Political operative James Carville once said that if you keep repeating the same lie often enough, it will eventually be accepted as the truth. I have to wonder if FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has Carville on a retainer. Even if we completely lose sight of the fact that the FCC has no authority to regulate the Internet, the agency’s claims to justify it keep getting farther from reality.
Undoing the agency’s Net neutrality rules will “increase uncertainty, decrease investment, and hurt job creation,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will say, according to a draft of his prepared remarks.
Genachowski will offer an unyielding, point-by-point defense of the FCC’s 3-2 vote, which fell along party lines, saying that it’s already increased investment and that relying on antitrust laws to police errant behavior would be “problematic” and “ill-suited to the fast-changing nature of Internet technology.”
The Democratic chairman’s remarks highlight how polarized–and partisan–the Washington debate over regulation of broadband providers’ business practices has become.
Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20059917-281.html#ixzz1LUSVmNCf
If we look at what has happened since the so called Net Neutrality rules were put into place, we’ve seen a move towards less competition in wireless, the country’s top two broadband providers impose a price increase / cap and the telcos virtually ending new investment in fixed line service. The only new proposed investment by a major player is in the form of a takeover of a competitor. I suspect the only new jobs created were in Washington DC, while the workforce in the rest of the nation continues to shrink.
Tomorrow, AT&T joins #1 cable guy Comcast in capping bandwidth for its broadband subscribers. It’s a win win for AT&T, but not for its customers. Since Comcast replicates most of AT&T’s footprint, consumers face more of the same (albeit Comcast’s caps are less draconian) by making the switch to the lone alternative. This is what happens when corrupt regulators try to pass a duopoly off as an open, competitive market. Lacking any change or challenge to the status quo the consumers plight will get worse.
By longstanding tradition dating back to when the company was known as SBC, AT&T abhors investing in infrastructure. At the same time, the company has traditionally employed billing schemes to cleverly conceal price increases. It has gotten way with this when it hasn’t had to face any competition. The cap is more of the same. AT&T will be generating more income for existing infrastructure while reducing bandwidth expenses – even though the wholesale cost of bandwidth is paltry in comparison. It’s also worth noting that the cap is being rolled out at virtually the same time AT&T announced it will buy wireless competitor T Mobile. That fact alone makes the argument that AT&T can’t afford to beef up its infrastructure ridiculous.
AT&T’s new limits — 150 GB for DSL subscribers and 250 GB for UVerse users (a mix of fiber and DSL) — come as users are increasingly turning to online video such as Hulu and Netflix on-demand streaming service instead of paying for cable.
With the change, AT&T joins Comcast and numerous small ISPs in putting a price on a fixed amount of internet usage. It’s a complete abandonment of the unlimited plans which turned the internet into a global behemoth after the slow-growth dial-up days, when customers were charged by the minute and thus accessed the internet as sparingly as possible. (Wired) (more…)
Once upon a time, last mile access was competitive. That was before broadband. Then we had a duopoly. The telco side of the fixed line business has become focused on the wireless business, leaving cable as the only provider of next generation broadband. It is physically impossible for wireless to provide 100MBPS+ service levels and beyond to the same number of customers as fixed lines. That leaves us with a broadband monopoly. A monopoly always guarantees slow upgrades, high prices and rationing. The only solution offered by the feds are promised regulations the would force the monopoly to behave responsibly. History has shown us that Federally regulated monopolies have always put interests of the monopoly ahead of the consumer most of the time.
Providing competitive fixed line service requires physical right of ways. Any upstart’s attempt to obtain new right of ways is met with protracted legal battles with the very deep pockets of the incumbent providers. That leaves two potential competitors – the energy providers and the utilities. While there is hope that the utilities may eventually take an interest in broadband, the more easily influenced entity is the local municipality. Nearly all of them operate, sewer and drainage pipes that can often proved a ready conduit for new fiber. While municipalities have usually proven to be poor to mediocre service providers, cases where the muni has been the infrastructure provider have fared much better. By providing the basic physical plant for any willing competitor to deliver service on, a truly competitive market can be created on a common infrastructure.
While I’m not convinced muni networks will end existence of overpriced and under performing broadband in America, it may be the best last hope. To make this happen we need to become proactive. Many state legislatures (including Texas where I reside) have already been convinced by the duopoly to pass laws that severely limit a municipality’s right to build networks.
While the Constitution’s limits on search and seizure should have it covered, fed agencies like DHS continue to be very aggressive in using technology to keep tabs on all of us. The courts have been a little too supportive of this dismantling of the fourth amendment. Thankfully, Senator Ron Wyden has proposed legislation requiring a warrant for obtaining device location information. Far from enough to insure some level of privacy, but a good start.
In response the the shuttering of the Internet in Egypt, Senator “Kill Switch” Susan Collins put out an email stating
“‘My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,’ …… ‘It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.’”
Senator, give it up, we’re wise to you. Just in case, PC World has a good guide to working around a shut down.
Rather than trying to defend its position, the FCC has asked the courts to dismiss Metro PCS and Verizons’ net neutrality lawsuits.
The FBI starts search and seizure of equipment suspected to have been used by DDoS group Anonymous.
DMCA gone mad: A federal judge shuts down PS3 jailbreak hackers.
Rep Marsha Blackburn’s quest to put a leash on the FCC is finally taking shape. A vocal critic of the current FCC’s ‘net neutrality’ policy, Blackburn joins Thirdpipe in identifying it as a brokered deal between the agency, the duopoly and a new breed of Internet Oligarchies like Google. Just like the FCC’s unsubstantiated claim that the Comcast / NBC deal serves the public interest, that net neutrality policy is crony capitalism at its worst.
In a recent address, Blackburn outlined what’s wrong at the FCC and how Congress is largely responsible for the agency going rogue :
In her remarks today, Blackburn acknowledged that the FCC’s action came only after negotiations on Capitol Hill failed to broker a compromise, and that the issues of net neutrality and the broader question of FCC authority will remain unsettled in the absence of congressional action.
“I think it is fair to say that congressional Republicans and Democrats are a little bit to blame for this. Too few members have engaged seriously on net neutrality,” she said. “When Congress fails to move forward on an issue, bureaucracies step in.”
At the same time, Blackburn characterized the FCC’s December vote as a misguided step that will impose unnecessary regulations on a fast-growing industry, dismissing the concerns of net neutrality proponents as a “hypothetical problem,” and calling for the need to “defend against Washington’s instinct to hyper-regulate.”
“I think that what they may have met with is a congressional hurricane,” she said. “We must see the latest regulatory impulse of the FCC as the wake-up call that it is.”
She added, “Incumbent now for us to immediately reverse the decision and better define the FCC’s jurisdiction.” (Datamation)