Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Anti-Net-Neutrality “Fast Lanes” Are Bullshit

Marco Arment wrote an astute response to the reporting by the Times (and others) that use the FCC’s “fast lanes” terminology:

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?

For fun, let’s rewrite a section of the Times article in a more neutral way. First, here’s Edward Wyatt’s original version:

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.

Now, here’s a version that doesn’t use the FCC’s preferred terminology:

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 to prioritize their content over the content of companies who do not pay providers for this privilege.

It’s already extremely expensive for companies to deliver content to end users as quickly as possible. Many companies elect to pay for content delivery networks, like Akamai or Amazon, to bring content closer to end users by mirroring data around the world in huge server arrays. Other companies — like Apple, Google, and Facebook — simply elect to build their own data centres. Now the FCC wants to mandate an additional implicit penalty on companies that cannot afford additional costs to ISPs.

Wyatt’s newest Times article on the subject further conflates net neutrality and these anti-net neutrality policies:

In the nine weeks since the Federal Communications Commission said it would try, for a third time, to write new rules to secure an open Internet, at least 69 companies, interest groups and trade associations — over one a day — have met with or otherwise lobbied commission officials on what the rules should specify.

That effort does not count the more than 10,000 comments that individuals have submitted to the F.C.C.

Now the flood of lobbying efforts is likely to increase after the disclosure Wednesday evening that the F.C.C. would soon release preliminary rules allowing for the creation of special, faster lanes for online content to flow to consumers — for content providers willing to pay for it.

The F.C.C. had previously warned against those types of deals, saying they could unfairly discriminate against companies that could not or were not willing to pay. But after a federal appeals court struck down, for a second time, the commission’s earlier regulations, the F.C.C. is trying again.

Those are the first four paragraphs of the article. I might be a little bit tired, but I find parsing this fairly challenging.