Worst case scenario for no net neutrality?

There seem to be two major concerns with a lack of net neutrality:

Pricing: Imagine the Internet having price tiers like cable tv channels. Want to browse ESPN.com? That’s another five bucks a month. Want to use Amazon or eBay? Ten extra dollars a month added to your bill, but you can save by bundling! Standards would probably completely differ between ISPs. Online services that already charge users raise their rates or risk throttling or being left out entirely. Bandwidth usage could potentially have little to nothing to do with whether any one site gets through, and how much browsers would pay for it.

Content: Would ISPs severely throttle or outright refuse to transmit sites based on content? Would all of Reddit be severely hampered because they host a sub dedicated to insulting Comcast, or just that sub? Would they lean on Reddit with money and pricing to ban that sub? If a site only loaded at 1 KB an hour, could the ISPs argue it’s still technically accessible to all? Would they be like advertisers and content producers, and “ban” certain types of content based on protests from customers and special interest groups? How far could they go without being held legally responsible for what they do let through? I could imagine ISPs giving a discount on the bills of customers who “report offensive content” in such a scenario.

Falling into the grey area between the two would be news sites. Would all ISPs charge for news sites, and either throttle or offer based on business and political agenda? Not all, maybe, but there are few enough major ISPs that even one or two would have a major impact.

So what do you think of the questions out there? What’s most likely to come true? How long would it take (if the worse did happen, I’d expect it to be gradual, although some of the bigger questions might be extremely sticky regardless). Though some issues are pretty old, it still FEELS like uncharted territory.

If I were a large ISP, I would make Netflix pay me to not throttle their connections with their customers.

And then make your customers pay for access to Netflix.

If you were the only ISP with high-speed internet in your area, the only thing stopping you from restricting content to only your preferred sites would be the outcry and the potential for the return of net neutrality. So, you should walk a fine line between maximizing profits only to the point where people would cry foul and contact their elected officials.

So, if I were the only ISP in the area, I would throttle any site that competes with my content and I would charge more for the use of VPNs (often used for connections to work – Verizon Wireless used to charge more for access to the Good app) – maybe require you to upgrade to some sort of business connection. I think that blocking content entirely would cause too much of an uproar, although an ISP could require a premium connection to get to any competing content at all, even at a throttled level.

In areas with two high speed ISPs, I imagine there would be throttling of competing content as well, because switching ISPs means switching phone and cable providers, trying to get deals on DVRs again, and for many people, changing your personal e-mail address. I have many friends and acquaintances who have optonline or comcast e-mail addresses.

So, worst case? Throttled or no access to competing content, extra charges for VPNs and other connections, extra charges for certain content or to lift throttling.

They will know what sites you like to visit and raise the prices of just those.

Yeah, because a 480 billion dollar company is going to sit around and watch their business die. The day an ISP starts charging $10 a month to visit Amazon is the day Amazon Prime ISP is born.

Reddit is hosted on Amazon’s infrastructure. As above, the day an ISP starts throttling AWS traffic is the day Amazon Prime ISP is born.

Sure! And, they’ll get the signal down that last mile using drones! Each drone can carry a few SD cards that you plug into your computer to download what you requested, and refill with your new requests. Then, you give the SD cards back to the drone and it will dutifully refill them back at the warehouse with new bits.

So, seriously, how does Amazon reach your house?

If I was Netflix I would tell the large ISP to screw off, then take out a HUGE add explaining to customers why buffering now take so long. Putting the blame completely on the ISP.

Here’s how Wikipedia says Google did it:

And, Google has basically stopped doing it. Plus, it does nothing to solve the problem with smaller towns and rural areas, the very areas that are most likely to have only one provider.

Worst case I can see is one political party decides that contrarian sites don’t get to do through their lines. Suppose Acme Internet decides that Fox is the only “news” site that you can see, else you might get subversive ideas. Some evil conglomerate gets enough of a market share, it can control the news.

Political parties don’t own “lines”. They’re not ISPs. And ISPs are interested in making money, not controlling where you get your news.

They could. Then all the ISP customers can switch to the 1 or none other ISPs that are available, who also charge Netflix money.

Is this how it is going to go? You will just switch to a new argument after your previous one has been shown to be wrong without any acknowledgement?

Comcast owns NBC, so MSNBC. I agree that they are not a political party, but they would definitely like to control where you get your news if they could get away with it. They could slow down connections to Fox and Breitbart, making it difficult to watch video content from those sites, for example. They could inject links to their own websites onto Fox News pages.

I’m not sure what there is to acknowledge. Google made some inroads into some larger cities and, I believe, is giving up their effort (I could be wrong about that). Those cities probably already had a couple of providers. I have two providers where I am. Smaller, more rural areas often have a single provider and I don’t believe Google has any plans to go there. According to this, Internet in the United States - Wikipedia, 28% of Americans have a single provider and 37% have two.

Look, I’m not writing a doctoral thesis here that has to account for every possible counterargument. I mentioned single-provider areas in my very first post in this thread. Did you address that?

I’d be fine with no net neutrality rules if the ISPs who own the lines were forced to lease space on them at cost, the way that the phone companies had to. But, as long as the ISPs have monopolies or duopolies to many areas, I’m going to be for the rules.

Worst case: Comcast throttles Fox, Breitbart and CNN so as to drive traffic to MSNBC. Users complain. The FCC issues a strongly worded statement that throttling news sites such as Fox and Breitbart is an unacceptable infringement on free speech and Comcast must desist immediately or neutrality will be reimposed. Comcast releases Fox and Breitbart and continues throttling CNN. Coverage on MSNBC becomes significantly more favorable to the administration.

Much later, during Melania’s second term, it’s determined that the neutrality advocates were right all along - ISPs are far to important to be allowed to operate unregulated. The ISPs are nationalized. The only news permitted is TNN.
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Serous question: if I have an ISP that wants to charge me to, say, search Google, what if I started using a VPN service to access Google? Are we to assume that ISPs would also prohibit the use of VPNs?

Nothing about their argument has been shown to be wrong. They explained to you exactly why your example not only didn’t refute their argument but actually strengthened it. If a company as big as Google has tried and ultimately failed, what hope does anyone else have?

The idea that Amazon is in a place where they can easily become an ISP in their own right is silly. They may have more revenue that Google, but, from what I searched, they have a smaller net income, so they have less money to burn on stuff like this.

Well, the question here is what’s the worst-case scenario. So, in the worst-case scenario, they could try and charge for the use of VPNs (which I know would be difficult), or they could make it a violation of their terms of service to use them (unless you get the business package or something). Chances are, you’d get away with it just fine, but if they found out, they could cancel your service or back-charge you or something.

As I mentioned, Verizon used to (still does?) charge extra if you wanted to use the Good app to connect to your work e-mail system. They were the only wireless provider who did that. Many ISPs don’t allow you to have a server, although they won’t do anything about it unless you serve up a lot of content, but it’s still a violation of their TOS.

So, yes, in the worst case, they could either try and ban the use of VPNs or charge extra for service that allowed VPN use.

Manson I never agree with you but here I do. ISP are virtual monopolies in most of the US so attributing competative forces to the market doesn’t work.