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Confirmed: FCC Will Try To Regulate Internet Under Title II 379

An anonymous reader writes: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has published an op-ed explaining how and why the FCC will "use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections." He says, "These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone's permission. ... To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling. Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernized Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition."
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Confirmed: FCC Will Try To Regulate Internet Under Title II

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  • Well damn (Score:4, Funny)

    by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:33PM (#48980957) Journal
    Where's the "suddenoutbreakofcommonsense" tag? Actually useful for once!
    • Re:Well damn (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Strangely Familiar ( 1071648 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:46PM (#48981145) Homepage
      Tom Wheeler is actually a human being, not a faceless bureaucratic mouthpiece for the cable industry. Who would have thought it? I like his story about almost being the huge success that made AOL an also-ran in internet history, but for a rule that made the telephone network open, and the cable network closed. That is why so many people experienced the early internet at 1200 baud or 2400 baud, rather than 1.5 megabaud. Wheeler's early failure due to an FCC reg made a lasting impression on him. Now he has a chance to fix the problem that tripped him up. While the devil is always in the details, I like the direction he says he is going in. Kudos.
      • by Faw ( 33935 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @01:06PM (#48981387)

        I actually thought he was a dingo [youtube.com].

      • Re:Well damn (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @01:31PM (#48981747)

        Except I noted the no last-mile unbundling bit.

        In other words, they still won't require broadband providers to open up the public infrastructure to competing ISPs.

        You'll still be stuck using their IPv4 protocol or Ethernet service, whichever they choose... and innovation in network technology from competing providers, or innovating with different networking technologies won't be possible like you can do with an unbundled loop and a competing carrier.

        • Re:Well damn (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @02:30PM (#48982383) Homepage

          Except I noted the no last-mile unbundling bit.

          In other words, they still won't require broadband providers to open up the public infrastructure to competing ISPs.

          You'll still be stuck using their IPv4 protocol or Ethernet service, whichever they choose... and innovation in network technology from competing providers, or innovating with different networking technologies won't be possible like you can do with an unbundled loop and a competing carrier.

          Small steps. Writing letters to the FCC and your congressional representatives in support of these proposed regulations is the best way to encourage more pro-consumer internet legislation in the future. Internet openness isn't a big issue in American politics. That doesn't mean we can't make it one, but it takes time. In the last 10 years we have witnessed gay rights and marijuana decriminalization make HUGE advancements. They used to be fringe issues too, but now they are two of the hottest topics in politics. It wasn't a sprint, but a long marathon.

      • Re:Well damn (Score:5, Informative)

        by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @02:26PM (#48982331) Homepage

        Tom Wheeler is actually a human being, not a faceless bureaucratic mouthpiece for the cable industry. Who would have thought it? I like his story about almost being the huge success that made AOL an also-ran in internet history, but for a rule that made the telephone network open, and the cable network closed. That is why so many people experienced the early internet at 1200 baud or 2400 baud, rather than 1.5 megabaud. Wheeler's early failure due to an FCC reg made a lasting impression on him. Now he has a chance to fix the problem that tripped him up. While the devil is always in the details, I like the direction he says he is going in. Kudos.

        Giving the man Kudos on Slashdot is certainly not a bad thing, but if you want to encourage this kind of reasonable pro-consumer behavior, you need to write your comments to people that matter. I sent an email to Chairman Wheeler's account (tom.wheeler@fcc.gov) thanking him for his courage with my senate and house representatives on cc.

        Maybe (probably) my email will come to nothing. But remember that all sorts of companies will be trying to defeat and bury his proposed regulations. Someone needs to make arguments contrary to the lobbyists, loudly and often.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Drethon ( 1445051 )
      Does this actually prove that enough people complaining about injustice does in fact produce results with our government?
      • Re:Well damn (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 605dave ( 722736 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @05:16PM (#48984163) Homepage

        Yes.

        Don't underestimate how much the public outcry affected this. I am involved in politics, and have had discussions about this on the federal level. One thing I learned is that most leaders in congress only know what the people around them tell them. They don't have time to surf Slashdot and Reddit (and people wonder why I don't want to run for office), and for the most part don't understand technology. They are getting spoon fed industry lines from everyone around them, and rarely hear from ordinary people. So the protests and outcry got their attention, and they started asking questions. Many of them came to a much better understanding of the issue, and that's why you have seen the change.

        It is so easy to be cynical these days, and this is probably the exception to the rule. Leaders of both parties are isolated in DC, and often aren't swayed. But they can be, and this is one case where they were.

    • I wouldn't get too excited. He's basically doing something that is going to involve years of fighting, during which nothing is going to happen. Politically it looks better for Obama, economically the telecoms don't want to upgrade or change things anyway, and maybe in a few years we forget that we want faster broadband (right).

    • It doesn't apply. If you pay closer attention to what he said, he's going to let them get by with so many things that this is effectively toothless.

      Breaking bundling and separating content provider from data provider are a must if you actually want fair play.

      All that'll happen now is that Comcast will manage their network equally. Low rates outside their network so Netflix sucks, but their cable service on the internal network will function most of the time. And of course you'll have to buy that and phon

  • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:34PM (#48980965) Homepage

    It could have been easy to get along and keep doing what they were doing, but no, Verizon has to go and sue in court. They had to challenge the weaker rules, force Wheeler's hand and cause this to happen.

    It's their own fault here.

    They brought it on themselves in a very real, legally binding way.

    I couldn't be gloating any harder than I am right now.

  • Here Comes SOPA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    > my proposal includes a general conduct rule that can be used to stop new and novel threats to the internet

    Confirmed for SOPA 7.0.

  • AOL? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:40PM (#48981043)
    I'm not sure I'd be bragging about the FCC making AOL possible. Just saying...
  • Lawful Content (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:42PM (#48981073) Homepage
    I do worry about what the whole "lawful content" thing is about and will really mean down the road.
    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      It obviously means that they're still allowed to block illegal sites, which won't be getting a "free pass" from the "any service" aspects of the legislation.

    • Re:Lawful Content (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bleh-of-the-huns ( 17740 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:54PM (#48981255)

      Well, that can be a little ambiguous. For example, The Pirate Bay (yes we all know 99% is illegal content), it provides a service, that has legal uses, albeit very very small. So blocking a legal service with illegal content might not fly. The fact that TPB is not in the US might make things difficult, since as long as the service complies with requests to remove illegal content (even if they are slow about it), it is still technically complying with requirements of a legal service, and therefore should not be blocked.

      I guess we will see.

    • I don't think that's a concern for this discussion. They're not making it any easier or more allowed for ISPs to mess with illegal content. The ISPs are already allowed to block illegal content, and will always be allowed to do that. The news here is that they aren't allowed to block or throttle anything else.

      So yes, I would be concerned if they were talking about increasing the ability of ISPs to monitor and restrict questionable content, or if they were talking about expanding the definition of "unlaw

    • I fear that if the Right loses on this issue (and face it: siding with the most-hated corporations of a most-hated industry is awful retail politics), they have one arrow they will pull from their quiver.

      If it is re/classified under Title II, the right will quickly insist there be bans on every type pornography (with a definition that will even encompass old National Geographics), hate speech (read: not approved by their paymasters), and of course: effective, non-backdoored encryption.

      Got to pound those b
  • by bulled ( 956533 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:42PM (#48981077)

    I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband.

    Anyone worried that this is already starting to water down?

    • by drgould ( 24404 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:56PM (#48981283)

      There's only one place in the article that specifically mentions mobile broadband. The rest talks about the internet and broadband in general.

      Although it's not completely clear, I'm assuming Title II will apply to both mobile and non-mobile broadband, but he's calling out mobile broadband because the most ignominious examples of abuse (data caps, throttling, prioritization, etc) have been by mobile operators.

    • Question: Will Title II prevent mobile companies from charging different rates for different types of data? For instance, because I choose the lowest level, bare bones plan, Verizon currently charges me $0.20, or over $1300 per MB, which is pretty fucking ridiculous. No industry with any sort of legitimate competition would be able to charge people for that, when there's absolutely no justification for that sort of predatory pricing (other than to gouge their customers for lots of money).

      • by thaylin ( 555395 )

        Yes and no. Yes it could, but Wheeler specifically stated they would not interfere with rates

  • ...that the FCC now endorses Net Neutrality? It was unclear from reading the above. Will I still have to buy a TV service to view footage available on the internet?
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:43PM (#48981103) Homepage
    The government actually did something people wanted, the president actually supported, and the FCC actually agreed with that a republican controlled house and senate couldn't shit on? Im shocked but I think i can shed a little light on what this regulation actually means for us Americans.

    1. "Its Comcastic" can no longer be a punchline or an exclamation of furious rage
    2. the libraries of congress will download at the same speed, but the ghost of Grover Cleveland will no longer be present to slow down the ASICS in the switch fabric.
    3. healthcare.gov will now work for up to 9 simultaneous connections at speeds of up to 14.4kbps
    4. Myspace's "Tom" will now attend funerals in person and apply blingies to the casket at no extra charge
    5. The Supreme Court will now be given actual tubes of fresh, warm internet to help learn what it is. Clarence Thomas will now be rotated twice during his naps to prevent sores.
  • Great News (Score:3, Insightful)

    by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:45PM (#48981117)

    Now let's see if it actually happens. There's plenty of time yet for lobbyists and donors to flood the final process with blood money. The D.C. news (not talk) radio station WTOP already runs big biz shill organization ads carping about "innovation" and "serving our customers".

    Of course, we'll also get a big dose of nonsensical Randian rhetoric about the Imaginary (oh, sorry, "Invisible") Hand of the marketplace, all .gov is teh evilz, etc.

    So it remains to be seen if this is a real prelude to a long-overdue action or just a PR stance designed to quiet the lowing populist herd and get the money pumps running again.

    • Now let's see if it actually happens. There's plenty of time yet for lobbyists and donors to flood the final process with blood money.

      They already have .. in the form of Tom Wheeler.

      And since most people expect him to return to being one of those lobbyists ... it seems highly unlikely he's actually going to do anything which imposes regulations on the industry he's a paid shill for. At least, not if those regulations don't have loopholes you could drive a bus through.

      I may at some point be pleasantly surp

    • WTOP actually has been running ads from both sides of the argument. They are somewhat impartial (for now).

      • Indeed, they usually are in terms of editorial outlook, and noone can blame them for who buys airtime; it's their business, after all. It comes as no surprise, though, that Verizotimewarcomcast (their boards of directors are so incestuous they might as well be one company) can buy a lot more spots than, say, the EFF.

  • by Maltheus ( 248271 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @12:45PM (#48981119)

    If paid prioritization isn't permitted, does this mean Netflix has to pull their servers and routers from Comcasts' data centers? And how does that benefit me again?

    • My guess is that existing contracts will remain in place till they expire.

    • by suutar ( 1860506 )

      I would expect there's supposed to be a distinction between making content available from a server inside Comcast's network and having one site not in Comcast's network pay to get better traffic shaping than another site not in Comcast's network. If nothing else, "a server inside Comcast's network" is a rough description of any of Comcast's business customers. Of course, how it actually gets implemented (and how the little details of difference between netflix colo pods and business customers get handled) m

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )
      Bingo... this doesn't provide net neutrality unless providers are required to upgrade peering arrangements when services their customers request routinely saturate the connections. So a new service comes along and the big providers can simply de facto block/throttle it by refusing to upgrade the peering connection to the other network...
    • by Ryanrule ( 1657199 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @03:59PM (#48983359)

      that is NOT paid prioritization.
      that is edge caching.

      come back when you know things.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      Logically, being closer isn't prioritization. If paying to have your servers closer is against the law, then the logical conclusion would be you have to make sure your servers are as far away from the customers as possible.
  • I've been following this rather passively, but all of this talk seems to only mention specific internet access methods: broadband and/or mobile broadband. However, we know there are a myriad of parallel methods, from satellite to dial-up. Unless all US Internet access is brought under Title II, the market will attempt to shift toward whichever methods are most exploitable for profit.

  • how will they freely spy on the peasants and they need the internet to provide the entertainment needed to keep the peasants occupied while they do they spying and rights eradication.

  • ...but we already know that Comcast and Verizon are the Antichrist in corporate form. I am concerned about the details of the implementation but this *should* be a very positive thing for those who actually use the Internet instead of just acting as its tolltakers.
  • Don't want to rain on the parade, but I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable can chime in here: Isn't last mile unbundling the main thing we need? Doesn't this reduce competition? (the main thing that the FCC needs to artficially induce in the natural monopoly that is telecommunications?)

    I'm really hoping these "modernizations" of Title II aren't just a "compromise" where the industry makes out better anyway.
    • by TraumaFox ( 1667643 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @01:58PM (#48982031)

      What you're seeing is the typical conservative notion that deregulation promotes investment, which deliberately draws attention away from the fact that the reason the US broadband infrastructure leaves so much to be desired is not because of a lack of investment but because there is nothing enforceable in place which requires them to spend the money they already receive on the necessary upgrades. Government subsidies, your monthly rates; only the barest minimum of any of that goes toward upgrades which are deemed absolutely necessary, while the rest accounts for billions of dollars in profits.

      Regarding last mile bundling, one of the arguments against it is that more competition would stifle innovation. That might hold water except that the only "innovation" these companies are investing in are new and better ways to curb your bandwidth consumption. Thankfully for the millions who simply have no choice of provider because of location, fiber has already been invented. Don't worry folks -- as soon as we guarantee that no competition is ever able to enter your area, your ISP will be at your door the next morning to run high speed fiber straight into your home!

      People are getting confused because it appears to be a win for net neutrality on the surface. Really now, do you think a former telecoms lobbyist would put that on the table if service providers didn't have something to gain from it? It's simply being used as a bargaining chip here to win people over into supporting the very reason our infrastructure is a global embarrassment. A decade from now, when you are paying $120/mo for 10down/1.5up Super Premium High-Speed Internet Turbo Boost Plus, they'll expect you to smile and be happy with your "open internet." To remind those with poor short-term memories, deregulation is what led to the whole Comcast BitTorrent debacle in the late 2000s; what a great win for net neutrality that turned out to be.

      Rest assured that "no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling" will only benefit the bottom line of service providers. This is a compromise, one that wants you to accept long-term mediocrity for a temporary victory. How satisfied will you be when there's nothing left but the good graces of monopolistic corporations to stop your rates from skyrocketing and nowhere else to turn when they finally do?

      • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @02:42PM (#48982513)
        "People are getting confused because it appears to be a win for net neutrality on the surface. Really now, do you think a former telecoms lobbyist would put that on the table if service providers didn't have something to gain from it?"

        I'm pretty sure, unless this is some ultra-elaborate ruse, that the major Telecoms are not going to waste money trying to fight this in the courts if they ultimately ended up benefiting from it. One of the things the telecoms hated about Title II regulations when it came to the telephone system is that they were REQUIRED to provide telephone service equally without cherry-picking the high profit areas of the nation.

        I promise you they do not want to be forced to deliver high speed broadband to these same rural areas because it will absolutely kill their profits.
  • by cyberjock1980 ( 1131059 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @01:07PM (#48981389)

    This sounds too good to be true. And we all know what that means...

    So I've got this suspicious feeling that there's some devil in the details that is gonna be a major drawback to this. Anyone got any insight into some key word or tricky phrase that might indicate an ulterior motive?

    • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

      He didn't address peering at all, so it's possible that Comcast/VZ/ATT could still bottleneck their peering links to Google/Netflix/Amazon to reduce the amount of bandwidth their customers have access to without doing anything in 'the last mile'.

  • This week, I will circulate to the members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new rules to preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression.

    Keep your fingers crossed:

    Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure internet openness through a determination of “commercial reasonableness” under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers. That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections. Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.

  • by Cycloid Torus ( 645618 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @01:18PM (#48981525) Journal

    While it is a nice thing to allow all the startups which may challenge Netflix, etc to have a level playing field, I am puzzled as to how this is going to help the consumer.

    I read "no last-mile unbundling" as a continuation of the virtual monopolies which exist today. Without competition, I am stuck with my current ISP as it has a geographic monopoly for all broadband.

    • Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking. Local loop unbundling is what enables competition between telecom companies.

      I mean, ok, this is a step in the right direction, but without the requirement that local carriers must lease lines I'm not so sure this does a whole lot. I imagine if this goes through then some carrier will bring them to court over Title I of Telecommunications Act of 1996, wouldn't they? It's clear to me the competition the chairmen is talking about is new online sites like NetFlix or T

  • by Sheik Yerbouti ( 96423 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @01:29PM (#48981717) Homepage

    No last mile unbundling! That's the core issue. That's what causes this nonsense is no real competition in the marketplace! This means you still have to deal with shitty companies like Comcast and Verizon because in many cases you have no other choice. It's a broken market. They should have forced last mile competition that would not only solve the net neutrality issue it would have lowered cost and increased speed and access.

    I feel like he's really saying well look ISPs looks like our swindle is not going to fly with the icky proles but at least I will protect your duopolies so be thankful for that.

    • by rabbin ( 2700077 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @01:41PM (#48981875)
      If only I had mod points. This is exactly my concern. It's as if they're dangling NN in front of us while slipping the rug out from under our feet.

      From what I understand, the main problem is that we need to force the industry, kicking and screaming, to compete by "artificial" means because there is no naturally occuring free market (or anything close to it) in telecommunications. This is why the libertarian view of "if we only did away with franchise agreements granting territorial exclusivity..." wouldn't solve the main problem.
    • That's the core issue for telecom competition. For physical net neutrality. This is for logical net neutrality. To keep Comcast from charging you extra for access to NetFlix, and to then turn around and charge NetFlix extra for access to you. It's a first step. Politics is a slow process.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @03:30PM (#48983015)

    The problem is lack of competition. Title II does nothing to address the underlying problem. It only mask symptoms making it more difficult to gain consensus necessary to correct problem of monopolization of the last mile.

    What are the downsides? Should we now expect USF line items on our bills? Do mom-and-pop operations have to deal with new red tape disproportionately favoring larger organizations? Will it be leveraged to provide cover for "information sharing" regimes affording customers no legal recourse?

    How will Title-II prevent underhanded techniques to maximize leverage such as Comcast intentionally keeping links saturated? There must be an endless stream of "creative" ways to circumvent intent of net neutrality under other plausibly legitimate banners.

    Whenever I find myself rooting for government to step in and fix a problem it makes me nervous. For all I know it may end up being better for everyone but I sure as heck wouldn't bet on it either way.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2015 @03:36PM (#48983095)

    Shouldn't this be awful news for Comcast?

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