As spring unfolds here in the Northern Hemisphere, the future of the free and open Internet hangs in the balance. As such, I strongly believe everyone should have at least some understanding of what is at stake. When most people hear or read the words “net neutrality” their eyes glaze over with a feeling of confusion and despair: “I can’t remember, am I supposed to be for or against this?” This is exactly how the lawyers and lobbyists in D.C. want it, but unless the citizenry is informed we could lose the most important weapon of free speech in the history of mankind.
Recognizing the convoluted nature of the subject, I did my best to lay out what “net neutrality” is and what is at stake with the current FCC rule-making process in my recent post: Say Goodbye to “Net Neutrality” – New FCC Proposal Will Permit Discrimination of Web Content.
Well the FCC voted on its proposal yesterday and it passed with a 3-2 vote. More on that later, first I want to share an article I recently read on The Verge, which is extremely important to understand before you form an opinion on what should be done.
The first buzzword you need to familiarize yourself with is “Title II regulation.” Title II refers to a key section of the Communications Act, which has to do with the classification of telephone providers as “common carriers,” and subjects them to increased regulation and oversight. When the Communications Act was updated in 1996, it appears that broadband providers would not be deemed “common carriers,” which would allow them to be largely unregulated. Yet, Verizon decided it wanted to be regulated under Title II when building out its broadband network. Why would it do this?
It turns out that building a huge broadband network isn’t cheap, and being more “regulated” actually gave Verizon a tremendous cost advantage. Verge notes that: “Title II designation gives carriers broad power to compel other utilities — power, water, and so on — to give them access to existing infrastructure for a federally controlled price, which makes it simpler and more cost-effective for cables to be run.“
Here’s the really despicable thing. Now that Verizon has used Title II to build out much of its network, it now wants to turn around and play unregulated entity when it comes to pricing services that it built out under the guise of it being a heavily regulated business. You can’t make this stuff up. More from The Verge:
At issue is how (or if) the FCC will protect the internet’s openness, free of special treatment and data “fast lanes” offered to the highest bidders. And while Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and others have been clamoring to prevent heavy regulation from being considered this week, it turns out that communications providers have actually been working the system for years, using exactly this kind of regulation to their advantage. In fact, strict FCC rules have helped Verizon build a largely unregulated network — a network that’s valued in the tens of billions of dollars.
Today New York’s Public Utility Law Project (PULP) published a report, authored by New Networks, which contains previously unseen documents. It demonstrates how Verizon deliberately moves back and forth between regulatory regimes, classifying its infrastructure either like a heavily regulated telephone network or a deregulated information service depending on its needs. The chicanery has allowed Verizon to raise telephone rates, all the while missing commitments for high-speed internet deployment.
from A Lightning War for Liberty http://ift.tt/1nXEkQh