(T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that the FCC cannot continue to enforce net neutrality. That means Internet service providers (ISPs) are no longer required to treat traffic equally, stirring opponents’ concerns that large, deep-pocketed providers like Verizon can slow or block certain web traffic. What will the ruling mean for Internet service providers, content creators and consumers?

Guests:
Laura Sydell, digital culture correspondent for NPR

  • Menelvagor

    This makes me feel sick to my stomach. Literally. What has America come to? Corporate sites will be sped up–especially marketing sites and monitored sites. All–ALL non-profit (not sponsored by the billionaires) and dissenting web sites–like independent media–will be slowed to a snails pace or blocked. We officially have no rights–freedom of speech is now defunct–a relic of the past. Corporate personhood–with more rights than humans and now this–we are officially a fascist oligarchy. Democracy is dead. There should be mass rioting in the streets, but instead democracy dies with quiet applause and approval. What sad sad state of affairs. I am so disappointed with Americans. We are no longer free. MOney is freedom. Corporate personhood is citizenship.

    Off with their heads!!!!!

    • Robert Thomas

      Calm yourself.

  • Robert Thomas

    How is it improper that the source and destination together should negotiate with the connection provider to pay a fee based on the amount of data transmitted along with a guaranty of Best Effort service?

    High Quality of Service may be assured to an arbitrary degree through aggregated subscription, if both source and destination have reserved such connections.

    If Net Neutrality can accommodate this scheme or some equally fair scheme, I would support it.

    • Gil Batzri

      Both parties do pay right now. what this ruling allows is the provider to double dip: charging the enduser for the “last mile” connect as well as the connection to the content provider, and charge the content provider both for their outbound connection as well as to the “last mile” that the end user is already paying for.

      The network is a de facto common carrier. you are not paying your ISP for their content, you are paying for the carrier, just like you don’t pay the phone company to provide you with someone to talk to, you pay them for the ability to use their network to reach people of your choosing.

      The whole argument is flawed, the network should have been designated as a common carrier from day one.

      • Robert Thomas

        Though it allows me some modest convenience services, my ISP doesn’t provide any content at all, so I agree that that’s not what I pay them for.

        It may be that the common carrier model would have served us better and it may be that designating and regulating it as such now is the right thing to do. This would be much harder to achieve at this point than maintaining the status quo.

        Whatever price schedules are in effect, it’s inescapable that [source + destination] customers who commandeer enormous fractions of the infrastructure and are in turn disproportionately responsible for the cost of deployment of that infrastructure pay little more for their usage than do modest users. Heavy infrastructure users are unquestionably highly subsidized by modest users.

        The visceral revulsion many feel contemplating content-based throttling (and associated, distasteful “deep packet inspection” and so on) is separable from the license many would like to claim on packet routing capacity that others pay for. I believe that the two have been deliberately convolved by advocates who rely on the confusion, fear and consequent outrage of the public in order to continue to enjoy a (comparatively) free ride on other peoples’ dimes.

  • Joe

    The political corruption of “pay to play” has spread like a cancer to the Internet.
    This will truly ruin the world as we know it. First they’ll try to pretend
    there’s no effect, but little by little they’ll tighten the screws until
    any speech and any business that the 1% doesn’t like will be censored. Initially people will complain about having to pay money to Verizon for exposure and traffic that used to be free, but later they will find that no amount of extortion payments will be enough, because the goal was never profits, it was that the 1% holds us all hostage.

    If the military industrial complex commits an atrocity, like another 9/11, and blames it on scapegoats, their false narrative will be the only one disseminated because any dissident speech will be censored first by the “mainstream” media i.e. complicit media like KQED, and second Verizon will have shut down alternative sources of facts. Just like in Orwell’s 1984, there will be only one truth that is obviously false and yet no one has the facts to deny it.

    Speaking of fact, 9/11 was an inside job:

  • GiorgioOrwell2nd

    Disgusting. The courts in the US (at all levels) are continuously confirming to the US public that the corporate takeover of the government is absolutely complete. There is literally no real technical reason that Internet providers need to restrict “high capacity” users…it’s purely a profit driven fake capacity limit issue.

  • Robert Thomas

    I have been involved in design and manufacture of network core routing machinery for fifteen years. My employers have supplied equipment for core and edge routing deployment. Our customers payed a LOT of money for this packet routing and packet switching equipment which they deploy in ever-expanding quantity. Why should the cost of this connection and switch fabric equipment not be shared by the people who demand to use its capacity, commensurate with their usage? How is this not neutral?

    • Gil Batzri

      Because it is not usage based, it is content based. the content publishers are paying for their bandwidth now, and I pay for my WAN connection as well, right now.

      • Robert Thomas

        Whether it would be content-based or otherwise – and I oppose that – is not established. I also oppose using explicit Quality of Service imposition at the network layer in favor of a Best Effort model, as I stated elsewhere in this thread.

        Source and destination have indeed had a very coarse schedule of cost imposed on their connection. However even with the tremendous rate of expansion of the routing and switching fabric, many segments of the IP network (not only the “last mile”) have strained at the rapid adoption of video-over-IP traffic. I have myself been involved in emergency equipment deployments intended to maintain customer connection that have resulted in costs of eight figures. As I stated, as long as Best Effort sharing (including Fair Queueing) is observed along with a charge schedule for source and destination (together comprising The User) calculated from their usage, then that is “neutrality” I can support.

  • halberst

    What gets me is that ISPs enjoy virtual monopolies in most major markets in the US. Here in my neighborhood there is one choice for cable: Comcast and one choice for DSL: ATT. As a practical choice I can only use cable because my work requires large uploads, so I’m stuck with the worst ISP in the world…Comcast.

    • Gil Batzri

      I suspect you are a bay area person. If you are a DSL user look into Sonic.net

  • William Robathan

    We pay more for “fast” speeds. Lower fees are paid for lower “speeds.”

    What’s the difference between this and what the new ruling permits?

    (“Speed” may be a misnomer. “Speed” actually refers to the amount of data. This might cause some confusion in this discussion.)

    • Gil Batzri

      This is not a discussion of speed, it is paying based on content, determined by the ISP, (assuming they offer the option for the content you want, and don’t just block everything but the one that pays them)

      • Robert Thomas

        This describes an alarming eventuality. But whether the current legal and regulatory state of affairs (aside from these FCC requirements) – not to mention a modest market force – would allow such action to be unchecked is conjecture.

        There is no question that demands for Quality of Service (or “Quality of Experience”) in the guise of low interruption, low dropout and so on are already provided to many, many customers through the simple mechanism of “over-provisioning”, that is, deployment of far more connection fabric than is continuously used in order to assure peak requirements are met. This over-provisioning has been financed by a variety of revenue streams but its continued expansion has begun to outstrip the support available from those streams.

        In the telco era, few individuals could use more than a single 64kbps DS0 channel at a time. With the advent of 4k video and 8k video display resolution on the horizon, the exponential increase in traffic demanded must be paid for by someone. Clever improvements in technology reduce the cost of transmitting each bit of data but when the rate of growth in peak transmission exceeds the rate per dollar at which that bit can be transmitted, something has to give.

  • Tony

    Silicon Valley might not be entirely happy with this ruling, but they built their house on the shoulders of giants. The people who made the Internet possible were private companies, yes the government helped to get the thing started. But it is time these profit skimmers paid their fair share.

    • Robert Thomas

      Netflix employs two thousand people.

      Google employs 45,000 people who depend on internet connections to sell eyeballs to advertisers, as well as those who research, develop and provide a wide variety of other services and including some hardware products.

      Cisco, Alcatel, Juniper, IBM, Brocade, et. al. employ 250,000 people building and selling connection equipment. Even that is a small FRACTION of the hardware industry that makes up Silicon Valley.

      • Tony

        …and almost none of those companies would have gotten past the startup stage back in the ’90’s and 00’s if the original “dumb old” long distance carriers hadn’t done what the government asked and invested in very large, very fast packet handlers; the big machines which made Cisco’s little machines even work right, for example. And then offered internet “IP” transport services at cost plus $1. The FCC and other agencies wanted the ‘Net to grow ASAP, so the carriers, the ones with the resources to actually make it happen DID IT. And for their trouble, they got the tech bubble, and anti-union actions that resulted in far more than 250,00 layoffs since the ‘Net took off. Silicon Valley’s bounty wasn’t new wealth, it was shifted wealth. The ‘Net is a great thing, but many people made it possible who ended up unemployed for their dedication and hard work. I know, I was there for all of it……. These companies who make so much money because the Internet is already there are brilliant, to be sure, but they were born on third base, which isn’t the same as hitting a triple, to steal an old phrase. All due respect, Robert.

        • Robert Thomas

          Boeing and Lockheed wouldn’t be what they are if the federal government didn’t order fighter planes. So what?

          My point was in response to the observation of Ms. Sydell, that “Silicon Valley isn’t going to like this at all…” or some such blather. This is pretty much nonsense. Ignorant journalists have made much of the world think that “Silicon Valley” = Google + Facebook + Yahoo + Netflix + Twitter + San Francisco-based hipster trashware. These operations are a piddly fraction of our industry. With respect to the network hardware segment… however it’s paid for and whoever pays for it, Verizon, AT&T, T Mobile, Sprint, CenturyLink, NTT, Deutsche Telekom, British Telecom, China Telecom, Telefonica etc. will continue to buy hardware to carry their traffic and the companies I mentioned above will continue to develop, design and build it. The state of affairs with respect to Net Neutrality will be of interest but will not threaten that business.

          I’ve lived in the Santa Clara Valley all of my life; I come from a proud union home (United Association l. 393); I’ve been an electrical engineer in the valley for thirty-five years and never worked (more’s the pity) in a union shop.

          “Tech Bubble”? Like, in 1999? There wasn’t one. It was a bubble of ridiculous Communications Studies graduates with marketing, P.R. and advertising degrees and superfluous MBAs that decided to parachute into the region to dig some gold from the vantage of their Mission district “live-work” lofts. I was in the computing machinery industry at the time and have many friends and coworkers who were similarly employed. No one I knew was affected by that nonsense at all. The flatulent Chambers did make a stir by convincing the core and edge customer base to over-order so as to prepare for the coming Pets.com tidal wave. That screwed a lot of the pipeline – telcos had reserve hardware on their shelves for over two years, and it put Nortel and some other weak operations out of business that had been circling the bowl for a long time, but they were already long doomed.

          But “tech bubble”? No. Journalistical ignoroid made-up bunk, like Y2k.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    I get my broadband thru my telephone in the form of DSL service. But Verizon has stated it plans to “KILL the COPPER”. The copper telephone lines are often maintained by Union labor. Please comment. Police complained when verizon installed it’s IP based telephone service in rural areas because of so many drop-outs and missed connections. Please comment.

    “Since April, when Verizon stopped selling DSL-only service thus forcing customers to purchase bundle deals that include costly and unnecessary landlines, it has had a clear mission of forcing rural users to opt for LTE while killing off copper in any market it can:

    “Every place we have FiOS, we are going to kill the copper,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam recently told attendees of an investor conference. “We are going to just take it out of service. Areas that are more rural and more sparsely populated, we have got LTE built that will handle all of those services and so we are going to cut the copper off there.”

  • Chris Witteman

    This is the question I put to FCC’s Tom Wheeler when he was in Oakland last week, a question he dodged:

    >> You write in your book Net Effects, “Whereas earlier networks enabled the economic activities of their eras, our network revolution defines virtually all aspects of the current economy.”

    >> I couldn’t agree more. Many people may not realize that every time
    they use a credit card or go to an ATM, they are using the wires of the large telephone
    carriers, what used to be called the Public Switched Telephone Network.

    >> The public communication network not only carries an increasing share of the nation’s economy, it also carries an increasing share of the nation’s culture. lt seems to me, therefore, that this network should serve everyone similarly, that it should be a common carrier for all communications, and that those with resources should not be able to buy a fast lane for themselves, certainly not to the detriment of those without resources.

    >> My question to whether you believe that network should be a common carrier? <<

    Internet broadband should be a common carrier public utility.

    p.s. On the social and political importance of a neutral, public communications network, free from both governmental and private censorship, see
    Witteman, Information Freedom, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2218076.

  • Chuck Ogden

    Companies like Netflix already have to pay extra to have high-speed access to get their data ON the internet backbone. Customers like me pay extra to have high-speed access to get data OFF the internet backbone.

    Now ISPs want to add a surcharge to companies like Netflix because a lot of the data coming into the ISPs’ networks during certain time periods is from them. Using that logic, maybe the movie studios should step in and ask the ISPs for money because a lot of the traffic on the ISPs’ networks is movie data. Where does it stop?

    • Gil Batzri

      It stops where regulation starts, no where before that.

  • Menelvagor

    This show was disappointing. no discussion of how very badly this effects our “democracy”. How disgusting that you just accept this. “Public” radio is a joke.

  • Commentor

    The ‘information highway’ MUST be a common carrier. My ISP is the last corporation I want making decisions on my use of content, virtually none of which they generate. The very democratic tradition of the common carrier goes back centuries before the railroads at least to old English public accommodations.
    This one appeals court’s decision can and will be overturned. The FCC itself has the power to do so. We must insist that it does.

  • Chemist150

    So I can start a network service and block the people that attempt to sign up for healthcare.

    Muahahhahahahhaha!

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