On May 18th, 2017 the FCC voted to kill Title II regulations under the Communications Act of 1934 for ISPs. More widely known as Net Neutrality. (But don't worry, there's time to save it!) Back in June 2015, the FCC classified ISPs as Title II Utilities and even successfully defended the classification in court several times. Wait. What?
The FCC Classified then Unclassified ISPs as Title II?
Yes. In December 2016, then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced he'll step down on January 20th. According to the article, it's normal for the FCC Chairman to step down when a new President is elected. This left President Trump another spot to fill just days into his presidency. Three days later, on January 23rd, Trump put Ajit Pay in charge. Where did he come from? Ajit was already on the board at the FCC and was critical of Net Neutrality during the planning stages. Since he was promoted to the top spot, he made it his goal - and thus the FCC's - to undue these protections.
What is "Title II"?
On bottom of Page 35 of the "Communications Act of 1934" PDF is this text:
What does that mean?
This means services cannot prioritize traffic above others. In other words, all traffic is equal. The traffic from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu and, any other video/audio streaming site is treated equally. Not just streaming sites, but e-commerce, social networks, etc. If you have a 40mbps download then you can retrieve any and all internet data up to 40mbps. The ISP can't prioritize any service over another.
Now that Net Neutrality has been struck down by the FCC ISPs can prioritize traffic. This doesn't mean they'll throttle existing connections as there's no telling what they will do. Instead, the common theory is they'll likely use it to promote specific services. If ISP A wants to compete with Netflix all ISP A has to do is prioritize themselves. Instead of watching 4K HDR content at 40Mbps on a 1TB monthly data cap, you can steam ISP A's VOD service at 400Mbps and those videos won't count towards your data cap. That 1TB isn't pulled out of my rear, Comcast has a 1TB cap for all it's customers now. That number is very real.
"Now, Alex..." you're thinking, "who watches 4K HDR content?" Well, I don't know. I do, but I certainly do not stream it. Those are huge files and I don't trust that the quality over the bandwidth of my internet. On average, 1080p video eats through about 5GB of data an hour, while 4K content can eat through as much as 20GB, remember that 4K content is twice the width and twice the height as 1080p thus the amount of pixels are quadrupled. The source goes on to say that the estimate is for a video streamed with the x264 codec. On x265 (or HEVC) the size could be 7GB an hour for 4K but HEVC is an incredibly resource intensive codec and may not be implemented across all shows on a service or even every streaming service.
So, if you're binge watching one of Marvels' Netflix shows on your brand new 4K TV, just imagine it's 20GB an episode. And 13 episodes a season makes for about 260GB of data. So four seasons. Luke Cage, Iron Fist and, the two seasons of Daredevil puts you over that 1TB data cap. That's completely ignoring other services such as: YouTube, your video game downloads, streaming music, OS and app updates, etc.
ISPs can devastate streaming video with inferior experiences. We all already hate our ISPs and we have to put up with their awful customer service to boot. They have awful customer service because, honestly, who else are we going to switch to? I'm lucky where I live in a market with 2 ISP companies but unfortunately both their customer service departments suck. Imagine this mentality with their ideas of VOD. I hate the DVR experience on my cable box, and it's the same company that gives me my internet. Knowing how cheap these companies can be, they'll likely just repurpose the DVR interface into a VOD service. It'll be slow, it'll be confusing and, any web and streaming box would be severely behind or non existent. But, at least you can stream media faster than Netflix AND it doesn't count towards your data cap for the month.
Now. Netflix and services could theoretically pay for access to this fast lane. We have no idea what it would cost but those services would have to increase their monthly subscription to cover that cost. And just like internet rates, I'm sure ISPs would demand more money year over year from these companies thus forcing those companies to increase their prices. Eventually, those services can't keep subscribers as more people move to the ISPs' service because it's faster and cheaper.
This doesn't affect big companies. If big companies like Netflix can pay, that puts smaller companies at a disadvantage. Perhaps it's a startup trying to compete with Netflix. Netflix can afford to pay for a fast lane, this smaller company can't. There's no innovation to be had if companies can pay their way to your door faster that other companies. Like I said, ISP A may have an inferior VOD service but they'll simply include their service as a "fast lane" in the bundle of their services. If Netflix doesn't play ball they'll start to lose subscribers. This affects everyone.
Who is already classified as a Title II?
Utility companies who transport goods, also known as Common Carriers. Such as the water company and the natural gas companies. Most importantly, Telecommunications carriers are classified as Title II; telecommunications is transmission of signs, signals, messages, words, writings, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. This means AT&T/Verizon cell towers are under Title II but AT&T/Verizon ISP lines are not. The key argument by the FCC back in June 2016 was that ISPs are telecommunication carriers and thus common carriers. They won.
What can I do to ensure the continuation of Net Neutrality?
Contact your state rep! We cannot let the FCC take this back. We have until August 16th before the final verdict. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, remember Ajit was once a commissioner, said that Net Neutrality is doomed if we're silent, just two days before the FCC voted to dismantle Net Neutrality today and after weeks of public comments.
Click the images to go to the true source, the links below the images provide context, also where I got the images from.
I'm taking these links directly from a Reddit post on /r/Technology:
If you want to help protect NN you can support groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU and Free Press who are fighting to keep Net Neutrality.
- also you can set them as your charity on https://smile.amazon.com/
- also write to your House Representative and senators
- and the FCC https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact
- You can now add a comment to the repeal here
- here a easier URL you can use thanks to John Oliver
(its down right now but will likely be back up after today)
- you can also use this that help you contact your house and congressional reps, its easy to use and cuts down on the transaction costs with writing a letter to your reps.
- also check out https://democracy.io/
which was made by the EFF and is a low transactioncost tool for writing all your reps in one fell swoop
Major tech companies are for Net Neutrality (open in incognito mode to skip wall), And Senate Democrats are for Net Neutrality.
Seriously, if you shop on Amazon for anything. Please consider using http://smile.amazon.com It doesn't work on the App but you can put items in your cart then jump onto a PC to finish the transaction from http://smile.amazon.com If it's your first time on http://smile.amazon.com you'll need to set up a charity to donate to. It's only 0.5% of your transaction total but it's 0.5% more than a charity would get if you didn't use http://smile.amazon.com
We defeated everything the old politicians have created, crafted and, reworded in their attempts to make the internet profitable. Let's win this battle too. We've defeated:
- CISPA again
Let's be strong and be heard.