Can You Counterpoint a Counterpoint on the FCC and Net Neutrality?

I would like to provide some counterpoint thoughts to Lou Frenzel’s original points in his latest blog on Electronic Design, “The FCC Just Imprisoned the Internet,” and Bill Wong’s blog on Lou’s blog, “Counterpoint: The FCC Just Imprisoned the Internet.” Going against the grain, I have at least a neutral view to what many refer to as “evil government regulation,” or the FCC beginning to regulate U.S. broadband networks.

I actually feel pretty confident that the FCC taking broadband and mobile Internet under its wings will actually open doors to growth, limit customer/provider confusions, and cut down significantly on the senseless marketing jargon that dictates a lot of technically non-savvy people’s view of the Internet. With broadband Internet access labeled as a telecommunications service, which it really is, and regulated under Title II of the Communications Act, there is little doubt left that the FCC and U.S. government are backing Internet access as a resource for everyone. I feel like this approach is a necessary step, as we are on the eve of a major proliferation of connected devices.

With no blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization mandated—“mandated,” not just avoided to save face and covered with other flowery language—any small or large organization can participate in the growth and sharing of all broadband-related services. This could very well include wearables, sensors, and other connected devices in the future. For example, your wearable watch right now may send data to a storage and analysis service via a broadband-based service. If paid prioritization were popular, that service may have to pay or charge consumers additional penalties for any reasonable bandwidth.

That example was meant to convey that the so-called “net neutrality” or “open Internet” rules are designed to prevent extortion for connecting devices and people to their larger community. The ruling also seeds the ground in some way for privacy and data ownership. I could envision that not having a policy like this could eventually allow for a corporate entity to decide that the information that passes through its channels is its property, which would turn into a large legal mess. My colleague Bill Wong alludes to the start of this trend with Verizon’s super cookies that basically let them know everything you are doing. The next obvious step, which may already be done, is selling that data, copyrighting it, and preventing you from using your own thoughts and actions shared through their network.

So, even with having to accept the yoke of regulation on the way the Internet is served to millions in the United States, the ideals of openness, transparency, and freedom associated with the Internet might just be preserved with these rulings. I spent a little time pondering the global impacts of the battle the U.S. is fighting right now with broadband Internet service. I feel that the statement made in the ruling, “that broadband Internet service is a utility,” is also the government saying that everyone should have access to the Internet.

This puts the Internet on the same level as public roads, parks, electric service, and gas. Are these systems run perfectly? No. But we’re people, and we just don’t get perfect. These utilities, though, are maintained and protected, and at least some amount of burden and the potential for exploitation is removed off of the backs of the people. All of the details and ramifications of the ruling aren’t hammered out yet. But I feel that without some degree of regulation, the rampant adoption of the Internet of Things concepts would be dictated by corporate powers too easily seduced by the money they could garner by self-imposed control.

Discuss this Blog Entry 5

on Mar 5, 2015

Another way of looking at it: even though we are fairly large geographically in the USA, with the "free" market system, why do we pay so much in this country for "high" speed internet and run slower than almost any industrialized country? Again, Big Brother needs to make the kids in the sandbox play nice together.

on Mar 5, 2015

So, even with having to accept the yoke of regulation on the way the Internet is served to millions in the United States, the ideals of openness, transparency, and freedom associated with the Internet might just be preserved with these rulings.......and you believe this? When has the government or in this case an agency, ever held the peoples rights over corporate special interest? The FDA? EPA? DOE? and why was the 300 plus pages of intent withheld from public scrutiny? this was a end around for regulation of content, and right on Que Google announced that it will now base web searches on factual content! So will we now have a ministry of truth embedded at the FCC? And who will decide what is factual and truthful? The government? Under this ruling they now can control content that was the whole point from the get go......

on Mar 6, 2015

I can't really address the comments on all governmental agencies. One thing I can address is that in the same group of sentences you condemned both corporations and the government. Particularly, their ability to do any right at all. I am wondering, if we didn't rely on corporate and government organized industry and legislations, how would we have any internet infrastructure? If you want a medium free of regulation, legislation, or protection, who maintains it and keeps it safe? Also, how many people would want to participate and contribute to it? It is easy to rail at "the powers that be", but do you have another solution?

on Mar 6, 2015

Utter Poppycock! The Internet is NOT an essential utility. It is an "application" that is delivered on communications mediums (POTS, cable, satellite, wireless) that are ALREADY heavily regulated by the government. Why would three unelected, politically-motivated bureaucrats have the need or the authority to...POOF...magically denote the Internet as a utility? If the "noble" goal they are pushing is so beneficial, why then is the "regulation" more than 300 pages long...and not presently available for citizen's review?

The author places a lot of unwarranted and unsubstantiated trust in the government. The Internet doesn't belong to them inasmuch as our speech or our lives do. Think about this for a moment...the concept of "net neutrality"...the supposed Holy Grail of this new FCC regulation, is like telling someone who buys a car, and who only has $1,000, that they are deserving of a Mercedes AMS coupe because someone else bought one (and paid $$$$ for the privilege.) Or that a person with $10 in a grocery store can go fill their shopping cart with just as much as the person in front of them who just paid $300 for their food. Is that REALLY that really what people want. Don't we get what we PAY for. The bits that comprise the Internet don't spring from nowhere...or are spun by unicorns and leprechauns. They are transmitted/received by FOR-PROFIT telecom entities. If Netflix pays several or tens of millions of dollars for their streaming traffic, they should expect better bandwidth/service than the guy who pays 50 bucks a month for his DSL connection. Both are competing for a limited slice of the bandwidth pie...except Netflix is paying a WHOLE LOT more for the privilege (if that means anything any more!?!?!). At some point, this socialist, egalitarian NONSENSE has to STOP!!!

Remember this, tyranny and oppression are a FEATURE of government, not a bug. And if this out-of-control government persists in getting bigger and bigger and more invasive into our lives and affairs by the day, we are going to get the heaping doses of both capricious tyranny and unflinching oppression that we richly deserve if we don't put a stop to it NOW.

on Mar 6, 2015

In terms of substance of trust, I gave the examples of roads and other utilities. Again, they are not perfect, but they are there and work most of the time. With zero regulation on anything, which is seems that you are suggesting, then who maintains public systems?

Have you done research on the history of corporate entities in our country and others prior to any government regulation? There is a reason the war of independence happened. Also, there was a time where many employees were basically indenture servants forced to work at arms. How do you prevent exploitation without 3rd party checks and balance? I would really like to know, and if you get it right, it could be a multi-trillion dollar answer.

In terms of managing the spectrum, without regulation who would stop any single organization with the most power transmitter from blocking a whole areas ability to exchange information? Who would stop someone else from deciding they don't like their neighborhood having electric power and cutting the cables? Some regulation is necessary, and as a society we are constantly struggling to maintain that fine line of personal freedom and collective freedoms.

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