[olug] FCC, Net Neutrality, and other "third rail" discussions.

Dan Linder dan at linder.org
Fri Jan 10 08:28:26 CST 2020

So earlier this week I was reading ArsTechnica and at the end of the
article was an "Action Button" with a question how I would rate broadband
and mobile data connectivity in my area.  After submitting the response, it
asked if I'd like to submit a response through their system to Ajit Pai at
the FCC.

Thinking that this would be yet another bit of email that never gets a
response I typed in a quick message:

Subject: A constituent's view on current broadband and mobile data

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: I hope you heard from your extended family and
friends over Christmas. If any of them are slightly tech savvy, I'm sure
many of them gave you an ear-full about your ill-guided and poorly thought
through plan to reduce the protections of the previous administrations Net
Neutrality plans.

And I hit submit without thinking much more about it.

Just a few minutes later I received this response from "Ajit Pai <
Ajit.Pai at fcc.gov>":
They didn't, as it happens, both because they have lives and because over
two years after the vote, hysterical predictions of doom never panned out.
So sorry this is happening to you.

So I have two thoughts on this.

1. I am certain that it wasn't "the Mr. Pai" actually responding to me at
9PM Eastern - probably some intern that responded to a few random emails
from the deluge of emails these campaigns bring in.

My second thought was a bit deeper and I'd like some constructive
discussion around it:
2. If I truly did have the ear of the FC Chairman, what is a relevant
response I could provide?  What personally local impact did the change to
their enforcement of the previous administrations "Net Neutrality" stance
have to me right now?

Without getting preachy or overly wordy - apparently my short two-sentence
email was a good length - what are some responses that we can provide to
Mr. Pai and others who are blissfully un-aware of any direct impact the
change has had?

The only thing I can provide is the business concern: While I don't agree
that totally washing the FCC of all responsibility for this and handing it
to the FTC, I think the bigger problem is that NEITHER group has a
consistent charter to be that watchdog.  I really wish that Congress (or
even the Supreme Court) would force the responsibility onto some group
(FCC, FTC, other) and give them both the teeth and the responsibility for
the long term.

If I was a business owner trying to break into a new market (ISP in a
sparse area, a YouTube/NetFlix competitor, etc), the change of how Net
Neutrality and other Internet related regulations each time a new party
comes to power means that at best their business plans can only extend for
6-8 years.

If you're planning to build transmission towers, or trench cable, or build
out major distributed server installations, these are all things that are
expensive to purchase and take a non-trivial time to implement and scale

Knowing that the next election cycle could reverse some of the benefits
your business relies on currently means that innovation and business growth
are slowed if not out-right disregarded.

And now that the FCC does NOT centrally define what "Net Neutrality" is,
there are plans in place on a state-by-state basis to enforce state-wide
Net Neutrality regulations.  If I was growing a company, knowing that I was
going to have to track multiple regulations is extremely hindering to the
growth of my company and my services.

Are there any direct impacts we can point to that the Net Neutrality change
that the current FCC board had that are more succinct I'm forgetting?


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