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Cable and Telcos Win

December 22, 2010 15:58:50.251

I hope all of the people who've been pining for network neutrality know what they just got from the FCC - it's a huge win for the existing carriers and cable companies. Why do I say that? Take this statement:

"A commercial arrangement between a broadband provider and a third party to directly or indirectly favor some traffic over other traffic in the connection to a subscriber of the broadband provider (i.e., 'pay for priority') would raise significant cause for concern," the Commission then elaborates. This is because "pay for priority would represent a significant departure from historical and current practice."

So to take a for instance - NetFlix couldn't pay to get priority for their traffic. Meanwhile, the local cable outlet (or telco) ships video on demand down the "cable" channel (although it actually comes down the same pipe), and gets to prioritize the heck out of it.

I sure hope all the idealists are happy now. The only good news here is this: based on recent court decisions, it's likely that the FCC overstepped its authority. I certainly hope that's how this plays out.

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posted by James Robertson


Re: Cable and Telcos Win

[W^L+] December 22, 2010 19:57:46.489

Yes, I agree. This is a bad deal.

I really wish they'd gone back to fix their original mistake (around 2004-2005, I think, but it might have been earlier) when they stopped classifying "high speed" connections as common carriers. That's all it would take to disallow many of the more egregious practices without putting the FCC in direct control of ISPs day-to-day practices. (Added plus: as common carriers, ISPs are not responsible when someone's teen downloads copyrighted content, where actively filtering content and usage on their networks could make them responsible for not blocking that content.)

Common carrier is what we had up until this decision, so we already know that it works.

Those arguing against "taking over the Internet" and instead trusting to the "free market" are mistaken. When there are monopolies and oligopolies, there is no such thing as a free market. We know from previous history that when this is the case, operators cease to invest in their infrastructure, while raising prices through bundling and product tying.

On the other hand, those who want the FCC to control ISP operations are also mistaken. The carriers, having the most to lose, are the most intensely interested in FCC activities. That's when we get regulatory capture and the end result is even worse than the *opolies.

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