After losing the battle against net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has taken his fight to Congress. Today, Pai asked the House of Representatives to strip the FCC of funding it needs to enforce net neutrality rules.
“Congress should forbid the Commission from using any appropriated funds to implement or enforce the plan the FCC just adopted to regulate the Internet,” Pai said in prepared statements for an FCC budget hearing. “Not only is this plan bad policy; absent outside intervention, the Commission will expend substantial resources implementing and enforcing regulations that are wasteful, unnecessary, and affirmatively detrimental to the American public.”
Pai is one of two Republicans on the FCC. The three-member Democratic majority voted in favor of the net neutrality order. The decision reclassified broadband as a common carrier service and imposed net neutrality rules that prevent Internet service providers from blocking or throttling content or prioritizing content in exchange for payment.
Today the Chicago Tribune published a story that gives at least a glimmer of hope to anyone who wouldn’t like to see one company dominate television programming, television distribution AND broadband connections in the United States.
The combined company would control 30 percent of the cable market and about a third of all broadband connections. Comcast has agreed to divest of 3 million cable subscribers as part of the deal to keep its market share at the 30 percent threshold, formerly a statutory limit imposed by the FCC. While no longer mandated, the divestiture is seen as a goodwill gesture by Comcast to help push the merger through, [senior media analyst Craig] Moffett said.
While there is no limit for high-speed Internet market share, it could prove even more problematic for Comcast in the current regulatory and political environment. The FCC voted last month to redefine broadband Internet standards, raising the minimum speeds and boosting the combined company’s share of the high-speed market to about 55 percent, Moffett said.
By his estimations, Moffett said the FCC’s decision to redefine high-speed Internet reduced the odds of the merger being approved from 80 percent to 70 percent. He declined to handicap the potential negative impact of the Bauer incident and other customer service issues but didn’t discount it either.
What is “the Bauer incident”? It was first reported last week that a 63 year-old woman here in Illinois received a bill from Comcast addressed to “Super Bitch” after months of trouble with her cable service.
Of course, customer service nightmare stories about Comcast are a dime a dozen. By now everyone has probably heard the famous call from last year where a Comcast representative steadfastly refuses to cancel customer Ryan Block’s service. More recently, another customer began receiving bills addressed to “Asshole”. Just today the story broke of a woman who accidentally sent her rent check to Comcast. Not only did Comcast cash the check (!) they initially insisted they would only return the money in the form of statement credit.
If you think this proposed merger would improve customer service or lift the United States higher than ELEVENTH PLACE in the world broadband speed ranking, I hope your next bill is addressed to “Sucker”. The rest of us need to make sure our elected officials understand that this merger is only likely to work for the benefit of Time Warner share holders.
Here’s why net neutrality matters. It doesn’t just hurt the home user watching Netflix. It also hurts businesses that just so happen to share the Internet pipeline with Netflix. So when Comcast, Verizon or other cable providers interfere with Netflix bandwidth, they also screw businesses like NEPC of Boston.
Cogent has assembled its network by leasing segments of fiber across the country and it aggressively charges less in order to gain more customers; it connects to 1400 office buildings and would like to have more data centers on its list. NEPC’s problem was that it had bought the first flavor of service from Cogent: NEPC is one of many professional services firms (legal, financial, advertising, consulting) located in multi-tenant office buildings that use Cogent for Internet access.
But Cogent was being systematically disfavored by Verizon, Comcast, and the other providers because of its sale of the second flavor of service — transit — to bandwidth-intensive Netflix. Both flavors of services look the same from the perspective of a fiber network; they’re just packets flowing over Cogent’s leased or owned facilities. When the Cogent transit network seeks to interconnect with the Comcast or Verizon eyeball network to hand off packets, things can evidently go wrong. NEPC’s communications cataclysm was a byproduct of the battle between eyeball and transit networks. In order to make life miserable for Netflix and force that company to share its revenue with the eyeball networks, Comcast and the others had simultaneously made life miserable for many other companies.
Comcast’s response: this is business as usual.
A non-profit research corporation, M-Labs, after a careful longitudinal analysis of web traffic, has found the smoking gun. There is no denying that Comcast, Verizon and the other big media/Internet providers are choking bandwidth in their own self-interests. And, as the quote above shows, they could care less if consumers and smaller corporations get screwed in the process.
More at Medium.com.
The party of pure evil strikes again.
Net neutrality legislation unveiled by Republicans today would gut the ability of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the broadband industry.
As expected, the bill forbids the FCC from reclassifying broadband as a common carrier service, preventing the commission from using authority it has under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This is the statute the FCC uses to regulate landline telephone providers.
The bill—full text here—also targets a portion of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 706 of the Act instructs the FCC to accelerate deployment of broadband to all Americans “by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market.” The FCC is considering using this authority to preempt state laws that limit the rights of cities and towns to build broadband networks.
That will be off the table if Republicans get their way. The bill text amends communications law “to prohibit the Commission or a State commission from relying on section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as a grant of authority.” It also defines broadband as an “information service,” preventing the FCC from treating broadband providers as common carriers.
The FCC pressed pause on its review of the proposed Comcast-TWC merger after learning that thousands of documents it should have had access to were withheld.
The roughly 7,000 documents were not disclosed due to “an inappropriate claim of attorney client privilege,” according to the FCC. In addition, some 31,000 documents that were also responsive to the commission’s work were not disclosed as the result of a “vendor error.”
Those mistakes were enough for the FCC to call time out. The agency’s 180-day review period that it calls “informal” will now take a three-week hiatus, resuming on January 12.
Today also marks the end of the public comment period regarding the proposed merger. Comcast marked the occasion with a lengthy blog post extolling the deal’s virtues. A sample: “We’ve built a compelling record in favor of the transaction. […] We also have demonstrated the absence of serious competitive harms arising out of the transaction.”
FreedomWorks responds to President Obama’s recent statement encouraging the FCC to adopt stricter rules on Net Neutrality.
The above video is an anti-Net Neutrality statement from the Koch funded, Tea Party aligned FreedomWorks. In it, Iris Somberg, FreedomWorks Communication Coordinator (i.e. Director of Bullshit) claims that net neutrality hurts competition because it gives, “The same speed, the same prices, the same access,” to all content. How is this anti-competative you might ask because your not an idiot? Well according to Somberg, it forces smaller websites to somehow subsidize bigger websites by forcing them to pay for bandwidth they don’t need. You may notice that this claim is complete and utter bull crap.
Really, she actually claims that having providers treat all web traffic the same benefits bigger companies at the expense of smaller companies. This is an Orwellian inversion of the truth. Net neutrality enhances competition and innovation for all by providing a level playing field. Seriously, do these people even believe their own bullshit?
More at forwardprogressives.com
More attempts at intimidation by the TPGOP. “Our financial backers have bought local state governments fair and square, so the Feds should just STFU”.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is going to have a fight on his hands if he tries to preempt state laws that limit the growth of municipal broadband networks.
Matthew Berry, chief of staff to Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai, argued today that the FCC has no authority to invalidate state laws governing local broadband networks. In a speech in front of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Berry endorsed states’ rights when it comes to either banning municipal broadband networks or preventing their growth. He also argued that the current commission, with its Democratic majority, should not do something that future Republican-led commissions might disagree with.
“If the history of American politics teaches us anything, it is that one political party will not remain in power for perpetuity. At some point, to quote Sam Cooke, ‘a change is gonna come,’” Berry said. “And that change could come a little more than two years from now. So those who are potential supporters of the current FCC interpreting Section 706 [of the Telecommunications Act] to give the Commission the authority to preempt state laws about municipal broadband should think long and hard about what a future FCC might do with that power.”
Competition? In the US? Are you crazy?
The Federal Communications Commission will face a lawsuit if it tries to invalidate state laws that restrict the ability of cities and towns to offer Internet service, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler yesterday. Such a move would infringe on states’ rights protected by the Constitution, the group claimed.
Wheeler has said he intends to “preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband,” relying on authority detailed in a court decision that overturned the FCC’s net neutrality rules. These state laws make it difficult or impossible for municipalities to create their own broadband networks that compete against private Internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.
The US House of Representatives has already approved a budget amendment that would prevent the FCC from invalidating these laws.
A U.S. court has overturned portions of the Federal Communications Commission’s contentious net neutrality rules, saying the FCC does not have the authority to dictate to wireless carriers what they can charge to whom and when.
The decision was handed down today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. The case was brought by Verizon, which claimed the FCC’s “decision to impose the rules was arbitrary and capricious,” the ruling says.
The idea of “net neutrality” is also called “open internet” because it argues that no government or company can regulate the flow of the Internet. Advocates say that if left without regulation, large service providers will give preferential treatment to larger companies that can pay more. Meanwhile, smaller tech companies without deep, corporate pockets, will not be able to compete for premium service.
The FCC’s rules were designed to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with Web traffic. Instead of reversing a Bush-era decision that weakened the FCC’s authority over broadband, and establishing solid legal footing, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the rules in 2010 under the complicated and shaky legal framework the court rejected today.
The rules the court struck down left much to be desired, but they were a step toward preserving Internet users’ freedom to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted.
Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV — where they pick and choose the channels for you. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.
Together we can fight back against these greedy Internet service providers. We can save the Internet we love. But we have to act now.