#net neutrality

Solid overview/primer by Alexis C. Madrigal and Adrienne LaFrance.

See also: Ryan Singel’s post, which also offers the solution:

The simplest fix is to simply re-impose common carrier rules. All that takes is 3 out of 5 FCC commissioners to vote to do so and the FCC has those votes today.

Everyone knows their internet service should work like a utility. You pay Comcast or AT&T a certain amount of money per month and you get a level of service and you get to watch Netflix or upload videos and play World of Warcraft or whatever it is you like to do on the internet. At least in theory.

Unfortunately, Comcast and AT&T are powerful and profitable, and they do not want to be utilities. Being a utility is boring. A utility’s profit margins, while solid, don’t compare to that of a Google or a Facebook or a Netflix. And because AT&T and Verizon and Comcast are the necessary pipes between you and those services, they’d like to get paid double.

And so here we are.

Dan Rayburn:

Today’s news is very simple to understand. Netflix decided it made sense to pay Comcast for every port they use to connect to Comcast’s network, like many other content owners and network providers have done. This is how the Internet works, and it’s not about providing better access for one content owner over another, it simply comes down to Netflix making a business decision that it makes sense for them to deliver their content directly to Comcast, instead of through a third party. Tied into Netflix’s decision is the fact that Comcast guarantees a certain level of quality to Netflix, via their SLA, which could be much better than Netflix was getting from a transit provider. While I don’t know the price Comcast is charging Netflix, I can guarantee you it’s at the fair market price for transit in the market today and Comcast is not overcharging Netflix like some have implied. Many are quick to want to argue that Netflix should not have to pay Comcast anything, but they are missing the point that Netflix is already paying someone who connects with Comcast. It’s not a new cost to them.

While this may be a tempest-in-a-teapot situation, I assume most people are freaking out here because of this news mixed with the proposed Time Warner Cable acquisition. And I’m fine with that because people should be freaking out about the latter, even if not the former.

Marvin Ammori:

It looks like we’ll end up where AT&T initially began: a false compromise.

The implications of such a decision would be profound. Web and mobile companies will live or die not on the merits of their technology and design, but on the deals they can strike with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and others. This means large phone and cable companies will be able to “shakedown” startups and established companies in every sector, requiring payment for reliable service. In fact, during the oral argument in the current case, Verizon’s lawyer said, “I’m authorized to state from my client today that but for these [FCC] rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements.”

Wait, it gets even worse. Pricing isn’t even a necessary forcing factor. Once the court voids the nondiscrimination rule, AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason. Whim. Envy. Ignorance. Competition. Vengeance. Whatever. Or, no reason at all.

Shady new world. Let’s just pray this doesn’t come to pass.

Jordan Golson for MacRumors:

AT&T announced today that it is planning to allow any customer “with an LTE device” on a “tiered data plan” to use iOS 6’s FaceTime over Cellular feature. Previously, only customers with a Mobile Share plan could use the feature.

Either you believe AT&T that the delay in rolling this out to more (but not all) customers was the result of engineering challenges — or — you look at the history of the company and realize they’re likely only doing this because the government immediately started looking it as a net neutrality violation.

Strange how Verizon was on board with FaceTime over cellular (and not just LTE either) from day one without these engineering challenges. Maybe AT&T would do better to just say that Verizon has the far superior network?