Talk to the FCC

If you want to comment on the FCC’s proposed “fast lane” rule, here’s how. I’d suggest that you tell them to regulate ISPs as common carriers. Maybe some of you have a better idea, so here’s a thread for that.

36 replies
  1. 1
    Ash Can says:

    Thanks for the info!

  2. 2
    Tokyokie says:

    My suggestion is simple: No further telecommunications mergers and acquisitions will be approved without severe regulation. For instance, provide 100 mbs download and upload speeds (which is common in industrialized countries with more highly regulated telecommunications industries) throughout the system at the same price point as current high-speed service — not just somewhere, not just average — and then seek permission for additional industry consolidation. Comcast acquiring Time Warner Cable or AT&T swallowing DirecTV will have NO positive effect on consumers absent additional regulation.

  3. 3
    raven says:

    Given the considerable technical and legal expertise necessary to even understand this issue, the F.C.C.’s request for public comment on network neutrality seems about as useful as the Interior Department asking for public feedback on the best way to manage the Hoover Dam.

    I loves it!

  4. 4
    Baud says:


    That won’t be helpful. Comments from the public shouldn’t get creative. They are most helpful if there are a large number of people who say the same thing about what they want. The industry is sure to get some astroturf “don’t regulate the internet” comments on file.

  5. 5
    Mandalay says:

    From the OP link:

    Companies will be allowed to create fast lanes so long as they do so in a “commercially reasonable” manner

    The Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, uses the term “commercially reasonable”, but specifically refuses to define what it means. This is his background:

    Prior to working at the FCC, Wheeler worked as a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with positions including President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).

    What could possibly go wrong?

    ETA: This was the twaddle he served at his Senate confirmation:

    If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, my client will be the American public, and I hope I can be as effective an advocate for them as humanly possible.

    The poor fucker must have busted a couple of cheek muscles keeping a straight face when he told that to the Senate.

  6. 6
    Tokyokie says:

    @Baud: Here’s what I sent the FCC:

    I adamantly oppose the rules the FCC has proposed, as they will do nothing but enrich ISP owners to the detriment of virtually all consumers. It is high time that the telecommunicatioins industry in this county be required to provide the level of service in industrialized countries such as South Korea, Japan, and France, and these proposed rules will do nothing to accomplish that. Rather than doing the bidding of the few, the FCC needs to fulfill its statutorial mandate of ensuring service for all and make no further concessions to the telecommunications industry, including approval of mergers and acquisitions, until the service provided by the companies involved is dramatically improved without significant price increases. The agency needs to be far more concerned with consumers than with stockholders, and these rules only benefit the latter.

  7. 7
    Eljai says:

    I commented yesterday – said something about how we must keep the fast lane open for everyone if we want to encourage innovation yada, yada. But I wish I had included the part about making ISPs common carriers. When I visit my family this week, I will have them leave comments and include that. Generally, my family listens to me on these matters, especially after a couple glasses of wine.

  8. 8
    🌷 Martin says:

    I’m not sure this is going to play out as people expect. Asking Apple and Google, who together have as much money as most nations, to pay ISPs for bandwidth access to customers sounds like a perfectly good way to get Apple and Google into the ISP business, the latter of which already is.

    White space wireless can get up to 12Mb/s (which isn’t huge, but it’s good enough for Netflix) with a range of up to 6 miles. Someone big is going to leapfrog the wired high-speed and go straight to wireless, or LTE will just take over, which is faster, but shorter range, and more expensive to deploy.

    I don’t think the FCC is who the ISPs need to be worrying about right now.

  9. 9
    kdaug says:

    Screw it. Here’s my proposal: The government made the internet, the government owns it. Make it like the highway system. You pay a dollar or two more in taxes, and the fed delivers broadband to you, wherever you are in the country, as a right as an American.

    It needs to be part of the commons. Like parks, or water, or traffic signals.

    Socialize it, bitch!

  10. 10
    Mandalay says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    Someone big is going to leapfrog the wired high-speed and go straight to wireless

    Are you just thinking out loud here, or do you have someone/something specific in mind? Is there existing wireless technology to do that?

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    For those interested, FCC’s proposal is here.

    The FCC asks about classifying broadband as common carriers at para. 148.

  12. 12
    ellennelle says:

    kdaug, i’m with you; socialize it, nationalize it, make it OURS.

    i do have a question, tho; is ‘making the isp common carrier’ the same thing as redefining the net as a utility?

    finally, everyone should emphasize in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS (as in CAPS) to mr. wheeler, the HE MUST NOT SPEAK IN UNCERTAIN TERMS!!

    “commercially reasonable” is so vague the damn tech companies can drive fleets of trucks through it. and will; that’s the point.

    but the larger point is, that much vagueness is unconstitutional; the only way to interpret it will be in favor of the corporations, who have the largest “tangible” stake in it.

    this needs to become a hellfire flash point, even bigger than occupy.


  13. 13
    MomSense says:

    Can I just say ‘the prices are too damned high”?

  14. 14
    Morzer says:

    Every time I tell them to do something, they ask who sent me , and when I tell them “Constitutional Mistermix” they ask why I am listening to a bag of cat kibble.

  15. 15
    maya says:

    @kdaug: Unfortunately, you left out the part about who owns the government. It’s the mofos with the largest 1st Amendment Hedge Fund holdings. Browse any recent SCOTUS rulings for confirmation.

  16. 16
    KG says:

    @Mandalay: remember, when the internet first happened, a lot of cities contemplated municipal wifi. Some even implemented the infrastructure. So, there’s something that resembles precedent

  17. 17
    planetjanet says:

    Might I suggest that you read the proposed rule making before commenting on it. If the link doesn’t work, search for Docket/RM 14-28 at

  18. 18
    Mandalay says:


    So, there’s something that resembles precedent

    Sure, and having a gazillion people browse and check emails through wireless is fine. But what happens when a gazillion people concurrently use wireless (rather than cable) to access music and movies?

  19. 19
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:

    I think it would be helpful if the President came out strongly against this proposal.

  20. 20
    Baud says:


    i do have a question, tho; is ‘making the isp common carrier’ the same thing as redefining the net as a utility?

    In a sense, but the term “utility” doesn’t have much significance here. If broadband is redefined as common carrier, all it means is that the FCC can exercise more authority over it, including by adopting rules to prohibit nondiscrimination.

  21. 21
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Mandalay: There is specific technology out there. LTE for one. It is faster than almost anyone’s high speed internet, save fiber. It has three main problems:

    1) Its range isn’t great and endpoint costs are high, so building it out to replace cable is very expensive, particularly in rural areas.
    2) Building out enough capacity to serve a dense population is non-trivial. LTE has suffered from overcrowding in high density areas because of this.
    3) Pretty much all of the licenses are held by folks like AT&T and Verizon, and they’re the ones complaining above, so they aren’t going to self-disrupt.

    White space wireless is more promising. This uses the space freed up going from analogue to digital TV. The FCC isn’t giving companies a monopoly on the space, so it can be developed. It sits in a frequency band which is good for long-distance, non-line-of-site communication. With better range than LTE, you can better serve more rural communities. In really rural communities, you can boost that range through line-of-site efforts. Stick the transmitter on top of the co-op gain silo in town, and everyone puts their receivers on a pole on their house with line-of-site. You start getting decent population coverage this way. There are companies deploying this now. My dad has one of these at his house. His internet comes from a white space link to his local ISP. It’s cheaper per month than my cable, it’s a bit lower bandwidth, but still good enough for Netflix. Gets a little flaky when storms come through, but that’s true for us as well when the cable junction boxes flood and short out the network.

    You need decent power to push the signal back from your home, but where LTE is designed for low-power mobile devices like phones, this is designed for more fixed applications, so a more powerful transmitter/antenna isn’t a problem. No more than you would need for a wifi base station.

    The reality is that wireless is advancing MUCH faster than wired. I’ve had gigabit wired speeds at work for ages, but 10Gb has been too expensive to deploy. I have better than gigabit wireless in my house now, and it was cheap. I’m bottlenecked once it switches to wired, but between devices in the house, we’re much better off wireless than wired.

    The other benefit is that you don’t need to secure right-of-way to every residence. LTE range realistically is about 2 miles non-line-of-sight, but much farther line of site. So you can cover an area of about 12 sq mi with a tower. That’s not bad. But it’s competing with right-of-ways and cable that is already in the ground. Those are largely sunk costs.

    The downside has always been who gets rights to the right-of-way/spectrum, and the right-of-way between the towers and the regulatory issues associated with all of that. The biggest asset the ISP/carriers have are the armies of lawyers they employ. They know how to work the system. They know how to get the assets they need and hold onto them. The new entrants are really at a disadvantage here, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why consolidation is bad for the industry. My dad’s ISP exists only because his town was too small for Comcast or Verizon to give a shit about them. It’ll be a heavy lift for anyone who wants to disrupt this industry, but it is ripe for it. Google is trying, but they’re laying fiber, and I’m not convinced that’s the best move long-term. China and Africa are skipping burying wires. Too expensive. They’re going straight to wireless.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    @RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual:

    The FCC is an independent agency. The president is not supposed to directly interfere in their decision making. There may be more subtle things the administration can do though.

  23. 23
    Baud says:


    I meant “prohibit discrimination.”

  24. 24
    Gordon says:

    Internet access is going to be regulated one way or another, either by the FCC or by Comcast. I’d like to think there’s a difference…at least I hope there’s a difference. Anyway, I’ll contact the FCC. Also, it doesn’t hurt to contact your congress critters.

  25. 25
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    Stick the transmitter on top of the co-op gain silo in town, and everyone puts their receivers on a pole on their house with line-of-site. You start getting decent population coverage this way. There are companies deploying this now. My dad has one of these at his house. His internet comes from a white space link to his local ISP. It’s cheaper per month than my cable, it’s a bit lower bandwidth, but still good enough for Netflix. Gets a little flaky when storms come through, but that’s true for us as well when the cable junction boxes flood and short out the network.

    Are you talking the Motorola Canopy solution that runs at 5.4 GHz? That’s actually pretty old. The nice thing about LTE (especially low-band 12 and 17) is that you don’t need to to stick an antenna outside.

  26. 26
    🌷 Martin says:


    Sure, and having a gazillion people browse and check emails through wireless is fine. But what happens when a gazillion people concurrently use wireless (rather than cable) to access music and movies?

    Well, my dad’s town of about 10,000 people doesn’t have cable or DSL. Pretty much everyone gets their internet wirelessly, either just using the 3G on their phone/tablet (no LTE yet) and they pretty much all rely on Netflix, etc. for TV. Now, could that scale to 100,000 people in the same physical space? I’m not sure. Wireless is tricky in that you have to both carve up a range of frequencies (for example, wifi has a range of bands that it hops across) and share a fixed amount of bandwidth. Can you shove a bigger pipe on the tower and add frequency space? Maybe. At some point you have to subdivide the population physically, put up more towers so fewer people are trying to share the same wireless space.

    My HOA covers 30,000 people in a space of about 3 square miles, which is shared with churches, businesses, about 8 schools, etc. Physically the space is divided into 4 quadrants with natural boundaries between each quadrant. We’d probably need separate support within each quadrant. Now, the most sensible solution here and everywhere else I can think of in OC would be for the cities to become the ISP and put a tower up at each elementary school. They tend to located within walking distance of the majority of the population and serve no more than about 5,000 residents, and the city already has all of the right-of-ways and rights that they need. I’d bet they cover 90% of the population at least that way. Create a proper public utility to run the whole thing.

  27. 27
    Ruckus says:

    Like health care being regulated by insurance companies, internet access will be mis-regulated if by providers. The government is the only entity big enough and with enough power to protect access but will only do this if they see the benefit to society and not the big money interests. This is a binary issue, either we all win or big money will. And our only possibility of this is for the FCC to recognize that there are far more citizens than shareholders/managers and that they have a valid right to access. I’ve heard people point out that many of the ISPs are content providers as well as a pipeline which is different than phone companies. But it should be separate businesses otherwise the pipeline will never be equal. IOW, yes they should be common carriers. If they don’t like that they shouldn’t be in the common pipeline business.

  28. 28
    jomike says:

    I don’t get why industry is so vehemently opposed to common carrier reclassification. Sure, they’d no longer have the near-unfettered free hand they currently enjoy, but it’s not all downside. As a sanctioned duopoly (or quadopoly or however it shakes out), they’d receive significant protections and advantages not available to smaller competitors, would they not?

  29. 29
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Well, I don’t see the antenna being a dealbreaker, particularly in rural settings. It’ll beat what they have now in most cases. And it can work well without an external antenna.

    West Virginia University is doing it now. CENIC out here is looking at it for rural community colleges and some CalStates like Chico.

    The reason its moving faster in education is that many states have passed laws banning municipal wireless, which is just a straight-up money grab for Verizon, etc. But those laws don’t apply to education because while they serve large communities, they aren’t strictly public.

  30. 30
    Ruckus says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    Create a proper public utility to run the whole thing.

    This. This. This.
    The only issue I see is that when technology improves and needs to be replaced, a public utility may not do that. On the other hand isn’t that what most ISPs effectively are doing now?

  31. 31
    Mandalay says:

    @🌷 Martin: Wow. Thanks. Cole should sign you up to do FPs on this issue.

  32. 32
    Carolinus says:

    This clickbait Verge article is pretty terrible, for example:

    The Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal for a controversial set of new net neutrality rules this morning that advocates say could undermine the very principals that they set out to support by introducing so-called “fast lanes” to the internet.

    So called “fast lanes” don’t need to be introduced, they’re already allowed. That actually was decided by the courts months ago and is the current status quo.

    See ArsTechnica: “The FCC doesn’t have to authorize Internet fast lanes—they’re already legal”

    [T]here are no rules at all against Internet service providers blocking traffic or prioritizing some content over others. That’s because a federal appeals court this year overturned the FCC’s previous net neutrality order, issued in 2010.

    “To be upheld under Section 706, any rules need to ‘leave sufficient room for individualized bargaining and discrimination in terms,’ or they will ‘run afoul of the statutory prohibitions on common carrier treatment,’” Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick wrote, quoting the federal appeals court decision.

    Here are some far more informative summaries of what actually occurred during Thursday’s FCC meeting:

    There was no binding proposal put forward, and instead lots of varying regulatory options were advanced for public comment. Potential Title II regulations were raised in numerous parts of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking release, for example:

    Some have made proposals suggesting that the Commission could apply Title II to such services to achieve our open Internet objectives. For example, on May 5, 2014, Mozilla filed a petition requesting that the Commission (1) recognize remote delivery services in terminating access networks; (2) classify these services as “telecommunications services” under Title II of the Act; and (3) forbear from any “inapplicable or undesirable provisions of Title II” for such services. Mozilla states that, unlike the end-user facing broadband services the Commission has classified as information services, the Commission has not classified the service that broadband Internet providers to remote endpoints, particularly to entities not in privity with the broadband provider.

    These services, Mozilla argues, can and should be classified as telecommunications services, subject to whatever Title II regulations the Commission deems appropriate. Similarly, academics from Columbia University have submitted an alternate proposal to classify Internet-facing services that a broadband provider offers. This theory would split broadband Internet access service into two components: first, the subscriber’s “request [for] data from a third-party provider; and second, the content provider’s response to the subscriber.” The proposal would classify the latter “sender-side” traffic, sent in response to a broadband provider’s customer’s request as a telecommunications service, subject to Title II. According to the proposal, this is a stand-alone offer of telecommunications–transmission between points specified by the end-user.

    We seek comment on these proposals and other suggestions for how the Commission could identify and classify such services and apply Title II to achieve our goals of protecting and promoting Internet openness.

    Just to reiterate, if the FCC does nothing, the court mandated status quo is ISPs being allowed to prioritize and block content. Alternatively, they can try and fill the current regulatory vacuum by salvaging what they can of their 2010 Open Internet order. One option is to continue to use their Section 706 authority, necessitating weakening some parts of the order to try and satisfy the courts, preventing some abuses while being forced to allow others, and ultimately still ending up back in court. Another option is to overturn the 2005 FCC classification of ISPs as Information Services, allowing for stronger regulation under their Title II authority (and still ending up in the courts). Both choices are advanced in Thursday’s NPRM, and it would be nice if public comments were advocating for the later instead of pointlessly argle-blarghing at the FCC about betrayals and fast-lane rules.

  33. 33
    James E. Powell says:

    One legacy of the Reagan/Bush1/Clinton/Bush2 years that ruling elites and political parties have reached a consensus on the role of the federal agencies in our economy. These agencies are there to help rich people make more money. They are there to protect those people from the occasionally harmful consequences of their activities. They are definitely not there to do anything for the ordinary average citizen.

    This is not to say that the two parties are the same. The Republicans use the federal agencies to protect and enrich their supporters; the Democrats do the same for their supporters. There are exceptions, but too few to make a difference in the overall policy matrix.

    Stated another way, before 1970, the stuff that Elizabeth Warren says now would be considered the consensus on the role of the federal regulatory agencies. These days, she is a pariah in the corridors of power. She is considered and presented as a fringe figure with unsettling and controversial views. Almost another Kucinich.

    Would most American agree with the things Elizabeth Warren is saying? What difference will that make? Most of them are never going to read or hear it.

    The best thing we could do is convince the great mass of Americans that President Obama opposes and hates everything Elizabeth Warren is saying. It might get the 27%

  34. 34
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @🌷 Martin: Many cities in Oakland County MI own the cable infrastucture-that’s why they actually have competition (Comcast, Wide Open West, AT&T U-Verse) and was one of the first areas to get DSL.

    In the far northwest suburbs of Chicagoland there were two fixed-point WISP providers; and in Minneapolis there’s both a WiFi and a fiber buildout occurring.

  35. 35
    bemused says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    Stick the transmitter on top of a silo is exactly how we get our service from a local provider. Oh wait, the farm silo was located closer to us but we got better reception from the transmitter on the water tower in small town about 6 miles away or maybe it’s from the transmitter on a local business 3-1/2 miles away. I forget which when the installers were here installing the receiver on our house roof. We did have to put an extension on the pole but my husband remembered his dad, who throws nothing away had an metal pole that held up his old tv antenna. Such is life in remote rural MN.

  36. 36
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Can someone explain to me why we’re outraged?

    Currently, ISP’s can demand extra payment from content providers, or not show their content.

    Under this plan, ISP’s can demand extra payment from content providers, or not show their content as quickly.

    How is this worse than the status quo?

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