Former FCC Boss Turned Top Cable Lobbyist Michael Powell Blames Everyone But Himself For Current Net Neutrality Mess

from the some-of-us-remember dept

You might recall that top cable industry lobbyist Michael Powell, formerly head of the FCC, got much of the current Title II debate rolling back in 2002 when he reclassified cable broadband as an "information service." This effectively opened the door to a massive era of broadband deregulation Powell and friends at the time insisted would usher forth an immense new wave of broadband competition. If you've checked your broadband bill or oh, stepped outside lately, you may have noticed that this utopian broadband landscape never materialized.

A huge part of Powell's justification for rampant deregulation (or really, the need for any meaningful regulators whatsoever) was that broadband over powerline was going to make the market so damn competitive that regulators really wouldn't be needed. Powell repeatedly ignored engineers who stated broadband over powerline caused massive radio interference in trial markets, and wasn't suitable for even a niche broadband deployment technology. As such, Powell's "great broadband hope" never took flight, and what we wound up with was a more potent and uncompetitive broadband duopoly than ever before.

Now heading the cable industry's biggest lobbying operation, the NCTA, Powell has popped up with a little bit of revisionist history, as he heavily criticizes the current FCC's shift back to Title II. According to Powell, the cable industry will most certainly sue over the FCC's new rules, and he blames everybody but himself for turning net neutrality into a "partisan issue":
"He suggested that after the principles became a declaratory ruling under the chairmanship of his successor, Kevin Martin, it they were probably applied in a "reckless way" [the Comcast/BitTorrent decision] that led to being overturned in court," which he said put a bigger spotlight on it, after which it became a 2008 campaign issue for Obama, then was promulgated as a rule and political imperative, and that is where he thinks the issue "got off the rail."
Of course Powell ignores the fact that if he hadn't massively deregulated the broadband industry in the first place based on flimsy justifications and bad data, we likely wouldn't be having this conversation. Powell then continues with the idea that it's everybody else's fault for net neutrality becoming a partisan issue (like oh, claiming neutrality is "Obamacare for the Internet"):
"Asked to make the "Republican" case for network neutrality, Powell said Republicans are "no different from Democrats in that they want their messages to be heard," and Republican kids want to go to Nickelodeon, and everybody wants to use their iPhone. These services and apps are not partisan, he said. It was the President's "interjection" into the issue that turned it into "party political partisanship," Powell said.
He's half right. As we've noted countless times, Democrats and Republicans alike support net neutrality, and a growing number of conservatives are supporting Title II because they realize it's the best available option in a market that's simply not going to be competitive any time soon. The difference is, if you back away from partisan pattycake for a moment, you'll notice that Powell's a huge part of the reason that competition doesn't exist. And as cable's top lobbyist he's still busy pretending the industry's hyper competitive while defending practices like unnecessary usage caps -- directly aimed at abusing the lack of competition he helped facilitate.

Republican, Democrat or aardvark, it's unfortunate that nobody in this country appears particularly interested in somehow documenting and remembering what people have previously said and done; it might just come in handy sometime when trying to determine credibility.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 11:41am

    Typical Politician

    Cause a problem with their power... then proceed to act like it was never their fault.

    This here sums it up.
    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1995-03-07/news/os-ed-charley-reese-545-column-07111120110711 _1_congress-votes-deficits-bureaucracy

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 12:17pm

    Even if BPL had taken off, that would hardly have made a more competitive market by giving consumers a choice between three broadband companies instead of two, compared to the many dozens of dialup ISP services consumers could choose from -- the result of the government smashing down the "walled garden" by forcing the telephone monopoly to allow 3rd-party companies to access their hardware.

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  • identicon
    Nicholas Batik, 19 Feb 2015 @ 12:21pm

    Why do we want the net regulated?

    Yes, I agree that there is massive confusion on the political front regarding net neutrality; however, I am still unclear as to why Techdirt extolls the virtues of regulating the internet.

    The lack of competition in connectivity stems more from a lack of infrastructure (view any converage map), and the time it has taken to build, as well as continually upgrade.

    My personal concern over any regulation is that once regulation is in place, major initiative must go through the "Mother May I" exercise with the regulating agency, who has no impetus to act quickly. Often, in regulated industries, the agency will require massive amounts of justifying documentation, will panel a committee to study it to death, then out of a sense of "fairness" will invite comment from all competitors, and after careful consideration will rule in favor of whomever pays them the most.

    Look at how many regulated industries are nothing more than blocks to competition - taxis vs. Uber for example. Once there are barriers to entry, the existing players can solidify there positions and lobby for regulations more favorable to themselves.

    In unregulated industries, people can vote with their feet or their wallets. When was the last known instance of a consumer successfully petitioning a regulatory agency?

    I have been on the internet since the early days of 300 baud dial-up, and I remember the frustration of the pay-by-the-minute connections. We no longer have that problem becuase technology advanced. Are the complaints we field today likely to disappear with the technical advances of tomorrow?

    Many of the complaints I have heard concern those who pay more for better service. So. Name anything else in the world where that does not occur. More to the point, though: Those who paid $100 for calculators, or $4000 for VCRs, or $10,000 for camcorders in the early days, subsidized the development of the technology that made those same things available to everyone else at a fraction of that cost.

    So I end with this: can anyone do an honest pro-con benefit analysis as to why regulation is better than free-market innovation, because I the hyperbole of who is good vs. who is bad serves no one.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 12:34pm

      Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

      People seem to forget that there are basically two distinct kinds of government regulation:

      1. Those that bust up monopolies and promote competition.
      2. Those that protect monopolies and inhibit competition.

      Unfortunately, many regulatory agencies over the years have been transformed from #1 to #2.

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      • icon
        Nicholas Batik (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 12:37pm

        Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

        Thank you. My point exactly.

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        • icon
          Karl Bode (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          That doesn't seem to be your point. Your point seems to be a desire for pure deregulation. After thirty years of number two, you can't just suddenly kill all regulators and regulations and hope for the best. Duopolists still have a stranglehold over the last mile, but now you've eliminated all the checks and balances that did exist (and some do still exist) aimed at keeping them from abusing that control. I just don't find this mantra of "deregulate, deregulate, deregulate" particularly nuanced, or really applicable to telecom.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

      Yes, I agree that there is massive confusion on the political front regarding net neutrality; however, I am still unclear as to why Techdirt extolls the virtues of regulating the internet.

      We don't. Title II and net neutrality are not about regulating the internet. They're about putting very basic non-discrimination rules on *internet access providers* to keep *THEM* from "regulating" the internet in terms of how everyone gets to use it.

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

      • icon
        Nicholas Batik (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

        Thanks, Mike.

        A Big problem for me is the constantly shifting meaning of "net neutrality" - including what current and former administrations claim they want, and what their designated agencies say they will implement. Since no one speaks in english, and every bill is a mountain of unreadable debt, I am naturally suspect of all of it.

        Is it possible to just say "Everybody back away. We are not going to touch anything?"

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        • identicon
          jackn, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          Is it possible to just say "Everybody back away. We are not going to touch anything?"


          Yes, thats the idea. If we do nothing, they (the isps) will touch everything.

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        • icon
          Derek Kerton (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 3:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          the constantly shifting meaning of "net neutrality"

          ...is not a happenstance. It is deliberate FUD. NN was fairly easily defined a half-decade back. And under that definition, every citizen would have been in favor of it.

          So the lobbies have confused the definition, to link it more closely to "regulating the Internet" and "goverment hands all over the net".

          This has been a successful clouding of the issue, to the point where you have demonstrated their success. You see NN as a gov't grab of control of a "free market".

          You wrote, "can anyone do an honest pro-con benefit analysis as to why regulation is better than free-market innovation." A fair question to ask, but your premise is faulty. The alternative is NOT a FREE MARKET.

          THE CURRENT OPTIONS ARE NOT: NN OR A FREE MARKET.
          THE CURRENT OPTIONS ARE: NN OR A BIG-ISP-CONTROLLED MARKET.

          Ours is a market will all the signs of market failure, largely related to oligopoly, duopoly, or monopoly. This is inherent in the "utility nature" of the service, which, at its most basic level, is a dirt-and-shovel industry that requires digging up roads and boulevards to lay fiber or cable. The last mile is just too expensive to expect multiple competitors in that space.

          We were once competitive. We had something called UNE-P for a while. That 1996 law required last mile carriers to lease their last mile lines to competitors...and for a brief moment in time , we had broadband competition in the US. It took a few years to get started, then you'd see companies like Covad competing with AT&T for DSL business using AT&T's last mile copper. Just as it was succeeding, we had United States Telecom Association v. FCC, decided on May 24, 2002, which killed UNE-P. Who was against UNE-P? Well, the Telcos, for sure, but also our friend Michael Powell who wrote this: http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/rich-tehrani/uploads/une-p-powell.pdf. Basically, Powell says, "Sure, UNE-P is OK, I guess...but market based competition at every infrastructure level is better. So that's what I want instead." As Karl wrote, an example was his silly fascination with BPL, and his fantasy that THIS would provide the needed competition for a working market.

          The EU, however, picked up on our lead with UNE-P and ran with it. Since, the USA's experiment with new infrastructure-based competition has fallen entirely flat, while the EU is extremely competitive with multiple broadband providers for every home, lower prices, and incredible 30 euro bundles of phone, mobile phone, TV, and Internet.

          NN regulations, or Title II are not perfect, and nobody at Techdirt is ever going to say so. Title II is currently the least worst choice.

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    • identicon
      jackn, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:15pm

      Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

      You're just playing word games at the request of your overlords. Why don't you post at business insider, they might fall for your false logic.

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      • icon
        Nicholas Batik (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:22pm

        Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

        Sorry jackn, I don't understand: What "false logic"?

        I would appreciate if you could spell out the issue in detail, because I find this whole mess confusing. What, exactly are the counter-claims?

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        • identicon
          jackn, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          Oh sorry, its just your partisan bias that is difficult to stomach for me, it makes me throw-up a little bit.

          I am sure you are a safe person in that you wouldn't kill someone with you own hands, but I can see your fox news mentality showing through.

          "however, I am still unclear as to why Techdirt extolls the virtues of regulating the internet."

          Thats the kindof logic trick to which I am referring.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2015 @ 7:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

            Well the proposal "let's fix the result of government intervention in the market with government intervention in the market" seems pretty...dubious?



            Definition of madness and all that.

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        • identicon
          Pragmatic, 20 Feb 2015 @ 4:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          The point he's making is that there's no such thing as the free market and the invisible hand is currently tied up by the restrictions imposed by the duopoly that currently provides broadband for much of this fine country.

          Leaving it alone means leaving the duopoly in place. The duopoly is the problem because it hogs the supply and restricts the demand-side from making a choice between themselves and other suppliers. Take it or leave it is not a choice, that's why you can't leave it to the market to sort this out; it can't because it's hobbled by the duopoly.

          NOW do you understand?

          The notion of the free market is a capitalist's pipe dream. In practice, unchecked capitalism tends towards monopoly and protectionism of incumbents. If you want the market to be free you need to encourage competition by restricting protectionist practices. Companies won't do that by themselves and consumers can't make them by switching to someone else if there's no one else to switch to and they can't do without the service.

          Therefore, to make capitalism work for both consumers and competitors you have to regulate to end anti-competitive practices. Can we do it now, please?

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    • identicon
      jackn, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

      In unregulated industries, people can vote with their feet or their wallets. When was the last known instance of a consumer successfully petitioning a regulatory agency?

      are you saying with the current 'unregulated' market, we can vote with our feet?

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      • icon
        Nicholas Batik (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:37pm

        Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

        Technically yes, realistically no.

        So I see your point. But the question is what is most likely to "fix" it - technological innovation, or government regulation.

        I tend to view regulation as a collaboration between government and big business in a way that serves them both, and us not at all.

        I came out of the era of big iron in the 70's when IBM ruled supreme, and everyone called for them to be regulated. Then these little unheard of companies called "Apple" and "Microsoft" changed everything.

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        • identicon
          jackn, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          So I see your point. But the question is what is most likely to "fix" it - technological innovation, or government regulation.

          Innovation doesn't come for your precious monopolies, but saying these monopolies cannot discriminate (which they have done and will do if allowed) will inspire and allow innovation to bubble up. this might be hard for you if you are a trickle down guy, but bubble-up is much better.

          This situation was similar in the 70's. Think about hooking up your 300 baud modem at home. Did ma bell allow this, Techinically, no fucking way, your were supposed to tell them if you intended to do that (did you?). In fact, you couldn't even buy your own phone and hook it up. Look what happened when this was opened up. So your own example only supports the current efforts.

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        • icon
          Karl Bode (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 6:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          "But the question is what is most likely to "fix" it - technological innovation, or government regulation."
          Technical innovation can't magically fix a duopoly stranglehold over the last mile to the home. The closest we've come to that is wireless, which isn't really a suitable replacement due to cost and caps, and is controlled by the same big players who've gobbled up the lion's share of available spectrum.

          Deregulating everything and waiting for magic to occur may work for some sectors, but it simply isn't a realistic option when talking about telecom.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:19pm

      Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

      First, I have to say that I object to the use of the term "regulate the internet". Nobody's talking about regulating the content you get over the pipes, they're talking about regulating access to the pipes. People are often using the phrase "regulate the internet" in an effort to conflate the two things. But I'll use the term in my reply anyway, for the sake of brevity.

      "I am still unclear as to why Techdirt extolls the virtues of regulating the internet."

      I can't speak for Techdirt, but here's my perspective. The issue isn't whether or not the internet will be regulated. It already is, by the major ISPs. The question is who will be doing the regulating. The major ISPs have proven that they are incapable of doing an adequate job of it. Perhaps the FCC would do even slightly better under Title II.

      You're right, that Title II isn't the ideal solution. The ideal solution would be a marketplace that had some sort of effective competition. However, that's plainly impossible to achieve with the current situation, so Title II becomes a reasonable fallback position.

      "The lack of competition in connectivity stems more from a lack of infrastructure"

      No, it stems from an effective monopoly on the infrastructure.

      "In unregulated industries, people can vote with their feet or their wallets."

      Except when it comes to broadband. For most people, they have one or maybe two options to get broadband service. I myself would dearly love to leave Comcast, but there's literally nowhere else for me to go.

      "When was the last known instance of a consumer successfully petitioning a regulatory agency?

      This actually happens quite often. It just doesn't usually make headlines when it does.

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      • icon
        Nicholas Batik (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:29pm

        Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

        I get the effective monopoly on the infrastructure, part. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), it was the big companies that had the capital and were willing to make the long term investment to build it.

        I know there have been several attempts by municipalities to take ownership of wired/wireless pipes, but generally those have failed because they weren't willing to devote budget to support them, and ultimately the went back into private hands.

        The game changer is always the new technology on the horizon - the unexpected. Think about how many 3rd world countries bypassed the cost of landlines and went straight to cellular.

        I've always maintained that technology ultimately move the power into the hands of those who use it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          fuck, Im full-on puking now.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 2:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          "I get the effective monopoly on the infrastructure, part"

          Good, then you understand the whole problem. There is no realistic "vote with your feet" option. The only solution to the situation appears to be governmental.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 2:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          it was the big companies that had the capital and were willing to make the long term investment to build it.
          You mean like the billions in subsidies and tax breaks they got using Title II, without ever delivering what they promised to build?

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        • icon
          Karl Bode (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 6:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

          "depending on how you look at it), it was the big companies that had the capital and were willing to make the long term investment to build it."
          Except much of that capital was provided via taxpayer subsidy...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2015 @ 12:12am

      Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

      Are the complaints we field today likely to disappear with the technical advances of tomorrow?


      They could disappear with the technical advances of yesterday. However they won't become of monopolies and duopolies created and continually pressed for by the big cable companies. Google Fiber doesn't do anything particularly different technologically. The difference is they're actually interested in building the fastest network connections technology currently allows. They're shaking things up not because they're making some disruptive innovation, but rather because they're providing a modicum of competition into some markets. And we've already seen some of the problems and limitations of them attempting to break into the market.

      As for waiting for "the technical advances of tomorrow" to magically appear and fix things, that's what Michael Powell claimed would happen 13 years ago. We're still waiting.

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      • icon
        Derek Kerton (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 12:52am

        Re: Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

        Spot on. We're still waiting, while the EU is benefiting from ferocious last mile competition, cheap DSL prices, and big service bundles on upgraded home set top box hardware.

        Screw theory. We've got the real world. Which has worked better for consumers? Waiting, or UNE-P competition over boring-old-DSL?

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    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 6:44am

      Re: Why do we want the net regulated?

      "Yes, I agree that there is massive confusion on the political front regarding net neutrality; however, I am still unclear as to why Techdirt extolls the virtues of regulating the internet."
      I think claiming that this piece suggests we "want the 'Net regulated" is an over-simplification and inaccurate. As is the increasingly tired suggestion that regulation is always good, or it's always bad, without bothering to discuss the nuance of that particularly piece of regulation.

      It's especially a narrow view to hold when we're talking about broadband, which isn't a free market.

      With the very real physical last mile nature of telecom, you're simply going to have regulation. The question is, what kind of regulation do you want? End product of regulatory capture that designs laws that only benefit large duopolies? Or regulations built with some thought toward keeping the Internet as an open, creative, and innovative platform with consumer welfare at the top of the list?

      Title II, is the best available option short of waiting for duopolists to magically decide to open up their networks to additional competitors resulting in eroded revenues (not happening).

      In telecom, saying you want regulators to pack it in and go home is saying you want to leave things precisely as they are, since the nature of telecom is that with mono/duopolists in control of the last mile, nothing's changing until they're forced to change.

      You need some rules in play to ensure they don't abuse the last mile. Having no rules isn't an option. The question then becomes, what rules do you want?

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  • identicon
    Rudyard Holmbast, 19 Feb 2015 @ 12:40pm

    If only Powell had behaved as though the FCC had the authority to write laws like the legislative branch or had exercised non-existent powers granted by no known statute, this problem would have been "solved".

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  • identicon
    jackn, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:13pm

    "Asked to make the "Republican" case for network neutrality, Powell said Republicans are "no different from Democrats in that they want their messages to be heard," and Republican kids want to go to Nickelodeon, and everybody wants to use their iPhone. These services and apps are not partisan, he said. It was the President's "interjection" into the issue that turned it into "party political partisanship," Powell said.

    He lost all credibility with me. Its hard to detect but I feel this statement shows he is not for a fair internet. Well, we all know that, but his examples show bias and/or ignorance.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 1:37pm

    ...Obamacare for the Internet...

    This deal is getting worse all the time. ...Lando Calrissian

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  • icon
    Nicholas Batik (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 2:47pm

    Parting Thoughts

    1.My "partisan bias" tends to the libertarian/anarchist.

    2. I rarely believe government is the answer. Even the best policies eventually get amended. Then they are no longer the best policies, but it literally takes an act of congress to get rid of them. Once you start down that road...

    3. "The only solution to the situation appears to be governmental." Do you mean the spying, data gathering, property-seizing, money-wasting, corruption riddled government? Or is there a different one I don't know about? Do you read any of the other daily articles here? Why does anyone think that THIS time, they are going to get it right, and the implementation will be flawless.

    4. Any and all regulation to "punish" the terrible, awful, no-good, very bad, cheating, swindling, (adjective of your choice) companies, never punishes the companies. They pass on the cost, and the consumer suffers.

    5. Historically, innovation has proved the undoing of every monopoly. Look how digital media has broken the strangle-hold of publishing houses and music studios; micro-lending and crowd-funding have provided alternative to the banking industry. Before that, the automobile changed the dynamic of the all-powerful railroad industry. I will put my faith in creativity and a garage full of pissed-off innovators rather than bureaucracy.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 2:57pm

      Re: Parting Thoughts

      "Do you mean the spying, data gathering, property-seizing, money-wasting, corruption riddled government?"

      Yep, that one. But look what the alternative is: spying, data gathering, property-seizing, money-wasting, corruption riddled ISPs. At least we have some sort of leverage, no matter how slight, with the government. It's more than we have with the telcos.

      "Why does anyone think that THIS time, they are going to get it right, and the implementation will be flawless."

      Nobody is saying that it will, and I doubt anyone thinks that.

      "Any and all regulation to "punish" the terrible, awful, no-good, very bad, cheating, swindling, (adjective of your choice) companies, never punishes the companies."

      It's not about punishing anybody at all. It's about getting the major ISPs to stop being abusive.

      "Historically, innovation has proved the undoing of every monopoly."

      Not every one. Many monopolies have survived or become more deeply entrenched when innovation has presented them challenges. However, you're right that innovation can change the game. The problem is that you can't rely on that. You can't know when the game will change, it might be decades. You can't know that the changing game won't just make the whole situation even worse.

      If some miracle event happens that saves us all, then there's still no harm in going Title II -- it will just make the classification irrelevant.

      So, in the end, Title II is a case of "it can't make anything worse, and it might make things better."

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2015 @ 3:36pm

      Re: Parting Thoughts

      "Historically, innovation has proved the undoing of every monopoly."

      Isn't that like saying if the Standard Oil trust had not been forcibly broken up by the US government a century ago, it would have eventually died off in another thousand years or two when nuclear fusion makes petroleum obsolete?

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

      • icon
        Karl Bode (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 8:21am

        Re: Re: Parting Thoughts

        Yes, I don't think sitting on our hands and waiting for some magical technology to disrupt Comcast's stranglehold over the last mile is really an option here.

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    • identicon
      Andrew D. Todd, 20 Feb 2015 @ 7:51am

      Re: Parting Thoughts

      If you want to present a libertarian/anarchist case, you need to do in in terms of wireless, not landlines. A system of phased-array-mesh-wireless offers the best prospects for true competition. Admittedly, I am something of a special case, living on a West Virginia hillside, but I can look out my window and count perhaps a hundred buildings. Given a system of transceivers developed from military battle radios, designed to resist both jamming and missile-homing, it might be feasible to buy a device for, say, two hundred dollars, install it on the roof like a satellite antennae (*), and get a high-speed internet connection for five or ten dollars a month. This would of course be ruinous to the proprietors of land-lines. They would salvage their position by selling out to the government.

      (*) In fact, given consumer electronics practices, one box would do everything: satellite (broadcast and sat-phone), mesh wireless relate, local WiFi, etc.

      There are, of course, limitations, notably weather effects. If rain or snow are coming down hard enough to affect visibility, they may well affect wireless transmission. As I see it, we are in the middle of a messy interregnum before the telephone landlines get taken over by the local water works. In the long run, water/sewage has a tendency to absorb other kinds of public utilities.

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090713/1916365532.shtml#c105

      Water is very important, even if it is not very profitable to businessmen. The recent Freedom Industries/West Virginia American Water debacle in Charleston WV is a textbook example of why water supply should not be privatized. Normal business corner-cutting put a couple of hundred thousand people at risk of poisoning. The United States Army had to step in to provide essential drinking water, the same as they did after the earthquake in Haiti.

      Incidentally, I feel comfortable with my local postman. He is a splendid little man who reminds me of nothing so much as a Appalachian version of a Queen's Own Gurkhas Subadar-Major. I can easily imagine him fighting off bandits intent on stealing the United States Mail. I resent your attempts to make him into a bogeyman.

      http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_gravehundred.htm

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

  • icon
    Nicholas Batik (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 5:00pm

    "The last mile is just too expensive to expect multiple competitors in that space."

    I tried to make this point toward the beginning of this little dust-up, but I think you said it better.

    Every industry starts as a collection of freelancers - from wildcat oil men to garage-office code writers. Eventually somebody starts to make money, then they consolidate the industry, and the giants are born. Hence the oligopolies, duopolies, or monopolies you mentioned.

    Good luck on preventing that, nobody has yet.

    Rosneft is mostly owned by the Russian government, Lukoil is mostly private. Sinopec is Chinese owned. Our own oil companies are mostly private but with government regulation as Anonymous Coward pointed out. Yet private or governmental, regulated or not, can anyone identify a single difference between any of them? Once you get to that size, everything starts to look the same.

    Interesting history on UNE-P. I was not aware of that.

    It's easy to pick up the sense of frustration: Innovation takes time and is unpredictable. Regulation promises quicker response, but I fear longer-term consequences.

    Consider this: when was the last time you used a phone book? Right, me either. But part of the 1984 Bell System divestiture, required every baby-bell and baby-bell wannabe to print a phone book.

    So here we are 3 decades later with massive print runs that go from deliver truck to dumpster because nobody knows how to turn off the obsolete regulation.

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

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 10:36pm

      Re:

      Those phone books might have been regulated, but they soon turned into profit centers, charging for context-aware ads, just as google does today!

      And so I don't just get one phone book that I promptly throw away, I get three. Two are entirely free-market driven, because the ad revenue still exceeds the cost to produce and distribute.

      But as soon as they are not profitable, expect the Bells to mount a successful campaign to end that regulation, and make the phone books a "by request" service for individual customers.

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

  • icon
    wouldlikechoice (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 8:09am

    Net Neutrality Mess

    One can look at this very simply. If the ISPs and their paid legislators are against it, threatening law suits, etc, then without doubt, it will lead to what consumers want--choice, better service and pricing.

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


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