Broadband Reclassified to Title II

Warren, I just have to say how much I enjoyed all your posts and appreciated your brilliant grasp/analysis of this whole situation with great arguments. I read and understood everything in no time and it was a pleasure to read…just gotta say, credit where credit’s due.
I’m stunned actually…either I’ve just had some magic Rosetta Stone implant or something has changed with your writing…what have I been missing :smile:


Its probably a meeting of the minds. Often I am still trying to enter post text through a phone with big fingers while distracted.


Scary innit?.. :smile:

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[wipes tear] It’s the “SAFE effect”. You can try to resist, but…


All in all, I think we agree…

I just prefer not to blow things out of porportion - as our politicians and their talking head news channels attempt to make us do…


Just listened to this and it’s an excellent breakdown of the whole issue and might allow both sides to understand each other better.

Just how common are these “traffic jams” the guest is talking about? My understanding is that bandwidth growth is pretty competitive with moore’s law.

I rarely have problems streaming media, and when I do, I can often switch to VPN and make them go away. That tells me that my ISP is causing the traffic jam, not preventing it.

I can understand the theoretical need to maintain quality of service. But I also see a high likelihood that ISP’s have a conflict of interest, (Like owning television networks) and my use bandwidth scarcity as an excuse to hinder their competitors. The later seems a lot more likely than the former, especially since switching to VPN demonstrates no physical clog in my pipe.

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I don’t have breakdown on experiences by everyone.

I really have mixed feelings as to what’s the best policy for the current, government-influenced monopoly scene. The problem I see is that technological conditions are very dynamic, and policies are being pitched with catchphrases. Right now all I’m certain about is that the FCC is asserting bureaucratic controls that puts them deep in everybody’s business. That makes me nervous, as such expansions of scope of power rarely if ever end up benign.

What you’re saying about your experience is certainly true in some places and not in others.

I’m just sceptical of efforts to frame the issue as cut and dried, in terms of results. I’m looking more at the principles and how they can be more equitably applied. In the long run, that is better.

Without net neutrality, what would stop a ISP to decide to throttle or block traffics coming from websites based on their political or religion affiliation?

EDIT: Undeleting the post

That’s not really the point of what “net neutrality” is about. That’s the go button that has been placed on top of it to get people to support it. It’s actually about whether heavy bandwidth users can have special channels built to accommodate high volume streaming, and having them pay extra for that facility, or force it onto the same lines as your low bandwidth email, youtube, regular web surfing, etc. I honestly don’t know what the best solution to this is, but I know that the arguments put forward to get popular support are disingenuous, or at least muddled.

Ultimately, the move to make everyone support Netflix and Amazon on the same lines as everyone else will probably result in a more robust network, and SAFE will be benefited by a the better bandwidth available to more people. It will be interesting to see what will happen when it’s faster to stream movies over SAFE in low to moderate bandwidth areas than it will be for Netflix in high bandwidth areas. Popcorn Time is a great example of how this is already almost there with torrent technology.

I don’t really know what the very best and most equitable solution is, but your question demonstrates how the discussion has been spun to get people to beg for federal agency involvement.

EDIT: I see you’ve withdrawn your post. But that’s my response anyway. :wink:

I understand that but still, isn’t this a real concern anyway? If an ISP is given the right to block any content they don’t like, the amount of abuse of this would be so enormous it pretty much trumps all other arguments no?

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In the run up to the vote there were lobbyist saying that 2 trillion in return on investment capital was at stake. I don’t want that return to happen. Who invests in Comcast? And shouldn’t they suffer the consequences of making destructive investments? Blocking an attempt to extend the profit from censorship model is not controversial or bad, its the law working the way it should to protect democracy and power sharing. Consider T Mobiles free music scam, you can have free music as long as you listen to our ads on your phone. We were going backwards at an incredible rate.

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First and foremost, there’s nothing that “needs to be done” about that. It’s their right to do with their property what they please. We individually can take our business elsewhere. What makes you think there is no possibility of competition and innovation without a state-organized “market”? But let’s ignore that for a moment.

In a free market without regulations, that would instantly create powerful motivation for a new entrant who could employ their capital to harvest this low hanging fruit.

Possibly, but I bet it is likely result in a crappy data transfer service for all. Telcos won’t invest as much because they won’t be able to charge premium prices for premium services. I would expect them to [Edit: forgot to complete this sentence] focus on (yet) unregulated services and maybe find ways around this nonsense (for example, come up with a new service such as “local cache” which would provide an SLA-ed caching service to customers who pay more; then those who can’t stand the crappy service for the masses would subscribe to that and get a better performance).

I find this absolutely hilarious:


“Using Title II authority, along with the right set of enforceable rules, the president’s plan would establish the strong net neutrality protections Internet users require,” the association said.

It turns out by moving the ISPs to Title II, the Federal Trade Commission cannot enforce consumer protection laws against them anymore

That escalated quickly :smiley:
Happy protection, folks!

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@janitor :

In a free market without regulations…

That’s simply not possible. Regulation is what creates what most people mean by a free market.

What you mean is a market free of regulation, which is a different thing, and something that only those who already have the power to control such a market want.

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Yeah I get this point of view and I often agree with it but some situation requires a different approach. The problem is that ISPs are gatekeepers for possibly the greatest human achievement. A neutral access to internet is way to much important to give anyone the power to control it the way they want. When we get a global mesh network I’ll agree with you, but as long as the technology requires to have gatekeepers we collectively need to take the necessary precautions they don’t abuse of their power.

Not really and that’s the problem. Free market works well when there’s a low barrier of entry for competition to thrive but this is not how things are right now in this particular domain.

Yeah I don’t think that. Not sure where you got that from.

Adding regulation doesn’t turn the innovation switch to off. It might slow it down or divert it but it’s well worth it compare to what would happen if you give them free reign.

Understand I see regulations like these as a temporary measure to fix a very specific problem. When you have centralization of power, you need to keep them in check. When you decentralize thing, you can let go off the rules and let the market play its role.


I disagree. The Cable lines and the phone lines are government sanctioned monopolies. No competitor can just throw in a new one. Consumers have one or two choices if they are lucky, and that is all that they are ever going to get because those are the only lines licensed to run to their neighborhoods. Companies that want to compete have to purchase right-of-way from the government. It isn’t a free market. Its a monopoly. It is a good idea to set regulatory boundaries for monopolies. Specifically because there is no free market.

It is time to stop pretending like there is competition here. You are taking the wrong talking points off the shelf and are using them in the totally wrong context…


Putting on my Economist’s hat once again, all three of those would be class leaders by global standards, some would even say the envy of all others. Obviously it depends on your definition of “good products/services” and “reasonable price”, but:

Telecommunications: Europe didn’t dismantle its telco monopolies like the disastrous AT&T breakup in the US. Because of that, it got to define the global cellular phone standard GSM, and until very recently got to define the standard mobile phone (Nokia). Europe, especially Britain and the Netherlands, are still the main hub for the global internet just as New York is for the US (partially due to being the closest to Europe). Look at any map of the global internet and Europe is lit up like a Christmas tree.

At a pure consumer level, prices and conduct are tightly regulated and fair, with regular reduction of the caps placed on fees to force down prices for those who don’t regularly shop around for “deals”. Price or service gouging generally doesn’t happen. Net neutrality isn’t even discussed much here because it’s not even an issue. If you look at the OECD fixed not wireless broadband ranking per 100 citizens, the US and Europe aren’t in the same ballpark, Europe is way ahead (I don’t count wireless broadband as real broadband).

Healthcare: Most European countries provide nationalised healthcare which is very tightly price controlled, including to the price of free of cost. Outcomes for the poorest 20% of citizens and the 50% average are the world leading bar none. Last year myself and Megan had a baby, and that birth was entirely paid for by the Irish state. Chances of something going wrong were on average one sixth of the chance in the United States, which made us laugh when Megan’s friends genuinely were worried for her safety over here. China and Latin America are copying the European health approach and completely ignoring the US one for a reason: outcomes. We also achieve those much superior outcomes at less than half the cost per citizen of the US.

Banking services: When I lived in Canada in 2012-2013 I was quite stunned at how primitive the North American banking system is for such advanced countries. Why can’t I use my ATM card to buy stuff in China and have it shipped to me because ATM cards aren’t functionally equivalent to credit cards? Why can’t I use the point of sale in retailers to do an ATM cash withdrawal when I buy stuff? And why aren’t there chip and pins and wireless payment and ID photos on the bank card, they were just coming in as a “new thing” end of 2013 when we left? Why can’t I from my online bank account wire money to anywhere in the world in a choice of today, two day, and five day options? Why can’t I have a credit card without depositing a guarantee of its credit limit? Why can’t I get car insurance for one week in a choice of on-the-car on on-the-driver insurance? Moreover, you guys still use cheques, I actually had to ask Google how to write one of those in Canada. I remember them here when I was a child.

In most European countries, there are no bank account maintenance fees, no charges for bank transactions, no charges for using ATMs. In Canada I paid $3 every time I stepped near an ATM. In the US, sometimes $4.50.

Part of European supremacy here is because London remains the centre of the global banking industry, so weird custom insurance is easy to find and buy (e.g. want to insure against aliens landing next year? No problem), and credit card risk is much more easily securitised. You also get more innovative banking products - for example, my UK credit card charges me 6.7% APR, and it doesn’t try to trick me, gouge me, have silly entrapment clauses or other ways of costing unexpected fees or super high trick APRs. Moreover, I’m Irish and live in Ireland with a different currency, yet I can open a UK Sterling credit card and bank account. Go ahead and try that in the US if you’re Canadian, or vice versa!

Prices here in Europe are more expensive than the US because of the hefty 20-25% sales tax. But that’s deliberately there to stop you consuming, and encourage you to invest instead (a 45% tax on bank interest encourages the bond or stock market, any post office here lets you buy government bonds very cheaply and easily and tax free). Sales taxes don’t tend to apply to most services, and so are very price competitive to the US, indeed often free as I mentioned above. This is despite banks etc. not being allowed to sell your personal data for profit like in the US.

Europe has its big problems, mainly that we divert too much resources away from the young to the old, and people prefer a predictable shitty future to a less predictable potentially better one. There is a definite problem with encouraging growth here. But on high quality products and services we are tough to beat, albeit we cost more. I’d challenge you to try a €10 three course meal in Spain or France and not be stunned at how vastly better quality cheap food is to Anglo Saxon countries. Over there, what they consider minimum food quality acceptable is several orders of magnitude above the US, though I’ll grant you that the portion sizes in the US are great bang for the buck. We used to eat for three days off a typical main course in the US, and the doggy bag is real handy (you would get a lot of hate even asking for one here, though portions are small).



@DavidMtl and @jreighley I also claim there’s no competition, but that there could be, if the government wasn’t in charge (regulating, if you will, or deregulating, if you think that’s what they’re doing).

It’s difficult to imagine a free market competition in fixed line business, I get that. But that’s because everything is “managed” by representatives of political entrepreneurs.

What if a telco pulled just one high capacity link to the outer-most house in a village and leased the owner a pair of two clustered servers and and two 64-port 1GigE switches and trained him to lay LAN and collect payments in Bitcoin?
If I got that opportunity I’d figure out how to pull lines over people’s backyards in exchange for a small payment.
I cannot believe this couldn’t work better and cheaper. Why wouldn’t that work?

True, but it’s expensive and cheap & crappy services are not readily available. There are people who’d like to pay for cheap and crappy Internet access (e.g. some old lady who accesses the Internet once a month to pay bills). I don’t know if dial-up is still available anywhere, I suppose not. Last time I was in the EU I bought a prepaid voice/data SIM card (at the time I paid EUR15, I can’t ) and it was absolutely useless for data (kudos to the provider - most people who buy that crap are tourists and have no better choice in any case, and also go away soon, so how gives a crap - good business idea, I suppose). One’s mileage may vary.

Personally I compare costs in the EU with elsewhere in the world and I find them expensive (especially when they add the damn sales tax).

In a free and competitive market I would expect things like this:

  • Voice- and data-routing WiFi everywhere. Set your bitcoin wallet to connect to 2-3 providers (you can filter reviews by your area and pick 2-3 with best price/performance) and you’ll be good as long as you don’t move
  • If you’re moving, similar functionality on 3G/4G networks
  • Metered payments:
    ** One fee for voice (maybe 3 different SLA’s to choose from, each with appropriate QoS)
    ** Another fee for data (similar, SLA-driven approach, with bandwidth and latency guarantees for up to 95th percentile)

We can only compare rotten apples with rotten apples. Some may seem “good”, but only relatively speaking.

It’s not free but it appears cheap (you partially pay for it if your employer deducts that payment before he pays you) because promises made to people are not on the government books and those costs that do appear on the books cannot be financed (take your government’s deficit for 2014, divide by the number of employed and multiply it by the share of healthcare subsidies and you’ll see how much they’re deferring “for you”).
For example, in the UK healthcare is the 2nd largest budget item.
And that will keep rising, so I wouldn’t be so optimistic about the future of socialized health care.

Okay, I appreciate you shared your experience, but (incidentally) I recently a read about payment systems in Canada (I can’t remember where) and I seem to recall that the author explained Canada’s success by the accidental absence of government in the process. I couldn’t remember the name of the system so I spent a few minutes searching for it.
According to Wikipedia, it’s been around since the 90’s and highly successful since 2001.

As of 2001 the number of transactions completed via Interac Direct Payment has surpassed those completed using physical money

Is that service not as good as they say?

Well, maybe you paid that much because it’s expensive to run an ATM and/or pay for all the compliance costs that the government forces banks to do?
I won’t pretend to be familiar with the economics of ATMs (one could check - there must be a lot of info from the recent Bitcoin ATM (aka BTM) craze), but if those are overpriced that’s wonderful because it will be easier for Bitcoin.
From the Wikipedia entry on Interac:

IDP purchases can be made at all retailers participating in the program, regardless of the financial institution issuing the debit card being used, and normally IDP will not charge any fees to the purchaser for using the program

Maybe that’s why ATM withdrawals are pricey - there’s little need to use ATMs, so the cost has to be distributed on to very few users?

That sales tax also helps pay for the wonderful “free” healthcare!
In reality if they truly wanted to encourage you to invest, they wouldn’t steal 20% of your expenditures. The more you spend, the more need for investment there is (and the higher returns savers can make). But let’s assume they take that money from you for your own good. What do they do with that money?
Of course, they spend it! in fact they spend even more, hence the 50 years of budget deficits!
Perhaps you should reconsider their true intentions :smile:

I don’t contest most of your claims. There is no country in this world that is not excessively regulated.
Some things are cheaper in the EU, but in healthcare true costs are constantly being deferred into the future. Those promises won’t be kept!

In finance, you pay less for ATM service in the EU and certain other things, but you certainly pay more somewhere else (Maybe for mortgage? In the US you can refinance and “lock” the rate relatively easily, while in the EU (and Canada, I suppose) they milk you forever).

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Can we have the best of both world? Deregulating the management of the infrastructure to allow the emergence of innovation through a more free market while regulating their ability to control the actual content to keep internet access neutral? Are these mutually exclusive?

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I certainly wouldn’t want just anybody stringing wires wherever they pleased accross my city’s skyline an digging up my yard every few weeks to bury new cable…

We can argue utopian idealism or we can argue reality but the reality is we don’t live in a utopia.