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Does the FCC need to rescue the internet?

September 8, 2010

Does the FCC need to rescue the internet?
By Tom Gurr,
Pacific Technology Alliance

Is the Internet broken?  It appears the FCC would like you to believe that it is.  They are in the midst of pursuing an aggressive regulatory overhaul to “fix” the Internet that we all use and enjoy today.  But the courts won’t give the FCC the regulatory authority it wants and it looks like Congress is not in a hurry to do it either.  So the FCC has decided to make an end-run around the courts and Congress to re-classify the Internet as a “telecommunications service” in order to apply regulations to the World Wide Web that were designed for rotary telephone service in the 1930s

So, is the internet on the brink and does it need saving by the FCC?  Let’s look at some key facts:

1. Since 2003 annual investment in deploying a faster improved internet to more American homes and businesses has been over $27 billion   

2. This investment has accounted for over 400,000 new jobs annually

3. Average annual private investment in the NEXT 6 years in estimated to be $30 billion creating over 500,000 new jobs

4. The adoption of a high speed connection has risen to 63% in 2009 up from 55% in 2008

5. The price of a high speed connection has dropped significantly in the last decade (e.g. Verizon’s DSL has dropped 81% from 2001 to 2008)

In the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in our lifetime the Internet has been the brightest spot in an otherwise bleak outlook.  Now the FCC is seeking to overhaul the entire regulatory structure and give itself stringent new authority that most financial experts agree will kill critical, job-creating investment.  And when the federal government has so many other priorities, the regulation of the Internet seems like a distraction from the critical work underway that affects people’s daily lives.

The Internet has transformed our lives, and improved nearly EVERY aspect of our day to day operations.  It has improved education, provided better public safety and delivered life saving healthcare procedures to remote communities previously unreachable.  Additionally, the Internet and new technologies that use it to bring services to Americans and create thousands of jobs.  The FCC has estimated it will take $350 billion to bring high-speed Internet to all Americans.  Public policies should encourage more investment to connect people to the benefits of the Internet, not distract from its continued growth or destroy its success.

A growing source of jobs and investment in a slumping economy that has steadily improved our lives over the last decade and looks to do even more in the next decade — that doesn’t sound broken to me.

The Economic Impact of Broadband Investment by Robert W. Crandall and Hal J. Singer, 2010,

Pew Internet Home Broadband Adoption Report 2009

  
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Discuss this article

Bob Clark September 8, 2010

We need to rescue the internet from the FCC, an agency wanting to resurrect its importance as though we were still living in the 50s and 60s when the only phone provider was basically Att&t. This agency should get over it. Communication is a highly competitive business today and doesn’t need FCC market regulation.

Elect conservatives to Congress and the presidency, and keep the internet free from government intervention and control.

Andy September 8, 2010

What the FCC is trying to do is preserve the internet as it is: a truly free market for ideas, rather than what the service providers are salivating at the idea of making it: a clone of cable TV.

Personally, I would rather see ISPs become common carriers over seeing them become gatekeepers. The internet tried the ‘walled garden’ model 15 years ago…it was called Compuserve, and faded into obscurity as a terrible idea. I enjoy being able to read both Fox and MSNBC’s websites if I so choose, rather than getting one I don’t want for free and being charged $5.99 a month to access the other.

Dave C. September 8, 2010

I think that this is only half of the story. The FCC is trying to save the internet from big corporations. Ever heard of Net Neutrality? If the corporations get their way, it will be a thing of the past where you have to pay for subscription plans. Like sports and want to keep up on ESPN.com, buy the sports package. Want to read the news every morning? Buy the news package. Want to check your email? Buy the social media package. The FCC isn’t trying to over regulate the industry, it is trying to protect us from the loss of net neutrality. The Supreme court ruled recently that the FCC didn’t have the right to regulate ISP and keep them from throttling content. That is, giving more bandwidth to either the companies that paid extra for it or the customer that paid extra for it. The way that they are trying to counteract it is to reclassify it so that the FCC CAN regulate it. Don’t believe me? Read here:

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/google-and-verizon-ink-net-neutrality-deal/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/technology/05secret.html?_r=2

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/01/fcc-net-neutrality/

Let’s get the whole story before we simply throw the baby out with the bath water, proverbially speaking.

Chris September 8, 2010

“Oh, you’d like to visit oregonbusinessreport.com in your web browser? Oh ok, that will be an extra $5/ month for the “Oregon Website” package.”

THAT is our future if the FCC doesn’t step in.

Mike September 8, 2010

Bob, do you actually know anything about how the Internet works, it’s underlying functions, packet shaping or why the FCC is looking to regulate it, or are you just parroting what you heard from Fox News?

The Internet as we know and enjoy today is one that is very open and makes available a huge range of services to it’s end users. That is being threatened by ISPs who want to control what their users see, what data their users can send and what website their users can visit. The most famous example of this in today’s time is Comcast. What ‘regulation’ the FCC is proposing has the end goal of enforcing Net Neutrality, that is, the FCC wishes to propose regulation that doesn’t allow ISPs to choose what data you can and cannot send/receive, what websites you can or cannot visit, etc. Net Neutrality is the means by which we keep the Internet open.

Without it, ISPs will likely take advantage of their ability to control the traffic, restricting access to certain services or sites and crippling what was once an open Internet. The FCC is fighting for the end user’s best Interests here.

The problem is that people who don’t know dick about the Internet, like yourself Bob, some how think because the FCC wants to regulate something, it’s evil and Obama is evil and it needs to be thrown out because Fox News said so, want to have an opinion on issues like this. Their own ignorance is dooming the Internet.

At the end of the day, while opinions are fine and dandy and while we may disagree, it’s incredibly important not to have strong opinions about something you know nothing about. In this case, when you talk about the FCC trying to regulate the Internet, you really have no idea what that entails and as a result, you shouldn’t ever speak/write on the subject.

Furthermore, having an opinion that is so strongly attached to a political party is something you may want to check at the door. What could actually be a valid point is thrown at due to argument ad hominem because you feel it necessary to encourage people to vote a certain way due to one issue, which may I remind you, you know nothing about.

In short: Please shut up, for your own sake.

Internet Baby September 8, 2010

I agree, leave the internet the way it is. Polluted with garbage and endless cons to sucker people into spending their hard earned cash. FCC shouldn’t be regulating it, should be cracking down on bogus sites and crapware! That’s the problem with the internet. I remember seeing it begining with clean easy to search for sites. Now it’s all advertising and trying to screw people out of money. Ah anyways the internet is too big a beast to control, don’t waste your time or money.

An Informed Person September 8, 2010

This article is so biased and based on lies and untruths that the ISPs and other anti-netneutrality supporters have been spewing for the past decade. The internet may not seem broken, but at the heart of it, it certainly is. The ISPs and others like them would like you to have to pay a premium to access specific sites while they get cash incentives and other lucrative deals from competitor sites. Imagine wanting to do a normal Google search but access to that site is blocked because you have yet to pay the $5.99/mo fee to gain access to it. This is what the ISPs want, this is what anti-netneutrality supporters want, this is what the FCC is trying to stop from happening. Yes they lost in the courts, but that was against an old ruling they imposed against Comcast and Verizon, they stepped out of their bounds. The FCC is trying to reclassify the Internet so they can gain the authority to stop the ISPs diabolical plan to monetize what should be free and unlimited to everyone. The author of this article is a twit, please read up on the facts before making an absurd claim and an inflammatory non-fact based article that is doing nothing but informing people of lies and untruths. You sir are an idiot.

http://www.savetheinternet.com/ Go read the truth.

Darren Vandervort September 8, 2010

So, is this about net neutrality? I didn’t see that phrase nor any mention of what the FCC’s intentions really were(other than to call them antiquated actions from the 30s.)

If this article is about Net Neutrality I would recommend everyone search for that term instead of reading this article, because this article does not contain pertinent information.

Chris September 8, 2010

You seem to have completely missed the point. The internet is the way it is because it is open. A level playing field. Big business now wants to take that away and squeeze every last cent out of it that they can. Part of that will be excluding as much as possible any other players, no more open innovation and so on.

In short it’s not broken now but unless the FCC takes it under its regulatory umbrella it very soon will be.

Vic September 8, 2010

So much ignorance. Please do more research before attempting to speak on subject matters you know nothing of.

Freeman September 8, 2010

This “article” is simply propaganda created by the business interests who have been trying to tier the internet for years. The FCC is taking the action it has to take to protect a free and open internet from predatory companies and corporate censorship.

Dont believe the lies of Robert W. Crandall and Hal J. Singer here.

Tristan September 8, 2010

*sigh* Looks like I have to explain, yet again, some simple economic and social concepts to clueless conservatives.

Listen up, because I don’t appreciate having to repeat myself, especially not when the information I’m about to give is so ludicrously simple that if you didn’t already know it you might need to consider going back through school.

The FCC wishes to regulate the internet insofar as reclassifying it to a “telecommunications service”, which, if you had actually bothered to READ the telecommunication services act, would only apply strict laws barring any business from restricting access to any network or reducing the quality of service for anyone who is on said network. The act was originally designed to prevent Ma Bell (that’s AT&T these days) from blocking other telephone companies from using its existing network of telephone lines. In the few areas where it DID allow them to use its network, it restricted the quality of their service to the point that most people switched to Bell anyways.

Now, in the age of the internet and broadband access, ISP’s are telling you a lie that the internet traffic is reaching their capacity. This is laughably untrue, though I wouldn’t expect people who have never actually studied the technology behind the internet to know this. They want to restrict your access to websites they find disagreeable (file sharing websites mostly, but also websites that violate copyright laws such as YouTube. Imagine an internet without YouTube!), and they want to throttle the speed at which you access websites run by competitors. This is not only monopolistic, it’s anti-information. They wish to have the right to willfully restrict your access to information, even though you pay them $50 or $60 a month to access the internet.

This wouldn’t create some new government regulatory agency, it would only force the ISP’s to expand their infrastructure and provide ZERO restrictions on access. That means the FCC would compel expansion of networks, thus creating MORE jobs, and it would eliminate any “tiered” internet, allowing MORE internet startups to succeed, all while spending little to no money. Most importantly, it would allow it to set goals for broadband speed in America, something we desperately need. Broadband access in America is the slowest among the G5, with even Russians in the middle of Siberia getting faster internet than we do in hub cities like New York and San Francisco. We are falling behind because we refuse to do what it takes to keep up.

Now, about the FCC spending money to regulate this industry: what money? When you make it a law that ISP’s cannot throttle or restrict traffic, you don’t need a regulatory agency to monitor that. There are THOUSANDS of websites that already monitor access speeds to every website on Earth through every ISP on Earth. “downforeveryoneorjustme.com” is one such site, and even without that service the FCC would not need to actively monitor for law-breaking behavior by ISP’s, because the internet community would monitor for it and report any illegal throttling or access restrictions.

That complete the explanation of the policy. Now I’m going to explain to you why supporting business over government is the stupidest thing you could ever do in America.

Who runs America? If you read the Constitution (something you conservatives seem to mis-quote and forget about completely almost hourly) you would know that we the people run this nation. The government is not some robot alien entity that cares nothing for your plight. It is a group of people, who lived in the same country you did, and still do, and those who were elected answer to those who elected them. That’s how it works in a Democratic Republic, which is what we live in.

So in America, if you don’t like something, and enough other people also don’t like something, you can change it! Evidence of this can be found in the Gay Marriage laws, the legalization of labor unions (which you have to thank for minimum wage, breaks, sick leave, benefits, and protections from being fired for discriminatory reasons), the abolition of slavery (though that was 50/50 so it sorta led to a minor conflict), and even the shifting of tax burdens from the working class to the upper class (during FDR, which led to the middle class and America’s golden age. Then the GOP shifted taxes back to the middle class and we sunk like a rock).

In other words, there is nothing that is out of your control, so long as the government has the right to control it.

In private business, however, you don’t get a say. Sure, you can apply free-market principles and boycott a business if you don’t like its practices, but it has a lot of options for making the money it loses by not selling to you. It can fire more workers, it can reduce their pay, it can charge more for its goods, it can even use its money to pay for advertising that ruins your boycott by exalting its goods and services to the point that nobody cares what it does (see: Nike, Wal-Mart, Shell, etc.).

Let me ask you, who tells you what to do every day? I’d bet it’s a business! So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that businesses have power, at least a bit, in your life. They lead you, they tell you what to do, and you do it because they pay you, right? Well, if you give them ALL the power, by taking away the right of the people (the government) to control things, are they going to reward you by giving out more jobs and better service? No. The reason businesses succeed is because their executives are greedy and ruthless, and any person involved in business knows this fact. If you give them all the power to do what they want with no restrictions, they will charge as much as possible, pay as little as possible, and offer the lowest quality products and services they can because they’re less expensive for the company. They won’t pay medical benefits, they won’t give you sick leave, they won’t give you breaks, and they won’t give you any retirement money, because they won’t have to. Would you pay the plumber an extra $50 for parts if you didn’t have to? I don’t think you or anyone else would. In fact, I think you and everyone else would pocket the $50 and spend it on yourself.

So please, don’t patronize the America people with these bogus claims that the government is out to get them. The government IS them! The government doesn’t have a profit motive, it has a social motive. If the people aren’t happy and wealthy the whole nation suffers, and the government’s role is to make sure the nation succeeds. By changing Broadband to a “Telecommunications Service” classification we will be creating MORE jobs, since Telecom Services have certain market saturation requirements (meaning they have to reach a minimum number of American citizens and provide equal quality service to each one of them), which means they would have to hire people to design, build, and maintain their larger networks.

I challenge anyone, especially you who wrote this article, to please provide a counter-argument that takes into account the fact that businesses are profit-motivated entities. Any other argument is simply ignorant of the most important fact in this debate to determine whether free and open internet access is a right that should be afforded protection by law since it is such a ubiquitous part of our modern society and economy, or if it is simply a product that those who can afford to pay for are granted access to, and they pay for it regardless of quality or openness.

Nunuvyer Bizniz September 8, 2010

This article is pure, unadulterated 100% corporate propaganda. Do we, the internet-savvy, need to explain once again what Net Neutrality means? If you are politically conservative, this article will appeal to your values, but it is deliberately deceptive and misleading. If you really love Freedom, you will support Net Neutrality. Please don’t be a corporate stooge. Do your research and learn the importance of Net Neutrality.

Nobody September 8, 2010

Like others above have mentioned – you should fully understand what this article is all about as well as understanding it from the many points of views that are out there. But at least we don’t have brainless idiotic 10 year olds crawling all over the article complaining because they think downloading torrents is going to get clamped on too.

More to the point. People don’t like to be regulated in something that they use in their day-to-day lives and that’s quite understandable but the more open the internet becomes which increases day-by-day, the worse it can get; look at what it is now.

So let’s take a look at some examples: ..

1):
Big players, people like ISPs and whatnot try to moderate the stuff their customers do with the internet. Why? Cut out all the “it’s all government and we can’t trust them. They’re just control-freaks” crap before answering – that is your opinion; not facts.

2):
Then we get corporations poison our streams and bandwidth with tedious adverts – none of which nobody gives a damn about anyway.

— Okay, that was just two examples but I think you get the point.

No matter whether this is a comparison to “normal” social lives without interruption of P2P and instant messaging stuff, if you let something grow wilder and wilder it naturally gets bigger in size. Its size accommodates its wildness so the more the internet grows – the above examples do too.

Would you rather wait it out and risk the internet becoming worse than what it already is or would you rather it be regulated to a certain standard that everybody can cope with without it getting worse?

Think about that before you go claiming one user or another on the article doesn’t know shit about what they’re talking about. At least they understand in one way or another.
The internet is getting worse and I believe it needs regulation to stop it from becoming a giant monster like Megan Fox.

owen September 8, 2010

telco is redundant… think 420mhz (vhf) with mesh protocols… 150+miles…

broadband stimulus is corp welfare and fcc and nsa… without privacy we will have no trade..

Tristan September 8, 2010

@Owen: To switch to pure wireless would require an even larger investment by not only the ISP’s, but also the citizens who would need to buy new equipment to access the wireless internet. It would be too costly for everyone involved, and still wouldn’t address the issue of internet throttling or website blocking on a carrier by carrier basis.

Tim September 8, 2010

hopefully the ignorant author of this article has been properly chastened and won’t spew out such propaganda again.
that or he’s a corporate shill and knows exactly what he’s doing. I hope he’s just ignorant.
either way this is one of the worst examples of ‘journalism’ I’ve seen this month anyway.
shame on you, sir.

Alex September 8, 2010

I’ll tell you what is broken – the ridiculously slow connections you only get in the US. I, can not, no matter how much I am willing to pay, get any faster connections then 10Mbs, with a “promise” that soon, I may get 40Mbs. 40? The slowest connections sold now in my home country is 100Mbs…,

USA is so third world and not getting better!

Moby September 8, 2010

digg is broken. next.

Nikki September 8, 2010

Yea I love how there’s no mention that private business wants to carve up the internet and the whole point of net neutrality is to “keep the internet how it is now” before the telecoms and isps mess it up.

Anthony September 8, 2010

this corporate bullsh*t isn’t fooling anybody. please stop writing articles. that is all.

jacob September 9, 2010

This astroturf bullshit has got to end. Stop lying & trying to kill the internet. YOU are the one who is trying to fix something that isn’t working. The FCC is trying to keep your nefarious tinkering hands OFF the internet that we have grown to love.

Thanks for nothing you shill.

John September 9, 2010

I’ve been designing systems that support the internet now for thirty years. I started out in BBN when the internet was just a pup. I believe the internet should remain free and open as well. However, I don’t believe the FCC is capable of accomplishing what it claims are its objectives. The FCC has a long history of screwing up everything they touch. I know I’ve sat across the table from them on dozens of occasions. Most of those meetings started with an FCC representative saying something totally stupid and then spending the next hour trying to back away from the stupid thing they just said. They are uneducated asses that are ENTIRELY politically motivated, and are at best totally incompetent. The old saying that “I know they are lying because their lips are moving.” applies as true as it ever could. The bad FCC employees are out and out political hacks, and the good ones are simply incompetent.

We might loose some of the freedom the internet currently enjoys if we prevent the FCC from further regulating to the internet, but we’ll loose a great deal more freedom if they do. I would rather set myself on fire and jump out a third story window and take my chances than trust the FCC to succeed at anything they attempt. They will fail and they will make things worse. They always have.

Linda Cameron September 9, 2010

If the media giants get their way, the Internet WILL BE BROKEN. We do need some agency like the FCC to have the ability to keep that from happening. Right now, the Internet is still good, but we all know how corporations keep taking over everything. They want to control what we watch, where we watch it, how we watch it. That is why there was a lawsuit trying to make VCRs illegal. Luckily, the Supreme Court said there was such a thing as fair use. Still, the big corporations are continuing to try in every way possible to control media and communications. They call it the FREE MARKET. It isn’t a free market unless there is a lot of diverse competition out there. What we really have is a small minority that controls everything.

Douglas Foley September 9, 2010

I have growing concerns about the overreach the government has continued to develop. First they take over the Health Care, next the financial regulations and now they want to go after the internet, which is the last true forum to exercise freedom of speech.

The job creation and financial standing behind this article are evidence that it doesn’t need any help, its just another step closer to ending democracy!

Ryan September 9, 2010

This article completely misrepresents the FCC the US governments role in business and the issue of “net neutrality” in general. Throwing a whole bunch of facts about how investment in the internet is up is irrelevant. This was never about how much should be invested in the internet. It is about private companies controlling a PUBLIC resource.

This Website is telling as it is written purely from a business perspective and not at all objectively. As I write this there is an ad for Portland Spirit Cruises for business meetings, sounds like the type of place to read about neutrality to me. Honestly I understand the business perspective, it is meant to make businesses and investors more money, I get it. Here is the problem, you need customers to do so and you keep misrepresenting information and taking pages from News Corporation and their ilk and your credibility goes out the window (along with business).

Stop lying to people and you may actually gain long term customers and a more substantial revenue stream, rather than short term answers for long term problems. The Internet has to be regulated by the FCC because companies like Verizon can’t be trusted to do it on their own. I am not the governments biggest fan, but I still believe its interests are more in line with my views than a private corporation’s. Sorry.

Tony P September 9, 2010

Oh yeah, HSI prices have dropped? Really? So why am I now paying $58.99 for a service that was $40 less than five years ago?

And why do the French get 100/50 net service, 300 channels of HDTV, and unlimited phone service for $40 per month?

geile sex October 14, 2010

What happened to Mr. Humble?

forge November 21, 2010

Douglas Foley: Go back and read Tristan’s first reply and get back to us okay? It’s very, very clear you’re not only not paying attention but being hoodwinked big time, which is sad because you seem nice.

webcams naakt March 23, 2011

Well they don’t need this at all !

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