign up with one of the huge companies, or you don’t have access to the internet, period.

Naturally they know this full well, and use this fact to screw over their customers as much as they feel like, because the customers have no other option, no alternative to go to if they’re dissatisfied with their current ISP.

Arioch (profile) says:

Amerian Business

The Internet (despite the views of American ISP’s) is a global business. I am more than happy to watch them squabble over the small part of the internet that encompasses the USA.

Please yourselves what you do and watch how your customers vanish in droves.

Despite what the USA and several other governments think… you do not and cannot control the internet.

The genie is out of the bottle

Marvin Herbold says:

"Dumb"? Seriously? What is this, Medieval England?

What’s with the offensive term? Nowhere did Verizon use “Dumb”. This would be akin to titling this article “Verizon Lobbyists: The Black N*****s Sure Could Use An Internet Fast Lane” when Verzion did not use the N word.

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