Tim Wu on FCC's net neutrality disaster


From the article:

What is Wheeler made of? Does he stand and defend his agency?


“He’s like the Jim Brown of telecom, or the Bo Jackson of telecom,” Obama joked at the ceremony, comparing Wheeler to the two former football stars. "So Tom knows this stuff inside and out."http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/new-fcc-chairman-tom-wheeler-652820

So was this intentional on Wheeler’s part, dropping the ball? Or will we have Wu’s lips to the FCC’s ears to actually do the right thing?

This a success, not a fail. We do NOT want the FCC involved with bullying ISPs - we had enough of that with radio stations and TV stations. Do you really want the cronies and sycophants at the FCC telling your ISPs what they can and can’t send across their own networks? There is no faster way to kill the open Internet, and no quicker way to cement the NSA/FBI control of the Internet.

What we should be working for is stripping away the monopolistic market protections that are currently keeping ISPs in a situation where they can get away with this sort of thing. It’s a fluke accident that we ended up with competition at all - both the telecoms and the cable companies were successful in regulatory capture - it just happened to be that both networks could be used for data transmission, and so they ended up competition.

What are you proposing?

Yes, but it’s pretty hard to compete against them when it costs so much to lay fiber everywhere. The cost of entry keeps competition away.

Well, for starters there would need to be a state-by-state effort to repeal cable and telephone franchising laws. This would be pretty difficult, because the cable companies and telecoms pretty much own the state legislatures, but it’s a better alternative than putting the buffoons at the FCC in charge (remember, these are the people who like fining TV and radio stations over profanity and accidental nudity).

As to Melted_Crayons issue, one of the major reasons laying fiber is so expensive is that telecoms and cable operators got there first and locked it down. They’ve put into place extensive legal barriers to competition, which makes the process slow and expensive. For example, if you can even get a cable franchise in North Carolina, you have to jump through a series of planning and legal hoops - hoops designed by the incumbent cable operator, Time Warner.


Since I partook of several hours of Chomsky in a binge last week, I’ve lost every last shred of faith I didn’t realise I still had in government institutions, particularly American ones.

He paints a picture of a vast scheme of global dominance cooked up by the US government in the aftermath of WWII, in which just about every ostensible justification for any action is pure bullshit; the actual reason being to aggressively extend and consolidate US power and influence, and this take on the motivations behind the propaganda maps better than any other angle I’ve tried on.

The freedoms associated with western democracy were merely more cold war propaganda, and now the motivation for the elite to allow those freedoms has evaporated, so do the freedoms. The increasing institutional disrespect for all this stuff that’s supposed to be the very foundation of American exceptionalism gives the lie to the notion - it becomes more and more obvious the only game in town is dominion.

So it seems to me that any expectation for higher principles to be honoured in the disgusting shitfight that passes for governance in the US is a forlorn hope. It’s a feeding frenzy of sharks.


Wheeler didn’t drop the ball. The decision to classify ISPs under Title I—which is the real problem—was made a long time ago by someone else. At worst, Wheeler is responsible for the FCC’s legal strategy, but I think it’s clear they were going to lose regardless of legal strategy so long as ISPs remain under Title I. The alternative Wu suggests is that the FCC properly classify ISPs under Title II, but it this is going to be very difficult to do… and so the FCC ultimately tried to defend their current framework rather than attempt to reclassify ISPs under Title II. Having failed to successfully defend their practices, the FCC can still attempt to reclassify, which they almost certainly will.

I don’t think it’s a matter of Wheeler wanting to do the right thing or not, or that if he wanted to the right thing that it would be a fait accompli. It’s about whether the political support exists such that attempting to do the right thing would be successful.

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While true, things like USPS, telephone networks, electrical networks, sewer networks, etc. all operate on this same system of forced cost sharing between those who are cheap to serve and those who are expensive to serve.


Isn’t net neutrality about type of content, not size? I’ve never heard anyone suggest that ISPs should be prevented from charging high-bandwidth customers more than low-bandwidth customers.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying, but I don’t see how principles of net neutrality have anything to do with redistributing bandwidth costs.


The solution for this might come from a completely different, and (conservatives here will love this part) free market angle: Satellites aren’t bound by wires.

There are a whole bunch of options opening up for someone that wants to start up a satellite based ISP. YES, this is probably just as expensive as laying cable at the moment, but that’s the thing about technology: Unlike wealth, it actually does trickle down.

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Deception by those who we trust is the most effective in the service of control via propaganda.

Problem is, when you say “propaganda”, nobody believes it b/c we were all told that it was only the bad guys (that other country, that other political party) who do propaganda, but not our country, not our political party, not our religion. So the deception has perfect cover.

It’s more cost-effective to enslave minds rather than bodies because the mind doesn’t understand it is deceived and therefore enslaved, so it lives out the perceived “truths” (and even defends them!) which serve the powerful.

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For a completely alternative take on this whole thing check out Almost everyone read the Verizon v FCC net neutrality verdict WRONG. This is if nothing else an interesting look at the decision.

The problem with satellite internet is the horrible latency.

This is particularly troublesome for online gaming. The satellite providers themselves admit that satellite is generally only the best option in parts of the country where the other choices are dial-up or slow DSL service. Data caps also reduce the desirability of satellite. If you can get cable or FiOS, that would be the way to go (even if service offered by the major players leaves much to be desired).

Honestly, I really don’t care that much about gamers here. If someone is shelling out $3k for a high end machine and $50 whenever the lastest expansion of their game comes out, I think they’ll be willing to pay whatever it costs for the fastest connection they can get*.

Latency is less an issue with streaming video or music (still an issue, just less of one) because of buffering. The information is going one way, and doesn’t require a lot of back and forth communication.

I’m much more concerned with the basic, simple stuff we take for granted- news, search engines, blogs, online shopping. That’s the stuff that doesn’t need as much bandwith, but who would still be most disastrously affected by an ISP payola scheme.

Besides, I’m reasonably certain that the satelite technology will improve exponentially as demand and availablity both increase.

*Please don’t take this as a shot at gamers- All I’m saying is that people are happy to spend money on the thing that’s important to them. I’m a woodworker- I buy pricey, good quality tools and skimp on things like clothing (where I’m perfectly happy with WalMart quality since they just end up covered in glue and Minwax). If you’re into sports, you’d probably rather buy a bigscreen TV than have a nicer car. Whatever makes you happy, is what I’m saying.

The Matrix would’ve been a completely perfect movie if the ending didn’t suck.

That is all fine but there is no magical wand one can wave to defeat the speed of light. It takes nearly one tenth of a second to deliver data from NY to LA right now with a wired connection and that’s the best, perfect case. All forms of wireless will be inevitably worse.

So yeah, pervasive satellite Internet eventually, maybe in our children’s children’s lifetimes, I suppose.

Google-style wi-fi balloons make a lot more economic sense than satellite internet at this point.

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Well, again- Is there any common application besides gaming and long-distance jam sessions where a latency of 1/10 second is really going to interfere with functionality?

For everything else I can think of, bandwidth more than makes up for latency.

There was an interview I once heard with Chomsky, in which the interviewer opened by praising him for speaking truth to power, and he said, there’s no point to speaking truth to power, because they already know the truth, and they don’t care; that’s not who you should be talking to.

Earlier today, I was reading some article about Barack Obama’s career in the White House, emphasizing how he is able to see an issue in all its complexity and how he is always pushing for the disadvantaged, how he is frustrated with his intransigent political opposition and the lack of understanding and support from progressives. And just as I begin to feel some sympathy for Obama, I’m reminded of his capacity for empty gestures: for instance, when he said that Medea Benjamin of Code Pink was worth listening to, as his security guards physically dragged her out of a press conference in order to silence her.