Items tagged with Net Neutrality

If you have been following the battle between cable companies and major online companies, you won’t be surprised when you notice a “Loading…” icon or banner on some of your favorite websites today. Proponents of the existing net neutrality rules have been encouraging everyone from individuals to major companies to express their opposition to any changes in net neutrality rules that might give cable companies an opening charge heavy data users (like Netflix) more. You might be greeted by a banner like this one when you visit websites today. The organization behind today’s “Internet Slowdown,” as it’s being called, is BattleForTheNet. It encourages... Read more...
The Federal Communications Commission has been considering the implementation of new neutrality rules in an attempt to determine how internet service providers should manage web traffic on their networks. The outcry against the FCC and the concept of “fast lanes,” in addition to treating IPSs more like public utility companies, continues to grow with many network companies and equipment manufacturers going so far as to tell U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker how these policies could hurt the internet and U.S. economy. The latest group to join the protests and outcry are 33 companies that include Intel Corp, Cisco Systems Inc, and IBM. These companies, along with services such... Read more...
On September 10th, several of the popular websites you visit may appear to have trouble loading content, but that won't really be the case. All those slow loading animations are actually widgets, banners, and animated images provided by BattleForTheNet, a coalition of companies, organizations, and people who have come together to oppose changes to net neutrality rules and show what the web might look like if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows cable companies to charge for Internet fast lanes. Sites like Mozilla, Kickstarter, Reddit, Etsy, Foursquare, Vimeo, iFixIt, Tumblr, and many others will have widgets and other images posted on the designated "Go Slow" day in protest of net... Read more...
The battle for net neutrality is starting to feel like a never-ending one, but for the sake of having a truly fair Web, it's a battle of utmost importance. It's also a battle that you can help win, as the Federal Trade Commission seeks comments from the public on the proposed net neutrality rules. Originally, the FCC was going to cease receiving comments on July 15th, but a flood of last-minute comments poured in and ended up taking down the website that accepted them. The deadline was then extended until July 18th, but given the amount of attention this is receiving, the agency has once again extended the date, this time until September 15th. John Oliver explains, in layman's terms, why net... Read more...
For years, Verizon and the other telcos have imposed limits on supposedly "Unlimited" data plans and justified those limits with dubious appeals to network quality of service. While throttling data usage makes a great deal of sense in certain contexts (downtown rush hour being an excellent example), most companies don't throttle based on time of day or local conditions. Verizon's latest attempt to slice off a bit more profit for itself may have been a bridge too far, however, as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has gotten involved with investigating the company's practices. As we covered earlier this week, Verizon recently announced that it would "extend its network optimization policy to the data users... Read more...
From the beginning, the anti-net neutrality argument has been built on a single premise: Give companies free rein to charge more money for services, and they'll respond by improving the customer experience, rolling out service to more people, and aggressively adopting faster technology. Over the past few months, Netflix has served as an unofficial test drive for this theory -- the company has begun paying both Comcast and Verizon directly to improve Netflix performance. The result?  Comcast, at least, has improved dramatically. Verizon, on the other hand, continues to crater -- its FiOS service fell two spots to 12th place.   Verizon, naturally enough, has attempted to blame Netflix... Read more...
Ever since Tom Wheeler unveiled a plan last month that would allow Internet Service Providers to charge for paid content prioritization, accusations have flown thick and fast that the proposed rules would effectively kill net neutrality. On the side of "Scrap Wheeler's net neutrality plan" you have more than 100 corporations including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter. On the side of "Allowed paid prioritization" you have... well, the ISPs who see it as a marvelous way to increase profits without improving the quality of their product. Now, a pair of Democrats -- Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) and Doris Matsui (D-Cali) have introduced a bill to the House and Senate that would require the FCC to enforce... Read more...
The FCC has confirmed that it will hold a May 15 vote on a new set of policies governing net neutrality and ISP behavior -- but according to the Wall Street Journal, the commission's proposed regulation will effectively kill the idea of a level playing field. The Wall Street Journal reports that the proposed rules would prevent ISPs from blocking specific websites, but would allow them to charge services like Netflix an additional fee for better access to end users. The paper claims that all "commercially reasonable" agreements would be permitted, with deals investigated on a case-by-case basis to ascertain whether the terms are reasonable. This is the opposite of what the FCC attempted to do... Read more...
Last month, Comcast and Netflix announced a controversial deal in which Netflix would pay Comcast directly for improved service. The reason this deal is controversial in many quarters is that it's seen as triple-dipping by Comcast -- the company is already paid by companies like Level 3, which provide Internet back-haul across the country, and it collects fees from subscribers too. Nonetheless, in the wake of the court case gutting net neutrality, the deal went ahead. That deal has paid off, at least in the short term -- Comcast subscribers are now seeing vastly improved performance with an average stream speed of 2.5Mbps, up from a miserable 1.15Mbps in February. Loaded with perverse incentives... Read more...
Proving once again that there are two sides to every story, a senior executive for AT&T fired back in contentious fashion at a blog post written by Netflix chief Reed Hastings calling for net neutrality. AT&T's Jim Cicconi called Hastings' plea "self righteous" and "arrogant," to use a couple of choice terms sprinkled throughout his rebuttal. Hastings on Thursday explained all the reasons why ISPs like Comcast and AT&T shouldn't charge third-party services like Netflix an "arbitrary" interconnection fee. His blog post was prompted in large part by a multi-year deal Netflix struck with Comcast to ensure that its streaming traffic would reach Comcast subscribers with less buffering... Read more...
After reading through the latest rhetoric by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, you get the feeling that he views his company's recent deal with Comcast as essentially sleeping with the enemy. The multi-year agreement ensures that Comcast subscribers will enjoy higher quality Netflix streams and less buffering, but Hastings warns that if left unchecked, ISPs will be free to charge increasingly higher interconnection fees to third-party services. From the vantage point of where Hastings is sitting, these types of fees are nothing more than an "arbitrary tax" imposed by companies that are free to levy them because of their position in the market place. This puts companies like Netflix in an awkward position... Read more...
Proponents of net neutrality were dealt a major blow last month when Verizon challenged and defeated the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S. Court of Appeals over what ISPS are and are not allowed to do. Other than some transparency rules, it was ruled that broadband providers need not bother themselves with net neutrality, effectively stripping the FCC of its power to enforce rules set in place. Put more simply, ISPs are now allowed to throttle Internet traffic as they see fit, and there's evidence to suggest that power is already being abused. A blog post by David Rapheal, director of engineering for iScan Online, a security scanning company located in the Dallas area, details... Read more...
Two events in the telecommunications and cable world this week have highlighted why, exactly, we need net neutrality and stronger protections for consumer rights. First, on the cable side of the business, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Comcast have collectively introduced a bill into the Kansas legislature that prevents any city from rolling out any broadband infrastructure unless said area is completely cut off from the grid. Critically, the bill also claims that a municipality is "providing a video, telecommunications or broadband service" if it works through intermediaries, partnerships, on contract, or through resale. It would bar the use of eminent domain for the purpose... Read more...
Over the past few weeks, net neutrality has seen serious challenges from the likes of Verizon and AT&T. Verizon won a court case in which the FCC's rules on net neutrality were effectively gutted, while AT&T introduced a new pricing plan for content providers called Sponsored Data, which pushes companies like Netflix to pay an additional per-user fee to have video streams not count against that users' bandwidth. Everyone has been curious about how Netflix might respond to this, and now the company's CEO has tendered his answer in a letter to shareholders. CEO Reed Hastings has challenged the decision to strike down net neutrality in strong terms, writing: In principle, a domestic ISP... Read more...
As hard as it is to believe that such a fight could even exist, it looks like the courts are beginning to side with the likes of Verizon in the belief that ISPs should have the right to discriminate against websites. Net neutrality, a simple principle that states that the Internet should be "open" is at risk of becoming a moot point, nothing more than a pipe dream. On Monday, two out of the three judges on the panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals believe that the Federal Communications Commission, a major backer of net neutrality, lacks the ability to tell ISPs like Verizon that they can't pick and choose which sites are allowed to be delivered, or be unable to charge premiums to certain... Read more...
Well, it’s official: According to Reuters, the FCC’s Net neutrality rules have been published in the Federal Register. They'll finally go into effect on November 20th. We knew this was coming and discussed it last week, but the Federal Register publication was the last official step toward launching the new rules. Net neutrality has been endlessly debated and hotly contested, to say the least, and the war will not end when the rules go into effect. In fact, now that the rules are official, those opposed to them can now launch their respective legal challenges. Not only are ISPs such as Verizon going to raise a ruckus, Republicans are expected to mount a challenge, as well. (The FCC’s... Read more...
The U.S. government has never been accused of moving too quickly on anything, and the Net neutrality rules that the FCC released late in 2010 are no exception. According to Reuters, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget has finally signed off on the rules, which clears the way for implementation in the coming months. In a nutshell, Net neutrality concerns whether or not the government should regulate ISPs, and if so, to what extent. The new rules are, predictably, a compromise; if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty details, you can read the FCC’s document for yourself. To say that Net neutrality has been a contentious issue would be an understatement; even the... Read more...
For Comcast customer Andre Vrignaud, the internet is an important part of everyday life. Vrignaud, a 39-year-old gaming consultant in Seattle and a former Microsoft technology evangelist for Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE, has a lot of data: he has a 12TB basement server that he uses to store all of his music, which is ripped into lossless FLAC format and amounts to about a gig per CD. He saves all of his photos in RAW format, which can run over 10MB per picture. He uses the Carbonite online backup system, he uploads his music to the Amazon cloud music service, and he even does a little bittorrenting. All of this, on top of a roommate who is quite fond of multimedia... Read more...
The Canadian ISP, Rogers Communications, admitted yesterday that it throttles games like World of Warcraft in its bid to maintain QoS for all customers. The issue came to light when a Rogers subscriber filed a complaint against the company in February. The author details why she believes Rogers is filtering WoW via deep packet inspection , noting, for example, that running a VPN (Virtual Private Network) prevents players from being kicked out of game randomly. The complaint then discusses the available evidence that points back to improper throttling on Roger's part. Rogers employees on their own forums have been stating that these games use P2P to run, which is why they're being throttled, and... Read more...
Here's a surprise: Verizon isn't too fond of the FCC's Net Neutrality order. Actually, that isn't too much of a surprise. Many ISPs, cellphone carriers and other operators in this space are very hesitant to jump onboard the FCC's latest train, as any additional regulation and oversight into their industry could mean less control for how they conduct their own business. Verizon is in a very interesting position, though. Unlike many other carriers, Verizon has ties to a home-based Internet service (FiOS) as well as 3G and 4G wireless networks through Verizon Wireless. So the Net Neutrality order definitely touches nearly every major aspect of this company. This week, Verizon actually went so far... Read more...
Yesterday, a sharply divided FCC voted to 3 to 2 to approve new Net Neutrality rules. The vote went down as expected with Democrats voting in favor of rules intended to prevent broadband service providers from blocking content, and Republicans opposed, claiming that such rules are an unjustifiable (and potentially illegal) power grab by the FCC. The rules were not the hard-and-fast protection of content and Internet access that Net Neutrality advocates wanted to see, but a compromise. They include vaguely-worded wiggle room for broadband pipe owners and sidestepped rules for mobile broadband (3G and 4G). The word "reasonable" is the problem, i.e. the FCC rule regarding blocking content states,... Read more...
A big battle is happening over Internet service so, naturally, people have added large dollops of fear and misinformation and are shouting about it on Facebook. On December 21, the FCC will finally vote on adopting net neutrality rules. This may (or may not) have been caused by Comcast's spat with Level 3 now that Level 3 won a big contract to handle Netflix's video streaming. Grind it all together, output it to Facebook and you get this campaign: "Save the Internet: Stop Comcast from Blocking Netflix. Without strong net neutrality rules, companies like Comcast can demand fees from innovative companies like Netflix in an attempt to choke consumer freedom and coerce users to adopt its own video... Read more...
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