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BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company, the Internet as we know it: going, going, gone. I hope you’ll join us.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. If I told you that sovereign powers were about to put a toll booth on the street that leads from your house to the nearest Interstate, allowing your richest neighbors to buy their way to the open road while you were sent to the slow lane, you would no doubt be outraged. Well, prepare to scream bloody murder, because something like that could be happening to the Internet.

Yes, the Internet -- your Internet. Our Internet. The electronic public square that ostensibly allows everyone an equal chance to be heard. This democratic highway to cyberspace has thrived on the idea of "Net neutrality” -- that the Internet should be available to all without preferential treatment. Without preferential treatment. But Net neutrality is now at risk. And from its supposed guardian, the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating potential new rules that reportedly would allow Internet service providers to charge higher fees for faster access, so the big companies like Verizon and Comcast could hustle more money from those who can afford to buy a place in the fast lane. Everyone else -- nonprofit groups, startups, the smaller, independent content creators, and everyday users – move to the rear. The Net, neutral no more.

A final decision on the new rules isn’t expected until later this year. Meanwhile, you have the chance to be heard during an official "comment period." We'll tell you more about that later in the broadcast, but first let's listen to two people who monitor this world and strive to explain it to the rest of us. Susan Crawford is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, a contributor to Bloomberg View and author of this essential book, “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.”

David Carr covers the busy intersection of media with business, government and culture, and he writes a popular weekly column, “Media Equation,” for “The New York Times.” Welcome to you both. So help us sort out why the average citizen out there should care about this issue.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: Right now, for most Americans, they have no choice for all the information, data, entertainment coming through their house, other than their local cable monopoly. And here, we have a situation where that monopoly potentially can pick and choose winners and losers, decide what you see. How interesting, how interactive it is. How quickly it reaches you, and charge whatever it wants. So they're subject to neither oversight, nor competition. So the average American should care because it's a pocketbook issue. It's also an innovation issue. Who's going to get to decide what new things come into our houses?

DAVID CARR: People have a close, intimate relationship with the Web in a way they don't other technologies. It's where they see their loved ones. It's where they communicate with people. And they have the precious propriety feelings about it. And I'm not sure if the FCC really knows what they're getting into.

BILL MOYERS: You've been in touch with Tom Wheeler. Can you tell me what you think is driving him at the moment?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: He doesn't want to spark a war with the industry. He believes that he won't be able to get anything else done if he leans towards calling these guys a utility. What I think he's missing is that he's sparked a war with an entire American populous. We love Internet access. We want it. It is very personal. And to give up on any constraint of these monopolists seems very odd to people. So they're waking up. They're noticing this issue.

DAVID CARR: I mean, people don't get excited about this until their movie starts stuttering or they can't upload big files. Then they get plenty, plenty excited. People expect it to be like electricity. You expect to turn on the cold water and to have it flow. You expect to plug something in and for it to light up. And you expect to turn on your Internet, and for it to work.

BILL MOYERS: So if customers are willing, as you are, to pay for a premium service as they do with, as we do with our mobile phone contracts or business class travel, then why not for the Internet?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: This is much more like electricity. It should be available to all at a reasonable price because that's the substrate, that's the input into absolutely every element of American life. Social, economic, cultural. This is just the highway for every kind of transaction we want to engage in.

BILL MOYERS: Then if it's like electricity, why not treat it as a public utility, a common carriage, as we have telephones and electrical power for so long?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: Well, that's why my first question to Tom Wheeler would be, "Why are you giving up? We seem to have no oversight of this market at all. And yet, because of your short term political expediency needs, you're saying you're not even going to try to have firm legal ground on which to constrain the appetites of these companies to control information."

BILL MOYERS: Short term political expediency?

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: The head of the Cable Association, Michael Powell, used to be the chairman of the FCC. He said it would be World War III if the FCC even leaned towards calling these guys a utility. That's what Mr. Wheeler is facing. And the risk is that then those actors march on Capitol Hill, gut his budget, and don't allow him to do the other things he wants to accomplish with the commission. What he's, I think, failing to understand is that this is it. This is the legacy moment for Tom Wheeler. This is when he decides that he actually, he's a regulator and he's going to take a firm hand when it comes to these enormously powerful companies.

BILL MOYERS: But is he a free agent? I mean, he was in the industry for several years before he came to the FCC. Michael Powell was at the FCC before he took the job that Tom Wheeler once had. I mean, can they be honest brokers?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: Well, he was a cable lobbyist. But he can now rise to the mantle of public leadership and say, this is the important moment. This is it.

DAVID CARR: The thing is you can't suggest that what he's doing is unreasonable. But I worry that it's going to end up-- we're going to end up with these nodes of innovation. And that we're going to ghettoize, what was supposed to be a national resource. This was-- this whole infrastructure was built by the government. But if you allow all the head ends of it, all the sort of sweet spots of it to lie in private hands, then that whole sort of village common breaks down. And isn't, doesn't reflect a democracy. I mean, it was President Obama that talked about the democratic impulses of the Web and how that needed to be preserved. I haven't seen a lot of that in what he’s done.

BILL MOYERS: And Tom Wheeler says that, look, the FCC's tried twice to rewrite the rules of Net neutrality. And the appeals court, federal appeals court, has turned thumbs down twice. He's saying, I'm only doing what I can do to write rules that are consistent with what the court has said.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: What's not right about that is that he can do something. The FCC has tried to simultaneously deregulate by not labeling these guys as utilities. And yet, adopt Net neutrality rules. All he has to do is relabel these services as utility services. And then he stands on firm legal footing. He can forebear from any details of those rules. He doesn't want to apply. The courts have struck this down because it's incoherent. That's the problem. If he marches forward on a clear legal path, he'll be fine. But he wants to avoid World War III on the cable institutions.

BILL MOYERS: We frame this altogether in commercial terms. But isn’t there a threat to the non-commercial sector, to the scientific sites? To the historical sites, to the cultural sites? To the sites that deal in civic engagement? They are acting from a different motive than the profit motive. Aren’t they at risk here?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: All those sites are like the people in Fort Lee, New Jersey, trying to get across the George Washington Bridge. There are traffic cones being set up on that bridge by a private actor who’s under no constraint. You know, what they’re going to do, where they’re going to squeeze traffic, where they’re going to extract rents. But this is about the free flow of information, and we should all be able to assume the presence of a non-discriminatory, extraordinarily reliable network.

DAVID CARR: I have to jump in on that. I think to analogize it to what Chris Christie’s aids did on the bridge is assigning motive and punishment in a way that’s really not at work. These guys think they’re up to really good things. They’re not setting out to punish anyone. They just think that the public interests and their interests are perfectly aligned. I don’t agree.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: I don't care about their intentions. We've got a problem when one gatekeeper can have so much control over everything flowing into American houses.

BILL MOYERS: Take what some of these providers say. They argue that without the power to provide the use of preferential services to the leading content providers, they won’t get the revenue to invent in the future to indebt in the future, you say is still yet out there-- that we have not yet foreseen.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: Over the last several years, Comcast has invested just 15 percent of its revenues in expanding its network. It’s in harvesting mode. It’s making 95 percent plus profits for its broadband product. It has no incentive to expand its network. So yes, they’ll make that argument. But the facts are directly to the contrary.

DAVID CARR: You know, the cable industry has worked hard to see that homegrown civic initiatives toward broadband have been more or less outlawed in l9 states. I’d really like to see, in this process, some pushback on that. If you’re going to make way for Comcast to own this big a footprint, at least give Americans, American cities, American institutions the opportunity to grow an alternative. And we should see a roll back in terms of preventing cities from building up their own fiber network.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: This industry, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner made $l.5 trillion over the last five years. They have no interest in seeing competition emerge in these cities. And David is right. In l9 states it’s either difficult or impossible for cities to do this for themselves. And mayors know that they need these networks in order to attract businesses, keep social life coherent in their cities, and build up their fabric of their civic life. And so there’s a lot of interest across the country in using assets that cities have.

DAVID CARR: I used to be a Comcast customer. Now I’m a Verizon FiOS customer. I have fiber optic at my house. I live in New Jersey. It costs money. But it’s highly functional. It works when I want it to. It does what I want it to do. Why aren’t they everywhere? I know it’s a capital intensive business, because you have to put stuff underground, over ground, that last mile to the home, very expensive. But as Susan pointed out, there’s a lot of gold in that. Trillions of dollars. So if you sink the money into investment, you can pull a lot of money out of that business. So why hasn’t that happened?

BILL MOYERS: You keep returning to the subject of the merger between Comcast and Time Warner. What’s the relationship of that merger to Net neutrality?

DAVID CARR: Well, it’s sort of where the Internet lives. When we talk about the Web we’re not talking about something that the government built back in the '60s so big institutions could talk to each other. We’re talking about a hybrid system of private and public right of ways and infrastructure that has grown up over time in an ad-hoc way that Commissioner Wheeler and others who are struggling to define and regulate. It’s a very complicated sort of hybrid organism.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: I think we can make it a little simpler. So you’ve got one wire coming from one company coming into everybody’s house. There’s a box at the end of that wire. We call it today a set-top box. But it’s also going to become a Web browser. There is a software platform on that box. Comcast controls that browser. That browser that you’re using to access everything can pick stream picks, Comcast service over Netflix, can pick Comcast telemedicine service over whatever you might want to sign up for. Can pick Comcast educational software over what you might want to have. That’s a very different picture from the permission-free Internet that we’ve all grown up with.

DAVID CARR: If you think of all the big business wins right now, whether its Airbnb or Uber, what they’re doing is they’re taking available assets that are already out there, and they’re helping you navigate them. There’s a lot of money in that. And as Susan points out, if you control navigation, if you are able to point people in certain ways and send them down paths where you can monetize them, it probably follows that you’re going to sort of favor what you do. They’re in the content business. They own NBC. They own Universal Studios.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: Comcast has an incentive to put up one gateway into its network and then charge for getting in. It did that with Netflix very recently. And if it can do that with the biggest, most popular over-the-top company, it can do it with anybody.

DAVID CARR: To me to say to people, I’m in favor of Net neutrality, but if you got enough dough, you can bolt it in a special way, I would say that sounds like two Internets, a good Internet and a bad Internet. And I don’t like the idea that somebody can control traffic. To control traffic is to control information and also to control a kind of message.

BILL MOYERS: Message? The content?

DAVID CARR: Yes. If my message comes to you slowly and her message comes to you quickly, she’s going to win.

BILL MOYERS: Did I hear you mutter a moment ago that this potential merger between Comcast and Time Warner is frightening.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: What’s interesting, the consigliore of Comcast, whose name is David Cohen, he’s been described this way in newspapers, has said, now this may sound scary. He says that because the American public is worried about this. It really sounds like Shamu and Godzilla merging. They’re enormous companies. And they just cover everything with bundles of services. And Americans have no choice. The United States stands alone in its dedication to private companies running all of its utility services, with some public oversight. That's always been our history. Other countries started with public companies and have this idea of a public trust for communications. That it, because of all the social spillovers, it needs to be made available to everyone at a reasonable price. We have now got the worst of this bargain. We both have private companies. We're dedicated to that. And no oversight of them. And that's leading to an extraordinarily weak situation. So the answer is not to give up on public oversight, but to make it better. To unleash the regulatory ideal, which is for pro-innovation, pro-American people. We've just fallen down on the job.

DAVID CARR: I don't think it's as simple as Susan makes it. I watch the Supreme Court grappling with Aereo. What is an Aereo? And here are people who grew up watching “Mash” get pulled in over rabbit ears, trying to deal with an antenna farm that remotely records, programming in the cloud that consumers then can access and pull down. And you could just see them struggling and grappling. I don't think Congress is all that much different. I think we have a cohort of mostly older Americans that is struggling to put get its arms around the future. And they're doing so in sort of confused and inconsistent ways. And I do think companies like Comcast or Google or whoever, that have a firmer grasp on what the, what the future looks like, they're playing a game over the game that Washington doesn't necessarily understand.

BILL MOYERS: What can we learn from past regulatory battles like this?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: Well, we went through this with electricity and with oil and with railroads. These are infrastructure services that, given half a chance, a private company will try to corner. We need to have government intervention. We're always in this tug of war between rules and an outright, unconstrained private market. Where you have something that is essential for every part of American society, government intervenes to try to make sure that it's available at a reasonable price. We haven't done that.

DAVID CARR: I do think that the rail analogy is useful because, unlike countries all over the world, we've allowed our rail network to kind of-- we've expected it to thrive on its own. And so, I get on the Acela and I think to myself, I'm riding a bullet train that doesn't go fast. Why is that? And it's because it's going through tunnels that were built during the Civil War.

And in the same way, broadband, true connectivity, true high speed Internet, there are so many countries that are better at this than we are. How is it that we invented the Internet, we have built companies that have pulled billions and billions of dollars out of it. But somehow, we're losing custody of its better properties to other countries. That just seems wrong.

BILL MOYERS: The FCC is voting on May 15th to move forward with the proposal or not. That's less than two weeks away. What do you think people can do to be heard at that May 15th meeting?

SUSAN CRAWFORD: The uproar in the country is already causing the FCC to walk back from Wheeler's initial statement that he was never going to move towards treating these guys like a utility. That's already happening. Keeping that pressure up is only going to help because then they have to keep all these options on the table and act like a regulator. So writing into the FCC, writing to your congressman, keeping in touch with your senator. That really is making a difference. The White House is responding.

DAVID CARR: I do think that consumers have to think back to SOPA and—

BILL MOYERS: SOPA.

DAVID CARR: Stop Online Piracy. That the entertainment industry wanted to make fundamental changes in the way the Web is regulated. And they thought it was no big deal. People went ballistic. And, with the support of Google, with the support of Facebook, came off the sidelines and said, you know what? You're going to break the Internet. We don't want you to break the Internet. That’s ours. Keep your hands off our Internet. If you look at the hierarchy of communication that comes to you over the web, there's your email. What could be more interesting than that? Somebody's thinking about you, sending a message.

You hit the button, and up pops your grandchild. Or, if you want, you move over and you can talk to them in real-time on FaceTime. We're living in an incredibly magical age that all this technology has enabled. And if Google and others start to tell American consumers, look these guys are breaking the Internet and sort of unleashes the flying monkeys, as they did during the debate over SOPA, I think it could tilt the rank.

BILL MOYERS: David Carr, Susan Crawford, thank you very much for being with me.

DAVID CARR: Pleasure being with you, Bill.

SUSAN CRAWFORD: Nice to be here.

BILL MOYERS: Barack Obama told us there would be no compromise on Net neutrality. We heard him say it back in 2007, when he first was running for president.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: To seize this moment we have to ensure free and full exchange of information and that starts with an open Internet. I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history and we have to keep it that way.

BILL MOYERS: He said it so many times that defenders of Net neutrality believed him. They believed he would keep his word, would see to it that when private interests set upon the Internet like sharks to blood in the water, its fate would be in the hands of honest brokers who would listen politely to the pleas of the greedy, and then show them the door.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be the infamous revolving door. Last May, President Obama named Tom Wheeler to be FCC chairman. Mr. Wheeler had been one of Obama’s top bundlers of campaign cash, both in 2008 and again in 2012, when he raised at least half a million dollars for the President’s re-election. Like his proposed rules for the web, that put him at the front of the line.

What’s more, Wheeler had been top gun for both the cable and wireless industries. And however we might try to imagine that he could quickly abandon old habits of service to his employers, that’s simply not how Washington works. Business and government are so intertwined there that public officials and corporate retainers are interchangeable parts of what Chief Justice John Roberts might call the gratitude machine. Round and round they go, and where they stop. Actually they never stop. They just flash their EZ pass as they keep shuttling through that revolving door.

Consider, Daniel Alvarez was a long-time member of a law firm that has advised Comcast. He once wrote to the FCC on behalf of Comcast arguing against Net neutrality rules. He’s been hired by Tom Wheeler.

Philip Verveer also worked for Comcast and the wireless and cable trade associations. He’s now Tom Wheeler’s senior counselor. Attorney Brendan Carr worked for Verizon and the telecom industry’s trade association, which lobbied against Net neutrality. Now Brendan Carr is an adviser to FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who used to be a top lawyer for Verizon.

To be fair, Tom Wheeler has brought media reformers into the FCC, too, and has been telling us that we don’t understand. We’re the victims of misinformation about these proposed new rules. That he is still for Net neutrality. Possibly, but the public’s no chump and as you can see from just those few examples I’ve recounted for you from the reporting of intrepid journalist Lee Fang, these new rules are not the product of immaculate conception.

So this public comment period is crucial. You have a chance to tell both Obama and Wheeler what you think, so that the will of the people and not the power of money and predatory interests, is heard.

At our website, BillMoyers.com, we'll show you how to get in touch with the FCC and we’ll connect you to the public interest organizations and media reform groups that can help you get your voices heard.

That’s at BillMoyers.com. I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

Full Show: Is Net Neutrality Dead?

May 2, 2014

For years, the government has upheld the principle of “Net neutrality,” the belief that everyone should have equal access to the Web without preferential treatment.

But now, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a former cable and telecommunications top gun, is circulating potential new rules that reportedly would put a price tag on climbing aboard the Internet. The largest and richest providers, giant corporations such as Verizon and Comcast – in mid-takeover of Time Warner Cable — like the idea. They could afford to buy their way to the front of the line. Everyone else — nonprofit groups, startups and everyday users – would have to move to the rear, and the Net would be neutral no more.

This week, speaking with Bill Moyers about these latest developments are two keen observers of media and the world of cyberspace. David Carr covers the busy intersection of media with business, government and culture for The New York TimesSusan Crawford is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, contributor to Bloomberg View and author of, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.

“For most Americans, they have no choice for all the information, data, entertainment coming through their house, other than their local cable monopoly.  And here, we have a situation where that monopoly potentially can pick and choose winners and losers, decide what you see,” Crawford tells Moyers. 

Carr adds: “People have a close, intimate relationship with the Web in a way they don’t other technologies … they have the precious propriety feelings about it.  And I’m not sure if the FCC really knows what they’re getting into.”

Producer: Gina Kim. Segment Producer: Lena Shemel. Editor: Sikay Tang. Outro Producer: Robert Booth. Outro Editor: Rob Kuhns.

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  • Anonymous

    Well, John Q. Public, how do we feel about this? Should the powerful have the right to determine the future of the internet, as we now know it? Should the public be entitled to use the internet as we now do?

    I believe our internet voices are extremely important, reaching out to the entire global audience, as it does now; nationally reaching out to our Supreme Court, both houses of Congress, prospective employers, reaching individuals who need to know they are valued, reaching out to everyone, young, old, disabled, poor, rich, educated, or not educated. The INTERNET is a powerful tool and should be used for the enlightenment/betterment of the world at large. It should not be appropriated for the exclusive use of the behemoths of industry, commerce, and wealthy classes.

    The INTERNET, as we now know it, should NOT be tampered with.

  • Tim Taylor

    I suspect what is “dead” or in the process of dying is this system. And, that means every new rule, regulation or bill passed to benefit the very few is another nail placed in its coffin. Because each time toady politicians rig the system for their capitalist masters, they take another person or ten or ten thousands or ten million people, and make it harder for them to survive economically.

    I’d lay bets on the more than million pages of codified code in this nation becoming useless, worthless and unenforceable before we see any economic improvement.

    A record 92 million out of the workforce and another 92 million scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall; All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

    I think that about sums it up.

  • Tim Taylor

    Indeed. But, the state exists for one reason. That is, to perpetuate violence on behalf of those of class. So, if they have their way, the Internet will be spied upon, monitored, regulated, controlled, manipulated and eventually destroyed. Just like everything else under state control.

    This is not self-rule. This is being ruled by king’s, aristocracy and class privilege. And ruled violently might I add.

  • Anonymous

    Cowboys vs Aliens; The high desert of Central Oregon has been invaded by tax evaders. The New Jerusalem has landed in Prineville, but it isn’t Jerusalem. Through ALEC laws, Apple & Facebook are getting paid [$15M each] to take the lake, river(designated+Natl wetland), irrigation, and electricity from real life cowboys. Locals get bond measures and tuition increases, big capital gets a hand up (or is that a hand out). The local ISP just sold to big data after receiving grant money. The American Cowboy risks extinction if proprietary seed is introduced. Oh wait… http://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/index.ssf/2014/04/apple_acquires_hydroelectric_p.html

  • Jane Peters

    Net neutrality is important is for our democracy. The internet should not be sold off to the highest bidders.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Taylor, my comment addressed the unobstructed way in which we now use the internet as a country, and also sharing communication with the global audience in countries where, as you know, some of the freedoms we enjoy on our internet are not practiced as readily, and in some countries where it is only available under cover of other means not sanctioned by those countries.

    By contrast, the USA is a Democratic Republic: a two-party system of government by the people through elected representatives and having an elected president. Theoretically, under our Constitution, we practice principles of social equality, which is why I espouse maintaining the INTERNET as a free instrument for all to use for the sake of unlimited communication throughout the world—a desirable goal, in my opinion.

    I find nothing wrong with the Government doing reasonable searches on internet use because we cannot ignore the dangers presented by those who would harm our country and our allies. However, that does not mean we should do nothing to prevent the perennially greedy to restrict our internet use because they simply wish to make more money.

  • Marti Joyce

    Write to the FCC and your own Congressional representatives and tell them we must keep a FREE AND OPEN INTERNET!!!

    http://www.fcc.gov/contact-us

  • Anonymous

    ‘Available to all at a reasonable price. Like electricity. Like telephones. – VS – No oversight of this market, Not going to TRY to constrain the appetites of these companies.’
    YES, it’s the day of the gov’t (regulators) being bought, watered down and hammered down, corrupted or intimidated — for personal gain of regulators or ‘representatives’ (of the 1% or corporate interests), while making comments that betray of a foolish or cynical ‘faith in the free market’ — simplistic MYTHS!
    We MUST arise or face this ONRUSHING death of our way of life. It’s Orwellian – control of the past and now, to control the future!
    This is oligarchy — armed with technology and more powerful, faceless, merciless, corrupted control aimed to keep their tiny minority, elitist privilege and $$$$. Their interests are the ONLY interest that count! And they are utterly convinced of their rights to keep it this way. Self-re-enforcing arrogance.
    Time Warner has proven over and over that it doesn’t care about the Constitution….
    It will stifle innovation, it will harden ideology and push TRUTH & FACTS away. It will discourage TRUE entrepreurship and innovation. It will retard the economy of the USA – mid and long term. It will invade our privacy and collude with the worst, not best, in gov’t. It will keep people forever in reaction and out of wisdom and perspective, out of action and redress of grievance.
    They are making trillions and want NO competition. For them it’s money and power, and it’s never enough.
    NOW or never for People to Speak Up!
    These corporate interests are pigs, have no conscience and will never regulate themselves. COMCAST is making a revolution and it deserves to get a counter-revolution. At least, sign the petition!

  • William Jacoby

    Comcast and Verizon should be nationalized if they persist in demanding the end of net neutrality. They actually should be nationalized anyway.

  • kd92mesa

    It is the American way! Capitalism. The rich controlling the poor, you see the rich worked so hard to get where they are, and the poor, well they just don’t work do they! That is what the party of Ryan and Cruz, backed by FOX News Network, and most of the corporate owned TV Networks keep telling us, isn’t it? Sides what do the poor need to be on the Internet for anyway, it is just for the rich and the “I think I’m rich group” (the middle class).

  • Anonymous

    Net neutrality deserves the support of everyone that favors individual liberty and equal right under law — nothing less than freedom itself. Creating yet another opportunity to divide Americans by wealth vs. poverty is not an option:

    … the massive head start the economically privileged already have in the economic rat race of life already grows exponentially with each generation and the resulting ever widening wealth/income gap is nothing less than a defect in the very fabric of our society with very real potential to rend it asunder.

    In the wake of the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, net neutrality may well be the last best hope for the individual voices of “we, the people” who are human to be heard over the $uper $tereo $urround $ound $ystem powered by cash that the greediest of the wealthiest have aimed at our political system and elected representatives and government officials.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Sometimes it appears that the left is more interested in punishing the rich than with helping the poor. This is one of those times.

  • Anonymous

    I doubt that a majority of Americans will even notice that they are in the Internet slow lane… or care. When Shrub said ‘Mission Accomplished’ maybe he was really referring to the intentional dumbing down of Americans.

  • Melwoolf

    Live in very rural France and have the most superb broadband. The French invested years ago in this for the public use. I am able to access any place, anywhere and cannot think why Americans should have any less. So, come on, Americans, protest and work the phones, letters to FCC and those who may want to narrow your world further. Be afraid, be very afraid (of not having such open access!)

  • Anonymous

    This is not one of those times. Other countries—France, Germany, etc., have much faster Internet access, for everyone, at much less cost. Why? Because their governments place the good of the populace as a whole over massive profits for a few corporations. The Internet was developed over decades at public expense. There is no good reason it should be controlled by a few rich big shots any more than should air or water be so controlled. It is just as evil for a few “private” big shots to control these resources as it is for a few Politburo big shots, or a few Nazi Party big shots. If it is “punishing the rich” to maintain that the rich don’t deserve better health care or Internet access, then yes…let’s punish the rich.

  • Anonymous

    This is not one of those times. Other countries—France, Germany, etc., have much faster Internet access, for everyone, at much less cost. Why? Because their governments place the good of the populace as a whole over massive profits for a few corporations. The Internet was developed over decades at public expense. There is no good reason it should be controlled by a few rich big shots any more than should air or water be so controlled. It is just as evil for a few “private” big shots to control these resources as it is for a few Politburo big shots, or a few Nazi Party big shots. If it is “punishing the rich” to maintain that the rich don’t deserve better health care or Internet access, then yes…let’s punish the rich.

  • woodguy11

    Leave it alone

  • Richard Howe

    I have been enjoying the Internet since 1993, back when most people didn’t even own a computer. It has served me as my own personal library. Now it is about to be handed over on a serving dish to the corporate elite just like every other piece of this country. Wake up people we are about to become a society of slaves and masters.

  • Russ Zimmerman

    If the internet is to be considered a utility, then why can’t its price be charged like the utilities? I use 400 kwh a month and pay perhaps $40 for that. (It’s a small house.) If I use more, I pay more. So I am not sure the “utility” comparison is valid. What the panelists are objecting to is comparable to the interstate toll road in Texas where you pay for the right to drive at 85 mph, and the rest of us drive on the state highway for free.
    3 years ago Century Link finally installed 1 meg DSL in my area for $25 per month. That sure beat 56k dial-up–until I had 3 meg service up north one summer. Luckily C.L. had improved DSL over the summer and with a local and long distance package, I could get 4 meg service for $69.95 plus taxes. Is that great? I don’t know. It’s reliable, it doesn’t slow down when all the cable users comes home and goes on the internet. I can watch Moyers, stream Netflix movies. Pages don’t load at a blinding speed, but I don’t think at one either.
    It is unclear to me what is being asked for. A basic internet input at a reasonable price; fine, I’m for that. But if I have a home with five computers and five users who spend a lot of “spare time” watching movies, then I am not clear why I should subsidize them by averaging my rate with theirs. Why shouldn’t they pay more because they are using more, just as with any other utility? Then the FCC can say that all suppliers of content have equal access, and cost of that access will be paid for at the user’s end.
    If I am missing the point, please tell me where.

  • Anonymous

    There are several points you are missing.

    The ISP’s will put up a big fight to avoid being regulated like the utility you describe

    The ISP’s have other conflicts of interest because of their vertical businesses. They have economic reasons to bias their delivery in favor of their network and studio creations to the detriment of other competitors large and small.

    The ISP’s have reason to bias the delivery of information in favor of major advertisers on their networks. How else to explain the presence of the Comcast head of Government Relations on the board of the Heartland Institute climate change disinformation agency.

    The ISP’s have asked for and received implementation of latest generation server chips to monitor and determine type of packet information with low overhead “on the fly”. This means they can set and raise rates for particular types and sources of information to constrain competition and enhance earnings.

    Back in the days of exclusively broadcast video we had The Fairness Doctrine to minimize campaign expenditures, restrict candidates to live, personal presentation with guaranteed free and equal time. Now that the political discourse has shifted to cable, we could very well be witnessing the death knell of our democracy.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Wastewater treatment is a utility, and 25% of Americans rely on their own septic tanks to do it. That’s not much of a model.

  • Robert Thomas

    I expected to be annoyed by this broadcast and I was annoyed by it. But not as much as I thought I would be.

    I am an electrical engineer in Santa Clara (“Silicon”) Valley and have worked in the internet core and edge router industry for fourteen years. I’m no expert on financial aspects of the communications industry but I understand it as well as the next person and I understand technical aspects of it quite a bit better than most people.

    I am VERY suspicious of the apology of “net neutrality” “advocates”. I agree with and support several of the goals of those arguing in favor of “net neutrality”. I am dismayed, however, by what seems to me to be deliberate imprecision of the definition of this phrase. Whether this convolution is unintentional and out of ignorance or whether it’s intentional and dishonest is often obscure.

    Data transactions across the internet are not oversimplified by being described as a moment-to-moment agreement between, on the one hand, a pair of entities – comprised of [a source and a destination] – to transfer some data and on the other hand, a service supplying connection fabric on which the data will travel.

    Broadly, the two most common meanings of “net neutrality” have been 1) prohibition of preferential treatment by network fabric services based on content and/or based on the particular identities of the [source and destination] being served by the fabric; 2) prohibition of variable price-of-use schedules for [source and destination] depending on the bandwidth that [source and destination] request and on the Quality of Service (guarantees of freedom from interruption etc.) demanded by [source and destination]. By “bandwidth”, here, I explicitly refer to the moment-to-moment share of connection infrastructure (optical and electrical data conductors, memory buffer elements, datagram routing mechanisms etc. etc.) reserved for the data transfer.

    While I understand that (1) and (2) above may seem the same to some people and among reflexively anti-business ideologues they may be indistinguishable, to me, they are entirely different things. I support the goal described by (1) and DO NOT support the goal described by (2).

    The reason I was less annoyed by this conversation than I thought I might be was that while professor Crawford’s arguments were laced with predictable rhetorical devices illustrating her populist views, she emphasized an option that FCC regulators, legislatures and the courts have been faced with for decades: the legitimate categorization of internet provider chain as a common carrier. Under the law as much as I understand it, this (in practical terms) arbitrary designation is available to the controlling entities; it’s application has both predictable, concrete implications AND hypothetical, speculative ones. Whether the internet connection fabric should be so designated is a legitimate one and it seems to me that this is the direction that arguments over net neutrality should be focused.

    The blither-blather over set top boxes preventing users from using competing internet sites, and so on, is a canard and should be dismissed from the conversation.

  • Anonymous

    For one, barring some physical expenditures, a byte is a byte is a byte. It costs insignificantly more to let your family member watch a movie. The same does not hold of electricity consumption so your analogy fails via its own weight.
    Secondly, the provision of bandwidth SHOULD be classified as a utility and the courts even layed out a foundation how Wheeler and the FCC could do this while mitigating push back from the threats of Powell and his iLk, Time Warner, Comcast no matter what they say.
    Third, at present this is less about your consumption (although that day is fast approaching -and is in some markets) but about the provision of content. Content matters and better content should not cost more via what the bandwidth providers deem acceptable. It’s absurd and it will crush start ups and it will further our economic inequality. If you’re rich or well off you’ll get 1 level of service in education for example via online education. If you’re not you may only be able to pay for a lessor service that is not content rich, the video is not clear or in HD etc. That day is fast approaching. I hope that helps to some degree.

  • mulp

    Listening to Bill Moyers, I hear him define net neutrality as my dialup line having the same ability to offer the streaming of movies to millions of people that Netflix is paying many thousands of times for.

    At least I hope he’s not saying that I should pay hundreds of thousands dollars per month to access the Internet as Netflix does because net neutrality requires the service I get is the same capacity and price as Netflix’s service.

    And I don’t get the same 6 lane highway from my neighborhood as people in big cities get, and my neighbors were outraged when they thought a four lane highway would be run through the neighborhood – lots of people want inferior roads because they don’t want to pay high taxes.

  • Anonymous

    LOL. I suspect you are trolling because such an assertion is idiotic in light of the evidence of distribution of wealth and income. If, as Warren Buffett maintains, ‘it’s not a zero sum game’ than you’d also be in error. That aside – perhaps you should look around at what is going on in your city, your community, your country, your neighbors lives. Walking away with the anecdotal impression that the rich are being penalized is patently absurd.
    Lastly, the F.C.C. proposed rules would reward the rich, penalize competition, penalize the fantasy of american SES mobility even further, and only serve to make being poor that much more difficult.
    Oh, this is not a partisan left v right issue and if you think that I suspect your partisanship has left you blind to what is happening on many fronts…clearly.

  • Anonymous

    “there’s nothing in the net neutrality regulation that would make networks faster”. Indeed, only slower unless you could pay for faster – that’s the point.

    The mobile market is largely irrelevant to the discussion in relation to traditional broadband speed(s) debate. Read why, in part, here:

    http://rooseveltinstitute.org/susan-crawford-responding-distorted-op-eds-published-new-york-times

  • mulp

    I’ve been out of the industry for a decade, but I would be shocked if engineering advances had been made to provide QOS guarantees and bandwidth reservations across the Internet. Sure, that can be done on SONET or other systems, but the potentially million to million address of packets flowing through any major node at millions of packets per second is simply too intractable beyond fast routing and discard on congestion.

    Only by bypassing the core can delivery delays be eliminated and service made more predictable. Amazon does that for package delivery by building hundreds of warehouses all over and then arranging for packages to be trucked from its warehouses to a delivery dispatch center for UPS/USPS in time to be loaded on the delivery truck. Netflix uses the hundreds of Amazon web servers all over the country and connects directly to the local cable company.

    Is anyone calling for package delivery neutrality so a small business in the Midwest can have its orders filled and delivered as quickly as Amazon without paying the billions Amazon has to build its distribution system which powers Internet commerce and web service for about 30% of all the Internet use?

  • Anonymous

    I read the entirety of your comment and upon reading the last paragraph it became clear I could have just skipped to the last paragraph. You’re correct, you probably do not understand the financial incentives and aspects of the market that both restrict and impede competition something doing away with ‘net neutrality’ would only make worse.

  • mulp

    Better to vote in members of Congress promising higher taxes and more government control over your life and the economy.

    That is what we had going for use back before Reagan. To return to 1960, the Federal gas tax would be about 40 cents a gallon. Electric rates would be twice as high, but millions of union workers would be well paid and delivering the most reliable power in the world. Telephone service would cost twice as much but would by now be 10 megabit basic service to every address. Very few people would qualify for credit cards, but they would have debit cards tied to their checking accounts. The stock market would hardly go up in price, but corporate profits would pay nice dividends.

    Conservatives promised free lunches. Put us in power and we will cut your taxes, get rid of government, cut the utility rates and they will be ten times better, make government smaller, privatize retirement and you will all retire as millionaires at age 55 with two vacation homes and a boat.

    Voters keep voting for the free lunches because conservatives keep blaming liberals who died by 1990 for things getting worse because conservative ideology will always deliver free lunches.

    TANSTAAFL.

  • mulp

    They are not worth nationalizing.

    It would be cheaper to build a fiber to the home network that competes with and replaces them.

    The value of the deal set by Comcast is a per subscriber value of well over $1000 per customer and best guess is the fiber to every address in a region would cost $1000 each. That fiber would be worth more than the copper cable Comcast runs by each homes with a tap for subscriber because the capacity would be tens of times higher and will last for half a century to century longer than the coax Comcast uses.

  • mulp

    We the People have voted for the conservative promise of free lunch tax cuts to put money in out pockets and less government to make us rich.

    Until people demand higher taxes on everyone, like higher gas taxes, carbon taxes which would make heating oil and gasoline cost $10 and higher food prices so farm workers get paid well and higher electric and water rates, and higher telephone rates that include fiber to every home, things will at best stay stagnant just as they have since voters grabbed for the free lunch ring Reagan then Newt held out.

  • mulp

    But did you demand socialism in the 80s, voting again Reagan and his followers and demanding higher taxes to fund a massive increase in spending on the Internet to have the government run it to everyone’s home?

    You were denied access to the Internet in the 80s because it was not allowed to compete with the private sector. 1993 was the point when private for profit use of the Internet was allowed by Congress. The cost of paying for the Internet in 1992 was a big issue – it was too high and one objective was to get the private sector to pay for the Internet.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Inhabitants of the populist fringes of both parties have consistently erred in expecting the Internet to behave like a perfect society. The Internet is a machine, and machines have no concept of justice, compassion, or social mobility. There’s nothing wrong with Tom Wheeler’s proposed open Internet rules except their somewhat gratuitous nature. American Internet service is fine, as anyone who studies international broadband quickly learns.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    It’s amusing that you think I wouldn’t have already read the blog post where Crawford attacks me by name. That’s how it goes for those of us brave enough to use our real names on the Internet. Read this rebuttal: http://www.innovationfiles.org/crawford-misses-the-mark/

  • Robert Thomas

    Whether “this is more about” preferential treatment of content or about capital cost for delivering a particular Quality of Service is a topic of debate. Many try to mix these two aspects but they are distinct.

    Arguments over the classification of internet connection providers as true common carriers – as currently defined under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 – have often been put forth. My view is that fabric providers DO meet the criteria for categorization as common carriers. Others have made arguments to the contrary that aren’t stupid.

    I build internet connection equipment and disagree with your apparent assertion that “some physical expenditures” by which I take you to mean capital investment, amount to an insignificant cost for connection fabric providers.

    Core and Edge routing equipment and optical and electrical conductors (and their cost of installation and operation) are not inexpensive. Customers I have served have included Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Qwest / CenturyLink, British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, China telecom etc. I have delivered literally hundreds of optical interface modules to these and other customers that sell for $500,000 each; they are often overloaded in capacity and must be redeployed after only twelve to eighteen months of service. These devices account for a small fraction of capital equipment being deployed.

    Between 2009 and 2012 fixed-line internet traffic tripled; mobile traffic increased by ten times in the same period. When much existing infrastructure was deployed, significant overcapacity was designed-in to provide peak traffic handling guarantees; source-destination pairs requiring high instantaneous bandwidth – such as video on-demand – were usually easily accommodated. Increasingly, they are more difficult to accommodate and doing so requires more infrastructure that must itself include overcapacity.

    Netflix (down the street and around the corner from where I grew up) is a premier user of the internet fabric in the U.S. (other contenders such as Amazon seem interested in similar business models) Netflix is well aware of the costs their service demands have represented to their fabric partner and have little desire to argue otherwise in court, which is why they have made the arrangements they have.

  • Robert Thomas

    If you have evidence for this behavior and activity, what is it?

  • Robert Thomas

    mulp, you write

    “I would be shocked if engineering advances had been made to provide QOS guarantees and bandwidth reservations across the Internet.”

    Then you would be shocked.

    For example, core router families such a Cisco’s CRS and Juniper Networks’ T-Series implement QoS, including as parts of MPLS and VPLS services for SONET, ATM and Ethernet.

  • Russ Zimmerman

    I assume you listened to the program. Didn’t you hear the frequent references to the internet as a utility? I was responding to the program. So if you want to reject the “utility” concept, tell Moyers and his presenters.

    But if we stick to the internet as a utility, then the important goal is to make it readily available, at least at the rate of DSL for the country as a whole. e.g. When electric power was not available, the REA and TVA, etc were set up. Isn’t that what we should be fighting for?

    And as for transmission of content, I would prefer to see HQ (high quality) content rather than HD. If you think the FCC is going to help or hinder that by what it does, I am skeptical. I don’t see a lot of “rich content” so far. But I gather that for you it is the principle of getting whatever you want, when you want it. We might better complain to the FCC about cable charging for 500 channels when all you want is five good ones–or whatever the quantity. Except that has been done and we got nowhere

  • Anonymous

    “american internet service is fine” your premise there would have to be that the newly proposed rule changes will not change that service and that’s absurd on its face and makes it difficult to take your thought processes seriously.

    Moreover, I find this comical, to quote you “Inhabitants of the populist fringes of both parties have consistently erred in expecting the Internet to behave like a perfect society.” and contrast that with your prior comment, to quote again “it appears that the left is more interested in punishing the rich than with helping the poor.” Purely hypocritical contradictory nonsense via your own justification(s).

    Oh, and as if that were not enough you argue “american internet service is fine, as anyone who studies international broadband quickly learns”. You can maintain that position – personally i’d rather we were the best we can be and not comparatively, in your eyes, ‘fine’. We can be better. And, it also, yet again, suggests that your impression is that the proposed rules would change nothing and that is, as I said, absurd Richard.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t take long for the personal attack I see. Where did I suggest or say you did not read a blog post? Nice assumption. Your definition of bravery…barring the attempted insult…is a rather childish definition but if you feel that makes you a ‘brave person’ rave on don juan!

  • Robert Thomas

    Any business benefits from advantage over competition, fair advantage or unfair. I understand the potential for actors to attempt unfair competition. I see that the restrictions and impediments to which you refer (the “behavior and activity” in my post) are potential ones.

    As I wrote, I think that – setting aside what I believe are rather weak arguments that technological stagnation and so forth would result – designation of internet delivery (perhaps separately so from conventional “one way” cable television delivery over the same conductors – where such reclassification would imply that they become so-called “open video systems”) as common carriers is warranted in the U.S.

    I agree with those who warn that common carrier designation is anathema to operators of the communications fabric, that they benefit from being designated as contract carriers and that they have and will lobby fiercely to prevent such a change. Existing rules under the 1996 Communications Act would appear to require substantial divestiture by fabric operators of local cable operations which would make a company like Comcast a thing very different from what it is today.

    But your implied assertion here and elsewhere in the thread that the amount of and cost of the infrastructure required to service increasing use by some customers is trivial and deserves no redress is unsupportable. As I wrote, this is why business concerns that commandeer disproportionate shares of infrastructure have seen it to be in their interest to negotiate contracts that will assure its continued availability. They possess the wherewithal to contest such demands in court but understand that in discovery, such claims would be seen to be weak.

  • moderator

    Richard and AmericanPlutocracy:

    I think it is time to agree to disagree. Please move on without further comment.

    Thanks,

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    American Plutocracy and Richard,

    I think it is time to agree to disagree. Please move on without further comment.

    Thanks,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I see the rhetorical-thinking-out-loud ‘utility’ question. lol. k.

    As for your analogy it was inaccurate before and that remains. Clearly. I’d agree with you – we should be fighting to reclassify providers as I’ve noted in another post and I might even go a step or two further but that would require action by a legislative body who can do virtually nothing progressive for the commons and the good of the country (right/left/center matters far less than corporate power, money, and influence in this regard).

    As far as the HQ v HD – what the FCC does is one thing and what the content bandwidth providers end up doing if these rules are approved is another. This could very well be, and nobody could argue to the contrary, the fabled trojan horse in regard to ever deepening content throttling and/or ‘pay for access’ which would be instituted if these rules are enacted. And that would have, as I said, an impact upon what consumers could afford or not as for the delivery of the richness or differentness of that content…content that would cost the content maker more (because they’re being charged more); it’s reasonable that if there were tiered levels of content provided there would be differences noticed by the end-user as those costs were passed along to the consumer. If there were no differences than why would one pay for more for access as an end-user? (that’s a rhetorical question).

    As for the suggestion “I gather that for you it is the principle of getting whatever you want, when you want it.” barring the implied condescending stance it is not a position I have set forth in any way in that regard. So that effort was squandered…at best and warrants ending this exchange.

  • Anonymous

    So, in a nutshell, you think that comcast and time warner et al are operating at a loss because of the frighteningly expensive infrastructure costs.

    And, again, they may rage against reclassification – I see that as no reason to abstain from executing regulatory oversight – simply because of threats real or imagined. If that’s the case what’s the point of any regulation if the tail is waggy the dog as they say…there would not be one. Reclassify. (Personally, I’d like it if the country went further but that will never happen in the complete garbage political climate we have with abdication of responsiblity on both sides of the aisle.).

    Competition never has to be perfect competition. Yet taking actions that stifle competition still further in a sector that is, quite clearly with intellectual honestly, a monopoly, seems ill-advised at several levels. As I stated in a prior post, i’m not alone in that regard.

    “have seen it to be in their interest to negotiate contracts that will assure its continued availability.” If you’re suggesting these companies, to whit we reference, are at risk of becoming unprofitable, that’s certainly not reality nor is it moving forward. It’s quite the contrary irrespective of infrastructure or capital expenditures and there is no historical evidence to suggest as much. If that’s a concern perhaps the consumer would be best served via a creation of a public utility. Not all things, as elements of the commons and for the nations advancement need to be ‘for profit’ after all (a mistake that has plagued health care since prior to the early 70s)…

  • Anonymous

    This is not one of those times. Other countries—France, Germany, etc., have much faster Internet access, for everyone, at much less cost. Why? Because their governments place the good of the populace as a whole over massive profits for a few corporations. The Internet was developed over decades at public expense. There is no good reason it should be controlled by a few rich big shots any more than should air or water be so controlled. It is just as evil for a few “private” big shots to control these resources as it is for a few Politburo big shots, or a few Nazi Party big shots. If it is “punishing the rich” to maintain that the rich don’t deserve better health care or Internet access, then yes…let’s punish the rich.

  • Guest

    Indeed, the Internet is not fine in light of what it could be, in light of what it is in other countries that are certainly no more technologically advanced than the US.

  • Anonymous

    This is not one of those times. Other countries—France, Germany, etc., have much faster Internet access, for everyone, at much less cost. Why? Because their governments place the good of the populace as a whole over massive profits for a few corporations. The Internet was developed over decades at public expense. There is no good reason it should be controlled by a few rich big shots any more than should air or water be so controlled. It is just as evil for a few “private” big shots to control these resources as it is for a few Politburo big shots, or a few Nazi Party big shots. If it is “punishing the rich” to maintain that the rich don’t deserve better health care or Internet access, then yes…let’s punish the rich.

  • Robert Thomas

    I wrote no such thing.

    Any business needs to control its capital expenditure in accordance with its business plan.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, my apologies if I misunderstood that.

    So what was your point then with regard to that specific assertion? “this is why business concerns that commandeer disproportionate shares of infrastructure have seen it to be in their interest to negotiate contracts that will assure its continued availability.”
    Was it in support of the proposed rule changes or in opposition to. Or are you merely stating non sequiturs?

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    The data – as opposed to the vague anecdotes we hear people like Crawford toss around in NN debates – don’t really support the claim that American Internet is substandard. The only nation with faster and more heavily used Internet connections than the US is Korea, where a technology developed by Verizon is used by a telephone company once wholly owned by the government. And even here, the gap is shrinking. When you consider the population density of Korea (most Koreans people live in Seoul, and most of Seoul is high rises) it would actually be surprising if American Internet were faster. And it can certainly never be cheaper than it is in Korea. So the basic premise behind NN is factually lacking.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Net neutrality advocates are upset that profit-oriented firms in the US aren’t bankrupting themselves by making investments that consumers don’t really care about. And they call themselves populists. It’s actually quite strange.

  • Robert Thomas

    Umm… my response above beginning with “I wrote no such thing…” was posted before you edited your previous post.

    To be clear, I neither wrote nor suggested that either Time Warner Cable or Comcast appears to be in danger of “operating at a loss”. Those were not my words nor were they implied by anything I wrote.

    My employers have been medium-sized multi-billion dollar publicly-held companies. Their budgets have not been insubstantial. Not only would they be imprudent if they did not control their capital costs and align them with revenue, they are fiducially required to explain their failure to do so when they do not. I believe that rule changes that allow price schedules designed to offset the cost of infrastructure deployment progressively (not necessarily linearly) according to usage are warranted. I also believe that local cable operators are not materially different from conventional utilities and I see no reason why they should not be required to operate under the non-discrimination rules associated with the common carrier designation.

  • Anonymous

    http://oti.newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_cost_of_connectivity_2013
    According to this study,”The results showed that, in comparison to their international peers, Americans in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC are paying higher prices for slower Internet service.”
    One instance of this: “In July 2013 Verizon announced a new 500 Mbps service (with 100 Mbps upload speeds) available in selected areas of its FiOS service.[4] However, this new 500 Mbps service costs around $300 a month. In Amsterdam, a symmetrical 500 Mbps broadband plan (with 500 Mbps download and upload speeds) costs just over $86.”
    Other studies agree: “If you’re a US citizen you likely have an average internet access speed of 4.8 mbps and you pay a little over $3 per mbps. If you’re in Sweden, however, you likely have an 18 mbps connection and you pay a scant 63 cents per mpbs. The real envy of the internet speed Olympics by far is Japan with a mighty 61 mbps at a mere 27 cents per mbps.” (http://www.howtogeek.com/92633/compare-your-internet-cost-and-speed-to-global-averages-infographic/).

    And, “There is blazing fast internet available in America—if you live in the right place. According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, around half of Americans have access to service with download speeds over 100 megabytes per second. That’s a big increase over just a few years ago; in 2010, only one in 10 Americans could access those speeds. But access is all but meaningless if the service is so outrageously expensive that only a few people can afford it. Last year, Comcast debuted its “Xfinity Platinum” service, delivering 300 megabytes per second—for an unbelievable $300 a month. Verizon’s Fios Quantum gives the same speed for a mere $200 a month. If you’re in Hong Kong, you can get 1 gigabit service—over three times as fast—for less than $50.

    Many consumers today get their internet, TV, and phone services bundled together, and there the story looks just the same: better service than it used to be, but at a high price. According to a report issued last year by the New America Foundation, If you lived in Seoul or Paris, you could get a “triple play” bundle with 100 meg download speeds for around $35 a month. But if you’re in Washington or New York, that triple play will not only cost you three times as much, your internet with be only one-quarter as fast.

    How did it come to this? The telecoms will point out that unlike someplace like South Korea, America is a geographically large country with a dispersed population. It costs much more to run fiber or cable to 10,000 people spread out over hundreds of square miles than to the same number of people living in high-rises on a couple of square blocks downtown. But we can’t get that cheap, fast service even in our most densely populated cities. The real reason companies like Time Warner and Comcast charge so much for internet access is simple: Because they can,” according to http://prospect.org/article/highway-robbery-high-speed-internet.

    The point is this: many countries provide comparable service at far lower prices. The US should emulate their policies, since lower prices for more people is more desirable than more massive profits for rich corporations. The “difference in quality based on ability to pay” is already greater in the US. The FCC proposal would increase this difference still further.

  • JonThomas

    Yeah, unfortunately you completely misunderstood. What was it exactly that he said that left you with such an impression? Perhaps you aren’t conversant with the internet and the differences between Internet Service Providers (ISP’s,) content creators, content providers, and users?

    Once you understand those terms, it seems difficult to find any reasonable fault with Mr. Moyer’s explanation.

    I think it’s obvious that this conversation is about broadband. Dial-up doesn’t even put a person on the highway. At best, dial-up is the access road.

    I live in a small community, yet because our ISP is a Municipal Utility Company, we’ve had Fiber Optics To The House for just under 10 years. That’s way before many larger cities have had such availability. Our small town was even one of the first in the nation to have gigabit services available.

    There’s a few good articles posted on the home page of this site that really explain Net-Neutrality very well. If Mr. Moyer’s extremely artful analogy confused you, and you do want to understand, I would recommend reading those and doing some research. Good luck.

  • JonThomas

    Ok, after I responded I read a previous comment you posted. Yeah, things move fast.

    There was a book from the mid 70′s, written by Lawrence Sanders, called “The Tomorrow File”.

    It really was quite prescient. In that exaggerated-to-make-a-point landscape, people would become an “obso” by 30 years of age.

    If a person is good at partitioning an open mind, it really is an interesting read.

    My apologies if I misunderstood your comment. I’m no where near the expert many people posting on here are, I’ve just been interested in this subject for quite a while now. Perhaps I assume too much.

  • Anonymous

    The premise isn’t only about the speed, but about the price for a given amount of speed, particularly in regions of similar population density, such as NY and Hong Kong, or New York and Seoul. I would like to see the data which show that American Internet is not much more expensive for similar access in similar regions than in many other places in the world. If it is much more expensive, then this is an evil, and measures should be taken to correct it. And why can’t the Internet in New York be as cheap as that in Seoul? What technological reasons prevent this?

  • JonThomas

    I’m posting from a municipal utility provider right now. Does that fit into a description of a “socialist” enterprise?

    My provider is not-for-profit and delivers much better service than any private, for-profit competitor.

    Our city utility sold bonds to pay for the infrastructure and is way ahead of it’s projected returns!

  • JonThomas

    Here’s some direct data on the subject from Ookla, an extremely reputable source which aggregates real time data from speedtest.net …

    http://www.netindex.com/download/allcountries/

    If you have issues about their data, or the rankings, here’s the link to their source data… “the largest publicly available dataset of broadband speed and quality test results ever compiled”…

    http://www.netindex.com/#source

    Here’s a recent article on Net-Neutrality abroad…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/04/business/international/eu-lawmakers-approve-tough-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=0

  • JonThomas

    My ISP handles my water, my electric, my cable, phone services available, broadband internet, and yes even my wastewater treatment. They do an EXCELLENT job! Much better than any of the private competition.

    Oh, and a few weeks ago I called them and spoke to one of the directors. They have no plans, nor desire, to treat any content differently. They said users want neutrality, and they have no inclination to change. They are committed to neutrality!

    Perhaps it helps that profit is not a motive!

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    A web site and a newspaper article, hmmm. Ookla has a limited set of test servers and a self-selected sample. It’s the equivalent of an online poll. Try Akamai’s State of the Internet reports, or this research paper: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2240589 I know it’s good because I wrote it.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    In the US, as in most countries, we’ve inherited the idea from utility pricing that people in cities, suburbs, and exurbs should pay similar prices. If TWC lowered prices in NYC and raised them in semi-rural areas, the net neutrality people would freak. In fact, you can get super fast broadband for very low prices in SF high rises served by Webpass and Paxio, cherry pickers who don’t serve the burbs.

  • Anonymous

    This doesn’t explain why prices in similar regions for similar service is so much higher in the US than in many countries. And there are different levels of service in different US areas, and net-neutrality people understand why. The prices would only need to be raised in rural areas if the companies insisted on maintaining the same exhorbitant profits overall.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Incidentally, Crawford used Akamai data in “Captive Audience” as the source for her claim that the US had the 22nd fastest Internet speed in the world, even if she did have to reach all the way back to 2009 to make the case; that was our lowest standing ever. According to the source Crawford cited, the US is now in 7th place and getting faster, while 5 of the top 10 are getting slower. If Akamai is a good enough source for Susan, it’s good enough for me.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Dollars per megabit/second isn’t a meaningful gauge because actual cost isn’t linear with speed as it is for distance. According to the Point Topic data, US broadband prices are lower than the world average and speeds are much higher. Population density and volume of use are the main cost drivers.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    If your utility isn’t profitable, it’s depending on subsidies from the users of the other services it provides to cover its operating expenses; that doesn’t seem socially defensible. In the long run, the need for continual investment means that unprofitable suppliers will inevitably fall behind the curve. Unlike water, sewer, and electrical, Internet service is expected to improve year after year. Public systems can work quite well, but many have failed due to poor planning and lack of operational expertise.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    So your broadband is the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable broadband on the planet? I’d be really surprised to learn that it beats Google, Verizon, and the Japanese and Korean networks, all of which are owned and operated by private, profit-driven firms. Within the next two years there will be 150 – 200 “gigabit cities” in the US. Will your town be one of them?

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Such a good comment, you had to post it four times. See my reply below.

  • Anonymous

    Not talking about the world average. I am talking about technologically advanced countries providing similar service to similar geographic areas. You don’t seem to challenge these factual claims (that FOR SIMILAR SERVICE TO SIMILAR AREAS people in the US FREQUENTLY PAY MUCH MORE). That you changed the subject to “world averages” suggests you accept these factual claims, as does your talk of distance, which is irrelevant when considering SIMILAR REGIONS (comparing rural areas with rural areas, cities with cities, etc). Your explanation from a previous post seems to be that “Internet-Neutrality” types would oppose the implementation of the policies and measures which, in other technologically advanced countries, very often make the costs to consumers for SIMILAR SERVICE to SIMILAR AREAS much cheaper. I think it is the “corporate-profit” types who would object to the implementation of these measures.

  • Anonymous

    It seemed to be awaiting moderation forever. This is the only reason for the repetition.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    I’m not aware of single country that provides similar broadband service to a similar area at a better price than the US does. The closest would be Canada, as UK, France, Germany, Sweden, and Australia are far behind on speed and Denmark and Norway are much pricier.

  • Anonymous

    Bill, today’s toll roads on highways give those who pay faster access. No one is screaming “bloody murder.” Better analogy please.

  • GregoryC

    I cancelled cable TV when the costs became prohibitive. I’ll do likewise when Obama/Wheeler kill net neutrality and Time Warner Cable soon to be Comcast raises costs for broadband. I’ll cancel broadband service and begin using my smart phone for email, etc. Until that rises in cost too. Eventually, I’ll use the library for all internet services. I’m old enough to have spent most of my life tech-free, I can do it again.

  • JonThomas

    Wow… you just went from: “Ok, maybe this dude has something of value to add”… to: “Ugh… another corporate shill…”

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume (yeah trouble ahead) that you didn’t read my other comments where I explain that my provider is a municipal utility company.

    I’ll even go so far as to choose to believe you do not really understand (as sad as that is for someone who seems to be an expert in the field) that a municipal utility doesn’t ‘make’ profit. Our municipal utility has been cash positive, and net income positive for 3 years straight. So much so, that they are 3 years ahead of their business plan.

    And… I’ll waste a few moments of my life explaining (and reiterating) that my town had issued bonds to build the infrastructure and get started. But, as I said in another comment, they are way ahead of their projected returns.
    Not one tax dollar has been spent, and no, they are not “depending on subsidies from the users of the other services it provides to cover its operating expenses.” In fact they gather to the community around $400,000 in tax collections. (although, to be fair, that tax amount would be higher if only the private companies, and their higher customer prices, existed. But neglectful would I be if I didn’t rub in your face the greater burden to our citizens.)

    In other words, even in a small town of 30,000 they are hugely successful!

    Our little town captures over $8 million dollars per year that used to go to your corporate overlords as profits (and to pay you to shill), and keeps that money right here in our community. It’s lower prices also saves us users approx. $3 million in rate savings.

    Our utility uses that money to lower user costs and improve internet speeds (yes it’s cheaper, and offers faster speeds than the private competition in our area.)

    This municipal utility has the highest level of technology available in this area, the best customer service, the best picture quality, the most HD channels, and the fastest internet speeds by far! Because our community invested in itself by installing a Fiber To The Home system, our little town has had gigabit services available to any customer who wants it, for a while now.

    So, despite the machinations of the private telecom industry, state legislative efforts led by groups like ALEC to block municipal progress, negative reports and outlandish spins from conservative ‘think tanks’ and superpacs; ours, and many other municipal systems excel!

    Stick that in your negativity pipe and smoke it! (ok, ok… cheesy, I know… but I could have gone with “up your nose with a municipally owned fiber optics cable!”)

  • JonThomas

    There it is again… spin from the shills. Listen, I’ll be clear!

    OUR BROADBAND SPEEDS ARE THE FASTEST OF ANY COMPETITOR AVAILABLE TO US!

    Why, in the sake of honest debate would you jump to… “on the planet”?

    Is Hong Kong going to run me a personal line? Dude, come on!

    WE ALREADY HAVE GIGABIT SERVICES! We were one of the first!

    Ugh… this is like talking to a worn out bulldozer.

    You know, any honest person would say… “congratulations…. it’s good to see success! I think our community should follow that model.” But, profit and dollar signs always get in the way of honesty!

  • Anonymous

    Don’t remove FCC regulations because GREEDY COMPANIES WANT STOP PRICE GOUGING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO DEATH!

  • LizinOregon

    This is another important issue we have been sold out on by this President. And Bill’s opening analogy is apt in light of the announcement this week that the administration is now pushing to turn our public roads over to the private sector. There too they will cherry-pick the most profitable parts and leave the crumbling infrastructure the rest of us use to fade away.

  • JonThomas

    Yeah a newspaper article stating facts. But I suppose it’s nothing, it’s from that fly-by-night rag…what was the name? Oh yeah… The NY Times!

    And after reading you other comments, your agenda is clear. For my own benefit I’ll pay attention (although with suspicion) to your words about Ookla, but as far as any paper you have written, you are too heavily biased to be of any value. You started one of your comments with…. “Sometimes it appears that the left is more interested in…”

    Seriously dude..? A political swipe from a technology expert?

  • Anonymous

    if President Obama rolls over on his commitment to the internet neutrality issue he will go done in history as a loser …Plain and simple and his family will live in shame like the Bushes…

  • Vera Gottlieb

    Why should the Internet be any different, it just took longer: profits before people foremost. It is how Americans view the world: through the sign of the dollar.

  • D Monroe

    Revolving doors, crony capitalism, too big to fail and prosecute banks, democracy destroying secret trade deals, widening wealth gap, bumbling foreign policy, the surveillance state. Now his bought off FCC is going to give away the Internet. The guy is a complete shyster, padding his nest and preparing for follow on life as one of the elite and privileged class.

  • Anonymous

    The choice we now have or will in future have may be only to pay a lot to get a lot. That is how telephone has ended up. It is cheap if you have a median income, expensive if you are poor. That is not fair. Telephone ought to be free of dirt cheap for the poor, reasonable for all others.

    Internet will be the same. If the free market is protected from monopoly, the rates will be affordable– but not for the poor.

    Susan Crawford spoke my mind. I would make her President of the USA. She would like regulations in the public interest. I would too.

    Crawford sees oligopoly– not monopoly. It will be crooked as now. But it will NOT be as bad as possible.

    The protection we need is not impossible to get. But unless we get Susan Crawford at the top, or someone as smart and as fair, we will get what we have. Not as awful as in a banana Republic. Not as good as the best.

    Whose is best ? They say South Korea. Maybe Denmark or Switzerland. Only scholarship and research can discover the answer. If we try to do it on the cheap, in the end we will have a lousy Internet. If we put DARPA and NSA in charge, with an open checkbook (whereby the more we spend usually has meant we were the best on Earth,) I for one would be happy.

    But, for the moment Susan Crawford is certainly more to be trusted than our Congress or our President.

  • susanpub

    Ms. Crawford is naive at best if she expects fair public service from either of those bozos (Powell & Wheeler). For some time, I have thought Powell may be as corrupt as they come.

  • susanpub

    I do, but no one in Oklahoma (where the state LOVES it’s tolls) gives a rat’s petooty what I think.

  • susanpub

    Oh, like his predecessors never did any of these? I’m no fan of Mr. Obama these days, but it gets tiresome when the Obama-haters act like he invented this business as usual mode of operation. Powell was appointed to the FCC by Clinton & made chairman by Baby Bush!

  • susanpub

    Put the NSA in charge of a method of communication?

  • susanpub

    “We might better complain to the FCC about cable charging for 500 channels when all you want is five good ones–or whatever the quantity.”
    This is another issue I could get on the bandwagon for (for which I could get on the bandwagon…?) But as you point out (“Except that has been done and we got nowhere”) that may be spitting into the wind.

  • susanpub

    This comment does not surprise me in the slightest. It just makes me sad for us here.

  • susanpub

    “The left” is big – an awful lot of people for you to generalize about & put in one pot.

  • susanpub

    OH, YES!!

  • susanpub

    And we have the best healthcare in the world for our citizens…

  • susanpub

    You know it’s good because you wrote it…

  • susanpub

    The US beats “the world average.” That makes me feel better.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    I’m happy for you. As I said, muni networking projects can work quite well, but many have failed due to poor planning and lack of operational expertise. Contrast your experience with that of the people of Provo Utah, who had to sell their UTOPIA fiber-to-the-home network to Google for $1 because it was mired in debt and unable to meet its operational goals. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. As for your fears about capitalism and shilling, these public projects are heavily supported by equipment companies, because they benefit handsomely from duplicate equipment sales. Stockholm, Sweden went down the public infrastructure road because it’s the home of Ericsson, a major producer of network switches.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Which town are you talking about? I’d like to do a little fact-checking, if you don’t mind.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Technologists aren’t allowed to make political observations? Gee, I’m glad nobody told me that when I was marching and demonstrating for civil rights, ending the Vietnam War, and supporting Earth Day. And here I thought we believed in free speech in the USA…

  • JonThomas

    No, you are right, I should have phrased that better.

    When a person (technology expert or not) claims… “I know it’s good because I wrote it…” and his background shows a distinct agenda against net-neutrality… then he takes a broad swipe against ‘the left’… then when it does come to technological papers he may have written, especially those on policy, his objectivity and thus even his earnestness is brought into obvious question!

  • JonThomas

    I would have been less staunch if you had led with… “muni networking projects can work quite well.”

    Unfortunately you skipped straight to the failure assumption.

    Commenting can be a difficult forum to engage in discussion. As we all see everyday, it quickly breaks down into misunderstandings, insults, and trolls (many of which are paid.)

    That said, private companies also fail in the telecom industry, do they not? [also ignoring the almost impossibility for small start-ups, that is if it were not for community involvement.]

    Therefore, using such municipal failures as a standard is not an earnest measure of judgment for an entire field of endeavor.

    However, in a spirit of honest, no-agenda discussion, thank you for the warning towards municipal isp’s. But, I’m sure you don’t mind if we continue on prospering.

    I have no real fears against ‘capitalism’ (although I do have concerns against shilling when involved in a discussion of this nature.)

    Personally, I have no real adherence to any ‘ ism.’ Yet, if there is an ism to be concerned about, profit motive sure makes cronyism a real threat to the interests of the average, un-powered individual. Capitalism just makes cronyism more prevalent.

    There are other systems, including corporatism, which would make totalitarianism, or even feudalism, a real concern.

    One last point, when there is more than one private isp in an area, do they also not have to double up on equipment?

    If monopoly is the real goal, are you suggesting that we boot the private companies out of our market? [/jest] LOL.

    Sorry, since you haven’t yet replied, I did edit after posting this comment.

  • JC

    Interesting show (as were all the discussions regarding Information “ownership.”) First, this economy is built on a “free market” foundation. We have laws against monopolies. So, the real questions here should be: 1. Are our elected officials really doing what we elected them to do? Or, are they spending most of our money (yes, we do pay them out of the taxpayer’s coffers) and time raising funds for PACs that support these big corporations and lobbyists who represent the providers and thus, have a major say-so in who gets to “play in the sandbox?”
    We should be holding these people accountable and demanding Congress pass legislation to get off the special interests $tit. It should be illegal for people in Congress to spend the majority of their time fund raising for their party’s shindigs and re-elections.
    Then, the free market might be able to function instead of being crippled by predatory interests and big money multi-conglomerates whose only real interest is the “bottom line.”Historically, when these corporations are only focused on profit, they sometimes forget their social, moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities. One only need look at the stock market crashes to know this to be a fact.
    Also, companies like Areo are just innovative in creating antenna farms that lock into the “open air” systems to get content. It’s not unlike Bill Gates and his partners when they first developed the precursors to the internet when Microsoft wasn’t even known in the computer world. Personally, I feel some good old U.S.A. competition is what’s needed in this country; it might jump start the economy out of the doldrums, and help the Middle Class back to a place it should be (i.e. being the largest contributor to the GNP in this country.)

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    On the other hand, said person might actually know what he’s talking about. It’s a logical possibility, at least.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Too many insinuations, too many personal attacks, and too much emotion. I’m done.

  • JonThomas

    The fact that you may know what you are talking about is what is scary.

    Here’s the scene from an average peon’s perspective…

    Corporations and their lobbyists wield immense power and influence over the information given to both: elected representatives, and the ‘deep state’ bureaucracy.

    These same powerful interests now control the funding of elected leaders and therefore now have an entrenched position on who might receive regulatory appointments. Not receiving and then not continuing to receive campaign funding is a non-starter for entering politics, and ends political careers.

    The devastation of unions, and the general attack on the power of workers to influence government means a huge swing of power to the same corporate and monied, powerful interests.

    Instead of a natural adjustment to the power structure, the loss of wealth to the lower and middle classes through the banking industry’s unethical practices, along with a corporate self-sponsored tax-payer bail-out of the very people who caused the problem solidified and even propelled the positions and growth of this same corporate class.

    The system was horribly abused by those in power, and instead of them reaping the consequences of their actions… they were rewarded.

    Through all these changes, the corporate media and information creators/distributors are consolidating power and the average citizen is again losing more and more control over their ability to be properly informed.

    Net-neutrality is one of the last bastions of a level playing field were users with internet access have an equal ability to produce and search for content.

    When someone like yourself comes along and tells users that for-profit corporations entwined in, and profiting from all these power struggles, should be able to decide what is preferred content due to profits they could make by giving right of way to the most powerful, and perhaps even throttling back the less influential, then you need to realize that you are not serving the interests of the people.

    You are serving the interests of the powerful and monied. We have no wealth. We have no power. All we have left is the waning availability to what’s left of an equal contribution.

    The average person has no say left to influence, and empower their own lives. Net-neutrality represents the end game and the last stand for any type of equality.

    When the FCC is led by appointees from the very industry it is to regulate, then (just like what happened with the banking industry) their interests are in preeminent position to be acted upon.

    Then, when a municipality like my own does stand up and act in it’s citizen’s best interests, some corporate apologist comes along and down plays that exercise of community power!

    You directly represent the siphoning of $8 million dollars from our town! And you wonder why there is high emotion? You wonder why there are reasonable insinuations? You wonder why every word you say is questioned, and you perceive personal attacks???!!!

    Listen, if you don’t want to feel like you are being personally attacked, then don’t stand up for the very groups that are attacking our interests!

    I have to stop there…

  • Anonymous

    I’m confused from the getgo here. Comcast already charges differently for different speeds….?

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    You have a host of personal complaints – of a very Biblical nature – about a host of issues. Most of us get over the simplistic black and white construction of the moral universe by the time we’re old enough to drink, may I suggest you start to make an effort?

    For many Americans, profits are the way the people signal their satisfaction with particular goods and services. For many Americans, voting with the pocketbook is a more reliable indicator of service suitability than the pie-in-the-sky wishes of a law professors and other political operatives.

    Tom Wheeler headed the cable association 30 years ago, when cable was a brash new upstart battling the entrenched oligopoly, the TV broadcasters. Cable transformed the 3 channel TV universe dominated by boondoggles and payoffs such as KLBJ in Austin, TX, into the 200 channel world of today that produces shows like The Wire and Mad Men. That was a constructive development. To denounce him as an industry shill today, when he’s 67 years old, wealthy, and not looking for a next job, is childish and ignorant. I disagree with Wheeler on many, if not most issues, but I keep my criticism of him civil.

    And I only feel that your charges that I’m shilling as opposed to representing my honest viewpoint as a personal attack because it is one; it’s utterly transparent.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Still waiting for the name of nirvana town.

  • JonThomas

    Net-Neutrality is not so much about the internet speed price package you choose from Comcast. That is about the speed of data reception on your end and is completely dependent on the speed you choose.

    It is more about how Comcast (in your case as your provider) chooses to treat the information delivered to you from different websites.

    For example… Netflix is a site through which you can watch a movie. A movie is a large amount of data. There are a number of factors involved in how that data is transformed into a conveniently, and smoothly watched movie… including the processing power of your computers, the number of computers in your house, and yes, the speed and bandwidth of your connection.

    However, one of the issues of Net-neutrality is how Comcast might choose to filter the data from Netflix, vs, say, Hulu (another provider of movies) as it is delivered to you.

    If Comcast is allowed to charge these movie site companies different data delivery tiers pricing, and Netflix chooses to pay, but Hulu does not choose (or maybe an even smaller company cannot afford to pay their fast delivery tier prices,) then Netflix content will be delivered faster than Hulu.

    A problem really comes in when Comcast, in order to make room for that large amount of tiered data, throttles back Hulu. Then any movie from Hulu will be frustrating to watch. People may begin to dislike Hulu and they will lose customers.

    Imagine now a small start-up company. It will become very difficult to compete with the movies Netflix delivered. Especially if that company wants to charge less than a Netflix subscription.

    So, what Net-Neutrality does, is not allow Comcast to treat any content delivered to your computer differently from any other content. It all has to be treated neutrally and without delivery tiers

    Sorry that was so long, I hope it helped.

  • JonThomas

    Yeah, I’m doing my own research… before I give out my location. Also, I will not post it publicly. I value whatever is left of my privacy ty.

    I will let you know soon.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    How do I know you’re not telling tale tales? I follow muni broadband initiatives, and haven’t heard of a town like yours unless you live in Morristown, TN, and have a penchant for exaggeration.

  • JonThomas

    Ok, let’s give you a fair shake. You work with and from what I understand… run, Hightechforum.org

    From that site…

    Hightechforum.org is brought to you by Richard Bennett, a consultant, writer, and speaker with a thirty year background in network engineering. He contributed to the original Ethernet hub and Wi-Fi standards as well as the recent 802.11n and UWB standards. Richard advises regulators, lawmakers, and industry leaders on both sides of the Atlantic on networking standards and systems as an independent consultant and formerly as a Research Fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington. The views he expresses on this blog are his alone and not those of any organization.

    It says in that ‘bio’ that you are what we can reasonably accept as being, a paid ‘consultant’.

    Your views, as expressed here, and in the Wall Street Journal, reflect industry interests to do away with Net-Neutrality.

    If you are paid to promote that corporate isp industry view, whether as a commentator, or as a consultant, then by definition you are a shill.

    If however, you were being paid to post here (and I do not believe you are) then you would cross the line to a more recent, and nuanced addition to the meaning of “troll”.

  • moderator

    Richard and JonThomas,

    You have both made your points of view quite clear. Before anyone breaks the comment policy, it is time to move on with no further comment.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    JonThomas and Richard,

    You have both made your points of view quite clear. Before anyone breaks the comment policy, it is time to move on with no further comment.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    Richard and JonThomas,

    You have both made your points of view quite clear. Before anyone breaks the comment policy, it is time to move on with no further comment.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    JonThomas and Richard,

    You have both made your points of view quite clear. Before anyone breaks the comment policy, it is time to move on with no further comment.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    I’m only going to say this once, Jon, so read carefully: I have never
    been paid to represent anyone’s point of view in any public forum,
    gathering, or publication. The views I express are mine and mine alone,
    and anytime I find my views at odds with the wishes of a client, I cut
    them off.

    Many of my consulting clients are government agencies and
    departments, including some in the US. They certainly don’t tell me what
    to say. In the kind of consulting that I do, I tell the client what I
    think they should do, not the other way around.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t apologize at all for the length, Jon. This was very helpful. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    According to Akamai (the site you reference), Sweden has faster average connection speed than the United States, at a cheaper price (according to Ookla), and it is far more sparsely populated. Japan has a faster average connection speed than New Jersey, at a lower price, and it is also more sparsely populated. The Czech Republic has comparable population density to California and faster average connection speed, at one-half the price. And there are many foreign big cities with comparable or faster connection speeds at much lower prices than Comcast and Verizon provide to American big cities. How the existence of Alaska precludes American companies from providing New York the same connection speed at a comparable price that Tokyo enjoys—this has yet to be explained.

  • Mark Cohen

    I’m counting the days! :)

  • MikeD

    What the FCC is attempting to do is what the Supreme Court did in the Citizens United decision – equate money with free speech.

    The stakes couldn’t be higher for what is left of our tattered democracy. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “If I had to choose between government without the Internet, and the Internet without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.”

  • Anonymous

    The solution for saving net neutrality, and dealing with hacking and government/corporate intrusion as well, is a wireless USB peer-to-peer (P2P) device.

    P2P would work in parallel to internet access. Its default protocol would be to work as a packet server, use otherwise unused CPU cycles at the lowest priority, treat every packet as a virus, and not run any executables contained in the packets.

    The servers would set up and update chains of communication as devices dropped in and out of use or range. There will be instances where available bandwidth limits communication to text, but for most personal communication – and most importantly emergency communication, text is entirely adequate.

    The only messages that get through would be from email addresses and urls pre-authorized by the user. This would limit privacy to people who share secure keys, would overwhelm government or corporate spying even for unsecured transmissions by sheer volume, and could not be taken down by any government or other group.

    In the event the internet is taken down or other national emergency, citizens, first responders, the military, and other officials could continue to communicate as long as their batteries or other power sources hold out.

    P2P development has been slow because of battery power requirements on mobile devices, but batteries have improved greatly, and plugged-in devices are not affected. In fact, not plugging in your mobile device whenever you can so that P2P can use all those idle cycles would be considered anti-social.

    The real hurdle for P2P is that government and corporate spies will fight it tooth and nail with everything they’ve got, but they will not be able to control distribution of the devices, and they will not be able to justify leaving us vulnerable to an internet doomsday.

    Who’s ready to start selling wireless USB P2P big-time?

  • Anonymous

    If net neutrality ends, you can expect history to remember this event as the straw that finally broke and led to an overthrow of corruption and possibly an overthrow of the government in the USA itself. If corporations think this will go mostly unnoticed, they are wrong. Any company that supports this is essentially committing suicide. They may have monopolies for the most part, but people won’t support this, not after they see where it leads. This either ends with ISP’s being reclassified and staying intact, or it ends with their demise and civil unrest. The American people will not stand for this.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    You’re looking at the Figure 20, which measures web browsing. The network capacity number is in Figure 21, titled Average Peak Connection speed. You’ll see it’s four times higher than Fig. 20. Browsers download on multiple TCP connections at the same time, which introduces the choice of browser and computer speed into the equation. Akamai agrees that Avg. Peak is a better measure of network capacity.

    Mean population density is misleading for places like Alaska and Sweden where so much land area is completely empty. The better way to look at it is the population density of the cities or the median density of the total land area. Stockholm, for example, has the same population as San Jose, CA, but in Stockholm 80% live in multiple-tenant buildings compared to 20% in San Jose. High rise buildings are cheaper to serve at high speeds, so the US is not going to ever be number 1 in international speed until we all move into the kind of buildings that East Asian live in.

    I’ve already discussed uniform national pricing, so I’ll just add this: If you compare American states to nations internationally, 5 of the 10 fastest regions are American states.

  • http://www.None.com TomGI

    Read Ralph Naders new book, “Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State”

  • http://www.None.com TomGI

    And don’t forget Comcast owns ‘Xfinity’ which competes with Netflix. Also keep in mind if a company does not want top tier service at top tier pricing Comcast may decide to restrict their access to NBC/Universal programing or charge accordingly (as punishment) for denying Comcast revenue.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    Nobody. The store and forward delays limit meshes to three hops.

  • Ardi Hominid

    Susan Crawford is great advocate for net neutrality. She argues her point very well. The US citizen has got to stand up. In this case, government is your friend not your enemy, and visa versa, corporations are not your friend they are your enemy.

  • JonThomas

    Your welcome!

  • JonThomas

    No problem. Keep in mind that my comment was just a primer. TomGI and others brought out some deeper, and extremely important potentialities.

  • Anonymous

    I’d guess the existing big telecom companies would accept wired internet provision as Common Carriers if they saw that there was a serious move to create widespread, co-operative ownership of other local infrastructures that were tied to and financed by the properties to which they connected that had a good chance of succeeding. Once people were locked into financial commitment to finance that infrastructure, the marginal price of paying for internet and the other services that could come down that pipe, which could be provided by competing private companies under contract, would likely forever remove them as potential customers for the existing providers.

    Building multiple, local, high-speed, wired infrastructures just to curb monopoly pricing power is bad economics. Instead of having to pay for multiple local infrastructures, a single one would enjoy great cost efficiencies. I’d like to see a national organization developed to facilitate the creation of such private co-operatives and share the cost of overcoming, as well as deterring, the use of the immense resources, legal and political, of the current telecom interests. Before actually building such additional infrastructures, the existing telecoms could be given the opportunity to sell theirs to the co-operatives before it’s value would be degraded by another infrastructure whose owners would be financially committed to using.

    Again my guess is that, faced with losing their customers, the existing providers would prefer to retain ownership as common carriers, reckoning the that their demonstrable skills at regulatory capture would be a more profitable option than selling to co-ops at prices that didn’t include rent-seeking value.

    I recognize that setting up an effective national organization to provide the expertise and services needed to facilitate the planning and development of local network infrastructure is no small task. Property owners committing to their local endeavors would need to feel confident that is a sound decision. On the other hand such an effort would be people acting to change the situation on their own rather than trying to overcome the entrenched political/regulatory power of the existing telecom interests.

    I wonder if Google might consider financing such a venture. I took it they entered the local infrastructure market not for itself but rather for the opportunities Google would have because more people had high-speed connections. If it’s that end Google seeks, maybe facilitating another means of getting there that could result in even greater access as a function of price by way of cost efficiencies and removing rent-seeking power would be an attractive alternative.

  • Gwen Samelson

    #ConstantCommerce is dangerous – agree with your comment Vera. Sadly

  • Gwen Samelson

    Ditto. Power of the purse! It works! Now we’ve got to get 300 million people to think like us. Happily I was able to get rid of my printer too via 70 free print outs per week at my library. Audio file here, so not big no TV – but do have smallest package Comcast service, and ditto Mark – I’m counting the days too.

  • Vera Gottlieb

    What is dangerous is greed. Live and let live.

  • Sheryl Zettner

    Kind of funny that I can’t view a video on net neutrality and losing bandwidth because the software you are uploading it with is too demanding for my old computer. I don’t have this problem on youtube.

  • JonThomas

    Not sure if this will work for you but you might try using a different internet browser. Some are more integrated than others.

    I also remember a while back that Moyers & Company’s shows were hosted on a separate site which used a different video platform. You should be able to search the show title to find if that is still an option.

  • Sheryl Zettner

    Thanks JonThomas. :-) I actually tried it in two different browsers. I’ll look for the other site you mention though. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    First, assuming Akamai’s strictly factual data are reliable, it doesn’t follow that its opinions (say, as to the “best way” to measure Internet connection quality) are true. Second, the data on peak connection speed vs. average connection speed change little in the aforementioned comparisons I made. Third, the facts, on the one hand, and their putative causes on the other hand, are separate questions. It is apparently an undeniable fact that very few American cities enjoy access to the superfast, supercheap Internet connections that numerous foreign cities enjoy. The most likely cause of this fact is that the giant American telecoms do not think it would maximize their profits (their only concern) to provide such a service, given the current state of American law and policy, which they have been able to effect through their massive bribes to politicians.

  • http://hightechforum.org/ Richard Bennett

    If Americans need ultra-fast broadband today, they can get it in high-rise apartments in large cities. Three residential carriers supply gigabit broadband in San Francisco to people in new high rises; the carriers are Paxio, Webpass, and Sonic.

    It’s really not a policy issue, it’s the way we choose to live in the US. 19th century populist fantasies are fun and all, but they don’t explain many things.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t say merely ultra-fast, but ultra-cheap also; without the latter, it isn’t simply a matter of who wants ultra fast Internet, but who can afford it. Policy is one reflection of how people “choose to live” in any country or city. The idea of universal healthcare (a single-payer plan) was once a “populist fantasy” in all countries—now it is only such in the US among rich nations. Abolition of child labor in the style of industrial England was once derided as a populist fantasy. Populist desires only remain fantasies as long as democracy is effectively neutralized by powerful, immensely rich, and numerically tiny minorities who pursue their own interests at the expense of the interests of the vast majority. In light of the enormous democratic deficit in the US, it is absurd to describe the status quo in the US as how “we” choose to live, unless by “we” you mean the tiny power-elite who decide policy (or whatever word you choose to describe “how we choose to live”).

  • Anonymous

    Democracy itself was long derided as a populist fantasy by the kings and aristocrats who preferred to keep all power in their own hands.

  • GregoryC

    False argument Obama supporters use: “you didn’t complain when so and so was in office.” I did complain when Bush was in office, and Clinton, and Pappy Bush, and Reagan.

  • GregoryC

    Obama has betrayed so many campaign promises, did the man pull off the biggest con ever in 2008? Public option? No. Whistleblower protection? No. Net Neutrality? No. EFCA? No. Renegotiate NAFTA? No. Accountability for Wall Street? No. Openness and Transparency? No & No. Negotiate the price of prescription drugs, import from Canada? No. Restore Civil Liberties? No. Not hire lobbyists? NO. Post all bills on the internet for 5 days before passing? No.

  • f00dl3

    Fact is with most Americans being in debt, nobody really cares how much they are paying to be connected anymore. 10 GB plans on your typical family of 3 iPhone 5s run ~$150/month, plus your $60/month broadband at home, your $10/month Netflix, and your $10/month hulu, you’re already paying about $250/month for the Internet. Whats another $50? Who cares!