Court upholds FCC net neutrality rules treating broadband as utility

By Jos ยท 24 replies
Jun 14, 2016
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  1. A panel of federal judges has voted to uphold the FCC’s Open Internet Order to treat Internet service providers as common carrier utility service providers subject to anti-blocking and discrimination rules. The ruling is likely to be appealed by AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other telecom companies to the Supreme Court, but it represents a major victory for net neutrality advocates and the FCC.

    “After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections — both on fixed and mobile networks — that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. "Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web.”

    Besides prohibiting blocking, throttling and paid prioritization the FCC is also considering additional privacy protections that would limit the data ISPs can mine and share about their customers. The practice of "zero rating" is not affected by the Open Internet Order, however. According to Wheeler, there are some aspects of it that are good and others that are not so good, and it's their job now to figure out how to deal with zero rating.

    Telecommunication companies were not only challenging the FCC’s authority to impose these rules, they also claimed that certain services they offered as part of the Internet bundle, such as email, should be considered "information services"rather than as "telecommunications services," which are policed more strictly.

    AT&T has already commented on today's ruling saying they've always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and they will be participating in that appeal.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Lurker101

    Lurker101 TS Evangelist Posts: 820   +344

    So my question is, what does this mean for broadband providers that throttle internet connections indiscriminately?
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,875   +1,293

    It means they'll keep right on doing but be more sneaky about it. When enough people complain the government will put on a little song and dance, acting like it cares while taking even greater kickbacks from the industry, and your wireless data will continue to be the most expensive and limited in the free world.
  4. Lurker101

    Lurker101 TS Evangelist Posts: 820   +344

    So technically, this ruling changes nothing?
  5. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 711   +381

    Treated like a utility, taxed like a utility.

    Get ready to pay more for it to sponsor the truly poor and falsely needy 'types'.
  6. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,021   +661

    Or, is it possible that the costs have dropped so far and fast that paying less is just barely possible? The capacity of equipment has grown by a factor of 10, electricity is down 25%, copper wire is being replaced by more durable fiber...and my bill has gone up 20% over 10 years... I think 'less' should be possible.
    Reehahs likes this.
  7. Lurker101

    Lurker101 TS Evangelist Posts: 820   +344

    Oh, the naivety is adorable.
    damnthereaper and Darth Shiv like this.
  8. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,106   +1,282

    It has already been taxed like a utility since far before it actually become one. People had already paid subsidies for low income and schools right on their cable bill. The whole 0.50 cent charge is far too much for us to handle, right? FYI there are always going to be a few false "needy" types but the good that low-income internet subsidies provide far outweigh the very very negligent costs.

    Please crawl back to the shill who hired you.
    ddg4005 likes this.
  9. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,106   +1,282

    Its entirely possible and you are right, costs to operate have dropped allot for these companies to build and maintain but they won't because they are a regional monopoly. The New York Attorney General just finished a survey that Time Warner grossly underserved it's customers compared to their advertised speeds and have done very little in the way of actually building their network in the last 10 years. You look at the rest of the world compared to the US, companies back home have only marginally improved over the past 10 years and now the US is on the lower end of the totem pole when it comes to internet speeds and quality.
  10. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    BRAVO! Now, what this means for many of us is that as a utility, the laws allow, even require competitive availability .... so those cable companies that had a lock out on their competitors must now open the gates, which means we could have several to choose from in the very near future. Greater competition should lower the prices and give us greater flexibility ... of course, THAT part remains to be seen but stay tuned!!!
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,701

    It's not that way for other utilities, so why would it be any different with Internet?
  12. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,811   +472

    Save the sob story. The internet providers enjoy local monopolies and charge whatever they want. They have fat wallets at the consumer's expense without competition or oversight. They provide rubbish service considering their profit margins. This ruling is a step forward in stopping them gouging consumers for something that is pretty intrinsic to everyday life nowadays.
    Evernessince likes this.
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,106   +1,282

    I think you meant "it's not that way for most utilities." Telephone is a utility and is done in a very similar fashion. Companies provide the service while the government makes sure they are not doing unscrupulous things. Pretty much in the same fashion did telepone become a utility as the internet did

    The only reason the government isn't taking full control over these companies like other utilities is that they want them to invest in Internet infrastructure, something they have been needing to do sorely for some time now.

    You should read up about dark fiber, the unused internet highways that ISPs will leave dormant to drive up prices and claim that developing networks is too expensive.

    Google goes on to say how net neutrality doesn't go far enough and I can understand why. ISPs have done everything they can to facilitate control of the market while maximizing profit and reducing competition. Comcast testing data caps when they already far underinvest in their networks all the while still have untapped dark fiber is a slap to the American public. It gets even funnier when their existing network was largely paid for by the American public, which of course they fail to fully adhere to the contracts they sign. Comcast and verizon have both been brought up in failing to spread their network in both new york and virginia as per the contract they signed with both states.
  14. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    You need to go back 30 years to the age of the telecom companies. At that time each was completely independent and had a lock on the industry. The government broke up Bell Telephone and issued a law that ANY telecom could sell their services over the common wire. They had to pay the company maintaining the wire a fee, but they were still able to be competitive and nobody was able to maintain a monopoly.

    IF, and that is a big IF, they treat this utility the same way, having a single cable or internet provider in any community will not be enforceable and other providers will be able to enter the community and sell services. Of course, if the regulators don't make them share pathways, you could see 2+ sets of cables on the poles, etc. but considering the state of the art in signal separation, that won't be necessary.
  15. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    But regulation never increases competition. If there's additional regulation then that regulation needs to be followed and you have to pay people to follow it. There are reports to produce to prove you're following the rules, data to collect for those reports, and piles of red tape (have to hire lawyers) to jump through to enter the industry.

    Small companies can't pull that off - only big ones. It's why you've seen so many small banks disappear around the country over the last few years.

    This is about control and taxation - they're doing what they always do and telling us it's for our own good - the they need to protect us from the big bad 'big corporations.'

    Of course we need more competition - but you get more competition by making it EASIER to get into the industry, not harder.
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,935   +762

    The "big bad corporations" in the ISP business have had since the mid 90's or so to prove that they are not "big and bad." Unfortunately, as others have mentioned in this thread, they have only proven that they are truly big and bad by abusing century plus old telco laws to form monopolies, not investing in infrastructure to keep pace with the rest of the modern world, and attaching themselves to the wallets of their customers with price gouging, compared with the rest of the world. I am sure I left other things out, too.

    Unfortunately, it takes a lot of money to get into the business if you have to build your own infrastructure, and this ruling in no way prevents smaller companies from getting into the ISP business. For example -

    I would love for a world where laws are minimal because you can actually trust that the companies you deal with are ethical in their dealings. In this case, however, most of the big bad ISPs have only proven over time that they cannot be trusted, and, in fact, provide untrustworthy customer service to their customers by abusing the system to bolster their bottom line, and in the process, grossly abusing their customers - most of whom have no other choice in the market.

    If, however, those same big bad ISPs had taken the ethical route, we almost certainly would not be facing the consequences of this ruling, and the ruling may not have been necessary. Companies like TW, Comcast, ATT, and others brought this on themselves, IMO. My bet is that even with the present composition of SOCTUS, the ruling will be affirmed.

    As I see it, the big bad companies are lucky that the FCC did not go further, however, if they keep up their shenanigans by failing to invest in infrastructure and continuing to abuse their customers, the ruling will get worse for them. Again, they will have only themselves to blame when it happens.
  17. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,106   +1,282

    It's the exact opposite of that right now though. As it stands big ISPs have control of the poles thanks to lucrative deal with the cities. The only way to even get into being an ISP is to cozy up with the city or you better have allot of cash. I'm not a fan of regulation at all but what the FCC is doing is more of a deterrent for large companies. Sure, they are adding rules but they are only something that big ISPs have to worry about. Small ISPs need these rules so they can even have a chance.

    If you read my previous posts, I address the taxation part.
  18. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    It is that way in my area for electricity, the big company stills generates and maintains the power lines but you have the choice of sticking with them or picking one of many companies to get the bill from, most of which are quite a bit lower priced than the big company. I have been saving quite a bit of money by checking power generation prices every 6 months or so and switching to the lowest (non-contract), but I find things like that fun. Do the same with the cable monopolies and have MVNO-like companies selling the bandwidth and it could get interesting.
  19. robb213

    robb213 TS Maniac Posts: 330   +100

    I think you're getting your hopes up a bit much though. I doubt that without local loop unbundling, nothing much will ever happen in terms of competiton because the monopolies are satisfied with the way things are and they themselves won't expand. Since the subject of LLU wasn't even on the table at all, I'd say it's likely that none of the monopolies will be broken up.
  20. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    Not suggesting that monopolies will be broken up at all. What will happen, as indicated in a couple of federal filings that landed this morning, is that other competitive companies will file suite to allow them access to different markets that they are currently locked out of. I predict there will be quite a bit of that since further expansion is not profitable, therefore the best option is to try to poach the other big companies clients by entering the market place at a lower rate or by offering better products / options. Stay tuned .... film at 11 !!!!
  21. mysticnox

    mysticnox TS Rookie

    Good, it's about time the consumer got some protection against corporate predators.
  22. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,374   +69

    There are good and bad points. My internet is only $10 a month now from att uverse for 12 meg download. It's nice they can't put you on a list and block you, but this opens the door to not prosecuting virus/adware sites and child porn. Regulating cable tv costs might be a good idea since tv was free at one time, but the market does bear all, and tv is not within the law's realm. Why do I have to pay for netflix users when I don't have netflix? It may not be within the fcc's jurisdiction anyway.
  23. robb213

    robb213 TS Maniac Posts: 330   +100

    Ah ok.

    Would be nice if it amounts to anything, but I'm not too hopeful. Maybe this may bring LLU into focus, which is something I've wanted forever for this reason. I'm sure the ISPs will up their fight into overdrive when talks, if ever, come up.
  24. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    Where you live, how many choices for water companies do you have? What about electricity? Natural gas (if you don't have oil/propane)? Face it, utilities being a part of a competitive market are the exception, not the norm. But what this will allow for, if it is upheld by the supreme court, is for pricing controls that other utilities face. Your heating bill does go up in the winter because of supply:demand, but it doesn't skyrocket because the provider is putting the screws to your thumbs.

    This decision isn't going to make Comcast/Verizon/Charter/RCN start directly competing with one another, but it might curb some of the ridiculous price gouging that comes out from AT&T/Verizon and the various MVNOs that contract through them. At least a little bit.
    Uncle Al likes this.
  25. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    Truly laughable ....

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