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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.

Filed Under: blind, broadband, cynicism, deaf, disabled, fast lane, lobbyists, net neutrality
Companies: verizon

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2014 @ 6:25am

    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! :D 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? :)

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