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FCC’s ‘Net neutrality’ plan would permit super-tiers, network traffic throttling

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Internet providers will not be subjected to so-called “Net neutrality” rules and may experiment with tiered, usage-based pricing and “network management” practices, according to new rules being considered by the Federal Communications Commission this month.

Advocates of Net neutrality had hoped the regulatory agency would mandate Internet service providers treat all traffic equally: one of the Web’s founding principles.

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Instead, the FCC’s Internet regulations adopts many proposals by search and telecom giants Google and Verizon, with the caveat that wireless telephone providers not block competing voice applications.

In a speech, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski specified that the FCC would permit ISPs to charge heavy bandwidth users even more, creating a tiered pricing structure. ISPs would also be able to charge fees to businesses serving large quantities of data.

The announcement is a victory for Comcast, the nation’s largest cable Internet provider, which recently forced a bandwidth toll upon Netflix partner Level 3. The company called Comcast’s move “extortion” but agreed to their conditions to prevent any service interruptions.

“With this action, Comcast demonstrates the risk of a ‘closed’ Internet, where a retail broadband Internet access provider decides whether and how their subscribers interact with content,” the company’s chief legal officer said in a media advisory.

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Comcast insisted the move had nothing to do with Net neutrality.

The company has been leading the charge among ISPs to establish tiered-based pricing systems. Comcast admitted in 2008 that it uses “network management” practices to speed up some data transfers and slow down others, and users of peer-to-peer file sharing services have complained to the FCC that the provider has blocked their transfers altogether.

Tiered pricing structures are already in place for many communications providers like AT&T and Cricket, which offer wireless broadband services. Verizon said it would implement similar pricing structures in the coming months.

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The FCC’s rules would permit the practice on wired networks as well. Both Comcast and Time Warner, two of America’s largest wired broadband providers, have already experimented with the practice.

A Texas-based trial run of Time Warner’s bandwidth caps saw users paying nearly $30 a month for 768 kilobits-per-second access, with a limit of 5 gigabytes per month and a $1 fee for each gigabyte they went over. One step-up on their pricing tier had users paying nearly $55 for true broadband speeds of 15 megabits-per-second, with a limit of 40 gigabytes per month.

Public advocates say the move may ultimately force heavy Internet users to consume less bandwidth and stay tied to television subscriptions over cable and satellite. Comcast, which is in the process of merging with NBC-Universal, stands to benefit tremendously from the arrangement.

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The American Cable Association’s (ACA) claimed the merger “will send monthly cable bills higher by billions of dollars over the next decade.”

Major corporations have long sought a way to charge and earn more for bandwidth, ever since Enron attempted to create a bandwidth trading market where space in data pipes would be traded as a commodity like oil or gold.

On wired Internet, which is expected to dramatically decrease in relevance in the coming years as fourth-generation wireless networks proliferate, a “public Internet” would be protected from bandwidth throttling. Companies, however, would be permitted to experiment with establishing super-tiers for preferred traffic, but must justify why individual services should be separated from the public Internet.

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The FCC would additionally require broadband providers to disclose their network management practices.

The chairman’s proposal lines up closely with a bill proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who campaigned on pledges to institute Net neutrality rules. His bill, however, completely undermined those principles, but Democrats scrapped the legislation in Sept.

The commission was expected to vote on the measure during it’s Dec. 21st meeting.


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Accused child molester Roy Moore defends Brett Kavanaugh: ‘I too was the object of false allegations’

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Accused child molester Roy Moore on Wednesday came to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault.

Moore's remarks came after The New York Times published accounts from a new book, which found that two of Kavanaugh's accusers were credible.

In a statement to the press, Moore defended Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

"I too was the subject of false allegations, but unlike Justice Kavanaugh and others who have suffered the ire of the left, I filed suit against my accusers and their conspirators," Moore said. "For over two years, I have not seen nor been able to question any of those who went on national television tol tell their false stories just 32 days before the election in December 2017, and ironically I have been sued for defamation for merely denying their false and malicious accusations."

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Trump says ‘many options’ on Iran response

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US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he has "many options" in addition to military strikes against Iran and that details of newly announced sanctions will come within 48 hours.

Asked by reporters about a possible US attack on Iran, Trump said "there are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that."

He explained that by "ultimate option" he meant "war."

Trump said that the specifics of sanctions he announced earlier would be made public "over the next 48 hours."

US ally Saudi Arabia says Iran was behind a missile or drone attack setting ablaze major oil facilities last weekend.

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Bermuda braces for Hurricane Humberto

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Residents of the tiny British archipelago of Bermuda battened down the hatches on Wednesday ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Humberto, a major category 3 storm packing fierce winds and punishing rain.

The Miami-based US National Hurricane Center put the center of the storm about 225 kilometers (140 miles) west of Bermuda at 1800 GMT, with maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour.

The core of the large storm was expected to pass to the northwest of Bermuda later in the day or overnight, dumping as much as 15 centimeters (six inches) of rain. A heightened storm surge is possible.

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