The Totally Predictable Cable Industry Response to the FCC's Net Neutrality Plan

Illustration for article titled The Totally Predictable Cable Industry Response to the FCC's Net Neutrality Plan

Within minutes of the FCC's proposed rules to codify net neutrality, we got an email blast from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association—basically the RIAA of the cable world. It's easy to guess how they feel about this, but it's not actually that easy to see it in the text:

We fully appreciate that Chairman Genachowski and all Commissioners have approached a difficult set of issues in a constructive way. The Commission has provided a fair and transparent process to comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted today, and we will participate fully in helping the Commission develop a record on these issues. To be clear, we regard this as a debate about means, not ends; we support a free and open Internet. However, we continue to believe the broadband marketplace is an unparalleled American success story and already offers consumers an open Internet experience. So, we welcome the opportunity to make our case that investment, innovation and consumer welfare are all enhanced by continued government restraint. Given the tremendously high stakes, we hope the Commission will approach these issues with a healthy skepticism of hypothetical harms, and with a full understanding of the very real consequences that regulatory action may have on investment, job creation, and the continued expansion and improvement of next generation networks.

We appreciate it! It's fair, and transparent! We supports a free and open internet! But hey, by the way, we hope the commission guts this proposal until it bleeds out, because it's dumb. Get that?

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I'd be interested in hearing what people here think net neutrality means as a practical matter. I understand the idea of say... ISP X cutting a deal with Bing to slow down traffic to Google and Yahoo, thereby theoretically causing people to prefer Bing for reasons unrelated to the quality of the service. But has that ever happened? And if it did happen, why wouldn't the market correct things like that? I'd think, in my area, that if people heard the ISP was doing that, they might change ISPs.

I hear people complain about slowing down traffic of high volume users, a la Comcast. But, if it isn't undertaken for competitive reasons (i.e., I'm being paid by Bing to slow down stuff to Google) and I presume that it isn't being done for no reason at all, doesn't Occam's razor tell me they are doing it because they are trying to preserve the user experience for lower volume users? As one of the people that probably benefit from this, tell me why I should be opposed to this?

I hear people whine about caps. Seems to me that has nothing to do with net neutrality. In fact, seems to me that if you tell ISPs they can't throttle back high volume users in some fashion, then you are telling them to go to a volume pricing model that makes high volume users pay more, since they are consuming more of the resource. Seems to me the FCC is on really shaky ground if it starts telling ISPs how to price things, no?

I also hear a lot about people being "ripped off" by their ISP. Well, get another one. I have a number of options where I am. I understand that isn't universal, but I don't think I'm in the minority. And, to those people who say that all of them are ripping us off, maybe the answer is actually that you just are unhappy with how much you have to pay and it has nothing to do with being gouged.

This debate seems partially obscured by the whole "pro-life" kind of language—who's against "neutrality" after all? But there is so much crap flying around that I don't believe, and people staking out positions that are clearly irrelevant, plus a bunch of just plain ISP bashing, someone find me the real crux please. #netneutrality