Portugal Shows The Internet Why Net Neutrality Is Important

from the sorry,-freedom-is-extra dept

So if you’ve followed the debate over net neutrality for much of the last decade, you probably remember images like these, purporting to show what the internet might look like if we let broadband duopolies like AT&T or Comcast dictate internet access pricing structure:

And while these mock ups were tongue in cheek, large ISPs have given every indication that this idea of freedom costing extra isn’t too far from their ideal. And abusing a lack of broadband competition to force users to shell out additional funds to access to the content and services of their choice isn’t too far off of what has already happened, whether we’re talking about AT&T’s decision to block Facetime from working unless users shelled out for more expensive plans, or Verizon’s recent decision to charge users $10 more just to avoid arbitrary video throttling.

While the EU does have some fairly decent net neutrality rules, countries do have some leeway in terms of enforcement — especially when it comes to “zero rating” (or the act of imposing usage caps, then exempting your own or a partner’s content). So ISPs in Portugal have already started taking advantage of it in a way that eerily echoes the warnings net neutrality advocates have been making for years. Lisbon-based mobile and fixed broadband provider MEO has been selling broadband service tiers for some time that cap your internet data usage, after which they’re happy to sell you additional buckets of data depending on which types of services you traditionally use:

It’s important to note that capping usage then doling out additional data based on types of content isn’t the same idea as blocking users from accessing parts of the internet unless they pay up. Several news outlets have conflated MEO’s pricing above with the outright blocking of certain services, which simply isn’t the case. Most ISPs realize that outright blocking of content is a PR disaster that’s more trouble than its worth.

That said, what MEO is doing is still detrimental to the health of the internet. As we saw with T-Mobile’s Binge On program — which exempted certain video and music services from the carrier’s caps, these “zero rating” and usage caps plans are designed to create the illusion of a bargain. But these types of plans not only raise questions about ISP power to dictate which companies and services are whitelisted, but they’re based on a fundamentally incorrect premise that these usage restrictions are necessary in the first place.

Usage caps and overage fees aren’t based on network or economic realities. They aren’t useful to manage congestion. Their entire function is to creatively drive up costs via arbitrary and artificial barriers to entry, after which ISPs convince consumers they’re somehow getting a deal by providing additional data “for free” or “at a discount.” ISPs have often falsely tried to equate this as the same thing as 1-800 numbers or free shipping, which is bullshit. All that’s really happening is that internet access is being artificially limited, and users are being forced to pay more money to access the internet as intended.

While people often like to focus on the threat of ISPs blocking access to content, ISPs know that’s a surefire way to earn public scorn. That’s why ISPs around the world have long since developed a myriad of more creative ways to (ab)use the lack of competition in the space to ill effect, whether that’s imposing arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees, exempting an ISPs own services from said caps, or hamstringing competitors elsewhere in the network, as we saw when ISPs began intentionally clogging peering points to drive up costs for streaming competitors and transit operators (interconnection).

With the Trump administration rushing forward with its plan to kill net neutrality here in the States, and a rise in cable’s monopoly over fixed-line broadband, you can expect a whole lot more U.S. broadband pricing and package “creativity” in the not so distant future. That may not involve outright blocking your access to content, but it’s more than likely to involve entirely arbitrary, uncompetitive and harmful limits you’ll be told are somehow necessary and for your own good.

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Comments on “Portugal Shows The Internet Why Net Neutrality Is Important”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, they don’t… they just “think” they know what they are talking about. But go ahead, keep patting yourselves on the back, you are getting what you worked for, like it or not!

Everyone was warned about regulatory capture and most people ignored the warning, and most will continue to ignore it as well. Now you get to “literally” pay for it. Well, not now really, we have been paying for a for quite some time now.

It’s sad really, that so many of you have invested your faith in a bunch of easy to purchase men and women in government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

FCC was created around 1934, long before Ma Bell!

the FCC is officially on record as wanting to manage teclco’s as a natural monopolies, therefore the FCC help create Ma Bell.

You are blaming the free market for something regulation created because someone told you to think that so you don’t have to think for yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Fair enough. I agree that the guards need to be changed. However, while I believe in the free market, in a case such as this I do not believe the open and free market will fix the issue. The natural state of a for-profit corporation is to grow larger and consume its competitors until there is nothing left. Without any regulation, there’s nothing to stop them, therefore I believe we need an effective regulatory body to keep them from harming the consumers and eventually the country all for increasing profit margins.

So how do we stop the regulatory body from also being consumed by the very entity they’re meant to guard against?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Well, the free market will definitely fix it because it is a lot harder to pay off the general public, but the converse problem with free market is that businesses will work tirelessly to destroy a free market.

Big business lies when it says it wants a free market. Business definitely wants regulations, just regulations that protects its interests instead of regulations that protect consumer interests.

This is why I agree with anti-monopoly and anti-trust regulations but not the others. We already know that you cannot have free market without Capitalism and that capitalism does not want a free market, it wants a monopoly or oligarchy.

So regulations need to be focused on only one goal, protection of the free market so that it cannot be destroyed by business or regulatory interests.

It is not possible to ever really stop a regulatory body from being consumed by the entities they are meant to guard against. This is why “eternal vigilance” is required. Sadly, this vigilance is not the strong suit of humans. So the trade off is to hire corruptible people to “be our vigilance”.

When the agency is not serving its purpose, congress is supposed to resolve it. If congress is not resolving it, we should be changing congress.

NN rules are nothing more than a band aid over a gaping wound that is government sanctioned monopoly. Yes, I agree they are better than nothing while the FCC exists with those like Pai running the ship, but we run that risk every election. How about we just change what the FCC is allowed to regulate… like say the public infrastructure period.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

You went from arguing against all regulation to saying we need regulation to keep big corporations in check in no time at all.

You then proceeded to agree with basically all NN supporters that the current NN rules are better than nothing but we need something stronger.

Why are you arguing with us again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

“You went from arguing against all regulation”

If you are going to lie you should at least not do it in a thread that proves you are lying, where did I say I was against ALL regulation?

“Why are you arguing with us again?”

Why do you keep lying?

Give the fabrications a rest cool-aid drinker!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Perhaps I misinterpreted your statements where you said: “Everyone was warned about regulatory capture and most people ignored the warning, and most will continue to ignore it as well. Now you get to “literally” pay for it. Well, not now really, we have been paying for a for quite some time now. It’s sad really, that so many of you have invested your faith in a bunch of easy to purchase men and women in government.”

If I misinterpreted your statements as being for regulation instead of against, I sincerely apologize.

However, if I interpreted it correctly, if that’s not an argument against regulation, I don’t know what is. And wouldn’t that now make you the liar and not me?

Secondly, as you clearly pointed out in your subsequent posts, you apparently are in favor of governmental regulation of ISPs to preserve Net Neutrality. Therefore, my question still stands:
Why are you arguing with us?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Don’t call it regulation. They are PROTECTIONS for people and the environment.
There have to be protections so people is not abused in their rights, pockets, well being or the planet abused.
The problem is CORRUPTION. Corporations corrupting govenrment officials. That is the problem. Get money out of politics.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Corporations own anti-trust and anti-monopoly as much as any other regulations, and trust/monopoly regulations hardly address all the problems.

You realize that original telecom and things like railroad monopolies were allowed due to there not being enough space on the planet for everyone to string their own cable or lay their own tracks. In other industries as well, we go through cycles of merging with short periods of enforced breakup, only to allow greater mergers in the next cycle.

I am all for monopoly and trust regulation, but they don’t stop all the problems, and neither does the market. Neither have stopped corporations of being abusive in a million other ways, and both are as susceptible to capture as the “other regulations” which you descry so much. Better regulation and enforcement is what we need, and need to keep intact, regardless as to what it is regulating. All of it is a “band-aid” as long as corporate interests can alter the regulation and enforcement regimes.

But as far as anti-trust and the free market go, if you want to look outside the NN debate, they have never stopped abuse of workers, raised wages, stopped corporations from affecting other laws, or stopped them from poisoning people and the air we breathe, the land we live on, and the water we use, never mind the non-human majority of life on this planet. I don’t see how those operating in the internet sphere are any different.

Public infrastructure is regulated by the states, except what is interstate. Are you going to tell all the public utilities commissions (and the states themselves) that the FCC is taking over their bailiwick?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

FCC was created around 1934, long before Ma Bell!

Yes, the Communicatiosn Act of 1934 established the FCC.

The Act replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It also transferred regulation of interstate telephone services from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the FCC.

But the Bell Telephone Company was originally organized in 1877, and AT&T was founded in 1885.

At the close of 1899, the American Bell Telephone Company was acquired, for business purposes, by its own subsidiary, the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T), which then became the head of the monolithic and monopolistic Bell System.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Thank you for the correction!

Incidentally, the Wikipedia article on the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC; established 1887) says merely—

The Mann-Elkins Act of 1910 . . . . expanded the ICC’s jurisdiction to include regulation of telephone, telegraph and wireless companies.

Neither of these two linked Wikipedia articles mention that the Section 3 of the Act of Aug 7, 1888(*) had previously established ICC jurisdiction over certain telegraph companies.


(*) Act of Aug 7, 1888 (25 Stats., 382) being entitled:   AN ACT supplementary to the act of July first eighteen hundred and sixty-two entitled “An act to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean and to secure to the Government the use of the same for postal military and other purposes,” and also of the act of July second eighteen hundred and sixty-four and other acts amendatory of said first named act.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Good additional information, but just more examples of failed regulatory agencies. That only adds to the list of derelict agencies sleeping on the job or taking bribes and kickbacks against those they are intended to serve. NONE of them stopped the Ma Bell monopoly, it was only when the DOJ took them on and put a stop to it!

With so many agencies having failed, how many more have to fail before we all get a clue that this is not working? Agencies are now only mechanisms to “pass the buck” where responsibility is involved with elected officials and it is working exceptionally well. Most people here spend more time calling me a Trump support rather than discussing why their regulatory ideas have fallen apart and why they refuse to give up on scientifically proven failure ideas.

The moment a monopoly is formed whether through capitalism or regulatory capture we have failed. Free Market, contrary to popular nonfactual opinion does not create monopolies, it does help to prevent them, but those controls are only as strong as the people participating in the economy. Unions are a prime example of free market principles. If most of the people in support of “regulation” had any faith in the regulatory agency of government then they would have done away with Unions the moment the DOL was created, yet they do not. It is my determination that they hold serious double standards and intentionally ignore them for political and ideological expediencies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Another with their head buried so far in their own ass they’ve adapted to breathe methane.

The few regulations that are on the internet say it’s not OK to do what’s shown above. Crooked deals gave us the ISP cartels, but the loss of NN will make them even worse.

But you won’t realize it until you get charged extra for your daily visits to /r/TheDonald.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Another with their head buried so far in their own ass they’ve adapted to breathe methane.”

Wondering if the TD community will flag this comment for abusive language?

“The MANY regulations that are on the internet say it IS OK to do what’s shown above. Crooked deals with regulators gave us the ISP cartels, but the loss of NN will make them even worse.”

fixed that for ya!

Here is the problem… Donald is NOT actually deregulating, he is just removing consumer protections while keeping protections for the regulatory created monopolies.

Also, Donald is just a president, Congress can put a stop to it if they want that is where the power is at. I recommend that you get your fellow citizens to change house and congress next election if you want to staunch some of those wounds. You are still going to be abused by the industry because both parties are in the bag for them, just different ideas of how much to abuse the citizens. Neither of them care about your liberty, just your money and vote. Try making better use of them next election?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Funny thing is, it is the dismantling of regulation that is allowing the ISPs to play the game of packaging the Internet.

The easiest way, and in practice the most practical way of delivering competition in the ISP market is regulation of the Infrastructure to allow multiple ISPs to use the same infrastructure and compete for customers. Indeed such regulation is how most of the rest of the world ensures competition in the ISP space.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

At this point I think you don’t actually disagree with any of the NN supporters and other commenters here at TD, you’re just trolling.

There are too many logical inconsistencies in your arguments and you end up making the same statements all NN supporters make. Increase regulation on the infrastructure to break-up telco monopolies and allow more competition allowing people to vote with their wallets.

Bravo, welcome to team Net Neutrality.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The point is that NN in the US doesn’t do anything to create competition or up the amount of stuff offered to the public. It just changes (in some ways) the potential ways to price it.

Companies having the stranglehold on the last mile is the real problem, but one the FCC isn’t dealing with – not now, and not with Wheeler.

NN is just bad, it’s harmful as it cements in a bad situation as normal.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The point is that NN in the US doesn’t do anything to create competition or up the amount of stuff offered to the public.

And the larger point is that Network Neutrality is not meant to create ISP competition.

A brief refresher: Network Neutrality is the principle that all traffic should receive equal treatment, regardless of destination or source. In other words, a packet of data from PornHub should be treated the same as a packet of data from Google, which should be treated the same as a packet of data from Breitbart, and so on. This principle exists to prevent situations like the ones in the article, both real and imagined.

If an ISP chooses to ignore that principle, it can then decide what websites and services are “winners” and “losers”. In theory, this means situations such as the ones mentioned in this article—situations where an ISP can decide which sites receive “preferential treatment”. Ignoring the principles of Network Neutrality means an ISP could, theoretically, keep you from accessing any video site other than YouTube without paying extra. Hell, they could stop you from accessing YouTube—or slow down the site to make it practically non-functional—until you pay up.

The principles of Network Neutrality do not exist to create competition in ISPs. The principles exist to help make sure ISPs do not turn the Internet into cable television—a read-only medium where the ISPs control what content you see and when you get to see it. If you believe Comcast should be able to tell you that you can access Crunchyroll at the same speeds as Netflix so long as you pay for the tier of Internet service that includes “normal” speeds for Crunchyroll, you side with the corporations. Do not be surprised when the corporations bleed your bank account dry in exchange for your loyalty.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“And the larger point is that Network Neutrality is not meant to create ISP competition.”

To the contrary, the supposed need for net neutrality laws is because there is a lack of competition in many markets. With a lack of competition, consumers would have no choice but to eat whatever move the ISPs made.

However, the truth is most Americans have choices when it comes to internet service. Most have at least a DSL or cable option. Americans living in rural areas and “2 acres of land” subdivisions have fewer choices, because they have chosen to live far from services. They also have to go further to get to a corner store.

Also, I think that net neutrality wouldn’t come into play with this sort of setup anyway. There is no specific rule that says you cannot sell the internet in other ways than “all of it”. Selling restricted connections with the customers full knowledge for a lesser price that “full service” would appear to be acceptable. There is no “fast lane”, only limits choices as selected by the consumer.

“If you believe Comcast should be able to tell you that you can access Crunchyroll at the same speeds as Netflix so long as you pay for the tier of Internet service that includes “normal” speeds for Crunchyroll”

I don’t believe that at all. I do believe, however, that it’s not a fair fight anyway, for very simple reasons. Companies like Netflix, Google, and Facebook have been building their own private networks and making more peering available to ISPs. They are bypassing all the common carriers to bring their service as close to consumers as possible. Crunchyroll ain’t in that position. So like it or not, your access time (and speed) to Netflix will likely be better than Crunchyroll. it’s not your ISPs fault specifically, rather it’s a technical failure that Net Neutrality totally ignored.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Lack of bandwidth is not a net neutrality problem, while having an ISP decide who you can use the Internet to is a net neutrality issue. Why should and ISP be allowed to decide who you use your available bandwidth to connect to, or charge extra if you want to use that bandwidth to connect to one service rather than another service?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

To the contrary, the supposed need for net neutrality laws is because there is a lack of competition in many markets. With a lack of competition, consumers would have no choice but to eat whatever move the ISPs made.

If the majority of the United States had better competition in re: broadband ISPs, Network Neutrality would still be an issue because corporations exist to bleed wallets dry by any means necessary.

Do not think that three ISPs fighting over the consumer base of a major city means those ISPs would avoid stomping on the principle of Network Neutrality. A world where ISPs could decide what sites you get to access on a “basic” plan would lead to all kinds of “we offer more basic sites than those other guys” deals. You know how cable and satellite companies offer different channels for different “basic” plans? ISPs who would—or could—ignore Network Neutrality could end up doing the same damned thing.

I think that net neutrality wouldn’t come into play with this sort of setup anyway. There is no specific rule that says you cannot sell the internet in other ways than "all of it". Selling restricted connections with the customers full knowledge for a lesser price that "full service" would appear to be acceptable. There is no "fast lane", only limits choices as selected by the consumer.

In such a case the consumer would not be doing the choosing—the ISPs would. Like I explained above: In a setup where an ISP can sell “partial access” to the Internet for a far lower price, the ISP would choose “winners” and “losers”.

Do you like DuckDuckGo as your search engine? Too bad! Your ISP only lets you access Google. What about social media—do you prefer Twitter? Sucks for you; your ISP made a deal with Facebook! Video site access suffers, too—Netflix and YouTube are all you get, so if you watch Hulu or Crunchyroll or both, you are shit out of luck. And if you want to change any of those basic sites around so you can access the ones you want? Your ISP can and will reserve the right to tell you “fuck off” in response.

The basic principle of the Internet since it became an omnipresent utility in daily life is this: When we pay for access, we get access to everything. If we were to accept anything less than that as “acceptable”, we would be opening the door for the cable TV-ification of the Internet. I would prefer to read Techdirt without paying my ISP extra for the privilege. How about you?

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I would note one point: if the ISP let the customer choose a-la-carte which sites would be available, and determined a price based on that site list – rather than having predetermined lists of sites, with a price for each – then that would leave choice with the consumer.

It would still be bad, given the frequency with which new sites appear, the likelihood that people will suddenly get linked to pre-existing sites they’ve never heard of before, et cetera – but it would at least be better than the pure ISP-picking-winners-and-losers scenario. (If a way to avoid those problems could be found, it might even be a legitimately interesting creative pricing scenario.)

Other than that, well said, and I agree.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Other than they control the connection to the user, what grounds do an ISP have to decide which sites their customers can access and for what price? To allow and ISP to do this is the same as allowing phone companies to package up the ability to call a number based on whether it is a business or private number, and whether a business is in a package that the phone user has paid to gain access to.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

if the ISP let the customer choose a-la-carte which sites would be available, and determined a price based on that site list – rather than having predetermined lists of sites, with a price for each – then that would leave choice with the consumer

No. No, it would not. And here is why: The ISPs, not the customers, would be the ones in control of that price point.

CUSTOMER: Okay, okay, I can access Google for a dollar a month, or…wait, DuckDuckGo is five bucks a month? Really?
ISP: It is a smaller, niche site compared to Google. We have to offset the costs associated with that.
CUSTOMER: [disgruntled sigh] …okay, fine, gimme Google.

And just like that, the ISP decides “winners” and “losers” based on arbitrary facstandards that could change at any time and for any reason. The ISPs could make any site more or less expensive to reach based on, for example, some douchecanoe in an executive role liking Hulu more than Netflix.

By the by, I still have not been given a single reason as to why ISPs should get to do this. No one has ever been able to justify this idea with an explanation that takes into account customer experience, consumer rights, and the “access everything” setup we currently have. People who talk about these “segmented Internet” ideas love to advocate for the ISPs, though. Too bad those same people seem to forget that advocating for the devil means standing that much closer to Hell.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It will be interesting to see,

No, you are in fact in a revolt, now. Look at all those police killing civilians. People killing people (there is no other place on Earth that more people die by gunshot). Look at all those protests on the streets. All those “terrorist” attacks?. All those people incarcerated (way more than any other country). All those wars? All that inequality. Some idiots just go by tags or by names or by words, they don’t see actions or what is happening everyday.

They just don’t call it a revolt and you feel fine.

compujas (profile) says:

Just as a thought experiment, say full access to the entire internet was a similar price to what we currently pay, and the option for “a la carte” exists, where you can save some money by cutting out or only subscribing to the “content groups” you’re interested in. I realize that this could open the door for raising prices more easily, but if they always offer the “full access” package it at least gives you an anchored price to base off of.

Ultimately, is that any different than an “a la carte” cable package? Maybe what I’m missing is an explanation of why the internet would be fundamentally different than cable tv as a platform, which I’m sure it is, but can’t think of a solid explanation as to why.

Believe me, I’m all for net neutrality, but just playing devil’s (read: cable’s) advocate.

compujas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, because what is different between a vast number of broadcasters digitally transmitting their content across a set of tubes as compared to a vast number of web sites digitally transmitting their content across a set of tubes? Why is combining similar cable channels (ie. sports packages, foreign language packages, etc.) into a package any different than combining similar websites?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There is a big difference in technical aspects how each works. Without going into too much detail think of it sort of like this:

Cable TV is like buying RV’s and parking them in your yard, each RV is owned and operated by a different company (corresponding to different channels) with different things to do inside each one. They don’t exist in your yard until you buy them and your cable provider delivers them.

The internet is like buying an enormous warehouse with multiple companies providing various things inside and you have been given the keys to it in it’s entirety. You have access to everything inside, there are no interior walls or separated rooms. You can walk in and freely browse anything you wish.

ISP’s want to come in and build interior walls and rooms and pay you extra to get into those rooms. It’s an artificial limitation. Whereas cable is more limited because each network has to grant the cable provider access to their broadcasts.

compujas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Ok, so back to my original argument. What is so problematic with offering “full access” at the same current prices, and “a la carte” separately? It’s basically what people want for cable anyway, and as long as there’s always a full access option that is held similar to current prices, would it be a problem to offer reduced access for reduced price as long as it doesn’t affect full access pricing? Or is the assumption that it would eventually affect full access pricing, or even full access as an available option (which I fully agree would eventually happen and don’t trust telcos to not eventually go there).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Basically, yes, once you start down the path of imposing artificial limitations, there is nothing to stop them from raising prices across the board and imposing even more artificial limitations.

Plus it’s an artificial limitation. There is nothing good about it and goes against a completely open internet. What’s great about the internet is anyone can access anything at anytime. If you put artificial limitations on it, then you limit its ability to reach people, especially new startups. People who pay only for basic access, will likely never know what else is out there or will choose not to access other content because it is too much of a hassle to sign up for a new package.

People only want a la carte for cable because the current packages are so horrendously expensive. Internet access is cheap by comparison. Even a slow, cheap internet speed gets you access to everything. What logical sense would it make to take an everything package and split it up and sell it in bits and pieces for what likely would be more money? (Other than to pad the already heavily lined pockets of ISPs)

Another analogy would be similar to telling you that even though you bought a car to go anywhere, you have to pay more to turn on your neighbor’s street, and you have to purchase another package to drive to a restaurant, and another package to drive to a movie theater. But don’t worry, just having the car means you can go to the gas station for free, which the car company you bought the car from owns. Yay.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Because with cable the lines broadcast all content to all end points all the time. The cable modem at the end filters out certain content blocking you from seeing it (the stuff you aren’t paying for).

On the internet nothing comes down your “tube” unless you specifically request it AND you pay for the ability request content at a certain speed.

One has “unlimited” speed so you pay for content, the other has “limited” speed so you pay for access and choose what you want.

They aren’t remotely the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Maybe what I’m missing is an explanation of why the internet would be fundamentally different than cable tv as a platform.

The Internet is a phone service for computers, and the services like Google, are businesses with a phone number on that service. The final mile ISPs should be phone service providers, but they want to decide who you can call on what should be an open network. The ISPs are trying to decide who you can do business with, mainly because another part of the company provides content, and they want to protect that business. It is like the phone company deciding that you can Ring Burger King, because they own it, but not McDonalds because they are the main competition.

compujas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ok, but how is that much different than a cable company deciding what channels to carry? Not all companies carry all channels or networks. Or why is it not a big deal that cable companies charge you more for access to HBO, Showtime, certain sports packages, etc. Is it only because cable packages have been around longer and are accepted? What makes it fundamentally different?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

With cable, the charges include a significant amount passed onto the content provider, so it is how customers pay for their content, although this means customers also pay for content they do not want.

Bundling the Internet is manipulating a market by adding extra cost onto the customer, that only benefit the ISP, and are a detriment to the services in the bundles, because it is reducing their customer base, who are paying for the content by other means. Even when a site relies on adverting revenue, reducing there use base reduces their income, which is dependent on the number of visitors to their site.

That is it is the difference between charges based on a business relationship, and charges intended to reduce competition or replace the income being lost by the cable half of an ISPs business.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Fundamentally? Not a damn thing. Which is why people are worried. Internet access goes far beyond merely delivering media. Arbitrary, profit-driven restrictions to certain services would have major economic, political, and social repercussions. Even in the best case scenario, it still greatly raises the barrier to entry for new sites/services, which in turn greatly stifles innovation.

Many of the services that you currently use likely would not exist had this walled garden vision of the internet been in place at the time of their conception.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe what I’m missing is an explanation of why the internet would be fundamentally different than cable tv as a platform

Cable television is a “read-only” medium—a form of passive entertainment in which you play no role other than giving it your attention.

The Internet is a global communications medium. You can choose to treat it as a passive experience by never publishing anything on it, or you can be an active part of the Internet and help shape what you—and other people—see on a daily basis.

How badly do you think ISPs want to turn the Internet into another cable TV situation, where they determine what you can see, when you can see it, and how you get to access it? I can see the ads now: “$60 a month gets you basic Internet access at blazing-fast broadband speeds of up to 20mbps per month! That includes access to email, Google, Facebook, and Netflix! Act now, and we’ll toss in access to YouTube and our online app for an additional $10 per month for 12 months!” And the ISPs will act like this is a favor to us, as if limiting what we can access on the Internet is some wonderful bargain. And plenty of ignorant consumers will swallow that load of bullshit because they have been told by assholes that “Network Neutrality is Internet regulation and regulation is bad and the ISPs know what’s best for you”.

People who posit the idea that maybe ISPs should treat the Internet like cable TV service—e.g., you—only bolster those bogus arguments. Remember this, if nothing else: If you advocate for the devil, you might end up burning in Hell.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

I would never thing you would get down to tired memes.

First up, the MEo price list is for a mobile service, not a DSL or fixed line.

Second, they appear to be offering a certain cap unlimited, and these are “over the top” access plans

Third, and this is important: This is not their only pricing offer for mobile. Taking a cruise around their whole site shows plenty of other options.

Equally important is that Portugal has 3 main national carriers, all running on the same GSM netowrks, all with number portability, etc. Network penetration is quite high, with more mobile numbers than there are people.

Their home internet services are all in, often fiber, and the pricing seems reasonable compared to others.

But hey, enjoy the meme, enjoy scaring people to death – but the market in the US doesn’t really support this stuff, so it’s unlikely that anyone would go that way –

A Portuguese says:


Hi, delurking here ’cause I’m not realy understanding this, I’m in portugal and those broadband services tiers that MEO sells are only for mobile phone internet it doesn’t have nothing to do with regular internet services (the one we have at home and at the office by cable or fiber) so I’m not really understanding this because as I understand the net neutrality is about regular internet services right? Or I’m understanding it wrong? The mobile phone internet we always have to pay for it dependind on the mobile pack(? service?) you have.

The packs I’m talking are their cable/fiber packs and we can have up to 3GB on mobile phone for free depending of the pack we contracted- this packs include tv, home internet (no limits), home phone and cell phone that has free calls for all portuguese numbers (landines and mobiles), free texts and free internet up to 3G (or more with some new fancy fiber packages) and that includes all the social thingies you don’t need a specific pack, only if you use more than that you’ll pay for the extra MG you used that month or you can “buy” that specific pack (the ones you link too) for the social thingies (yes that’s what I call facebook, twitter…)

And with that said I’m going back to lurking, sorry if my english is not the best guys, and if I’m wrong about anything… I’ll accept your correction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Uh?

Karl makes the distinction above by bringing it up that they’re not blocking access to sites, but rather tiering data packages in a way that visually invokes the ala carte internet nightmare people have.

That said net neutrality is about any access. Mobile tends to be more stringent on how much data you use, but net neutrality is also about keeping them from messing with what you can use it on.

A Portuguese says:

Re: Re: Uh?

Thank you for explaining.

But that’s why I dindn’t understood very well because the data package mentioned in the news is only for mobile internet, those kinda packs only exist for mobile not for home internet and only as an option for those who want (think teens that use mobile only for that, it’s cheaper to pay for that pack and pay for extra mobile internet packl or pay the excess MG that month)

I understand net neutrality englobes everything but let’s face it when it comes to mobile it never will be the same as home internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Uh?

I know several ISPs who vehemently disagree with mobile never becoming the same as home internet. It is a lot cheaper to service everyone with a tower than having to bury lines for each home and since price is their primary parameter…

When that is said, I agree with you that home internet will stay plain better for decades and I would choose FiOS over mobile any day of the week since the stability/latency etc. is plain better. But, que sera sera.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Uh?

You are correct. However, as they try to offer wireless as a replacement for wireline, if the product is not similar then people will rebel against it.

If exisitng ISPs get away from offering wireline service, they open the market up for new players to come in and do it.

It’s win win, no matter how much you don’t like it!

telecomsense (profile) says:

Re: Uh?

Exactamente! Acho que você entendiu tudo. Esse artigo é um pouco enganador.

I think you are exactly right, the point of the article was not to actually report on market conditions faced by Portuguese consumers in Portugal. Instead, the article was merely a vehicle for the author to make his arguments on the issue of "net neutrality" before the U.S. regulator. The screenshot of the MEO "SmartNet" packages has been misleadingly presented in more articles than this one. My take: http://bit.ly/2gXXU6k

Daydream says:

I just thought of something! Who decides how websites are classified?

If I have a site with multiple functions, like my own webcomics, a forum for discussion, and a blog where I regurgitate news and share my ideas original music compositions, how would that be classified under payment plans? Would it be entertainment or streaming or news or social or what? Would you have to pay for multiple plans to get access to the site?

And who makes that decision? Would I have to put code in my website’s header to identify what kind of site it is? Would so-called ‘internet service providers’ decide my site’s classification for me, what if they get it wrong? Would I be forced to pay a fee to have my site listed in their database of accessible sites?

How does it work in Portugal? And, what happens when it goes wrong, when sites are misclassified?

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