The Broadband Industry Pretends To Be Worried About Your Soaring Bill In Attempt To Undermine Net Neutrality

from the who-can-you-trust-if-you-can't-trust-the-phone-company dept

On the heels of Obama's surprise support of Title II-based net neutrality rules last month, we noted that the broadband industry's anti-Title II talking points (primarily that it will kill network investment and sector innovation) not only were just plain wrong, they were getting more than a little stale. That's a problem for the industry given the increasingly bi-partisan support of real net neutrality rules and the groundswell of SOPA-esque activism in support of Title II. As such, the industry's vast think tank apparatus quickly got to work on new talking points to combat net neutrality rules that actually might do something.

The first product of this renewed effort is this study by the AT&T-funded Progressive Policy Institute. The study's central thesis is that if Title II net neutrality regulations are passed, the nation will be awash in $15 billion in various new Federal and State taxes and fees:
"We have calculated that the average annual increase in state and local fees levied on U.S. wireline and wireless broadband subscribers will be $67 and $72, respectively. And the annual increase in federal fees per household will be roughly $17. When you add it all up, reclassification could add a whopping $15 billion in new user fees on top of the planned $1.5 billion extra to fund the E-Rate program. The higher fees would come on top of the adverse impact on consumers of less investment and slower innovation that would result from reclassification."
Like a well-oiled machine, the cable, phone and broadband industry got to work pushing its study across all the major news outlets over the last week. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson quickly took to NBC (skip to 1:05) to claim the average household broadband bill would increase by $19 a month under Title II (note amusingly that he got the study numbers his own company helped pay for wrong). The cable industry also not-so-subtly took to using this graphic in ads proclaiming Title II will result in vicious price hikes for everyone:
You'll probably be surprised to learn that the broadband industry had to resort to conflation, data cherry picking and a parade of worst-case scenarios to get these numbers. On the state level, Internet access has long received a Congressional exemption that's set to expire December 11 -- an issue totally unrelated to the Title II push. Congress can make sure the exemption is extended, keeping state sales taxes far away from broadband access. If they don't, again, it has nothing to do with Title II. Realize this, and nearly all of the PPI's estimate of $15 billion in new taxes as a direct result of Title II goes up in smoke right out of the gate.

In an e-mail conversation about the study I had with Free Press Research Director Derek Turner, Turner argues that PPI is also predicting a very worst-case scenario on Federal taxation that's simply not going to happen:
"The FCC could decide to forbear from requiring federal USF contributions for one. And whether or not the FCC does that, adding broadband into the USF mix wouldn't impact the overall size of the fund. That is, if broadband revenues were assessed but the fund size stayed constant, consumers would pay on broadband but, as a result, they'd pay less on their other services like wireless and wired voice. PPI asserts that consumers would pay more on aggregate than they do now (i.e. by adding broadband to the mix, their numbers imply that the burden for the fund will shift towards consumers from businesses), but the report out today offers no explanation of why the contribution percentage would tilt that way."
Of course the pretense that the broadband industry cares about how much your bills increase is also laughable, given the industry spends a large part of each day trying to figure out creative ways to pad your bill. This includes rate hikes, usage caps and a wide variety of fees imposed below the line to jack up the advertised rate post sale. These fees range from entirely bogus, non-government mandated "regulatory recovery fees" (pure-profit fees imposed to offset ambiguous government regulation despite a decade of deregulation) to new "broadcast TV fees" that simply bury a portion of programming costs below the line. They're all a variety of false advertising, but they highlight how the biggest increases to below-the-line charges and fees are coming from the industry itself.

The reality the broadband industry doesn't want to acknowledge is that very little changes for it under Title II if carriers aren't engaged in bad behavior. The broadband industry is fighting Title II solely to protect potential revenues generated from abusing uncompetitive markets. That this self-serving behavior is being dressed up as concern about the size of your broadband bill is the industry's best comedic work to date. Perhaps this slightly edited (by Mike) version of the NCTA ad is a bit more accurate:

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Daniel Berninger (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 3:47am

    Fair and balanced...

    This post (again) commits the same cherry picking and reframing of stats toward a pre-determined conclusion as it accuses the PPI study.

    I have no problem with Techdirt advocacy of Title II, but the post seems to want to pretend the advocacy is fair and balanced journalism.

    The fact that pushing IP networks under Title II exposes the communicating public to new taxes is not controversial or in dispute. One can argue the taxes will happen anyway and the revenue hungry taxing authorities will find ways to impose taxes.

    However, Title II *is* the framework in which *all* communication taxes (and the 16.2% of revenue USF assessments) get imposed at the Local and State and Federal AND International levels.

    To claim imposing Title II on the Internet has no implications for new taxes goes beyond advocacy and qualifies as simply dishonest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 4:12am

      Re: Fair and balanced...

      This post (again) commits the same cherry picking and reframing of stats toward a pre-determined conclusion as it accuses the PPI study.

      No. It doesn't. The PPI study comes out with specific, and clearly bogus, numbers based on blatant conflation of sepate issues.

      I have no problem with Techdirt advocacy of Title II, but the post seems to want to pretend the advocacy is fair and balanced journalism.

      This is a cheap shot that is beneath you. Techdirt has always been an OPINION site. We express our opinion. Always have. We've never suggested that the site is some sort of bogus "objective reporting of both sides" of a story, because we think anyone doing that is misrepresenting the truth. We present our opinion.

      The fact that pushing IP networks under Title II exposes the communicating public to new taxes is not controversial or in dispute. One can argue the taxes will happen anyway and the revenue hungry taxing authorities will find ways to impose taxes.

      Nice strawman. That wasn't what was said.

      To claim imposing Title II on the Internet has no implications for new taxes goes beyond advocacy and qualifies as simply dishonest.

      No, it's accurate. The framework has little impact on taxes. A new research note out yesterday from a top telco analyst made the point pretty clearly: the impact of Title II is basically nothing. While FCC regimes may at some point seek to more heavily regulate certain parts of the internet, the classification of the underlying infrastructure will have little to no bearing on what happens.

      Dan, I know you've fought against Title II in the past where it was inappropriate, but you're blinded by your hatred of Title II to the point that you're no lobbing ad homs at us. Maybe, just maybe, we're not "dishonest" but merely have a different opinion based on our experiences and knowledge.

      Don't be that guy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Daniel Berninger (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 6:43am

        Re: Re: Fair and balanced...

        Mike,

        One of the PPI's authors addresses the Free Press critique covered in this post and folks can judge for themselves.

        See http://bit.ly/1sffSKN

        I prefer to follow-up on how the disconnect between former opponents of Title II.

        Title II serves as the telephone network policy regime from 1934 to present day.

        The arrival of commercial versions of VoIP in 1995 created a policy crisis.

        Did VoIP fall under Title II like all other voice services or remain an non-regulated information service like all other data/computing services.

        Keep in mind VoIP/Internet were born entirely from non-regulated information services parents.

        The default answer was nontheless Title II and those of us present at the time were told our efforts were illegal without government approval.

        The experience of pursuing communication innovation under a presumption of Title II left me with an unshakable antipathy for Title II.

        Dealing with the anti-innovation Title II pronouncements of the FCC over the next 20 years added to my conviction.

        I get that everyone wants the FCC/Title II to save them from the risk of gatekeeper abuses by telco's/cableco's.

        News Flash: The 80 year track record includes no examples of the FCC/Title II saving anyone from gatekeeper abuses by telco's/cableco's.

        The expansion of communication services and connectivity after 1996 owes entirely to companies (including telco's/cableco's) pursuing non-regulated information services.

        Pivoting to Title II at this point rewards the utter failure of Title II policies and punishes the remarkable successes of non-regulated information services.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 7:20am

          Re: Re: Re: Fair and balanced...


          The arrival of commercial versions of VoIP in 1995 created a policy crisis.
          Did VoIP fall under Title II like all other voice services or remain an non-regulated information service like all other data/computing services.
          Keep in mind VoIP/Internet were born entirely from non-regulated information services parents.


          I find that argument disingenuous. While VoIP and the information services were not regulated, the infrastructure was regulated - the phone lines that most people used to connect to their dial-up modems. All of the non-regulated services would never have been possible without the regulation, going all the way back to the Carterphone regulatory decision.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 7:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Fair and balanced...

          "Keep in mind VoIP/Internet were born entirely from non-regulated information services parents."

          You're mixing two different things here: VoIP is a service, the internet is an infrastructure. They are different things in kind and appropriate regulatory approach.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2014 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Fair and balanced...

          I've gotta be honest, but this reads like a paid set of posts by a PR firm under the guise of arguing against TII regulation (which I agree, on its own, will do nothing to remedy the situation).

          I've outlined numerous times what I would see as a minimum requirement in order to increase competition in the US markets.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 5:04am

      Re: Fair and balanced...

      "This post (again) commits the same cherry picking and reframing of stats toward a pre-determined conclusion as it accuses the PPI study."
      Where does this happen, precisely? By clearly pointing out where PPI over-states the impact of Title II on state and federal taxes (by at least $12 billion)? By clearly pointing out it's the broadband industry itself (and it's use of sneaky, below-the-line fees) that's the biggest culprit when it comes to soaring broadband bills?

      You state twice that my story claims there will be no impact of Title II. That's not what I wrote. What I wrote is that the PPI is using worst-case scenarios and conflating some unrelated issues (the Congressional tax exemption expiration specifically) to vastly over-state potential taxation numbers and scare people, while the industry itself is being disingenuous.

      Are you disagreeing with either of those statements?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        mwendy, 9 Dec 2014 @ 6:34am

        Hal Singer rebuttal of Free Press

        PPI's Hal Singer has a good surrebuttal of the Free Press rebuttal here:

        https://haljsinger.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/flaws-in-free-presss-alternative-estimate-of-new-state-a nd-local-fees-attributable-to-reclassification/

        You may remember this quote from Free Press' Derek Turner, "If members of Congress understood that the FCC is contemplating a broadband tax, they'd sit up and take notice," said Derek Turner, research director for Free Press, a consumer advocacy group that opposes the tax (http://thehill.com/policy/technology/245479-fcc-eyes-tax-on-internet-service).

        Seems this fear - which echoes a regressive theme - is curiously missing in your piece. After all, if the b-band providers imposed (at least) a $4 billion fee / tax for their services, you'd be up in arms (as piece of your report hint at). But if the government does it, you go all cricket on us. C'mon.

        Wonder what Turner thinks - I mean, Free Press basically admits taxes and fees are going up as a result of their reclassification push / FCC actions. BY BILLIONS!

        We get in on the unfair and unbalanced stuff on your opinion page. That's fine. You have a stake in seeing Title II go through, and anything that questions those numerous assumption is hurtful to your argument. Fine.

        Keep up the good work!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Karl Bode (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 6:46am

          Re: Hal Singer rebuttal of Free Press

          I've read his rebuttal, and it basically just talks over, under and around the fact he's fear-mongering by pointing to the very worst possible (and very unlikely) scenario imaginable on both the state and federal level, in some cases using situations that have absolutely nothing to do with Title II. It's like saying highways are dangerous because EVERYBODY IS GOING TO CRASH ALL AT ONCE OH MY GOD.

          Also, taking a broadband study from a think tank paid by AT&T to manipulate data as gospel -- but complaining that we're being "unfair and unbalanced" is just silly.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            mwendy, 9 Dec 2014 @ 7:33am

            Re: Re: Hal Singer rebuttal of Free Press

            Fees / taxes are going up by billions as a consequence of T2. 'Nuff said.

            Thanks, Free Press.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Karl Bode (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 8:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Hal Singer rebuttal of Free Press

              I think Free Press might just deserve credit for not ignoring the fact that some taxes and fees might go up. That's in contrast to PPI, which appears to have intentionally bloated their numbers massively just for maximum political impact.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Sheogorath (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 12:29am

          Re: Hal Singer rebuttal of Free Press

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2014 @ 4:48am

    In this era of the internet, never try to make an image like that. It will get turned on you so fast. I didn't even make it past the first time seeing it before it was altered.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 5:08am

    Title II sounded great

    Title II sounded great, then Jane saw her bill. Suddenly, Title II became the only viable option.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2014 @ 6:16am

    I suspect that the actual annual increase on everyone's broadband bill under title II would be more than $17. It's just that the increase would be imposed by the broadband providers to cover some of the double dipping revenue they lose instead of by the government like they want everyone to think. That's not to say everyone's bills won't increase without title II, because they will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 6:23am

      Re:

      This.

      Really, only an increase of $17? Even if the study was accurate (its not), an increase of $17 doesn't sound too bad when my rates keep going up, and service keeps getting worse, even without Title II.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 10:35am

        Re: Re:

        Exactly! I'd gladly pay that if it's the price for the cable companies losing the ability to screw me over.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ltlw0lf (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 11:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Exactly! I'd gladly pay that if it's the price for the cable companies losing the ability to screw me over.

          They're still screwing you over...just not in such a shady way (or an even more shady way by tacking on a fee, calling it a government tax, and then pocketing it themselves as the phone companies have done for ages with their universal service, E911 and other faux government fees that turn out to just be hidden profit lines.)

          I'd much rather see the local loop become infrastructure that anyone can compete on, allowing businesses or government to lay the fiber infrastructure if they want, cutting out the cable/telecommunications company as the monopoly abuser.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2014 @ 6:42am

    I don't have time to edit the photo right now, but my captions would be:
    I have so many choices
    (picture)
    between Comcast and Dial-Up!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 4:24pm

      Re:

      ... between Comcast and Dial-Up!

      I wonder how many people alive today have even seen a 300 baud modem. I once worked in a room full of them. The first time I downloaded Linux, it was over a 9600 bps modem (41 * 1.44 Mb floppies). For years, I was more than satisfied with ADSL (ca 400 K/sec).

      Gb WiFi? Who needs it? The Netflix generation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 8:47am

        Re: Re:

        "I wonder how many people alive today have even seen a 300 baud modem."

        Seen one? I still own two Bell 103s that in a prior life I used regularly. Yes, I'm old.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 7:02am

    If the cable industry is against it, then it must be good for the consumer. That's a fact you can count upon. PPI is such a bald-faced liar, and those defending it are the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 8:27am

      Re:

      exactly, it has gotten to the point there is ZERO 'trust' in just about ANY large institution, but ESPECIALLY lying korporate slime...
      THUS, the rule of thumb: IF scumbag extortion artists are for something, best to be against it; IF they are against something, almost certainly better to be for it...

      seriously, you almost do NOT have to do ANY legwork to figure this shit out and unravel all the rules and asterisks and bullshit figures from all sides: just see what the lying, thieving, scumbag korporations are asking for, and try to get the opposite...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lord Binky, 9 Dec 2014 @ 7:35am

    What rules about additional fees are there in Title II? I'd love to see my bill if it didn't have money going towards supporting their television services. Even with regulatory fees I think the bill would come down if it only included internet related costs. Still, it's not like they wouldn't impose the $19 worth of costs if title II reclassification fails.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 9 Dec 2014 @ 8:30am

    In the Netherlands almost everybody can choose between about 10 or more providers that offer at least 20 Mbit/s. Prices start at 22 Euro/month and that includes 21% sales tax.

    That's what real competition looks like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 9:31am

    When did the cable companies care about our bills?

    Whether the study is accurate or not, and whether the data is accurate or not, I agree with the question in the next-to-last paragraph: when did the cable companies start caring about our bills?
    Suddenly it's "bad" when Title II requirements may (or may not) cause the bill to go up, but it's okay when the cable company arbitrarily raises rates? How about knocking a few dollars off the "mandatory fees" and then we'll talk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 9 Dec 2014 @ 9:39am

    This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

    Daniel Berninger thinks that internet service is getting better. That may be true in New York City. Out in the wilds of West Virginia, it seems a bit different. We are in Reverse Morris Trust country. Zero investment. Maximum revenues extraction. We have been sold down the river by Verizon, and we do not feel quite so optimistic.

    Over the last few years, my internet service has gotten worse, rather than better. It has gone from 56Kbits to 33 Kbits. The 56 Kbit internet (v. 90 protocol) works sort of like a "poor man's DSL." When the signal reaches the telco switch, it needs to be captured and handled as data to be passed through to the ISP. Off-the-shelf DSLAM switches can do this without any difficulty, and can even provide better or worse levels of service by mere software. If someone no longer wants to pay for a given grade of service, the telephone company just keys in a command. They don't have to actually go out and dismantle anything. If you just run a voice channel through the switch, and out for a couple of miles to a computer center, then 33 Kbits is all you can do. Verizon's rent-seeking caused it to take a non-cooperative attitude with the state agency which is my ISP (*), and we dropped down to 33 Kbits.

    (*) West Virginia Network for Educational Telecomputing (WVNET).

    You may say that I should be dealing with the telephone company, instead of WVNET, but WVNET are civil servants, with the same standards of honor and integrity as the United States Postal Service. They do not think that they are entitled to insert advertisements in my e-mails, or to engage in any of the thousand and one other misdemeanors which automatically occur to the mind of someone like ComCast CEO Brian Roberts or AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

    A reasonably fair adoption of new technology which didn't cost the telephone company very much (ie. DSLAM switches in the central office, two miles away) would have resulted in the new "vanilla" service being 768 Kbit DSL, on a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier basis. You can't download movies with that, but it is still reasonably useful. The telephone company would be entitled to earn higher rates by setting out switch cabinets closer to the customers. That would have been a reasonable balance between universal service, and the telephone company's desire to make many by selling most people a more expensive product. No such product has been forthcoming.

    There is an optical cable which runs by the side of the building, about thirty feet from where I am sitting. I watched the workmen build it, a few years ago. BUT IT IS NOT FOR ME! It is en route to a couple of near-by office buildings.

    Now, if I merely wanted to watch television, the situation would be quite different. Dish antennae are popping up on the roof-gables of the buildings like mushrooms. In fact, I think my apartment building has just been fitted for dish service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 9:52am

      Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

      "Out in the wilds of West Virginia, it seems a bit different."

      You don't have to be out in the wilds, either. I live in a large metropolitan area, and while the speed of my internet service is faster, I am still locked into a single ISP (Comcast) that overcharges and engages in lots of nefarious activities.

      I love how the major ISPs (and Mr. Berninger) focus on service speed as if that's the major issue driving net neutrality. It's not. The major issue driving net neutrality is unrelated to service speeds (and even service cost is down the list a few slots). The major issue is that the ISPs insist on messing with the traffic that travels over their pipes in various unfair and unacceptable ways.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Daniel Berninger (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 10:25am

      Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

      Andrew,

      I agree you should want and pursue an expansion of your connection to the Internet.

      The argument is whether or not debating net neutrality and imposing Title II regulations on IP networks serves your cause.

      A review of the 10 plus year net neutrality debate and an 80 year track record of Title II realms answers a unequivocal no.

      Let's have the direct conversation about making America the most connected place on the planet.

      It seems a good bet the most connected place on the planet will win the future.

      Imposing new regulations on IP networks does not serve this cause.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 11:39am

        Re: Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

        "Let's have the direct conversation about making America the most connected place on the planet."

        No. Let's have a conversation about making America a place where you can have internet access without abuse and interference by the ISPs first.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 11:50am

        Re: Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

        If you want a conversation, perhaps you should drop the canned PR-speak. Your comments read like they were prepared by a committee.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Daniel Berninger (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 2:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

          Josh,

          Hmmm "perhaps you should drop the canned PR-speak"

          My PR credentials include:
          MTS, Bell Labs
          co-founder Free World Dialup with Jeff Pulver
          co-founder VON Coaltion with Jeff Pulver
          co-founder ITXC with Tom Evslin
          co-founder Vonage with Jeff Pulver

          and 20 years of opposition to regulation of the Internet.

          Current day job involves pushing for a telecom version of the HDTV transition.

          Dan

          +1.202.250.3838

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Sheogorath (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 12:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

            My PR credentials include:
            MTS, Bell Labs
            co-founder Free World Dialup with Jeff Pulver
            co-founder VON Coaltion with Jeff Pulver
            co-founder ITXC with Tom Evslin
            co-founder Vonage with Jeff Pulver
            and 20 years of opposition to neutrality of the Internet.

            FTFY, YW. };D

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Daniel Berninger (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 2:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

          Josh,

          Hmmm "perhaps you should drop the canned PR-speak"

          My PR credentials include:
          MTS, Bell Labs
          co-founder Free World Dialup with Jeff Pulver
          co-founder VON Coaltion with Jeff Pulver
          co-founder ITXC with Tom Evslin
          co-founder Vonage with Jeff Pulver

          and 20 years of opposition to regulation of the Internet.

          Current day job involves pushing for a telecom version of the HDTV transition.

          Dan

          +1.202.250.3838

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Andrew D. Todd, 10 Dec 2014 @ 1:17am

        Re: Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

        Speaking as an engineer, I've done cost estimates, and, assuming a reasonable system, additional costs of building it are not that high. I don't mean optical fiber up the wazoo, I mean recycling short enough segments enough of the copper subscriber loops-- which are already in the ground-- to get a performance standard which can be economically justified. Switches and trunk lines have enormous economies of scale, compared to subscriber loops, so when someone tells you that switches and trunk lines would cost too much to allow network neutrality, he is either misinformed or lying. If the party in question owns a sports team, and has an economic interest in compelling everyone to watch his sports team, the latter possibility is more likely. What he is really saying is that he wants, maliciously, to keep a private subscriber loop under-utilized in order to maximize profits.

        Now, I would agree with you that local governments have a tendency to treat telecommunications as a slush fund. However, this is a matter of perceiving the telecommunications companies' corruption, a case of two crooks finding each other. If subscriber loops were owned and operated by the local water board, water boards have other means of finance than trying to find something expensive they could sell. For example, after an electoral referendum, they can set up special real estate tax districts to fund the construction of new storm sewers, and they supply water at an eminently reasonable marginal cost, on the order of a penny a gallon. I have heard of cases of "911" money being used to buy "police sundries," things like guns and batons and tasers. I don't think the police department would get very far if they tried that kind of thing on the local water district. The response would be: "build your own indoor swimming pool, and pay for it out of your own budget, and don't forget to pay your water bill."

        Once the cost of subscriber loops is separated out, and the kickbacks suppressed, I can imagine a telephone bill being on the order of ten dollars a month, inclusive of megabit internet access and unlimited long-distance service. That is about all the "central network" parts of telephone service are worth.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 4:19pm

        Re: Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

        Daniel,

        Having worked for a cable company, directly, for several years now, I have no faith whatsoever that they are interested in making America "the most connected place on the planet."

        They are interested in two things - the bottom line, and whatever the shareholders are currently thinking.

        Title II may not be the best answer, but trusting the ever larger corporate leadership with something as fundamentally important as the internet is a fool's errand.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 10:46am

      Re: This Is Not The Best Of All Possible Worlds, Daniel Berninger To The Contrary.

      Extra points for the Reverse Morris Trust country joke. :) Yeah, West Virginia is really the perfect example of where U.S. broadband sits at the moment. Neglected DSL lines, regulatory capture, subsidies nobody can bother to track, and lots and lots of lip service.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2014 @ 9:50am

    AT&T can keep pushing this business of the price of access going up but you know what? It's been going up already. I see that I am paying for what I am not getting and it sure isn't what I was promised.

    Here's the thing. The service is worth only what I will pay for it. It doesn't have to be raised much further in cost and I will drop internet access. I like it but not THAT MUCH that I will continue to support on going price hikes.

    If it were not quite so lucrative I am sure they would not be here. AT&T has the same problem as the other telcos in this. When you screw people enough, they've had enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Omissions and Disclosure

    Free Press says Title II treatment of broadband will raise end-user prices by $4B, while Singer and Litan say it will raise them by $15B. They agree that there will be a price increase, but they disagree on the exact amount.

    The wild card is state and local taxes, which Free Press judges totally impossible and which Singer and Litan note are automatically applied to telecom services today under state and local law. These taxes will obviously be triggered by reclassification.

    Bode tries to distract the reader with complaints about sneaky below the line fees that aren't affected by Title II at all.

    Given that this article was dictated by Free Press - by the author's own admission - why omit their claim that Title II will increase user fees by $4B?

    And for bonus points, given that the author claims the Singer/Litan study was dictated by AT&T - a claim that is offered without evidence - who pays the bills at TechDirt? Last I heard it was Google, but the tone of TechDirt's opinions suggest that Netflix and the hosting companies are in the mix now.

    Can we have some disclosure please?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2014 @ 4:41pm

    Shills out in full force again today, dreaming that stopping NN will be some magical cure-all for piracy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DirkXXVI (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 6:24pm

    TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

    I recently came across this instant classic quote from the Time Warner CEO in an article yesterday about how he felt good about the chances of the Comcast-Time Warner merger being approved

    ----------------------------------------------------
    "U.S. consumers need only look at Europe, where "heavy-handed regulation has proven to deter investment and has hampered the delivery of products to customer," Marcus insisted."
    -Rob Marcus (CEO Time Warner Cable)
    ------------------------------------------------------

    I mean is it unfair to go after them when the setup is as easy as this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard Bennett (profile), 9 Dec 2014 @ 8:11pm

      Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

      Cable modem is deregulated in Europe, as it is in the US. In Europe, cable modem is faster than the DSL service that's heavily regulated; in the UK, DSL tops out at 20-25 Mbps, but Virgin Media's cable modem service goes up to 150 Mbps for the 50% of Britons who can get it.

      What easy setup do you imagine you see in Marcus's remark?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 1:19am

        Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

        Nice strawman. The fact is, the Internet in the UK isn't faster because it's unregulated; actually, it's very much regulated. No, the Internet in the UK is faster because there's more competition so no company dares to be crap because it knows we have plenty of competitors to receive a better service from.
        US nationwide (except rural areas) broadband companies:
        AT&T
        Comcast
        Time-Warner
        UK nationwide (except rural areas) broadband companies:
        BT
        EE
        Fuel
        Plusnet
        Post Office
        Sky
        TalkTalk
        Virgin Media
        And that's just the landline offerings, so I think my evidence is rather better than... Oh, you didn't offer any, did you? Like I said, strawman.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Richard Bennett (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 2:44am

          Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

          But broadband in the UK isn't faster than broadband in the US. On average, web page load time is 150% longer than in the US, despite greater population density and half the traffic volume. All the so-called competitors are connected to BT's switches except Virgin, so they're just reselling the same service. Effectively, you're confusing car dealers with car makers.

          Now that's a strawman.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Sheogorath (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 11:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

            On average, web page load time is 150% longer than in the US, despite greater population density and half the traffic volume.
            The above statement clearly shows your obvious confusion. Care to restate? You know, being that pages load within three seconds on my Android, never mind landlines.
            All the competitors are connected to BT's switches except Virgin, so they're just reselling the same service.
            FTFY. You see, 'connected to' isn't the same as 'subsidiary of', so all of the true competitors I listed above are free to sell the same service for less money, which is why they're the competition. Now, are you gonna finally admit when you're just plain wrong, or are you gonna keep arguing with someone who has multiple cognitive disabilities and is still smarter than you?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2014 @ 5:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

            According to the link I posted in the URL section of this comment, if I were to live in Newcastle, UK (which is 3 hours and 27 minutes north of London) I can get the following pick of non-capped broadband providers of which I only listed once each based on the highest speed offered by said providers.

            152 Mbps - Virgin

            76 Mbps - TalkTalk, PlusNet, BT, EE Fiber

            38 Mbps - Direct Save Telecom, Sky Fiber, Zen Broadband.

            17 Mbps - More then I care to count

            The population of the Newcastle metro area is 1.65 million. The metro population of my market, Atlanta, is over 5 million. Here are my options

            105 Mbps - Xfinity Comcast (I currently have 50 Mbps with a 300GB 'data threshold')

            18 Mbps - AT&T Uverse

            12 Mbps DSL - Earthlink, Verizon, Frontier, Century Link, Hughes

            All my options are capped and pretty much double the price of everything offered in good old Newcastle.

            Of course my personal favorite
            Comcast 105 Mbps (300GB data threshold) - $89.99 per Month
            Virgin 152 Mbps (uncapped) - $38.57 per month (yes in USD)

            Number of providers over 18Mbps
            Atlanta - 2
            Newcastle -8

            Just in case the link doesn't post here is the one I used to find the speeds and prices for the UK.
            http://www.broadband.co.uk/checker/postcode:NE7+7FJ/sort:speed/direction:desc/limit:60/

            Good day sir.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              DirkXXVI (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 5:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

              Side Note: Forgot to sign in when I wrote it but the above price comparison was written by me.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Richard Bennett (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 5:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

              First, those are advertised speeds, not actual ones. In the UK, there's a large gap between advertised and actual, but in the US there isn't. The SamKnows tests commissioned by Ofcom and the FCC prove this.

              Second, you're comparing one city to one city, which only has meaning for those two cities. If you want to compare policy models, you need to look at the databases for entire countries, such as Akamai and Cisco.

              Third, you may or may not have caps in the UK, but in either case the amount of data transferred by the typical UK user is less than half the volume the typical American transfers. This reduces ISP cost in the UK.

              Fourth, UK cities are more densely populated than US cities, so the costs of providing service are lower still in the UK.

              The bottom line is that more Americans have access to speeds greater than 25 Mbps than do Britons, as a percentage of population. And yes, Americans do pay more for higher speeds, but that's largely because we can get them without building our own networks as they must do in rural Britain.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                DirkXXVI (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 6:11pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

                You are banking on a lot of 'if' factors to justify the fact that a random town in the UK has 8 viable high speed broadband providers while I'm stuck with 2 in a major affluent market if I go with 18Mbps being the standard for high speed broadband instead of 25Mbps.

                Honestly it seems pretty far fetched that even on a bad day Virgins 152Mbps service would loose out to Comcast's 105Mbps (who is also very prone to 'bad days') or that 76Mbps would loose out to the 50Mbps service I get from Comcast (once again prone to bad days).

                Finally I'm going to have to ask for the data usage statistics that require that data caps be practically mandatory stateside while completely unnecessary in the UK due to differences in average data consumption.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Richard Bennett (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 9:25pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

                  All the data you should have if you want to argue broadband policy is here: http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/G7-Broadband-Dynamics-Final.pdf

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    DirkXXVI (profile), 11 Dec 2014 @ 8:16am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

                    Richard forgive me for not reading the report cover to cover but I am unable to locate data usage stats on wired broadband beyond a reference to Cisco estimate ratios and a projected growth graph, that somehow justifies data caps on wired broadband. A quick ctrl+f found 5 mentions of data usage and 1 mention of data cap. Not even considering the fact that short of mobile data like pricing, aggregate data caps have been found a most ineffective form of network management. Not unlike using antibiotics to treat a cold.

                    Other parts seem to rely on using the pedestrian 4Mbps broadband standard to boost feel good wired US metrics, particularly for adoption rates.

                    The closest I found was mobile data usage which per your report between the US and UK certainly wasn't anything to write home about (1.8 vs 1.4 GB). Though much more substantial once you go towards the Germany, France portion of the graph which once again focuses on mobile data. In fact a significant portion of favorable statements in regards to US broadband focus heavily on mobile. Which would be encouraging if mobile was a viable candidate to replace wired connections in the near future but the laws of quantum physics is proving to be quite an opponent for such a crusade.

                    Most of all though your organization AEI seems to have a credibility problem. You've declared yourselves nonpartisan yet looking at your front page suggest an organization that is anything but. Honestly I had never heard or looked into your group specifically until today but your headlines from 2012 means I can't claim to not be familiar with your work. I could certainly respect right leaning but most definitely not nonpartisan.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Richard Bennett (profile), 11 Dec 2014 @ 4:09pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

                      AEi is America's second oldest public policy think tank, founded 76 years ago. It might be wise to expand your reading circle a bit.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DirkXXVI (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

        Where to begin. Well perhaps we should start with the fact that a cable company exec is calling anyone out on chronic underinvestment. A figure that has fallen by an average of 5 billion per year per the NCTAs own data in the face of rising revenue and profits. Basically piggybacking off the lesser known telecom companies who have built extensive fiber networks for B2B use with the exception of maybe AT&T who also does a decent bit of work on the non residential side.

        As for Europe there are more then enough stories out particularly those from wide eyes Americans shocked at how they were able to buy uncapped high speed internet from various providers at a fraction of what we pay stateside. Even more saddening when you see more of those stories coming from the former Soviet Bloc with each passing day.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Richard Bennett (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 10:43am

          Re: Re: Re: TWC: Pot calling the kettle black

          There are lots of stories about this town and that county and this little country, but they don't add up to an actual analysis.

          There's also no reason to be sad about the fact that some former Soviet bloc nations who never had cable or even decent telephone networks are finally getting their act together and installing some modern networks that use fiber, as everyone does in new networks today. But if you look closely you'll find the each of these networks is fast when it's brand new and has few users, but gets progressively slower as more people sign up and begin to actually use it. The quarterly Akamai measurements show this pattern in spades.

          You're basically whining about US broadband because you're been wound up by blogs going after clicks with alarming headlines.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    edinjapan (profile), 10 Dec 2014 @ 7:13pm

    Can the BS

    Let's cut through all the BS and get down to what is really going to happen. The big ISPs, cable companies and other net providers are going to win. They will get what they want, when they want it despite what Mikey & Co are saying. It's going to be just like Ferguson or Staten Island-with only one difference, the corpse lying on the ground won't be that of some kid of an overly profiled racial group. No, in this case it will be Techdirt or the EFF's dead, cold body lying there. But, that's OK. No worries. The US is a capitalistic company where large monolithic companies are allowed to thrive.

    Those large monolithic companies would never do anything to hurt their customers, right?

    This is America, the authorities would never condone this right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.