• Revision ID 26696 REVISION
  • 2017-12-07 09:18:04
  • by Angela Long (talk | contribs)
  • Note: currently added
 
   
Title Title
How net neutrality changes affect consumers How net neutrality changes affect consumers
Summary Summary
With Obama-era internet regulations ending, consumers are vulnerable to higher prices for web services and blocked online content. With Obama-era internet regulations ending, consumers are vulnerable to higher prices for web services and blocked online content.
Highlights Highlights
Republican majority on FCC board ensures measures will pass , Little to prevent ISPs from favoring certain websites over others , Large companies are not immune from negative effects Republican majority on FCC board ensures measures will pass , Little to prevent ISPs from favoring certain websites over others , Large companies are not immune from negative effects
Content Content
<strong>When browsing the internet, you can currently load an article from InfoWars, an alternative political site with roughly <a href="https://www.similarweb.com/website/infowars.com#overview">32 million visitors</a> in October, at the same speed as you can load a piece of analysis from the New York Times website, which had <a href="https://www.similarweb.com/website/nytimes.com#overview">408 million visitors </a>in the same month.  </strong>  <strong>When browsing the internet, you can currently load an article from <em>InfoWars</em>, an alternative political site with roughly <a href="https://www.similarweb.com/website/infowars.com#overview">32 million visitors</a> in October, at the same speed as you can load a piece of analysis from the <em>New York Times</em> website, which had <a href="https://www.similarweb.com/website/nytimes.com#overview">408 million visitors </a>in the same month.  </strong>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">All lawful web traffic must be treated equally - this is the basis of “net neutrality”. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">All lawful web traffic must be treated equally - this is the basis of “net neutrality”. The term was first used in the 2000s, and adopted by  the man credited with establishing the World Wide Web, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee">Tim Berners Lee, </a>as expressed <a href="https://webfoundation.org/2017/06/opinion-in-defence-of-net-neutrality-sir-tim-berners-lee/">in this article</a> reprinted by the World Wide Web Foundation. <em>(See also WikiTribune <a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/?post_type=stories&amp;p=26054&amp;preview_id=26054&amp;preview_nonce=1ad860c134&amp;_thumbnail_id=26311&amp;preview=true">interview with Berners Lee</a>.)</em> The idea is to keep the flow of information as free and open as possible, similar to how electricity is distributed. Internet access is regarded as a utility in some countries, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Internet_access#Links_to_other_rights">a human right</a> in others such as France and Estonia. </span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The term was first used in the 2000s, and adopted by the man credited with establishing the World Wide Web, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee">Tim Berners-Lee, </a>as expressed <a href="https://webfoundation.org/2017/06/opinion-in-defence-of-net-neutrality-sir-tim-berners-lee/">in this article</a> reprinted by the World Wide Web Foundation. <em>(See also WikiTribune <a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/?post_type=stories&amp;p=26054&amp;preview_id=26054&amp;preview_nonce=1ad860c134&amp;_thumbnail_id=26311&amp;preview=true">interview with Berners-Lee</a>.)</em> The idea is to keep the flow of information as free and open as possible, similar to how electricity is distributed. Internet access is regarded as a utility in some countries, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Internet_access#Links_to_other_rights">a human right</a> in others such as France and Estonia. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“The electric grid does not care if you plug in a toaster, an iron, or a computer,” </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Wu"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Professor Tim Wu</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the American lawyer who coined the term net neutrality, wrote in a </span><a href="http://www.timwu.org/network_neutrality.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">frequently asked questions blog post</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“The electric grid does not care if you plug in a toaster, an iron, or a computer,” </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Wu"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Professor Tim Wu</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the American lawyer who coined the term net neutrality, wrote in a </span><a href="http://www.timwu.org/network_neutrality.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">frequently-asked questions blog post</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">How the U.S. government ensures the principle of net neutrality, if at all, is at the center of a heated debate in the United States. (See WikiTribune community <a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/11/24/united_states/with-his-new-proposal-fcc-chair-ajit-pai-seeks-to-end-net-neutrality-debate/22705/">explainer by Eric Fershtman</a>.)</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">How the U.S. government ensures the principle of net neutrality, if at all, is at the center of a heated debate in the United States. (See WikiTribune community <a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/11/24/united_states/with-his-new-proposal-fcc-chair-ajit-pai-seeks-to-end-net-neutrality-debate/22705/">explainer by Eric Fershtman</a>.)</span>
  <h2>No longer neutral</h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">This debate intensified when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it will vote on repealing federal</span><a style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;" href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1122/DOC-347927A1.pdf"> regulations that protect net neutrality</a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on December 14. With a Republican majority on the FCC board, the agency will almost certainly reverse an 2015 Obama Administration</span><a style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;" href="https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-24A1.pdf"> policy that classified broadband internet as a Title II </a><span style="font-weight: 400;">“telecommunication service,” deeming it a public utility. Instead, the current FCC will reclassify broadband internet as a Title I “informational service,” a change that will result in far less government regulation for internet service providers (ISPs). These ISPs are companies like Verizon and AT&amp;T that own the infrastructure that connects consumers to the internet.</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">This debate intensified when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it will vote on repealing federal</span><a style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;" href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1122/DOC-347927A1.pdf"> regulations that protect net neutrality</a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on December 14. With a Republican Party majority on the FCC board, the agency will almost certainly reverse an 2015 Obama Administration</span><a style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;" href="https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-24A1.pdf"> policy that classified broadband internet as a Title II </a><span style="font-weight: 400;">“telecommunication service,” deeming it a public utility. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Instead, the current FCC board is expected to reclassify broadband internet as a Title I “informational service,” a change that will result in far less government regulation for internet service providers (ISPs). These ISPs are companies like Verizon and AT&amp;T that own the infrastructure that connects consumers to the internet. In general it is those communications company who favor being able to charge different rates for different content distributed across their wires -- particularly high-volumes of video as the Internet takes over from traditional cable and terrestrial television.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The FCC decision essentially deregulates how ISPs can treat web traffic. By repealing the internet’s Title II status, there is little preventing ISPs from favoring certain websites over others, even blocking lawful sites completely, all of which is a violation of the concept of net neutrality. Tim Wu has <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/opinion/courts-net-neutrality-fcc.html">written about possible legal challenges</a> to the regulatory change, noting that "government agencies are not free to abruptly reverse longstanding rules on which many have relied without a good reason, such as a change in factual circumstances".</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The FCC decision essentially deregulates how ISPs can treat web traffic. By repealing the internet’s Title II status, there is little preventing ISPs from favoring certain websites over others, even blocking lawful sites completely, all of which is a violation of the concept of net neutrality. Tim Wu has <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/opinion/courts-net-neutrality-fcc.html">written about possible legal challenges</a> to the regulatory change, noting that "government agencies are not free to abruptly reverse longstanding rules on which many have relied without a good reason, such as a change in factual circumstances".</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">To what extent consumers will be affected by this decision depends on how far ISPs are willing to exert their new-found power. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for telecoms company <a href="https://www.verizon.com/about/homepage">Verizon,</a> sees the concern over Title II repeal as hysteria. “For decades before 2015, </span><i style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;">we had a free and open Internet [Pai's emphasis]</i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.  Indeed, the free and open Internet developed and flourished under light-touch regulation,” he said in an </span><a style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;" href="https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0427/DOC-344590A1.pdf">official statement.</a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">To what extent consumers will be affected by this decision depends on how far ISPs are willing to exert their new-found power. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for telecoms company <a href="https://www.verizon.com/about/homepage">Verizon,</a> sees the concern over Title II repeal as hysteria. “For decades before 2015, </span><i style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;">we had a free and open Internet [Pai's emphasis]</i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.  Indeed, the free and open Internet developed and flourished under light-touch regulation,” he said in an </span><a style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;" href="https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0427/DOC-344590A1.pdf">official statement.</a>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Several ISP industry leaders insist that consumers will not see any changes to their internet experience once Title II is repealed. David Watson, the CEO of Comcast, the largest ISP in the U.S., wrote in a</span><a href="http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/comcast-open-internet-commitment"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> blog</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> post that “Comcast will </span><a href="https://www.xfinity.com/policies"><b>continue to support</b></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> net neutrality protections for our customers.”</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Several ISP industry leaders insist that consumers will not see any changes to their internet experience once Title II is repealed. David Watson, the CEO of Comcast, the largest ISP in the U.S., wrote in a</span><a href="http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/comcast-open-internet-commitment"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> blog</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> post that “Comcast will </span><a href="https://www.xfinity.com/policies">continue to support</a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> net neutrality protections for our customers.”</span>
<a href="https://internetassociation.org/positions/net-neutrality/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Giant tech companies</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, small startups, <a href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/11/lump-coal-internets-stocking-fcc-poised-gut-net-neutrality-rules">digital rights groups</a> and </span><a href="https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech/dont-dismantle-net-neutrality"><span style="font-weight: 400;">civil liberty advocates</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are skeptical of these reassurances, and are campaigning against the FCC decision. Their concerns can be boiled down to a lack of trust in ISPs as gatekeepers of the internet. </span> <a href="https://internetassociation.org/positions/net-neutrality/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Giant tech companies</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, small startups, <a href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/11/lump-coal-internets-stocking-fcc-poised-gut-net-neutrality-rules">digital rights groups</a> and </span><a href="https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech/dont-dismantle-net-neutrality"><span style="font-weight: 400;">civil liberty advocates</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are skeptical of these reassurances, and are campaigning against the FCC decision. Their concerns can be boiled down to a lack of trust in ISPs as gatekeepers of the internet. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">They point to past ISP behavior as an indication of what consumers can expect once FCC regulations are relaxed next week. The example of Netflix and Comcast is commonly cited. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">They point to past ISP behavior as an indication of what consumers can expect once FCC regulations are relaxed next week. The example of Netflix and Comcast is commonly cited. </span>
<b>Small sites can’t afford to play</b>  <h2><b>Small sites can’t afford to play</b></h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Comcast customers were able to stream Netflix content at a far better rate after the video streaming platform</span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/business/media/comcast-and-netflix-reach-a-streaming-agreement.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">agreed to pay Comcast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> an undisclosed amount in January 2014. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Comcast customers were able to stream Netflix content at a far better rate after the video streaming platform</span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/business/media/comcast-and-netflix-reach-a-streaming-agreement.html"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">agreed to pay Comcast</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> an undisclosed amount in January 2014. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Many net neutrality advocates see this backroom deal between Netflix and Comcast as a prelude to ISPs creating a tiered internet, according to analysis from the </span><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/02/23/comcasts-deal-with-netflix-makes-network-neutrality-obsolete/?utm_term=.26524a08e598"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Washington Post</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Large web services, like Netflix, can afford to pay a premium for “fast lane” service, while a start-up video site may be stuck with subpar internet that consumers are less likely to use.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Many net neutrality advocates see this backroom deal between Netflix and Comcast as a prelude to ISPs creating a tiered internet, according to analysis from the </span><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/02/23/comcasts-deal-with-netflix-makes-network-neutrality-obsolete/?utm_term=.26524a08e598"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Washington Post</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Large web services, like Netflix, can afford to pay a premium for “fast lane” service, while a start-up video site may be stuck with subpar internet that consumers are less likely to use.</span>
[caption id="attachment_25841" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-25841" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2017/12/wapo-netflix-comcast-graph-620x361.png" alt="" width="620" height="361" /> Washington Post constructed this graphic based off of Netflix data on streaming speed (Original article no longer available).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_25841" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<img class="size-medium wp-image-25841" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2017/12/wapo-netflix-comcast-graph-620x361.png" alt="" width="620" height="361" /> Washington Post constructed this graphic based off of Netflix data on streaming speed (Original article no longer available).[/caption]
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The prospect of a tiered internet has clear implications for small online companies: they would struggle to pay the price that ISPs charge for a high-speed connection, whatever that amount may be. Amanda Lotz, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, is also concerned with how non-profit entities would cope without net neutrality rules.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The prospect of a tiered internet has clear implications for small online companies: they would struggle to pay the price that ISPs charge for a high-speed connection, whatever that amount may be. Amanda Lotz, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, is also concerned with how non-profit entities would cope without net neutrality rules.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“If we truly move to a fast and slow lane system, what happens to things like government, education?” Knox told <em>WikiTribune</em>. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“If we truly move to a fast and slow lane system, what happens to things like government, education?” Knox told <em>WikiTribune</em>. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Large online companies are obviously less vulnerable in this scenario, but not immune. Even with access to more capital, companies that generate a lot of traffic such as Netflix and Spotify, could also struggle to absorb the cost of being in the fast lane.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Large online companies are obviously less vulnerable in this scenario, but not immune. Even with access to more capital, companies that generate a lot of traffic such as Netflix and Spotify, could also struggle to absorb the cost of being in the fast lane.</span>
<b>Costs get passed down </b>  <h2><b>Costs get passed down </b></h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The music streaming platform Spotify</span><a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/spotify-raises-1-billion-in-debt-financing-1459284467"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> struggles to turn a profit</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on its content despite having </span><a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/244995/number-of-paying-spotify-subscribers/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">60 million subscribers</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Its business model up to this point has been to grow the audience, whose members pay roughly $10 a month. If ISPs begin to charge for the traffic generated, or for fast-lane access, these streaming services might have to pass the costs onto their customers. </span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The music streaming platform Spotify</span><a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/spotify-raises-1-billion-in-debt-financing-1459284467"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> struggles to turn a profit</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> <em>(WSJ)</em> on its content despite having </span><a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/244995/number-of-paying-spotify-subscribers/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">60 million subscribers</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Its business model up to this point has been to grow the audience, whose members pay roughly $10 a month. If ISPs begin to charge for the traffic generated, or for fast-lane access, these streaming services might have to pass the costs onto their customers. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“Many of these companies have business models based on the belief that there was not going to be a cost to distribute content over the internet,” says Lotz, a supporter of Title II, who is skeptical that even large services can “simply absorb whatever cost they would need to be paying to be in those fast lanes”. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“Many of these companies have business models based on the belief that there was not going to be a cost to distribute content over the internet,” says Lotz, a supporter of Title II, who is skeptical that even large services can “simply absorb whatever cost they would need to be paying to be in those fast lanes”. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">While no one knows how much ISPs plan to charge for a high-speed connection, </span><a href="https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/60000979412.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Netflix reported in 2014</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that Comcast’s extra “access costs” was 150% more than what the streaming platform already paid the the ISP.  </span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">While no one knows how much ISPs plan to charge for a high-speed connection, </span><a href="https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/60000979412.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Netflix reported in 2014</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that Comcast’s extra “access costs” was 150 percent more than what the streaming platform already paid the the ISP.  </span>
&nbsp;  
<b>Anti-net neutrality, pro-consumer? </b>  <h2>Anti-net neutrality, pro-consumer?</h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">While the purpose of net neutrality is to protect the public’s access to the internet, there are instances where weaker net neutrality rules could benefit the consumer. Critics of Title II status see the government regulation as preventing efficiency in the distribution of internet access. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">While the purpose of net neutrality is to protect the public’s access to the internet, there are instances where weaker net neutrality rules could benefit the consumer. Critics of Title II status see the government regulation as preventing efficiency in the distribution of internet access. </span>
<a href="https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/boston-college-experts/net-neutrality.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Professor Daniel Lyons</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, an internet regulation expert at Boston College, supports Title II repeal in part because he believes not all web traffic demands high-speed internet. </span> <a href="https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/boston-college-experts/net-neutrality.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Professor Daniel Lyons</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, an internet regulation expert at Boston College, supports Title II repeal in part because he believes not all web traffic demands high-speed internet. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“Certain apps have different susceptibility to congestion. If you’re streaming video, congestion is something that can adversely affect the consumer experience. Whereas, for email or web browsing, it doesn't,” Lyons told <em>WikiTribune.</em></span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“Certain apps have different susceptibility to congestion. If you’re streaming video, congestion is something that can adversely affect the consumer experience. Whereas, for email or web browsing, it doesn't,” Lyons told <em>WikiTribune.</em></span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Net neutrality advocates, however, reject any plan that discriminates web traffic, instead treating the flow of information as a </span><a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/blog/net-neutrality-and-control-internet"><span style="font-weight: 400;">“dumb pipe.”</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> They argue that ISPs have abused this power for </span><a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21376597/ns/technology_and_science-internet/t/comcast-blocks-some-internet-traffic/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">their own financial benefit</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> before, and that the FCC was unable to legally enforce all of the principle of net neutrality until Title II was implemented. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Net neutrality advocates, however, reject any plan that discriminates web traffic, instead treating the flow of information as a </span><a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/blog/net-neutrality-and-control-internet"><span style="font-weight: 400;">“dumb pipe.”</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> They argue that ISPs have abused this power for </span><a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21376597/ns/technology_and_science-internet/t/comcast-blocks-some-internet-traffic/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">their own financial benefit</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> before, and that the FCC was unable to legally enforce all of the principle of net neutrality until Title II was implemented. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The 2014 federal case,</span> <a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/3AF8B4D938CDEEA685257C6000532062/%24file/11-1355-1474943.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Verizon vs. FCC</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> spurred the Obama Administration to push for broadband internet to be given Title II status. The appeals court ruled that “the Commission had failed to cite any statutory authority that would justify its order compelling a broadband provider to adhere to open network management practices.”</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The 2014 federal case,</span> <a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/3AF8B4D938CDEEA685257C6000532062/%24file/11-1355-1474943.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Verizon vs. FCC</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">,</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> spurred the Obama Administration to push for broadband internet to be given Title II status. The appeals court ruled that “the Commission had failed to cite any statutory authority that would justify its order compelling a broadband provider to adhere to open network management practices.”</span>
<b>Only one game in town</b>  <h2>Only one game in town</h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Whatever ISPs decide to do once Title II is repealed, the majority of consumers in the United States would have to live with the results. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Whatever ISPs decide to do once Title II is repealed, the majority of consumers in the United States would have to live with the results. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Roughly</span><a href="http://ei.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/SingerAssessingImpact6.17.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> 62 percent</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of U.S. residents must choose from two ISPs at most, for even the slowest of internet connections, 3 megabytes per second. But living in an area with two options for high-speed internet is a privilege, according to data from the consulting firm <a href="http://ei.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/SingerAssessingImpact6.17.pdf">Economists Incorporated</a>. Forty-one percent of Americans have one or zero ISPs available in their area for a standard 25 Mbps connection.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Roughly</span><a href="http://ei.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/SingerAssessingImpact6.17.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> 62 percent</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> of U.S. residents must choose from two ISPs at most, for even the slowest of internet connections, 3 megabytes per second. But living in an area with two options for high-speed internet is a privilege, according to data from the consulting firm <a href="http://ei.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/SingerAssessingImpact6.17.pdf">Economists Incorporated</a>. Forty-one percent of Americans have one or zero ISPs available in their area for a standard 25 Mbps connection.</span>
[caption id="attachment_25847" align="aligncenter" width="312"]<img class="size-full wp-image-25847" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2017/12/Screen-Shot-2017-12-03-at-8.56.23-PM.png" alt="" width="312" height="351" /> <em>U.S. household access to different internet carriers. Graph provided by Economists Incorporated, a consulting organization, using FCC 2016 data.</em>[/caption] [caption id="attachment_25847" align="aligncenter" width="312"]<img class="size-full wp-image-25847" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2017/12/Screen-Shot-2017-12-03-at-8.56.23-PM.png" alt="" width="312" height="351" /> <em>U.S. household access to different internet carriers. Graph provided by Economists Incorporated, a consulting organization, using FCC 2016 data.</em>[/caption]
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The issue of monopolies and duopolies was </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">controversial in the U.S. well before the Trump Administration. Former FCC chairman Tim Wheeler, who implemented Title II status under the Obama Administration, </span><a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/238654138/Competition-Speech-9-4-14-Embargoed?ad_group=100098X1555750X18ee307a35bad72c0a6aff7b7920171d&amp;campaign=Skimbit%2C+Ltd.&amp;content=10079&amp;irgwc=1&amp;keyword=ft750noi&amp;medium=affiliate&amp;source=impactradius"><span style="font-weight: 400;">cited lack of competition</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> at the venture capital conference where he released the above chart.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The issue of monopolies and duopolies was </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">controversial in the U.S. well before the Trump Administration. Former FCC chairman Tim Wheeler, who implemented Title II status under the Obama Administration, </span><a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/238654138/Competition-Speech-9-4-14-Embargoed?ad_group=100098X1555750X18ee307a35bad72c0a6aff7b7920171d&amp;campaign=Skimbit%2C+Ltd.&amp;content=10079&amp;irgwc=1&amp;keyword=ft750noi&amp;medium=affiliate&amp;source=impactradius"><span style="font-weight: 400;">cited lack of competition</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> at the venture capital conference where he released the above chart.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“Competition drives deployment and network innovation,” said Wheeler at the </span><a href="http://organization"><span style="font-weight: 400;">1776 organization</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in 2014 before describing the discrepancy in access “...three-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st century economics and democracy.”</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“Competition drives deployment and network innovation,” said Wheeler at the </span><a href="http://organization"><span style="font-weight: 400;">1776 organization</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in 2014 before describing the discrepancy in access “...three-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st century economics and democracy.”</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai </span><a href="https://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-pai-speech-future-internet-regulation"><span style="font-weight: 400;">has repeatedly cited </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">the dearth of ISPs, especially in rural and low-income areas, as a reason for repealing Title II, which “</span><a href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0426/DOC-344590A1.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reduced investment</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” in the industry.</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Current FCC chairman Pai </span><a href="https://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-pai-speech-future-internet-regulation"><span style="font-weight: 400;">has repeatedly cited </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">the dearth of ISPs, especially in rural and low-income areas, as a reason for repealing Title II, which “</span><a href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0426/DOC-344590A1.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reduced investment</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">” in the industry.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“When businesses cut back on capital expenditures, the areas that provide the most marginal returns on investment are the first to go. And in the case of broadband, that means low-income rural and urban neighborhoods,” said Pai </span><a href="https://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-pai-speech-future-internet-regulation"><span style="font-weight: 400;">in a prepared speech</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“When businesses cut back on capital expenditures, the areas that provide the most marginal returns on investment are the first to go. And in the case of broadband, that means low-income rural and urban neighborhoods,” said Pai </span><a href="https://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-pai-speech-future-internet-regulation"><span style="font-weight: 400;">in a prepared speech</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Whether Title II implementation harmed investment is difficult to gauge, each ISP reports different number. Free Press, a pro-Title II organization, </span><a href="https://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/internet-access-and-online-video-markets-are-thriving-in-title-II-era.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">released a report </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">that found that no ISPs reported loss of capital to their investors. For example, Comcast’s executive vice president Mike Cavanagh </span><a href="https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/comcasttranscript.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">admitted to investors</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in 2016 that “I think in terms of what actually happens... it's the fear of what Title II could have meant, more than what it actually did mean.”</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Whether Title II implementation harmed investment is difficult to gauge, each ISP reports different number. Free Press, a pro-Title II organization, </span><a href="https://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/internet-access-and-online-video-markets-are-thriving-in-title-II-era.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">released a report </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">that found that no ISPs reported loss of capital to their investors. For example, Comcast’s executive vice president Mike Cavanagh </span><a href="https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/comcasttranscript.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">acknowledged to investors</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in 2016 that “I think in terms of what actually happens... it's the fear of what Title II could have meant, more than what it actually did mean.”</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">There is little evidence, however, that repealing Title II ISP market will generate competition for consumers. In fact, Pai </span><a href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0510/FCC-16-59A1.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reversed a mandate</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that forced Charter to build fiber optic cable for 1 million homes that already had access to another ISP. Instead, Pai ruled that Charter should focus on providing internet access to residences with zero options. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">There is little evidence, however, that repealing Title II ISP market will generate competition for consumers. In fact, Pai </span><a href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0510/FCC-16-59A1.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reversed a mandate</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that forced Charter to build fiber optic cable for 1 million homes that already had access to another ISP. Instead, Pai ruled that Charter should focus on providing internet access to residences with zero options. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“[ISPs] could build infrastructure in areas to compete, but they’re not going to do that, because the existing advantage of the ISPs and having little to no competition is far more valuable,” Professor Lotz told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune.</span></i> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“[ISPs] could build infrastructure in areas to compete, but they’re not going to do that, because the existing advantage of the ISPs and having little to no competition is far more valuable,” Professor Lotz told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune.</span></i>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">What are known as “overbuild provisions” are largely avoided by ISPs because it remains more profitable to be the first company to reach a territory, rather than the second or third. When Comcast and Time Warner Cable began merger talks, Comcast </span><a href="http://corporate.comcast.com/images/2014-09-23-REDACTED-Comcast-TWC-Opposition-and-Response.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">authored a memo to the FCC</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that read “Comcast and TWC have never had plans to expand into each other’s territory and overbuild each other. Indeed, no incumbent cable operator ever has.”</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">What are known as “overbuild provisions” are largely avoided by ISPs because it remains more profitable to be the first company to reach a territory, rather than the second or third. When Comcast and Time Warner Cable began merger talks, Comcast </span><a href="http://corporate.comcast.com/images/2014-09-23-REDACTED-Comcast-TWC-Opposition-and-Response.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">authored a memo to the FCC</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that read “Comcast and TWC have never had plans to expand into each other’s territory and overbuild each other. Indeed, no incumbent cable operator ever has.”</span>
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