Skip to content

Neutrality for the Win!

Today, the FCC made two important decisions that will have a profound effect on the future of the internet.

Most widely reported is their vote to reclassify the internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the communications act. The immediate impact is that telecoms cannot charge extra for internet “fast lanes”. All traffic must be treated equally, which is the whole point of “net neutrality”.

Title II allows regulation of prices of telecommunication services, but the FCC has explicitly promised that they will not do this for broadband service.

Also today, the FCC voted to allow public broadband providers to compete against commercial internet providers. This allows cities to provide municipal broadband networks for their citizens, and overturns a bunch of state laws banning local governments from building or owning broadband services.

Personally, as someone who makes his living from the internet, I think these two decisions are VERY good news. In my opinion, the telecoms have done a terrible job providing fast internet to US citizens. The FCC decisions are a good balance between limiting the monopoly powers of the telecoms while leaving the internet free enough to continue to innovate.

Not surprisingly, the vote at the FCC split precisely down party lines.

UPDATE: Bloomberg has a good article about the issues. Also includes a good quote from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who attended the FCC meeting and afterward said that the FCC action is “an indication that the people can sometimes win. This is a victory for the people, the consumers, the average Joes.” And indeed, if you look at the companies supporting the FCC decision, they are innovators like NetFlix and Twitter, while those opposed are the old-guard monopolies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.



  1. John wrote:

    Yes, good. The telecoms have done a good job maximising profits while withholding high quality service in the US. I imagine they will continue to focus on this strategy and will view this development as a bump in the road.

    Friday, February 27, 2015 at 6:46 am | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    Good, my only fear is that local government will provide services in subsidized price and will cover expenses with taxes. This may make private companies shut down, and eventually we will be left with no competition as government will be only one providing.

    I hope that does not happen, and only good comes out of it.

    Friday, February 27, 2015 at 7:03 am | Permalink
  3. ThatGuy wrote:

    I hope the next step is something to actually open the ISP field to competition. The government in the UK forced its biggest ISP to open its lines to competitors and the result was not only more competition and more specialized plans (only need email? There’s a plan for that. Want high-speed gaming? You’re covered.) but an eventual deal between multiple ISPs to actually invest in infrastructure. The funny thing is that AT&T and other American ISPs LOVED this because it allowed them to break into a new market. Asked if the same line-sharing (there’s a technical term but I can’t recall what it is) would work well in the States and they unsurprisingly cited a bunch of nonsense as evidence that this just couldn’t work.

    To Hassans’ point… I think the best thing for consumers would be if giant private ISPs were actually in any sort of danger of going out of business. They might actually try harder to be decent to their customers.

    Friday, February 27, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink
  4. il-08 wrote:

    No bureaucratic, bloated, inefficient government run utility could possibly reach the level of incompetence I have repeatedly encountered with comcast. If, by some unlikely series of events this led to the demise of that most hated corporation in the country, I would dance in the streets.

    Friday, February 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Don’t hold back — tell us how you really feel about Comcast!

    Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 12:00 am | Permalink
  6. il-08 wrote:

    If corporations are people, Comcast is Adolph Hitler.

    Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    OMG, Godwin’s law for the loss!

    I’m referring to the real Godwin’s law — that once someone plays the Hitler card in any internet discussion, that person automatically loses whatever debate was in progress.

    Unless, of course, you played the Hitler card for humorous purposes.

    Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
  8. David Freeman wrote:

    Godwins Law is an unfair limitation when discussing Comcast!

    Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  9. il-08 wrote:

    Actually I think the way it works is that because I invoked Comcast to refer to Hitler, I lost the argument about Hitler. Really, think of the children!

    Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink