That there is discord with the recent net neutrality ruling by the FCC is no surprise to this writer, and I would caution is but the tip of the iceberg. Just like with Obamacare, as time goes on, more problems are revealed. And in the case of net neutrality and the FCC ruling, the only ones who will benefit from Wheeler’s weedling will be the lawyers – who, by the way, financially and physically support the Democratic party nearly two to one.
Classifying the Internet as a utility will only lead to government putting its hands in citizen’s pockets. The smaller subtext may claim that the anger is overblown, but more likely it is misdirected. It should be placed squarely at the source – the White House.
It is understandable that the telecoms giants would be miffed at the FCC’s regulations. But when the smaller ISP’s are up in arms, its time to take notice. That is, unless you’re in bed with other constituencies, such as the lawyers and accountants who will profit greatly from entanglements, regulation and obfuscation. The march to higher costs has begun, as well as delays in making necessary network and infrastructure upgrades.
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), complained to the FCC about such deferments to improvements and upgrades, and the burdensome costs of telecom lawyers fees which might total fully 10% of total of gross revenues. Kenneth Hohhof president of one of WISPA’s six member companies, KWISP, whicn serves just 475 cutomers in rural Illinois,’ said
“Everything on our website, our customer-facing agreements, our network management practices, offering services like VoIP services, all of that for the first time we will have to pay a telecom lawyer to review to see if we are exposing ourselves to either a complaint to the FCC that could result in fines or, as we understand it, we will now be exposed to civil damages.”
KWISP is not alone, in my judgement, but will be the start of an avalanche of objections to the odious FCC ruling. Another example reflects the frustration and dilemma of a provider in rural Virginia. SCS Broadband worries that the additional costs in legal fees alone will dent revenues so much that it questions the wisdom of investing in improvements. SCS CEO Clay Stewart indicated a reticence by investors to fund projects, given the uncertainty caused by the FCC’s new rules. He charged,
“We’ve got a government entity taking over our products.”
This onerous burden (telecom lawyers charge upwards of $500 an hour) adds to the already difficult job that broadband providers have in attracting equity investors. Another layer of due diligence has been added, and I believe it is only the start.
“Under Title II [the FCC ruling] I would have to submit plan changes because now my marketing as well as my products are being controlled by the FCC.”
The decision to reclassify broadband providers also subjects them to further regulations from Title II of the Communications Act, the same statute that regulates telephone common carriers. But the FCC declined to enforce many of the Title II rules. It also gave small providers a temporary exemption from enhanced transparency requirements that force operators to provide more information about the plans they offer, and their network performance. The FCC will decide by December 15, 2015 whether to make the exemption for providers with 100,000 or fewer subscribers permanent.
Classifying broadband and the Internet as utility has added many confusing scenarios to the mix. For example, Hohhof wonders if he is still able to disconnect deadbeats and non-payers now that it is classified as a utility. What about the difficulty and expense of providing service where signals are blocked by hills and trees? How many lawsuits will arise from such matters? Even if such issues are frivolous, they have to be defended at considerable cost to the provider. The ruling does not provide the sensible alternative of arbitration either.
Ars Technica goes to great lengths to try to allay the fears of providers and customers but, in my judgement the article falls short, and more importantly, fails to see the big picture – that the ruling of the FCC was a political one which provides a windfall to the legal community and sets in motion the unstoppable force of government to eventually monetize everything it regulates. In the end, the consumer will pay the price and continue to fork it over long after the politicians have left office.
Editor’s note: As always, Stan’s views are his own (as are all views expressed by BestVPN writers), and should not be taken to represent those of the rest of the BestVPN staff.