Outgoing FCC Boss Reminds Trump Supporters That Net Neutrality Is Good For Them, Too

from the burning-your-own-house-down dept

We've repeatedly noted how the idea of a healthy and open internet, free from the meddling of incumbent giants like Comcast, is a good thing. We've also noted that until we bring some real competition to bear on the broadband sector, the FCC's inconsistent protection is about the only thing separating you from a hearty "servicing" from Comcast corporation (whether that's usage caps or abysmal service). As such, the nation's net neutrality rules (which are really quite basic and if anything didn't go far enough) have broad, bipartisan support, and holding Comcast accountable is a bipartisan, very popular idea.

And while Trump's Presidential campaign endlessly promised Trump would focus on bringing power back to the people, Trump's new FCC boss Ajit Pai -- a former Verizon lawyer -- effectively represents the complete opposite of that. He's yet to seriously stand up to Comcast or any other ISP, adores media consolidation, wants to kill net neutrality, is incapable of admitting the broadband market lacks competition, and has promised to dismantle the FCC's consumer watchdog functions solely at AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Charter's behest.

On his way out of office, former FCC boss Tom Wheeler had a message for Trump supporters: you need net neutrality protections and healthy broadband competition too.

"The Trump administration campaigned that they are the voice of the forgotten," Wheeler said in a phone interview with Ars yesterday. "Well you know, the half-dozen major carriers [lobbying against FCC regulations] are hardly forgotten."

The people who are forgotten are the "two-thirds of consumers in America who have one or fewer broadband choices," Wheeler said. "Where are those choices most limited? In the areas where Donald Trump got the strongest response, in rural areas, outside of major cities. If indeed this is an administration that is speaking for those that feel disenfranchised, that representation has to start with saying, 'we need to make sure you have a fast, fair, and open Internet because otherwise you will not be able to connect to the 21st century.'"

In many of these states, convincing people to vote against their own best interests has become an art form. Like in Tennessee, where Representative Marsha Blackburn has allowed companies like Comcast to write horrible laws protecting giant corporations from public accountability (the end result for the consumer should be obvious). Again: improving broadband networks shouldn't be partisan. Ensuring that these networks remain healthy and open shouldn't be partisan. Keeping Comcast from destroying level competitive playing fields should not be partisan. Yet here we are.

For his part, Wheeler responded to indications that the incoming administration intends to kill net neutrality and neuter the FCC with sadness and alarm:

"I think it would be tragic," Wheeler said of taking away the FCC's competition and consumer protection authority. "This is tragic for the American consumer and the competitive marketplace."

"We’re talking about a handful of companies who are lobbying for their own self-interest, and trying to say to the new commission, 'you need to listen to us, not to consumers, not to a competitive marketplace, not to those who could be affected by a network where we act as gatekeepers,'" Wheeler said. "And if they are successful, that will put in jeopardy tens of thousands of other companies that rely on open networks and millions of consumers."

Historically, most FCC bosses paid empty lip service to the competition problem in the broadband sector. Many, like former FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist Michael Powell, went comically out of their way to pretend the market was perfectly healthy. While his solutions were sometimes imperfect, Wheeler was at least capable of admitting that the core issue in the telecom sector is a lack of competition. A lack of competition not only in the last mile, but in the very cable boxes and closed hardware at the heart of the industry's control.

In contrast, Pai's entire platform rests on the idea that the real problem in the broadband sector is that government has been too hard on companies like Comcast and AT&T, and that these companies need less oversight than ever before. Of course, that kind of thinking is what helped create the Comcast and the pricey, annoying broadband and cable sector most consumers know and love today. Believing that dismantling the only government agency to stand up to Comcast this decade is going to somehow fix everything is precisely the kind of thinking that gave us Comcast in the first place.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Jan 2017 @ 4:50am

    Balderdash

    Believing that dismantling the only government agency to stand up to Comcast this decade is going to somehow fix everything is precisely the kind of thinking that gave us Comcast in the first place.

    Nonsense, everyone knows that the only reason Comcast and the other companies do everything in their power to hose over their customers and provide the worst service for the highest price they think they can get away with is because of those horribly burdensome rules put forth by the FCC.

    If they didn't have a government agency breathing down their neck and putting forth such absurdities like 'You need to treat all traffic the same and not give preferential treatment to some over others for purely profit-driven reasons' and 'You need to tell customers what info you're gathering and selling and make it so that they opt-in to such collection rather than jumping through dozens of hoops in an attempt to opt-out' I have no doubt whatsoever that they would bend over backwards to offer the most amazing service possible for the least amount of money, purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

    If people mistakenly think that Comcast and similar companies are to blame for the absolutely atrocious service they offer then I can only shake my head in disbelief, as they have been horribly mislead by the fiend in the FCC that is thankfully getting the boot, a fiend who even now continues to insist that such paragons of generosity and selflessness such as Comcast, Comcast of all companies, is somehow to blame for the reputation they have earned with the public.

    I've no doubt that with such a sterling individual and champion of the public such as Ajit Pai at the helm the toxic rules will shortly be no more, and the likes of Comcast will finally be able to give the public the service they have been held back from delivering for so long.

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

    • icon
      helldesk tech (profile), 25 Jan 2017 @ 6:45pm

      Re: Balderdash

      I can't tell if you're being sarcastic, or you're just really that ignorant. You've been drinking too much of the Corporate Kool-Aid. Comcast will effing RAPE the consumer, small content providers, and start-up businesses if net neutrality rules are rolled back.

      You really think that Comcast only just recently started providing horrible customer support and raising rates faster than the Cost of Living Index? You really think it's only to spite Wheeler and his attempts to provide fair Internet access for consumers and business?

      I want some of the drugs you're taking, dude. They must really take you on a hallucinogenic trip more powerful than LSD.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Jan 2017 @ 5:42am

    Beware Mike, you are showing your racism against the fine, impartial and intelligent Ajit Pai just because he's Indian. Just like you did with Mr Ayyadurai and it went so well.

    Yours truly,

    Friendly Troll

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 6:41am

    On a side note

    I love that Trump is immediately using executive orders. You guys can thank Obama for that. I said back then that Obama shouldn't use them because the Dems won't like it when the Republicans do it too. So how does that medicine taste?

    #MAGA

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 6:58am

      Re: On a side note

      On the other side, Republicans are now complaining about Democrats doing the exact same things they were doing under an Obama administration, so there's that.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 24 Jan 2017 @ 7:11am

      Re: On a side note

      Do you have a source for the claim that Obama overused executive orders? Because, outside of known right-wing echo chambers, the figures I see are that he really didn't use them all that much compared to previous administrations, and was pretty much just under the level set by the last couple of Republicans.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_federal_executive_orders

      (Yes, I know it's Wiki, but it's sourced and shows Obama having issued 89 less EOs than Clinton did).

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re: On a side note

        This type of fighting really gets us no where.

        The way the EO's have been used have no constitutional underpinning.

        EO's are essentially how the POTUS tells his admin to freaking work and do their jobs not write actual law. EO's should naturally expire at the end of each admin, unless Congress adopts them and makes them into actual law.

        But hey, its not like this is the first time that branches of government have self appointed more power than they were given by the Constitutional toilet paper they wipe their asses with.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:16am

          Re: Re: Re: On a side note

          "This type of fighting really gets us no where."

          Well, I'm not trying to fight, I'm just asking for evidence in a subject that's rife with misinformation. When this subject comes up, it tends to be characterised as if Obama just passed through whatever he wanted with EOs without having to go through the normal democratic process. The evidence seems to show that if anything, he held off using them as a tool to bypass a totally hostile congress, even when some would argue it would have been correct to do so.

          Now, I'm more than ready to admit I'm no expert in this area and I sometimes find I learn more from discussing a well researched citation than I do from independent research. But, given that the first AC was basically saying "Trump's using EOs immediately because your guy did it", citations are needed. It's childish enough to be saying "you made me do it". It's worse when the reason for doing that is a fiction to begin with.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

            I am saying it is pointless because these have been done before in the past already so there is no point.

            I don't like bamy or trump, but I am not about to join a specific side on EO issues because all sides are wrong about it. Obama is not the first president to overstep their boundaries and I am certain Trump will be the same.

            I am pissed off more about congress letting them just skirt the system. This is a republic and unless there is a war the legislative branch has the most power. It needs to do its damn job, not farm it out to the President.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:42am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

              This is a republic and unless there is a war the legislative branch has the most power.

              But we now find ourselves in a perpetual state of "war".

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

                A "declared" war.

                The pseudo war is is just that, a gimmick by the government to terrorize its citizens so they will willingly give up more liberty. That is the only end game, it is the ETERNAL end game for governments. Power Grab, it will never stop attempting that play... EVER!!!

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

              "Obama is not the first president to overstep their boundaries"

              Well, there we go. How did he do that? The issues I have heard before tend to be either because there were "too many" (so demonstrably not a problem with Obama specifically) or that the person disliked the subject of the EO (which can be highly subjective).

              So, before any common ground can be located, we need to know what the boundaries for your claim are. Which is what i was getting at - I suspect the OP was someone who fell for the "Obama passed so many" lie.

              On congress doing its job, I definitely agree. But, that's something that should be done regardless of who is in the big chair. So, singling out Trump or Obama is counter to what you claim to want.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:13am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

                "So, singling out Trump or Obama is counter to what you claim to want."

                where did I single either of them out? Are you confusing something? Or did you just fire off in half cocked mode? I misread things myself sometimes and do that same but it always needs to be called out, when it occurs.

                Get with the program!

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

              kellyanne conway, please stay away from things you do not understand - k?

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

                Great, another "Dunning-Kreuger" effect candidate. Has a little information and thinks they know more than they actually do and deigns to think themselves competent to correct their betters.

                Do humanity a favor and learn something before you open your mouth (or type) next time!

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 10:21am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

                "kellyanne conway, please stay away from things you do not understand - k?"

                That would be just about everything.

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

        • icon
          timmaguire42 (profile), 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:27am

          Re: Re: Re: On a side note

          It's not a numbers game. Used properly, executive orders are an important tool in implementing laws passed by congress. Used improperly, executive orders are a nefarious tool used to get around the laws passed by congress.

          When Obama said, "I don't need congress to act, I have a pen and a phone," that was an example of the dangerous authoritarianism that Democrats cry so much about under Trump (before he even took office!) that they completely ignored under Obama.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

            EO do not have the power to get around laws passed by congress, and it is a problem that people think that they can. Of course if congress or judiciary does jack shit to stop them... well there you have it. New Unconstitutional law with the other two branches looking the other way.

            You are right, it is interesting that NOW people are up in arms over EO with Trump but seemed to care little when Obama was going crazy with them.

            The real problem is that the EO's are being used this way while congress does shit about it. This is one of those examples of how stupid and ignorant Americans and members of Government are. The rules are in plain fucking English, but no one cares to go and read them and fewer still care to even try to understand them.

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

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 25 Jan 2017 @ 2:11am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: On a side note

              None of that is true. Obama issued fewer EOs than many of his predecessors. I've got issues with the man, but not over "acting like a king." Pick on him for what he did do wrong, not for what he didn't even do.

              And get your information from a more reliable source than right wing nut sites.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:35am

          Re: Re: Re: On a side note

          This type of fighting really gets us no where.

          Bull shit. I for one refuse to sit by while marginally retarded fucksticks rewrite history to support whatever goes along with their agenda.

          Retards like to OP need to come to terms with the fact that we can actually count and measure things. And he is NOT entitled to his own facts because he refuses to accept the truth.

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

      • icon
        xebikr (profile), 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:30am

        Re: Re: On a side note

        I think less important than the number of EO's are the subject and scope. I don't have time to research this right now, but I think that kind of analysis would be very interesting.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:23am

      Re: On a side note

      Yes, Obama invented executive orders. GWB signed more then Obama, you are a lazy liar and should feel bad. Just because your hero is a lazy liar does not make it ok for you to be one.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 10:14am

      Re: On a side note

      Does he really need EEs? What with the republican senate and house?

      As someone said, c'mon m8, no more excuses. You got everything you need to implement all the policies you want and show us why they're good.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 24 Jan 2017 @ 10:42am

      Re: On a side note

      I was going to argue with you, but then I remembered that this is a conversation about the outgoing head of the FCC and has nothing to do with executive orders at all.

      So instead, I'm just going to tell you to shut up.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 7:42am

    Pretty damned good for a reformed dingo.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:11am

    Suckers

    And while Trump's Presidential campaign endlessly promised Trump would focus on bringing power back to the people, Trump's new FCC boss Ajit Pai -- a former Verizon lawyer -- effectively represents the complete opposite of that.

    Stupid suckers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:17am

    "bringing power back to the people"

    Remember, corporations have been granted person-hood in the US. So when Trump talks about "the people", he means big corporations.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:19am

    When the political pendulum swings far enough in one direction, it will always swing back.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 8:26am

      Re:

      > When the political pendulum swings far enough in one direction, it will always swing back.

      Given enough time, Trump will become a leftist liberal and Ajit Pai a socialist.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re:

        Given enough time, Trump will be replaced by a leftist liberal and Ajit Pai a socialist.

        FTFY

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

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 25 Jan 2017 @ 2:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis seems to think so. Things would have to get pretty damn bad for Americans to turn their back on the idea of a free market, though.

          My money is on panicked reform and New Deal 2.0.

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

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      I used to believe that but it appears the Pendulum spends much less time transitioning from right to left. Its more like a switch that is either far right or far left.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:31am

        Re: Re:

        As is the nature of these things as described by the Declaration of Independence and Prophesied by George Washington the first and greatest President ever to have graced the Executive Branch.

        The description by the Declaration of Independence.

        "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

        And the prophesy by... George Washington in his farewell address.

        "I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

        This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

        The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

        Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it."

        I see no discouragement or restraint. I see instead both sides chomping at the bit to waylay the other in a fit of blissful ignorance and worse... hypocrisy!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      Thing is .. it hits you while traveling in either direction.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 3:09pm

    "that representation has to start with saying, 'we need to make sure you have a fast, fair, and open Internet because otherwise you will not be able to connect to the 21st century.'"

    And there's the problem. If these voters are allowed to become compatible with modern society, then they wouldn't vote Republican anymore.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2017 @ 10:19pm

    The argument is predicated on the idea that isps have some vested interest in blocking access to everything but a small portiin of the internet. That makes no sense at all. Without full and reasonable access to everything, they would quicklyfind themselves losing customers.

    Should the be forced to get enough connectivity to support other peoples high bandwidth business models?

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

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 24 Jan 2017 @ 11:08pm

    "Let's make America great again by taking it up the ass from mega-corporations like Comcast and AT&T" ~ Signed, everyone who voted for Trump

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


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