I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Anti-Net-Neutrality “Fast Lanes” Are Bullshit

Given that the FCC is usually run by past or future lobbyists and executives for the industry they’re supposedly “regulating”, like most American regulators, it’s no surprise that it usually does what’s best for the country’s big ISPs at the expense of the citizens.

The New York Times published an article yesterday entitled, “F.C.C., in a Shift, Backs Fast Lanes for Web Traffic”. Pay careful attention to the ISP-friendly political marketing language being used. Emphasis mine:

The Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday that it would propose new rules that allow companies like Disney, Google or Netflix to pay Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon for special, faster lanes to send video and other content to their customers. …

Still, the regulations could radically reshape how Internet content is delivered to consumers. For example, if a gaming company cannot afford the fast track to players, customers could lose interest and its product could fail.

The rules are also likely to eventually raise prices as the likes of Disney and Netflix pass on to customers whatever they pay for the speedier lanes, which are the digital equivalent of an uncongested car pool lane on a busy freeway. …

“Americans were promised, and deserve, an Internet that is free of toll roads, fast lanes and censorship — corporate or governmental.” …

Broadband companies have pushed for the right to build special lanes.

Under the proposal, broadband providers would have to disclose how they treat all Internet traffic and on what terms they offer more rapid lanes

Those earlier rules effectively barred Internet service providers from making deals with services like Amazon or Netflix to allow those companies to pay to stream their products to viewers through a faster, express lane on the web. …

Consumers can pay Internet service providers for a higher-speed Internet connection. But whatever speed they choose, under the new rules, they might get some content faster, depending on what the content provider has paid for.

Everyone in this discussion has been led, most likely by talking-points marketing by the FCC and ISPs, to describe the destruction of net neutrality as allowing ISPs to “create fast lanes”.

This language was carefully constructed to sound like a positive, additive move: It’s building, not destroying or restricting. They want to offer faster service, not reduce the speed or priority of all existing traffic. Who could possibly be against that? They’re building fast lanes, like a highway! Everyone loves fast lanes! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Naturally, this doesn’t reflect reality at all. Only a fool would believe that the ISPs would actually create any new capacity, higher speeds, or consumer value in this process, leaving their existing service untouched. Yet that’s exactly the future you’re suggesting by using the “building fast lanes” metaphor.

Be honest.

This is not building anything new — it’s discriminating and restricting what we already have.

This is not making anything faster — it’s allowing ISPs to selectively slow down traffic that they don’t strategically or financially benefit from, and only permit traffic from their partners to run at the speeds that everything runs at today.

It’s ostensibly the FCC’s job to see through this bullshit language and do what’s right for the country and the people, but only the fool who believed that ISPs are trying to build something beneficial here would believe that the FCC gives a damn about what’s best for American citizens.

And 52.9% of us were that fool for believing in another big, empty political marketing campaign.