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From FCC Head Wheeler, a Yellow Light For Internet Fast Lanes 149

Posted by timothy
from the what-I-meant-was dept.
An anonymous reader writes "FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has decided to back-pedal just a bit on his recent proposal to end the "Open Internet" regulation regime in favor of a system with more liberal rules that could include so-called internet fast lanes, by means of which major ISPs could favor or disfavor different kinds or providers of internet traffic. Says an article at USA Today, 'Wheeler's latest revision doesn't entirely ban Internet fast lanes, leaving room for some public-interest cases like a healthcare company sending electrocardiography results. But unlike his initial proposal last month, Wheeler is proposing to specifically ban certain types of fast-lanes, including prioritization given by ISPs to their subsidiaries that make and stream content, according to an FCC official who wasn't authorized talk about the revisions publicly before the vote. Wheeler is also open to applying some "common carrier" rules that regulate telephone companies, which would result in more stringent oversight of the ISPs in commercial transactions.'" Update: 05/13 16:37 GMT by T : Oops -- I missed this earlier, substantially similar story.
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From FCC Head Wheeler, a Yellow Light For Internet Fast Lanes

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  • From Wikipedia: (Score:5, Informative)

    by recoiledsnake (879048) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:21PM (#46990537)

    From Wiki:

    Thomas E. Wheeler is the current Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November, 2013. Prior to working at the FCC, Wheeler worked as a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with positions including President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).

    • A conflict of interest if I ever saw one.
      • A conflict of interest if I ever saw one.

        That's a suspected conflict of interest, not an outright one. He may still have a financial interest in a company or have a secret deal. If working in the industry meant you couldn't ever move into government to regulate the industry you'd never get anyone competent to work for the feds. Would you want the FDA to never hire anyone with a medical degree?

    • by javelinco (652113)

      ...It is the cornerstone of President Obama's campaign theme about limiting the influence of special interests. During the campaign, Obama said many times that lobbyists would not run his White House, and the campaign delighted in tweaking rival John McCain for the former lobbyists who worked on McCain's campaign. Obama's ethics proposals specifically spelled out that former lobbyists would not be allowed to "work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years." On his first full day in office, Obama signed an executive order to that effect. But the order has a loophole — a "waiver" clause that allows former lobbyists to serve. That waiver clause has been used at least three times, and in some cases, the administration allows former lobbyists to serve without a waiver. After examining the administration's actions for the past two months, we have concluded that Obama has broken this promise. See Promise No. 240 for the full details.

      http://www.politifact.com/trut... [politifact.com]

      • In addition to this, he also promised to defend Net Neutrality once elected, only to do the exact opposite. Kind of like he has done on so many other issues.

        I don't know what it is going to take from the Liberals to realize that Obama is GWB's third and fourth terms. It is as if the (D) behind his name creates a Reality Distortion Field beyond even what Jobs was able to generate.

        • We're far more pissed about Obama than you are. Take your little reality distortion field back to FOX News.

          Why are liberals pissed? Drone strikes on innocents. Drone strikes on Americans without trials. Didn't close Gitmo. Didn't push for universal healthcare. Didn't push for marriage equality. Keeps nominating conservatives to important posts. Defends warrantless wiretapping. Defends secret courts. Doesn't kick congresses ass. "enhanced interogation". Keeps trying to make deals with Republcans who so o

    • Looks like someone trying to fill their pockets before they move on.

      Anyone that states, "Trickle Down works", is a liar.
  • I have no problem giving awesome speed to their own subsidiary content providers.

    I have a problem with deliberately hindering particular providers when their contract with home users says they will provide certain rates of speed that the home user pays for. That is fraud.

    • No problem. Their ads will declare (small print)up to(/small print) (large print) OUTRAGEOUS 1000MBPS SPEEDS (/large print). Then, the contract will contain - on page 48 of the fine print that nobody reads - that the ISP can't be held liable for slow downs for any reason even if they purposefully slow down some sites in an effort to get money from those sites.

      Would that be fine?

    • I have no problem giving awesome speed to their own subsidiary content providers.

      I have a problem with deliberately hindering particular providers when their contract with home users says they will provide certain rates of speed that the home user pays for. That is fraud.

      If I am reading you right, you disagree with fraud and false advertising, but I repeat myself (and you). I disagree with them too.

      The notion that there are not already "internet fast lanes" is puzzling (not directed at you), because there have been ever since the first rate plan gave the consumer a speed or volume choice.

      Additionally, the network owner should be the final arbiter on what crosses their network, even if they make decisions we find stupid. Someone else will come along and compete with the

      • by geekoid (135745)

        It's not puzzling. It's just that you don't understand what they are talking about.

        You could literally replace your entire post with the sentence:
        "I don't know what I'm talking about." and it would have the same meaning.

      • The notion that there are not already "internet fast lanes" is puzzling (not directed at you), because there have been ever since the first rate plan gave the consumer a speed or volume choice.

        You've got it backwards. They want to limit how fast you can consume NetFlix no matter what tier of service you have contracted with your ISP for. If I paid for 50Mb down and Netflix can support that much TO me then my ISP damned well better support 50Mb down for me* at all of their connection points to the internet. *however they handle scaling is up to them, but if they give me certain speeds to their own content, they should have to provide me the same speeds to everything.

      • The notion that there are not already "internet fast lanes" is puzzling (not directed at you), because there have been ever since the first rate plan gave the consumer a speed or volume choice.

        And this is the biggest single problem with "net neutrality". It's confusing.

        The issue is not whether I can buy a faster pipe, or even whether VOIP gets priority over torrenting Linux distros. Neither of those are going to cause problems. As long as I can download from company A as fast as from company B, there

        • The problem is when, say, Comcast slows down legal streaming movie sites because they want to sell you their cable service in addition, or if NewMovieCorp.com gets worse bandwidth than Netflix. That hurts competition.

          I fully agree that is a problem, see my statement about false advertising. As for hurting competition, dishonest dealing is a bad but quick way for competitors to the swindler to emerge.

    • I have no problem giving awesome speed to their own subsidiary content providers.

      You should. The effects are insidious and would eventually undermine the whole idea of free (as in speech) communication.

      Nothing short of Title II Common Carrier status for ISPs is acceptable. That's the way it should have been from the beginning.

    • by alen (225700)

      being that the internet is dozens if not hundreds of companies,
      how do you guarantee the same speed when the packets might have to pass through multiple backbone providers and the server hosting the content might not actually be able to serve everyone at those speeds
      or the content owners may not have brought enough bandwidth to serve everyone at their top internet speed

  • And force a separation of the contend side of their business from the communication side.

    • No, that would be censorship. Anybody and everybody that wants to should be able to produce "content". We just have to stop protecting the monopolies.

    • by alen (225700)

      the TV and Internet services are two different services and there is no need to separate them

      my netflix watch on demand is completely different from my MLB/NBA or my wife's reality show sit your ass down at the right time to watch the show

  • Victory..? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by barlevg (2111272) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:23PM (#46990565)
    We're getting some common carrier stuff, ISPs can't prioritize the traffic from their parent/subsidiary companies... and it sounds like high priority non-controversial "fast lanes" (I don't mind my internet running a little slower so someone can get their MRI transmitted faster) are the only ones getting the green light. So did we win? Or am I missing something?
    • Re:Victory..? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:28PM (#46990609)
      Its a slippery step in the right direction, but not enough for me. The devil is always in the details.
      • Nahh this is just how loophole hell starts. The FCC can just say "No prioritization or throttling allowed by ISPs" and be done with it and everyone will be fine 99.999% of the time unless the shit has already hit the fan and the internet can't help anyway. Or they can say "There will mostly be no prioritization or throttling except for these 200 edge use cases. The procedure for adding edge use cases is as follows". Before you know it, the Net Neutrality law is 6000 pages long instead of a single sentence a
    • Re:Victory..? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DeadDecoy (877617) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:35PM (#46990673)
      I have mixed feelings about that. While I do feel that having 'fast lanes' would be appropriate for certain civil services, those considerations would be used as a trojan horse for corporations to shove legal policy through the system. The need for sufficiently fast internet should actually strengthen the argument for net neutrality. The internet has become such a critical part of the societal infrastructure, that it should be maintained like one. If all traffic is equal, and we're worried about some critical health service needing bandwidth, then we should upgrade the hardware instead of creating an artificially scarce resource.
      • To play devil's advocate, when we find that our city streets are congested and fire trucks and ambulances are having trouble getting to their destinations, do we increase the width of the streets or do we implement a policy stating that normal traffic must give way to the emergency services? Admittedly, it's much harder to increase bandwidth in a city street scenario than in a network scenario, but our society has already established that traffic shaping is a good idea in at least one situation.

        Running w

        • The comparison doesn't work if the majority of the "roads" are unpaved and single-lane to begin with. Yes, you could argue that certain services should get priority, but the better solution in this case is just to improve the infrastructure. This is difficult to do with real roads, because so much of the surrounding land is already owned, but this sort of restriction does not hold true for the Internet; there is room to expand but no motivation to do so because it might cut into profits.

          Once everybody has g

        • by sjames (1099)

          You can recognize newer subdivisions around here by their wider roads. The requirement is specifically to better accommodate emergency vehicles. :-)

          I'm not sure what would constitute an emergency vehicle on residential internet.

    • we have not won, but we can if we keep up the pressure on the FCC [prestovivace.biz].
    • Ironically, hospital connections tend to already be better than residential connections anyway. The clinics I used to help support all had business fiber installed and could max out at 60 mbps down, 30 mbps up. Now, if an ISP was offering that kind of node connection without the back end infrastructure pipes to support it (entirely possible) then they ought to be smacked for fraud.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by alen (225700)

      i have no problem with ISP's charging netflix for peering or level 3/cogent to make them pay for more ports to deliver netflix traffic,

      only if they charge the prevailing transit rates

      i'm all for open internet, but the SENDER of the content has had to always be the one to pay for their delivery costs to deliver data to the user. that's the way its' been for the last 20 some years.

      i use netflix, but i don't want my ISP bill going up to pay for the minority of people who binge watch shows all day and are nothi

      • by ewieling (90662)
        "SENDER of the content has had to always be the one to pay for their delivery costs to deliver data to the user. that's the way its' been for the last 20 some years."

        This is blatantly untrue. For the past 20 years ISPs have used the "Bill and Keep" model. The ISP or provider on each end bills their own customers and keep the money. Netflix pays their ISP, the end user pays their ISP, everyone is happy. That is until the end user's ISP decides they want to hide the cost of updating their infrastruct
    • by geekoid (135745)

      For things like MRI, people can use leased lines; which is a different ball of wax.

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      So did we win? Or am I missing something?

      You're missing something. He didn't say anything about limiting fast lane sales to Apple, Netflix, &c, and the line about cardio results is hogwash -- cardio results are a few bytes per second, they don't need a fast lane, they need high availability, which fast lanes do not provide (see HA versus HP clusters, for a similar case). He's trying to manipulate you.

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      Nobody is sending an MRI to a residential cable customer. That's what this discussion is about, limiting customers abilities to access products that compete with the ISPs own, like video. Hospitals already buy dedicated private networks for their information systems, and I suspect that's driven more by billing than MRI images.

    • We did not win. These stupid little rules of his are completely unenforceable. They've tried this before and it went to court. The judges said "Hey FCC, YOU'RE the one that gave up the ability to regulate these companies under common carrier rules. All you have to do to get it back is reclassify."

      Any rule he proposes is just that. A Proposal, with zero teeth. None. Zilch. The FCC gave up the right to regulate broadband in 2005, and the FCC chairman of the time went on to become a lobbyist for cable compan

    • (I don't mind my internet running a little slower so someone can get their MRI transmitted faster)

      Thin.
      End.
      Of.
      The.
      Wedge.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:25PM (#46990581) Journal
    Sounds to me like someone is interested in preserving their job at the FCC rather than anything as altruistic or abstract as 'protecting the public's interests'.
    • by i_ate_god (899684)

      Sounds to me like someone is interested in preserving their job at the FCC rather than anything as altruistic or abstract as 'protecting the public's interests'.

      does this detail really matter? Greed and survival instincts are no different than any other exploitable human attribute.

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        Does it matter? Hell yes it does. People in positions of power need to be responsible and have respect for the people who are affected by their decisions, not just do whatever benefits them personally the most.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    in the US the ISPs should operated just like the baby Bells did after the breakup of AT&T: All traffic, voice, modem, fax, teletype, ISDN, ALL Of It, was treated the same. You pays your fees you gets your line.

    Anything else means the politicians and/or bureaucrats have been bought and paid for.

  • Not good enough. But I'm not expecting anything better until we stop reelecting the crooks that got us here.

  • What's going to happen is, they're going to provision their networks with two separate kinds of routers, "fast lane" routers and "slow lane" routers, and if simply never upgrading the "slow lane" routers isn't enough to get them what they want they'll sabotage them or just disconnect them entirely.
  • Animal Farm net neutrality [hbr.org]

    Early indications are that it will be an Animal Farm sort of net neutrality, with some nets more neutral than others. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler promised recently that his agency “will not allow some companies to force Internet users into a slow lane so that others with special privileges can have superior service.” But the rule seems likely to allow ISPs to cut deals with content companies to ensure that their packets get delivered smoothly — as Netflix reluctantl

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com] Big Cable Executives now work for the FCC (sounds fascist to me)

    just like ex Monsanto exec works for the FDA (sounds fascist to me)

    it happens with big defense contractors that have a revolving door with the government (the US Govt would make Mussolini proud)
  • So we took two steps backwards when Wheeler opened the gates for ISPs to make a "fast lane" and now we're taking one step forward as Wheeler says that the fast lane will only be used in some cases. This isn't a victory - this is the ISPs "compromising" so they get some of what they want now and waiting to get the rest later. Eventually, if this is enacted, the "fast lane" cases will get more items added to them bit by bit until we're in full blown ISP-wet-dream-fast-lane mode.

  • NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH. (Score:5, Informative)

    by fightinfilipino (1449273) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:41PM (#46990747) Homepage

    Tom Wheeler needs to STEP DOWN.

    the Obama Administration needs to be held to its promise of ACTUAL Net Neutrality. [wh.gov]

    this is not over yet, not by a long shot.

    • by dclozier (1002772)
      Wish I had some mod points left - more signatures are needed. I just added mine.

      Tom Wheeler will never have the public's interest in mind. Once a lobbyist for cable and wireless companies always their shill.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      First off, that petition is stupid. you don't put 3 things in one petition. No one will pay attention

      Secondly, Tom WHeeler is the best person to get to those goals.

      " headed by Chairman and former cable lobbyist Tom Wheeler"
      logical fallacy.

      "announced rules that will completely destroy Net Neutrality"
      speculation

      "Mr. Wheeler's proposed rules "
      ask your self, who they are proposed to. Those are the people you need to contact. Wheeler can not to more or less then congress wants. Going after him just makes it easi

      • stop blaming a president for what congress does.

        Congress did nothing but authorize the FCC, and delegate authority for regulating interstate communications to the executive.

        That would be Obama. He can have the FCC re-classify broadband as a common carrier at any time, but won't do it. He's doing what he's told, and pretending that it's somebody else's fault. It's a classic trait of everyone that suffers from NP disorder.

  • by n0ano (148272) <n0ano@arrl.net> on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:43PM (#46990769) Homepage

    including prioritization given by ISPs to their subsidiaries that make and stream content

    Sigh. Comcast won't prioritize its subsidiary's traffic, it will de-prioritize its competitors traffic.

    Please, just classify ISPs as a common carrier (like you should have done years ago) and be done with it.

  • They FCC used to classify the internet as a common carrier. They changed that in 2005 to an "information service", which they don't have rules to regulate. They already tried making up net neutrality rules, and a judge already smacked them down and told them they GAVE UP the ability to regulate broadband and that they'd need to reclassify to get it back. They can do this at any time.

    Given that a court has already told them that their little rules don't apply, all these new proposals mean shit all. Any com

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "They FCC used to classify the internet as a common carrier. "
      No they didn't.

      • uh... yes they did. I got the year wrong. Apparently it was 2002. Here's a nice article to explain it all.

        http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/15/5311948/net-neutrality-and-the-death-of-the-internet

  • by EmagGeek (574360)

    Update: 05/13 16:37 GMT by T : Oops -- I missed this earlier, substantially similar story.

    You don't say...

  • No fast lanes. Period.

    You get what you pay for. That's it. Anything less and the FCC can screw off.

  • Why not let the legislature do the legislating?

    I didn't vote for anyone in the FCC.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:35PM (#46991403) Homepage

    some public-interest cases like a healthcare company sending electrocardiography results

    This is a patently deceptive meme. It is intended to tug at your heart strings to sell the case, but it is not a good application of a fast lane. Cardio results do not need high performance lines, because they produce a tiny trickle of data. They need high availability, which a fast lane does not help. If Mr. Wheeler is really suggesting that paid prioiritization will render the standard lane so unusably clogged that a few bytes of cardio data won't fit over the pipe in a split second, then he is hoisting himself by his own petard.

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      Also, most health care providers are already paying vast sums for VPN services, this stuff doesn't hit the public internet.

      • by mc6809e (214243)

        Also, most health care providers are already paying vast sums for VPN services, this stuff doesn't hit the public internet.

        Uh, the 'V' in VPN stands for virtual. It's not a real PN and very well could be sharing the same fiber and wire and routers as the public internet.

        It isn't uncommon for VPN providers to give a guaranteed amount of bandwidth to a user on a router and to sell the surplus bandwidth for use by the public internet.

        In this scenario the VPN user has a 'fast lane' up to the amount of bandwidth

        • by Shatrat (855151)

          Oh it's definitely sharing the same fiber, dwdm, otn, sonet, packet, mpls, everything with our public IP traffic. BUT, they're paying a premium and getting QoS, CoS, guaranteed CIR, in some cases guaranteed latency. That's the point. Healthcare providers, and especially insurers, are already paying for Fast Lanes, so it's a terrible example of why ISPs should get to squeeze content providers but degrading their retail IP networks.

    • EXACTLY

      And to top it off, there is already a service for high priority traffic. It's called: Guaranteed bandwidth and QoS.
      So long as both ends agree on which packets get delivered first, this is already a widely deployed (and acceptable) practice. An internet "fast lane" is not a solution to the heart monitor "problem".
  • To me this seems like the "foot in the door" technique leading to things that are far worse. I think we can all agree that an MRI is a good thing to be sent and received expeditiously. How do we make sure that only an MRI is getting this treatment or do we just say, anything at a hospital gets priority? I seriously doubt any hospital is going to spend money implementing a fast lane for just a few things. They will just dump it all in the fast lane. Then the finance industry sees this and will demand that t
  • >> Oops -- I missed this earlier, substantially similar story

    At SlashDot, that's called "par for the course."

  • by NotSanguine (1917456) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @02:18PM (#46991863)

    It seems to me that one of the biggest problems with the consolidation of ISPs with content providers is that they have a vested interest in keeping upload speeds low, so that their customers can't compete with them. I would go farther than some of those commenting on this and suggest that content providers should not be allowed to own/operate ISPs or own the "last mile."

    Those who own "the last mile," as well as ISPs (they should be different entities as well) should all be classified as "common carriers." Further, "last mile" owners should be required to provide (at reasonable cost) access to any/all ISPs that want to provide service to end-users.

    Again, upload speeds should not be throttled. Obviously, those who want higher upload (or download) speeds can certainly pay for that service. Service bundles (TV/Phone/Internet) provide little benefit to end-users and often give incumbent monopolies customer lock-in. Give us Glass-Steagall for the Internet (I'd like it back in the financial industry too, but that's a whole other level of rip-off).

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