Venerable liberal journalist Bill Moyers recently raised an alarm about the FCC’s consideration of tiered Internet access.
He titled his article Don’t let net neutrality become another broken promise, an allusion to President Obama’s plethora of broken promises. He details not only Obama appointee FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s conflicts of interests, but those of Wheeler’s lieutenants, who are also directly connected to the companies they are supposed to regulate. You can sense Bill’s deep disappointment that Mr. Obama has betrayed him. Et tu, Barry!
The FCC is considering allowing Internet service providers to create a tiered Internet. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is a former lobbyist for both the cable TV and wireless phone industries(!). He has proposed an anti- net neutrality plan that, perversely, he labels “net neutrality”. Yes, Newspeak has arrived at the FCC. (originally published 16 July 2014)
The deadline for filing submissions as part of the first round of public comments in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding arrived today. Not surprisingly, we have seen an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website that is making it difficult for many people to file comments through our Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Please be assured that the Commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record. Accordingly, we are extending the comment deadline until midnight Friday, July 18. You also have the option of emailing your comments to email@example.com, and your views will be placed in the public record.
Without enforcement of net neutrality, ISPs will be tempted to sell high-speed access to preferred content at a premium price. Everything else must poke along in a slow lane. Cable TV companies have grown fat on this model: it allows them to collect revenue from both you the subscriber and CNN the content provider.
The Internet was not built on this model. Its creators envisioned a level playing field on which each user enjoys equal access to all Internet resources, and vice-versa. This has allowed fledgling sites to quickly blossom into giants. It encourages constant innovation. Mr. Wheeler’s proposed tiered Internet would encourage the status quo.
Thank you very much for contacting us about the ongoing Open Internet proceeding. We’re hoping to hear from as many people as possible about this critical issue, and so I’m very glad that we can include your thoughts and opinions.
I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the internet open. Thanks again for sharing your views with me.
Chairman Federal Communications Commission
Mr. Wheeler’s definition of “an open Internet” seems to mean one that’s open to exploitation by shared monopolies such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T (the companies that he once lobbied for). Until now, the Internet has succeeded by leveling hierarchies. Mr. Wheeler would allow these companies to create new hierarchies, which would be a giant step backward.
The FCC is desperately searching for available spectrum for the growing wireless data market. It has set its sights on spectrum in the 600 Megahertz (MHz) band that until now has been reserved for television broadcasters. Both industries are concerned about interference: FCC Requests Input On Interference Mitigation. What else did we expect from an FCC that’s chaired by a lobbyist for both the cellular and cable TV industry organizations?
(Note the incorrect use of the word “methodology” throughout the referenced article and the FCC’s statements. “Method” is correct and saves vowels.)
Television broadcast stations typically transmit very high power six Megahertz wide signals. Because of their high frequency, the signals may be received within line of sight only. Presumably the FCC would oversee a patchwork quilt of shared spectrum, with some geographic areas having no available shared spectrum, while other areas would have plenty of available spectrum.
If you read my article about Tom Wheeler last year, you know that I disapprove of his appointment to the chairmanship of the FCC. Why? He’s a long-time lobbyist for both the cellular phone and cable TV industries. The fox is now guarding the hen house.
The FCC can reclassify Internet service as a telecommunications service and adopt network neutrality rules under Title II of the Telecommunications Act – rules that are unencumbered by the restrictions imposed by Section 706. To ensure that reclassification does not result in onerous regulation, the FCC should immediately forbear from applying those Title II provisions that are not necessary to protect consumers.
The sky hasn’t fallen with today’s FCC announcements. Let’s not panic. But if we don’t start getting serious about this, as a public, we will lose the most important medium in human history. That would be worse than tragic.