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The Internet Government United States Technology

Cable Lobby Tries To Stop State Investigations Into Slow Broadband (arstechnica.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Broadband industry lobby groups want to stop individual states from investigating the speed claims made by Internet service providers, and they are citing the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules in their effort to hinder the state-level actions. The industry attempt to undercut state investigations comes a few months after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary that claims the ISP defrauded and misled New Yorkers by promising Internet speeds the company knew it could not deliver. NCTA-The Internet & Television Association and USTelecom, lobby groups for the cable and telecom industries, last month petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for a declaratory ruling that would help ISPs defend themselves against state-level investigations. The FCC should declare that advertisements of speeds "up to" a certain level of megabits per second are consistent with federal law as long as ISPs meet their disclosure obligations under the net neutrality rules, the groups said. There should be a national standard enforced by the FCC instead of a state-by-state "patchwork of inconsistent requirements," they argue. Another cable lobby group, the American Cable Association (ACA), asked the FCC to approve the petition in a filing on Friday. An FCC ruling in favor of the petition wouldn't completely prevent states from filing lawsuits, but such a ruling would make it far more difficult for the states to protect consumers from false speed claims.
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Cable Lobby Tries To Stop State Investigations Into Slow Broadband

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  • ...we only have dialup. You know the story.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @08:53PM (#54651437)

    10 Gbps* for only $10/month and $100 hook-up fee

    * Up to 10 Gbps

    "Hey you promised 10 Gbps and now I've got no internet at all after I paid your hook-up fee."

    "Sorry, sir. You should have read the terms more carefully."

    • "Up to" == "lower than or equal"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What's to stop them selling you 100mbps line, then throttling the other end so that Netflix, Youtube etc. can't even send you a 4mbps stream unless Netflix/Youtube pay them too (which will just be added to your bill)?

      i.e. what the industry said they planned to do, that caused Net Neutrality law to be introduced in the first place?

      Chairman Pai?

      What's to stop them recording your browser history and selling it for money, like they've done before with the 'Verizon supercookie' and already do in a anonymized for

      • >What's to stop them shoving a hot pocker up your ass? Twisting it till you scream, with a maniacle laugh? Erm, Pai?

        Erm, that's already in the contracts - it's part of the arbitration procedure you have to agree to while you sign away your right to sue.

        • by gnick ( 1211984 )

          It's in the contract that they can shove a hot pocker up my ass? Is that like a Hot Pocket? In any case, if it produced a laugh it wouldn't be a maniacle one.

    • Don't forget to allow for end users who have no knowledge or unrealistic expectations, either though. "I thought it meant 10 Gbps for every device I owned. I don't understand why the connection's slow after I connected my whole college dorm to it." "What do you mean, I have to manage my own LAN? For $10/month, I expect on-site LAN troubleshooting whenever I want!"
  • by quonset ( 4839537 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @09:01PM (#54651465)

    and they are citing the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules

    In other words, they fought tooth and nail to stop or rollback net neutrality rules, but now want to cite those very same rules in an effort to force the federal government to take precedent over states.

    And they wonder why they are consistently ranked at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Monday June 19, 2017 @09:07PM (#54651495)

      I don't blame the cablecos for the shit way they treat their customers. I blame the bribed local governments that keep giving those cablecos monopolies no matter how many citizens are fucked over by them.

      It's a cableco's job to make as much money as possible. But it's my local government's job to represent *ME*. One of these two is failing miserably at their job.

      • Cable (or Internet service in general) has a natural monopoly in the last mile. The first company to run the wires/fiber has an enormous financial advantage over anyone else. They've already paid the cost for connecting that last mile, so they can make it unaffordable for anyone else to connect that last mile.

        The end result is those de-facto monopolies were converted to legal monopolies, in an attempt to regulate them somewhat - that monopoly agreement with your local government has some requirements for

        • Cable (or Internet service in general) has a natural monopoly in the last mile.

          I have two different kinds of "cable" running into my house, and wireless broadband wafting through the ether. All three are capable of streaming video. While traditional "cable TV" may have had a "natural monopoly", internet service does not and never has.

          The economic monopoly that exists does so not because of a limited number of "last mile cables", but because of a limited number of last mile customers. Let's say a city has 10,000 possible customers, and 4,000 of them buy cable service. Any competitor

      • I blame the bribed local governments that keep giving those cablecos monopolies

        I blame the residents of those local governments who have not reported the monopolies to the federal enforcement agencies. It has been against federal law for anyone to issue a monopoly to a cable company for at least 20 years, and any local government that has done so needs to have a visit from DOJ or FTC.

        And, of course, the residents who keep electing the people taking the bribes share in that blame. You do have evidence of bribes before making the claim, right? Proving an illegal monopoly is easy -- it

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 )
      You dont seem to get it.

      The big companies want the FCC to regulate them. Federal regulations are written by corporate lobbyists. That "Net Neutrality" regulation everyone is so in love with was written by AT&T. AT&T's DSL service cannot compete with a cable industry that can threaten to offer "DSL speed + fast lanes for stuff" at a tiny fraction of the cost that AT&T can rig up.

      State-by-State regulation is the worst-case scenario for the big corporations, but it doesnt effect them all equall
      • The corporations want it to be a federal issue. Wile they may disagree about what the federal rules should be, they can all agree that duping you suckers into demanding it to be a federal issue is a great idea.

        Precisely!

        That takes away the ability of people at the local and State level from having a direct say, and puts things in the hands of the cable co.'s bought-and-paid for Congressional shills and K-Street lobbying firms. The very *last* thing the cable co.s want is for the people they screw over having any say in the laws & regulations they do business under.

        This tactic is not confined to the cable co.s and is a major contributing factor to the growth in the federal government's power & scope.

        Strat

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        This. The increasing Federalization of regulation over time is one of the great enablers of corporate concentration of power. It shrinks the regulation domain to a single entity which is more susceptible to influence and worse, more susceptible to influence by large entities which can crowd out smaller entities and shape regulation to large entity advantage.

        While making it more efficient for large corporations with a national scope, it's an open question whether this efficiency ever provides a consumer be

      • "The big companies want the FCC to regulate them." Oh, is that why we watched them struggle for years to argue that internet service isn't the FCC's jurisdiction? Comcast demanding that netflix specifically pay up for potential Level 3 cdn traffic, on top of wanting a "fast lane" as it's called, is absolutely the sort of shit that is within scope of concern for net neutrality.
        • Oh, is that why we watched them struggle for years to argue that internet service isn't the FCC's jurisdiction?

          Yes.

          This this answer just destroyed all the crap in your head.... you should tilt your head to the side, shake all that crap out, and join the rest of us back in the real world.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Why spend millions upgrading networks just so new media can make billions for free on the same networks?
      Slowly get the millions spent on upgrades over years from exiting accounts?
      Get told by local governments and cities to upgrade fully and then let just new media make billions?
      Money is on the table with users spending big on movies, music and series every week down existing networks.
      Share in the billions and the networks in wealthy areas get upgraded.
      Wealthy areas will consume more movies and ser
    • You thought, even for a moment, that a government legislation affecting the market would actually hurt big business? Why? Is that what you think usually happens?

      Of course they fought it. It takes work and money to re-structure your company to compensate for new rules like that. However, in the end, any time you make more laws that restrict the freedom of buyers and sellers to freely exchange capital, somebody is going to try to use those rules to their advantage, and the winner will likely be the group with

    • In other words, they fought tooth and nail to stop or rollback net neutrality rules, but now want to cite those very same rules in an effort to force the federal government to take precedent over states.

      Of course. If you are going to make them play by your set of rules, then they will play by your set of rules, especially when those rules benefit them in some area. If you've stepped up and said "we are the only entity authorized to make rules for you", wouldn't you expect them to object to new sets of rules being implemented by someone else? It would be silly to expect anything less.

    • by deesine ( 722173 )

      It's obvious we're going to need regulation to force speeds already the slowest in developed countries. Instead legislation is being used to keep speeds low. I tell anyone who'll listen, we in the U.S. are paying the most for our slow speed.

  • So with Obama net neutrality not only did we not get non-prioritizations of traffic (actually net neutrality), which Verizon, T-Mobile, TWC and Charter still do - I should be more than comfortable streaming YouTube and Netflix on 20Mbps connections, we also didn't get anyone fixing their capacity problems as the lawsuits clearly show and now they get to hide behind the letter of the text AND keep their common carrier status?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lets take a look at the Telco bribes shall we?

      https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2017/03/30/this-is-how-much-money-telecom-companies-paid-ohio-republicans-to-sell-off-your-browser-history

      This is JUST Ohio bribes (not even 2% of the bribes they paid out), I can see you're trying to do some weird "Telco good Obama bad" thing there, but if Telco's are innocent, how come they pay so many bribes?

      U.S. Sen. Rob Portman
      $89,350

      U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (5th District, Bluffton)
      $91,000

      U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson

  • The State Government isn't doing what you want them to do, lobbyists, the cure is to write out bigger checks.
  • Pay me $10 for UPTO 3 Lamborghinis.

    Pay me $20 for UPTO ...

    You want to advertise the term upto, you better demonstrate that number is a reasonable expectation for what you provide.

    Otherwise, you are simply committing fraud.

  • In commercial circles, the Commited Information Rate (CIR) is (or was) used to specify a transfer rate that the customer could always get. Its commited and not over subscribed. The model with Cable modems (and I guess FIOS etc) is not as easy to assure. Bandwidth is shared and .,. and the aggregate is what the ISP can, well, provide! So .. the CIR promise doesn't work when the service is overcommitted. But.. on super bowl day, will everyone be able to at a few Ultra high Def streams at the same time- or o
  • False Advertisiing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2017 @01:40AM (#54652343)
    If a grocery store advertised 1kg of apples for say $2, but then when you bought some you discovered that you'd only been given 900g of apples, you would be within your rights to claim false advertising. If you could show that the same store consistently under-filled their bags of apples such that not one bag contained the advertised 1kg of fruit, that would be (close to) racketeering.

    Yet telcos seem to think that because "complex stuff" [which isn't remotely complex, by the way], that this somehow exempts them from the obligation to advertise and charge fairly for their services.

    It doesn't. They are crooks. They already use contention ratios of anything up to 50:1 to squeeze more revenue out of their existing cable infrastructure and now they want to hide what they are doing by being legally allowed to throttle bandwidth.

    Crooks
    • Which brings up another important point - False advertising can be investigated and prosecuted by State agencies as well as the FTC. I don't know if false advertising is something the FCC can deal with.
    • While I don't want to say the telcos and cable companies are innocent (because they aren't), Americans' unwillingness or inability to shop critically doesn't help either.

      Even in areas where there is competition, too many customers will go for hype and big numbers over actual quality of service. If Company A advertises "Always 50 Mbps! Cheap!" and Company B advertises "Speeds up to 100Mbps, performance may vary depending on location and equipment, contact us for details, pricing is fixed monthly and will nev

      • Of course we'll choose a meaningful promise over a completely meaningless one. Instead of meaningless words like "Speeds up to", how about if they sell something truthful like, "Each 100Mbs line guaranteed to be shared among no more than X customers", then let them all compete for how low they can get X. There is no way I am going to reward a company with money for using a big fat lie involving the words "up to".
    • [Major ISP's] are crooks.

      It's far worse than that: The new White House and its new FCC are run by crooks, which is why we can expect the ISPs' request to be approved post-haste.

    • Yet telcos seem to think that because "complex stuff" [which isn't remotely complex, by the way], that this somehow exempts them from the obligation to advertise and charge fairly for their services.

      The "complex stuff" is a smoke screen. The real answer is they've bought enough politicians and regulators that they can get away with ripping their customers off with relative impunity. The only problem is the occasional state regulator who isn't with the program. So now they are trying to leverage the people they've already bought to make that go away.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      Yet telcos seem to think that because "complex stuff" [which isn't remotely complex, by the way], that this somehow exempts them from the obligation to advertise and charge fairly for their services.

      I have zero affiliation with the ISP world, or anything else, but here's the thing: Your internet connection is more like the other utilities that are delivered to your house.

      The electrical service to your house is likely rated at 200A or so. You can pull down 200A from your power utility, but if you did that all the time the utility would likely investigate to see what's going on. You would probably have to upgrade your service to something higher to continue getting power. If everyone pulled the maximum p

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      False equivalency, you said "If a grocery store advertised 1kg of apples for say $2", when the equivalent statement to the cable lobby should be "If a grocery store advertised up to 1kg of apples for say $2". At that point your 900g would not be false advertising.
    • if it's not enforced.
  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2017 @06:01AM (#54652941)

    they are lobbying to get rid of net neutrality.
    The next day they are trying to use net neutrality as a shield against state-level laws.

    This is corporate lobbying in a nutshell - they will both use and lobby against the exact same regulations depending on what is, today, most suitable to them.

  • Enforce a rule that they cannot advertise theoretical maximums any more. The new figure should be the guaranteed minimum speed. A far more useful figure. They can whine all they want, they deserve it due to their deceptive behavior.

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