Data Analysis Of FCC Comments Reveals Almost No Anti-Net Neutrality Comments

from the so-what-will-the-fcc-do dept

Recently, the FCC released most of the comments it has received so far -- commenting is still open for a few more weeks -- concerning its (pretty bad) net neutrality proposal as XML files for people to analyze. There have been a few attempts, but the most interesting so far has to come from data analytics firm Quid on behalf of the Knight Foundation and revealed in an NPR article.
The key reasons pulled from the comments that standout and cluster are definitely interesting and worth noting, but what's much more noticeable is what's missing from the map: any significant argument against having the FCC step in and stop the broadband companies from screwing up the internet. The folks who put this together note that there were certainly some such comments, but just not enough to matter:
The comments did include "anti" net neutrality positions. They included statements opposing the "FCC's crippling new regulations," as commenters wrote. But they came from a form letter, or template, and all comment clusters that came from templates (five separate ones in all, four of five supporting net neutrality) were collapsed into a single node.

Taken with the entire body of comments sampled, there weren't enough unique or organic anti-net-neutrality comments to register on the map.
The analysis shows that about 50% of the comments came from templates (again, many of them coming from "pro net neutrality") folks, but it's fascinating to see that once you get outside of the form letters, the number of anti-net neutrality letters basically doesn't register. That's kind of interesting to me, because I've actually been building a list of just those letters (I've found a few) and trying to reach out to the folks who wrote them to find out what made them write those letters. I've made contact with a few, but as soon as I explain what I'm doing... they all stop responding. I hope to have more on this soon.

Either way, it seems fairly clear that, of the people who actually took the time to express their full opinions about net neutrality, almost all of them are in favor of having the FCC actually do something real. The only question is if the FCC will ever actually listen.

Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Other Map

    This is a fantastic visualization. I scrolled down to find the other chart for arguments against the FCC intervening, but it doesn't seem to be showing up.

     

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    justok (profile), Aug 15th, 2014 @ 3:31pm

    With enemies you know where they stand but with Neutrals, who knows? It sickens me

     

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    Shel10 (profile), Aug 15th, 2014 @ 6:24pm

    Data Analysis Of FCC Comments Reveals Almost No Anti-Net Neutrality Comments

    The FCC required Name, address and phone number in order to leave a comment. This was not an optional requirement. I can understand if a corporation wants to file a comment, but why does the FCC need personal identification from an individual?

     

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    Whatever (profile), Aug 15th, 2014 @ 10:54pm

    No sh-t!

    No sh-t, there won't be many comments against net neutrality because generally it's like being against breathing. Nobody will show up saying "hey, I want to pay a lot more for a whole lot less!".

    What is interesting is that many of the comments are based on very scary "pay to play" stories, which means that the pro net neutrality agenda pushers have done a very good job to create fear and loathing (but not much in the way of valid information).

    I think that this process has one basic, simple problem, which is the cost aspect. If you want to have enough full bandwidth to watch IP tv, to stream your netflix movies, to video chat with your mom (or that girl who charge by the minute) and so on, what is the real costs involved? How much more will ISPs have to spend to meet that apparent expectation? What is the acceptable bottom limits?

    The true fear of net neutrality is that bigger bandwidth users (like Netflix or IP TV companies) could end up creating so much network congestion all over that they end up harming other online businesses. Being 100% neutral would mean that nobody would be allowed to do anything to throttle them at all. An overloaded connection could be considered anti-neutrality and an ISP or backbone carrier could be forced by regulation to up the amount of available bandwidth to meet demand, even if there is no valid business model for doing it.

    So the cost side and the obligation side of the discussion are just not out there. Tell the people they can have a "neutral" internet but it will cost them twice or three times as much, and well... the comments might change ever so slightly.

     

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      Lurker Keith, Aug 16th, 2014 @ 3:55am

      Simple Solution

      The ISPs have a very simple solution to legitimately be able to avoid upgrading their infrastructure to meet demand: DON'T OVER-SELL THEIR NETWORK.

      The problem some* ISPs run into is in their race for profits, they sell more than they can actually deliver & don't do simple maintenance to keep them working/ up-to-date. If they want to sell me a 60 Mbps connection at a flat rate, then I should be able to use that WHOLE 60 Mbps of bandwidth whenever I want to, for whatever I want to. That's what I was sold. If they can't deliver that, then don't sell it to everyone. Either sell a bandwidth that they can handle, only sell to a limited number of customers that they can handle, or IMPROVE THE NETWORK. It isn't Rocket Science.



      *The ISP I have actually undersells their network, at least in my area. If I unplug my router & use a direct connection to my modem, I consistently (at least every time I've checked) get 150% of what I'm supposed to. Even w/ a router, w/ it's Firewall settings enabled, I'm getting 75% or better on average (which tends to hover just a bit below 50 Mbps), which is way more than EVERYONE WHO LIVES HERE can simultaneously use.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Aug 16th, 2014 @ 6:56pm

        Re: Simple Solution

        That sounds like commie, fascist hippy crap to me. The right to lie to and mislead customers is an absolute cornerstone to any good free market, and should in no way be limited or, worse, removed.

        For example, if I want to sell a bike and claim that due to the special design and materials it can easily reach speeds of 'up to' 150 mph, that's my right. The fact that you'd need to drop it out of a plane to reach those speeds is irrelevant, after all, I said 'up to', I never said that it could ever realistically(and survivably) reach those speeds, even if I may have implied it.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2014 @ 7:56pm

        Re: Simple Solution

        *The ISP I have actually undersells their network, at least in my area. If I unplug my router & use a direct connection to my modem, I consistently (at least every time I've checked) get 150% of what I'm supposed to. Even w/ a router, w/ it's Firewall settings enabled, I'm getting 75% or better on average (which tends to hover just a bit below 50 Mbps), which is way more than EVERYONE WHO LIVES HERE can simultaneously use.


        Why is your router and firewall cutting your connection speed by nearly 50%?

         

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          Lurker Keith, Aug 18th, 2014 @ 8:31pm

          Re: Re: Simple Solution

          I don't know why, aside from the known decrease using a router w/ other settings enabled causes (whatever that is), I'm only getting half the observed, apparent full bandwidth (again, 150% what I pay for). Since I own my modem/ router (I don't like renting things), the ISP won't touch it to find out.

          Since I'm paying less now for more bandwidth (got a special price recently), I don't care too much about the loss. It doesn't affect how much I use.

          If anyone knows what could be causing such a massive difference, I'd like to know. I knew enough to set my router up originally (more than the techs who came to install the cables), but not necessarily enough to optimize it, so that could be part of the problem.

           

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      Andrew D. Todd, Aug 16th, 2014 @ 7:36pm

      The Costs Are Not What You Think They Are. (to "Whatever, #4")

      I went into the issue at some length:

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140529/18081527399/if-comcast-ceo-brian-roberts-really-be lieves-netflix-gets-bandwidth-free-will-he-pay-netflixs-bandwidth-bill.shtml#c678
      https://www.techdir t.com/articles/20140516/12271727260/comcast-says-its-going-to-slap-all-its-customers-with-data-caps- makes-half-hearted-attempt-to-walk-back-earlier-statements-when.shtml#c549
      https://www.techdirt.com/a rticles/20140514/06500227230/cable-industrys-own-numbers-show-general-decline-investment-over-past-s even-years.shtml#c527
      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140514/06500227230/cable-industrys-own-numb ers-show-general-decline-investment-over-past-seven-years.shtml#c467

      You are mistaken about the costs of buiding a network. The big cost of building a network is in the branches, not the trunks. The big cost of laying a telecommunications line is digging the ditch, not the cable which goes into the ditch. Anything you can do in a factory is many times cheaper than what you have to do in the field. Your "better equals costs more" argument takes no account of actual costs. From an engineering standpoint, Comcast's position is completely untenable.

       

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        Whatever (profile), Aug 16th, 2014 @ 11:13pm

        Re: The Costs Are Not What You Think They Are. (to "Whatever, #4")

        First off, pointing to Techdirt stories never really works out, those are opinion pieces and not absolute fact. Point to the underlying data, and not the opinion piece.

        That said, you are correct, but wrong in many ways. The problem here isn't just adding a little more trunk, it's completely changing the network and creating many more head ends / termination points for last mile connections. If you want a network that isn't oversold from end to end, you have to beef up the entire network,not just connect more peering.

        So the problem would be that they would end up likely digging more ditches to put in more cables to more new termination points to handle more user data. It's not free.

        Look, even the B4RN municipal system oversells 26 to 1 (or more). Their costs (and everyone else's costs) would be insane if you built a 1 to 1 network. I don't think Google fiber is even a true 1 : 1 network.

        So yes, the costs of doing stuff in a factory or whatever is cheaper than the physical installations, but when you increase the number of physical installations, you have to do the expensive grunt work to make it happen.

         

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          Andrew D. Todd, Aug 18th, 2014 @ 7:28am

          Re: Re: The Costs Are Not What You Think They Are. (to "Whatever, #4")

          In the first place, if you had read the linked material, you would note that I published a "costing-out model." This is something more than a mere opinion piece. The essential point is that as you move away from the customer, towards the center of the network, economies of scale cut in. Once you get to the point where a given piece of equipment serves a hundred, or a thousand, or a million people simultaneously, their pro-rata share of its cost is not very great. The cost of this piece of equipment becomes small, compared to the total cost of the many subscriber loops it serves. If you take something like an AT&T U-Verse cabinet, serving a hundred houses, then thousands of dollars of installation cost per cabinet work out to tens of dollars per subscriber, amortized at a rate of quarter-dollars per month. Of course, the vast majority of the network, everything downstream from the cabinet, gets left alone. As for the back-haul, according to my calculation, each subscriber's pro-rata share of the optical fiber leading from the U-Verse cabinet to the rest of the world is on the order of twenty feet, ten feet of it between the cabinet and the central office, and ten feet of it between the central office and the world. he former portion will cost about a hundred dollars (five dollars a year, fifty cents a month a month). Much of that twenty feet, especially the upstream part is already in the form of pre-existing ducts (see below).

          Please go and read Jeff Hecht, _Understanding Fiber Optics_ (1987). In particular, read the discussion of graded-index, single-mode fiber, which has long since become the industry standard. The theoretical capacity of an optical fiber is something like 600 T-bits (600 million megabits), and the Japanese have actually achieved 30 T-bits at last report, over a distance of a hundred miles. New modems, transmitting and receiving on a greater number of frequencies, can massively increase the capacity of a fiber which is already in the ground. It is not a question of "adding more trunk line." A practical infinity of trunk line is already there. The conditions under which additional optical fibers would be needed are extremely rare, and are not commonly found in the "last mile" An optical fiber in the "last mile" is, almost by definition, grossly under-utilized.

          In any case, trunk cables are installed inside plastic ducts. A trench is dug, one or more ducts are placed inside it, and cables are subsequently blown through the ducts by compressed air, or pulled by messenger strings (*), without having to dig the ducts up again. Feeding the cable through the duct is many times cheaper than digging the trench, etc. For that matter, methods have been developed to pump pressurized lubricants into existing copper cables in the ground, which may not have been installed in ducts, and push the interior components out, leaving the jacket in place as a duct suitable for an optical cable.

          (*) I, personally, have watched the latter operation, over a distance of fifty yards, from a telephone cabinet to a point where the cable was subsequently carried on existing overhead electrical poles, in order to provide service to a new office building in what had previously been a low-density residential district (bungalows on acre-lots). The men just pulled the cord, hand over hand, without mechanical aids, and it took a very few minutes.

          In my model, I was referring primarily to telephone-type networks. The situation is a bit different in cable television. What one would do is to cease broadcasting a hundred channels of unsolicited content over the shared local loop, leading to fewer than a hundred houses, and transmit only information which customers had specifically asked for, on a second-by-second basis. One might think of it as the difference between a newspaper boy throwing a newspaper on every porch, and a postman placing particularly addressed letters, magazines, parcels, and newspapers in particular mailboxes. Upstream from the street corner, of course, the situation in cable becomes substantially identical to that in telephony, as economies of scale cut in.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2014 @ 8:03pm

      Re: No sh-t!

      The true fear of net neutrality is that bigger bandwidth users (like Netflix or IP TV companies) could end up creating so much network congestion all over that they end up harming other online businesses. Being 100% neutral would mean that nobody would be allowed to do anything to throttle them at all. An overloaded connection could be considered anti-neutrality and an ISP or backbone carrier could be forced by regulation to up the amount of available bandwidth to meet demand, even if there is no valid business model for doing it.


      I agree, it would be terrible if an ISP had to tell its customers that it can't actually support the bandwidth for what its customers want to do. Why will nobody think about the executives' children?

      This theory of yours has been debunked in most of the threads in which it appears. There are numerous examples of ISPs around the world which are demonstrably capable of business models where they provide sufficient bandwidth for all of their customers... and not just sufficient for today's needs, but with capacity to spare for the unknown needs of tomorrow!

       

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        Whatever (profile), Aug 17th, 2014 @ 11:55pm

        Re: Re: No sh-t!

        I agree, it would be terrible if an ISP had to tell its customers that it can't actually support the bandwidth for what its customers want to do. Why will nobody think about the executives' children?

        I love stuff like that, snarky and meaningless.

        If you have examples, bring them on. When you look at the reality, most ISPs are overselling 10 to 1 at the low end to 1000 to 1 at the high end, and that includes all the throughput points along the way.

        Selling 50 meg connections? If you are really giving that full connection, then you have 20 customers per 1 gig switch maximum. That means you have 10 switches maximum to the 10 gig trunk. You have 10 gig of peering for every 10 gig trunk. So when you start looking at an ISP with just 20,000 customers (a small one!), that is 1000 switches, or 100 trunks and 100 10 gig peers. That is a whole lot of peering. That is a whole lot of cost if you are paying for it.

        Just for comparison, the 10 to 1 ISP would need only 10% of that... bottom line, it's a big issue not just in peering, but in full network layout.

        So, I ask you - where are you example ISPs? Even B4RN is 26 to 1.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2014 @ 6:36am

      Re: No sh-t!

      The true fear of net neutrality is that bigger bandwidth users (like Netflix or IP TV companies) could end up creating so much network congestion all over that they end up harming other online businesses. Being 100% neutral would mean that nobody would be allowed to do anything to throttle them at all.


      There is no reason that network neutrality would conflict with following the QoS/traffic type bits in the IP headers, provided the ISP doesn't interfere with those settings or discriminate between peers or subscribers in how they set their QoS bits.

      As a separate matter, ISPs which are also in businesses which compete with online services should be subject to additional regulation to prevent anticompetitive practices, although that's needed anyway.

       

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    TestPilotDummy, Aug 16th, 2014 @ 1:33am

    What's needed is a NEW PARADIGM of thinking

    Like The Voters (after electronics in voting is gone) vote for what they want the public spectrum to be used for and the ENGINEERS hired by the FCC then roll out the best plan in the public interest.

    OBAMAFONE isn't FREEDOM OF SPEECH it's FASCISM

     

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    Alien Rebel (profile), Aug 16th, 2014 @ 9:02am

    Huh.

    I don't see any cluster labeled "Tom Wheeler is, in fact, a dingo."

     

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    Shel10 (profile), Sep 7th, 2014 @ 9:40am

    Data Analysis Of FCC Comments Reveals Almost No Anti-Net Neutrality Comments

    The problem with the FCC comment form is that you must post a lot of personal information which becomes public information. You can't just provide your thoughts using an e-mail address signature!!!

     

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