Net neutrality update and a potential future of selective data capping and Internet price gouging

By on January 17, 2014, 12:09 AM
internet, gaming, broadband, isp, legal, kotaku, net neutrality

Live in the United States? Enjoy being able to stream and browse the Internet to your cold little heart's content? Don't want your Internet costs to go up? It's time to start thinking about what could be one of this generation's biggest issues for gamers: net neutrality.

Forget microtransactions and DLC nonsense: thanks to a D.C. court ruling earlier this week, we could be facing a future of selective data capping and Internet price gouging, and that's scarier than any other trend in gaming today. This could be the most important issue of this console generation for American gamers (and, really, anyone who uses the Internet).

Let's break this down.

I keep hearing this term "net neutrality." What exactly does that mean? How does it affect me?

Think about your Internet habits for a second: right now, if you live in the United States and you have a broadband connection, you can pretty much visit any website any time you'd like, for no extra fees, and unless there's a problem on that server's end, you don't have to worry that your access is being throttled in some way. Want to stream video on Netflix or play games online? No problem.

This is all possible because the companies who give us Internet access—Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Time Warner Cable and Verizon—have operated under the idea of "net neutrality," a term coined by Columbia professor Tim Wu that essentially describes an Internet that is free and open to all. Under the provisions of net neutrality, your cable company wouldn't be able to play favorites with your web connection, making some sites and services run faster than others. Comcast couldn't decide to clog the pipes and make Facebook run more quickly than Twitter, for example. Or make League of Legends faster than Dota 2, because Riot is willing to pay more than Valve.

There's no legislation enforcing net neutrality, but courts and lobbyists have been battling over the idea of a free Internet for almost a decade now. It's a hot topic.

So if there's no legislation enforcing net neutrality, yet we basically have a free Internet right now, what's the problem?

In the early 2000s, executives at cable companies including AT&T and Verizon expressed interest in charging tech companies like Google and Yahoo premium fees to reach users on their services. In 2007, Comcast was caught interfering with customer access to BitTorrent, the torrenting service used most infamously for illegal downloads of media, software, and porn. (Mostly porn.)

For a long time now, lawyers and legislators have been going at it in that battle pit known as the U.S. court system, fighting over whether ISPs like Comcast have the right to make some websites or services slower than others. If cable companies were to set these sort of policies, it wouldn't be until after the legal mess is settled.

There was a big ruling this week, right?

Right! On Tuesday, the DC Court of Appeals decided that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission does not have the right to enforce net neutrality laws, because of some sticky terminology. (This Verge editorial takes a good look at why and how that happened, and you can read the entire court case here.)

Why were they in court?

In 2010, the FCC enacted a set of regulations called the FCC Open Internet Order. In short, the order set out to ensure that cable companies couldn't block or impede websites and services. There was a complicated legal battle, and Verizon appealed. This week, the court ruled against the FCC.

Proponents of net neutrality say this is bad news. Nothing will happen right away, and the debate will likely continue for months and years to come, but without legislation protecting net neutrality, there's nothing to stop, say, Comcast from deciding that hey, Netflix uses way too much bandwidth, and if they want the same speeds as every other website, they're going to have to pay a premium. Now, if Netflix has to pay more to your cable company, guess who foots the bill? (You.)

Online gaming uses a lot of bandwidth too.

Exactly. What if Time Warner decides that Sony and Microsoft have it way too good right now, with their bandwidth-draining online networks? What if AT&T is drooling at the idea that they might be able to get more of a cut out of all those downloaders and streamers on Steam and Twitch? If cable companies charge gaming networks more money, that cost will trickle down to us, the people who pay for those services in the first place.

Worse, what if ISPs wind up separated into factions? What if Sony decides to cozy up with Comcast, paying them a pretty penny to ensure that PSN runs smoothly, while Microsoft won't give? Imagine having to pick a new gaming system based on what will run more quickly on your network—this could give a whole new meaning to the term "console wars."

That could hurt streaming games, too.

Right: between Valve's Steam Machine streaming, Sony's PlayStation Now streaming service, and other initiatives we might see in the future, gamers are using more bandwidth than ever. Data capping is already a controversial topic, and observers worry that without net neutrality rules, we could see cable companies enact multi-tiered, expensive, complicated plans that hurt the average consumer.

Haven't cable companies already tried pulling off plans like that?

Well, yeah. For years now, the big guys have been experimenting with various forms of data capping, both transparently and not-so-transparently. In 2008, Time Warner experimented with a tiered capping system in a few small markets, to disastrous results. More recently, in 2012, they experimented with giving people small discounts to stay under a certain bandwidth cap, which was received a bit better.

Cable companies want people who download more media—movies, music, video games—to pay more, and some have enacted or experimented with bandwidth caps of 250 or 300 GB a month.

But just one PS4 or Xbox One game can be upwards of 30 GB. Killzone is close to 40!

That's a problem, don't you think? As file sizes continue to increase, particularly for gamers, data capping is becoming a major concern, especially in the wake of this net neutrality ruling. This generation of gaming consoles is designed for high-bandwidth gaming, and right now many Internet users are accustomed to unlimited bandwidth. If that changes, the results won't be fun for gamers.

Look at the world of mobile phones, for example. AT&T, like most mobile providers, has a data cap—if you use more than your allotted bandwidth per month, you have to pay extra. Last week, they announced a new plan that would allow some companies to sponsor that bandwidth—in other words, if a website like Facebook were to pay the fee, your use of Facebook wouldn't count against your monthly cap.

Now imagine if that sort of scenario hit your home computers and consoles. Imagine an Internet where cable companies could want you to go to some sites and not others—or where some games might be rendered unplayable and undownloadable unless you pay exorbitant fees.

Wow. That sounds horrible.

Yeah. Bandwidth caps aren't pleasant. Most of the big cable companies don't have limits on how much bandwidth we can use right now, but without regulation, that could change.

I still don't get the anti-net neutrality position, though. Why would anyone be against the idea of a free Internet?

As with most political issues, there's a lot of nuance here. There are a number of factors to consider.

For one, opponents of net neutrality laws argue that without government interference, cable companies could help fight piracy and other illegal activities. Some argue that if companies like Verizon and AT&T throttle the highest-bandwidth users—the 1% of Internet customers—it'd lead to faster Internet for average Joes and Janes everywhere.

Others are in favor of a free Internet as a concept, but against government regulation, particularly because "net neutrality" is such a nebulous term in the first place.

For their part, the cable companies have promised that even in the wake of this week's ruling, they're not going to start pummeling customers.

Here's Time Warner, for example:

Since pioneering the development of high-speed broadband service in the late 1990s, Time Warner Cable has been committed to providing its customers the best service possible, including unfettered access to the web content and services of their choice. This commitment, which long precedes the FCC rules, will not be affected by today's court decision.

And Verizon's statement:

One thing is for sure: today's decision will not change consumers' ability to access and use the Internet as they do now. The court's decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet. Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want. This will not change in light of the court's decision.

In other words, all that stuff about price gouging and speed throttling is all speculative for now. Nothing might actually happen.

Correct. But pundits and experts across the country are worrying about the ramifications of putting power in the hands of the cable companies, and really, how many times has your cable company done something you're happy with? Considering how often these corporations stick random fees on our bills, it's a little scary to imagine that cable executives could be meeting with tech companies right now, hashing out deals that could make browsing the web and playing games online more difficult for everyone.

So your position on net neutrality basically hinges on whether you believe that cable companies have users' best interests in mind.

Exactly. That's why so many people are in favor of net neutrality.

Is the FCC going to keep fighting?

Unclear. But to get an idea of what they're thinking, here's part of what FCC boss Tom Wheeler said on the agency's website this week (bolded emphasis mine):

The government, in the form of the FCC, is not going to take over the Internet. It is not going to dictate the architecture of the Internet. It is not going to do anything that gratuitously interferes with the organic evolution of the Internet in response to developments in technology, business models, and consumer behavior.

But the FCC also is not going to abandon its responsibility to oversee that broadband networks operate in the public interest. It is not going to ignore the historic reality that when a new network transitions to become an economic force that economic incentives begin to affect the public interest. This means that we will not disregard the possibility that exercises of economic power or of ideological preference by dominant network firms will diminish the value of the Internet to some or all segments of our society.

There is nothing about the foregoing that should cause serious anxiety, either to those watching out for the interests of internet users, or of those building and operating the facilities that make up the Internet. The key message is that the FCC has the authority – and has the responsibility – to regulate the activities of broadband networks. We will have ample opportunity to debate ways and means, to consider specifics in specific cases as they arise. But, there is no justification, and no serious basis, for doubt about the fundamentals.

Can Obama save us?

Maybe! As Gizmodo points out, the president campaigned on net neutrality back in 2008, although he also promised to close Guantanamo Bay, so hey.

It's also time we start hearing from Sony, Microsoft, and other gaming companies that might be affected by these issues. We deserve to hear where they stand. (Kotaku has reached out to a number of game publishers about net neutrality—Microsoft no-commented, and Sony hasn't gotten back to us.)

Long story short: This is a complicated issue, and it's one we'll be following for the foreseeable future. Gaming is expensive enough as it is.

Image credit: Laptop with broken screen by Shutterstock




User Comments: 34

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2 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Greedy bastards get their money, every time people pay a monthly bill. If this did go through would it lower prices? No it wouldn't!! It would only complicate everything.

1 person liked this | St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

"right now many Internet users are accustomed to unlimited bandwidth."

Except if you live in Australia/New Zealand, and some other countries I guess.

We also have net un-neutrality already - Netflix/Hulu is geoblocked. Additionally, the major ISPs pander their own content delivery systems and offer the downloads as uncounted towards your quota. So even if we WANTED to get Netflix, we'd still be stuck with our lame caps and tied to the certain content networks. Even our 'NBN' (fibre network around the country, perhaps to homes) enforces caps, which is simply ridiculous.

You just don't know how backwards this place is until you've lived or been here.

Scshadow said:

"right now many Internet users are accustomed to unlimited bandwidth."

Except if you live in Australia/New Zealand, and some other countries I guess.

We also have net un-neutrality already - Netflix/Hulu is geoblocked. Additionally, the major ISPs pander their own content delivery systems and offer the downloads as uncounted towards your quota. So even if we WANTED to get Netflix, we'd still be stuck with our lame caps and tied to the certain content networks. Even our 'NBN' (fibre network around the country, perhaps to homes) enforces caps, which is simply ridiculous.

You just don't know how backwards this place is until you've lived or been here.

You don't understand what Net Neutrality is. Hulu/Netflix is blocked in your country not by the ISPs but by the service providers themselves. Hulu/Netflix has to negotiate content deals for each country. And since they don't have content deals for your country, they can't serve you content because that would be breach of contract and Illegal.

Also its very reasonable to not count ISP's internal content delivery against your bandwidth. Internal network bandwidth costs the ISP a fraction of what it costs to provide bandwidth of content outside of its personally owned network. If data has to travel on another company's network, that costs extra money. This too also doesn't really violate Net Neutrality. They're discounting you based on the fact that it actually does cost less to serve you that bandwidth. The day a company pays an ISP to artificially create an advantage or disadvantage is when I consider net neutrality to be violated.

Guest said:

Well that's easy, the companies should shrink their f*****g DLC downloads and put all the features on one single game/disc/media, etc, like the old days you know when you played Megaman 3 you didn't need to download a new boss or a new level, you waited until next year for the Megaman 4 with new bosses, levels, etc, I'm not an anti DLC guy, but the reality is that some companies are abusing of the DLC feature and some of them like to even sell the real game ending separately (Mass effect 3), and others are just putting everything on the media but they locked it until you activate a key through the DLC purchase, That could be the best solution for the bandwidth side, but I believe most gamers don't like it either.

Bottom line, I believe that the DLC is not necessary on most games, but that's my opinion, also please forgive any grammatical error, english is not my first language.

WangDangDoodle said:

My first thought is that there's just no way that a big, greedy company won't eventually take advantage of this ruling. Then again, people would start a riot if they did, and I think they know that.

wiyosaya said:

I am willing to bet that most ISPs in the US got into the business when the technology was young, and, therefore, today's internet in the US is extremely slow compared to say South Korea or Japan or other countries around the world. Due to that, 10 MbPS (small b for bits rather than bytes) is still the norm here in the US and we pay the same for that service as other countries pay for 100 MbPS service.

In addition, ISPs, have found ways to exploit 100+ year old telco laws that give them a virtual monopoly. In my area, for instance, Thugs Warner is the ONLY game in town for now unless you find a sweet deal on a 4G usb modem service, and, believe me I have looked, such sweet deals are non-existant. And believe me, in our area Thugs Warner is an appropriate name since they routinely engage in abusive practices like slamming the elderly, as they did with my mother, onto their services with what seems like complete impunity.

One bright ray of hope for the area that I live in is that there is a small company who provides fiber internet services to local companies that has been given permission by the state public service commission to extend their service to homes as well; however, that is taking a long time due to the fact that it takes time to lay the hardware infrastructure to support their service.

More and more municipalities in the US are becoming aware of the abuse of these antiquated telco laws and passing laws that are more consistent with the modern world. My hope is that this trend will continue and that it will extend to the service provider - service as in services like Netflix and Amazon and gaming services - however, it will take citizen outrage and/or contacting their representatives to make the difference.

A free and open internet, IMHO, is a boon to all. The internet is capable of immense good despite the random pockets of trash in the internet that exist. If you are in the US, contact your representatives.

The key point to this article are the words "without legislation". Unfortunately, it seem that to reign in the greedy dirt balls out there, legislation is needed.

cmbjive said:

"Nothing will happen right away, and the debate will likely continue for months and years to come, but without legislation protecting net neutrality, there's nothing to stop, say, Comcast from deciding that hey, Netflix uses way too much bandwidth, and if they want the same speeds as every other website, they're going to have to pay a premium. Now, if Netflix has to pay more to your cable company, guess who foots the bill? (You.)"

Welcome to the real world. And when has legislation ever kept prices from rising or prevented shortages?

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Now, I've only read through part of this article.

This might sound crazy but I think the internet is a major part in human "evolution."

This network of information available to us at the click of a button, the closest we have to a singular large knowledge database, as corrupt as it may be, and riddled with false information as well. Dispite that... why do we want to hinder such a thing? This is a changing world, and the more I grow older, the more I see it.

I understand these companies got to make some money, but I really hope that it doesnt impede the access to knowledge and useful resources. I can understand they might want to throttle streaming video or music services. I already have this disappointment that some countries dont have access to the internet outside of their country, or at all, because of their government. It's somewhat disappointing. The internet can bring people together, or tear countries apart, sure... but without that knowledge that caused that, well... we'd all be a bit further behind technologically if I just say it simply...

3 people like this | Guest said:

"Can Obama save us?"

BAHAHAHAHAHA

fimbles fimbles said:

Bandwidth restrictions = move to another ISP.

There are plenty of them which shows that someone must be making money.

OneSpeed said:

I say, first we boycott the ISPs that imposes this on us, then....

Guest said:

Finally! I enjoyed this feature in world of thanks and many other games!

Pay to win!

Internet please take my money!! :)

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

A free and open internet, IMHO, is a boon to all. The internet is capable of immense good despite the random pockets of trash in the internet that exist. If you are in the US, contact your representatives.

The key point to this article are the words "without legislation". Unfortunately, it seem that to reign in the greedy dirt balls out there, legislation is needed.

I might contact my rep if I had any faith whatsoever that the govt would improve things. They already legislate everything they can get their hands on and it usually has the opposite effect they intend and costs US a ton of money. *cough* Healthcare *cough*

The cable companies have one thing working for them that's against us. And that's low competition. We need more competition with ISPs. THAT is what will benefit the consumer, not the govt. Look at cell carriers. Competition has gotten us t-mobile's low priced plans and a race for giant networks.

I'm going to wait until something happens before freaking out over this. We had the same scare when they throttled 4G content, and then we realized that they data limits were so high we never needed to worry anyway.

Oh, and speaking of 'greedy dirt balls' Did you know that the richest people in this country work for the govt. Look at the list of richest counties in the US. It's all people who work for the govt. Not silicon valley, or San Fran, or Vail. it's freaking Washington DC. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2013/04/25/americas
richest-counties/)

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

I'm in a city of roughly a million in Canada. Only two internet providers, both with caps, the more you pay, the faster the connection, the higher the cap. For the faster provider I pay $80 CAD/month for "up to 50 Mbps download, up to 3 Mbps upload and 400 GB data transfer"

wiyosaya said:

I'm in a city of roughly a million in Canada. Only two internet providers, both with caps, the more you pay, the faster the connection, the higher the cap. For the faster provider I pay $80 CAD/month for "up to 50 Mbps download, up to 3 Mbps upload and 400 GB data transfer"

In the US, that plan simply does not exist if provided by major telcos or other "major" ISPs. It is yet another example of how other countries, even ones with much smaller populations, enjoy internet access at a significantly lower rate than what is available in the US.

From some of the comments here, I also get the impression that some really do not understand what this means. Instead of the ISP limiting what internet USERS get in terms of speed or data maximums per month, this could allow ISPs to pick and choose what DATA SOURCES they serve. In my area, that could mean that Thugs Warner strikes a deal with Amazon Prime and completely excludes Netflix - meaning that no one in my area would be able to connect to Netflix unless they were, perhaps, using an anonymous proxy - which is also of questionable legality in the US due to some stupid law enacted by those who partner with big business. And no matter how many anonymous proxies you ride behind, Thugs Warner, or any other ISP, can still tell that you are getting large amounts of data from a wide-open pipe.

What I do not get is how some seem to fail to understand the ramifications of the existing system, and fall in line like lemmings being lead to the cliff even when some things are not completely implemented nor have had a chance to even remotely demonstrate performance. Sometimes, I seriously think that I am living in a country full of parrots.

On the flip side what this might do is encourage data providers like Netflix and Amazon to form their own ISP consortium where they not only provide content, but provide access as well.

Time will tell, but the parrots continue to worry me since they seem incapable of seeing anything wrong.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Time will tell, but the parrots continue to worry me since they seem incapable of seeing anything wrong.
They will see why it is wrong; when they start to question why they need to pay more than one ISP, to get access to the same material they once did with only one ISP.

cmbjive said:

In the US, that plan simply does not exist if provided by major telcos or other "major" ISPs. It is yet another example of how other countries, even ones with much smaller populations, enjoy internet access at a significantly lower rate than what is available in the US.

I don't know where you live, but where I do I have a choice of speed from 768k all the way to 40Mbps. Well, in my exact neighborhood I can only go up to 12Mbps, but 40Mbps is available to lucky bastards who live in areas where that speed is available.

And I'm not worried about "private" deals between the telcos and streaming providers. It hasn't happened yet and there is no indication that it will happen in the future. I guess I'm just a big old parrot.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

In addition, ISPs, have found ways to exploit 100+ year old telco laws that give them a virtual monopoly. In my area, for instance, Thugs Warner is the ONLY game in town for now unless you find a sweet deal on a 4G usb modem service, and, believe me I have looked, such sweet deals are non-existant. And believe me, in our area Thugs Warner is an appropriate name since they routinely engage in abusive practices like slamming the elderly, as they did with my mother, onto their services with what seems like complete impunity.

One bright ray of hope for the area that I live in is that there is a small company who provides fiber internet services to local companies that has been given permission by the state public service commission to extend their service to homes as well; however, that is taking a long time due to the fact that it takes time to lay the hardware infrastructure to support their service.

More and more municipalities in the US are becoming aware of the abuse of these antiquated telco laws and passing laws that are more consistent with the modern world. My hope is that this trend will continue and that it will extend to the service provider - service as in services like Netflix and Amazon and gaming services - however, it will take citizen outrage and/or contacting their representatives to make the difference.

A free and open internet, IMHO, is a boon to all. The internet is capable of immense good despite the random pockets of trash in the internet that exist. If you are in the US, contact your representatives.

The key point to this article are the words "without legislation". Unfortunately, it seem that to reign in the greedy dirt balls out there, legislation is needed.

I don't think legislation is needed. I may be wrong here, so correct me if needed. But I thought that the US Gov gave telcos a buttload of money in the 90s? to run fiber everywhere, but almost nobody did. They just pocketed that money, and then nobody called them on it. They should be held accountable for all that money that was given to them for something they didn't do. Making more rules isn't good if only some of the rules get followed. Don't force Net Neutrality, but also don't allow (or repeal/update) whatever is in place that prevents startup ISPs from using existing infrastructure that the government provided money to create.

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

And I'm not worried about "private" deals between the telcos and streaming providers. It hasn't happened yet and there is no indication that it will happen in the future.

I sure hope you are right, but I don't trust them..yes you know...them

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They should be held accountable for all that money that was given to them for something they didn't do.
If true, they should be held accountable.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

America does not even have basic health care for it's citizens or basic banking laws, this is no surprise, lucky it only applies to the USA .

The only thing free is your right to be exploited by the rich.

Mbloof said:

Also its very reasonable to not count ISP's internal content delivery against your bandwidth. Internal network bandwidth costs the ISP a fraction of what it costs to provide bandwidth of content outside of its personally owned network. If data has to travel on another company's network, that costs extra money. This too also doesn't really violate Net Neutrality. They're discounting you based on the fact that it actually does cost less to serve you that bandwidth. The day a company pays an ISP to artificially create an advantage or disadvantage is when I consider net neutrality to be violated.

Ahh, one of the misconceptions of the network - who pays for traffic and when. Websites SEND or TRANSMIT more data than they receive but the measurement usually falls into a more general bidirectional "traffic" or "bandwidth".

You see you have to follow the data from the SOURCE not the destination. If you own a website you ether pay your Commercial ISP for bandwidth or pay the company that is hosting the website for bandwidth (which in turn pays THEIR ISP).

Website/Service ----> ISP (IP address block X) -----> (IP address block Y) -----> (IP address block Z) ISP -----> End user.

Think of it as a Onion with each ring paying data forward towards the center (Ring0):

Website=>Ring3t=>Ring2t=>Ring1t=>Ring0tr=>Rin
1r=>Ring2r=>Ring3r=>User

As you might imagine each ring collects fees on the "T" (send) side to pay for the pipe which in turn is used for "free" in the other "R" direction.

A ISP would have to pay for more bandwidth (out of their own pocket and essentially equates to building+maintaining more data links to other sources) only if their inbound bandwidth is greater then what their outbound commercial traffic is already paying for. However I don't believe this is what the national ISP's are complaining about.

Netflix==>AT&T==>Verizon==>User.

Assuming AT&T is Netflix's ISP Netflix+AT&T is dropping off at Verizon a TON of streaming data which Verizon has to move across its internal network from the AT&T<=>Verizon connection point to the Verizon<=>End user connection point. If Verizon never built its internal network to be able to handle the traffic they are going to have a problem and do with all the traffic its users are requesting. (the national ISP's never expected customers to actually USE the service that they were paying for)

The fall back statement(s) is that they won't invest in upgrading their network unless someone else is paying for it.

Guest said:

The reality is we are already being hit by companies to pay extra if your a heavy down-loader...my experience is with ATT, so I will focus on them. Companies like ATT already enforce data caps that require you to pay more once you reach the cap...and the caps are pretty low and easy to hit if you're a Youtube or Netflix user. I would be willing to bet that since UVerse TV and internet service is an IP based product that ATT is already giving some sort of network priority to their services, atleast on their network, to ensure a smooth experience.

Guest said:

I don't think legislation is needed. I may be wrong here, so correct me if needed. But I thought that the US Gov gave telcos a buttload of money in the 90s? to run fiber everywhere, but almost nobody did. They just pocketed that money, and then nobody called them on it. They should be held accountable for all that money that was given to them for something they didn't do. Making more rules isn't good if only some of the rules get followed. Don't force Net Neutrality, but also don't allow (or repeal/update) whatever is in place that prevents startup ISPs from using existing infrastructure that the government provided money to create.

Fiber from the 90's isn't the same as fiber today and in many cases would need to be replaced to meet today's standards. As far as Telco's getting a butt load of money from the government that is total fiction...I've worked in the industry for decades on the front line as a tech and Manager...so I am positive it didn't happen. The only government money ever given to Telco's to provide service came from the Universal Service Fund charges which appear on your phone bills to support service in rural areas...this grew out of the Rural Electrification Act passed in 1935 which paid to extend electricity out to small town America. In my opinion the Rural Electrification Act and Universal Service Fund were two successful examples of Washington actually doing some good for the common man...but there was no fiber build out paid for by the fed's...

chrissof chrissof said:

Wouldn't that put an end to NSA spying on us?how much bandwidth do they waste?

wcbert said:

It is Al Gore's fault when he invented the internet he should have invented unlimited data.

Guest said:

It all comes down to the ISP at the end of the day and how greedy they are.

You guys in the U.S and Canada and other countries have it really good when it comes to pricing and bandwidth.

In South Africa we pay exorbitant rates for stupid 4mbps ADSL (NOT FIBRE even)

example, we pay around $80 for a 4mbps including a 20GB cap that cap is already throttled.

if you want a 10mbps uncapped fibre line you are looking at roughly $1000 a month, yep im not joking.

I lived in China for a few years as well, there we got a 10mbps FIbre line with Uncapped unshaped data for $10 a month.

Theres one common denominator.....the ISP.....they have the final say.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Fiber from the 90's isn't the same as fiber today and in many cases would need to be replaced to meet today's standards. As far as Telco's getting a butt load of money from the government that is total fiction...I've worked in the industry for decades on the front line as a tech and Manager...so I am positive it didn't happen. The only government money ever given to Telco's to provide service came from the Universal Service Fund charges which appear on your phone bills to support service in rural areas...this grew out of the Rural Electrification Act passed in 1935 which paid to extend electricity out to small town America. In my opinion the Rural Electrification Act and Universal Service Fund were two successful examples of Washington actually doing some good for the common man...but there was no fiber build out paid for by the fed's...

Interesting. Although I wasn't entirely correct in my statement that the government gave telcos a lot of money in the 90s, I also wasn't completely wrong either. Here is a 2003 article about a 1994 agreement between Verizon and the state of Pennsylvania for $2.1B in tax breaks to get fiber to everyone by 2015. http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/30544

In 1994 Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) struck a landmark deal with the state of Pennsylvania. The deal provided Verizon with hefty financial incentives if they met certain broadband rollout criteria. It's estimated that those financial incentives over the years clock in somewhere around $2.1 billion dollars.

As part of that agreement, Bell Atlantic agreed to have 20% of the state broadband wired by 1998, and 50% by 2004. By 2015, broadband would be run throughout the state to the majority of Verizon's customers. It's important to note that this wasn't DSL they were talking about...but 45MB/s symmetrical fiber service right to the door of homes and businesses, ambitious and impractical for certain, but nonetheless included in the language of the agreement. While wiring every home with fiber skirts the limits of reality, the financial benefits received from Verizon in the deal were very real.

Edit - Actually it was $200B nationwide - [link]

Lionvibez said:

It all comes down to the ISP at the end of the day and how greedy they are.

You guys in the U.S and Canada and other countries have it really good when it comes to pricing and bandwidth.

In South Africa we pay exorbitant rates for stupid 4mbps ADSL (NOT FIBRE even)

example, we pay around $80 for a 4mbps including a 20GB cap that cap is already throttled.

if you want a 10mbps uncapped fibre line you are looking at roughly $1000 a month, yep im not joking.

I lived in China for a few years as well, there we got a 10mbps FIbre line with Uncapped unshaped data for $10 a month.

Theres one common denominator.....the ISP.....they have the final say.

Look at the technical infrastructure of Africa vs china. Then look at how densely populated china is it would seem for obvious reason why internet speeds would be faster and cheaper.

richalone442 said:

Greedy bastards get their money, every time people pay a monthly bill. If this did go through would it lower prices? No it wouldn't!! It would only complicate everything.

NO, the price would probably go up, as the government would add a new tax to cover their overseeing of the Internet service providers, best rule of thumb, never let the government get involved in anything you don't want screwed-up. Look what happened in the marriage area, soon any number of intaties will be getting married

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Quote "Theres one common denominator.....the ISP.....they have the final say."

Well no, not in the EU anyway. Rule of law has the last say and if the law says isp's must do this or that then they MUST do it. It happened already with mobile (cell) phone roaming calls within the EU and the high rates the providers were charging. They were told to bring down those prices and stop gouging customers.

Guest said:

I read something back around the turn of the century that said isp's of the future wanted a tier like structure for web content. Example: tier 1 would include yahoo, msn, cnn or whatever. But if you wanted google you would have to go to tier 2 and pay more. Its just like how cable companies are doing with their channel line-ups. I can x amount of channels for $50 a month, but if I want to watch espn then I have to change tiers and pay more

cmbjive said:

America does not even have basic health care for it's citizens or basic banking laws, this is no surprise, lucky it only applies to the USA .

The only thing free is your right to be exploited by the rich.

What the hell are you talking about?

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

The EU does seem to do some things better than North America on privacy and consumer laws from what I have read.

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