Net Neutrality

RIP Net Neutrality

The FCC has voted to end Net Neutrality in the United States with a vote of 3 to 2.

So, what now?

Well, according to a vice president at Comcast everything would be pretty much the same for their customers, making me wonder why they needed to throw the baby out with the bathwater to obtain status quo?

What exactly did net neutrality hinder really? Where are the pro-consumer explanations as to why it had to go, beyond the vague generalizations provided?

What’s to stop the internet providers from striking deals with American companies to slow access to their competitors down now? Where are the rules to protect foreign companies from protectionism?

American consumers will now be beta testing whatever comes along, on their dime, until rules are established. And by then if actions are taken against anyone via the usual class action suits, the consumer will get pennies on the dollar back.

Seriously, what exactly is the average American getting out of this?

Net Neutrality Still Under Attack

It appears that Americans will have no choice but to subscribe to services dictated to them by their internet providers. And that Canadians will be up for a fight to retain fast access with the states.

That’s right, not only are these Americans limited in regards to their choice of internet providers but these providers will be able to throttle sites that compete with sites they own or have business relationships with, which include Canadian sites.

Although this is being sold as an improvement to the internet by the Federal Communications Commission in their official November 21st, 2017 statement (PDF), most experts know that this is yet another call for deregulation, a process that eventually results in parties imposing themselves on the consumer, without a means for the consumer to defend himself/herself.

In this statement, the FCC claims “the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate” yet nothing is mentioned about the lack of competition is some states or the possibility of fees being placed on accessing certain sites like Netflix, iTunes or even Amazon.com, who also stream content to Americans.

The bill itself calls for the US Government “to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and from imposing certain regulations on providers of such service” with no information on how it proposes to regulate internet providers that currently hold a monopoly on high speed internet access in some areas or how it would prevent some internet providers from blocking certain competitors or redirecting traffic to their sites.

As Canadians we should also be conserved about these content providers because whatever happens in their primary market can determine how much we pay for their services here. And it appears that quite a few of the content providers are spending considerable amounts fighting the so called “Restoring Internet Freedom Act” because it hinders not only their freedom but the freedom of their customers.

In what way is the average consumer having his or her freedoms hindered by net neutrality ?

The claim that access is being withheld because internet providers are unable to fund their infrastructure is made dubious by the amount of profit these companies release every quarter. They can easily afford expanding but won’t because they want to re-direct their customers to more profitable in house services, whose cable television services have been suffering because of the new content providers.

In other words they’re asking the FCC to give them their cable television customers back by enabling them to throttle and block their competition, which could easily include streaming broadcasts from television networks they do not own. This is a rather vague, slippery slope situation that could be so litigious as to cause subscription fees to skyrocket beyond the inflation rate. And the North American Free Trade Agreement talks won’t help either.

If you have American friends, please encourage them to visit Open Media and to contact their local representatives in regards to this issue.

Thank you.

Net Neutrality Simplified

Imagine this situation – You want to rent a blockbuster and your internet provider’s film rental site offers this film for $6.99 in HD whilst another film rental site offers it for $4.99, also in HD. And thinking that because they’re both listed as HD you rent from your internet provider’s competitor only to notice pixelization caused by slow download speeds.

Now imagine you’re completely fine paying more to rent films and one day hear about this great flick that everyone’s raving about on the internet. But you can’t find it on your internet provider’s film rental site and have no choice but rent it from one of your internet provider’s competitors, subjecting yourself to the aforementioned issues.

This would be the norm if net neutrality was abolished.

Internet providers with a larger market share would use this status to demand payment for access to their customers and would shut out film rental companies that didn’t pay up, including the companies set up by their competing internet providers.

You’d be at the mercy of media conglomerates fighting each other, as they hinder the speeds of each other’s services and fight for the exclusive rights to certain films, music, and services.

You’d have dropouts whilst streaming and slow transfer issues accessing your own files on cloud services because these services didn’t pay up or is owned by the competitors of those that did. And this would only get worse when you’re on the go and use wi-fi services from different providers at your favorite hotspots.

Seriously, travelers would also see their speeds drop if they happen to choose an American hotel whose internet is throttled, especially when they throttle sites on which operating system and security software updates are hosted.

They’re not lowering their prices, they’re making it harder for people to access services that do and making content providers pay to access their share of the market, in many cases resulting in a reduction of royalties for artists, composers, writers, etc. And who knows if publicly funded internet like those at public libraries will be subject to internet traffic management practices?

How exactly is this progress?

As it stands, Net Neutrality in Canada is supported by the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission, several last mile internet providers and three political parties, the Liberals, NDP and Green Party. And both Rogers and Bell made statements that they would end throttling in late 2011 and early 2012.

Netflix is currently keeping track of the speed of our internet providers accessing their services and publishing their results on their Netflix ISP Speed Index site and I’m guessing if push comes to shove more of those sites will appear.

Hopefully, the internet providers in the states will figure out this is all counterproductive because people that eventually find out that they’re being throttled needlessly get more demanding and all it takes for their competition to nab their customers are anti-throttling policies.

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Is Your Internet Provider Net Neutral ?

Does your internet provider throttle traffic to and from legitimate sites because of favoritism ? Are they trying to steer you to specific sites by slowing down connections to and from those other sites ?

Internet providers are supposed to be neutral. But of course how does someone find out when they aren’t ? They certainly wont admit to doing it and no technology exists to analyze their transfers. Right ?

Well, researcher Dan Kaminsky has been working on a program called N00ter to do this.

Basically it times transfers to and from sites using different methods and compares the resulting information to find throttling.

Additional information on this new program can be found on Forbes.