Steve Wozniak explains Net Neutrality to the FCC


Doesn’t matter. Did he give $100,000+ to an elected representative? Then it matters.


Actually there are a lot of us who think it would be better to pay per mile driven so that people have an incentive to use other forms of transportation that are charged by the length of the trip.

And similarly, it seems clear that a megacorp with a firehose connection to the internet should pay more than my grandmother who uses the internet only when the grandkids are over to show her how to use the computer.

And of course we all did in fact pay by the byte for our computer memory in the old days… I remember paying $100 for my first memory card, with capacity of 16k bytes. That worked out to about .08 cents per bit. I couldn’t afford a 48k Apple II computer.

No, net neutrality is not about “all you can eat”. It’s about everyone getting access to the same deal.

The problem with your setup is that when the megacorp gets charged more, they pass that cost on to your grandmother who can’t afford it. And littlecorp, which can’t afford to pay for the fast lane, goes out of business because your grandmother never sees their website, so she switches and shops at megacorp.


I never saw the FCC as wearing a “white hat.” More of a dirty grey, really. And frequently tall and conical.


They do. everyone pays for the bandwidth they use, on both ends (all bandwidth is paid for twice over), and in the middle twice over through peering agreements. No one is using anything that they aren’t paying for. Net Neutrality just ensures that you the consumer gets to choose to use the bandwidth you’ve paid for how you want, instead of your ISP downgrading the service you paid for because a company on the other end couldn’t be strong armed into paying them extra. Anti-Net Neutrality reminds me of mafia protection money.

This is more akin to private corporations asking car companies to pay extra so customers of their cars can drive faster, even though those customers are already paying to drive and the car companies are paying for them to drive and the government paid for a good portion of the roads.


In the good old days, when the only discussions of bandwidth among the general populace was between amateur radio enthusiasts, the halls of the FCC were wandered by engineers whose interests were primarily technical, not political.

Now, all you’ll find are administrators and management hopefuls who treat their positions like any other job where personal interests take a back seat to the overall responsibilities of the agency.

Any mention of unrestricted communication being a basic right is just so much white noise that gets in the way of special interests with deep pockets.


I like Mr Woz (from reading about him, never met or corresponded in person), but many of the roads in the US are indeed paid for “by the mile.”

Per the American Road and Transportation Builders Assoc

“State governments finance highway construction and maintenance through a
broad set of taxes and fees, most of which are also user-related. Every
state imposes taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, from a low of eight
cents per gallon in Alaska to over 30 cents per gallon in a handful of
states. Other revenue sources include vehicle registration fees, driver
license fees, sales taxes on motor vehicles, heavy truck use taxes,
traffic violation fines, and similar taxes and fees.”

However, I am ashamed at the behavior of the FCC, and feel Mr Wheeler should be sacked. Reading his bio is enough to make it obvious he should never be allowed to head a government agency, since he worked for every facet of what he supposedly now regulates. I’m sure he’s impartial, though, but we should sack him anyway.


ATM neutrality - the ATM and bank clerks dispense all sums in 1 cent coins unless you pay access fees for the “high bandwidth” $10 bill. Seems fair to me!


You have road tax in US (annual registration fee?) Would you like to have additional one? In Poland we have tax included into gasoline price. Seems fair: more you drive, more you pay for roads. Unfortunately it hits low volume transportation costs, and earnings in jobs that require a lot of driving (e.g. pizza delivery.)This would hit poor people and middle class mainly, due to rise of prices in services or lowering incomes.

“A megacorp” does pay, to a network provider, for it’s “fire hose” according to throughput, the same way you grandmother does (according to throughput.) A provider is giving you a pipe, that you can fill with anything you want.

For the analogy: let’s say you want to by a straw for your smoofie; there are three sizes of straws fine medium and large in diameter; of course it is smoofie so you want to get the medium one (the fine is too fine and you do not need the large for this one.). You pay for your medium straw, seller looks at your smoothie and handles you the fine straw. You ask “Why?”, and sellers tells you: “You have paid for largest straw you can get, but the smoothie maker does not pay me to give you that straw, but I have deal with other brand… so if you would have chosen the other brand, you would get the straw you paid for.”
Now you have really nice smoothie, that you have paid for (the service), and smaller straw (the isp line) than you have paid for, and you can not enjoy your drink as much as you deserved it.Actually the seller may give you the smaller straw, just because he/she does not like the brand of the smoothie. That is how it will work…

You still pay for “the byte” (Giga), they do not sell memory in bricks, yet.

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Government mandated and regulated cartel with a market that is only barely and artificially competitive is exploited by the cartel members with the most money for lobbying. So the Government needs to adjust the regulations to encourage a bit more free-market but still artificial competition and rein in the worst excesses of the cartel members. More at 11 in our in-depth coverage.

Meanwhile in the UK, why isn’t Virgin Cable made to provide LLU and wholesale bandwidth to competitors in the same way that BT is? Seeing as how they have a monopoly on last-mile cable in the same way that BT has a monopoly on last-mile phone lines. And why doesn’t the USA take the same approach of forcing the incumbent monopolies to provide LLU and wholesale bandwidth to anyone who wants to run an ISP. “not invented here”?

We have gas taxes which approximate a per-ton-mile road tax, but the federal gas tax has not been raised since 1993 and so now covers much less than half the road maintenance costs.

Oh please. The FCC was born in cronyism and censorship. The FRC, the FCC’s precursor, was founded in 1927 as a workaround to the Supreme Court rulings that had blocked Commerce Secretary Hoover from denying broadcast licenses. Its primary job was to deny broadcast licenses to people who broadcast things the government didn’t like. The 1927 law also established quotas for licenses by region and denied many people broadcast licenses simply because they exceeded the quota, helping ensure that only large corporations had the money and influence to get a license (gosh, where have we seen that recently?). Several of the initial members of the FRC went on to become lobbyists.

As @newliminted wrote - yes, but roads are not fiber optic cables, I think that was a bad analogy Steve Wozniak chose. Roads degrade (maintenance cost scales) with how much you drive on them. Fiber optic cables are basically a fixed cost. And we do already pay for bandwidth. As a home user I pay for “up to” a given download speed and (as much as I don’t like it, an additional, lower data cap that effectively limits the number of hours per month I can get that speed. And companies like Netflix and Amazon etc. pay a heck of a lot more for much highers speeds and (I assume) no data caps.

What the ISPs want to do is make those same companies pay an additional fee, so that when 2 companies that have bought equal amounts of bandwidth try to use it, the one that paid the extra fee goes first. Roads and phone lines don’t work that way. If all circuits are busy, Wozniak can’t pay extra to have AT&T drop my call. If there is traffic, he can’t pay the DOT to close the left lane except for him (or more aptly, to lock down the left lane so it can only be used to get to certain destinations). And if he could, the rest of us would no longer get what we already paid for with our phone bills and road taxes.


Then you have to rise it or add to fuel tax. You are building your country so you have to decide (in ideal world… but sounds nice) how much you want to give for your road structure. I do not say that the solution we have in Poland is bad, it is qite OK, since usually you burn fuel while on road; I know that cars have differenf fuel consumption but in average it works (heavier car will have stronger effect on road structure, but will also burn more fuel and pay more taxes), except for home power generators and lawn mowers (you pay the tax, but do not use roads.)
I shouldn’t have use word “hit” but rather “affect”, to indicate who will be affected most by change. I do not know better solution yet.

Do one thing that we have failed in Poland to do: monitor where the tax money are spent; the fuel tax was supposed to be used for infrastructure maintnance, instead oly 16% of the tax (in year 2011) has been used for such purpose.

Yeah. And our ISPs haven’t been investing much in internet infrastructure, either.

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your comment? nail on the head exactly. Unless he publishes this letter on the back of checks to each representative on the committee? they do not even read or see it. Congress is bought and sold by corporations. Hooray Woz for trying. but really? we are screwed.

And any mother-lovin’ one of ya that thinks pay-per-mile is good? keep drinking the kool-aid and just plug right on in.

Here’s a better explanation through analogy.
Power Company: “We’ve noticed half of your energy use is for your GE furnace. If you want to keep using your heater GE needs to send us $20.”
Phone Company: “We’ve noticed half of your phone calls are to your Grandmother.  If she wants any more calls from you she’s going to have to give us $20.”
Water Company: “We’ve noticed half of your water use is for your garden.  If you want more water we need $20 and half of your tomatoes.”


For the record, I am in complete agreement. Paying “per byte” instead of by the size of the pipe does not and should not mean paying more for netflix bytes than comcast bytes.

Paying by the byte is already commonplace in wireless, and it seems inevitable for home service.

One thing we do have on our side is that the more Comcast wants to favor their own bytes, the more they will be accused of being a monopoly, which limits their ability to ingest other companies and generally take over the world as they are doing with or without net neutrality.

No, its not inevitable. There aren’t bandwidth issues, and even if there is some congestion at peak usage times, the cable companies have been pocketing all our bills as profit for many years, refusing to significantly upgrade the pipes, which is their obligation given the monopoly they have been granted.

The thing in Woz’s less than stellar letter that hit me was the idea that used to be commonplace in this country that certain things cannot be owned and are thus owned by all of us and its the government’s job to maintain that thing for all of us to use. The internet has become so integral to our functioning as human beings that it should not be owned by anyone. If not, then why do we have rules for it in the first place? Why can’t comcast charge whatever they want to whoever they want? Oh yeah, because of this little thing called public purpose. If your company is “cursed” with holding a piece of infrastructure that we all rely upon you don’t have the right to do whatever you want with it. Its no longer your personal piggy bank to use and abuse at will. Guess what? You still get to charge people such that 95% of their payments are pure profit to you, but you don’t get to further abuse them. And that’s all that anti-net-neutrality really is - further abuse. The curse of having a captive audience that needs, absolutely needs your service, means you don’t get to be a free-wheeling asshole. That’s why the internet pipes regulated as a utility is a no-brainer. Its no different from the electric, gas, water company in that respect, and that means heavy, heavy regulation with the public’s unimpaired access being paramount. Too bad. If comcast and their crony monopolist brethren don’t like it, they can sell their infrastructure to someone else and go into a different line of business. Its really that simple, but lobbying and political corruption make it otherwise.