Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Logo

What is Net Neutrality?

Network neutrality – an idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services. We believe, as many do, that speech, communication, should be able to flow without hindrance. What life looks like without Net Neutrality is something we already have with mobile/cellular phones, which is blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of Internet traffic.

See below for examples.

Here is a video to help with the explanation.

Does Net Neutrality reduce investment in broadband?

This is an argument that some companies, like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and more12, and recent FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney3, were citing as a reason for repealing Net Neutrality. That Net Neutrality was a heavy handed regulation that was stopping investment in expanding broadband.4

Recent reports in 2019,5 have said that after the repeal of Net Neutrality, there was a decrease in investment, thus showing that the large companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast and FCC Chair Ajit Pai were wrong and the repealing of the regulation has done the opposite effect.6

Small ISPs said that while Net Neutrality rules would increase some costs, but it helps them with competition and keeps them in business.7. In fact some 40 smaller ISPs across the country pleaded with the FCC to not repeal Net Neutrality.8

Why should I care?

You should care because it’s your money. Without Net Neutrality protections, companies will charge you more to access certain sites, throttle you, limit how much you can use, and possibly block you from accessing certain sites. We don’t want ISPs acting as gatekeepers, making special deals with a few companies and inhibiting new competition, innovation, and expression.

If we don’t support Net Neutrality, it’ll look like this. The future, in this case, is not pretty.

Examples of Net Neutrality Violations

There has been a number of Net Neutrality violations over the years, some are current and others have been resolved. However, since the FCC repealed Net Neutrality rules, some companies have taken advantaged of the regulation-less situation.

You can see many examples here.

Throttling

Verizon throttling Santa Clara County Firefighters in California

Almost all the companies that engage in bandwidth caps, also engage in throttling. AT&T9, Verizon10, T-Mobile11, and more.

Bandwidth Caps

Many companies, like Comcast12, Verizon1314, AT&T15 engage in providing bandwidth caps, even though many companies originally did not have one.

Despite wired line services like fiber optics and such being nearly unlimited16. Companies engage in this behavior as justification to charge more and oversubscribe the pipelines.17 Many leaks and more have proved the bandwidth caps are just a cash grab for companies in these monopoly markets like McHenry County.18

A major problem with the bandwidth caps, other than increased costs for consumers is, nobody is checking and regulating to ensure that bandwidth measurements are being done correctly. Customers have no recourse to verify or validate the claims the companies make about overages.19

Tiered Bandwidth

This section is about companies that are practicing anti-competitive practices that favor their own streaming services over other streaming services like, Netflix, Hulu, and more.

Recent reports indicate that AT&T now excludes their DirecTV Now service from bandwidth caps, while penalizing services like Netflix, Hulu, and more.20


Blocking of services

We have received reports that Charter/Spectrum blocks VPN. This prevents our residents from working from home, unless they spend more money by upgrading to Charter’s business class service.

Madison River (now CenturyLink), an Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) company in North Carolina blocked their customers using Voice Over-IP, Vonage Services.

What can we do here in McHenry County?

We can do several different things.

First, we can contact our elected officials at the Federal and State Level and tell them to support Net Neutrality.

Secondly, we can build our own community fiber network, this would ensure that our internet is net neutral. This concept is based on an ALCU legal theory, that if we own our network, we can ensure Net Neutrality at the local level.21

Third, we can encourage the development of smaller Internet Service Providers by streamlining, being pro-active, and removing red tape. Developing smaller ISPs will create more competition enabling us to have more choices.

As part of this, we can encourage their development by adopting a few different policies at the municipal, township, and county level (learn more here):

  • Implement Dig-Once policies.
  • Streamline and standardize right of way permitting
  • Reduce and standardize fees on right of way and pole attachments fees
  • Implement “One-Touch Make-Ready” policies and eliminate the need for make-ready
  • Publicize procedures and time frames for permitting and inspections
  • Allow network operators to contract pre-approved third-party inspectors to speed process and
    reduce local burdens.

Footnotes

  1. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/8xe38p/california-net-neutrality-law-att
  2. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160209/12421533564/one-year-later-isp-claims-that-title-ii-would-demolish-broadband-investment-found-to-be-total-indisputable-bullshit.shtml
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajit_Pai#Career
  4. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180726/12152540317/ajit-pai-lies-again-to-congress-with-claim-net-neutrality-killed-broadband-investment.shtml
  5. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171005/09400638350/anybody-claiming-net-neutrality-rules-killed-broadband-investment-is-lying-to-you.shtml
  6. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190123/09163141449/remember-when-ajit-pai-said-killing-net-neutrality-would-boost-network-investment-about-that.shtml
  7. https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/13/15949920/net-neutrality-killing-small-isps
  8. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/06/isps-across-country-tell-chairman-pai-not-repeal-network-neutrality
  9. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/sorry-att-judge-says-throttled-customers-can-pursue-class-action/
  10. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/08/verizon-throttled-fire-departments-unlimited-data-during-calif-wildfire/
  11. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/11/t-mobile-forced-to-stop-hiding-slow-speeds-from-throttled-customers/
  12. https://www.theverge.com/2016/10/6/13192832/comcast-xfinity-home-internet-data-caps-one-terabyte
  13. https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/plans/
  14. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180518/09350339861/verizon-begins-testing-dsl-usage-caps-it-refuses-to-call-usage-caps.shtml
  15. https://www.att.com/internet/
  16. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7542/cb08cb9edaeb973d87c4e6cfd43329425f1c.pdf
  17. https://gigaom.com/2012/10/01/data-caps-chart/
  18. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160105/08100533246/with-fixed-costs-fat-margins-comcasts-broadband-cap-justifications-are-total-bullshit.shtml
  19. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170927/09491438298/as-broadband-usage-caps-expand-nobody-is-checking-whether-usage-meters-are-reliable.shtml
  20. https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/18/18146186/att-time-warner-streaming-video-net-neutrality
  21. https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/aclu_municipal_broadband_report.pdf