Obama misses the elephant in the net-neutrality room

Fixing the problem is too hard, but we must do something! And, yes, this IS something...

obama net neutrality fcc title ii

President Barack Hussein Obama II steps into the net neutrality fight: He wants FCC to do Title II. Throwing a few thousand gallons of gasoline on the fire, he instructs the FCC to stop mucking around and get on with it.

But, as ever, it doesn't address the real issue with the USA's broadband: An acute lack of competition. So I guess you're stuck with paying $100/month for lousy service.

In IT Blogwatch, bipartisan bloggers bury Barry.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Matt Hamblen gets straight to the point (sans ramblin'):

Following President Obama's statement today backing net neutrality rules, the [FCC] said it...will put off rules changes until 2015. ... FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said..."We both oppose Internet fast lanes."

Obama's rules recommendations called for no blocking of a website or service; no throttling, or slowing down or speeding up of services...no paid prioritization [and neurality at] "points of interconnection" between where an ISP operates and the rest of the Internet. ... "I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect."

The president has no direct authority to force the agency to act.  MORE

El Presidente quacks thuswise:

An open Internet is essential. ... We cannot allow...ISPs to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace. [So] today, I am asking the...FCC to answer the call...and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

Your ISP should not be permitted to block. ... Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content. ... I am also asking the FCC...to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection. ... No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee.

So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service...must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. ... The FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act [and] I respectfully ask [it] to adopt the policies I have outlined here.  MORE

Kieren McCarthy calls it "a blunt statement":

"There should be no toll roads on the information highway," he said. ... It's feared broadband providers will charge, say, TV streaming websites and their viewers extra cash to carry their video data over their networks. ... The telcos claim they need to charge more to fund new infrastructure to take all the extra data.

Unsurprisingly, the statement received a distinctly frosty reception from the cable companies. ... Verizon, threatened – again – to sue, questioning whether putting broadband under Title II was "legally sustainable." ... The CTIA, a lobby group representing the wireless industry, also put out a quick statement arguing that "imposing [an] antiquated...Title II...would be a gross overreaction that would ignore the bipartisan views of...Congress and the FCC."  MORE

Oh boy. Kate Cox has more on that:

Businesses that make their money charging you for internet access are about as pleased as you’d expect. Which is to say...there’s a long, ugly legal fight brewing.

Verizon...will not be alone in hauling the FCC to court. ... AT&T calls Title II regulation, “a mistake that will do tremendous harm.” [and] net neutrality is a “hypothetical problem posed by certain political groups whose objective [is] to bring about government control of the Internet,” [so] such a decision should rest with Congress and not with the “unelected” FCC.

Comcast is equally pleased...saying that Title II needs to be a choice made by Congress. ... The National Cable & Telecommunications Association...also condemned the White House statement, saying, “this tectonic shift in national policy...would create devastating results. ... There is no substantive justification for this overreach, and no acknowledgment that it is unlawful. [It's a] backwards policy.”  MORE

Surprise! Mike Masnick is in favor:

Obama has finally stepped up. ... Many people engaged in the net neutrality fight had been annoyed at President Obama for not taking a strong stand [but just] a bunch of vague, non-committal statements.

[This] is a big step forward. It won't sway Republicans who have fought against Title II from the beginning [but it's] a big win for net neutrality supporters who had been feeling abandoned.

Better late than never.  MORE

Equally surprising (i.e., not at all), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) isn't:

Net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet.

It puts the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service, and what...can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities, and higher prices.”  MORE

Meanwhile, Advection offers this... uhh... unique, spittle-flecked perspective:

Obama wants massive new powers to fix problems that don’t exist. ... They will crush anonymity so they can silence opposition and control all information. ... Obama’s last two years appear to be the beginning of the end.

The vast majority of Americans have access to excellent high-speed Internet that’s not being molested in ways that leftwing conspiracy theorist have suggested, and they have choice.  MORE

Update: Your humble blogwatcher climbs aboard his hobby-horse:

Greetings from Europe. These are the moments when I remind my American readers that paying US$100/month for a low-grade consumer service is not reasonable!

Compare my experience: $15/month for a solid, consistent, reliable, low-latency connection that doesn't slow down at peak times. And if I wanted, I could get FTTC for not much more. And if there's a problem, I can get a customer service rep to own it and fix it.

It's not because of geography (I live in the sticks). It's not because of subsidies (there are none). It's because of competition, encouraged by light-touch regulation. If the White House and the FCC want to fix the problem, they need to learn from other countries and encourage broadband competition.  MORE


You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or itbw@richi.uk. Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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