Massive win for Internet Liberty as FCC Mandates Equal Access for All

By Jeremy Gillula and Mitch Stoltz | ( Electronic Frontier Foundation) | –

As expected, the FCC’s new rules forbid ISPs from charging Internet users for special treatment on their networks. It will also reach interconnection between ISPs and transit providers or edge services, allowing the FCC to ensure that ISPs don’t abuse their gatekeeper authority to favor some services over others.

That’s great for making sure websites and services can reach ISP customers, but what about making sure customers can choose for themselves how to use their Internet connections without interference from their ISPs? To accomplish this, the FCC has banned ISPs from blocking or throttling their customers’ traffic based on content, applications or services—which means users, hackers, tinkerers, artists, and knowledge seekers can continue to innovate and experiment on the Internet, using any app or service they please, without having to get their ISP’s permission first.

Even better, the rules will apply to wireless and wired broadband in the same way, so you don’t have to worry that your phone switching from Wi-Fi to a 4G network will suddenly cause apps not to work or websites to become inaccessible. Lots of people use mobile devices as their primary way of accessing the Internet, so applying net neutrality rules to both equally will help make sure there is “one Internet” for all.

So congratulations, Team Internet. We put the FCC on the right path at last. Reclassification under Title II was a necessary step in order to give the FCC the authority it needed to enact net neutrality rules. But now we face the really hard part: making sure the FCC doesn’t abuse its authority.

For example, the new rules include a “general conduct rule” that will let the FCC take action against ISP practices that don’t count as blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization. As we said last week and last year, vague rules are a problem. The FCC wants to be, in Chairman Wheeler’s words, “a referee on the field” who can stop any ISP action that it thinks “hurts consumers, competition, or innovation.” The problem with a rule this vague is that neither ISPs nor Internet users can know in advance what kinds of practices will run afoul of the rule. Only companies with significant legal staff and expertise may be able to use the rule effectively. And a vague rule gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence. That means our work is not yet done. We must stay vigilant, and call out FCC overreach…

Via Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Vox: ” The FCC’s new net neutrality rules, explained in 172 seconds”

2 Responses

  1. Since the Right will not stop fighting the FCC, it is important to keep the focus on Net Neutrality. Each side in this fight complains that the other side wants to change the status quo and ruin a successful new system. Our side says that neutrality is the norm, their side says that nonregulation is the norm. The latter is much easier to sell as an ideological taboo because it fits the entire right-wing narrative.

    If you can’t convince conservative friends that neutrality is the thing that made the Net successful, then point out something their billionaire tribal leaders won’t. Genuinely independent right-wing media will also be crushed by fast lanes. These guys claim to not be shills for the Wall Street agenda; what happens to their anti-Mexican conspiracy sites, anti-Federal Reserve sites, 9-11 sites, even white supremacist sites, when they get slowed to make way for more Fox News?

  2. Some things to keep in mind . . .

    – Every nation on earth uses the same exact broadband technology and pays almost the same wholesale price for the technology, USA networks just make much more profit with it.

    – Several hundred feet of twisted pair and coax both support over 100 MBPS, so it is not necessary to put fibre in every home and business, just get the fibre close enough.

    – Fibre terminal ports cost less than US$50 each, one time cost. That is, after the first month of a typical USA network bill the port is paid for.

    – The coax and twisted pair that goes into over 95% of all homes and businesses has been paid for. In some case as much as 100 years ago.

    – The modem devices in the homes cost less than US$15 on the global wholesale market – they consist of a very inexpensive ARM computer running free open source software and a few inexpensive broadband protocol chips.

    – The extensive twisted pair and coax distribution networks built over the last 150 years have been replaced by fibre terminal distribution networks because the fibre networks lower maintenance costs so much, they pay for the “upgrade” within three years. The telcos and cable companies replaced their old distribution networks, not to “improve service” (which it did), but to vastly increase their profits by inflating the cost of replacement and ignoring the huge savings.

    – Over 90% of the fibre/coax/twisted-pair networks installed before 2010 in the US have been completely paid for, at least once but in most cases, two or three times over.

    – The actual cost to provide broadband service in the USA is less than US$5/month (including the CEO jet usage).

    – Most other countries have separated transport from content providing and require the transport networks to lease the network segments at wholesale prices with a low guaranteed profit to any content provider. This competition for the transport service has yielded very low cost and high speed broadband. In the USA, this woudl mean Comcast and ATT could either provide transport to all vendors or provide content using other’s transport network but could NOT do both. Shareholders do not like transport because the profit potential is fixed at about 5% (but is guaranteed).

    The bottom line is the USA political process and ideology is causing Americans to pay far, far too much for really , really bad service. This is another case where “socialism” really is better than the mess Americans have.

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