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Net Neutrality and Zero Rating

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The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a major reform to the policies allowing giant corporations to buy up thousands of media companies around the world.  This was all bought and paid for by corporate media lobbies with 97% support from the house and congress.

In 2002 President George W. Bush’s FCC decided that Internet providers are not common carriers and that the FCC has authority over the ISP’s.  

In 2008, the FCC found that Comcast had violated the agencies net neutrality policy statement by slowing bitTorrent traffic but the FCC lacked the authority to enforce changes. President George W Bush enforced the Net Neutrality regulation on Comcast.

In 2010 the FCC introduced the Open Internet Order which re-interprets section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act allowing broad sweeping authority.  This was tied up in litigation with Verizon until courts dis-approved it in 2014.

In early 2015 the FCC approved a Net Neutrality Rule for Open Internet which is often credited to then president Barack Obama.  The FCC now reclassify Internet Service Providers as carriers under Title II of the telecommunications Act, which treats them as public utilities.  The FCC can now set rates, open access to any other competitor and become more involved in regulating the industry.

Ajit Pai the new chairman of the FCC under the Trump administration was nominated by Barack Obama to the FCC in 2011 and reconfirmed by the Senate in 2012.

He has now decided to overturn the 2015 Net Neutrality Rule for Open Internet and replace them with guidelines.
Pai believes that regulation is unnecessary and will slow investment and prevent innovation.

Over-regulation has already happened to net neutrality in Canada.  Canada prohibits and enforces carriers from giving free data to their customers for specific content because it violates net neutrality by giving favors to certain services.

If the ISP gives away a subscription to Netflix but charges for the data, this is okay but if they give you Netflix and don’t charge data, then this is in violation of net neutrality.

When Canada banned zero rating, USA did not.  Instead T-Mobile began giving priority for their video services and to compete, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint responded with unlimited data plans. Now USA has unlimited data plans and Canada does not.  This over-regulation could have unintended consequences.

 

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Are you talking about internet service or cell phone data? We have unlimited internet bandwidth in Canada, it just costs extra. We get hosed on cellphone data though. The US does as well compared to Europe. You can get 4GB of 4G data, unlimited minutes and text withing the country, and 100 minutes of talk time to a bunch of other countries for 20 Euros a month.

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The cheapest cellphone plan where I live is $30.00 month with 200 daytime minutes unlimited text and unlimited evening and weekend.  For $40.00 month you get unlimited picture and video messaging unlimited local and long distance which is what I have.

If you want internet access on your phone, they are sold to us in "buckets" in a manner akin to trough feeding for hogs.

1 GB / $15
5GB / $20
10GB / $30
15GB / $40
20GB / $60
35GB / $110
50GB / $160

 

The cheapest home fiber internet package available to me offers 800 GB month at 20 MB down 2 MB up and costs is $63 per month.

 

The US cellular carriers at the moment offer unlimited data which depending on the carrier, offers between 23 and 28 GB's per month before getting bumped to the lowest data priority on the tower and suffering 3G speeds (850 KB/s) during peak hours. (between dinner time and midnight)  They also limit tethering to 10 GB / month before being reduced to 3G speed.

Verizon Wireless, besides being hated for customer service and unpopular business practices, offers a plan called Beyond Unlimited which allows 15 GB of tethering at 4G and unlimited at 3G and is the only carrier with a plan allowing the connection of a laptop to it's 4g network.  With a laptop on 4G for 28 GB and at least 3G unlimited after that it becomes an interesting deal.

This would be my choice as a cord cutter.
$85 US Beyond Unlimited plan
$20 US Laptop fee

Instead of

$75 Cad My home internet

$75 Cad cellular data plan

In US currency I pay $118 dollars for cell phone and home internet compared to $105 for Verizon Beyond unlimited cellular plan.  As cell phones get better I would imagine the $20 laptop fee will be eliminated by competition or the hotspot tethering rules will change in favor of the customer.

 

The problem in Canada if you want to "cut the cord" is that rather than paying the cable company $200 bucks a month for channels, you instead have to pay multiple other content providers such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, black market IPTV and face the  increasing cost of internet while more and more popular shows like Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and the Americans are prohibited from streaming services in Canada.  In the case of HBO shows such as Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley, I would need to subscribe to a cable company's CRTC mandated $25 "skinny package" for basic programming as well as the $20 Movie Network which includes HBO Canada.

 

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Good lord, where would I be without unlimited home internet data (for about $35 per month)?  I've already filled 5.5TB of an 8TB drive I bought just 2 months ago. :lol:

As for my phone, all I use it for is navigation and web browsing, so I've never gone over the limit at which point "unlimited" becomes throttled.

And I haven't had a TV in over 10 years.  I can't stand Japanese TV for the most part, and English programs are as scarce as unicorns, so I have to download anything I want to watch (part of why unlimited internet is so useful).

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I have unlimited gigabit fiber at home here in NZ. Speeds on Speedtest.net on weekday is usually 900+ m/bit down/450 m/bit upstream. That runs me $149 per month.

I could opt for the next speed down but that is ONLY 100 m/bit down & 20 upstream for $40 less. Ugh!!!

I am running my website on a dedicated PC on my connection along with two Plex  media servers for my brother in UK and daughter to access, um, Linux iso's remotely.

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12 hours ago, jdjenkins83 said:

Has anybody tried calling Congress about it?

I have been an active supporter of change.org who advocate against governments and telecommunications making misinformed decisions regarding fair use of internet infrastructure on behalf of citizens.  I’ve learned through this organization that the only way to have you’re voice heard in Canada and USA regarding the FCC and CRTC is to have money as well as signatures when you go up against opposing lobbyists.

I feel like most people for lack of a better description are ignorant towards topics including internet service providers, telecommunications, cable/satellite providers, copper wire, fiber optic, 4G and everything else that is a derivative to this technology.

It’s easy to look at you’re cable bill and cellphone bill and internet bill and say this is highway robbery, these guys are crooks, we pay a premium invoice and in return get inferior service.  

I don’t have all the answers.  How the hell would I know what the results are going to be in however many years?  If I had to guess, I would say political parties will continue to spread misconceptions about each other based on what side of the spectrum you are on and everyone in between will continue to get wiped out.

In all honesty, I don’t believe calling congress will have any useful affect.  We are going to have to step forward whether we like it or not and in the future we will arrive at another crossroad, being wiser then we were before.

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I've written letters to both my congressmen. Unfortunately, both of them seem to be firmly in the pockets of the telecom industry, so they won't hear my views over the dollars stuffed into their ears.

 

Historically speaking, anything that is truly beneficial to the US people, that wouldn't cost someone else the fruit of their labor (NOT talking about "potential profits" here), is swept under the rug or legislated out. The repeal of the Title II regulations of 2015 is nothing short of a handout to the ISPs and will result in worse service, higher costs, and a poorer user experience. Ajit Pai is a lawyer, he's not dumb. He is however, doing this for his former employer, Verizon. Whose interests do you REALLY think he has in mind here?  I'll give you a hint... if you can't figure that riddle out, you're about to get screwed. ;)

 

Two things ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT happen in regards to the internet:

-ISP throttling speeds to ANY website. It is censorship, a violation of our first amendment right to free speech. No matter how disgusting or vile my beliefs may seem, I have a right to them, as do you. I may disagree with what you have to say or what you choose to believe, but I WILL support your right to your beliefs.

-Selective treatment of ANY website. This is simply unethical business practice, and will stifle innovation. If I want to start a website or streaming service, but can't compete with existing major players because of shady business practices, that is not due to a lack of merit on my part. My website may be fantastic, but you'll never bother with it if it takes too long to load...

 

ISPs must act as a maintainer of the lines, NOT as a gatekeeper of information.  Normally I'm not a big supporter of government regulation, but in the case of the telecom industry, there is a disturbing lack of competition. Lack of competition is bad for the consumer. Again, whose interests are really at the forefront of this argument?

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56 minutes ago, te72 said:

I've written letters to both my congressmen. Unfortunately, both of them seem to be firmly in the pockets of the telecom industry, so they won't hear my views over the dollars stuffed into their ears.

 

Historically speaking, anything that is truly beneficial to the US people, that wouldn't cost someone else the fruit of their labor (NOT talking about "potential profits" here), is swept under the rug or legislated out. The repeal of the Title II regulations of 2015 is nothing short of a handout to the ISPs and will result in worse service, higher costs, and a poorer user experience. Ajit Pai is a lawyer, he's not dumb. He is however, doing this for his former employer, Verizon. Whose interests do you REALLY think he has in mind here?  I'll give you a hint... if you can't figure that riddle out, you're about to get screwed. ;)

 

Two things ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT happen in regards to the internet:

-ISP throttling speeds to ANY website. It is censorship, a violation of our first amendment right to free speech. No matter how disgusting or vile my beliefs may seem, I have a right to them, as do you. I may disagree with what you have to say or what you choose to believe, but I WILL support your right to your beliefs.

-Selective treatment of ANY website. This is simply unethical business practice, and will stifle innovation. If I want to start a website or streaming service, but can't compete with existing major players because of shady business practices, that is not due to a lack of merit on my part. My website may be fantastic, but you'll never bother with it if it takes too long to load...

 

ISPs must act as a maintainer of the lines, NOT as a gatekeeper of information.  Normally I'm not a big supporter of government regulation, but in the case of the telecom industry, there is a disturbing lack of competition. Lack of competition is bad for the consumer. Again, whose interests are really at the forefront of this argument?

If they couldn't answer your read your letters, well...

What if you tried seeing your congressmen in person if they couldn't do neither?

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2 hours ago, jdjenkins83 said:

If they couldn't answer your read your letters, well...

What if you tried seeing your congressmen in person if they couldn't do neither?

Sometimes they (or more likely, their interns) would reply, but as has been the case with nearly every reply on any topic I get from them, they are VERY non-committal. Not sure who your congressional representatives are, but I suspect they're likely the same way. Congress (and most politicians, in my experience) don't want to be held accountable, so they rarely take a concrete stance. If they DO... you're not likely to sway their opinion, especially as a normal person. Social elite or very wealthy? You might have a shot. Guy like me? Not likely.

 

To answer your question about seeing them in person, I'm not sure where you live, but I live in a rather large state. Unfortunately, taking a day off from work to drive eight hours through what most would see as a desolate hellscape for an audience with someone isn't what I call a productive use of my time. If they were significantly closer, or held town halls near me? Sure, I'd be there. That said, I'm MUCH better at writing out my thoughts than I am debating them in person. In this sense, so were our founders... they wrote a LOT of letters in shaping our constitution. :)

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7 hours ago, te72 said:

I've written letters to both my congressmen. Unfortunately, both of them seem to be firmly in the pockets of the telecom industry, so they won't hear my views over the dollars stuffed into their ears.

 

Historically speaking, anything that is truly beneficial to the US people, that wouldn't cost someone else the fruit of their labor (NOT talking about "potential profits" here), is swept under the rug or legislated out. The repeal of the Title II regulations of 2015 is nothing short of a handout to the ISPs and will result in worse service, higher costs, and a poorer user experience. Ajit Pai is a lawyer, he's not dumb. He is however, doing this for his former employer, Verizon. Whose interests do you REALLY think he has in mind here?  I'll give you a hint... if you can't figure that riddle out, you're about to get screwed. ;)

 

Two things ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT happen in regards to the internet:

-ISP throttling speeds to ANY website. It is censorship, a violation of our first amendment right to free speech. No matter how disgusting or vile my beliefs may seem, I have a right to them, as do you. I may disagree with what you have to say or what you choose to believe, but I WILL support your right to your beliefs.

-Selective treatment of ANY website. This is simply unethical business practice, and will stifle innovation. If I want to start a website or streaming service, but can't compete with existing major players because of shady business practices, that is not due to a lack of merit on my part. My website may be fantastic, but you'll never bother with it if it takes too long to load...

 

ISPs must act as a maintainer of the lines, NOT as a gatekeeper of information.  Normally I'm not a big supporter of government regulation, but in the case of the telecom industry, there is a disturbing lack of competition. Lack of competition is bad for the consumer. Again, whose interests are really at the forefront of this argument?

The repeal of Title II regulations in 2015 was not a handout to ISP's.  It was set into motion in the 30's to regulate Bell telephones from controlling the entire market.  It was also a law designed for public utilities such as electricity, railroads and water and never designed for something dynamic as broadband internet.  In fact the Obama era FCC decided to classify broadband as common carriers in 2015 so as to simplify the means of enacting net neutrality which resulted in regulation becoming worse rather than better.  It also had the unintended consequence of shielding broadband providers from the FTC's authority over online privacy.

Futhermore, implying that chairman Pai has colluded and conspired for what I would assume in you're mind would be power and financial rewards is a baseless claim.  

Pai has consistently supported the basic principles of net neutrality:  ISPs should not be allowed to block specific legal websites or devices, intentionally slow some traffic to benefit others, misrepresent their network management practices or otherwise behave in conduct long-considered anti-competitive in American law.

 

Right now 6 companies own about 90% of the media business in US: News Corp, Disney, Viacom, CBS, Time Warner and Comcast.  Only 7 companies own the internet backbone in the US.  They are UUNET, Level 3, Verizon, AT&T, Qwest, Sprint and IBM.  Many people purchase their internet access from smaller ISP's who purchase their bandwidth from the larger companies.

I have long supported change.org's goal of keeping the larger companies from dictating to these smaller ISP's how much speed, how many gigabytes of data they allow and most importantly how much they have to charge.  These have been long hard battles through the years and alot of them have been won although it is not over.

 

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8 hours ago, Data said:

Right now 6 companies own about 90% of the media business in US: News Corp, Disney, Viacom, CBS, Time Warner and Comcast.  Only 7 companies own the internet backbone in the US.  They are UUNET, Level 3, Verizon, AT&T, Qwest, Sprint and IBM.  Many people purchase their internet access from smaller ISP's who purchase their bandwidth from the larger companies.

I think it's worse in Canada. Not including public broadcasters like CBC and Radio-Canada, individual provincial public channels, and APTN, almost all the television and radio stations are owned by Bell Media, Rogers Communications, and Corus Entertainment. And I think Internet is even less, with Bell and Rogers being the two major "owners (having invested the most), though Vidéotron basically replaces Rogers in Quebec as the major player, and out west Telus has a large presence.

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19 hours ago, Data said:

The repeal of Title II regulations in 2015 was not a handout to ISP's.  It was set into motion in the 30's to regulate Bell telephones from controlling the entire market.  It was also a law designed for public utilities such as electricity, railroads and water and never designed for something dynamic as broadband internet.  In fact the Obama era FCC decided to classify broadband as common carriers in 2015 so as to simplify the means of enacting net neutrality which resulted in regulation becoming worse rather than better.  It also had the unintended consequence of shielding broadband providers from the FTC's authority over online privacy.

Futhermore, implying that chairman Pai has colluded and conspired for what I would assume in you're mind would be power and financial rewards is a baseless claim.  

Pai has consistently supported the basic principles of net neutrality:  ISPs should not be allowed to block specific legal websites or devices, intentionally slow some traffic to benefit others, misrepresent their network management practices or otherwise behave in conduct long-considered anti-competitive in American law.

 

Right now 6 companies own about 90% of the media business in US: News Corp, Disney, Viacom, CBS, Time Warner and Comcast.  Only 7 companies own the internet backbone in the US.  They are UUNET, Level 3, Verizon, AT&T, Qwest, Sprint and IBM.  Many people purchase their internet access from smaller ISP's who purchase their bandwidth from the larger companies.

I have long supported change.org's goal of keeping the larger companies from dictating to these smaller ISP's how much speed, how many gigabytes of data they allow and most importantly how much they have to charge.  These have been long hard battles through the years and alot of them have been won although it is not over.

 

Title II regulations was applied to broadband service providers in 2015. The discussion at hand, at least initially it seemed, was on the subject of Pai's attempt to repeal those regulations. To my understanding, this would prevent the FCC from exercising any authority over your ISP (well, my ISP anyway) if they chose to really put the screws to their customers.

 

I could spend a LOT of time looking into the finer points of this discussion, but when you have the telecom industry on one side of the argument, and everyone from content producers, to non-profits, to open source developers, to civil rights advocates, on the other side of the argument, it's pretty obvious to me which side of the argument is motivated by profit, and which is motivated by free speech and the exercise of it. I have nothing against the free market, I'm actually a huge supporter of it, as I stated in my last post. That said, I don't believe the internet is something that belongs to a select few companies either, no matter how much they may invest in infrastructure.

 

Let's address one of my main points, that the ISP has no right to modify bandwidth to any particular website. Forgive me if I'm misunderstood here, but this is Zero Rating, in a nutshell: ISP provides access to X page, with no impact on your bandwidth allowance, while accessing Y page does have an impact on your allowance. This will have the result of the majority of the ISP's customers accessing X page rather than Y page. To me, this is an anti-competitive practice. I'm not fond of such large companies having such control over what is available to the user. To be both gate keeper and producer / provider of content seems an ethical conflict of interest, as you will use your ability to direct as much traffic as you can to sites you own, and hinder traffic headed to sites you don't own.

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10 hours ago, te72 said:

Title II regulations was applied to broadband service providers in 2015. The discussion at hand, at least initially it seemed, was on the subject of Pai's attempt to repeal those regulations. To my understanding, this would prevent the FCC from exercising any authority over your ISP (well, my ISP anyway) if they chose to really put the screws to their customers.

 

I could spend a LOT of time looking into the finer points of this discussion, but when you have the telecom industry on one side of the argument, and everyone from content producers, to non-profits, to open source developers, to civil rights advocates, on the other side of the argument, it's pretty obvious to me which side of the argument is motivated by profit, and which is motivated by free speech and the exercise of it. I have nothing against the free market, I'm actually a huge supporter of it, as I stated in my last post. That said, I don't believe the internet is something that belongs to a select few companies either, no matter how much they may invest in infrastructure.

 

Let's address one of my main points, that the ISP has no right to modify bandwidth to any particular website. Forgive me if I'm misunderstood here, but this is Zero Rating, in a nutshell: ISP provides access to X page, with no impact on your bandwidth allowance, while accessing Y page does have an impact on your allowance. This will have the result of the majority of the ISP's customers accessing X page rather than Y page. To me, this is an anti-competitive practice. I'm not fond of such large companies having such control over what is available to the user. To be both gate keeper and producer / provider of content seems an ethical conflict of interest, as you will use your ability to direct as much traffic as you can to sites you own, and hinder traffic headed to sites you don't own.

 

Yes Pai wants to repeal the 2015 reclassification applied to broadband providers because it is based off of legislation from the 1930's which were never intended for modern day broadband and internet providers.  Added to this, the pile of new regulations added in the 80's, 90's and 2000's only complicate the process of regulating the industry effectively.


The real issue here is not about whether the FCC wins or loses rather, the FCC could use the same power to regulate internet service beyond broadband.  The new goal of the FCC is to take a different approach to regulating providers and internet in America by focusing on actual abuses of market power while continuing to support the basic principles of net neutrality.


One particular issue in court right now is the AT&T / Time Warner merger.  AT&T being the owner of DirecTV while also being one of the largest fiber optic providers and Time Warner owning some of the largest content studios including Turner Broadcasting.

So far the justice department has said that AT&T/ Time Warner will need to sell DirecTV or Turner Broadcasting before this deal can go through, something both companies don't want.  I think these companies need to be broken up in this case because if this new conglomerate  owns both the fiber optic cable as well as controlling the media content being created, this will negatively affect the industry and the users. 

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Fundamentally, we are on the same side, as far as ideals go. Remember that although a law may be old in origin, it may often still be relevant far into the future. Reaching way back here, the Magna Carta is still VERY valid in terms of human rights, and it is nearly a thousand years old.

 

I agree that the market needs more competition when it comes to broadband providers, as well as content producers. Personally, I have little use for cable makers and the like, I rarely watch TV in general anymore. BUT, I understand that a lot of us do, and don't want to see corporations abuse their customers.

 

I don't believe Pai has our best interests in mind, truthfully. Taking a lawyer who worked for the very industry he is now supposed to regulate? Have you ever heard the phrase about not letting the fox guard the hen house? Very much applies here, and is a large part of what is wrong with Washington, it's a revolving door between lobbyists and the white house. Either way, we will find out soon enough, as there is a proposal presentation in congress for next week, the week before Thanksgiving. If you pay attention to history, a lot of shady policy tends to get passed during times that folks aren't always paying attention to what their representatives are doing...

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