CenturyLink Pushed For Net Neutrality Repeal, Now Adorably Calls For FCC To Police Interconnection

from the good-luck-with--that dept

You’ll probably recall that a few years ago, Netflix streams began mysteriously slowing down for users nationwide. Eventually, Netflix, Level3 and Cogent stated that the problem wasn’t on Netflix’s end, but was occurring at peering points, where they claimed incumbent ISPs had begun intentionally letting their networks congest by refusing to upgrade capacity. Why? The goal was to kill settlement-free peering and extract steep new troll tolls from content companies that wanted their traffic to reach incumbent ISP customers without, you know, being kneecapped.

These interconnection issues were just a creative evolution of a longstanding efforts by ISPs to abuse their monopoly over the last mile. Level3 made a pretty compelling case that this was little more than glorified extortion. So too did New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose lawsuit against Charter/Spectrum (pdf) argued that ISPs were not only using manufactured congestion to drive up rates for transit and content companies, but had admitted to manipulating this congestion to trick regulatory efforts to measure real-world speeds (starting on page 62, if you’re interested).

Regardless, in 2015 the FCC’s net neutrality rules gave the FCC the authority to police these interconnection points for anti-competitive behavior, and act if necessary. With the passage of the rules, all of this interconnection shenanigans magically and coincidentally stopped without the FCC having to lift a finger.

Fast forward to last week, when the FCC voted to kill net neutrality rules — including these interconnection protections. Ironically CenturyLink, one of the ISPs that lobbied for net neutrality repeal, had been urging the FCC to police interconnection squabbles anyway. Why? As the new owner of Level3, the company now has a vested interest in its traffic actually arriving at its destination. In a recent filing with the FCC (pdf), CenturyLink argued that the FCC should try and use its Title I authority to police interconnection:

“Should the Commission adopt an Order reclassifying broadband internet access service as a Title I information service and assert Title I jurisdiction over internet traffic, the Commission should also clearly state that it can and will be available to resolve significant issues related to the associated policies and rules that give rise to such Title I jurisdiction.”

CenturyLink proceeds to argue that should the company run into a problem where Verizon suddenly starts letting peering points congest to force it to pay more money, the FCC would step in to police negotiations:

“For example, should the issue arise, the Commission alone is able to determine whether terminating access charges for internet traffic would be consistent with the public interest for the underlying telecommunications and associated voice communications, its obligation to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability, and to ensure that other jurisdictions do not adopt conflicting policies.”

That’s adorable for several reasons. One, the FCC has repeatedly made it very clear that it has no intention of policing interconnection shenanigans, and has repeatedly denied that this was ever a real problem. Two, the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal guts FCC, FTC, and states’ abilities to police behavior by bad actors. Full stop. The FCC couldn’t make it any clearer that they expect the market itself to magically work all of this stuff out. Which, as we already saw, won’t actually happen in the uncompetitive broadband market, and certainly not without consumers and competitors getting slapped around for a while.

CenturyLink helped sell the FCC’s facts-optional assault on the rules, happy to join the chorus of large ISPs deriding the rules as “draconian,” “heavy handed,” or “extreme.” But the reality is they were some of the most modest net neutrality protections in the world. Rules that were far weaker than those passed in India, The Netherlands, or Canada. And while they really didn’t go far enough on some fronts, they provided a base line level of protection to hamper anti-competitive behavior to the benefit of competitors and consumers alike.

Now they’re on the way out the door. And Netflix isn’t blameless either. Once it could afford to pay these troll tolls, it stepped back from the debate and argued that this was all now the problem of smaller companies. Should the FCC’s repeal survive a court challenge in the new year, there’s going to be a lot of executives on both sides of the fight that will get to spend ample time laying around in the bed they helped make.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: centurylink, level3, verizon

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “CenturyLink Pushed For Net Neutrality Repeal, Now Adorably Calls For FCC To Police Interconnection”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
DiscontentedMajority (profile) says:

>assert Title I jurisdiction over internet traffic

On January 14, 2014, the DC Circuit Court determined in the case of Verizon Communications Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, that The court vacated two parts of the FCC Open Internet Order 2010, determining that the FCC did not have the authority to impose these orders without classifying network providers as common carriers. Since the FCC had previously classified broadband providers as “information services” and not “telecommunications services,” they could not be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Therefore, the FCC Open Internet Order 2010 regulations, which could only be applied to common carriers, could not be applied to broadband providers.

According to the courts, there is no such thing as Title I jurisdiction over internet traffic. At least not that can be forced on the ISPs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interconnection regulations here we come.

If you look back on the POTS network, these same players were doing the same thing with phone call rates for years and years.

Eventually what happened was the Fed set up rules for how charges were processed for traffic going from one carrier to the next. Then the carriers sat in a pile of shit for 20 years making only minor technical upgrades to their infrastructure.

Then came the Internet which mitigated all of the former regulation because traffic was now easier to manage. And now these spastic man-children are fighting the same fights they were fighting 40 years ago, until eventually the fed fucks everything up equally for everybody, again. Then the big companies will sit in a pile of shit for another 20 years, stifling every coming attempt at communications innovation, instead of embracing it.

Ryunosuke is absolutely right. The only practical solution is to take away the impetus for abuse. They should be common carriers, and ONLY telecoms. Not telecom content brainwashing surveillance combo corps. Further they should be banned from manipulating traffic above OSI layer 3. Carriers are still interfering with 1st amendment protected consumer traffic, and have been all through title II.

It is about consent.It always has been. Consumer speech starts at OSI layer 4. Carriers can perform their obligations without ever evaluating traffic above layer 3. That they do is therefore unnecessary interference with 3rd party speech and trade. IOW, a crime under wiretapping and racketeering statutes.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

Re: Interconnection regulations here we come.

You are right, but you missed a few things.

First and foremost, one of the biggest problems that plagues internet service for the consumer is that it is provided by companies who have other interests and other uses for the line. Internet was built as a sort of “over the top” service to get people off of making dialup phone calls and instead paying for a new “extra”, the internet.

Evolution has shown that the internet, the “extra” is now the most valuable part of the deal, and the original services that it’s offered on top of (cable, POTS) are waning.

As a result, the big internet companies are often also big cable or big IPTV guys or big wireless guys (someimes all three). They are torn between making the internet better and killing those services, or locking down the internet and boosting things that they are uniquely able to deliver in their areas.

The problem of ownership will not go away any time soon.

Instead, what is needed is some basics, in legislation and not just regulation. The very basics of the internet business need to be defined in legal terms that protect the consumer and force the companies to meet minimum service levels. That would mean regulating things like the ratios between consumer connection, internet network structure, and external connections. Mandate a 10:1 or 20:1 ratio all down the line, and force the providers to have that level of interconnection outside. Don’t let private deals count towards it at all. So they would need to have reasonable levels of public interconnect.

Moreover, they should be required to use public exchanges, where all of the carriers meet and trade equally. That would mean that an ISP couldn’t take connectivity only from Level3 but not from HE, as an example. Make private peering essentially illegal. Problem resolves itself.

Once you force minimum levels of connectivity, most of the other problems go away. It’s net neutrality without tears, just the facts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Interconnection regulations here we come.

“Internet was built as a sort of “over the top” service”

Obviously you weren’t there.

“the “extra” is now the most valuable part of the deal”

Not even close. The value of the network is in layer 1 through layer 3. Everything above that; the “extra” your talking about; is Constitutionally protected speech. As such it is legally outside any constraint the carrier may presume to foist on it.

“The problem of ownership will not go away any time soon.”

I assume what you are talking about is called “the Peredo Principle” in economics. While I get your point, Constitutional law supersedes econ theory. NN is not in any practical way distinguishable from the 1st amendment. You cannot give the carriers the right to interfere with third party speech in a monopoly environment without conflicting with the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 13th amendments, as well as article 1 section 9.

“That would mean regulating things like the ratios between consumer connection, internet network structure, and external connections. Mandate a 10:1 or 20:1 ratio all down the line, “

I get where your going with that.Your suggesting that public peering transmission ratios should be standardized between the carriers.

However distinguishing that traffic by origin or type is still interference with the 3rd party speech without consent. If they want capacity for unique services they can switch it at layer 2. The broadband carriers are also private WAN carriers. They have always offered layer 2 service, and they always will. So bitching about peering capacity is B.S. Building networks is what they do for a living. If they want capacity, they can build it. So the real issue here is that they DON’T want capacity. Or at least not for certain players. And the legal term for that is “racketeering”.

“Make private peering essentially illegal”

I really don’t think you understand the scale or complexity of what you are talking about. Ask somebody to show you the size of a core routers routing table some time. What your suggesting, is that because the broadband oriented providers have built a business models that don’t work, that all other networks should switch their traffic in the same way the broadband providers do.

Level 3, Comcast, and Akamai for example, have totally different business models. Consumer demand is increasing traffic requirements. Companies like Comcast simply lie and say they have capacity they don’t actually have, and then when the customers notice latency they bitch about peering capacity. What they are doing is trying to externalize their operating costs onto other businesses.

Other companies should not have to be pay for the fact that Comcast lies to their customers. Comcast has chosen to invest huge amounts of money in mergers, with the expectation that those mergers could leverage more money out of existing customers. But they are already massively overcharging their customers. And those mergers don’t actually create leverage without market constraint. And that constraint violates peoples civil rights.

They spent money on mergers under the assumption they would be able to execute unlawful behavior. They screwed up.That is their problem. We don’t change the Constitution because three CEO’s are assholes.

“Once you force minimum levels of connectivity, most of the other problems go away.”

I can’t help but chuckle. You tried so hard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Interconnection regulations here we come.

” Internet was built as a sort of “over the top” service to get people off of making dialup phone calls and instead paying for a new “extra”, the internet.”

Where did you get that from, your back side?
Here, let me help you out ..

“In 1973, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated a research program to investigate techniques and technologies for interlinking packet networks of various kinds. The objective was to develop communication protocols which would allow networked computers to communicate transparently across multiple, linked packet networks. This was called the Internetting project and the system of networks which emerged from the research was known as the “Internet.” “


mb (profile) says:

Netflix Should Just just fight back

Any customer coming from an AT&T address just gets a little splash-screen that says something like “we’re sorry, but your internet service provider has prevented you from accessing Netflix. Please contact your internet service provider to have this issue resolved.”

Honestly, netflix is the one adding value to internet service and carriers should be paying them extra to deliver the service. Not the other way around.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Netflix Should Just just fight back

What you describe sounds eerily familiar.

It reminded me of when I had satellite tv and the content folks were attempting to extort money by cutting off their service until the satellite people paid more. They would splash the screen with their warning and suggest you contact your sat provider because this programming will stop if they do not met the demands. This would occur every time a contract expired.

But they are not trying to make the internet just like tv … noooo – certainly not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Netflix Should Just just fight back

“Honestly, netflix is the one adding value to internet service and carriers should be paying them extra to deliver the service. Not the other way around.”

What your suggesting is violating NN in reverse. On the Internet, a datagram should be treated the same way as any other datagram. The only real exception is DOS mitigation.

It is not about the “who”. It is about equality before the law. If what you suggested was compelled by law, then Netflix would possess an elevated classification of rights. And that would also be a violation of civil rights, in this case AT&T’s rights.

What your talking about looks like the debate they are trying to force. AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, all bought extraordinary Internet networks, (they didn’t build them, they bought them) and they have fucked them up because they all come from circuit switched or TV telecom backgrounds.

And so you see Level 3, build a stunningly huge amount of capacity for I.P. traffic, and they are getting the premium customers because of it.

The old school carriers have CHOSEN not to compete. There is no company in the world, that had a better position in the market than Comcast when the Internet took off, and they have pissed that advantage away by focusing on horizontal markets. And now they are corrupting the government to try and handicap companies that didn’t have shitty leadership.

No. We don’t change the Constitution because AT&T, Comcast, and Verizons leaderships suck at their jobs.

SlobodanElectro (profile) says:

Android: Firefox & Chrome Crashing Again & Again

I’ve been on this site less than an hour Firefox and Chrome back and forth am I using, Crashing as I’m on this site. I guess I’ve been noticed. I like to know things, guess my google search history got to me. You know…Men in Black, JFK, Iraq War, corruption, what have you, Roswell witness harassment, etc, thought you’d like it. 8 crashes just from browsing your site! yay!! I miss my PC.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »