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ISPs Won't Promise To Treat All Traffic Equally After Net Neutrality (theverge.com) 232

An anonymous reader writes: The FCC voted to put an end to net neutrality, giving internet providers free rein to deliver service at their own discretion. There's really only one condition here: internet providers will have to disclose their policies regarding "network management practices, performance, and commercial terms." So if ISPs want to block websites, throttle your connection, or charge certain websites more, they'll have to admit it. We're still too far out to know exactly what disclosures all the big ISPs are going to make -- the rules (or lack thereof) don't actually go into effect for another few months -- but many internet providers have been making statements throughout the year about their stance on net neutrality, which ought to give some idea of where they'll land. We reached out to 10 big or notable ISPs to see what their stances are on three core tenets of net neutrality: no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. Not all of them answered, and the answers we did get are complicated. [The Verge reached out to Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Charter (Spectrum), Cox, Altice USA (Optimum and SuddenLink), and Google Fi and Google Fiber.]

Many ISPs say they support some or all of these core rules, but there's a big caveat there: for six of the past seven years, there have been net neutrality rules in place at the FCC. That means all of the companies we checked with have had to abide by the no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization rules. It means that they can say, and be mostly correct in saying, that they've long followed those rules. But it is, on some level, because they've had to. What actually matters is which policies ISPs say they'll keep in the future, and few are making commitments about that. In fact, all of the companies we contacted (with the exception of Google) have supported the FCC's plan to remove the current net neutrality rules. None of the ISPs we contacted will make a commitment -- or even a comment -- on paid fast lanes and prioritization. And this is really where we expect to see problems: ISPs likely won't go out and block large swaths of the web, but they may start to give subtle advantages to their own content and the content of their partners, slowly shaping who wins and loses online.
Comcast: Comcast says it currently doesn't block, throttle content, or offer paid fast lanes, but hasn't committed to not doing so in the future.
AT&T: AT&T has committed to not blocking or throttling websites in the future. However, its stance around fast lanes is unclear.
Verizon: Verizon indicates that, at least in the immediate future, it will not block legal content. As for throttling and fast lanes, the company has no stance, and even seems to be excited to use the absence of rules to its advantage.
T-Mobile: T-Mobile makes no commitments to not throttle content or offer paid fast lanes and is unclear on its commitment to not blocking sites and services. It's already involved in programs that advantage some services over others.
Sprint: Sprint makes no commitments on net neutrality, but suggests it doesn't have plans to offer a service that would block sites.
Charter (Spectrum): Charter doesn't make any guarantees, but the company indicates that it's currently committed to not blocking or throttling customers.
Cox: Cox says it won't block or throttle content, even without net neutrality. It won't make commitments on zero-rating or paid fast lanes.
Altice USA (Optimum and SuddenLink): Altice doesn't currently block or throttle and suggests it will keep those policies, though without an explicit commitment. The company doesn't comment on prioritizing one service over another.
Google Fi and Google Fiber: Google doesn't make any promises regarding throttling and paid prioritization. However, it is the only company to state that it believes paid prioritization would be harmful.
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ISPs Won't Promise To Treat All Traffic Equally After Net Neutrality

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  • No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silverkniveshotmail. ( 713965 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @06:02PM (#55748485) Journal
    You think any company put money towards this to not benefit from it?
    • by schnell ( 163007 )

      You think any company put money towards this to not benefit from it?

      You are 100% right. Specifically, it is a lot harder to make money providing wireline broadband in a geographically diverse country like the US (where 70% of the populace live in 3% of the landmass but 97% of the populace live in 70% of the landmass live).

      More specifically, it if was easy to put money into last mile wireline ISP infrastructure, then there would be more competition. But there's not - yes, there is some municipal or state interference in the way - but overall, it takes a f**k-ton of money, ca

      • Re:No shit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The Cynical Critic ( 1294574 ) on Saturday December 16, 2017 @06:19PM (#55752771)
        Man do you have a lot of holes in your knowledge on this subject...

        First of all, other countries with similar population distributions with lower average GDP have been much more successful at building up internet infrastructure so the argument that the current state of affairs is explained by geography is provably wrong. Sure, more dense countries have it easier, but the sparcity isn't really an excuse for things to be anywhere near as bad as they are in more rural parts of the country. Even at that, it's not like companies can't charge more for connections in areas where the per-subscriber infrastructure costs are higher (they already do).

        Secondly, ISPs are on the whole a very profitable industry and thus definitely have the money to spend of improving their infrastructure. However seeing how people need internet connections these days people will pay for substandard service. What this means is that in areas where companies have a monopoly, which covers a very large part of the U.S, there is little financial incentive to spend any money on new infrastructure. This is why they fight so hard against people when they decide to get together and build their own fiber, meaning that to compete they'd actually have to make the infrastructure investments they decided were unnecessary. Companies simply don't want the no competition gravy train to come to an end in these areas.

        So what this all really boils down to is ISPs trying to maximise profits by minimising infrastructure investments (and ensuring that people can't get together and build their own competing infrastructure).
    • Politicaly the next action is to push your States and federal officials to put up a bunch of consumer protection laws.
      ISP can’t advertise speeds faster then their throttle speeds.
      Block content and its reasons needs to be publicly available.
      Tax on ISP, Tax break (of that same amount if they follow NN principals) ...
      They got rid of a simple rule because the GOP is against government control. So the natural action when abuse starts happening are a bunch of detailed laws targeting at ISP which are more e

  • I truly believe in net neutrality. This is more about trying to exact fees from streaming services like Netflix. Netflix is currently set up as a networking peer. A network peer is a network provider that agrees to exchange traffic at a peering point with other service providers. Netflix is a content provider, not a service provider and therefore is not a peer and should be paying for bandwidth. That's the big thing that the ISP's are trying to get a handle on. I'm putting on the flame suit now.
    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @06:27PM (#55748609)
      Netflix offers media hosting servers so that Netflix traffic doesn't have to travel over the ISP's upstream link - Netflix's library can be hosted and served locally within the ISP's network. Netflix offers this for free to larger ISPs. Verizon and Comcast refused Netflix's free offer just to manufacture a false argument for fast lanes.

      Netflix is a content provider, not a service provider and therefore is not a peer and should be paying for bandwidth.

      Netflix is already paying for bandwidth. They are paying their ISP for the bandwidth they consume.

      Verizon, Comcast, et al are already being paid for they bandwidth the use. Their customers pay them $x/mo for y Mbps and increasingly z GB/mo. Them charging Netflix is nothing more than double-dipping - charging Netflix for something that the ISP's customers have already paid them for. This is like you going to a restaurant, ordering and paying for steak, and the restaurant claiming that this somehow entitles them to charge the cattle rancher a steak processing and butchering fee. Even though the rancher has already paid those costs via the slaughterhouse which he took his cattle to.

      The only reason the ISPs able to get away with it is because local governments have granted them a local Internet service monopoly. If there were actually competition among cable and DSL Internet services, any ISP which threatened to throttle Netflix if Netflix didn't pay them would be shooting themselves in the foot. Their customers would complain to their neighbor that Netflix has been really flaky lately, and their neighbor would say Netflix streams just fine at his house. And the customers would simply cancel service and switch to the neighbor's ISP.

      • Why should we trust Netflix [arstechnica.com]?

      • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @06:46PM (#55748737)

        Netflix offers media hosting servers so that Netflix traffic doesn't have to travel over the ISP's upstream link - Netflix's library can be hosted and served locally within the ISP's network. Netflix offers this for free to larger ISPs. Verizon and Comcast refused Netflix's free offer just to manufacture a false argument for fast lanes

        False. Netflix "offers" those boxes "for free", on condition that the ISP provide space, cooling, power and bandwidth to it, never look inside it, and ignore the fact that it hosts data other than the expected data related to Netflix's normal service offerings. And if you didn't accept the "offer" Netflix artificially limited features and told users that the ISP was to blame (despite the customer of the ISP having plenty of bandwidth). They even made websites with fake speed tests naming and shaming ISPs who dared to deny Netflix's offer. Netflix was artificially preventing users from getting the highest quality stream if their ISP hadn't bowed down to Netflix to get on the "nice list".

        They were forced to stop this bullshit because a few ISPs didn't back down and threatened legal action over their bullshit. https://www.usatoday.com/story... [usatoday.com]

        Netflix pulled the whole stunt in the first place because ISPs asked Netflix to pay for all the bandwidth it was using. So Netflix threw a tantrum. (Hint to Netflix: You're not a fucking peer for the purposes of any equal peering agreement, you don't carry as much bandwidth for others as they do for you. Not by a long shot. Pay for your bandwidth.)

        Netflix tried to use those boxes as a wedge to become a full-fledged CDN without having to pay for the network. They had plans to sell space and service on those boxes to anyone and everyone, for any purpose.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Netflix pulled the whole stunt in the first place because ISPs asked Netflix to pay for all the bandwidth it was using.

          The ISP has customers, the customers ask for data, and it's the ISP's job to deliver to them. It's not Netflix using the bandwidth, it's the ISP's customers.

          This is the whole point of net neutrality: the ISP's customers ask for some bits, and it's the ISP's job to deliver them without fucking around with them.

          It's the ISP's job to figure how to make money from their customers. If the customers are using "too much" data then break out the spreadsheets and change your price points.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Netflix pulled the whole stunt in the first place because ISPs asked Netflix to pay for all the bandwidth it was using.

          Fucking corporate shill.

          Those ISPs already sold that bandwidth to their customers.

          You're saying netflix should pay for bandwitch they've already paid for because Comcast's users are using the service they TOO paid for and Comcast doesn't like that.

      • by JoeLinux ( 20366 )

        Bzzzzt. Wrong.

        The "Big Boys" (Google/Amazon/Netflix/etc.) Connect to the internet through IXPs (Internet Exchange Points)

        These are the major link-ups between networks. They connect at the same levels as Comcast/Verizon/etc. (Tier 2 Providers), as seen here:

        Clicky Clicky! [wikimedia.org]

        Due to Net Neutrality laws, the other Tier 2 providers have to accept their traffic the same as people down or upstream. So, basically, they have to shoulder the extra data without compensation. And if Netflix/Google/Etc. start sending t

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That is a lie. Nobody is required to peer with anybody else. If an ISP doesn't want to peer with Netflix, they don't have to. They can still get the data through transit, and Netflix pays for that, just like ISPs pay for transit. What net neutrality means is that an ISP can not single out on a link and throttle that data to "encourage" Netflix to buy direct access to the ISP network or to pay to get unthrottled.

      • The really funny/hypocritical thing that ISPs do is to boast about how great it is to stream video (Netflix, youtube, etc.) over their 'blazin' fast internet!'. Why, every member of your house can be streaming their own thing at the same time!!!! You would think that if video streaming was just SUCH a horrible drain on them that they would avoid any mention of streaming video.
      • The only reason the ISPs able to get away with it is because local governments have granted them a local Internet service monopoly.

        The government has never granted an ISP a "local Internet service monopoly". Ever. Why does this misinformation keep appearing?

        Name just one, if you can.

      • by e r ( 2847683 )
        I agree with everything you said.
        So the real net neutrality should be the restoration of competition among ISPs.

        What if Pai and the FCC are really just driving things to a bad place on purpose to get the public pissed enough to actually remove the monopolies? Sort of like reverse psychology on a national level.
  • I wonder if and how much this revocation could affect international visitors who are using USA based web services in case major US ISPs start throttling/prioritizing traffic.
    • The days of the internet as a global communications medium are probably numbered. Large chunks of it are already effectively disconnected like China and the Russians.

    • The potential throttling would be downstream to each ISP's customers, not upstream from the sites. So if Comcast throttles Netflix and you're not a Comcast customer, you won't be affected. Comcast is just shaking down Netflix to pay up if Netflix wants Comcast to deliver Netflix content to Comcast customer. Netflix is already paying their own ISP to deliver their content to the backbone carriers, and so long as your non-American ISP isn't throttling the content from there, you'll get it at normal speeds.

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @06:16PM (#55748551) Homepage Journal

    To hear that ISPs won't promise to commit to all Net Neutrality tenets after paying so much money to get them removed...

  • Will the cable companies charge streaming providers like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix for priority bandwidth to offset their losses of cable TV subscribers?
    • Will the cable companies charge streaming providers like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix for priority bandwidth to offset their losses of cable TV subscribers?

      I'm guessing it will be more of a war of escalation.

        If an ISP charges a content provider extra, the content provider should pass additional charges on to the customer using that ISP.

      • by ELCouz ( 1338259 )
        I can guarantee you passing fees to customer will not result in a good outcome future wise.
  • Really about slowing Netflix and getting you to keep/buy overpriced Cable TV.

    • by ELCouz ( 1338259 )
      Too late... the TV formula is broken... no one gives a shit. Only the older generations care about content shoved to your throat.
  • My current 4G LTE data plan is still more than enough for surfing and email. Better to spend more time with family and friends than addicted to TV shows and movies. As a bonus, more money in my pocket and less in Verizon's.
  • by ugen ( 93902 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @06:31PM (#55748639)

    What is particularly worrying to me is how short the list of ISPs is (and this is after we include cellular providers, who are ISPs only in a wider sense of the word). There are more electricity generating companies out there than there are ISPs providing home broadband internet. USA truly does not have much choice here.

    • by kwerle ( 39371 )

      True. I wonder how that looks lin other countries.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      It doesn't look like a very big list anywhere, does it?

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      I have a question for US people: why don't you have lots of ISPs, like the UK? We basically have a bunch because of Local Loop Unbundling, which allows other ISPs to use the incumbent telephony provider's hardware for the last mile. According to the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org], "the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that ILECs lease local loops to competitors (CLECs)." So why don't you have a bunch of ISPs too?

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @06:52PM (#55748779)

    if they promise the FCC says they can be held liable for violating their promise.

    So even if you intended to not violate NN, you would still not promise to avoid liability to the FCC.

    So... consider that.

  • by xeoron ( 639412 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @07:02PM (#55748835) Homepage
    This is troubling considering, since early Nov. of this year Comcast has throttled all devices on my network when 1 of my devices is connected to a VPN. Upload and download speeds are cut in half, until I turn off my work VPN connection. Within seconds the speed for all devices in my network doubles (phones, mac's, pc's, tablets, etc).
  • by BancBoy ( 578080 ) on Friday December 15, 2017 @07:44PM (#55749005)
    A very satisfied customer here, full disclosure. Sonic.Net sent this out to their users. "Today, net neutrality regulations, which protect your right to an open and fair internet, have been repealed. For anyone who uses the internet (so, everyone), you may think this sounds really scary. And you’d be right. The protections that made it illegal for ISP’s to throttle certain websites or make you pay more to access others are gone. But, what we’re here to tell you is that no matter what, Sonic will remain committed to the principles of net neutrality. Sonic always has and always will keep our internet connections open and equal. You can watch what you want, when you want, on any content provider you choose (Netflix, Hulu, HBO, SlingTV-- it’s all the same to us). We will continue to protect your right to privacy, and your right to not have your own data sold or shared. Ever. We will never charge you more to access certain sites, and we will never slow down others for any reason. Sonic will continue to stand up for everything net neutrality stands for, whether the regulations require it or not. Since the beginning, Sonic has stood up for our customers. And that’s never going to change. For us, the responsibility we have to our members is not a passing trend. When we say there is nothing more important than the customers who make up the Sonic network, we mean it. We’ll continue to back up our words with official policies that benefit you. Please also share with your friends, family, and colleagues: you have a choice to support the ISPs that continue to support net neutrality and consumer privacy."
    • by mea2214 ( 935585 )

      Please also share with your friends, family, and colleagues: you have a choice to support the ISPs that continue to support net neutrality and consumer privacy."

      I don't have this choice.

  • Verizon indicates that, at least in the immediate future, it will not block legal content.

    However later down the road.... well you know the common man forgets this stuff and then they can do what they want. Especially when ISPx impliments something they will have to stay competitive.

    Just like the Tax Bill that sunsets Individual Tax breaks and keeps Corporate breaks in place - they are planning on people have short memories.

    • by dyfet ( 154716 )

      but yet makes it very clear it believes it can, and hence eventually will, block (not simply slow down) entirely legal content...that is a very chilling statement, actually.

  • Twelve different providers and probably twelve different policies eventually, each becoming more and more detailed and complex themselves. Complexity in all things continues to advance at a tremendous rate.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley

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