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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The big story in America not being reported


There is a huge story right now in America that is not just being under-reported.  It's very nearly not being reported at all.

And the reason why it's not being reported is because it's not in the interests (read: profits) of the big media companies to report it.

Not even Fox "News."

What's not being reported is the ruling Monday by the Washington, DC Court of Appeals on "net neuttrality." That is, internet neutrality.

First, what it is:

Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on theInternet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.

And the reason this effects you and me is this is about who gets the internet and how much they pay for it, ultimately.  As ever, the wealthy will have theirs.  Everyone else will either pay through the nose for it or get little of it at all, or none, in plenty of cases.

And what happened Monday?  This:


Broadcast nightly news shows completely ignored the day's landmark court ruling striking down federal net neutrality regulations, an omission that deals a huge disservice to the public audience and a boon to the news outlets' parent corporations.

Net neutrality -- the principle that corporate internet providers should provide equal access to content for subscribers -- was dealt a serious blow the morning of January 14 when the D.C. Court of Appeals invalidatedthe Federal Communications Commission's requirement that providers offer equal access to online information, regardless of the source. Prior to the ruling, the FCC prevented internet providers from blocking (or slowing down access to) content in order to benefit their own business interests.

That evening, neither NBC, CBS, nor ABC acknowledged the ruling in their evening news broadcasts.

Here's why that's important -- NBC is owned by Comcast Corporation, which bills itself as the nation's largest high-speed Internet provider. CBS' parent company is CBS Corporation, which also owns multiple sports networks and Showtime, while ABC is part of The Walt Disney Company empire, also the owner of ESPN.

We've known, forever, really, that "them that has, gets," sure.  The rich get richer, the poor get, well, little to nothing and poorer. Unfortunately, humans being how we are, it's one more truth of the human condition. 

But it doesn't have to be that way and this is one place where the government should step in, make it right and make certain the internet is not only available but available, reasonably--if not even free, for pity's sake--for everyone.

And the reason is not just decency or fairness, either, by any means. The reason the internet needs to be available is actually, also for even the benefit and competitiveness of the entire nation.  You want a productive nation? You want a productive, well-educated population?  Well, you don't do it, even now, let alone in the future by making the internet only available to and for those who can afford it. Besides being even inhumane, it's not good national policy and it keeps people from being informed and educated.  

You want to cut off productivity and education in America, then vote against net neutrality and for the corporations.  Want to see a more intelligent answer to all this?  Look no further than "Socialist" Europe:

US Consumers Paying More, Getting Less For Internet Than Europe


The thing that's being ignored in all this is that we need net neutrailty for international competitiveness, not just for lining the pockets of the already-wealthy and the corporations.

That's the "bottome line."  We need it not just for the fairness and decency and humanity of it all, we need it sto stay competitive, nationally and internationally. Merely letting the corporations have their way with us, in this case, as in the case of our health care system, makes us weaker as a nation.

You want to weaken America?

Cut us off from education, information and technology.

That'll do it.

That and killing us with obscenely, even immorally too-high health care.

9 comments:

Sevesteen said...

There was a time when I believed that this should be true.

Then I became a Network Engineer.

Even in a home or a private corporate environment, different types of traffic need to be treated differently for efficiency.

Two-way voice traffic needs little bandwidth, but must have very low latency, jitter and packet loss.

One way streaming audio needs about the same bandwidth, but can deal with higher jitter and latency and some packet loss by buffering for a few seconds.

Video needs a good bit more bandwidth than just audio, but is otherwise similar.

Large file transfers need high average bandwidth, but can handle jitter and latency.

General internet browsing is relatively undemanding--for the best experience it needs fairly low latency, bursts of high bandwidth with long periods of almost no use.

Most networks (even internal corporate) use some form of traffic shaping or Quality Of Service. Even home users benefit from QOS. My home network is set to prioritize voice traffic, give second priority to typical internet browsing and restrict large file transfers and streaming video to the bandwidth that isn't being used by the other services. This "discriminates" against large files--these files are slightly slowed at certain times. The benefit to audio and general browsing is huge, the difference in large file transfers is almost invisible.

If my internet provider does the same thing for you as I do for myself it would be non-neutral.

Network design involves balancing all these factors with cost. We make similar choices at work--some areas are faster but less reliable, others reliability takes priority over everything else, and some areas require the lowest latency.

...and that's in a single building, before anything gets out to any of the private networks that make up the Internet.

Any of these areas can create differences in speed to different parts of the internet even if the decisions are made in complete good faith.

On to people. In the 1990's, A few rogue internet providers would allow their customers to abuse the rest of us, polluting the entire email system with spam and scams. This was not allowed, but there was little enforcement possible. The "good" ISP's first blocked the pollution...but eventually refused to carry any traffic to or from "polluting" ISP's until they cleaned up. This mostly worked, and made the spam problem manageable. And would be illegal under Net Neutrality.

If there is choice in Internet providers and Comcast blocks or tampers with traffic to NBC or Netflix, customers will leave. We need to make sure there is choice--but having the government involved in basic technical decisions about running the network isn't going to promote competition. Choice is generally abysmal in most geographic areas. I've got the choice of the phone company or the cable company, both monopolies in their original field with a monopoly attitude. Adding more regulatory burden makes it harder for new competitors, without making much difference to the current providers.

...and none of this is about education or educational sources, it is almost entirely about who gets to provide corporate Hollywood movies and network TV. No ISP is going to block the Kahn Academy.

Most people have access to the Internet in some way--internet cafe, public library, most phones. Most people who care enough can get internet.

Europe has some advantages in giving low cost internet. Population density helps tremendously. Much of Europe skipped analog DTMF touch tone phones and went straight to digital ISDN lines for voice. When the Internet became important, they had a much better infrastructure.

Mo Rage said...

But the fact is, American internet providers are gouging us to get the service.

Again, your unwavering support for and defense of the corporations and the status quo is baffling.

Sevesteen said...

Kind of changing the subject, I thought we were talking about net neutrality, not socialized internet.

I've no idea what the situation is in Europe. In the US it is nearly impossible to overcome the advantage of an incumbent company that already has wires to the home--so in most places I'm familiar with there's a duopoly of phone and cable internet, with no other viable choices, and no significant pressure to innovate. Under these circumstances costs will be higher and quality lower regardless of industry.

Mo Rage said...

Socialism, to you, as with too many Americans, is a big, bad, bogeyman. Not to me and a lot of us.

Sevesteen said...

Socialism works? Germany.

Mo Rage said...

Yes, Socialism works. Germany, England, France, Finland, the Netherlands, etc., etc. You aren't seriously going to deny that, are you?

Who am i kidding? Of course you are.

Sevesteen said...

So east Germany was just as successful as West Germany?

Mo Rage said...

East Germany was Communist.

Sevesteen said...

Yes, East Germany was Communist, governed by the Socialist Unity Party.

Similar to the United Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Socialist Republic of Vietnam etc.

There are a few things that should be socialist, where engineering makes competition impractical. In most cases it isn't practical to have competing streets and highways, so social ownership makes sense. There are some other socialist programs that while being a bad idea can be lived with or even recovered from.

But we have so many examples of where socialism fails, universally--almost every time it has been used to grow food, for example, from at least as early as Jamestown Virginia to modern Socialist Republics. Socialized cars? The Yugo was probably the best of them...and it used obsolete capitalist designs and tooling.

Once socialism has metastasized into full communism there's not much hope except to change governments.

Where is your line between socialism and communism?

Should the dirty capitalists take the risks in setting up publicly accessible networks, then be told how they are allowed to run them, how much they can charge, who they must serve?

Are you even aware that the Internet is merely a bunch of corporate networks that have agreed to cooperate?