Not up for Debate in the Debate Over Net Neutrality
I think of the debate over net neutrality as a fight over the rules of the game where the game is the delivery of information and entertainment. There are big corporations arguing all sides of the issue. All of them are happy to explain how the position they advocate will benefit the public. But nobody seems interested in discussing issues pertaining to the very bedrock on which the communication industry is based. That bedrock is the right of the way that providers use to place their cable through private and government property, and the right to keep others off specific bands of the public airwaves. I’m not advocating any particular change or position, mind you. I haven’t put any real thought into what is, at best an infinitesimally unlikely hypothetical question. But if rules are up for debate and can be changed, surely the uncompensated and often involuntary transfer of property rights from the public deserves some consideration. This is particularly true when the beneficiaries of said transfers used to be heavily regulated for the benefit of those from whom the property rights had been transferred.
For physical cable and the like there are franchise fees paid to the local government for the right to put the lines up. For using your property if you look at the deed for the property you will find that in exchange for service the entity gets the right to an easement to provide service. Radiowaves are different but for a licensed service there is a license fee involved.
So I would argue with the whole point you make it is the use of rights of way is paid for by both fees to local government and in the service agreement provided for the use (just like for electricity and gas and water and old fashioned land line telephones)
Lyle: “So I would argue with the whole point you make it is the use of rights of way is paid for by both fees to local government and in the service agreement provided for the use (just like for electricity and gas and water and old fashioned land line telephones).”
Yes, in some, not all cases, the company pays use fees. But that only pays for the use of private property. In addition, companies are also given a separate monopoly right that they don’t pay for. No one else can string a competing cable. It is this additional monopoly right that they don’t pay for that justifies government regulation and neutrality.
Lyle and BillB,
To take it a step further…
Which may have made sense when almost everyone did use those services. But you can have a phone line and a cable line going to your house without being a user of either service.
Or… build yourself a home. Then a new subdevelopment goes up nearby. You might find yourself having the cable and phone companies stringing cable across your land to get to the new subdevelopment even if you yourself do not use either service. Now, perhaps that is no different than having part of your property eminent domained for the building of a road you will never drive on, or a baseball stadium for a team you don’t care to watch, or whatever. But is that really a good reason for taking away the landowner’s rights? I can see arguments in favor, and I can see arguments against. But I don’t see a debate. Now would be a fine time for such a debate.
The fundamentals are actually the entire concept of private property and the “rights” provided it. The difference between public and private property is only that which a gov’t defines as one or the other and the extent of private property provided by the gov’t as well as the “rights” provided to it..
In a laissez-faire promoting gov’t everything is private property with unlimited rights to it., enforced by gov’t This then rapidly becomes a serf based economic system.
The “net neutrality” issue is thus only one of how much of communications methods within a nation are private property.
U.S. mail is a gov’t defined and run public system of communications.
The air-waves are undeniably the public’s and it can be leased but not sold as private property, with the rights of use defined and limited by the public.
So the issues are always the same in all cases including “net neutrality” which is almost exclusively in the public domain (either airwave frequencies or public land use). The gov’t which allows it’s public property to be used for personal private gain without providing for an even greater gain of it’s use for the public is one which is promoting laissez-faire as a gov’t sponsored and promoted system.
Removing “net neutrality” is a gov’t give-away of public property use by reducing the public’s benefits of the use of their property..
And don’t forget the air above us as public property… the public get’s to define who uses it and under what conditions and what private enterprises pay the public to use it — that includes air-transport, and it’s uses as a waste bucket for pollutants. .
Public land use for wired communications is no different… the land can be leased and rights of use limited and defined by the public. .
These are what is called Common Carrier: “The FCC classified Internet Service Providers as common carriers, effective June 12, 2015, for the purpose of enforcing net neutrality. Before that time, the Good Samaritan provision of the Communications Decency Act established immunity from liability for third party content on grounds of libel or slander, and the DMCA established that ISPs that comply with the DMCA would not be liable for the copyright violations of third parties on their network.” This is what the idiot -in-chief would like to reverse.
Run, I know all this…the issue is private property v public property rights and gov’t controls both in all and any and every aspect. The argument is only what gov’t of the moment decides and my comment simply reflects the fundamental question of who controls gov’t since it’s clearly not controlled by the 95% of the public that stands to gain or lose… so gov’t isn’t the public quite clearly. .
You are missing my point here. The FCC head idiot plans to remove Common Carrier regulation and revert back to the Good Samaritan version which existed pre-2015. He is proposing a self-regulating industry, which we all know will work against us and favor the already empowered few.
I work in this field and sell just about everything a carrier could possibly need to create a broadband network. My customers include all the 800 or so independent telephone companies, the tier 2s, Charter, TDS, Level 3, Zayo, Centurylink, etc. I deal with GMs constantly, outside plant supervisors, regulators, construction engineers, consulting engineering companies, right of way specialists, etc. etc. etc. First of all, when anyone digs a trench everyone and their brother wants in that trench. Depending upon the laws of the state, the property owner either has rights or has limited rights to the sub-surface of his land. Negotiations are often done at the local level first, then if needed with a private property owner. If the owner does not make a deal, another deal will be made. For instance, if you do not let someone bury fiber along your property, the carrier will just use the right of way already there on a telephone or utility pole. Or they can go up the sewage line or just bypass you altogether leaving you with lousy service. The industry really sees a property owners right of way as a nuisance issue and it rarely becomes a deciding factor in where and how to build out. The big hassles are about tribal lands, urban construction jobs, getting utilities to cooperate and delays due to weather or unseen obstacles. At the end of the day, most communities that are underserved beg anyone to come in there and improve services. Some states forbid municipalities from competing with carriers, some do not. I live and breathe this stuff folks, if you want to know more about it, just ask me.
Your second to last sentence is particularly interesting to me:
From your perspective, what are the pros and cons (and in what sort of situations do they differ), and how does service turn out in either option?
In answer to your question about states forbidding or allowing municipalities to operate their own broadband networks, I have to say that you must follow the money to understand why some states forbid it. As always, lobbyists tend to shape legislation. A state that forbids it has been influenced by the big carriers, there is no other reason to forbid it. It is as if a city could not build its own water system because of “something”. Most cities covered by the big carriers (Frontier, ATT, Verizon, Consolidated, Windstream, etc) are ignored by their carriers because they are not big enough or because there simply is not enough money to do all of them at the same time. We are talking enormous CAPEX outlays and no one has the kind of dough to do them all at once. Cities that cannot wait, decide to do it themselves or invite bidders. This is happening everywhere because a small city may die if they do not have high speed access. Verizon has the largest CAPEX budget of any company on earth and they cannot even cover all the demand for high speed. We are talking billions and billions of dollars. This is why subsidizing companies to bid on these areas is the only way out. If you want to overbuild, you either do it alone or get subsidized. If you do it alone, the margins are really thin. If you get subsidized, you get regulated but at least you can rest assured that you will not lose big. The CAPEX issue coupled with the need to get online is why the FCC turned it into a utility. I favor the utility model, it makes a ton of sense to me.
I need to give a better answer. I have been at meetings held by municipalities that had no clue how to run a network. They had a professor of computer science or some consultant running the process that had absolutely no clue how to operate a broadband network. We would run from those projects because it would be a nightmare. I have also seen realistic municipal managers run the same deal and leave it to the experts, these win most of the time but some do get bad advice. Utopia in Utah is a prime example of a complete disaster. The best thing a municipality can do is ask for a partner, grease the skids for them, give them the expedited process treatment and hold them accountable. If a city runs a bond to do this, they usually fail. It is far better to just make sure the winner of the project gets special treatment in terms of right of ways, access to streets or poles, environmental issues and so on. Then, the city can toss them out if they can’t do the job. The big problems arise when a city floats a bond. That is a recipe for disaster.
I didn’t miss any of your point at all and that was precisely what my response to you addresses directly:
“:The gov’t which allows it’s public property to be used for personal private gain without providing for an even greater gain of it’s use for the public is one which is promoting laissez-faire as a gov’t sponsored and promoted system.
Removing “net neutrality” is a gov’t give-away of public property use by reducing the public’s benefits of the use of their property”..
I even began my original response to you with the actual issue:
“The difference between public and private property is only that which a gov’t defines as one or the other and the extent of private property provided by the gov’t as well as the “rights” provided to it..”
Your post addresses “net neutrality” as if it’s a god given right when in fact all issues of public v private property are the exclusive options of gov’t to define. Don’t misunderstand me — I strongly favor “net neutrality”… but that to me isn’t he primary issue.
To me the primary issue is that we have elected a gov’t (House, Senate, & Executive) that can do just as what every gov’t is allowed to do.. which is as they please and in this particular gov’t it is doing precisely what we already knew it would do, if not in every particular then in direction and extent.
So my point is that your complaint about the potential loss of ‘net neutrality” was a mute point the moment a conservative congress was augmented by a conservative executive … which occurred more than a year ago already.
Making every effort to get public opinion to oppose eliminating “net neutrality” for the public’s own good and benefit is a worthy and commendable endeavor, and I hope public opinion can sway this gov’t but that’s a matter of another color. The gov’t (this one or any other) doesn’t have to pay any attention to the public’s opinion at all if they deem it subordinate to the gov’ts objectives — which in this gov’ts case is apparent thus far that it doesn’t give one turd for the public’s opinion as long as their funders are happy . What made you think this is a democracy, or are you just hoping it’s one?
The FCC is an extension of the constitution’s commerce clause which is an advent of radio extended in 1934 to all other interstate use of the air waves and land-line wired communications.
As such it is a gov’t institution serving whatever interests the gov’t has for it to serve. The supreme court interprets the rights of the FCC’s rules which are therefore arbitrarily decided depending on the ideological persuasions of interpretation by the majority of the court at the time of any disputes.
With that preface then the FCC is simply another agency of gov’t and I don’t think you will disagree that any gov’t has the exclusive right to define private and public property rights, what is private and what is public property.
Given therefore that this is the case in fact, then any issue of public v private use of anything is a gov’ts exclusive choice. In the FCC’s case it is a five person political body with its chairman decided by the executive and with no more than three members from any one party which a present is 3 conservatives in the majority with a conservative congress and conservative executive.
Thus the FCC as a present gov’t entity is simply able to do what the gov’t that supports it wants it to do. Whether and to what degree the gov’t applies public opinion to it’s choices isn’t a matter of law or any constitutional condition. Therefore what it does or doesn’t decide is completely arbitrary depending only on what it’s gov’t wants it to decide (or not decide as the case may be).
Thus what you want to occur or not occur is an issue of a gov’ts choice (or perhaps in some cases a Supreme court’s equally arbitrary five member choice).
If the gov’t opposes what you (or I) want then then our complaint is purely a complaint of the sitting gov’t.
The sitting gov’t at any point in time is decided by some proportion of the electorate.
The electorate is largely uninformed of the basis for the problems and issues it uses to decide their choice of gov’t. and is therefore persuaded on the basis of emotions as their only means of deciding. An uninformed or emotionally informed electorate is thus simply a tool of propaganda provided by the different sides of interests in obtaining control of gov’t.
The side with the best propaganda (best being the most emotionally persuasive) coupled with the widest and most frequent dissemination of it determines the outcome of the uninformed electorate.
Thus best and widest most frequent dissemination of propaganda is determined by how much money is available to it. The money available to it depends on what those with the wealth want. and how much they want it.
Most of the available wealth in the U.S resides in a relatively very small proportion of the electorate, and unless there is an opposing source of wealth and organization by those in the vast majority of the electorate provided to counter the tiny wealthy minority, the nature and outcome of elections is relatively known. If there are no enforceable limits on what those with wealth can provide then the outcome of elections is even more likely to be based on what the wealthy want of their gov’t.
But this can only work if the broader much larger majority of those without wealth is uninformed of the actual causes of their satisfactions or dissatisfactions. to the best my experience and knowledge I know of no nation nor especially the U.S. where the public is well informed of actual causes for their satisfactions or lack of them.
The public is not actually even interested in the actual causes of why they are dissatisfied, (and how could they be?) and must therefore rely mostly on what the people they have in choice to vote for tell them ..
And what the public is told amounts to misleading and false information in the form of propaganda. The most appealing propaganda is directed at peoples’ emotions rather than their use of rational and objective thought.
Therefore your actual complaint is (or rightly should be) directed at the source of your complaint which is actually with government and the form of gov’t..
But if you are satisfied with the form of gov’t in the U.S. then your complaint has no basis since you (& I) were out persuaded by the propaganda and wealth of the tiny minority to get the uninformed electorate to do as the wealth directed.
If you believe an emotionally based system of gov’t is a just and fair system of gov’t then you and I differ . .
As a point of reference in regards to right of way negotiations, the property owner can negotiate a fee from the carrier to cross their property if the trench is outside of the already established right of way on a public road. For instance, say the public road has an easement or extends to 100 feet from either side of the road. If the trench needs to be dug 120 feet from the road, the property owner is consulted and can get paid either in a lump sum or a monthly stipend. If its on a pole, the owner usually has no right to interfere with the owner of that pole be it a utility or some other party. In a fiber to the home design, the drops from the poles or submerged fiber splice systems will have to cross the property owners land to get to his house. Since most homes already have been designed with various right of ways for water, sewage, power, cable, telephony and gas, its not really up to the property owner to charge or forbid an upgrade done by someone who already has access. When a new carrier comes in that is planning on overbuilding an existing town with new broadband, they go to the city or county for approvals and do not deal directly with each home owner. I have heard of some cases where the home owner was adamantly against having a new trench dug on their land. The carrier just bypasses them once it is clear that no agreement can be made with them. Most people desperately want new infrastructure though and willingly help and support the new build out. Remember that most of America has old copper plant that is outdated and unable to support high speeds. The big tier 1 carriers have tons of service areas that are under served all across the nation. The old FCC rules where that these areas can be released from their incumbent carriers mandate when a new competitor is willing to make the investment. I am not sure if this will change now with the Trump era.
it seems to me your point got lost in the details. whatever Wooley (or Longtooth) say, the point is still that the internet is a hugely government subsidized business, and a reasonable price for that subsidy should be “net neutrality.”
if the government we have wants to turn the public investment over to private profit, we need to change the government…. however difficult that may be.
Coberly. I am not sure how you came to the conclusion that I said it is not government subsidized, it is. The degree of money invested directly in the access network is the only difference between urban and rural networks. Everyone should remember that since 1934, operators have been subject to universal service mandates within an authorized serving area. This means that every zip code in America was assigned to one telephone company or another and that every home, business, school, etc. should and must have a telephone line. When cable came along, each city sold a franchise to the winner of a bidding process giving that cable company a monopoly franchise for a given area. This franchise usually came with terms like giving schools free service, expecting them to provide local TV stations, local emergency service notices, etc. Every deal is different but the end results are the same, one MSO per franchise, one telephone company per service area, etc. When satellite TV came on, they did not have to do anything just send out a dish and reciever bypassing the local authorities. When Vonage came out, they provided POTs/VOIP services over data lines without compensating the carrier who usually lost the POTS line service even though the same copper pair that gives you dial tone is the same pair that gave you DSL. Landline business all across the nation is dying, data services are going through the roof with speeds now approaching 1 gig to residential with the advent of active ethernet and GPON/2.NGS technologies. Most of us do not really use our old POTs lines anymore yet carriers still have to give us 8 hour battery backup for 911 and emergency services like reverse 911 calls. The government has been instrumental in providing a framework for all the various carriers since 1934. It works well and can continue to work well as long as we keep the network open. For those of you in under served towns, you may have to wait until someone thinks your town is worth the investment. I just left one such carrier that is overbuilding small towns of 25k or less with fiber. They have deep pockets, very deep pockets.
You know so much more than I do that it is hard for me to really understand all that you are saying.
I don’t think I said, or thought, that you said it is not government subsidized.
I think what I meant is that all of the detail you provide buries the point that it is subsidized.
And as such the government has a right, indeed, a duty, to demand that the people get a reasonable level of service, especially as the internet is assuming the functions of the free press.
Thanks, you got my message right. Yes, I do know this stuff and it pains me to hear so many people have these unsubstantiated views about the topic and then refuse to listen when I explain how it all works to them. Those of us in the business know what is at stake should NN be repealed. Some only think of it in terms of politics or their own business, most though understand that the entire industry is an asset to the nation and the world. Our government funded, directed, developed and bought the origins of the Internet. Those who say government cannot do anything right are wrong about this one, they were always on top of all the new technology and demanded interoperability long before industry. Remember this, up until the world converged on IP and Ethernet, almost every network in the world used proprietary technology. IBM was not remotely interested in letting others steal their accounts, neither did Apollo or Siemans or Nortel or Lucent or Motorola or HP or DEC, they were all custom networks closed to other technologies. The US government ended this by adopting TCP/IP as the standard in the 1980s. Cisco and a company I worked for at the time developed routers, others developed structured cabling, others Ethernet or Token Ring, others did WAN technologies and when the dust settled, it all converged on IP and Ethernet which is what we have today. A guy at CERN made up a browser and before you knew it, everyone had to be on-line. Once it got into the hands of the average Joe with a home PC, our internet became a market. The telephone industry at that time was pretty static, dial up only used existing telephony circuits, no one really knew how to merge the two seamlessly until DSL came along. The regulatory environment was for the old world, Bushes FCC chair, Powell, kicked the can down the road and thankfully Obama was on it. Now we are regressing, the internet will become something of a hybrid private and public domain controlled by carriers and content providers. In a fight between Facebook/Google/Apple and Verizon/Comcast, I pick the former, they have all the dough now.
thanks. now you need to explain that to your congressman .
also thanks. thing about your bedrock is that it is the reason we have an FCC. their voting to privatize the net is the reason we have republicans.