FCC to propose new net neutrality rules

FCC to propose new net neutrality rules

Summary: The FCC's next attempt at rules to regulate Internet service providers in their relations with content providers and consumers includes major concessions to the ISPs.


Reports from Reuters and the Wall Street Journal say that the FCC will make another attempt at rules for net neutrality, with a vote at the FCC's May 15 meeting.

The Journal says that the new rules would include major concessions to ISPs and other bandwidth providers, explicitly allowing them grant higher network priority to content providers who pay for it, as long as such access is available on "commercially reasonable" terms to all interested content providers. The FCC would decide what is reasonable on a case-by-case basis.

Since the FCC's loss in Federal Appeals Court in January over their last net neutrality rule proposals, much has happened: Netflix, has started to reach interconnection agreements with ISPs, starting with ComcastTime Warner Cable agreed to be bought by Comcast, a deal which has been opposed by many including Netflix; and the FCC made more spectrum available for high-speed Wi-Fi. All of these affect the environment for which the rules are aimed.

The proposed FCC rules would not allow ISPs to block or otherwise discriminate against specific Internet sites. The new rules would also increase disclosure requirements for ISPs of their network management practices.

The significant changes in the rule, generally towards the interests of ISPs, may be an attempt to soften ISP opposition. By the same token, the changes may not satisfy vocal net neutrality proponents.

Topics: Networking, Government US

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  • Don't do it

    Keep the government out of regulating the internet.

    It would be a huge mistake to let them get their foot any further in the door.

    They already have enough power by virtue of dictating what bandwidth and frequencies can be used.

    That is enough power for the Fed.
    Jo Keely
    • Modern Day Luddite?

      Jo Kelly,

      I assume you are a modern day luddite and use no radio, TV, or wireless communication devices at all. Without a government body like the FCC managing and monitoring the use of TV, radio and wireless spectrum we would have chaos. Equipment manufacturers could just pick what frequencies and power output they wanted to use for communication devices. Medical equipment could be interfered with by rogue devices operating in their bands, etc.

      The US already ranks 34th worldwide in average broadband download speed and pays 2-3 times as much for the privilege of being slower than places like Singapore, Sweden, Romania, South Korea, etc. (source: http://www.netindex.com). I for one already pay more for less and don't want to have to pay more so media behemoths like Comcast/NBC/Universal, ABC/Disney, NBA/NFL/ESPN, etc. can charge me even more than they already do.

      So many industries have already proven that they can't or won't always regulate themselves appropriately, that is when a third-party needs to step in and play referee. Yes, they sometimes can be overreaching and if it is a government body politics often play a hand, but it beats the alternative. The same problems exists even in cooperative industry organizations like the IEEE, ISO, etc. The Wild West was tamed for a reason. Anarchy doesn't work in a society where we all have to play in the same sandbox. Cooperation and standards are necessary for progress and sometimes big brother has to step in and break up a fight, or better yet try to keep it from happening.
      • The FCC does not have good control where needed, and chooses

        to fight the easy battles, instead.

        I have, in the past 20 years, had the misfortune of living near [a relative term, when someone is breaking the law on large scale] to two people who were using illegal amplification for citizen's band radio. These amplifiers were not only illegal, they were also apparently homebrew and of poor design, as their harmonics spewed across many bands, and wiped out television on many channels [OTA] when the idiots would start their "rag chewing". Four calls to the FCC as a citizen representing several others yielded no help, as we were told that, since there was no life-threatening problem currently, the funds were not there to police the problem. [These difficulties were not completely alleviated by moving to cable - the output was that strong and dirty.]

        That this occurs, and that the commissioners appear to be in the pockets of big telco, is an affront to useful governmental regulation. The removal of television bandwidth, and the poor implementation of digital television, shows further disregard for the average citizen.

        As the big wireless carriers whimper about not enough bandwidth, it further shows how much contempt there is for the nation's citizens, and the cautious functioning of policing the airwaves. BTW, many will say that this is no problem, as OTA television is becoming less important, but I say that is so exactly because of the way in which the bandwidth and those trying to use it legally have been abused.
    • Actually

      The ISPs are the ones playing dirty pool by threatening to block certain services they don't like even if consumers are paying for the service and paying for internet from the ISP.
      • I've never heard of any such thing

        Could you provide an example?
        • Are you really that clueless?

          How about Comcast filtering P2P traffic? Ever heard of that? How about ISP's exempting their own affiliates' services from bandwidth caps in order to drive customers to their pay services? These things are happening right now.

          They're just starting the same dirty games the cable companies play with the content providers (where channels are blacked out while rate battles take place...all in the name of screwing the end cstomers for as much cash as possible.

          Mark my words, the big cable ISP's will use this as a free pass to stop maintaining their 'normal' net connections. Speeds will dry up on typical net access as everything goes to pay-for-play channels controlled by the big providers. Welcome to the internet version of cable TV.The little guys who want to start a new 'net based will be unable to compete because they lack to cash to pay the extortion to the big providers.
          • mythology

            Comcast temporarily rate-limited Bittorrent users who were hogging the local bandwidth. For years now they rate-limit extreme abuse in an application-independent manner. They don't "filter P2P traffic." Just not true.
            "ISP's exempting their own affiliates' services from bandwidth caps in order to drive customers to their pay services?" Such as? I'd like to hear a real example of this.
          • As a former Comcast customer...

            I can factually state that my P2P rate was limited to zero bits per second, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for more than a month.

            [i]"ISP's exempting their own affiliates' services from bandwidth caps in order to drive customers to their pay services?" Such as? I'd like to hear a real example of this.[/i]

            VOIP. Comcast's does not count against their data caps, while every other VOIP providers does count against the cap.
          • Comcast's voice service isn't simple VOIP

            Well, it may be IP-based, but it uses separate bands on the wire. This is a meaningful difference as it keeps voice separate from the available bandwidth on the Internet connection and retains access to E911, which I think pure VOIP services like Vonage can't do. If you want you can buy just their Internet service and not the voice.
            Second, re: "Comcast's does not count against their data caps," voice bandwidth is puny compared to video and, for that matter, compared to the cap, which starts somewhere around 300GB/month
          • "my P2P rate was limited to zero bits per second"

            Something's just wrong with this description. First, what exactly do you mean by "P2P"? Second, they just don't block by protocol or application, at least not for something like 8 years or more. They have an overall cap somewhere around 300GB/month after which they charge more. They also have a variable limit for a user as a percentage of total bandwidth on a local node when that node is nearing capacity, and then they just rate-limit the user.
          • Monopolys charge rents

            Wait fixed cost do not change its pay me more because I want your money because its a rent?
          • Cable is the enemy of mankind.

            Larry you are ignorant or worse. I think you know better and push it anyway. I despise equivocation. Oh no its not enter * BS here*. Just not true. *Enter spin here*. Sooo use is now abuse? Who over sold the capacity? The people of America are fools and the government does not protect the people. Economic unit or citizen?
    • Let the free market decide who wins and loses

      Not having government regulate the Internet pretty much leaves it up to who has the most dollars, and the most gall, to establish, maintain and enforce their own rules. I wonder how often you would drive on the road that some private entity had closed and turned into a tollway. Oh, you could drive some other road, but it's twice as long and doesn't go where you want to go. But that's okay with you, right, Jo? Government isn't involved -- therefore, by definition, this is the morally superior result.

      Oh, and let's hear your argument for getting the government out of your Social Security. I can't wait for your justification for brigandry and misappropriation in the name of freedom there. Come on, now. Don't be shy. Bleat it out, sheep.
      • It works when there is one

        But cable providers are the beneficiaries of municipal franchises. In particular, the cabling they use to provide Internet services would never have been laid without the their guaranteed monopolies on cable TV service. The free market has nothing to do with it. The same goes with telcos.
        John L. Ries
  • Managing vs. Neutrality

    ISPs have always had to manage their networks. You cannot manage something without having some impact on 'neutrality'.

    If these new rules aren't VERY carefully thought out, they could have unintended side-effects.
    luke mayson
  • Will have to see what the proposal actually is ...

    I've read two possibilities in the tech press screaming this morning: unfettered negotiating of commercial rates for higher bandwidth, or letting ISPs charge a "commercially reasonable" minimum (that might be unaffordable for some content providers) after which content would be treated equally.
    • It about taking

      Take more money more and more. Screw both ends.
  • Welcome to the Information Super Tollway

    Seriously? Pay for priority? So if my service hangs off of AT&T's network, and I actually want my users to be able to use my service, do I need to sign a priority service contract just with AT&T or with AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Comcast, Time-Warner, Level-3, MegaPath, HughesNet, VolcanoNet, Garlic.com, and God knows what other ISPs there are out there. Can't all data packets just be treated the same?
  • There's a little more to this...

    For one, the TCP/IP protocol was not designed with something like streaming video in mind. Streaming data, like voice (or any audio), video or even cloud computing was not built into the concept.

    The fact that video can be streamed is a function of the high quality and capacity of the equipment involved; the simple fact that it has enough throughput to allow for streaming content to work, even though the underlying protocol has no guarantee of continuous throughput at any level.

    In TCP/IP, there are two basic types of transmission possible: Datagrams and sockets. Datagrams are like carrier pigeons - there's no real guarantee they'll even arrive, and if you're sending multiple datagrams there's no guarantee they'll arrive in any particular order when they do.

    Sockets are streaming connections, such that the data IS guaranteed to arrive in the order in which is was sent, and the protocol deals with packet errors. What the protocol does NOT guarantee, and has no facility to offer, is a guarnateed minimum continous throughput. It is essentially an asynchronous pipe.

    This part of the discussion doesn't appear in the public view that I can see. The fact is that streaming HAPPENS to work on the Internet, yet the design never accounted for that.

    Mounting this with a wide range of similar under represented topics and it seems that public is of the opinion that "net neutrality will make Netflix work better."

    In reality, they have less to do with each other than the public realizes. Neutrality of the data transmitted is of vital importance, because without it ISP's could easily abuse their position as carriers to control what we can and can't exchange. However, the real problem here is that an explosion in throughput demand for a specific service can't be met by a technology which was never designed support it, and for which somehow the infrastructure to transport the data we're demanding has to be built (and therefore funded).
    • This is seemingly ISPs wanting to 'double-dip'

      I'm paying $80/mo to get certain speeds out of Time Warner no matter WHAT I'm doing on the internet. If NN goes away, I see myself paying to get data (probably at a higher cost) and Amazon, Netflix, Hulu paying to deliver it to me. Go take a look at what is going on in cable TV these days.

      I love this graphic to illustrate what, IMO, will happen if ISPs get their way: http://i.imgur.com/5RrWm.png