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FCC's Claim That One ISP Counts As 'Competition' Faces Scrutiny In Court (arstechnica.com) 200

Jon Brodkin reports via Ars Technica: A Federal Communications Commission decision to eliminate price caps imposed on some business broadband providers should be struck down, advocacy groups told federal judges last week. The FCC failed to justify its claim that a market can be competitive even when there is only one Internet provider, the groups said. Led by Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC's Republican majority voted in April of this year to eliminate price caps in a county if 50 percent of potential customers "are within a half mile of a location served by a competitive provider." That means business customers with just one choice are often considered to be located in a competitive market and thus no longer benefit from price controls. The decision affects Business Data Services (BDS), a dedicated, point-to-point broadband link that is delivered over copper-based TDM networks by incumbent phone companies like AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink.

But the FCC's claim that "potential competition" can rein in prices even in the absence of competition doesn't stand up to legal scrutiny, critics of the order say. "In 2016, after more than 10 years of examining the highly concentrated Business Data Services market, the FCC was poised to rein in anti-competitive pricing in the BDS market to provide enterprise customers, government agencies, schools, libraries, and hospitals with much-needed relief from monopoly rates," Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said. But after Republicans gained the FCC majority in 2017, "the commission illegally reversed course without proper notice and further deregulated the BDS market, leaving consumers at risk of paying up to $20 billion a year in excess charges from monopolistic pricing," Berenbroick said.

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FCC's Claim That One ISP Counts As 'Competition' Faces Scrutiny In Court

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  • Fuck Ajit Pai (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:49PM (#55352173) Journal

    He's just looking out for a job back at Verizon when he's done.

    • Re:Fuck Ajit Pai (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @09:18PM (#55353737)

      I'll go better than that: fuck the current republicans. fuck them so bad they all get voted out of office next time.

      if america needed an education about what the R's stand for, they sure got one this time around. anything that helps consumers, the R's are blatantly against. (can you cite anything that contradicts this?)

      I realize that slash has been invaded by the R fans (even though as a tech forum, most of us are clearly NOT R-based in our thinking) but before you mod me down, I'd like you to cite an example of where a modern R has stood up for the regular guy and not for the ultra rich and powerful.

      I'm hoping that this tire fire called 'trump admin' really ruins a lot of people; especially those in red states. they need a harsh awakening and a wake-up call. they have been misled and have been guided into voting against their own best interests.

      I wonder if people really will realize this. I hear lots of talk, but when the next election comes, I have a feeling that the reds will forget all this harm that was done to our country and will follow their 'religion' and continue to fund those that work against the common man.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The Republican party is split at the moment. You have the traditional Rs, the conservatives, and then you have the new alt-right, where Trump's administration came from.

        The battle between the two factions is why the Republicans can't get much done at the moment.

      • There is no better useful idiot than a religious conservative. Who better to believe anything said to them by figures of "authority"?

        You will also see that while most people hate the members of Congress as a whole, THEIR congresscritter is a "good one".

      • Re:Fuck Ajit Pai (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @09:34AM (#55355465)

        it wont because republicans believe the government is dysfunctional and broken by default.
        when they elect these ass hats who then proceed to break it, they simply reinforce their preexisting ideology (while totally ignoring that they ar the ones that broke it!).
        meanwhile they simultaneously believe that no matter what happens, they themselves will be ok ("my perimeter is secure", "i can take care of myself", "government doesn't benefit me") whilst ignoring everything government actually does for them.

        the republican party is now completely and totally based on delusion and ignorance of reality.

      • You do realize Democrats aren't pro consumer either. They back the same policies. Just listen to Dianne Feinstein. So please stop voting for a brand.
  • Super obvious this guy is basically a plant / spy. We know it. He knows we know it. No one is doing a thing about it other than going wahhh wahh wahh. Me included. Russia should take note. They could plant some politicians and probably give deaths of the US to Russia and propose we pay taxes to Russia. We would sit here and bellyache but do nothing.
    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      Google auto corrected swaths of land to deaths lol. That works too though.
    • by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @04:35PM (#55352471)

      No one is doing a thing about it other than going wahhh wahh wahh.

      No one except the President can do anything about it. Pai is appointed, not elected.

      • by thomst ( 1640045 )

        oic0 observed:

        No one is doing a thing about it other than going wahhh wahh wahh.

        Prompting EndlessNameless to point out:

        No one except the President can do anything about it. Pai is appointed, not elected.

        Oh, that I had mod point available ...

      • No one is doing a thing about it other than going wahhh wahh wahh.

        No one except the President can do anything about it. Pai is appointed, not elected.

        "the commission illegally reversed course without proper notice..."

        So, I guess when you're "appointed" to a position, you're freely allowed to break the law?

        Not even sure how the hell that bullshit is supposed to work. Guess we have completely forgotten about ethics and integrity, and will continue to roll out the fucking red carpet for corruption.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Sure. And the planted Hillary too so that she would be hated as first lady so badly that people still hate her 20 years later when the DNC handed her the nomination.

      • And the planted Hillary too so that she would be hated as first lady so badly that people still hate her 20 years later when 3.7 million more Democratic voters preferred her in the primary.

        Fixed that for you.

        Seriously, for all that the far left pretends that Democrats are just the same as Republicans, they themselves are often as fact-challenged (and/or willing to shovel complete bullshit) as the worst Trump voter.

        • by spun ( 1352 )

          Far lefty here. We know the difference between the Republicans and Democrats. I held my nose and voted for Hillary because the alternative was unthinkable. Many democrats, I don't even have to hold my nose to vote for them. It's only the corporate third way triangulating party insiders we hate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:52PM (#55352197)

    Oh you're not really starving, you can smell your neighbor's dinner from here.

  • by DMJC ( 682799 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:53PM (#55352199)
    Is anyone really surprised by this now? This has been the way of things in America for ages. Democrats aren't even good politicians, just centrist normals. Republicans are so far to the right it's hilariously stupid. America needs a third party and has needed one for years. At least a moderate right party if not a further left party.
    • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:58PM (#55352225)

      At this point, I'd be happy if we got even a single party that was effective, cared about the nation, wasn't bought off, and wasn't batshit crazy.

      • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionary&yahoo,com> on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @04:11PM (#55352301) Journal

        Except that's not something you get, it's something you make. Effective, sane, and powerful organizations that fight for the rights of the little guy don't just happen by accident. People have to work really hard to create something like that, and most people are just too lazy, unless their very lives are on the line.

        • People have to work really hard to create something like that

          Tell me about it!

        • If people wanted to spend their days reading through proposed laws and working out political compromises they would vote directly (true democracy) instead of having a professional representative (republic).
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          ... fight for the rights of the little guy ...

          Most countries call this "the government" but the USA enabled union-bashing by dismissing government-employed strikers, enabled child-bashing by removing truth-in-advertising, enabled welfare-bashing by cutting healthcare and unemployment services, abandons the weak via 'tough on crime' and 'work for the dole' policies, refuses to engage its single-buyer advantage.

          Then, congress-critters deliberately contaminate politics by claiming privately-owned is superior to government-owned, corporations have more rig

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Feel free to start one. The entire platform could consist of the words "None of us are lawyers or career politicians. We promise to resign after ten years or at the end of our current term, whichever is later," and that would just about be enough of a platform by itself.

        • that would just about be enough of a platform by itself.

          Not to me, since it doesn't address any of the things on the wish list I stated.

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            It does, but only indirectly, by eliminating anybody who wants to make politics a career. There are certain types of people who are politically driven, whose main goal is to have power. These people absolutely should not be allowed to have it. They tend to be the ones who care more about being reelected than about being effective or helping the nation. By having a party of people who run for one office, serve for two terms, and never run for office again, you eliminate all of those people.

            To be fair, i

            • by dryeo ( 100693 )

              You'd still end up with the ones using politics as a jumping off point into big business.
              Around here, we've had good career politicians and horrible ones who were around for perhaps a decade and then jumped into private business, usually the business they fucked over the people for.
              Really the first step is removing the money and making elections fair, which many people seem to think as anti-freedom and forget that freedom is a balancing act.

            • It does, but only indirectly, by eliminating anybody who wants to make politics a career.

              Which doesn't address any of my points. Whether or not someone is a career politician is independent of whether or not they're actually working for the best interests of the nation.

              By having a party of people who run for one office, serve for two terms, and never run for office again, you eliminate all of those people.

              And you also eliminate people who do have the best interests of the nation at heart, and you still have a whole boatload of people who are corrupt, etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Trump is the 3rd party.

      that's why everyone is throwing such an epic hissyfit.

    • Obama and Hillary are to Trump's right on corporate trade laws, cutting Social Security, and starting a new cold war with Russia for reasons entirely of America's making - like overthrowing Ukraine's democracy and starting a trillion dollar upgrade to America's nuclear arsenal. Democrats complain about Trump's travel bans, but DGAF when Obama was murdering teenagers with drones and allowing the military to throw their sycophantic asses in prison without a warrant.

      P.S.
      To the "go home, Boris" shitbirds who al

    • you need to vote in your primary. We'd have Bernie Sanders right now folks would do that. Also, people need to get over the knee jerk anger reaction they get every time they see somebody get something they didn't work for. New flash, we all get lots of stuff we didn't work for. I didn't invent the PC but I'm typing away at one right now. And I didn't pay all the subsidies that made the things affordable. We do better as a species when we work together. Though certain individuals are doing great while we fig
    • The Democrats have been moving further and further to the left since at least the mid 90's. Republicans move in both directions. At least that's what Pew says: http://www.people-press.org/20... [people-press.org]

      And it continues. Right now, ideological consistency is all on the Left, and not near the center. If the GOP was as far right as you suggest, the ACA would have been repealed by now. If the Left was as centrist as you think, they wouldn't be talking about single-payer healthcare or sanctuary cities. Or look at

      • by jbengt ( 874751 )

        The Democrats have been moving further and further to the left since at least the mid 90's.

        That has got to be the least insightful comment I've seen in a while. The reality is that, other than a couple of social issues like LGBT rights, Democrats have been moving a little to the right (still a little left of center overall), while the far right has been gaining, pulling the "center" to the right.
        BTW, Sanders is not a Democrat; he's an independent and to the left of most Democrats, which is why he lost the

  • Drain the swamp (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:56PM (#55352215) Journal

    Led by Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC's Republican majority voted in April of this year to eliminate price caps in a county if 50 percent of potential customers "are within a half mile of a location served by a competitive provider."

    Oh that seems fair. Not "served by a competitive provider" but rather, "within a half mile of a location served by a competitive provider".

    Which party is doing this shit again?

    Led by Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC's Republican majority voted in April

    Oh, right.

    But after Republicans gained the FCC majority in 2017, "the commission illegally reversed course without proper notice and further deregulated the BDS market, leaving consumers at risk of paying up to $20 billion a year in excess charges from monopolistic pricing," Berenbroick said.

    Now who's the fucking moron?

    • And before people go "But he was an Obama nomination" it was Mitch fucking McConnell that recommended him.

    • Just wait till the idiots in robes place the same rules on corporations.
    • they were desperate. He won because our screwed up electoral college and Hillary's arrogance (she bought into the "Blue Firewall" and didn't campaign in eastern swing states). Meanwhile Trump stumped in Michagan and Wisconsin telling them he's bringing their jobs back. He's not, but neither was Hilary. Trump said it best, what do you got to lose?

      If the Dems want back in power they need to kick the right wing "centrists" out and get on board with populist ideas: Medicare for All, college for all, end the
  • by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:58PM (#55352223) Journal

    When is a monopoly not a monopoly? Why, when it's a monopoly, apparently.

    This is beyond idiotic and dovetails nicely into the recent news that Comcast and other ISPs have decided that Americans "pay too little" for their broadband, which is an outrageous claim. Maybe we pay too little for road access too, why not just make all roads toll roads?

    http://www.fiercecable.com/cab... [fiercecable.com]

    • While the exact semantics bother me (half the population within half a mile of a competitor), I sadly agree that this is a market that could be competitive if there was a sufficient profit motive. The gotcha is that half the population can be half a mile away, across the river, highway, or gorge that provides a sufficient barrier for expansion by the competitor.

      The distance could easily mean that if the main street in a city has a competitive provider the county is considered competitive, while it is still

  • Guns Vs. Armies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @04:03PM (#55352249)

    One of rather many flaws in modern American conservatist thought is the idea that because someone has a freedom that they are using to crush someone else, that this is OK, because in theory the other person could spend their life building up the same resources to crush the other guy.

    It's the same logic as with gun freedoms - even the most abject set of mass murders with guns is seen as socially acceptable in aggrigate, because in theory, a 'good' person could have popped up and shot the mass murderers with a gun also - therefore, it's no problem. Even with words mouthed towards mental illness, decade over decade, these same politicians reduce funding for those same mental health issues, AND promote legislation to make it easier for those same mentally ill people to get guns.

    Same here - they mouth words at how bad monopolies are, but put forth legislation and appoint people that makes it easier to form monopolies, and use them to ruin lives on a continuous basis.

    And no, you can't fight against this with individual action - monopolies when they form tend to by definition lock up a crucial resources that prevents you from fighting against them on an individual level. And modern 'conservative' ideology is for the same arbitration systems that prevent you from using the court to fix it, along with countless laws to shelter resources from any victory you could achieve.

    • It's the same logic as with gun freedoms - even the most abject set of mass murders with guns is seen as socially acceptable in aggrigate, because in theory, a 'good' person could have popped up and shot the mass murderers with a gun also - therefore, it's no problem.

      Gun ownership isn't just about self-defence from retail violence. It helps a lot there (privately owned guns are used about 6 times more often to stop a crime than to commit one), but it's not the main point.

      Private guns are an insurance polic

      • Re:Guns Vs. Armies (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @06:01AM (#55354651)

        There's one problem with the "guns protect against tyranny" thing - the armed forces. If they're against the populace, then there's no amount of guns in private hands which can beat them. If they're on the side of the populace, there's no need for the guns, as the armed forces have theirs. Ask soldiers who've returned from Iraq and Afghanistan which they feared more - locals with guns, or locals with explosives.

  • I thought the all too common gradeschool understanding of the market that thinks two players constitutes healthy competition was bad. Now apparently even almost having 2 players counts.

    • The FCC doesn't really think that counts as competition, they just think that Americans are stupid enough to believe that.

      The FCC wants (among other things) to eliminate the possibility of competition.

      • by spun ( 1352 )

        I'm not sure Pai disbelieves this. Ask any smart-ish libertarian how they propose to regulate natural monopolies, and they will say they don't need to because of the potential competition. Any monopoly that abuses it's power too much will prompt people to technologically innovate their way out of the monopoly situation (see: canals, trains) or simply start some competition, and damn the first mover advantage. It's a BS argument, of course, but I think a lot of them really believe it.

        • You could be right.

          When I'm faced with an action that could be attributed to either stupidity or maliciousness, my tendency is to assume that it's maliciousness. I've found that it's more often mistaken to assume it's stupidity.

        • It's a BS argument, of course, but I think a lot of them really believe it.

          When you look at history, you would.

          When cable companies actually did have government-granted monopolies, eventually the technology for satellite video distribution was improved to create competition. That competition still exists. In fact, it has gotten more intense using Internet streaming video services.

          Even though cable television systems had pre-built infrastructure that they could leverage into ISP service, other companies using other delivery systems came into existence to compete.

          Even before the

          • by spun ( 1352 )

            I've looked at history, and the harm done by monopolies is never offset by the benefits. Technological change doesn't happen quickly enough to mitigate the effects of shitty, overbearing monopolies. I've been over this a million times with libertarians and they haven't managed to change my mind, even with arguments that weren't just off the cuff, half assed attempts.

  • Price controls are not only oppressive, they discourage competition by helping the incumbent service-providers. They can lobby for price-increases, but any newcomer would not be able to.

    On the other hand, if the greedy KKKapitali$st$ do increase the price too much, the competition will appear.

    • I thought there was something a while back, but I think I was hallucinating. I did find a nifty little writeup on 5 accomplishments, but number 5 can be knocked off the list now. Not much solace here either:

      "Stepping back, there have been a few accomplishments of note:

      Getting Neil M. Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court;
      The significant drop-off in illegal immigration crossings (from an already low level);
      Neither the world nor the Constitution has been destroyed yet;
      Progress in the Middle East campaign a

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @04:49PM (#55352567)
    You can call him Ray _or_ you can call him Jay. Surely this must mean competition.
  • So, whenever two sports teams face off against each other, that doesn't constitute competition?
    • Not in a market sense. In a market sense, they are colluding (working together to maximize the amount of revenue for both teams).

  • by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @08:02PM (#55353451)

    At the risk of disturbing what is clearly an exceptionally robust echo chamber on this topic, here's my take:

    If the FCC is fixing prices at an artificially low level because there's only one provider in an area, there's zero incentive for a second provider to engage in the capital expenditure to start to service that area. The fiat prices make it impossible for a newcomer to recoup the cost of buildout. Nobody is going to sign up for that, and the monopoly will continue.

    Removing the price caps may be temporarily painful, but in the long haul someone is going to spin out that last half mile when there's a proper incentive to do so. (And the higher the incumbent jacks prices, the richer that incentive gets, so getting too greedy just slits their throat faster.) You then have multiple providers that will naturally compete on price to get more market share and pay down their capex faster. And if the incumbent lowers prices enough to disincentivize the other provider from laying that last piece of wire, the customers win that way as well. If you were talking about one provider in the entire city, that might be concerning. But having at least one other provider within half a mile completely changes the calculus in my view.

    Very happy to have a thoughtful discussion about this. Flamethowers can save their keystrokes.

  • A group of self-taught network engineers in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, NY basically told Time Warner to go fuck themselves and built their own ISP, Brooklyn Fiber. Believe me, I would like to do this as well - it's on my bucket list. This is the best way to thwart the telecom oligarchy. There are very poor areas of Philadelphia, PA that are just ripe for market upending.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus

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