Tag Archives: net_neutrality

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Votes 2-1 for Net Neutrality Rollback

“The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 on Thursday to advance a Republican plan to reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 ‘net neutrality’ order.” David Shepardson reporting in Reuters: “The public will have until mid-August to offer comments before the FCC votes on a final plan. [FCC chairman] Pai wants public input on whether the FCC has the authority or should keep its ‘bright line’ rules barring internet companies from blocking, throttling or giving ‘fast lanes’ to some websites. He has not committed to retaining any rules, but said he favors an ‘open internet.'”

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U.S. Federal Communications Commission Votes 2-1 for Net Neutrality Rollback

“The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 on Thursday to advance a Republican plan to reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 ‘net neutrality’ order.” David Shepardson reporting in Reuters: “The public will have until mid-August to offer comments before the FCC votes on a final plan. [FCC chairman] Pai wants public input on whether the FCC has the authority or should keep its ‘bright line’ rules barring internet companies from blocking, throttling or giving ‘fast lanes’ to some websites. He has not committed to retaining any rules, but said he favors an ‘open internet.'”

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Net Neutrality Is a Smashing Success by FCC’s Preferred Metric, Reports Free Press Researcher

“If investment is the FCC’s preferred metric, then there’s only one possible conclusion: Net Neutrality and Title II are smashing successes,” says Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner, author of a new report released by the consumer advocacy group. The report titled, “It’s Working: How the Internet Access and Online Video Markets Are Thriving in the Title II Era,” examines internet-industry developments in the two years since the Federal Communications Commission’s February 2015 Open Internet Order which resulted in the adoption of strong Net Neutrality rules and reclassification of broadband-internet access as a Title II telecommunications service.

“The restoration of Title II for broadband-internet access was designed to preserve what the FCC rightly calls the internet’s virtuous cycle of investment and innovation,” says Turner. “All available data indicate that the 2015 decision to adopt strong rules on a sound legal footing is working as intended, benefiting internet users, broadband-access providers and the myriad businesses that distribute services over the open internet.”

The centerpiece of President Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, “is his demonstrably false claim that the mere existence of Title II authority has caused a reduction in broadband investment. … This claim is both false on its face — aggregate investment by publicly traded ISPs is up since the FCC’s vote — and completely illogical. –Turner

Other findings from the report:

“Aggregate capital investments at publicly traded ISPs were 5 percent higher during the two-year period following the FCC’s Open Internet vote when compared to the two years prior to the vote. Claims of a decline are based on manipulated data, and in any event, do not support a causal impact from Title II.”

“Capital investments were higher at 16 of the 24 publicly traded ISP firms (or units) following the FCC’s vote. These increases are due primarily to continued core network expansion.”

“During the two years following the adoption of the Open Internet Order, cable-industry physical network investments increased 48 percent compared to the amount invested during the two prior years. Cable ISPs’ core network investments accelerated dramatically during 2016, representing the highest single-year jump since 1999.”

“Telecom-company spending on fiber-to-the-home network terminals and terminal ports rose nearly 50 percent during 2016.”

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Telecoms Competition on a Downhill Slide in America

That is what happens when you base your telecommunications policies on the wrong foundations.

The problems with the telecommunications industry in America go back to 1996 when the FCC decided that broadband in America should be classified as internet (being content) and that therefore it would not fall under the normal telecommunication regulations. Suddenly what are known as telecommunications common carriers in other parts of the world became ISPs in the USA. How odd is that?

This is rather incomprehensible since, to the rest of the world, it is very clear that broadband is an access product and has nothing to do with the internet as such — and most certainly nothing to do with content!

While nothing to do with this topic, it is also important to mention that in exchange for these generous gifts from the FCC the incumbents promised to fibre up America. Over the last 20 years such promises were made again and again, and every time these promises were broken with no retributive action from the FCC whatsoever.

And — surprise, surprise — in the resulting monopolistic situation — the incumbents used their newly won classification as ISPs to their own advantage.

As an immediate result retail-based broadband services were monopolised by Verizon and AT&T. There was no longer any obligation on their part to make broadband available on a wholesale basis, and as a consequence, there is very little retail-based broadband competition in the USA. It has to be said that the very weak regulation in place before 1996 made it very difficult for retail broadband providers to obtain affordable wholesale rates from the carriers. But the classification as broadband being content totally killed the DSL retail market, and within a year all those DSL retail providers were all dead and buried.

The door was now also open for the incumbents to look for extra revenues that they could extract from the big digital media content providers by offering preferential treatment over their broadband infrastructure. This would create a high-speed internet lane for these companies and put the rest in a second-rate slow broadband lane.

This generated a public outcry, and as a result, the FCC had to introduce what is known as net neutrality (NN), which stopped the incumbents from creating fast and slow lanes. NN was an attempt by the then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to keep the internet open.

Now I am certainly not in favour of net neutrality, and in principle, I don’t have a problem with telecommunications providers offering managed network services at premium prices to business users and others, but it needs to be provided in the context of a competitive environment. With competition in place, the costs of these managed services will be kept in control; some providers will concentrate on business users and others on residential services, so competition will keep misuse in check. When you don’t have such a competitive environment, it would be very dangerous to just let incumbents do and charge whatever they want.

It would, of course, be far better if the USA were to address the underlying issues and do what every other country in the world does — classify broadband as a telecommunications access service and regulate it — with proper wholesale requirements — under such a regime, in which case there would be no need to bolt NN onto the regulatory regime.

However there is no hope whatsoever under the current government in the USA that such a broader telecommunications review is possible; and certainly not under the leadership of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (an ex-Verizon executive and a conservative Republican).

One of the key arguments Pai is using on why he wants to dismantle NN is that it reduces investments in the telecoms market. However, both Verizon and AT&T are on the record that this not the case, they have publically indicated that NN has not slowed down their investments.

Pai might be a likable and charismatic person, but he is totally committed to a nearly uncontrolled telecoms market. He strongly believes that as much regulation as possible should be abandoned (he also abandoned consumer privacy in relation to customer data held by the industry). He totally ignores the fact that the American market is one of the most monopolistic telecoms markets in the developed economies. I am all in favour of free market principles but not under a regime that only fosters monopolies that pay hundreds of millions of dollars to influence politicians right across the American political landscape, in order to get their way.

So, while, in general terms, I am not in favour of NN, in the case of the USA, it is one of the few regulatory tools available to keep the telecommunications monopolies in check. Unless the underlying competition issues are addressed, I would keep NN in place.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

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FCC Reports Site Attacked Over Net Neutrality Comments, Senators Seek Evidence

In follow up to FCC’s report that the agency’s online comment system was subjected to multiple DDoS attacks over the weekend, U.S. federal lawmakers are demanding answers as to what exactly happened. A letter sent on Tuesday to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), reads in part:

“A denial-of-service attack against the FCC’s website can prevent the public from being able to contribute to this process and have their voices heard. Any potentially hostile cyber activities that prevent Americans from being able to participate in a fair and transparent process must be treated as a serious issue.”

The senators have given FCC until June 8 to answer the following questions:

1. Please provide details as to the nature of the DDoS attacks, including when the attacks began, when they ended, the amount of malicious traffic your network received, and an estimate of the number of devices that were sending malicious traffic to the FCC. To the extent that the FCC already has evidence suggesting which actor(s) may have been responsible for the attacks, please provide that in your response.

2. Has the FCC sought assistance from other federal agencies in investigating and responding to these attacks? Which agencies have you sought assistance from? Have you received all of the help you have requested?

3. Several federal agencies utilize commercial services to protect their websites from DDoS attacks. Does the FCC use a commercial DDoS protection service? If not, why not? To the extent that the FCC utilizes commercial DDoS protection products, did these work as expected? If not, why not?

4. How many concurrent visitors is the FCC’s website designed to be able to handle? Has the FCC performed stress testing of its own website to ensure that it can cope as intended? Has the FCC identified which elements of its website are performance bottlenecks that limit the number of maximum concurrent visitors? Has the FCC sought to mitigate these bottlenecks? If not, why not?

5. Did the DDoS attacks prevent the public from being able to submit comments through the FCC’s website? If so, do you have an estimate of how many individuals were unable to access the FCC website or submit comments during the attacks? Were any comments lost or otherwise affected?

6. Will commenters who successfully submitted a comment—but did not receive a response, as your press release indicates—receive a response once your staff have addressed the DDoS and related technical issues?

7. Does the FCC have all of the resources and expertise it needs in order to combat attacks like those that occurred on May 8?

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