Tech giants blast FCC's net neutrality proposal

In an open letter to the Federal Communications Commission, major Internet and technology companies are united in their fight to keep the Internet free and open. Companies that include Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix among others, are standing together to fight the FCC's plans to split the Internet into faster and slower speed lanes as part of a new upcoming vote.

"According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against internet companies and to impose new tolls on them," the letter reads. "If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet."

These technology companies are asking that the Commission should establish rules that protect users on mobile and fixed platforms against "blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for internet services more transparent."

Paid prioritization will become more important as users consume more video content over Internet-based services, often as a result of cord-cutting. Companies like Netflix and Amazon would have to pay ISPs more money to get more speed so that they can deliver videos at sufficient quality to viewers.

GigaOm reports that fifty tech firms are standing together to oppose the FCC proposal that will be voted on. In addition to Amazon, Netflix, and Google, other notable names include Tumblr (now a Yahoo! property), Reddit, Foursquare, Facebook, eBay, the National Association of Realtors, Lyft, Zynga, and more.

Though the letter opposes the proposal that stands before the Commission, it does not provide for an alternative solution. Instead, the technology firms are just calling for an "open Internet" as a vehicle for innovation and free speech, noting that "such rules are essential for the future of the Internet."

"The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination," the letter states. "An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and opportunity for billions of users."

Chuong's passion for gadgets began with the humble PDA. Since then, he has covered a range of consumer and enterprise devices, raning from smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktops and everything in between for publications like Pocketnow, Digital Trends, Wareable, Paste Magazine, and TechRadar in the past before joining the awesome team at Windows Central. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, when not working, he likes exploring the diverse and eclectic food scene, taking short jaunts to wine country, soaking in the sun along California's coast, consuming news, and finding new hiking trails. 

  • And the only ones that will be end up worse than before will be us, the regular people.
  • THIS!
  • F the FED
  • off course. If the ISPs are forced to pay for netflix bandwidth demands, your bill will go up. And if netflix is forced to pay for the upgrades via peering agreements with the ISPs, your bill with netflix will go up. The joke about net neutrality is that this isn't about consumers, it is about companies deciding who will bill the consumer. Consumers already lost. :)
  • Three cheers for all these companies!!! Net neutrality must be maintained, so I'm glad there's pressure from some major tech companies to sustain it. A little surprised to not see Apple on the list, however...
  • Apple isn't a major tech company plus they're greedy
  • +1020
  • Apple and Jobs were led by greed and greed only. They probably cheer the FCC on.
  • Apple is already trying to cut deals with ISPs.
  • How would Apple benefit? They don't own the pipe for the internet. They would probably have to pay more themselves for Itunes music and movie streaming.
  • Just Netflix and Youtube alone account for over half of all web traffic in North America. This is why they were the top sponsors and lobbied for Net Neutrality.  Free, unlimited access to another company's infrastructure.  There's little incentive for efficient use of that bandwidth when they use lobbyists to convince Congress to give them unlimited use for free.  The politicians love this scenario.  Two extremely wealthy entities both competing against each other by giving politicians the most in donations and influence. Meanwhile, we have all the useful idiots in the country ready to jump on whatever cause bandwagon is marketed as the latest fad to be a part of.  This subject will drag on and continue to come up again and again for these reasons. Don't let yourselves become tools. With 4k video popularity on the horizon, limitations or efficiency needs to be imposed by the providers or everyone will eventually suffer.  The continuation of unfettered Net Neutrality will eventually cause tiered pricing rather than the unlimited usage we now enjoy.  Someone will eventually pay.  It will either be those who use massive amounts of bandwidth, or the rest of the population will be required to subsidize them.
  • In the USA we already have tiered data usage for most ISP. Yet because of this we pay the highest prices in the western world. I'm lucky with a dedicated T-2 line to our home but I was a Beta tester since 1998. Even after moving Cox Com. was willing to run a line to my newly built home to sustain my web site data load. I guess a good residential test. That said , I would not like to see my pipe constricted, due to load (60-80Gb monthly), just because Cox Com. is a smaller ISP and can't pay the big guy rates even though Cox spent the money to connect to the infrastructure.
  • We pay for bandwidth.  We have unlimited usage, but we pay for the speed of the usage. The actual usage will also eventually be limited if the ISPs are not allowed to have market controls over the top bandwidth hogs.  It doesn't matter if many consumers want to pay next to nothing for Netflix.  If that unlimited load from basically two companies threatens to slow  the access of information from millions of other sources,  those two companies can no longer have a completely free ride.  Perhaps the bandwidth requirements of 4k streaming have not yet sunk in for many people.  Millions of people, along with millions of business also use the internet but don't use Netflix.  As I said, the proponents of Net Neutrality want all those people to subsidize the heavy Netflix users so the cost of Netflix doesn't go up.  Netflix and Youtube need to either have some costs that curtail their growth, or encure costs that encourage efficiency. Either way, the Netflix users and YouTube advertizers should be the ones paying for it.
  • I'm not sure who your ISP is, but most people do not get unlimited data. I paid an extra $30 a month so that I could go from 300 GB to 1TB of usage a month. If I go over that, I pay more. My ISP is mediacom cable. 
  • You keep bringing up 4K video as an issue.  Where?  I don't see many people clamoring for it, nor do I see a whole lot of 4K video actually being produced. That being said, when the time comes, years down the road, that 4K TVs are affordable for the average household, and Netflix and other companies actually have a base of 4K content to stream, other things will have changed.  Major ISPs are already working on gigabit service deployment, which in part will help keep up.  Video compression codecs will evolve to help keep up.  The ability for consumer TV and other devices to "upscale" lower resolution content to 4K will surely be present. And even short of all of that, how difficult would it be for Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Video to charge consumers who want 4K streaming a higher price to cover what the ISPs are charging them?  It's 4 times the resoltion of 1080p, so I think charging double what "normal" streaming users pay is not out of the question.  I really don't see end users being totally disagreeable to something like that.  Especialy when, at the current stage, if you can afford a 4K TV, I don't think $20 a month for streaming is going to dent your wallet too much.  I'm agreable right now to paying $15 a month for 1080p streaming.
    Perhaps a better model is packages based upon hours of content.  $5 a month for 10 hours.  $10 a month for 25 hours.  $20 a month for 50 hours.  With a $10 adder if you want that content in 4K. The concerns of Net Nuetrality go far beyond streaming video.  Netflix and Youtube may be what is currently driving the cry for prioritized traffic, but the ripple effects of doing so have repercussions that are detrimental beyond counting. Many of these ISPs are trying to wring more and more money out of everyone they can for every little thing.  Many cable companies are just going bananas right now.  Here's a thought...  Why don't we get rid of some of the ridiculous redundant channels?  I get about 200 channels with my package of service.  I watch about 12 of them.  Do we really need 15 different channels dedicated to 24/7 sports coverage?  Do we really need two History channels, Mutiple Nat Geo channels, 87 news channels?  If you want to talk about subsidizing, the average cable/satalite customer has been subsidizing the existence of a lot of needless redundant content for decades.  Once you get past the top 35 or so channels (outside of locals), viewing rates drop off exponentially. Yet, the $40 a month I pay so I can see 12 channels in part goes to all of that crap that I, and many others, just do not care about or watch.  It's the equivalent of a retail store trying to offer too many items.  The 80/20 rule kicks in, and they've got their cash tied up in a bunch slow moving merchandise.  If cable companies would start offering ala-cart packages, we'd see a ton of channels disappear in short order.  People would have to make more thoughful decisions on exactly which channels they want to pay for to see.
  • Mobile Nations recently posted an article addressing this very point. Yes, these content providers do use a lot of resources. But that's what the consumer is paying for: To maintain the network in exchange for the right to use it. Yet, these big companies keep trying to "double-dip," citing reasons such as their infrastructure nor being able to keep up, when clearly it can. Tiered pricing won't help unless there's regulations that ISPs can't discriminate what traffic is going where. Why? Companies like AT&T are known to threaten to deny service when they detect customers are using their devices to tether and act as their home Wi-Fi network. Hell, just charging separately for tethering is absurd to begin with. People pay for their allotment of data, why the hell does it matter how it's being used? This is the main idea of net neutrality. So long as people pay the cost for service, ISPs shouldn't discriminate where the data is going or where it's coming from.
  • Finally they come out
  • This sounds like a job for the Assassin Brotherhood.. Freaking Templars commission
  • +Altaír
  • ......I like the way they don't propose any actual solutions. Nice!
  • Solutions to what?
  • This.
  • how about these isps take the money i pay them because it sure is a hell of a lot of it, and invest it in upgrades so that this isnt a problem. theyre just being greedy and cheap with their bandwidth.
  • Buh, buh, they need to pay their shareholders.  What are these poor little ISP's supposed to do??....  [/sarcasm]
  • It's a government granted monopoly. What did you expect? A good chunk of your cable bill goes to lobbyists whose job it is to make sure the FCC has a steady supply of hookers and cocaine so the cable companies get to continue ripping you off every month.
  • Lobbyists no. This looks like another way the goverment can add a TAX!!!
  • This is nothing to do with the government(yet). The ISPs want to charge content providers like Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon, etc. for premium access to you the subscribers... if the cannot pay you will not be able to access their website or it will be extremely slow... Turning websites into tv channels. We the subscribers will still continue to pay the same rates for their connection to these"channels"
  • This is eactly how they started cuting up the band for mobile spectrum.  Goverment control with fees and chargers. The cost will get push to consumer. If you think it will not effect us you need to take a moment and think about it. This is more of a Fed thing not a ISP thing. It seems like a Comcast thing, but I heard this talked about around 2003.
  • @ stevethenerd "We the subscribers will still continue to pay the same rates for their connection to these channels"
    No, their costs will go up and then our rates will go up or we will be forced to endure advertising schemes so we will pay for it either way plus the Govt. will get its tribute to regulate and dole out favorability.  The real problem is that the content providers like Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon will be able to afford faster lanes and everyone one else will be forced into slower lanes thus stifling access to the knowledge and creativity that made the internet what it is today.  If (when) this goes through we will not recognize it as it is 10 years from now and it will be the ultimate crony capitalistic marriage of the future.  I say when because its just too much money and control not to happen. 
  • Apple, Google, and Microsoft have profit margins that dwarf the telecoms. They're making upgrades, it's just that traffic is growing even faster.
  • They did propose a solution. Keep the status quo. We pay for internet access. Companies pay for intenet access as well. However, service providers can't throttle speeds and then ask for money to bring the speed back up. The current system works pretty well. The service providers are very profitable even though they are expanding capacity. They have local monopolies or duopolies. They really should be regulated like utilities anyway, because that is what they are. They are no different then the telephone company, water company, or electric company.
  • Someone needs to explain to the FCC that if people keep protesting their decisions, that's a great sign that they're doing it wrong
  • That is a good tactic from those malevolence people who doesn't want masses to express themselves in open forums, that's why it's worth to fight for this cause. This is my opinion.
  • There is nothing wrong with network prioritization, I understand this is going on now a lot anyway. But prioritization should be based on network type not by website.
    The network priority should be published and be part of your contract. Customers can then select their provider/service based upon the priority of the traffic they care about.
  • The article says nothing about Microsoft, although it's probably GigaOm just forgetting to mention them
  • This was predicted when the internet was born...don't
    know whats worse..internet censorship or capitalist exploitation...
  • How is this Caitalist Exploitation. Did you read the article. Get a grip!!! This look more like a maintains tax.
  • If it happens how does it effect other countries?
  • whatever happens in USA generally other countries follow, so it is important that internet is kept open as Internet providers already charge their customers a lot for providing their slow service. No need of charging both the websites and the users.
  • I am glad at least the EU regulators have some brains and want to preserve Net Neutrality.  
  • Woah woah! Wait, new guy? Welcome! :D
  • In my opinion, net neutrality sounds great only on paper. I just don't trust ANY current government to do it properly without the ultimate infringement of the freedom of free expression on the Internet following shortly thereafter. This will, of course, happen under the guise of "fairness." Do I agree something needs to be done? Yes. Absolutely. I just don't want to blindly hand it over to some regulatory entity owned by a government and refuse to believe that it is the only possible solution.
  • Government reguation, or corporate gouging.  In the ever wise words of that girl from that taco commercial...    "Why not both?"
  • Let's see who has more power, the ISPs or the tech giants. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if net neutrality wins, that ISPs start proposing monthly caps.  This is what the telecoms did with phone plans - weeding out the unlimited plans.  Of course, this would be hugely unpopular but I wouldn't put it pass them.
  • silly, this is not about power. this is about politics. and unless netflix plans to lay down enough fiber to cover the world, ISPs hold the last mile giving them the upper hand regardless.
  • I'm obviously referring to power in this context to mean political power since it's legislation to be passed.  Don't be so sure about the upper hand when the masses are on the other side.  And, don't forget that Google is laying down fiber as well.
  • Google fiber = preferential treatment for google servies. So I don't trust them one bit.
  • It must pain google to do this given their ISP venture surely would love to give youtube preferential treatment over netflix. but hey, gotta keep the PR machine going huh.
  • FCC should mind their own business! I stand with the companies who are against the FCC's stupid rules! Go to hell FCC! No one wants you!
  • KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE INTERNET! Companies may rise and fall but our Government Is PERMANENT! In every other country the way to keep the internet free is keep the governments from interfering in it, then why would it be any different here! KEEP THE INTERNET TRULY FREE AND KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE INTERNET!!!