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AT&T, Verizon Tell FCC To Back Off On Net Neutrality Complaints (theverge.com) 102

ATT and Verizon have responded to the FCC's letters that argued the way the two companies handle the practice of exempting their own video apps from data caps on customers' smartphones can hurt competition and consumers. The Verge reports: The companies defended the programs, which allow select data sources to not count toward customers' data plans through a process known as zero-rating. Although it did not explicitly ban them in new net neutrality rules laid out last year, the FCC has been critical of such programs, arguing that they can be used to hurt competition by unfairly favoring some data, creating an uneven playing field for businesses. In a noticeably pointed response, ATT takes a similar line to the position it's held all along: programs like Data Free TV, which allows customers to use data from ATT-owned DirecTV without it counting toward a plan, are not anticompetitive, but are simply a perk consumers enjoy. Verizon, in its response, makes similar arguments defending its FreeBee data program, which allows data from Verizon-owned Go90 to not count toward a data plan. "FreeBee data provides tangible benefits to consumers by increasing the amount of what they can do and watch online, at no cost to them," the company's response says.
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AT&T, Verizon Tell FCC To Back Off On Net Neutrality Complaints

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    They will keep claiming it's good for their consumers, while ignoring its very bad for any competing companies.

    • The competing companies can do the same thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The real problem is that we have companies handling both content and transport. This is a problem for the FTC. AT&T et. al. should be required to split their ISP and network operations from their content operations. Then network neutrality would be a matter of preventing content providers from bribing the ISP and network operators.

        • by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Saturday December 17, 2016 @12:14AM (#53501641)
          If the government owned and ran the internet (wires) then net neutrality would not be an issue. Having a for profit entity own critical infrastructure without serious regulation is a barrier to free market capitalism in the same way that the landline phone monopoly (prior to breakup) blocked companies from offering modems, fax machines, and other goods and services.
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        Not if the competitors don't own the network, they can't. To have fair competition, ATT and VZW could offer unlimited one-service streaming for a set price, and let the consumer chose the service they want it applied to. Then, let their own streaming services compete equitably with Netflix, or Amazon, or Hulu, or whatever a customer chooses.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Not if the competitors don't own the network, they can't.

          Just to clarify, "competitors" in this context refers to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other video-streaming services, not Sprint, T-Mobile [slashdot.org] and other mobile carriers, right?

      • The competing companies can do the same thing.

        So can the tooth fairy, while she's riding her unicorn.

    • Better yet, their competing companies can just offer unlimited data plans. That's the direction we're headed anyway.

      • by Sable Drakon ( 831800 ) on Friday December 16, 2016 @05:18PM (#53500243)
        Which T-Mobile has already done. Not to mention they're pretty much zero-rating any service that asks for it, even going as far as zero-rating ATT's own Data Free TV program.
      • Better yet, their competing companies can just offer unlimited data plans. That's the direction we're headed anyway.

        You mean actually foster competitive markets and let consumers choose? That's crazy, it'll never work!

      • Better yet, their competing companies can just offer unlimited data plans. That's the direction we're headed anyway.

        We aren't talking about their carrier competitors. It's their video streaming competitors that they are hurting. Netflix has no way of zero rating their service because they don't own a network of their own. Verizon/ATT bundling their service with their plan is no different than Microsoft giving IE away free with windows. Giving IE away from with windows didn't hurt the Mac, it hurt Netscape.

  • Trump. lol. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2016 @05:09PM (#53500179)

    Makes no difference anyway. Ajit Pai is gonna invalidate all these rules anyway.

    Good to know that Trump wasn't gonna be beholden to special interests, lobbyists and donors. LOL @ the retards who actually believed that.

  • Trump effect (Score:5, Informative)

    by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Friday December 16, 2016 @05:13PM (#53500205)

    They wouldn't be doing this if they didn't know that Trump was going to come down the pipe and back them up.

    The FCC may as well give up at this point. I mean, hell, ALL US regulatory commissions may as well give up at this point, since he's gonna gut and destroy anything that prevents profits from being made, regardless of the impact that will have on health, the environment, or the well-being of US citizens.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure there are SOME citizens that will benefit.

      How many billionaires does the US have?

    • It's not Trump. The US antitrust environment has been very pro-business and anti-consumer for a while now. I would be more concerned about the incoming administration using antitrust powers to attack businesses it doesn't like than I would be about a general decrease in antitrust activity which happened decades ago.

      • I would be more concerned about the incoming administration using antitrust powers to attack businesses it doesn't like than I would be about a general decrease in antitrust activity which happened decades ago.

        Don't be afraid of it. USE it to fix the problem.

        This non-neutrality is incentivized by the vertical integration of the ISP (transport) with the TV provider (competitive transported service). Such vertical integration is clearly anticompetitive, and the result hurts consumers.

        Antitrust law could be

      • Correct. The lax antitrust environment probably started with the Powell Memorandum [thwink.org].
  • devils advocate. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday December 16, 2016 @05:13PM (#53500211)

    OK I'm going to play Devil's advocate here.
    it seems to me that if they want to not count bandwidth for certain services against your allowance, that can only be a good thing. I mean you're actually still free to use the other services if you want.
    I'd have an issue if they tried blocking competition completely but as long as you ultimately have a free choice its no worse than Microsoft having their any of their browser/search engine/storefront/whatever open by default on Windows, until you explicitly choose an alternative.

    • Re:devils advocate. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Friday December 16, 2016 @05:19PM (#53500249)

      You must have missed the part where they were figuring out that you would get 8X as much data for the same price if some of it wasn't zero rated. http://alphabeatic.com/zero-ra... [alphabeatic.com]

      So you're paying for it but you're not paying for it.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        Phone companies raising the price for data is a whole other issue.
        It follows that it would probably be their next step, but that would be the time to complain, not when they are giving you something extra for nothing.

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          What? No. Prices on data have been going down in recent years. If your carrier zero rates your prices just didn't go down like the others did.

          Pretty neat huh?

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            You realise that you can just switch to another carrier that is cheaper/has cheaper data right?

            • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

              Yep lot's of people have been doing that lately.

              If only it was that easy to deal with ISPs :P

              Coverage may be an issue with some carriers but most people will have at least two carriers with good coverage where they live. ATT and VZW work pretty much anywhere where I live anyone else less so. Being the two nationwide carriers they try to demand a bit more for coverage.

    • To play devil's advocate we need you to explain how the FCC's anticompetative concerns are invalid or the benefit out weigh the concern.

      It's not cost free to the consumer.... It's costs them choice. They have to chose between free data and paid, and is that really a choice? Unlimited zero rated video, or highly limited amount of YouTube and the like.

      As someone who watches more YouTube than anything on my cell, I can say it's clearly anticompetative to even a major player. How does the next platform get

    • by inch ( 13210 )

      its no worse than Microsoft having their any of their browser/search engine/storefront/whatever open by default on Windows

      ... and Microsoft got hit for this as an anti-competitive practice in multiple countries, losing all cases and agreeing to a consent decree, and paying massive fines (not that the fines would hurt MS financially)

      The anti-competitive nature here is that providers that don't also own content are at a disadvantage.
      That said, however, my tiny cell carrier gives me unlimited data anyway (the way things are going, someone else mentioned elsewhere in the comments), on some giant carrier's network (so I have good c

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      OK I'm going to play Devil's advocate here.
      it seems to me that if they want to not count bandwidth for certain services against your allowance, that can only be a good thing. I mean you're actually still free to use the other services if you want.
      I'd have an issue if they tried blocking competition completely but as long as you ultimately have a free choice its no worse than Microsoft having their any of their browser/search engine/storefront/whatever open by default on Windows, until you explicitly choose an alternative.

      If you believe the carriers, bandwidth is so expensive they have to ration it and keep people from using too much.

      So even if you're not watching these "free" services, you're still paying for it in bandwidth costs. Why should *you* have a 5GB cap and expensive overage charges to watch Netflix while someone watching AT&T's service every day can use up 50GB a month and pay nothing extra?

      So AT&T is using your money to subsidize users of its own video streaming service.

      Maybe you don't care about streami

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> Why should *you* have a 5GB cap and expensive overage charges to watch Netflix while someone watching AT&T's service every day can use up 50GB a month and pay nothing extra?

        OK well firstly *I* dont. I have TMob and they have their equivalent. I suspect all services are obliged to offer some equivalent or will just be uncomepetitive and die.

        >> So AT&T is using your money to subsidize users of its own video streaming service.

        >> Can't speak for ATT but my plan bill hasn't gone up

  • If I became president, I'd spend most of my time actively going after these companies in every possible way. They are undermining one of the most powerful forces for change, freedom of communication, and the greater good.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You assume the President wants change. The President is the spokesperson for the Titans of Industry
      And they want you to shut the fuck up, look at the ground and work longer hours for less money and most definitely not be capable of critical thought, much less even think about resisting their push to enslave all people in their system of debt

      And we are just about there -- What freedoms do you think you actually have?
      To answer that question, ask yourself "What will you do when Trump decides to put people like

    • by mmell ( 832646 )
      If you became President, I'm sure you'd go after all of these companies - on Twitter!
    • Meanwhile, I told ATT to back off of my bill. That's how it works, right? I mean...

      Well, ehrm.

      Honestly, I thought the "no carrier" bit would have been inserted by now, and this comment auto-posted in some sort of time paradox.

      No sense posting this shit now, eh?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's not like the government is going to punish them in the next 34 days. Wheeler, the first FCC chairman in many years to push pro-consumer initiatives, is stepping down. His replacement is nobody for consumers to be optimistic about. The telcos can tell the government to go fuck itself, they know there won't be any repercussions.

    A few years from now we'll all be writing checks to AT-TWC-VZW-ChartCast-Universal while President Camacho fiddles on the rooftop.

  • Companies should provide content OR networking, NOT both.

    • by kwerle ( 39371 )

      You're at an airport. They have wifi. For free you can get online and see flight arrival/departure information on their super helpful internal site.

      For $30 you can see the rest of the internet.

      How is this not not net neutrality?

      Never mind legal, how is this wrong?

      These are the problems I have with net neutrality.

      • by I4ko ( 695382 )

        It's even worse. I live in an apartment building, that is services by Cox. For one reason or another I don't like them (constant price hikes) and I want to use a WISP. There is a WISP I have line of sight to one of their POPs, and I have all the CPE equipment on my own. I can see their signal at -60db, which is neat.

        They would not sell me service tough, because they have a non-complete signed with Cox to not sell in Cox service areas, which I happen to fall in.

        These types of agreements, should definitely be

        • by kwerle ( 39371 )

          Yeah - that's something totally different. Anti-compete agreements are bogus.

          Lie about where you live. Get a po box. Use a friend's address.

          • by I4ko ( 695382 )

            With sector antennas though I can only lie about distance, it still has to be on the same heading

            • by kwerle ( 39371 )

              There are a few options. Start off lying about where you are by saying you're the next county over. Wherever they sell access.

              Then you moved. You want to keep your service. Or your office is there. Whatever.

              Or just lie about the distance initially.

              Why would they have repeaters where they can't sell?

        • What ought, to be outlawed, is your excessive, use of commas.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        For your analogy to be correct, ATT and VZW would have to offer free services (not something marketed as free which is simply bundled with a paid service). They don't (other than government mandated E911). If they offered their own free streaming service to anyone (not just those already paying for phone/data service), you might have a point. But claiming something is "free" when only offered to paying customers simply means the price has been invisibly shifted elsewhere.

        Furthermore, the service they cha
        • by kwerle ( 39371 )

          For your analogy to be correct, ATT and VZW would have to offer free services...

          OK, change my analogy. For $1 you get flight info. For $30 you get the rest of the 'net.

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            Makes no difference. It's still not comparable. Name a cell carrier which offers captive data and streaming services (exclusively) for $1, and unlimited Internet service for $30.

            The issue is, they're both carriers and service providers. Any bundling of the two gives them the opportunity to shift costs (not only between carrier/service, but also to customers who don't buy those services) to make their services appear cheaper than competitors. If all the unlimited data costs are built into their streaming se
            • by kwerle ( 39371 )

              The issue is, they're both carriers and service providers.

              If that's really the issue, how is that different than the airport who is also providing a service and acting like a carrier? Scale is different - should that be the bar? What if the airport also offers free internet TV?

              • by msauve ( 701917 )
                Name an airport which provides those services itself. I'm in networking, and have worked with a few. They contract for WLAN service, and part of the contract is providing some free services to airport customers in exchange for the vendor being able to make money from customers who want Internet access. It's incomparable to cellular carriers in every way.

                We're done. I've fully answered your objections, you haven't responded to a single one of mine, but keep trying to ignore them and create new arguments. Yo
                • by kwerle ( 39371 )

                  Woah, ease up. No, I'm not in the business. I'm just trying to have a bit of a discussion about the issues I have with net neutrality.

                  In general I'm for it. But I do have issues with things *like* (not identical to) the article at hand.

                  You ask me to name an airport that has provides services like those I mention. I don't remember if it's LAX, SFO, or denver - but one of them has (or had) a pretty nice airport map webpage that would show where the airlines were and restaurants, etc.

                  You say that an airpor

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        That's a completely different situation in two key respects:

        • The cellular carriers have a government-granted license to use limited spectrum, unlike Wi-Fi, which anyone can use freely to offer service.
        • The airport/airline does not charge money for the use of those flight information services, so they do not stand to profit from making that information available for free over their Wi-Fi network.
        • The airport/airline doesn't really have competitors charging money in that space, either, and the short-term imp
        • The airport/airline does not charge money for the use of those flight information services

          Ryanair are working on it.

          You and your big mouth.

      • On the surface you make a great argument. Their travel services compete with Google and the like.

        Id argue that with the free access they aren't providing Internet access, they're providing intranet access. Netnutrality doesn't apply.. After that, the biggest difference is that you're on their premises. This isn't service brought to your home for general use, or licensed spectrum. If they did offer Internet access, it shouldn't be prioritized. Though, it would likely operate slower than the on-site airp

        • by kwerle ( 39371 )

          The airport services aren't hosted at the airport! They're on AWS. So the only real packet inspection is IP address routing.

          Does that change things?

  • ...cable companies want to make the internet work like cable TV.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2016 @05:30PM (#53500327)

    ...and they're pretty damn sure he'll be much more "reasonable" than the current administration. And the cocky bastards are almost certainly right.

    Say good bye to the internet as it has been (more or less) for decades.

    Say hello to tiered access. On Comcast and want Netflix? Well, that would be our Multimedia package, which includes 30 hours of unlimited (non-high-def) Netflix per month, as well as 100 hours (480p or less) YouTube streaming per month! Only an additional 19.99 beyond basic!

    On TimeWarner and want BitTorrent access? Well that's unavailable for residential access, however Business Class internet permits BitTorrent use, and is only 99/month more than basic residential access!

    Frankly I can't imagine the shenanigans they're going to get up to when The Orange One tells the FCC to sit-down and shut up.

    Well, his devoted minions, really, das Trumpenstien probably won't give two shits what's going on at the FCC, as long as it doesn't cost his empire money and his friends are happy.

    I really hope I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure this is going to be bad, folks. And the Internet as we know it getting fucked over is probably gonna be the least of it.

    • Get a dedicated T1 line to your house. It's just fast enough to run Netflix at highdef. Only $1000/month, which sounds steep except when you consider that you won't have to talk to Comcast's customer service ever again.

      • Maybe not. T1 is 1.544 Mbps, HD on Netflix requires 5 Mbps.
        • oops, my mistake. I guess I read Netflix wrong, it says "1.5 Mbps recommended". But that's for their older lower resolution format, not HD.

          My comment was mostly a joke about avoiding dealing with these residential broadband company.

      • Get Comcast Business. I've got it, and the infrequent calls to tech support (maybe once a quarter, usually because someone's had an instant desire to move a telephone pole) are a breeze.

        They answer the phone in a few rings, they're nice, succinct, and knowledgeable. They know pings, traceroute, and IP addresses and won't ask you to off/on your device, and within 5 or so minutes can tell if it's you or them and can indicate some type of fix window (although for upstream-to-me issues that once require a
        • I have Comcast Business (in Santa Clara County), once a month at 12:30am the connection goes down for 5 minutes.

    • As of January next year, get ready for the 50's all over again. You're gonna dig it - it'll be really cool!

      Hey, if I'm lyin', I'm dyin' (don't I wish!).

    • by phorm ( 591458 )

      Yeah, but people said the same about Wheeler, and he actually turned out all right. Might be luck, but who knows, as I'm not really sure any sheriff wants to be in charge of a police station with no guns.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      Well use your home/work cable connection to watch video then, not you mobnile (which frankly is a relatively crap experience anyway).

  • It'd be too bad if something... happened to it.

  • It's just a perk. I mean you have to be a multi-billion dollar mobile carrier that has subsumed cable and satellite TV services to offer such "perks".
    All the competition needs to do to offer a competitive perk would be to acquire a few cable TV operators, maybe a television network or two. It's so easy.

  • For those wondering how monopolies get made, it's like that.

    Obvious that AT&T and Verizon would say something like that, specially now that they know they'll soon be able to do whatever they want... they've built their empire with similar practices.
    Big corporation abuses it's power to offer free services, starve competition out and stop anyone willing to enter the market with their impossible to beat practices. And then, when everyone is using the service with no other option left, they f you up in the

  • Just curious. There's lots of Trump supporters on /. And a lot of anti-Hilary folks who even though they don't support Trump preferred him over her. Anyway, given that it was pretty clear from the get go that net neutrality was one of the things that would go out the window (it's regulation after all, and Trumps #1 campaign promise was an end to job-killing regulation, his words, not mine) were you opposed to net neutrality (and if so why) or did you choose to sacrifice it for other gains? If so, what gains
    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      I do not believe Hillary's position on net neutrality was any different from Trump's and net neutrality was not being enforced or implemented before the election anyway. So nothing has changed and nothing was going to change do to who was going to be elected.

  • When AT&T and Verizon agree on something we need to question their motives.
    Hint: When a fox applies for a job at your chicken farm he probably isn't just after the health/dental/vision insurance and 401k you offer, even though he'll claim he just loves watching out for the chickens.
    • When AT&T and Verizon agree on something we need to question their motives. Hint: When a fox applies for a job at your chicken farm he probably isn't just after the health/dental/vision insurance and 401k you offer, even though he'll claim he just loves watching out for the chickens.

      And unfortunately, it won't be long until the feds start using nothing but foxes to oversee all of our chicken farms. Bye bye, consumer protections. We hardly knew ye.

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