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Government The Internet

FCC Planning Rule Changes To Restore US Net Neutrality 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
Karl C writes "In a statement issued today, FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler announced that the commission will begin a rule-making process to re-impose Net Neutrality, which was recently struck down in Federal court. Among the standards Wheeler intends to pursue are vigorous enforcement of a requirement for transparency in how ISPs manage traffic, and a prohibition on blocking (the 'no blocking' provision.) This seems like exactly what net neutrality activists have been demanding: Total prohibition of throttling, and vigorous enforcement of that rule, and of a transparency requirements so ISPs can't try to mealy-mouth their way around accusations that they're already throttling Netflix. Even before the court decision overturning net neutrality, Comcast and Verizon users have been noting Netflix slowdowns for months."
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FCC Planning Rule Changes To Restore US Net Neutrality

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  • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @04:39PM (#46289593) Journal

    If this is so great, explain "total prohibition of throttling". Most networks are oversubscribed, and that's OK since most users use a small portion of their allowed bandwidth. One way or another, there will be throttling. What about QoS-based throttling? Voice traffic is harmed much more by dropped packets than torrents. The ISPs sell voice service, and they sell products that compete with torrents. Doing the right thing for QoS directly serves the financial interests of the ISPs. Should we cut off our nose to spiderface? Never spiderface.

    So are we going to have clear rules about what you can and can't throttle? Simple rules won't work. ISPs will be better at gaming those rules than the FCC will be at writing them. As SuperKendall posted about 4000 times the last time this came up (and still most people didn't get it): the way Comcast was throttling Netflix was perfectly OK under the last set of rules. Do you think more rules will help? There are always corner cases to exploit, because each new rule just creates new corners.

    Anyhow, we know where any complex set of rules ends: the big players end up writing the rules. I'm sure the cable companies would happily give up throttling Netflix if they get in exchange the ability to bar any new players from entering the ISP business. After all, they don't have local monopolies everywhere yet, but with a high enough regulatory barrier to entry they could get there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @04:43PM (#46289637)

    You do know that the phrase is "cut your nose off to spite your face", right?

    Hopefully you're just trying to be clever, I trust?

  • by The Cat (19816) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @04:47PM (#46289669)

    One way or another, there will be throttling.

    Right up to the point where we make it illegal.

    Do you think more rules will help?

    No. But buying Comcast will [slashdot.org].

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @04:51PM (#46289719)
    Assume no. Proceed as if the announcement was made that things are going to get worse. E-mail the FCC, e-mail your congressperson. We should believe that this is merely PR to get us to calm down, then do nothing. Wheeler was a lobbyist for the people he's regulating. That doesn't prove he's corrupt and is doing this to screw us over, but I'd bet good money if I had it that he's corrupt and is doing this to screw us over.
  • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @06:02PM (#46290347)

    So now you are going to make it so that any pipe the ISP has, if it becomes saturated with data, they are legally required to upgrade it to a larger pipe?

    No? Because that is how netflix is being "throttled" today. They just don't have a large enough pipe to them to satisfy all the requests.

    Wait, there is evidence that Netflix is SELECTIVELY throttled today, not that available bandwidth is exhausted.

    In other words, when everybody jumps on Netflix in the evening, Gaming, YouTube, and just plain surfing should be dreadfully slow. Yet that does not appear to be the case for most people. Netflix is affected, but the spam and chock-full-of-ads pages load as fast as ever.

    So your premise is wrong, which means your conclusion can't be supported.

    HOWEVER, still, you make a good point, because when Netflix is not selectively throttled, the effect of everybody wanting one to five high bandwidth streams into every home could have a devastating effect on all parts of the network. Especially the last mile.

    Even when Netflix (and similar) servers are located on the ISP's local head-ends, moving all TV viewing to IP traffic will swamp the last mile. It is dramatically more traffic than the same amount of programming traveling by digital cable, because every single user is a separate stream starting at separate times.
    (Please don't anyone pop up and say Multicast. It doesn't work that way and won't help).

    So you are left with the same problem, of potentially saturated bandwidth as everybody moves to IP-TV. And forcing cable plant upgrades to fiber everywhere is probably the only way around this. But the FCC probably doesn't have the authority to do that, and the natural Monopoly enjoyed by cable plants probably isn't going to make it easy for competition to come in.

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