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Verizon: U.S. So Competitive, It Doesn't Need Neutrality Rules
by Karl Bode 10:48AM Thursday Mar 27 2014
If you'll recall, Verizon worked very closely with Google to help craft the FCC's net neutrality rules which, as a result, contained massive loopholes and didn't really cover wireless. That not being good enough for Verizon, the company then sued the FCC over the rules and won. Well, sort of; while the rules themselves were vacated, the courts did declare the FCC had authority to regulate broadband -- if they do so properly.

While everybody waits for FCC boss Tom Wheeler to stop being painfully ambiguous, Verizon has unsurprisingly mirrored AT&T's comments in a filing with the FCC begging the agency to avoid passing any new consumer protections. To hear Verizon tell it, Verizon already runs an open network:
quote:
“An Open Internet benefits consumers and the Internet ecosystem generally,” Verizon says in papers submitted to the Federal Communications Commission late last week. “Consumers clearly benefit because they can access whatever lawful content, applications and services they choose. And ensuring such access makes sense for broadband Internet access providers because that is what consumers expect and demand."
Verizon wireless users on locked, bloatware-packed devices should find that news interesting. Verizon has spent most of the last decade using their gatekeeper power to try and block out competing technologies, whether it was their original attempt to block competing GPS services on phones, or their long war against tethering. Despite this long history of anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior when it comes to openness, Verizon argues you don't need neutrality rules because the market's just so competitive:
quote:
"Given the exceedingly competitive and dynamic nature of the mobile wireless marketplace, the absence of any demonstrated harm relating to mobile broadband practices, and the enormous welfare gains that the marketplace is conferring upon consumers, the Commission should avoid prescriptive regulation that will be outdated as soon as the ink is dry.
Again, most Verizon Wireless users could probably rattle off a laundry list of examples over the last decade where Verizon abused their gatekeeper power to keep devices and services locked down. While you could argue that we survived these violations without neutrality rules in place, that didn't make them any less anti-consumer and annoying for users at the time.

Still, all this is likely putting the cart before the horse, as it's becoming increasingly clear that Wheeler isn't going to do much of anything disruptive when it comes to crafting new rules. I'm still willing to wager that the end result of all of Wheeler's rhetoric is a series of voluntary, self-regulatory guidelines that claim to prevent the kind of abuses no ISP would do in its right mind (blocking a legal website), while giving full blessing for "creative" pricing practices like AT&T's sponsored data.

Keep in mind Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam recently proclaimed that the most important concept of net neutrality you need to understand -- is that users should be paying Verizon more money for bandwidth than they already do.

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fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR

92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

He was referring specifically to wireless.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

4 recommendations

Re: 92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

Not really relevant to the point being made. Their gatekeeper behavior has historically been much worse on wireless where there is more competition than on wireline. Did competition stop them from blocking tethering for years? Blocking third party GPS apps? Blocking Google Wallet on Android devices?

Even so, it's easy to argue that a duopoly that dominates nearly 80% of retail (and special access) fighting two other much smaller players isn't exactly the pinnacle of competition in the first place.

PhoenixDown
FIOS is Awesome
Premium
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Fresh Meadows, NY
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: 92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

People have an option choice and no barriers to choosing ATT (#2), T-Mobile (#3), Sprint (#4), providers like Metro PCS or the dozens of regional carriers and MVNO's like Walmart and Target.

If more people are picking Verizon or ATT, its because most people prefer quality over a firmware they simply don't care about.
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SunnyD

join:2009-03-20
Madison, AL

1 recommendation

Re: 92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

You mean the illusion of choice.

Regional carriers are few and far between while slowly getting eaten up one by one by the bigger players (MetroPCS is owned by T-Mo now, Leap/Cricket owned by AT&T, etc.), and the big 4 end up getting the majority of the money from them anyway through one-sided roaming agreements. And MVNO's are the equivalent of shell corporations for the big 4 anyway - the same exact product just sub-marketed under different names.

PhoenixDown
FIOS is Awesome
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Reviews:
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Re: 92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

1 - MetroPCS and Leap/Cricket -- the onus was on the government here to prevent those transactions from moving forward. They could have stopped it but didn't.

2 - MVNO's purchase services from upstream providers via a wholesale agreement the same way many smaller ISP's and CLEC's do. If the MVNO's weren't making money, they wouldn't be doing this. They can certainly work to negotiate better agreements if they feel the current ones are not fair or competitive.

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SunnyD

join:2009-03-20
Madison, AL

Re: 92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

1 - No disagreement there. But that's another story for another day.

2 - Of course there's money to be made. But it's still not a real choice. You're paying a middleman to pay Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile, perhaps at a slightly discounted rate for discounted service with cut-rate features. It's not competition when you're essentially competing with yourself.
elefante72

join:2010-12-03
East Amherst, NY
I think Canada is a few years ahead of us on this--they are much worse. So we can look up North into the future...

First there are like 3-4 major operators in that country (sound familiar), dominating both wired and wireless (sound familiar).

They got SO bad on wireless (trying to sign you up for 3-4 year contracts) that your phone expired before your contract. Well they had to get regulated there and now contracts are 2 years. They simply shifted the cost, and for non unlimited plans you could pay 20c or more to call "long distance" outside of your Provence (I pay 0.5c for VOIP).

On the wired side they have the equivalent of CLECs there for DSL and Cable (TPIA), and so they regulated both third party access and the transit rates. Needless to say these CLECs offer much better services and pricing with the caveat that the major operators make it as hard as possible to get data, and they need to actually touch the end user which can be painful.

Also Rogers being one of the more aggressive operators determines what traffic to prioritize, and was throttling certain traffic using DPI, slowing P2P and VOIP early on. To some respects we have already lost net neutrality because any of the operators typically already places VoD and VOIP in higher class queues than end-user versions, so it's already dead. Once they start charging 3rd parties through transit then it's more dead. The only "backup" they use is QoS and as I have already stated they already do that today, the question is "third party" QoS which seems to flame people.

To summarize: We are headed back to the baby bells and when that happens the government will need to step in to : 1 regulate/share (CLEC), 2. break them up. Rinse and repeat. The only other option is that the FCC blow up franchise agreements (trampling states rights) and allow real open competition--and that would come in the for of fixed wireless because it is too damn expensive to run wires, OR they get smart (not likely) and say like a utility you get 1 wire in, and you can choose your supplier. That is BY FAR the best option and lowest cost to the consumer, but that would take some real balls. The FCC is simply a division of the DMV, and won't be doing anything soon.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2
said by Karl Bode:

Their gatekeeper behavior has historically been much worse on wireless where there is more competition than on wireline. Did competition stop them from blocking tethering for years? Blocking third party GPS apps? Blocking Google Wallet on Android devices?

Yet amazingly VZ Wireless grew to be the largest carrier in the US and continues to grow. All of those consumers must hate that gatekeeping.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: 92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

They grew by buying up their competition. Or did you forget all the mergers that made wireless so uncompetitive to begin with?
openbox9
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Germany
kudos:2

Re: 92% of U.S. has 3 or more wireless carriers

said by sonicmerlin:

They grew by buying up their competition. Or did you forget all the mergers that made wireless so uncompetitive to begin with?

And the continued growth in subs and the industry's lowest churn rate?

fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR
No I am mistaken. The VZ comments were talking about both wired and wireless. My bad.

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA

3 recommendations

Inconceivable

Verizon: "The US is so competitive."
Inigo: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
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3 or more..

it's sad that not only are companies NOT competing, but they are going to great lengths to increase ROI at the expense of EVERYTHING ELSE (that customers care about). Somehow, they are responsible for video streams that go bump in the night... even on 50 megabit tiers...
ck9

join:2004-06-12
Portland, OR

Our government at work

Unfortunately this is what happens when you have some of the most powerful lobbyists in D.C.

And whoever (Obama) thought it would be a good idea to make a FORMER WIRELESS AND CABLE LOBBYIST the head of the FCC, needs to pull their head out of their @ss.

cork1958
Cork
Premium
join:2000-02-26

Re: Our government at work

"Unfortunately this is what happens when you have some of the most powerful lobbyists in D.C.

And whoever (Obama) thought it would be a good idea to make a FORMER WIRELESS AND CABLE LOBBYIST the head of the FCC, needs to pull their head out of their @ss"

Man!

That's how you hit the nail on the head!
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tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
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·Speakeasy

Corrected title.. Wireless data caps are so low and expensive...

one would be NUTS to use a video streaming service on a 3g/4g device for an extended period of time.

What Verizon and At&t really want to do, is charge big bucks to access VoIP and messaging services.. to preserve those cash cows..

And then use their duopoly leverage to muscle in on other industries. Banking, facebook, etc...

Don't buy into their deception..