One More Time: Just Because The Internet Didn't Explode Doesn't Mean Killing Net Neutrality Was A Great Idea

from the feigned-ignorance dept

By now we’ve well established that the FCC ignored the public, ignored the experts, and ignored all objective data when it killed net neutrality rules at the behest of telecom monopolies.

One common refrain by Pai and and the industry (and many folks who don’t understand how the broken telecom market works) is that because the internet didn’t immediately collapse upon itself post-repeal in a rainbow-colored explosion, that the repeal itself must not be that big of a deal. That ignores the fact that ISPs are only largely behaving because they’re worried about the numerous new state level net neutrality laws passed in the wake of the federal repeal. Not to mention the 23 state AG lawsuit against the FCC (which, if victorious, would restore some or all of the rules).

None of that matters to the Chicago Tribune editorial staff, the latest outlet to proclaim that because your internet connection still works, ignoring the public and letting AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast dictate US federal internet policy must not have been a bad thing:

“The FCC did vote to nix net neutrality, effective June 2018. A year-plus later, broadband download and upload speeds have quickened rather than slowed. Internet providers haven?t bifurcated service into different speeds for rich and poor households. Mobile networks, too, move data more swiftly than before. Broadband investment in better technology again has accelerated. And if baseball fan Chuck Schumer has missed a pitch, blame his bat speed, not his data speed.”

Again, this ignores the fact that ISPs don’t want to dramatically shift their business models only to run afoul of state regulators. Nor do they want to dramatically start ripping people off, only to have the FCC’s 2015 rules suddenly be restored via the AG lawsuit (a ruling in which is expected any day now). Folks writing these kinds of editorials know this. They’re just hoping that you don’t.

Meanwhile, claims that nothing happened in the wake of the repeal aren’t even true. Giants like AT&T have quietly started using broadband usage caps to disadvantage competitors like Netflix. ISPs like CenturyLink have blocked internet access to sling ads. Mobile carriers now charge you more just to stream in HD as intended. And the repeal of net neutrality didn’t just kill net neutrality, it eroded the FCC’s ability to police the sector, leaving us with revolving door regulators totally unwilling to do anything about numerous sector scandals including the collection and sale of user location data or hurricane recovery failures.

When you can’t make your point based on the facts, the trend du jour is to just make up your own facts. In the realm of net neutrality, that usually means falsely claiming that the rules apocalyptically-stifled broadband investment and network upgrades (which has objectively never, ever been true). That doesn’t stop the Tribune:

“That silence you hear in response to those two questions is the sound of free-market incentives improving internet services at a steady pace. Companies are competing to increase rather than decrease data speeds. And, thus far, internet providers haven?t adopted exploitative service and pricing policies that would drive angry customers to rival providers in a heartbeat. And if companies do take unfair advantage of life after net neutrality, the federal deregulation can be modified, or reversed by regulators, or overridden by Congress.”

So one, the speed increases we’ve seen in the wake of the repeal are routine and have nothing to do with repealing net neutrality, something the Tribune likely knows, but ignores. Punting to Congress on this issue is also a cop out when Congress is slathered with telecom sector campaign contributions, something else the Tribune knows is true, but ignores. The pretense remains that the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules (fairly tame by international standards) crushed the vibrant and competitive broadband sector, and again, that, like most of the Tribune’s claims, has never been true.

This apparently needs repeating: a telecom regulator ignoring all objective data and neutering itself at the behest of the telecom lobby is a bad thing. Revolving door regulators ignoring the public and gutting essential consumer protections (based on fabricated data) is a bad thing. Government officials turning a blind eye to identity theft and fraud during the one chance consumers had to make their voices heard is a bad thing. Putting natural monopolies with 30 years of anti-competitive behavior under their belts in charge of US telecom policy is a bad thing. It may take a few years for the full negative impact to be seen, but that doesn’t make what happened any less of a problem.

If your response to all of this is “gee, who cares, the internet still works for the moment,” the only thing you’re advertising is your ignorance.

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Companies: chicago tribune

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Comments on “One More Time: Just Because The Internet Didn't Explode Doesn't Mean Killing Net Neutrality Was A Great Idea”

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Anonymous Coward says:

A variation of the "tiger repellent" logic.

[Yes, after ten tries prior, needed the innocuous leader. It’s as if you’re failing to keep dissent out.]

Again, this ignores the fact that ISPs didn’t impose many of the terrible policies people predicted because more than 34 states (and DC) pushed state level net neutrality legislation.


When you can’t make your point based on the facts, the trend du jour is to just make up your own facts.

As you’re doing right here. Trying to turn YOUR TOTALLY WRONG PREDICTIONS into "I was right all along!". Sheesh.

Now, someone here opined that would go on much as before, getting faster due to new hardware… And that person was/is/will be right — AND reviled here because right!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A variation of the "tiger repellent" logic.

That the Internet access providers haven’t gone ahead with "the Internet but like cable TV" plans or whatever doesn’t mean they won’t. They’re not dumb. They know that a slow, piecemeal rollout of such plans will numb people and lawmakers to the extra bullshit better than a balls-out ASAP strategy ever would.

Bloof (profile) says:

‘Well, eating a spoonful of ratpoison didn’t kill me instantly, so clearly it’s not poisonous and I should use it to sweeten my coffee.’

The true extent of the damage done by repealing Net Neutrality won’t be felt for years to come, once companies like Comcast have bought enough politicians to make sure there’s no possible way it can be reinstated.

Anonymous Coward says:

like everything that is happening, not just in the USA but worldwide, the idea of killing net neutrality was to increase the profits of corporations and industries, while taking choice and competition away from ordinary people. if the people dont have choice, those industry heads can make agreements between themselves and jump on the bandwagon to remove services (or make them as bad and useless as possible) while retaining the ability to charge exorbitant fees for them! the USA is renowned for greasing politicians palms in order to have self-preserving laws implemented and is by far the very worst of all the supposed ‘Democratic’ countries on the Planet. it isn’t alone though. in the UK, BT/Openreach has held the country and people to ransome over the dismal implementation of fibre BB, stopping at the ‘cabinet’ after ‘convincing politicians that the cost would NOT be worth the increase in speed. Canada is as bad as the USA over mobile charges, where politicians were bought in order to allow Bell etc to continue charging ridiculously high amounts for calls and texts (and even to charge for calls to emergency services! how fucking money grabbing at everyone else cost is that?). during the last 12+ years, nothing has been more important than ensuring legacy industries, corporations and companies, along with their over paid heads, are paid extortionate salaries and are able to get or keep control of as much as possible, whilst removing as many rights, freedom and privacy as possible from the people! it wont stop until the people say ‘enough is enough’. the problem then is, because these hierarchy and ‘willing governments’ have all the security services signed up, will they ‘remove’ the people or not?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They won’t remove the people. They need that to both boast to other Kings and Tyrants about how many are "willing to die for them" in battle, and to make themselves feel good about the power and influence they wield over their populaces.

They would remove your ability to think however, as puppets have strings for performing actions when pulled upon, they need not a will of their own. Especially a will that would contradict or question their own. Before you claim "robots" however, remember the idea here is dominance, and the relishing of it. There’s nothing to be gained by them without some level of suffering. A robot can’t truly suffer as it was built for that purpose, a human on the other hand having a will of it’s own, but being completely shut down and rendered powerless by another is a much more delectable dish to consume for the masters.

ECA (profile) says:

Just cause...

1 thing is happening, dont mean others Arnt..

Put a small hole in a balloon, and it seems ok, Until it starts going Flat.
Lets ask a different Question…Are the Corps improving the system from the ISP side?

WHO has gained? Who has lost, does it matter? and Who is in charge of controlling it?

I think we have unleashed the ISP’s and given them a BIG GUN.
Please remember what these folks control.
Cellphones, Wired phones, Internet access, cable/sat TV..and probably a few other things. I still thought there was a law about being paid once, for a service, and these folks are getting 2-5 times that..

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Which part of the internet??
Lets have fun, lets kill all the corp laws.. NO more capitalistic restrictions..
Have you ever seen what happens in a capitalistic system?
its mostly here now..2-3 Corps OWN every grocery store in the USA.
2 BEER corps own almost all of it,
The corps are sooo big..(how big are they) they can buy out You/me/the Whole Gov, then write it off on taxes, and get Paid back..

hausjam says:

Another anti-anti-net-neutrality blog post

You tech bloggers are all the same. You state the obvious, complain about it, offer no solution, and accomplish nothing but riling up the peanut gallery.

So, I will offer you a solution: get off your phones. Get off your laptops. Get off your asses. Go do something real. Show the ISPs they need you more than you need them. Because right now, it’s the other way around.

If all you want to do is spend your life Instagramming and streaming Netflix in 4K to your 6" screen, the piper needs to be paid. The ISPs will continue to do what they want carte blanche and, Net Neutrality or not, no one is going to stop them.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Another idiotic hypocritical forum post

Im old enough to remember when Yarn was CHEAP..
try to find that yarn again at $3 each..the CHEAP stuff.
Find me a reason that a 2×4 costs so much.. a 4×8 shed that I could build myself is over $600 in materials..
Find me the parts to fix my car, and make it so I CAN Fix my car, after all this computer crap in it.

Can I keep going?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Another anti-anti-net-neutrality blog post

"You tech bloggers are all the same"

Yes, they base their arguments on pesky things like facts.

"You state the obvious, complain about it, offer no solution, and accomplish nothing but riling up the peanut gallery"

Whereas you choose to spout ignorance on someone else’s site and don’t even offer the value to the human race that the people you criticise do.

bob says:

to assume is to make a...

You assume the Tribune editors and writers know a lot about the telecom sector. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were just given a paper with all those talking points and a bunch of money so the article would be written that way. Especially since you can fact check all of that nonsense and I assume the Tribune knows how to do that.

Anonymous Coward says:

And since the law doesn’t apply anymore to republican criminals like him under this pathetic scam of an administration, there is nothing to do. Pai got away and the telcos got away with it and America got what it deserved for letting regulatory capture go unpunished for so long. Heads need to roll for any of this to change and sadly Pai’s is not enough to make even a dent in this level of corruption.

Roger says:

For some of us the Internet did actually explode

I have a Verizon account with 8G/m data. Don’t do video so have never approached even half of that monthly total yet Verizon throttles my data to between 500 and 14Kbps (yes, that’s 1997 dsl to 1993 modem speed) for most of the day (between 8am and 10pm). Occasionally I get typical LTE speed but not normally outside of sleeping hours so it is clearly due to throttling vs signal strength. This never happened a couple/few years ago.

The criminal part is that Verizon doesn’t talk about it. When it started occurring I had used around 800MB (less than 1/10th the max) for the month so I went to the local Verizon store. The clerk said to wait for the monthly reset and played dumb when I noted my usage. Given that I could not get 8GB in a month from this plan during typical usage hours any reasonable person would conclude that I was lied to when the plan was described.

I find it ironic that a near monopoly ILEC can make outrageously false marketing claims and roll back the clock 25 years (or more depending on whether you count Regan’s telecommunications deregulation bill) with zero accountability to Congress.

By the way, this is in Mendocino County near where CalFire firefighters were throttled not long ago.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: For some of us the Internet did actually explode

Have you ever traveled with your phone? If you’re only in the same area all the time, it’s possible Verizon’s coverage there is just crap, and that’s just the best you can get. If you go to a big city and still get 500 Kbps, then you can be reasonably certain they’re throttling your account. If you suddenly get 15 Mbps, you’ll know it’s infrastructure and not throttling.

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