Well, I know that this opinion is totally unpopular here, but I'm not always in tune with the editorial drum, so here goes:
Carriers are profit hungry, soul-less operatives who want to extract as much money from their customer base as possible. This is among the reasons they want tiered pricing. If they sell an unlimited data plan, then it should bloody well be unlimited.
OK, not controversial yet.
That said, I believe in tiered and capped data plans. Some of the reasons Jack Gold mentioned resonate with me, but I'm more focused on the effect caps and tiers have on data demand. The combined effect of thinking of data traffic over cellular as a scarce resource has a beneficial effect on the mobile economy. The following beneficial results follow:
- consumers don't treat it as free. Have you ever seen how people waste food at an all-you-can-eat buffet? Ever been in a public restroom where the water tap is left open? Seen a heated store where someone has left the door open, wasting heat? Or how people finish their drinks when it's a cash bar, but they leave half-filled drinks all over the room when it's an open bar? People waste when they don't pay the bill. By capping data in tiers, people consumer what they want, what they need, but don't leave the tap running for nothing.
- once consumers appreciate that there is a cost to data, they use it when it makes sense. There is a "cost" on the cost side of their cost/benefit analysis. The cost doesn't have to be big, but it needs to exist - because it exists in reality.
- people often act like the carrier network is in place, so using it is essentially free. That would be kinda true if data consumption wasn't growing exponentially. The only reason we can use our phones at all is because there is continuous, rapid expansion of cellular network capacity, funded by capital investment by telcos, funded by your bill. It isn't free.
- Once customers understand that usage isn't free, it forces other important players to start to respect the costs of network traffic, too. Main example is the app developers. I can assure you that they didn't give a rats ass about how data-inefficient their apps were in 2008. No customer gave a crap, so neither did they. Their 5-star ratings were completely unrelated to how little data the app used. But today, if an app like a weather app tries to update data every 10 minutes, it will be slammed in the reviews as "data hungry for nothing". This is good. This is the supply chain responding to the scarcity of spectrum, infrastructure, and capacity.
So, this is not a defense of the fact that we pay too much in the US for mobile data. It is certainly not a defense of punitive overage charges (overage charges shouldn't be pricier than the main tier.)It's simply a defense in the notion of "pay more to use more" as a fair economic construct. This model has worked at the butcher shop, the gas station, the utility sector, and elsewhere. Tiers simplify the mental math.
Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?
I'm a United frequent flyer. And they tried this side business in partnership with UPS (as I recall) about half a decade ago. It didn't work. Insufficient demand, I would guess.
I don't like the idea myself. Bad as airlines are with your bags, I still like the odds of my bags arriving with me a lot better with the airline than with a parcel carrier.
Maybe you guys trying this haven't shipped larger boxes very often, but the speed of delivery is variable, and tends towards slow. This is not a "priority envelope" service, unless you want to pay $150 per box.
And then factor in International. If you've ever shipped abroad, you will learn the sad lessons of how long parcels can spend held up in customs. For trade shows, twice I've tried to ship booth supplies to Europe to meet me at the trade show. On both occasions, the parcel was shipped two weeks before the show. On both occasions, our stuff was held up in customs, and never made it to the show. On both occasions we spend hours on the phone, roaming fees, etc, but to no avail. You'll need to ship one month ahead to be sure, unless you want to go commando for your entire holidays.
So...with our gov't, we are constantly fighting the last war, with things like taking our shoes off because the last bomber wired his shoes.
Of course, it's lame to merely be reactive, and to plan and prepare for the attacks that happened in the past. It is smarter, and thus I suggest that we instead prepare for the attacks that might happen in the future.
So now, our gov't has leapfrogged my suggestion. Instead of fighting the last war, or the next one, we are putting up "defenses" for problems that never happened, and never will.
"That's because, unlike traditional physical weapons used against enemy infrastructure, digital versions are not generally destroyed during an attack"
Also, things like cruise missiles, stealth bombers, and nukes are very, very expensive and have a high marginal cost of production. We can also see their physical production sites from the air, and target them before they are complete.
OTOH, digital attack tools are largely made of code, and much like an MP3, have a low marginal cost of production, and can be created in somebody's mom's basement.
Suri neglected to tell the opposite reducio-ad-absurdium case, where one carmaker gets preference over another because they paid more for data transport.
Ex: You bought a fine Jaguar self driver, with plush leather-bound volumes in the rear, and a classy all-crystal bar in the center of the conversation pit. I bought a Tata Nano self-driver, with wooden benches and a gerbil-drip self-service water bar. We drive into fog where there happens to be a pile-up. The network is congested from all the accident victims ahead. Your Jag gets prioritization because Jaguar paid for preferential data treatment (aka the data fast lane) while my Nano's data is delayed. Your Jag gets the data about the pile-up and slows to a safe stop, while my Nano speeds along unaware.
I crash into you, and you die. Dumb luck plays a role, but doesn't it always?
Anyway, the point is, stupid end-case scenarios can be drawn in either direction.
All the Techdirt writers agree with what you wrote. But what you wrote is only theoretical when the actual US market does not have the minimum number of competitors needed to drive such service competition.
If we want to "let different businesses offer different plans", we'd need more than 1-2 providers in a given location.
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.
You still have problems with any kind of: - credit card use - closed circuit security cams - facial recognition - license plate readers - traffic cams, red light cams - other people taking photos, social media, tagging you