Monday, July 2, 2007

FCC vs FTC On Net Neutrality

Last week, the FTC struck down net neutrality proponents using the argument that market competition should be allowed to develope and self correct without government intervention. Now this would be an ideal way to handle a problem, in an ideal world, with ideal markets. The problem with this logic applied to ISP's is that we aren't dealing with perfect competition, in fact we're pretty far from it. The reality of the situation generally has a few ISP's, and if everyone is charging for tiered access, you have no choice but to pay more, or watch your connection slow down. Now where do you suppose they'd find the bandwidth to make those on the top (aka expensive) tier connection faster? Here's the best way I've seen it explained -

If the tubes are clogged, you should just pay more and they will make everyone else's tubes more clogged to give you bigger ones. At least, that's the FTC's take on it all.

But the FCC doesn't agree, at least when it comes to your long distance phone calls.
Long-distance phone companies cannot block customers from dialing free chat lines to avoid incurring charges imposed by local carriers that connect these calls, federal regulators said Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission said the ruling removes any doubt about whether long-distance companies may use such call blocking tactics to avoid per-minute charges levied by local carriers. It said no carriers “may block, choke, reduce or restrict traffic in any way.”

So here we have one agency giving the go ahead for companies to block, choke, reduce, or restrict traffic in any way they see fit, using capitalism as it's defense, and another saying that no one can restrict traffic, even if it will cost telcos a little profit. But that's with phone calls, the FCC is still looking into net neutrality, and while the wording in the long distance decision is a good thing to hear, it's never too late to let them know you would like to keep the net neutral. I threw in part of their own statement
Specifically, Commission precedent provides that no carriers, including interexchange carriers, may block, choke, reduce or restrict traffic in any way. For example, in response to the blocking of IXC Teleconnect’s interstate calls transiting extended area service (EAS) facilities by incumbent LECs, the Common Carrier Bureau held that “the blocking of interstate traffic transiting EAS facilities to reach the access number of Teleconnect from the petitioners’ exchanges was in violation of the Communications Act and Commission policy.”

If nothing else, they could at least be consistent.

1 comment:

  1. To hear some people tell it *cough*cablecos*cough*telcos*cough*, Internet service isn't really a public utility and shouldn't be treated as such. With that kind of deluded rationale in mind, it's easy to see how some companies (meaning AT&T) think that they have a right to do whatever the hell they want with their network to make as much money as possible. Of course, plenty of us don't buy that.

    That's one of the main reasons I like UTOPIA so much. Retailers on the network are required to enforce net neutrality and not degrade or block any kind of service that isn't explicitly illegal. If only I had it in my area.

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