ISPs Push Employees To Urge Governor Brown Veto New California Net Neutrality Bill

from the down-to-the-wire dept

Last week we noted how California managed to shake off ISP lobbyists and pass meaningful net neutrality rules. The rules largely mirror the FCC's discarded 2015 rules, in that they prohibit throttling or blocking of services that compete with ISP monopolies. But the rules also go a bit further in that they prohibit all of the sneaky bullshit ISPs have creatively-shifted to as their anti-competitive impulses evolved, including restrictions on zero rating and interconnection shenanigans out toward the edge of the network (the cause of those Netflix slowdowns a few years back).

While the California Senate has passed the new law, it still hasn't been signed by California Governor Jerry Brown. Given Brown's tendency to occasionally veto efforts that have broad public support, net neutrality activists are a little worried he may shut the entire effort down. Potentially via the argument that the bill would somehow harm ISPs ability to make a living (which has never been true, since you only run afoul of the rules when you behave badly).

ISPs meanwhile have been making a zero hour push to encourage Brown to veto the bill, with activists telling me the CTIA (the wireless industry's top lobbying organization), Comcast and AT&T all met with Brown at his office last Tuesday. Other ISPs, like Frontier Communications, have taken to urging their employees to demand Brown veto the bill. And, as is usually the case, their arguments aren't exactly what you'll call fact-based:

"The email directs users to an online form letter to Brown claiming that Frontier “supports an open Internet,” but that the bill will “create significant new costs for consumers, hinder network investment and delay Frontier’s hard work to help close the Digital Divide in California.”

Except Frontier’s “support” for net neutrality has involved participating in a coalition of ISPs that repeatedly sued the FCC over its modest rules. And claims that net neutrality somehow harms network investment have been repeatedly, painstakingly debunked using public SEC filings, ISP earnings reports, and countless public statements by ISP executives themselves.

The e-mail to employees, which urges them to sign this letter to Brown, also relies on an ISP industry falsehood from way back; the idea that the bill (SB822) would somehow give Netflix and Google "free internet":

"The email, which notes that employee participation is voluntary, contains numerous other unsubstantiated allegations, including one claim that the bill would somehow create “free internet for big users like Netflix and Google."

Obviously there's nothing about that statement that's true, though ISPs have long leaned on this idea that content companies are just "free riders" on their networks, hoovering up revenues that, by imaginary divine mandate, should be going into the pockets of the ISPs. Of course every time we suggest to an ISP that they pay Netflix or Google's bandwidth bill, they go oddly quiet. That's because, like most ISP talking points on net neutrality, ISPs have to make up points out of whole cloth, since admitting "we just want the freedom to anti-competitively cash in on broken broadband markets" isn't a winning argument.

If Brown signs the bill, the entire west coast will soon be covered in state-level net neutrality protections, which is certainly not what ISPs had in mind after spending millions to kill net neutrality. If Brown doesn't sign the bill, he's going to be opposing the bipartisan majority of Americans who want some degree of meaningful protection standing between them and historically anti-competitive telecom monopolies like Comcast.

While broadband tends to be an issue politicians pay empty lip service to, the FCC's grotesque handout to Comcast and friends has changed the game. Should Brown veto the bill, he's only reiterating that monopoly welfare trumps the public interest and the health of the internet, a position that's likely to hold political consequences moving forward.

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Filed Under: california, competition, isps, jerry brown, net neutrality


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Sep 2018 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re: Eloquence vs brevity

    YOU as a Customer is paying for your COnnection and the Data going to your connection. It's PAID FOR BY YOU!!!!

    Netflix pays a ton of money to the ISP service THEY are connected to which would be a business type connection with lots of Upload speed as that's what you need with everyone streaming from you.

    Your ISP which is really the last mile wants to DOUBLE DIP to make more money!!! Everyone has been paid already. It really should matter if you get your Data from Netflix, Amazon or anyone else for that matter. Also costs for these company's have greatly dropped. They're making more money than ever.

    From their LIES, they throw on a 1TB Data Cap. But if you stream from THEM, it doesn't count against your Data Cap, WHY? They complain about some people using too much Data, which is a joke, but they then Increase speeds even more. Which you just run into that 1TB cap even faster.

    Because DSL is so much slower, people move to Cable making competition really become ZERO competition, and then they do whatever they want. Where it ends up being cheaper to get a dumb bundle when all you want is Internet only. Why is that?

    High prices, CAPS, Crap service is what you end up getting. I hope this bill gets signed. They lied and their cronies killed it Federally, and they thought all was good, but in reality, they opened it up to all the states to create their own rules instead and made them even worse for them. They may have made things worse for them, and I'm glad.

    They are in fact a Monopoly. In fact they are service you need just like Water and Gas and Electricity. You can't do much of anything these days without Internet service. I remember the days before the Internet many, many years ago. It's almost impossible to do anything without it.

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