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The end of Net Neutrality has had little effect on wireless carriers

By Greg S · 37 replies
Nov 9, 2018
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  1. Following the repeal of Net Neutrality, internet service providers and wireless carriers have had more freedom to operate however they please. Even though there has been extremely strong opposition to the notion, the internet has objectively not been drastically affected over the past ten months.

    The lack of real change is backed up by a study performed by Northeastern University's College of Computer and Information Science. More specifically, the way that wireless carriers treat their customers has hardly changed at all. Before the demise of Net Neutrality, carriers were still throttling video streaming and other bandwidth intensive tasks. Despite being technically illegal to do so prior, the FCC made little effort to investigate any such matters.

    Now, carriers are actually advertising "unlimited" plans that feature standard definition video streaming instead of allowing full quality videos. Make no mistake, none of these so called unlimited plans are really without heavy restrictions. Most still have laughably low data caps for standard LTE usage and then impose painfully slow speeds thereafter. Remember when Verizon throttled firefighters' "unlimited" data plan in the middle of a forest fire campaign?

    Limiting bandwidth to videos is not necessarily a problem, but there are some highly deceptive tactics at play that should be disclosed. Such conniving creativity would not have flown under Net Neutrality rules but goes unchecked now. T-Mobile wins the award for most creative bait-and-switch technique. When starting a video, bandwidth is largely unrestricted such that the beginning loads quickly. After a few seconds, the network algorithms kick in and give low speed and priority to the user. The concept is that subscribers think they are getting faster speeds than they really are because there is little or no initial buffering. Good luck finding that "feature" in the fine print.

    Netflix, NBCSports, and Amazon Prime Video were all observed to receive boosts, but YouTube and Vimeo are apparently exempt from the privilege. T-Mobile continues to throttle YouTube, but is at least relatively clear about this practice.

    Overall though, throttling has not really changed. Download rates are nearly identical to what they were before and after June 11, the day old legislation was officially removed from effect. Measuring connection speeds to YouTube and Netflix on Verizon and AT&T showed no noticeable difference. Verizon kept speeds at just under 2Mbps while AT&T has decided to cap low priority traffic at 1.5Mbps.

    One notable finding from the study is that Skype was found to be heavily affected on Sprint's network. Sprint replied with a statement denying the claims, but the results still clearly show that Skype traffic is unable to maintain regular network connection speeds across more than 2000 locations in the US on Sprint's network. If Sprint is telling the truth that there is no intentional throttling of Skype, it might be more embarrassing that their network simply cannot perform well enough to handle Skype calls.

    What the exact cause of Skype issues on Sprint's network is remains unclear, but other video chat apps do not see the same slow speeds in the same locations. FaceTime tends to work better as well as Google Duo and Hangouts.

    In short, one problem that remains rampant in the wireless industry is the complete lack of transparency of how providers are handling prioritization and throttling. Common customers do not have the means nor time and effort required to determine whether they are receiving the service they are paying for. It is obvious when videos buffer or calls become choppy, but the techniques used by carriers can make it appear as though problems lie with a specific app or website. Customers are easily mislead to think that their carrier is not the problem.

    Image Credit: Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 859   +365

    Makes sense, a lot more competition in the mobile market compared to wired home service. A few more years and I think cellular could become a viable option for many at home. Right now in my area it offers some of the rural out skirts customers much better internet then they can get through centurylink, but the 20GB's a month can go fast depending on usage.
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,661   +2,416

  4. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,154   +1,411

    neither is the Northeastern University's College of Computer and Information Science.

    This is the hilarity of NN - there was no problem before, there was nothing fixed after, and no one can actually tell if the rules are turned on or off. Yet people are protesting with their fist in the air like they are standing up for civil rights.

    Nothing like protesting against standard def video streaming on mobile-devices to make you realize your life is both very privileged and very boring.
    clytndn, cliffordcooley and kombu like this.
  5. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,109   +1,585

    Exactly. When this happened and people were wringing their hands and crying buckets as if it were the end of the world, I said the same thing. "Nothing is going to happen. If anything, good will come out of it because it will stimulate free market and we'll get our services at a discount."
    clytndn likes this.
  6. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 752   +366

    Wireless infrastructure isn't advanced enough to handle all our streaming needs. No point complaining at this point. No point changing law when they mobile carriers simply don't have the bandwidth for everyone to stream at at least 20mbps.
  7. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 752   +366

    One thing I d like to see though, would be the same towers used for signal that covers larger territory and at the same time allows faster speed. Then maybe they wouldn't have to build so many new towers.
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,824   +2,174

    In my opinion, it is far too early to proclaim an effect on any customer of any ISP no matter the delivery means.

    Why do I see it this way? Two words: Court battles.

    Until those are settled, if they are ever since there is a constant flip-flop of policies between US administrations, no ISP is going to drastically change their policies because if they then had to repeal those policies, they would have to suffer the embarrassment of having to do so - almost like running away with their tail between their legs. Having to suffer that embarrassment, IMO, would hurt an ISP's reputation even more so than their currently :poop: reputations.

    As @psycros pointed out, one pro NN battle has been won - and that victory flies in the face of Pai's attempt to allow ISPs to screw their customers to their heart's content.
    Evernessince likes this.
  9. you are incorrect:
    from the article "Before the demise of Net Neutrality, carriers were still throttling video streaming and other bandwidth intensive tasks. Despite being technically illegal to do so prior, the FCC made little effort to investigate any such matters."
    so the carriers were in the past acting illegally, the removal of NN has merely made what was illegal, now legal. If "throttling video streaming and other bandwidth intensive tasks" is, as you put it, good coming out of the end of NN, you are deluded. Services at a discount?? LOL
    psycros, Evernessince and wiyosaya like this.
  10. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 311   +190

    "Remember when Verizon throttled firefighters' "unlimited" data plan in the middle of a forest fire campaign?"

    Very misleading. If you actually go back and look at this incident and know a little bit about Data Plans you would know that this was not Version's fault. Public Safety departments can get special Public Safety Plan with unlimited data with no throttling. The IT department for this fire department failed to subscribe to the correct plan. The throttling that took place is an automated system. If the IT department had done their job correctly this would not have happened.
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,824   +2,174

    That's the same kind of reasoning that I used to get from Spectrum.

    Their latest "blame it on you, the customer gaff" came when I had my credit card stolen. I paid my bill on line with another card, yet two days later, they charged the credit card that had been stolen and then had a hissy fit about it - telling me things like "you should have removed that card from your account" all this, even though I had PAID my bill for that month. Then they slapped on a fee, that they then removed when I got on the phone with one of their service reps and he agreed it was their mistake - and then they refused to allow me to pay by credit card.

    That was the last straw for me. I have been blamed so many times for their problems that I finally dropped them and switched to a wireless data only plan and I am so much happier for having done so.

    So, my take here is that instead of vericrap blaming the fire department for not signing up for the public service unlimited plan, the vericrap rep should have outright asked if the fire department really wanted the unlimited public service plan. WTF? Vericrap gets called on their crap, then blames it on the fire department. It was a fricking FIRE DEPARTMENT, WTF?

    That is part of the crap service that all customers get from ISPs. ISPs constantly blame the customer for what are the problems of the ISP. It's called marketing - get the customer to sign up for the most costly service that makes the company the most profit even though the customer service reps have the full set of plans in front of them and could easily suggest better plans for the customer. ISPs are in it, IMO, for as much as they can gouge out of the customer; otherwise, they would have significantly better CS reputations. Right now, ISPs in the US are among the most vile of all companies.
    psycros and Evernessince like this.
  12. brucek

    brucek TS Maniac Posts: 148   +185

    As far as I'm concerned the only real high bandwidth internet connection available to most consumers is their wired cable connection. A discussion of net neutrality that does not include the impact there is not a meaningful discussion.

    Everything else comes with limitations that leaves it suitable for some use cases but not for others.
    psycros and Evernessince like this.
  13. Sim2er

    Sim2er TS Rookie

    This article is deceptively well written, but based on the faulty premise that net neutrality ever applied to *wireless* internet providers. So the whole article including the majority of comments thus far are moot.
    Wireless providers were always exempt because there are real physical limitations on the availability of wireless spectrum frequencies. Landline ISPs however could choose to invest in upgrading their infrastructure with few physical limits (the government has a 100 gigabit network for example) and so lack any practical reason for failing to provide full speed to all traffic.
    psycros likes this.
  14. Sim2er

    Sim2er TS Rookie

    Nobody can tell by design. Because people won't realize that internet services like Amazon will have to raise their rates in order to bribe ISPs to provide the same service that ISP customers already pay for.
    But there is a problem and it's that the overall quality of internet Nationwide is one of the worst in the world in part because of anticompetitive practices. And it is a civil rights issue because a large portion of modern communication takes place over the internet but only the vanishingly few municipal ISPs are legally obligated to support the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and privacy.
    psycros likes this.
  15. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,154   +1,411

    So? Amazon is swimming in money. So is Netflix, so is Google (youtube). And you call paying for service a 'bribe'?

    the US has slower internet because it's like 20 times bigger than the countries (like Sweden) that have fast internet.

    Any violation of any of the things you've mentioned is unrelated to NN. NN doesn't stop google from tracking your location or gathering your search habits. Nor does it stop ISPs from blocking GAB, like what happened this month.

    Although - perhaps you've touched on why people are so upset about it. Because they don't understand what they're actually protesting.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,265   +4,932

    This is not true and you know it. ISPs provide a service for both parties. Why wouldn't the one with the highest bandwidth pay a larger tax?
  17. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 311   +190

    You are an angry person and it is so obvious you don't believe people should be responsible for there own actions.
  18. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,154   +1,411

    But you miss the point. If throttling was illegal before NN, and it's illegal after NN, but the FCC hasn't prosecuting anyone, then who cares if we have NN or not?
    An unenforced law isn't much better than not having the law at all.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  19. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,902   +3,346

    The conclusion to the study linked in this article is clear:

    "Our study highlights the state of net neutrality today, and how it has evolved over the past year. In short, net neutrality violations are rampant, and have been since we launched Wehe. Further, the implementation of such throttling practices creates an unlevel playing field for video streaming providers while also imposing engineering challenges related to efficiently handling a variety of throttling rates and other behavior like boosting. Last, we find that video streaming is not the only type of application affected, as there is evidence of Skype throttling in our data. Taken together, our findings indicate that the openness and fairness properties that led to the Internet's success are at risk in the US. We strongly encourage policymakers to use such analysis to help make more informed decisions about regulations that are based on empirical data."

    The FCC did not implement NN regulations that were strong enough.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  20. mattsie

    mattsie TS Enthusiast Posts: 57   +32


    Remove this sponsored ad.
  21. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,824   +2,174

    So you like accepting responsibility for other people's problems? Good luck with that. As I see it, that's called co-dependency. You know nothing about me. To me, it sounds like you are upset that I challenged what you said.

    I get angry when :poop: heads try to lay blame on me for problems they created. That's called healthy boundaries.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  22. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,824   +2,174

    It is pretty hard for an agency to enforce anything when the policies of the agency are flip-flopping like fish out of water. NN was in place for what, two-years? And those two years only after having fought significant battles in court?
    From the comments to this article, it is relatively obvious that few commenters read that far. I'll be surprised if they give your post anything but a TL;DR.
  23. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,824   +2,174

    And you don't call having to pay up front and up the rear extortion?

    And ISPs are also swimming in money, not to mention treating their customers like :poop: It would not be all that difficult to enhance their infrastructure. I have heard that many ISPs have fiber to the pole. What's stopping them from running that fiber to the house especially since they are swimming in money?

    If you don't like gagme, don't use gagme. Problem solved. Use uBlock origin and put a *your favorite gagme like tech company* filter in and be done with it.

    As far a GAB goes, if there were those on GAB inciting violence, it would be a hard court fight for GAB. Inciting violence is a crime and is not protected 1st Amendment speech by any stretch of the imagination or SCOTUS ruling. Illegal activity is typically covered in an ISP's AUP and is not permitted.

    Calling the kettle black, are we?
  24. Sausagemeat

    Sausagemeat TS Maniac Posts: 409   +205

    “Throttling” is done to preserve the integrity of the network. If the network had the capacity not to need to throttle these comms companies wouldn’t do it.
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,265   +4,932

    If they didn't open throttle 1000 fold for people willing to pay only twice the money. There would be more to share. There would also be more to share, if they used our money to upgrade. Instead of repairing the same ole sh|t. So throttling to maintain integrity is a pathetic excuse.
    Greg S and psycros like this.

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