As ISPs Push Harder On Usage Caps, House Pushes Bill Preventing The FCC From Doing Anything About It

from the stripping-the-fcc-of-its-power-to-protect-consumers dept

In recent weeks, we've noted how ISPs are now moving beyond broadband usage caps and overage fees, and have begun charging users a $30-$35 premium if they want to avoid usage caps entirely. While the industry often dresses this up as everything from "improved flexibility and choice" to something necessary for the sake of fairness, it is, quite simply, an aggressive rate hike on uncompetitive markets. Users are being socked with dramatic new limits and fees -- simply because most have no real competitors to flee to.

Entirely uncoincidentally, the House is now pushing for new legislation that would hamstring the FCC's ability to regulate broadband rates. The "No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act" (pdf) is set to be debated this week in Congress, and would, according to a press release by the Energy and Commerce Committee, prevent the FCC from regulating rates charged for broadband Internet, "just as the administration promised when they reclassified access to the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act."

Except according to a Medium post by attorney Harold Feld, the bill tries to use a special definition of "rate regulation" to ban the FCC from, well, doing much of anything:
"H.R. 2666’s language would protect broadband providers from any “review” or “enforcement” of their prices, and prevent the FCC from even “declaring” — let alone addressing — any broadband prices or fees as even “unreasonable.” To make this even more clear, the bill prohibits the FCC from reviewing any prices, fees, or overages “regardless of any other provision of law.” That goes way beyond the FCC’s traditional rate setting authority. “Any other provision of law” includes the FCC’s mandate to promote competition and its consumer protection authority."
So basically, the House, at the behest of large ISPs, is looking to further neuter the FCC. Not only so it can't protect consumers from usage caps and price gouging, but to try and derail the FCC's plan to expand consumer broadband privacy protections, or say, open up the cable set top box to additional competition.

It should probably be reiterated that while the FCC says it does have the authority to regulate some rates under Title II and its net neutrality rules (preventing "paid prioritization," for example), the agency so far has shown no interest in really doing so. Whether it's a $300 million national broadband map that fails to show broadband prices (at industry behest), to the agency's continued blind eye to hidden fees, usage caps and zero rating, the FCC has made it abundantly clear that it finds a large amount of the broadband industry's current price gouging just "creative experimentation."

But while the FCC hasn't done much about broadband prices directly, it has tried to shore up competition in the market so prices drop organically, including support for municipal broadband. Between this, the agency's push for privacy rules, and net neutrality, the House has made it abundantly clear it plans to punish the FCC for standing up to giant ISPs like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. As such, if it isn't a series of pointless, FCC "fact finding" hearings, it's yet another bill like this one that aims to tie the FCC's arms securely behind its back.

As it stands, there remain just two serious ways to roll back net neutrality and the FCC's decision to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II: win the election and gut the FCC and its decision, or win the ongoing lawsuits against the FCC (a ruling on that front is expected soon). The House likely knows this, but is apparently keen to try and earn its telecom campaign contributions by putting on one hell of a taxpayer-funded show.

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 5:14am

    Damn it. How many times must I say this: The FCC does not and can not protect consumers from broadband pricing. The FCC can only regulate the industry infrastructure.

    This being said, what's more important is this: To protect consumers from unfair pricing (gouging, fixing) is the sole responsibility of the FTC, which can and does levy fines against industries for worst consumer practices.

    While the letters are very similar, the departments are very different.

    Even if the bill should become law, the FCC really has no authority anyway, so this bill is pointless to protect ISP business.

    Now, if only the damn FTC would get off its fat, lazy ass can the industry be slapped with enough fines as to stop harassing customer wallets, then things may change.

    Until then, all this is nothing but pointless rhetoric from both sides. The FTC reclassifies, and nothing changes.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 6:38am

      Re:

      The FTC have already said they don't care. This, given Verishit's arguments against the FCC over Title II, the FCC have a legal mandate to pursue this.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 6:44am

      Re:

      "To protect consumers from unfair pricing (gouging, fixing) is the sole responsibility of the FTC, which can and does levy fines against industries for worst consumer practices."

      Except for those of the broadband industry.

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      • icon
        Karl Bode (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 9:45am

        Re: Re:

        They never take action on broadband pricing or false advertising. Which is why you'll see ISPs consistently crow about how this sort of thing should be left to the FCC. But as the FCC has noted they do have some rate regulation authority under Title II.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 6:37am

    "House Pushes Bill Preventing The FCC From Doing Anything About It"

    The House can not find their way out of a wet paper bag.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 6:51am

      Re:

      Oh don't underestimate them, when it comes to protecting and serving their 'patrons' they can put aside all sorts of stuff and work together just long enough to do so. It's only when it comes time to protect and serve the public that they bicker and act like children.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re:

        Exactly, money talks and the BullShit congress walks.

        The system is thoroughly corrupt, and far too many citizens are just like the one you replied too have nothing to say or do other than cute little "wet paper bag" quips.

        We can fix the corruption, but there seems to be too little manpower & a wealth of ignorance, with most more interested in their version of social justice being dispensed at the hands of the federal government while dismissing the corruption that will never allow that justice to properly form to begin with.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 11:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          1) and what exactly are you doing about it - other than bitching about what other people are not doing

          2) how has what you do improved things for yourself and others

          3) what do you plan on doing about things in the future

          4) do you ever have anything else to contribute other than how screwed up everyone else is

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 6:57am

    Perhaps the FTC could look at the ISP's extortionary tactics.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:00am

    wonder how much bribe money it takes to make someone forswear on their oaths.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:17am

    Eating My Popcorn

    Keep running to the FCC's defense folks. The original problem will not be changing.

    FCC caused the problem to begin with and against we are trying to use the same tool that caused these problems to fix them. Sure Wheeler seems to be trying to do something about it, but his new rules stink just as bad or worse than the old rules... and as soon as Wheeler can be replaced with another shill for the industries, then his new rules will make it all that much worse arming the next turd with even more power to regulate an already corrupt sector.

    I tire of sitting here watching the lot of you and how none of you ever "get it". The FCC is not your friend, never has and never will. I sit here and watch regulation continue to destroy the market and people just keep asking for more regulation despite it.

    How about we stop the regulating, and start the age of anti-trust and anti-monopoly law? The only thing regulation does is take the power away from the people and give it to the government. Regulation and Free Markets are mutually exclusive!

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:34am

      Re: Eating My Popcorn

      "How about we stop the regulating, and start the age of anti-trust and anti-monopoly law? The only thing regulation does is take the power away from the people and give it to the government."

      Erm, how are you planning to enforce antitrust and anti-monopoly law without involving the government?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:46am

        Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

        I did not say don't involve the government.

        What I am saying is provide government with a completely "different" set of tools.

        Regulation is pretty much handing it all over the government saying here... solve the problem for us. Sure they are happy to do that, but that just means we get all of the lobbyist corruption so many people calling for regulation like to bitch about. Do we want money out of politics? You bet, will allowing the government to regulate things help? Hell no!

        We need to do is give them Anti-Trust and Anti-Monopoly tools instead. This provides 2 benefits.

        #1. Allows the free market to have a choice again. Right now The FCC sanctions and assists the Telco's little mini monopoly campaign. Most people have only 1 realistic choice and sometimes 1 subpar alternative as their provider. There is zero free market it in this period!


        #2. Allows the government the power to help the public sector when the free market fails due to a monopoly having been created.

        In all cases regulation fails, there is not a single piece of regulation you can show me from any government anywhere on the planet is not corrupt!

        regulation = we trust government

        No citizen, anywhere or ever, should trust government! We need government to enforce laws on behalf of the citizens not regulate!

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        • icon
          Jeremy Lyman (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

          Trouble is that the Free Market fails in situations where Natural Monopolies arise. Splitting a big company into smaller companies won't make installing duplicate infrastructure cheaper. We need to let many companies use the same infrastructure, which requires regulation. Remember when you couldn't choose a long distance telephone provider?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

            Yea I agree, a free market definitely has a monopoly problem, but that is why we should have strong anti monopoly laws.

            Regulation seems to just create monopolies because the government gets to pick winners and losers then.

            So no to regulation & yes to strong anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws!

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            • icon
              Jeremy Lyman (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 10:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

              Regulation seems to just create monopolies because the government gets to pick winners and losers then.
              I disagree with the causation here, in my opinion regulation acknowledges when monopoly exists and seeks to keep it from harming consumers. There already is a winner, and he's keeping any competition from entering the market. This is important in cases where breaking a monopoly up isn't feasible. ISP regulation is broken, so think about how this works in other Natural Monopoly utility industries like water or power.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 12:19pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

                You can disagree all you want about the causation. History is clear, you ignore this at your own and your fellow citizens peril!

                People that somehow believe that Government Regulation is the answer live in some fantasy world where they refuse to understand that it is their neighbors that work for an run the government. Do you go to your neighbor to have them tell you what you should and should not do with your business decisions, then why in the hell do you ask the government to do it for you?

                Asking for regulation is the same as saying, I cannot be bothered to think and judge for myself in a free market, please take my liberty away and tell me who is best fit to take my money and dictate what I do or do not get to have!

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                • icon
                  Jeremy Lyman (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 12:46pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

                  Actually, I'm much less comfortable imagining a government NOT run by the citizens it governs. I do think there's such a thing as over-regulation or market situations which are harmed by regulation.

                  But it is not in areas with a single ISP; which I describe as a Natural Monopoly (I keep capitalizing it for a reason) in contrast to a Legal Monopoly. By definition these markets are not Free Markets and consumers do not have a choice. It's a prevalent failure of the Free Market which is commonly addressed by government regulation for the benefit of its people.

                  I'm not advocating the FCC set rates for ISP companies, but that rules be enacted that allow competing service providers access to customers. Much like how you'd choose an ISP back in the days of dial-up and the traffic would flow over the phone company's infrastructure.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 1:07pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

                    A "Natural Monopoly" is obviously a special case scenario. Bringing up exceptions are not good use as an argumentative deterrence to general rules or ideas.

                    There is a reason we have Title II and likely why the ISP's should be there. There is no reason to run things like power lines, phone lines, roads, and water through government.

                    Infrastructure should always be government controlled for the obvious reasons, but there is no reason for government to regulate that access by private citizens through business rules like we do with the FCC and ISP's. We have towns where access is regulated to the point where the entity being "allowed" to provide that access is what keeps Google Fiber from happening for example. We don't need this kind of regulation of any kind, at any time, in any time period, for any reason!

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 1:09pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

                      I messed up paragraph two.

                      government should regulate infrastructure, what I meant to say is that we should not run a power-line to every house and business for each private business offering power.

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                      • icon
                        Jeremy Lyman (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 2:07pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

                        We have an accord! Sure, I'd love it if we ran the infrastructure like we do public roads. Unfortunately few local governments had the foresight to build municipal networks before big-telecom came through. I just assume a large number of people will have an issue with any level of government seizing infrastructure assets towards that end. If you can figure out a way to make it happen I'm all ears.

                        Proposing we regulate or unbundle that last mile of connection is my compromise saying "okay we won't just take all your stuff, but you can't run it any old way you want". Though I'm worried neither will happen and we'll eventually have to physically replace every cable with public utility.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 8:05am

          Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

          And how exactly do Anti-Trust laws remove lobbying/money from politics? All it does is shift the money from "which regulations should exist and how are they enforced?" to "what is the definition of a monopoly and how is a monopoly broken up?"

          And of course it leaves open other issues, like dumping poisons into nearby rivers.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 8:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

            You are confusing regulation with illegal behaviors.

            We can make a law that says, do not dump anything not classified as environmentally safe or someone gets their ass put in a sling.

            Right now regulation just has the government at the local, state, and federal levels giving people a bunch of hard to understand and often competing or contradictory rules to follow. Just ask the farmers in cali the shit/rules they have to deal with over the water problems.

            Further more anti-trust and anti-monopoly are there to break apart big businesses... you know too big to fail and all? And yes, shifting that money is a part of the solution. Sure, it can be abused by someone paying off the government to not enforce law, but it does make it more difficult for the government to ignore because if the only thing the government can do is break up companies then a clear case can be made that they are not doing jack shit about the problem when a company is not broken up. Right now they do jack shit but get to claim they are doing a whole lot by fucking around with regulatory paper work.

            I can sit here and type up regulations all day acting like I am doing something without doing a damn thing all day too!

            Regulation is government's universal excuse for doing nothing or giving the bribers everything they want while suckering the foolish plebs into thinking they are working on their behalf.

            How many times do we need to be stabbed in the back by government only to wake up and see businesses holding vials of our blood before we figure this one out?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 9:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

              You are confusing regulation with illegal behaviors.

              Regulations are simply a list of illegal behaviors. Yes, they are an excessively complicated, often contradictory and generally useless list, but that doesn't change what they are, only their effectiveness. When you introduce regulations concerning the derivatives exposure of major banks, you are simply stating that any derivatives exposure outside these rules is illegal. When you introduce regulations concerning net neutrality, you are saying that throttling connections to specific services is illegal. Dumping poison into rivers is a regulated activity where the regulations say "this is how you dispose of this substance, doing it any other way is illegal."

              if the only thing the government can do is break up companies then a clear case can be made that they are not doing jack shit about the problem when a company is not broken up.

              Of course, they can always break up the company by taking all the monopoly creating departments and placing them in company A, and all the non-monopoly creating departments and placing them in companies B,C, and D. There, we have now broken up the company into 4 parts, while retaining the original monopoly.
              And that, of course, doesn't take into account the issue of collusion. Breaking up the company doesn't matter if all the individual parts continue acting like they are one big company.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 12:38pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

                Yes, one can draw a parallel between regulation and laws because they have the same effect, but they are not the same thing, otherwise they would not be called by different terms by the government.

                I think every mentally functional human being can pick up a dictionary and figure it out so there is no reason to split hairs in this way.

                Federal Government needs to get out of the way of regulating things, and just make anti-trust law, anti-monopoly law, and criminal law only.

                The entire reason for creating regulation and then imposing civil fines for breaking them is to turn the entire economy into a pay to play arena where they can make back room deals, impose arbitrary fines which are nothing more than implements to fool the ignorant onlookers, and prevent new agents from entering the market so that the already established oligarchy will be difficult to disrupt.

                Regulation will only ever end in one single result every time. CORRUPTION! Supporting regulation that does not carry 100% criminal penalties means you are just fine with letting corruption rule your financial future.

                You cannot even create a lemonade stand in your front yard or drive to work without breaking one regulation or another. It has always been about power and making sure that power is entrenched!

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 6:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

                  Supporting regulation that does not carry 100% criminal penalties means you are just fine with letting corruption rule your financial future.

                  Criminal penalties for who? DuPont's Richmond location has something like 2000 employees. If they are caught dumping something that is "illegal" to dump, who is going to jail? I'm sure in that operation, you could easily find 500 people who knew about the dumping, and most of the rest would have suspected. There are probably 50 or so that had directly dumped it, at least 100 in EH&S who were responsible for that kind of thing, and at least another 20 that were managers responsible for the 50 who dumped it. Then you have regional, national and international headquarters, the board of directors, etc. It wouldn't be hard to get to 1-2% of the total number of prisoners in Virginia just from this example.

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        • icon
          nasch (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 1:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

          Why do you trust the government to enforce laws more than you trust it to enforce regulations?

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 11:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

          "I did not say don't involve the government"

          No, you decried the act of giving power to government. Which is exactly what enforcing laws consists of. So, you whined about regulation giving power to government, while calling for enforcing other laws by... giving power to government.

          Do you not see how silly you sounded?

          "Regulation is pretty much handing it all over the government saying here... solve the problem for us."

          So is the act of passing and enforcing laws.

          "regulation = we trust government"

          laws = we trust government

          "No citizen, anywhere or ever, should trust government! We need government to enforce laws on behalf of the citizens not regulate!"

          No citizen should trust government, we need government to enforce laws upon us? WTF?

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Apr 2016 @ 5:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

            Indeed, Paul. Regulations ARE laws. AC is splitting hairs.

            RE: lemonade stands, someone somewhere wanted them banned. He needs to find out why instead of moaning about it. As one of the commenters here pointed out recently, laws are created to solve problems caused by certain people's behaviour. If the lemonade stand was obstructing a public path or people were getting sick after drinking it, there's the answer.

            Government is ultimately responsible to the people, AC, whether they are willing to exercise their authority or not. And let's face it, we're not very good at holding our representatives to account. We need to get better at it. Voter responsibility does not end when the polls close.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 13 Apr 2016 @ 6:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

              "Indeed, Paul. Regulations ARE laws. AC is splitting hairs"

              ...and nowhere to be seen after I pointed out that government was involved either way. Funny, that.

              I welcome sane discussions on the limits of government, but the one who loudly scream "no government" tend to be the ones with a tenuous grasp on the reality of what government actually does.

              "RE: lemonade stands, someone somewhere wanted them banned. He needs to find out why instead of moaning about it"

              I suspect he's either thinking of a specific incident, or parroting an urban myth. Without knowing which incident he's referring to, it's pointless to even argue as it's impossible to gather any facts.

              If he's not thinking of urban myth, I think these stories are just as often a problem with a private organisation's rules (such as an HOA) as they are with any public body. Even if the government's involved, it will be a very local issue, which has exactly zero to do with the kind of federal oversight in the issue being discussed.

              So, not just an incomplete anecdote but one that fails to work as an example of what he's complaining about even if it can be verified.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:48am

        Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

        Trickle-down politics I'm sure.

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    • identicon
      Brandon Rinebold, 12 Apr 2016 @ 6:47pm

      Re: Eating My Popcorn

      There isn't and never has been a broadband market in the US. There also never will be a broadband market unless you want to give everyone carte blanche to dig up your street every month to install lines for a new ISP.

      These are things that literally cannot exist without eminent domain claims to put up poles, dig trenches, etc. There is no free market which could possibly produce the national telephone system or Internet. Local communications networks are a maybe but spanning any significant distance is no more possible for telecomms than it was for interconnected national rail lines.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 8:24pm

        Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

        There also never will be a broadband market unless you want to give everyone carte blanche to dig up your street every month to install lines for a new ISP.

        The infrastructure part, no, but there absolutely could be a free market for service. Not any time soon of course, but other parts of the world do it.

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        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Apr 2016 @ 5:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Eating My Popcorn

          I'm with you, nasch. We need a more fair, more free, more open market in service provision with infrastructure treated as utilities. There's no reason why private enterprises can't bid for contracts to build and maintain the infrastructure.

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  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:21am

    Pick your battles

    I don't think we're going to stop them from price gouging or setting broadband caps if they want to. We should respond by:

    1) Killing zero-rating (You want to limit usage and effect a price hike? Fine but everything counts.)
    2) Regulating usage metering (So it's, you know, accurate.)
    3) Making them advertise the ACTUAL cost of their services (no more "we'd like to charge you more" fees)
    4) Busting open local-loop unbundling (We don't need more competition in infrastructure, just in service and pricing.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:37am

      Re: Pick your battles

      #1 what does zero-rating really mean? All that term means is that an ISP is not going to (directly) charge for something and they are all different! making it clear this is just a loosely defined term that has nothing to do with any real enforcement or regulation. It's really difficult to get rid of nebulous ideas like this because it can take on so many different forms, but heck... go ahead, because your call to get rid of it will be taken as a "go ahead and charge for everything". One way or another you will be either directly or indirectly paying, so why bitch about the avenue? It's like... non-sequitur and shit.

      #2 More regulation... that is what got us here to begin with, cheers, another one that still doesn't get it.

      #3 is really an FTC issue. Because that is a "Truth in Advertising" problem. Asking the FCC to get involved with this is okay, but the FCC should be working in the rear with the FTC directly up front to resolve it and not proposing fines to resolve but real actual hammering against the business, like threats to split the company if non-compliance continues.

      #4 was caused by the FCC to begin with. Until we change the shit loaded diaper that is Congress, which incidentally is helping to cock block this agency at the moment, we will be getting just exactly nowhere meaningful.

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      • icon
        Jeremy Lyman (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 8:05am

        Re: Re: Pick your battles

        Zero rating enables anti-competitive behavior, allowing them to raise competitors' prices. This wouldn't be necessary with actual competition, but it seems more likely than local-loop unbundling in the meantime.

        What's wrong with knowing that you get a gallon of gas when you pay for a gallon of gas? Or electricity, or water... If no one is making sure their metering is correct, posted prices mean nothing.

        Yes, the FCC isn't going to do everything we need done alone.

        This was caused by the transition of television providers into communications companies. They fought as hard as possible to avoid being classified as common carriers like other telecommunications providers, so as to avoid the thought that they might be forced to carry competitors' traffic.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Pick your battles

          Yep, I do agree that Zero-Rating is definitely just another name for anti-competition. I would just like an "official" definition to be "legally defined" and then placed on the rule books as being an anti-trust violation. Right now anyone can make it mean too many different things. Government and Nebulous goes down only way way... and no one likes it, well except the corrupt lobbyists.

          I am definitely for classifying ISP's as Title II's, but that does not necessarily fix all of the problems. The government corruption and regulation is problem #1 before anything else.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 9:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Pick your battles

            I agree that systemic corruption is, by orders of magnitude, the largest problem we have -- and that it directly impacts literally everything else.

            But fixing that corruption is something that will take a very long time, generations, if it's possible at all. In the meantime, we have to find a way to get on as best we can and work around as much of the corruption as possible.

            Title II classification and the empowerment of the FCC around it is, as you say, nothing remotely like a panacea. But it would help some amount, and there's no other avenue open right now.

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  • icon
    JBDragon (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:32am

    Normally I would say for the Government to stay out of it and let the free market work as it should, but in this case, we already have Government created Monopolies which put everyone into this mess, and now these company's are taking even more advantage of it. This whole CAP thing is just a scam to make more money. If you flee paying their TV service to just use Internet, now they'll get you on your internet. You're paying no matter what.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 8:17am

      Re:

      So glad I am not the only one seeing this.

      I don't think a free market exists anywhere in the US. Hell, I am not sure there even has been one for the telco's since before most of us were even born!

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Apr 2016 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re:

        There's no such thing as the free market because no one will allow it to exist. Think about it; when you've "arrived" and got settled in, the last thing you want now that you can make long-term plans is for some upstart to come in and unseat you. So you do the only thing you can do under the circumstances: put up fences wherever you can, cry "Respect mah propertay!", then sit back and wait for the rent to flow in.

        That the incumbents see the markets themselves as property that they can own and control is the problem.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 13 Apr 2016 @ 6:50am

          Re: Re: Re:


          That the incumbents see the markets themselves as property that they can own and control is the problem.


          I would say the problem is the governments helping them to do it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:46am

    Worrying about running out of data is an unnecessary burden on people's lives.

    Do people really look back to the days of dialup's limited minutes system and think "Boy, those sure were better times. I miss being able to run out of an arbitrary limit on my Internet connection!"?

    These cable companies need to be broken up. They wield too much power and influence than is good for the industry and consumers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 8:26am

    Industry breakup needed

    Just like the AT&T in the early 80's, break these custome gougers down and inflict true market competition. What they have now is a damned joke.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 9:56am

    Some ISPs here are pushing for data caps as well. Not coincidentally, the more vocal are the ones that include cable tv, phone, mobile and streaming in the same company. My ISP doesn't offer anything besides internet and VoIP. And, surprise, there are no caps nor any talks of adding caps.

    It's about time these mega ISPs feel in the flesh. They should be dismembered and forbidden from offering services that use their pipes.

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

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 10:35am

    Teddy the Trust Buster

    We need another Teddy Roosevelt. A true president of the people, not big business. Like Elliot Ness, an "Untouchable"

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:40pm

      Re: Teddy the Trust Buster

      so...Bernie?

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Apr 2016 @ 5:50am

        Re: Re: Teddy the Trust Buster

        Dog whistle identity politics ensures that's unlikely to happen but over here in the UK we always side with the underdog.

        While I don't agree with everything Senator Sanders says (he really needs to spend more time with Senator Wyden so he can understand tech issues better), he cares, and that matters. If he does win he's unlikely to get much done even if the Dems win every seat going in both Houses because they're not all Progressive. He would most likely bring in some change for the better but as I said the dog whistle identity politics thing you've got going on over there will get in the way of a lot of the things he would want to achieve. He'll meet about as much resistance as Obama gets now, but without the racism.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Apr 2016 @ 11:36am

    cAN i SUGGEST

    Its interesting..
    HOW much does the internet cost?
    REALLY..
    how much do they really need to keep things updated, peer to peer. NOT to homes, but to each segment of servers out there...
    The odds are, the Big companies dont OWN much of the server farms or infrastructure. They OWN/Control the ISP and 'to the home' connections.

    They dont OWN the server farms, the DATA POINTS that were wonder around..They are a Traffic cop.

    So, what are you paying for?
    Old obsolete tech thats being PUSHED to its Max to keep up with THEIR promises. They dont want to upgrade what they have, until its paid for, 1000 times over...
    WE pay more for the Boss's, and tech support(that cant do much) and a BUNCH of bill collectors...then we do for the services themselves.
    Do it this way..GOTO the ISP site, and look around. Do they link to services they have ON THE NET?? very little is there except adverts for TV and Phone services.

    They might as well be the power company...The power companies dont OWN much of the power generation facilities.. They just Collect/pay cheap prices, and OVER charge you, to get it to your house.. IT WAS CHEAP before they privatized it, and placed it on the stock market..

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 12:50pm

      Re: cAN i SUGGEST

      You are beginning to see what it is all about.

      There is a reason we do not....
      1. Develop technology to allow people to generate their own electricity.
      2. Develop technology and reclamation systems to gather, maintain and purify water.
      3. Develop farming and micro habitats that will allow people to easily manage and grow basic foods all over the planet instead of massive monolithic plots of farm land that are mush easier to fail BIG causing economic issues that reverberate around the world.

      We have the technology now to go far beyond our humanity, yet we refuse to do so because those in power know that power is lost went you have nothing to lord over peoples heads.

      Right now the general knowledge & tech is not quite ready for us to create our own citizen controlled network that can over throw the ISP's, but could be possible if we really wanted to.

      I am also not saying to dismantle the centralized Power, Water, Farming, and Technical infrastructure either, but we do need to have both Central and Decentralized resources operational at near equal levels so that we cannot be so easily controlled, harmed, or destroyed in a crisis!

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

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Apr 2016 @ 6:02am

        Re: Re: cAN i SUGGEST

        The term you're looking for is "mesh networking." There's not enough of it to supplant the ISPs but the possibility is here now.

        We've already got the other technologies and have had them for some time, it's just that, as you said, the authoritarians don't like us being able to do for ourselves despite their grand talk of rugged individuality.

        Just mention the term "Solar panels" in some places and watch the eyes pop out of rage-reddened faces as the Dog and Whistle brigade go nuts at you about climate change, you Commie, etc.

        Want to gather and purify water? In many states you're not allowed to capture rainwater. Think about that for a minute. A sustained campaign would sort that out but you need support.

        As for smallhold farming, I'm friendly with a woman who is treated like a terrorist for trying to be a modern day Laura Ingalls Wilder-type person being self-sufficient and stuff.

        We need to decentralise control over the power, water, farming, and technical infrastructure while permitting only as much centralisation as is needed to get things done on a large scale (where appropriate).

        ...we do need to have both Central and Decentralized resources operational at near equal levels so that we cannot be so easily controlled, harmed, or destroyed in a crisis!

        That's why I gave you an Insightful vote. Sorry I could only give you one.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2016 @ 7:41pm

      Re: cAN i SUGGEST

      They have to come up with the money to pay all those hard working electrons you know.

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

  • identicon
    mike, 12 Apr 2016 @ 4:41pm

    does anyone influential at an ISP read this?

    Do they not realize that they are hated for this shit?

    Do they not realize that they are evil?

    No sensible economist could approve of what internet providers are trying to do to the internet.

    It's straight up immoral.

    I've sought reasonable answers to why anyone would oppose net neutrality and there is nothing out there short of "oh well, fuck them, we own the fiber"

    It is fucking disgusting.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 13 Apr 2016 @ 6:45am

      Re: does anyone influential at an ISP read this?

      Do they not realize that they are hated for this shit?

      Pretty sure they know, they just don't care because they have no reason to. When you're the only source in an area for something that people need, you can do whatever you want to your customers and get away with it because they have no other choice, they either pay you or go without.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 13 Apr 2016 @ 9:44am

      Re: does anyone influential at an ISP read this?

      "Do they not realize that they are evil?"

      I honestly don't think they do. I suspect that they are True Believers in Absolute Capitalism, and so the only immoral or evil thing they could do is to allow potential profit to remain uncaptured.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 13 Apr 2016 @ 10:20am

        Re: Re: does anyone influential at an ISP read this?

        Amoral rather than immoral perhaps, not caring what they do, good or bad so long as it brings in the money?

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 13 Apr 2016 @ 1:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: does anyone influential at an ISP read this?

          I mean "immoral" according to their own moral codes. In that worldview, they are not immoral at all. "Moral" is maximizing profit. "Immoral" is minimizing profit. "Amoral" would be not caring about profit one way or the other, I suppose.

          I think that corporations do have a moral code, but it's a very simple one that is centered on profit-making. Given that we have decided to create artificial entities whose entire purpose is profit creation, it's hard to fault them for being so focused.

          What I think is a problem is that we are allowing these companies to operate far too freely and to have far too much power. If we're going to pretend they're people, as they seem to want so badly, then we need to acknowledge that they are dangerous sociopaths.

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


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