Wozniak defends free internet; mobile networks get exemptions from net neutrality

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak wrote an open letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in support of a free Internet, while the Commission approved rules in support of net neutrality with exemptions for mobile networks, citing Android's "openness" as a reason for more lax restrictions on cellular carriers.



Woz's open letter



Wozniak begins his letter, which was published by The Atlantic, with personal anecdotes about how phone, cable, and DSL network restrictions have harmed him as a consumer. In 1972, Wozniak started a "dial-a-joke" service, but had to shut it down because restrictions from the phone company, which had a monopoly, made it prohibitively expensive.



According to the letter, Wozniak has never had cable or DSL in the four homes he has owned in his life. "The local phone providers don't have any obligation to serve all of their phone customers with DSL," Wozniak wrote, "They also have no requirement to service everyone living in the geographic area for which they have a monopoly."



Wozniak even offered to the local cable company to pay for the cost of laying the three-quarters of a mile of cable, but was turned down because the cable company decided it couldn't make up the monthly rental costs for "running their cable on telephone poles."



As a child, Wozniak was taught that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were mainly what made America a great country. However, "Over my lifetime, I've seen those rights disregarded at every step," wrote Wozniak.



"The early Internet was so accidental, it also was free and open in this sense," Wozniak continued. "The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away."



Strengthening his tone, Wozniak then petitioned the FCC to preserve net neutrality. "Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible. Local ISP's should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don't destruct them.



"I don't want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today's Internet."



Wozniak then cites his role in co-founding Apple as an example. "Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use," he wrote, asserting that "the personal computer revolution would have been delayed by a decade or more."



When asked to "sign on" to the Net Neutrality cause, Wozniak realized that "every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed."



Wozniak concludes his letter by asking the FCC to be the good guy. "We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat. Not only is current action on Net Neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it's probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad."



Measured steps



Possibly taking cues from a joint proposal from Google and Verizon advocating mobile exemptions from net neutrality, the FCC approved lighter net neutrality requirements for wireless carriers Tuesday, MacNN reports.



The FCC ruling requires companies running both wired and wireless networks to transparently disclose network management and "prevent blocking of legal, safe apps as well as similar devices and services," the report noted.



In an official statement by Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC argued that wireless networks didn't need the same protection from "unreasonable discrimination" as wired access, citing the "openness" of wireless networks as the reason.



"We recognize that there have been meaningful recent moves toward openness, including the introduction of open operating systems like Android," said Genachowski. "In addition, we anticipate soon seeing the effects on the market of the openness conditions we imposed on mobile providers that operate on upper 700 MHz C-Block spectrum, which includes Verizon Wireless, one of the largest mobile wireless carriers in the U.S."



"In light of these considerations," he continued, "we conclude it is appropriate to take measured steps at this time to protect the openness of the Internet when accessed through mobile broadband."



Google's role in its joint proposal with Verizon came as a surprise to some, as it was taken as a change of sides by the search giant. Google's previous stance of strongly advocating "open networks" free of data discrimination switched to favoring mobile exemptions from net neutrality.



Pundits were mystified by the FCC's argument that the openness of Google's Android mobile OS justifies exemptions for wireless carriers. "It doesn't matter how open your OS is when you're stuck with a filtered and throttled connection, and it's a pretty huge stretch to think Android's openness (however you want to define it) has anything to do with network access itself," Nilay Patel of Engadget wrote.



Verizon itself has used Android's openness to ban features and block apps, even going so far as to block Google search widgets on some phones.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Thank you once again, Google.



    -- Google: All evil, all the time.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    Of course the damn Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue, but the Democrats as is usual bent over to the demands of large corporations too. This is exactly what the Verizon/Google/AT&T cabal proposed a year ago. Another "compromise," and the people get sold down the river.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shadash View Post


    Of course the damn Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue, but the Democrats as is usual bent over to the demands of large corporations too. This is exactly what the Verizon/Google/AT&T cabal proposed a year ago. Another "compromise," and the people get sold down the river.



    Actually on a more reputable site republicans are angry net neutrality rules passed and nn proponents are angry that they do nothing at all.



    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...supporters.ars



    Little late for Wonziak to complain.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Thank you once again, Google.



    -- Google: All evil, all the time.



    http://arstechnica.com/telecom/guide...oles-right.ars
  • Reply 5 of 31
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    The good news is this move is nothing more than a naked power grab by the FCC and it will be extremely short-lived. The courts have _already_ ruled the FCC has no jurisdiction over the internet.



    The bad news is now the politicians are involved and nothing good can come from that.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Why am I not surprised?
  • Reply 7 of 31
    The reason you've had such trouble with the phone and cable companies is because they are government-sanctioned monopolies. If these companies were forced to compete in the markets where they are given monopolies, they would need to provide better service to gain and retain customers.



    So instead of asking for MORE government intervention, Woz, you should be asking for the government to get the hell out of the way. You say that "every time and in every way that the telecommunications carriers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed." Well they only ever gained that power or control because of the government. When companies must compete, the customer is king. That is the situation today. The Internet is free and open because of the lack of government interference.



    So yes, let's ask the FCC to keep the Internet as free as possible - by keeping their hands off.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    What the heck does the OS have to do with Net Nuetrality? Nothing! And how "open" is Android? I recall hearing about it before it came out and people were talking about modifying it bercause it is based on Linux, etc... where are the mods? It's Google's OS and for all practicle purposes it is not open. And it has nothing to do with NN. Government really sucks lately.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    Corporate overlords once again served by the system that gave up on "the people" long ago.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shadash View Post


    Of course the damn Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue, but the Democrats as is usual bent over to the demands of large corporations too. This is exactly what the Verizon/Google/AT&T cabal proposed a year ago. Another "compromise," and the people get sold down the river.



    Uh did you even bother to read the post???



    What part of "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak wrote an open letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in support of a free Internet, while the Commission approved rules in support of net neutrality with exemptions for mobile networks, citing Android's "openness" as a reason for more lax restrictions on cellular carriers." do you not understand????



    Last I looked, Obama was in the WH and it's his cronies that are the heads of governmental agencies like the US Federal Communications Commission. Republicans do it when they are in power also, which currently they are not. And since when does an agency by decree make changes such as these as opposed to putting it to vote in Congress and having the elected official defend his actions by "We the People" when he gets back home running for a second term!



    Damn Stinking Democrats, worthless the lot of them!

    !

    !

    !
  • Reply 11 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by marcelbrown View Post


    The reason you've had such trouble with the phone and cable companies is because they are government-sanctioned monopolies. If these companies were forced to compete in the markets where they are given monopolies, they would need to provide better service to gain and retain customers.



    So instead of asking for MORE government intervention, Woz, you should be asking for the government to get the hell out of the way. You say that "every time and in every way that the telecommunications carriers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed." Well they only ever gained that power or control because of the government. When companies must compete, the customer is king. That is the situation today. The Internet is free and open because of the lack of government interference.



    So yes, let's ask the FCC to keep the Internet as free as possible - by keeping their hands off.



    Can I get a "hell yeah"!
  • Reply 12 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by marcelbrown View Post


    The reason you've had such trouble with the phone and cable companies is because they are government-sanctioned monopolies. If these companies were forced to compete in the markets where they are given monopolies, they would need to provide better service to gain and retain customers.



    So instead of asking for MORE government intervention, Woz, you should be asking for the government to get the hell out of the way. You say that "every time and in every way that the telecommunications carriers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed." Well they only ever gained that power or control because of the government. When companies must compete, the customer is king. That is the situation today. The Internet is free and open because of the lack of government interference.



    So yes, let's ask the FCC to keep the Internet as free as possible - by keeping their hands off.



    While I don't want providers to gain the capability to strong-arm subscribers, something needs to be done. Right now, many people are being penalized by the few who abuse networks, and Woz's idea that our activity online ought to be like we 'own those wires' is just a naive fantasy. What happens when too many people adopt that attitude, and abuse the network. It's 'theirs' after all, why should they worry about anyone else?



    I live in an area surrounded by 3 major colleges and universities, and I pay for the top tier of service from Cox, which is supposed to give me up to 20 Mbps. But when school is in session, and the students aren't in class (mostly evenings), I can seldom get more than 1 or 2 Mbps, which is worse than the lowest service tier. Cox can barely keep up. Should they expand their network capacity? Yes. CAN they expand their network capacity such that every Tom, Dick and Harry can continuously download HD movies from iTunes and watch Hulu while playing farm-ville, listening to Pandora, and chatting on Facebook? That is highly doubtful. Sooner or later net neutrality is going to bump up against the reality of limited network capacity; in many areas it already has. I routinely test network speeds across different jumps, and in the LA metro area, I can almost never get anything past 2 Mbps, while I can get 20 Mbps to San Diego. That ought to tell you something about how realistic it is to think that we can all treat the national networks as if they are our own property. If nobody is held to task for being abusive of resources, everyone pays.
  • Reply 13 of 31
    The commission has 5 people. The 2 Republicans support even less restrictions on these corporations. The 3 Democrats compromised. Both parties are wrong on this. But the Republicans are more wrong.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post


    Uh did you even bother to read the post???



    What part of "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak wrote an open letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in support of a free Internet, while the Commission approved rules in support of net neutrality with exemptions for mobile networks, citing Android's "openness" as a reason for more lax restrictions on cellular carriers." do you not understand????



    Last I looked, Obama was in the WH and it's his cronies that are the heads of governmental agencies like the US Federal Communications Commission. Republicans do it when they are in power also, which currently they are not. And since when does an agency by decree make changes such as these as opposed to putting it to vote in Congress and having the elected official defend his actions by "We the People" when he gets back home running for a second term!



    Damn Stinking Democrats, worthless the lot of them!

    !

    !

    !



  • Reply 14 of 31
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    I'm confused, what does Android Operating System have to do with the openness of the Mobile Internet. I thought you had to be technologically literate to be on the FCC. This sounds more like a tech related court case from Alabama (as in I would expect a judge from there to say something like this).
  • Reply 15 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Can I get a "hell yeah"!



    From what I can see the large "pipes" that make up the most important part of the internet are owned by an extremely small group. Given completely free reign the owners of those pipes have the power to favour their own content over that of anyone else.



    Let's say I'm a big provider of television and internet. Netflix is competing with me, but I own the distribution network. So as any good capitalist would do, I act in my own best interest and either throttle the heck out of any streaming content I see coming from Netflix, Apple, etc. or I charge my subscribers extra for that content. The result is that my content is now better and/or cheaper than anything from an outside source.



    My subscribers can either pay me for content or pay me to let them watch someone else's content. Either way I'm making more money than I was before and, by extension, my subscribers are paying more money than they were before. ISP wins, consumer loses.



    Although it takes billions of dollars to enter the content distribution game I do have some competitors. The wireless industry, for example, competes with cable companies.



    Would they be more willing to let outside content flow without imposing additional fees on that content? Maybe, but they're going to make up the difference somewhere else where they have a strategic advantage.



    The cost of entry is so high that any new competitor would have to put out billions of dollars to build a network and then be willing to operate at lower profit margins than any of the established players. That doesn't sound like a game any intelligent corporation wants to play.



    Net result: consumers pay more



    I can't see how a completely unregulated market could produce any other outcome.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    More regulations = more freedom? By that logic North Korea must be the freest place on earth. Oh Woz!
  • Reply 17 of 31
    Hey,



    this thread cought my attention, even back here in Germany, because we are having almost the same discussion in our country. So, although I am not an American citizen I am facing almost the same problem: How to react on governmental controls regarding net neutrality.



    Quote:

    More regulations = more freedom?



    To speak in the language of Lucas: Only the sith speaks in absolutes. In my opinion you can't see it in such an easy manner. Every democracy has the right to defend itself and the rights of its people. In germany we were thought what happens, if the democracy doesn't defend itself. To throw that card: In the beginning even Adolf Hitler was a legally voted chancellor in Germany. But he used matters and means to install his dictatorship.



    So, now what does this have to do with NN? Nothing. And everything. It is a bit naive to say, that without the government the market would regulate itself. The fact is absolutely true, but the question is: Who is the market? So instead of the government setting the rules (hopefully) in favor to the costumer and the people, you would have few corporations setting the rules in favor of money and profit. (And to say that, I am definitly not a fan of goverment regulations. Corporations like Apple would not have been possible in Germany, because it is forbidden to open a business in your garage.)



    With the ISPs deciding what is fast and what isn't every content provider not paying/bribing the ISP is basicly screwed. What we're basically getting is an "elite" Version of the internet, where the corporations are creating the content, that are capable of paying the fees for a fast connection. Every other Page (like blogs, indipendent communities, probably even sources like wikipedia) will end up dead slow, even unaccessable.



    So the question is how the idea of NOT treating every bit in the internet equally inflicts with the freedom of speach, how that even inflicts with the idea of everyone being equal.



    So, these are just a few thought from far across the atlantic, I'd love to hear some reactions.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by marcelbrown View Post


    The reason you've had such trouble with the phone and cable companies is because they are government-sanctioned monopolies. If these companies were forced to compete in the markets where they are given monopolies, they would need to provide better service to gain and retain customers.



    So instead of asking for MORE government intervention, Woz, you should be asking for the government to get the hell out of the way. You say that "every time and in every way that the telecommunications carriers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed." Well they only ever gained that power or control because of the government. When companies must compete, the customer is king. That is the situation today. The Internet is free and open because of the lack of government interference.



    So yes, let's ask the FCC to keep the Internet as free as possible - by keeping their hands off.



    Right, and who broke up the original Att and who let it come back together???



    And who lobbies the gov for favorable laws???



    Wow, I mean, when we allowed the free market to run, Clear Channel took over just about ever radio station. You sure that "gov getting the hell out of the way" works every time?
  • Reply 19 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    More regulations = more freedom? By that logic North Korea must be the freest place on earth.



    The problem in North Korea is that its government is unregulated, so it's exactly what one would expect it to be. Regulation of the powerful is a necessary condition for Freedom.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheff View Post


    I'm confused, what does Android Operating System have to do with the openness of the Mobile Internet. ...



    Absolutely nothing, which tells us that the FCC know absolutely nothing about what they are doing.
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