dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
Verizon, FCC Net Neutrality Legal Fight Begins Today
by Karl Bode 09:00AM Monday Sep 09 2013
Back in 2011 Verizon sued the FCC over what were fairly tepid network neutrality rules, claiming the agency was "arbitrary" and "capricious" and acted beyond its statutory authority in imposing the rules. The lawsuit came despite the fact that the FCC's rules were really largely a mirror of rules crafted by Verizon and Google, designed specifically with numerous loopholes and little to no neutrality protection for wireless networks.

Click for full size
Having effectively co-written them Verizon really doesn't oppose the rules, they just want to ensure the FCC can't enforce them if expanded. Today FCC lawyers will be defending the agency's net neutrality regulations against Verizon's challenge before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

With net neutrality set to make a press comeback this week, consumer groups like Public Knowledge have set to work reminding people what the fight is actually about: preventing incumbent ISPs in uncompetitive markets from using their gatekeeper power to act anti-competitively.

Verizon is effectively claiming it's their First Amendment right (as a person) to block and manage content however they see fit. Public Knowledge lawyer Harold Feld has a nice breakdown of what specifically is being debated legally starting today:
quote:
In the case of the net neutrality rules, the FCC is relying on a broad instruction from Congress to promote broadband deployment and adoption (called the “Section 706 argument” for the Section of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that added this law to the Communications Act”). In addition, the FCC has also pointed to several specific statutory responsibilities (like, ‘make sure telephone service is affordable,’ ‘make sure video services are competitive,’ ‘make sure wireless carriers serve the public interest’), arguing that it cannot do these things effectively without a network neutrality rule.

In bringing its case against the FCC, Verizon is arguing that none of these instructions mean that Congress intended it to create net neutrality rules.
Many believe that we're in this position courtesy of former FCC boss Julius Genachowski's refusal to classify ISPs as common carriers (or really, to stand up to ISPs in any fashion whatsoever). A gutted, powerless FCC has been the incumbent carrier dream for years, and a Verizon win would go a long way in making that dream a reality. Carriers argue a fully deregulated industry with no government oversight results in telecom Utopia; those who've watched the banking industry at work generally know this to be a wonderful bit of useful fiction.

Many quite correctly note that more competition would solve this, though the FCC and regulators have repeatedly shown they're uninterested in tackling such concerns. For those interested, recordings of the legal arguments today are expected to be online after 3PM here.

view:
topics flat nest 

buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

Here we go again

Isn't Network Neutrality A very simple set of rules.

IE: All bits/bytes are treated equally?

How hard is this?
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY

Re: Here we go again

It's not, but life isnt binary. As IP delivery becomes more prevalent, how to you discern? I mean u-verse is all delivered over IP and they cap the "interweb" portion.

wizkid6

join:2002-03-31
Opelika, AL

Re: Here we go again

quote:
and they cap the "interweb" portion.

That is their dream. However, since their meters are so horribly broken, they don't cap U-verse (PTM) customers currently.

They do, however, cap legacy DSL (ATM) customers at 150gb per month.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath

Re: Here we go again

Those on legacy aDSL have yet to really have any notices sent to them. Those on aDSL are actually being moved away from that service and on to a version of U-Verse- FTTH, VDSL and IPDSL. The only ones that won't be moved are those from 3rd party resellers and those ISPs that have direct deals with AT&T Broadband to offer direct aDSL to anyone who can obtain it. The aDSL network won't be shut down anytime soon as AT&T signs multi year contracts with companies for that network.
InvalidError

join:2008-02-03
kudos:5
It gets in the way of sharing bandwidth fairly between subscribers so there certainly is ground for network operators to object to it on a fundamental basis.

From a functional standpoint, vertically integrated services also get a defacto "preferential treatment" simply from being more tightly integrated with the first-mile network which makes neutrality practically impossible even if Verizon wanted to since that would require shoving all their VoD and other infrastructure at the edge of their network like all their other external connectivity, which Verizon would likely object to as undue costs. Same goes for all other carriers.
ds7

join:2012-11-07
Montpelier, VT

Re: Here we go again

NN would not require the ISP to assure equal results - only to avoid placing any artificial blocking or throttling on any connection. buzz_4_20's definition as "All bits/bytes are treated equally" is a little too simplistic. A better definition would be "no discrimination based on content or destination of packets".

This does not mean everyone gets as much bandwidth or traffic as they want. No one objects to ISPs selling plans with limits on bandwidth or traffic. All NN means is the ISP doesn't get to auction off *your* ability to connect to whatever you want, at the speeds you've paid for.

If the ISPs are "using their gatekeeper power to act anti-competitively", that's one evil of non-neutrality: they make traffic to/from competitors' sites artificially slower than traffic to/from sites they profit from. But that's not even the worst evil - without network neutrality, the ISP is free to arbitrarily block or slow any site or online service, holding *your* access hostage for a third-party payment - even when you've already paid for your traffic and the third party has already paid its ISP for its traffic.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Here we go again

said by ds7:

A better definition would be "no discrimination based on content or destination of packets".

An even better definition would be that an ISP can not give a competitor in a market( like a streaming video service) less favorable priority over other competitors in that market or over the ISPs own service.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."
Bengie25

join:2010-04-22
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Reviews:
·Solarus

Re: Here we go again

My ISP does that, which turns out to not be good for the case of Netflix.

Netflix won't do Super HD to my ISP unless my ISP peers or co-locates a caching server.

I asked my ISP and their official response was they do not want to do anything that will favor one service over another.

At least they're neutral on the subject and I have no isseus with Netflix with regular HD.

fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR

1 recommendation

Re: Here we go again

Commenters in this thread are not able to agree to a single definition of NN. Given the differing interpretations, it is possible for an ISP to adhere to one definition but violate another. Not a good position to be in.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath
The million dollar question is- why are we fighting about something that has yet to happen? Why call for the gov't to step in now when NN has no case???? All this is crying wolf. It's time to stop asking the gov't to play baby sitters and actually grow up.

TKJunkMail
Premium
join:2005-12-09

Re: Here we go again

Where have you been? This all started when Comcast decided they were going to degrade BitTorrent traffic. It HAS happened already.
Bengie25

join:2010-04-22
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Reviews:
·Solarus

Re: Here we go again

Don't forget about the whole Netflix vs Verizon fiasco. I know Cogent is sneaky and has done some down-right dirty things in the past, but the current issue seems strait-forward.

Unless there is something else that isn't being said, Verizon has no reason to not want to peer with Cogent, assuming it's strictly for Netflix data.

The problem is Verizon is playing both an ISP and a Backbone at the same time, and trying to get the best of both worlds, which is at-odds with the customer's best interest.

cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27

If a company is a "person"...

then said "person" should be held to "individual" tax rate, not corporate.
And the "person" should be subjected to annual "audit".

This is a lawsuit about Verizon protecting it's future profits and nothing to do with net neutrality.

I'm a big fan of Fios and LTE but not at the price of choice, which we will not have.
(ironic that all the cellphone companies have the same plans...)
--
Splat
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH

Re: If a company is a "person"...

How do you figure they all have the same plans???
MrP

join:2013-06-07
Picton, ON

Bundling

Looks a lot like they are trying to bundle internet sites the same way that cable bundles channels right now.

n2jtx

join:2001-01-13
Glen Head, NY

1 recommendation

Exposure

quote:
Verizon is effectively claiming it's their First Amendment right (as a person) to block and manage content however they see fit.
If Verizon is truly claiming this then I would expect this would then remove any safe-harbor provisions they have now under "common carrier" rules. Since Verizon is claiming they have the right to manage content that also would mean, IMHO, that they are also claiming responsibility for said content. Therefore if libelous or illegal content comes through on their network and they did not "manage" it, they are therefore responsible for it. I would love to see that theory tested in court.
--
I support the right to keep and arm bears.
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Exposure

Safe-harbor provisions come from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, I don't think they have to be a common carrier for that. Karl's article states that the FCC never classified ISPs as common carriers, which it probably should have.

Network Neutrality is really about being a common carrier, being neutral about the source/destination/content. Network gear is this way by default, adding this discrimination actually costs the ISPs money.
34764170

join:2007-09-06
Etobicoke, ON

Re: Exposure

said by axus:

Network Neutrality is really about being a common carrier, being neutral about the source/destination/content. Network gear is this way by default, adding this discrimination actually costs the ISPs money.

There are other things providers can do or not do that can result in a poor experience for customers trying to reach content.

Twaddle

@charter.com

Meaningless nonsense

It's just a bunch of smoke and mirrors- FCC trying to mask the fact that they are bought and paid for by the Telcos and Verizon doing some PR on its own behalf. At the end of the day these "adversaries" will meet at some hipster bar and slap each other on the back about the whole thing.
ds7

join:2012-11-07
Montpelier, VT

Re: Meaningless nonsense

That's the techies meeting at the hipster bar. The executives and agency higher-ups meet on the golf course, and swap regulator and lobbyist jobs.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2

1 recommendation

Double dipping...

It is simple...subscribers already pay to have the content delivered. The only reason Netflix is on "their pipe" is because an ISP customer wanted it.

No one is getting a free ride.
--
Nocchi rules.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH

Re: Double dipping...

But companies pay for it- including those of Google and YouTube. So why complain? If those said companies are paying that's their problem.
34764170

join:2007-09-06
Etobicoke, ON

Re: Double dipping...

Because customers are paying for Internet access and that means everything on the Net. Some of these large providers are trying to double dip to have services work properly otherwise they're not upgrading their network and that is causing a poor customer experience.

I don't particular like the idea of these providers extorting money from content companies when customers have already paid for access to said content. They're setting a bad precedent. This is the Internet not AOL.
old_wiz_60

join:2005-06-03
Bedford, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Verizon and the others..

would love to block/throttle things like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video since these services compete with the carriers' video-on-demand or premium channels.

They might also decide if, for example, you are a Verizon subscriber that they won't let you access ATT to try to keep you from switching.

Or they might get more involved in politics and not let you view sites that are critical of them.

They feel they should not have to carry anything that competes with their own stuff. They might even somehow manage to block vonnage too.
Bengie25

join:2010-04-22
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Reviews:
·Solarus

Fine

"Verizon is effectively claiming it's their First Amendment right (as a person) to block and manage content however they see fit. "

They can GTFO of public land(right aways), which is where most of their infrastructure exists.

They get tons of money from Tax payers, then use public land, then they have the audacity to claim First Amendment rights to be able to stifle our speech.

If you want to use public property and get public money, then you need to play by the rules.

TKJunkMail
Premium
join:2005-12-09

Re: Fine

They do play by the rules - the ones they pay congress to write...

fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR
Any telco, utility, cable co. etc. using a public right of way pays a fee to be in that R.O.W. They aren't getting a free ride. What "public money" are they getting from taxpayers?
Bengie25

join:2010-04-22
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Reviews:
·Solarus

Re: Fine

And we pay money for the Internet. If they can reject us, then we can reject them. Deny them access to ROWs.

As for the money they got from us, not Verizon alone, but ISPs in general have gotten around $600bil in direct cash over the past 15 years and much more in interest free loans and tax breaks. With a total of near $1.2tril in today's money.

fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR

Re: Fine

quote:
As for the money they got from us, not Verizon alone, but ISPs in general have gotten around $600bil in direct cash over the past 15 years and much more in interest free loans and tax breaks. With a total of near $1.2tril in today's money.
Source?

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Appeals court leaning to Verizon based on questions asked

The Appeals court appears to be leaning to Verizon against the FCC based on questions asked of lawyers for both sides.

»thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valle···ty-rules

A federal court appears ready to side with Verizon and strike down at least part of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net-neutrality regulations.

At an oral argument Monday, two of the three judges on a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals indicated that they believe the FCC lacks the authority to prohibit Internet service providers from discriminating against websites.

A separate provision of the rules that bars Internet providers from blocking websites appears more likely to survive.

"I was hoping for a better argument than this," Andy Schwartzman, a media attorney who supports the rules, said in an interview. "It doesn't look good for the commission."

A ruling striking down the anti-discrimination rule would be a blow to the Obama administration, as well as to companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix, who could begin having to pay Internet providers for priority access to users.


--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."
iknow_t

join:2012-05-03

maybe

maybe the New York legislature can do what the FCC can't?