Net Neutrality Rules Are Already Forcing Companies To Play Fair, And The Giant ISPs Absolutely Hate It

from the please-stop-doing-your-job dept

The FCC's net neutrality rules don't even go into effect until June 12, but they're already benefiting consumers. You'll recall that the last year or so has been filled with ugly squabbling over interconnection issues, with Level 3 accusing ISPs like Verizon of letting peering points congest to kill settlement-free peering and drive Netflix toward paying for direct interconnection. But with Level 3 and Cogent hinting they'd be using the FCC's new complaint process to file grievances about anti-competitive behavior, magically Verizon has now quickly struck deals with Level 3 and Cogent that everybody on board appears to be happy with.

And it's not just Verizon; Level 3 also quickly managed to strike a new interconnection deal with AT&T, and Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer recently proclaimed Comcast has also become suddenly more amicable of late, turning on ports for capacity quickly and when needed. Comcast, like AT&T and Verizon, has also suddenly announced a new interconnection deal with Level 3 Comcast says it was "delighted" to sign.

That players in the transit and ISP space are suddenly getting along so wonderfully when ISPs insisted net neutrality rules would result in the destruction of the Internet is nothing short of miraculous. It's almost as if the FCC's new net neutrality rules are already benefiting consumers, companies and a healthy internet alike!

Obviously the threat of having a regulator that actually polices anti-competitive behavior instead of playing deaf, dumb, and blind is going to require an adjustment period for everyone involved. Still, despite evidence the FCC's neutrality rules are working as an anti-competitive deterrent, carriers are still busy claiming the agency is causing "irreparable harm" on the interconnection front. From a joint filing (pdf) from all the major ISP trade groups, including USTelecom, the NCTA and the CTIA:
"Until now, a variety of voluntarily negotiated, individualized arrangements have been used to exchange traffic between networks. But, under the Order, these arrangements are now part of the “telecommunications service” that broadband Internet access providers offer their retail customers, and thus broadband providers—but not their interconnecting counter-parties—are subject to the requirements of Title II. Yet again, however, the FCC did not explain what that means or how broadband providers must act."
While the FCC's rules on interconnection are a bit vague, the agency has made it clear they'll be looking at complaints on a "case by case basis" to ensure deals are "just and reasonable." Since this is new territory, the FCC thought this would be wiser than penning draconian rules that either overreach or contain too many loopholes. This ambiguity obviously has ISPs erring on the side of caution when it comes to bad behavior, which is likely precisely what the FCC intended. Still, companies with a generation of history at being bullies complain this ambiguity lets others...bully them:
"Providers are thus left to negotiate contracts subject to sweeping statutory mandates without knowing what decisions could lead to enforcement action. Already, providers face demands for significant changes to interconnection agreements. The parties making those demands are threatening to file enforcement actions if their demands are not met. This distortion in what had been a well-functioning private negotiation process is irreparable harm."
And by "well functioning private negotiation process," the ISPs clearly mean one in which they were able to hold their massive customer bases hostage in order to strong arm companies like Netflix into paying direct interconnection fees. One in which regulators were seen but not heard, while giant monopolies and duopolies abused the lack of last mile competition. Yes, the FCC's actions have been so brutish and aggressive, they've resulted in a cease fire across the interconnection front to the benefit of video customers and internet users everywhere. Will the nightmare ever end?

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  • identicon
    JD, 21 May 2015 @ 6:25am

    Sauce for the goose ...

    The ISPs are probably just terrified that the FCC will treat them the way those ISPs treat their own customers.

    "I understand you're upset. We'll send out an FCC staffer to talk to your lawyers and sort everything out."
    "Oh thank god."
    "They'll be there between 8am and 6pm either Tuesday the 17th or Wednesday the 20th."
    "But ... those aren't ..."
    "Thank you, have a good day. ::click::"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2015 @ 6:50am

    "...without knowing..."

    "...what decisions could lead to enforcement action."

    Read as: "Not knowing what kind of asshattery we can pull with loophole arguments pre-vetted by our corporate lawyers."

    It's terrifying to recognize you're going to be reviewed by real people for complaints that you've been an asshat, and, even worse, that your bad acts may lead to precedent-setting, formal declarations canonized as regulations that prevent you and all other providers from being asshats in some particular fashion without threat of sanctions and penalties. Sucks to be you...finally.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 May 2015 @ 7:11am

    As you already noted before the new rules are only bad news for the companies that are already misbehaving and abusing their dominant position. So what's the only solution in the short term? If not to cease the bad behavior, then just decrease it while you survey the new waters you are sailing into. If the FCC keeps moving ahead in its newly pro-consumer stance then we'll see things get better and better over time with a few interventions where the major players will intentionally slip to test the new waters.

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

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 21 May 2015 @ 7:44am

    Whats in the water

    Here is hoping those waters contain any or all of the following : piranhas sharks laser - sharks kraken cthulhu.
    What I am afraid will be in the waters : puffers clown fish and chum.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2015 @ 7:47am

    "playing nice" or dancing on its grave?

    The carriers are just going to fork OSI layer 3 completely, ally with software vendors to sell you value added Internet services.

    Pretty much a return to the AOL model. In which case there will be no Internet, because everything will be VPN'd back to switches owned by the OS vendors where they can MIM and throttle your traffic with abandon.

    Network Neutrality regs don't apply in that model because the capacity isn't sold to the user, it's sold to the value added service vendor.

    Maybe I'm wrong? But you might want to check to see if your computer was auto-updated with a fully configured IPv6 VPN without your consent before you decide to disregard my conclusion.

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 21 May 2015 @ 10:24am

      Re: "playing nice" or dancing on its grave?

      My computer? Yeah it looks like I am running IPv4. both from the outside (google thinks i have an IPv4 address) and the inside (my computer and router are working IPv4, and have no IPv6 access). I mean if you had suggested a IPv4 VPN, maybe I might have been concerned, but too few ISPs even have IPv6 equipment, and have been dodging that upgrade for a decade.

      Also, for your model to work, Id need to sign up with a Value added service vendor rather than my current ISP, I need to sign up for a plan that doesn't rate capacity, that vendor needs to somehow not be defined as an ISP by the FCC, And then that value added service provider needs to commit corporate seppuku by doing what ISPs have recognized is a bad idea, directly and obviously violate one of the 3 bright line tests. If ISPs really decided to only sell to VASPs, and require us to get the internet from those VASPs, either its going to be a competitive game, or a monopolistic one. If its a monopolistic one, the current FCC is unlikely to let that ride. If its a competitive one, someone is going to one up their competition by not violating the 3 'bright line' tests, and suddenly the entire dodge net neutrality game.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2015 @ 8:08am

    Plenty of capacity

    It's not as if we are running out of fiber in the US. There is a lot of dark fiber which has been installed, because it makes sense to put in the extra capacity when a road is torn up. Open up the dark fiber.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2015 @ 8:55am

      Re: Plenty of capacity

      Maybe for trunks but certainly not "last mile". There are still folks that have NO fiber to their premise and others whose fiber is a shared resource.

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

      • icon
        Kionae (profile), 21 May 2015 @ 2:56pm

        Re: Re: Plenty of capacity

        Can vouch for that. My city has been building out fiber all over town for about two years now, but very few homes are actually connected to it, and the waiting list is a mile long (It doesn't help that the people in charge of it won't even build out a neighborhood until it has at least a 50% commitment from residents).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2015 @ 8:49am

    Maybe ...

    ...they're all just playing nice right now so they can point to the pre-regulatory period as one in which everyone worked happily together.

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

  • identicon
    Bengie, 21 May 2015 @ 9:41am

    Nothing to fear

    If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. Classical government.

    This is meant to be funny and is slightly taken out of the normal context. I really mean it this time, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. aka, don't be a jerk.

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

  • icon
    Lord_Unseen (profile), 21 May 2015 @ 9:55am

    One weird trick for net-neutrality!

    ISPs hate him!

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

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 21 May 2015 @ 2:32pm

    Of course they are being "nice" now and no doubt sacrificing 486 DX2 66 computers and dial-up modems to the gods in the hope that a republican will become the next president so their lobbyists can "help" him change the rules back in their favour.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2015 @ 4:05pm

      Re:

      You mean the party thats slowly being poisoned to death by the tea party and is known for nothing but stalling anything it can get its congressional hands on recently?

      Good luck with that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2015 @ 11:58pm

    It's nice to hear some good news for a change!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2015 @ 4:44pm

    Re: "playing nice" or dancing on its grave?

    "I'd have to sign up"

    Nope.

    Toredo IPV6 runs over IPV4 until it gets to the value added service provider in the carriers network. IOW, it totally bypasses your LAN and your firewall configuration unless you've specifically configured your firewall to detect it. Apparently the whole X-box network is configured to work this way, and now they are porting it the PC's.

    The protocol and configuration is installed via auto-update, and related policy will just be be amended to your OS EULA. Microsoft has installed unrequested (and often unwanted) applications without explicit consent for decades.

    Unless you've disabled auto updates, or IPV6 you will likely have the IPV6 stack installed, toredo VPN installed, and very possibly a fully configured interface that allows your computer to be accessed at layer 3 from outside the firewall by your OS vendor. Check it out:

    Start -> (type) cmd
    ipconfig /all

    If there is any question in your mind that this isn't going to be used to EEE the protocol stack, you haven't been paying attention.

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

  • identicon
    Cebu Tours, 13 Jun 2015 @ 1:22am

    Can vouch for that.

    Can vouch for that. My city has been building out fiber all over town for about two years now, but very few homes are actually connected to it, and the waiting list is a mile long (It doesn't help that the people in charge of it won't even build out a neighborhood until it has at least a 50% commitment from residents).

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


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