Net Neutrality Rules Are Already Forcing Companies To Play Fair, And The Giant ISPs Absolutely Hate It

from the please-stop-doing-your-job dept

The FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t even go into effect until June 12, but they’re already benefiting consumers. You’ll recall that the last year or so has been filled with ugly squabbling over interconnection issues, with Level 3 accusing ISPs like Verizon of letting peering points congest to kill settlement-free peering and drive Netflix toward paying for direct interconnection. But with Level 3 and Cogent hinting they’d be using the FCC’s new complaint process to file grievances about anti-competitive behavior, magically Verizon has now quickly struck deals with Level 3 and Cogent that everybody on board appears to be happy with.

And it’s not just Verizon; Level 3 also quickly managed to strike a new interconnection deal with AT&T, and Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer recently proclaimed Comcast has also become suddenly more amicable of late, turning on ports for capacity quickly and when needed. Comcast, like AT&T and Verizon, has also suddenly announced a new interconnection deal with Level 3 Comcast says it was “delighted” to sign.

That players in the transit and ISP space are suddenly getting along so wonderfully when ISPs insisted net neutrality rules would result in the destruction of the Internet is nothing short of miraculous. It’s almost as if the FCC’s new net neutrality rules are already benefiting consumers, companies and a healthy internet alike!

Obviously the threat of having a regulator that actually polices anti-competitive behavior instead of playing deaf, dumb, and blind is going to require an adjustment period for everyone involved. Still, despite evidence the FCC’s neutrality rules are working as an anti-competitive deterrent, carriers are still busy claiming the agency is causing “irreparable harm” on the interconnection front. From a joint filing (pdf) from all the major ISP trade groups, including USTelecom, the NCTA and the CTIA:

“Until now, a variety of voluntarily negotiated, individualized arrangements have been used to exchange traffic between networks. But, under the Order, these arrangements are now part of the ?telecommunications service? that broadband Internet access providers offer their retail customers, and thus broadband providers?but not their interconnecting counter-parties?are subject to the requirements of Title II. Yet again, however, the FCC did not explain what that means or how broadband providers must act.”

While the FCC’s rules on interconnection are a bit vague, the agency has made it clear they’ll be looking at complaints on a “case by case basis” to ensure deals are “just and reasonable.” Since this is new territory, the FCC thought this would be wiser than penning draconian rules that either overreach or contain too many loopholes. This ambiguity obviously has ISPs erring on the side of caution when it comes to bad behavior, which is likely precisely what the FCC intended. Still, companies with a generation of history at being bullies complain this ambiguity lets others…bully them:

“Providers are thus left to negotiate contracts subject to sweeping statutory mandates without knowing what decisions could lead to enforcement action. Already, providers face demands for significant changes to interconnection agreements. The parties making those demands are threatening to file enforcement actions if their demands are not met. This distortion in what had been a well-functioning private negotiation process is irreparable harm.”

And by “well functioning private negotiation process,” the ISPs clearly mean one in which they were able to hold their massive customer bases hostage in order to strong arm companies like Netflix into paying direct interconnection fees. One in which regulators were seen but not heard, while giant monopolies and duopolies abused the lack of last mile competition. Yes, the FCC’s actions have been so brutish and aggressive, they’ve resulted in a cease fire across the interconnection front to the benefit of video customers and internet users everywhere. Will the nightmare ever end?

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: at&t, cogent, comcast, level 3, verizon

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Comments on “Net Neutrality Rules Are Already Forcing Companies To Play Fair, And The Giant ISPs Absolutely Hate It”

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17 Comments
JD says:

Sauce for the goose ...

The ISPs are probably just terrified that the FCC will treat them the way those ISPs treat their own customers.

“I understand you’re upset. We’ll send out an FCC staffer to talk to your lawyers and sort everything out.”
“Oh thank god.”
“They’ll be there between 8am and 6pm either Tuesday the 17th or Wednesday the 20th.”
“But … those aren’t …”
“Thank you, have a good day. ::click::”

Anonymous Coward says:

"...without knowing..."

“…what decisions could lead to enforcement action.”

Read as: “Not knowing what kind of asshattery we can pull with loophole arguments pre-vetted by our corporate lawyers.”

It’s terrifying to recognize you’re going to be reviewed by real people for complaints that you’ve been an asshat, and, even worse, that your bad acts may lead to precedent-setting, formal declarations canonized as regulations that prevent you and all other providers from being asshats in some particular fashion without threat of sanctions and penalties. Sucks to be you…finally.

Ninja (profile) says:

As you already noted before the new rules are only bad news for the companies that are already misbehaving and abusing their dominant position. So what’s the only solution in the short term? If not to cease the bad behavior, then just decrease it while you survey the new waters you are sailing into. If the FCC keeps moving ahead in its newly pro-consumer stance then we’ll see things get better and better over time with a few interventions where the major players will intentionally slip to test the new waters.

Anonymous Coward says:

"playing nice" or dancing on its grave?

The carriers are just going to fork OSI layer 3 completely, ally with software vendors to sell you value added Internet services.

Pretty much a return to the AOL model. In which case there will be no Internet, because everything will be VPN’d back to switches owned by the OS vendors where they can MIM and throttle your traffic with abandon.

Network Neutrality regs don’t apply in that model because the capacity isn’t sold to the user, it’s sold to the value added service vendor.

Maybe I’m wrong? But you might want to check to see if your computer was auto-updated with a fully configured IPv6 VPN without your consent before you decide to disregard my conclusion.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: "playing nice" or dancing on its grave?

My computer? Yeah it looks like I am running IPv4. both from the outside (google thinks i have an IPv4 address) and the inside (my computer and router are working IPv4, and have no IPv6 access). I mean if you had suggested a IPv4 VPN, maybe I might have been concerned, but too few ISPs even have IPv6 equipment, and have been dodging that upgrade for a decade.

Also, for your model to work, Id need to sign up with a Value added service vendor rather than my current ISP, I need to sign up for a plan that doesn’t rate capacity, that vendor needs to somehow not be defined as an ISP by the FCC, And then that value added service provider needs to commit corporate seppuku by doing what ISPs have recognized is a bad idea, directly and obviously violate one of the 3 bright line tests. If ISPs really decided to only sell to VASPs, and require us to get the internet from those VASPs, either its going to be a competitive game, or a monopolistic one. If its a monopolistic one, the current FCC is unlikely to let that ride. If its a competitive one, someone is going to one up their competition by not violating the 3 ‘bright line’ tests, and suddenly the entire dodge net neutrality game.

Kionae (profile) says:

Re: Re: Plenty of capacity

Can vouch for that. My city has been building out fiber all over town for about two years now, but very few homes are actually connected to it, and the waiting list is a mile long (It doesn’t help that the people in charge of it won’t even build out a neighborhood until it has at least a 50% commitment from residents).

Anonymous Coward says:

"playing nice" or dancing on its grave?

“I’d have to sign up”

Nope.

Toredo IPV6 runs over IPV4 until it gets to the value added service provider in the carriers network. IOW, it totally bypasses your LAN and your firewall configuration unless you’ve specifically configured your firewall to detect it. Apparently the whole X-box network is configured to work this way, and now they are porting it the PC’s.

The protocol and configuration is installed via auto-update, and related policy will just be be amended to your OS EULA. Microsoft has installed unrequested (and often unwanted) applications without explicit consent for decades.

Unless you’ve disabled auto updates, or IPV6 you will likely have the IPV6 stack installed, toredo VPN installed, and very possibly a fully configured interface that allows your computer to be accessed at layer 3 from outside the firewall by your OS vendor. Check it out:

Start -> (type) cmd
ipconfig /all

If there is any question in your mind that this isn’t going to be used to EEE the protocol stack, you haven’t been paying attention.

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