net neutrality, dumb pipes, broadband access, title II legislation and the FCC

here’s the issue: your broadband internet providers are opposing, vehemently, that broadband internet access not just conform to basic net neutrality standards, but be placed under title II FCC legislation to enforce those standards.

basically, title II would mandate that internet access in America be regulated as a utilities, just like power, water and telephone. it would ensure equal access at controlled prices. it’s what most other first world countries have already done, like those in the EU and in Asia, to ensure all have equal access to broadband internet without business-killing interference from larger companies. one example is colluding to enact policies violating net neutrality standards to price out competition via speed tiers and ensure access for only the established. the netflix deal with comcast and verizon is one example of colluding to ensure priority for netflix’s data over their networks.

first of all, comcast and all other cable providers argue they control their respective hardware leading to our homes. that may be true, but these companies have existed, in one form or other, for decades, piping cable tv into our homes via the same hard lines they initially installed over 4 decades ago. as customers, we’ve long since paid for these hard lines. the network upgrades they’ve made over the years to increase capacity is simply the cost of doing business and should be reflected in their profits. profits built into the price they charge us monthly as subscribers. this constant game of guilt they play over the cost of increasing capacity is ridiculous and reflective of a generation of baby boomers who feel that the masses should shoulder the blame for the mismanagement of one. infrastructure upkeep and expansion is part of the cost of doing business; accept that as the fact it is. we as the consumer owe you nothing but the monthly bill paid in full and it is up to the service provider to continue providing service. if another country’s service providers are able to provide better service and do it at a profit, maybe companies like comcast need to start looking to other companies for help.

let’s keep in mind that countries like Korea and Japan are offering broadband internet speeds to 95% of their population that are more than 10 times faster and for a quarter of the price.

second, lay new hardware to give us broadband speeds as fast or faster than most third world countries. this should be easy. and no, you don’t require billions of dollars in upfront payments from consumers. you do this as an investment into your own infrastructure from the decades of profits you’ve collected. it’s not the consumer’s fault if you squandered those funds. but of course, you feel no pressure to make these upgrades because there’s no real competition. the lack of true competition over the previous decades resulted in cable providers neglecting to make these upgrades constantly, over time to defray the costs. the result is an ever mounting cost of making these upgrades, hardware upgrades from 70’s to 21st century technology and having to do it at once since they neglected to do them gradually. zero competition resulted in negligence and apathy regarding infrastructure upgrades. what could have been a gradual, 20 year buildout of fiber instead was hundreds of millions in lobbying to prevent having to do it. had they begun fiber layouts instead of lobbying, all of those dollars would have paid for most of it, resulting in better service for us customers while creating endless opportunities to provide increased services to sustain profitability. because of their complacency and dollars squandered on lobbying, cable companies are now using the cost of buildout as their excuse to further delay their responsibilities as a service provider.

third, let’s talk about competition for a bit. can you choose your cable provider? no, you can’t. they all have regional monopolies. they argue that they compete with telecoms that provide broadband access over telephone lines, but here we circle back to the beginning: title II FCC regulation. telecoms fall under title II, placing limits what they can charge for basic services to ensure all have equal access to a quality standard, but more importantly, equal access to the system to enforce true competition. so cable companies are “competing” against a one-legged man in a kicking contest. one could argue that delimiting telecoms would also solve the issue, but it wouldn’t. it would only create regional monopolies within the telecom environment and turning telecom into a non-competitive space like cable. we know this because telephone service was once that way and it was only through regulation within that space that forced TRUE competition, where you can choose the service provider you want. classifying cable companies under title II would be the first step in creating REAL competition within the broadband space by allowing new and old service providers to enter markets they’re currently restricted from serving and giving customers the ability to choose their cable service provider.

instead, broadband cable providers make this false argument that net neutrality would interfere with competition in the marketplace, the kind of competition from which better ideas would arise… but there’s no competition. only with true competition will prices then stabilize and gain consistency as service providers like comcast and time warner be forced to compete with each other for your monthly dollar. if one cannot push a certain level of service, they can push price, and vice versa.

finally, service providers are currently against both net neutrality and title II status because they want to maintain control over what you can or can’t watch. but really, should that even be a choice for them as service providers? shouldn’t that be a choice solely for you, the consumer, who pays for the service? essentially, cable companies are currently able to control what you do via the internet. metaphorically, it would be like verizon or at&t monitoring your phone calls and censoring anything you say if it conflicted with a paid sponsor. what if you couldn’t talk about football to a friend during a call because you’re on at&t and verizon is a sponsor of the nfl? essentially, that’s exactly the sort of control over us consumers the cable companies are trying to use legislation to enforce.

even if you’re a backer of less regulation to promote a free market, if you’re intelligent, you’d understand that classifying the cable companies as utilities will simply force these companies onto a level playing field so true competition can occur and paying consumers ultimately have more choice. that’s a truly free market.

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