5 reasons the FCC might be wrong about net neutrality

This week the FCC passed new rules on net neutrality, which were essentially designed to limit the ability of internet service providers (ISP) to either slow down or boost the speeds of websites. While many experts praised the ruling, not everyone was thrilled by the outcome.

On this week’s Structure Show podcast, Mark Cuban — the billionaire businessman who made his name in tech and now owns the Dallas Mavericks and is featured on the television show Shark Tank — came on to opine on net neutrality and why he thinks the new rules are bad for the internet and bad for competition. What follows are a couple takeaways on why Cuban believes net neutrality will do more harm than good.

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1. The internet is working fine the way it is

“Look, I’ve had my same position on net neutrality for more than ten years and that is I think what is happening on the net works. I mean, I was involved in the internet right when it started. We started Audionet, which turned into Broadcast.com back in 1995 and for the past 20 years things have worked. And now the net neutrality folks seem to be getting some momentum creating the perception that the big ISPs that got us to this point have now become bad citizens and they are going to ruin the internet unless they’re regulated. And from my perspective, I like the way technology goes and I like the competition and I like the way things are going. I think introducing regulations via the FCC is a huge mistake and I said so.”

2. Government bureaucracy is worse than ISP dominance

“Comcast has always had that power, right? It’s not like [company]AT&T[/company] and [company]Comcast[/company] had just recently become super big companies and they’ve changed their actions. I mean, one of the tenets of net neutrality is that no website, no legal website, should ever be discriminated against. Name me one that has been.”

3. Don’t worry about broadband providers. Worry about Google and Apple

“If you’re going to talk about concerns, what’s the fastest growing access methodology for the internet? It’s mobile, right? And who controls access to mobile? [company]Google[/company] and [company]Apple[/company]. So the far greater risk, and I still don’t think it requires legislation, but the far greater risk is OK…if Apple decides that Comcast’s app is not right, Comcast is not going to be able to reach most of their market to get access through an app to their own broadband, which is crazy when you think about it but it’s a possibility.”

4. Net neutrality laws could end up like patent laws

“For all the years that we’ve been in the tech industry since we’ve been about 8 or 9 years old, the majority of tech companies did not get involved in DC. They did not get involved in regulation. This is all a recent phenomenon. And now, everybody’s got a lobbyist, everybody’s involved, everybody’s got their opinion and I think it backfired on us, just like patent laws backfired on us. Look what happened with patents. That’s what happens when…legislation gets involved with technology. And so I just think that if you’re looking for pain points that the broadband ISPs aren’t it.”

5. Remember Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction? That’s the FCC for you

“What if there’s some decision that just shocks everybody … It’s happened time and time again where FCC regulations get tested, the decision goes against the FCC and they fight it for years. Just like the wardrobe malfunction from the Super Bowl in 2004, they spent money for 8 years. The FCC that you want to be the department of the internet is the company that spent taxpayer money trying to cover, debating, arguing the penalty of showing Janet Jackson’s nipple … Now those people who want to protect decency in the United States and the content that’s delivered over the internet is the purview of the FCC, where else would you go?”

Amsterdam Internet Exchange broadens its foothold in the US

The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) is partnering up with Telx to establish a new internet-access point inside Telx’s NYC2 data center, according to an announcement  by the companies. The new point of presence (POP) comes just a few months after AMS-IX opened up another access point in Digital Reality’s San Francisco facility.

AMS-IX’s new POP is another step towards entrenching the European internet exchange model in the U.S. Instead of having internet service providers (ISPs) or data-center operators determine the cost structure of an internet exchange — which are basically the data-center locations where content providers, ISPs, telecoms and others link up and exchange traffic — the European internet exchange model operates a bit more like a commune in which all parties are owners and have equal say.

Advocates of this type of model claim that it hampers the ability for any specific entity, typically a telco, to monopolize the internet exchange and game the system for its advantage.

Netflix has been a big proponent of the European internet exchange model and made a splash in December 2013 when it signed on as AMS-IX’s first customer in New York. As Gigaom’s Jeff John Roberts reported, ISPs like Verizon and Comcast want to charge Netflix and content providers a premium because of the enormous amounts of network traffic they generate.

Neflix and others claim that these broadband providers have retaliated by not upgrading key internet ports, which resulted in bad network service for Netflix and other content providers.

With the new POP in Telx’s NYC2 data center, AMS-IX and Telx said that customers will now have more peering opportunities with organizations not only housed in the NYC2 data center, but also members of the Telx’s NYC1 and NYC3 data centers, which make up “The NYC Trifecta” in Manhattan, the release states.

The announcement also coincides with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler explaining in a Wired op-ed his case for settling the argument over net neutrality and which Gigaom’s Stacey Higginbotham dissected. Wheeler did not share the specifics of his plan in the Wired piece, but expect to see them emerge soon.

At CES, FCC’s Wheeler hints at Title II net neutrality decision

The Federal Communications Commission will vote on an official proposal for net neutrality come February 26, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said on Wednesday during a session at this year’s CES, the Verge reported. Wheeler said that his office plans on showing commissioners a proposal on February 5, which will be followed by the vote to come later on in the month.

Wheeler was apparently mum on the details as to what his office plans to propose, although he indicated that the FCC is looking to accommodate both sides of the net-neutrality debate, according to the report.

The FCC will not be caving in to all of the internet service providers’ (ISP) demands, Wheeler said, but some cases, “There are instances where priority makes a whole heck of a lot of sense.”

“You have to wait until February to see the specifics,” Wheeler said.

As Gigaom’s Jeff John Roberts reported this week, Democrats and consumer advocates are not keen on the deals cut by internet service providers (ISP) and some websites that result in internet fast lanes, i.e. speedier data delivery for those websites high on the ISP’s priority list. Republicans and telecoms, however, support these type of deals and say that business innovation could be stifled if rules were set up to govern those actions.

In November, President Obama urged the FCC to invoke Title II rules from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which would essentially reclassify the providers as public utilities and would require that they treat all websites the same.

While Wheeler didn’t explicitly state that he supports Title II, the Washington Post reported that during the CES session, Wheeler appeared to be “leaning hard toward the most aggressive proposal on the table.”

The Post cited several policy analysts who read Wheeler’s remarks as indicating he will side with Obama and urge the FCC to treat ISPs like telephone companies.


Hijacking net neutrality

Regardless of what happens with next week’s FCC vote, the whole net neutrality debate that’s gone off the rails.

Carriers must prepare for the flood of online video

It’s no secret that we’re watching more online videos. What’s not so well understood is just how dramatically this consumption will soon increase — and the pain that is going to inflict on Internet service providers. Alon Maor, the CEO of Qwilt, offers his solution.

Forget P2P. Now ISPs Really Hate Netflix

Netflix has become the new scapegoat for Internet Service Providers eager to cap, tier or otherwise make broadband more expensive for their customers in the guise of chastising bandwidth hogs. Data out from startup Mu Dynamics drives the streaming site’s pariah status home.

Today in

The official draft text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has now been posted online. Basically, the copyright sections, drafted largely by the U.S., look a lot like what should have been expected: a Digital Millennium Copyright Act for the rest of the world. ISPs will still have a safe harbor from liability for copyright infringement, but as with the DMCA, it’s contingent on maintaining a policy against infringement, a notice-and-takedown procedure, and terms of service that allow disconnecting repeat infringers. It also adopts the DMCA’s ban on picking digital locks, which could prove interesting given that some ACTA countries (Australia) have already legalized certain types of circumvention.