Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Net Neutrality - for the Love of God, Will Someone Help Me Understand It?

I've been reading about this for some time, from both sides of the issue. Many Libertarians are heavily in favor of it, saying that it's the only way to keep government from censoring opinions.

Others point out that the concept will force internet providers to provide service to those data-hogging activities, such as video-streaming, which will mean that most of us will find that their Internet activities will slow to a crawl.

Will someone with some knowledge of this issue please point me to sites that can make a fair case for their side, without a lot of propagandizing? Post those links in the comments, please.


Unknown said...

Karl Denninger from had a lot to write about it. One of his past articles is here:

furball said...

Just today, Denninger posted on this over at Market Ticker. In that post he referred to this original letter to the FCC, here:

SiGraybeard said...

I wasn't in that industry but got a lot of the same industry newsletters. Net neutrality is one of those wonderful memes that no one can object to, "all bits are equal". That means that the ISP can't prioritize traffic so that if one particular IP address is sucking up tons of bandwidth, they can't charge more or throttle back their data for using more of their resources.

The industry is as split as the general population. I'd see comments to articles on the subject describing it as a fundamental right and as technically/economically crazy.

The important point about Commissioner Pai's ruling is that the FCC violated a prohibition from congress when they enacted their Net Neutrality laws. That means it was, like DACA, an executive order that circumvented law. Just like Trump said, "DACA was an illegal order, congress should fix it", congress can order it done. (They ordered the FCC not to enact NN).

Denninger's summary is pretty accurate. The reality of network connections is that there's only so much instantaneous bandwidth. If you're the only person on the block streaming gigabits of HD video, while everyone is using the connection for email or looking up recipes, it's pretty sweet. If everyone is streaming HD video, everyone gets "BUFFERING" messages and everyone is pretty pissed off. In that case, the network providers need to put in more infrastructure, which costs big bucks.

Think about this backwards. If "all bits are created equal" they can't throttle HD video to allow all the other uses, but they can't slow down the other uses to help out the HD video. It doesn't really matter if your email or your bank transaction goes a little slower; it's still fast enough, but Net Neutrality says they can't throttle the little users, either. It's guaranteeing conflicts.

I know I had put together several posts on it and just did a blog search on net neutrality. With the exception that these are not in any sort of order, there may be some useful expansions on things there.

Unknown said...

The only real solution is two separate and distinct internet portals. One to service email, business, document transfer, etc.

The second handles video, streaming, music, etc.

People can choose to get one or the other or both.

A Reader said...

One thing to consider is that prohibiting traffic shaping and prioritization would break VoIP and indeed any live streaming content. As a design standard, "All bits are equal" is simply unrealistic and untrue.

I lean away from "Net Neutrality is essential!" because so many of the folks I know banging that drum are lefties who are wrong about everything else.

Linda Fox said...

Thanks so much for all that you posted. I had thought that this was being mis-represented by some of the advocates, but I have a greater understanding of the proposed changes now.

KG said...

"Unknown", I think, gets to the core of it and offers a workable solution.

Mark Clausen said...

I think it has less to do with throttling high data demands to preserve low data needs than it has to do with protecting a provider's content.

For example, Comcast provides our internet access, but also provides TV channels, on-demand viewing, and pay-per-view. And that content provides ad revenue for them in addition to the subscription fees. Thus, they have invested in their internet infrastructure as a means (partially, at least) to help them distribute the content that they provide.

However, if their internet users are getting content from providers like Netflix and Hulu, then large parts of their capabilities are being used in a way that gets them no additional revenue. These companies thus feel justified in throttling back this high data use by providers that use their network but don't result in revenues to help defray the costs of expanding their infrastructure (or at least competes with their content -- which is a more likely reason).

I actually can't entirely disapprove of this -- if large fractions of a company's infrastructure is being consumed by outside users that have not invested in its creation, I'd say that the company does have some say in limiting that use. Imagine if Amazon had built (and maintains) a series of roads to deliver packages to customers around the country. And that Amazon customers then starting ordering large numbers of items from other vendors to be delivered on those same roads. Wouldn't you then say that Amazon would have some input into how much outside traffic would be allowed on those roads?

Ultimately, I would like to see a complete separation of internet providers from content providers. Just give me access to the internet at data rates I need for my level of use, and let me decide where to get my content. This, I think, would make the issue of "Net Neutrality" a moot point.

Remove the regulatory shackles that protect existing internet providers from competition, and let more ISPs enter the fray -- rather than introducing even more regulations on existing providers. THAT is the way to get Net Neutrality.

In a broader sense, this highlights what I consider to be a major failing of the typical liberal cry for "fairness." In order to be "fair," one has to strictly monitor and control the flow of goods, finances, etc., in order to be sure that all parties get their "fair share." To me, Net Neutrality means that some controlling government agency will be in charge of the "fair" distribution of bits to all users. Down that road lies madness.