Will ISPs Help Protect Net Neutrality? Spoiler Alert: No

Dann Albright 18-05-2017

Net neutrality What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care? A significant number see Net Neutrality as essential to the survival of the Internet. In this article, we're going to look at why Net Neutrality matters, and why we should fight to protect it. Read More  could soon be taking a big hit in the United States. Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, plans on rolling back net neutrality regulation in the near future. Interestingly, internet service providers (ISP) like Comcast are saying that they support net neutrality and will maintain our protections under the rules.


Is any of this true? What’s going to happen to net neutrality? Are ISPs really on our side?

Pai’s Attack on Net Neutrality

Under President Obama’s FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, helped pass the Open internet Order, which re-classified ISPs as telecommunications services. Previously, they had been classed as information services, which gave them more leeway in how they conducted business.

In short, being a telecommunications service means that Title II of the Telecommunications Act applies, and the government has more power to regulate how that company behaves. Essentially, it means the FCC can enforce net neutrality. (Net neutrality being the idea that all traffic should be treated equally.)

Ajit Pai, the current chairman of the FCC, is not a fan of the Open internet Order. He claims to support the idea of an open internet. But he also says that the government should focus on anti-competitive practices that actually happen, instead of regulating against possible violations of net neutrality.

How the Internet Feels

As you might expect, this has not gone over well with the internet at large. Dozens of article have attracted thousands of angry comments. The Tell FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: Don’t kill net neutrality petition has gathered close to 200,000 signatures (and it’s not the only one out there).


The Electronic Freedom Foundation has launched a tool to help people contact the FCC. They’ve also condemned Pai’s plans. John Oliver has weighed in. Tens of thousands of internet denizens have lodged complaints with the FCC. Even more have aired their grievances on Reddit and Twitter.

eff dear fcc save net neutrality

Consumer advocacy groups are unhappy about the rollback. The people who use the internet every day are also not happy.

A few people are praising Pai’s attack on net neutrality, though. Conservative commentators in favor of limiting the influence of government is one group. The other big group is ISPs.


Why ISPs Are Happy

If we’ve learned anything from recent battles over telecommunications services, it’s that when they support legislation, there’s a good chance it will pad their bottom lines at the expense of the consumer. Getting rid of net neutrality rules could allow ISPs to engage in anti-competitive practices like throttling, zero rating T-Mobile Allows Unlimited Netflix, And That's Bad News For All of Us Allowing Netflix to stream even when you're data is maxed sounds great, doesn't it? But this could spell doom for the future of the Internet as we know it. Read More , and censorship.

Under Pai’s proposed system, ISPs would be free to engage in these suspect practices until the government decided to take them to task. Which could be far in the future… or never.

Most ISPs claim to support net neutrality. Here’s what Verizon says:

This video has received a great deal of derision since it’s been posted. Many people say that it’s disingenuous, misleading, or an outright lie.


And Comcast has been running an ad campaign on Twitter with a similar message:

And they have a pretty slick GIF going around as well:

comcast title 2 gif


And you know what? They’re not wrong. A lot has happened since the 1930s. We live in a very different world. And Title II of the Telecommunications Act might not be the best way to legislate a fair and open internet.

But when the alternative is letting the ISPs use anti-competitive practices, Title II is necessary.

A History of Questionable Decisions

Comcast and Verizon are telling consumers that they’re supporters of net neutrality. But do their actions back up those claims? Let’s take a look.

First, Comcast.

Has Verizon done any better? Nope.

  • Was found to be “present[ing] significant risks to consumers and competition” with its zero-rating practices.
  • Selectively throttles high-bandwidth users and calls it “network optimization.”
  • Allows businesses to purchase sponsored data that doesn’t count against users’ data caps.
  • Sued the FCC (and won) in 2014, significantly hampering attempts at regulating net neutrality.

Of course, Comcast and Verizon aren’t alone in their fight against net neutrality. Many other ISPs have made a name for themselves as consumer-unfriendly, but these two have developed particularly notable reputations.

What Happens If Pai Ends the Open Internet Order?

The answer to this question, of course, is unknowable. But it’s a safe bet that ISPs will continue to pretend to champion net neutrality while violating all of its central tenets. Higher prices, more restrictive contracts, more exclusive content delivery deals, and partnerships with content companies are all likely.

None of those things are good for consumers.

There’s always a chance that public opinion will sway the actions of these companies. But because of the monopolies the major providers have Is Internet Freedom Under Threat From Internet Service Providers? [MUO Debates] Imagine a world where the content you are allowed to view on the Internet is tightly controlled by your Internet service provider. On MUO Debates, we explore and question this reality. Read More in most of the United States (Comcast is the only major provider I can access from my city), that isn’t likely to happen.

It might be pessimistic and cynical to have such a dismal view of what ISPs will do, but I’ve seen no indication that they’ll start championing the freedom of the internet. If you feel differently, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

What Can You Do?

As with most battles that are fought in the halls of Congress, not a whole lot. However, you can leave a comment with the FCC expressing your displeasure. The process, even including finding the right page on the FCC site, is rather difficult. But John Oliver has helped us out by pointing a link to where you need to go.

Just head to and you’ll be brought to the right page.

Beyond that, it’s the same stuff you’ve heard before. Call your congressional representatives Use Map Your Representatives To Find Information On Your Legislators With A Click [U.S. Only] Public servants should be open to scrutiny and dialog. This new web tool helps U.S. citizens touch base with political representatives in their area. It answers the basic question – who represents me? Read More , sign petitions, and make sure people are informed. Share this article so people know what it is we’re dealing with.

This could be a major setback. But the fight isn’t over yet.

What do you think about Ajit Pai’s plans to roll back net neutrality regulations? Do you believe the ISPs when they say they’ll champion an open internet? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Greg M.
    April 21, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Coming from a position of having lived under Net Neutrality, I can personally attest to the fact that Net Neutrality causes slower internet speeds and massive data caps. Why? Because the ISP's are required to give equal service to everyone regardless of their internet usage. By requiring equal service, cost prohibitions make it harder for the ISP to make a big profit. Less profit means less expansion. Less expansion means stagnant upgrades. Stagnant upgrades means degraded services. Degraded services means a crappy internet service. Once Net Neutrality was disposed of, our internet speeds increased and most data caps have been reduced or eliminated. As long as Net Neutrality stays in the garbage bin where it belongs, we the consumer, can expect a bigger, better, faster more usable internet.

  2. Eddie G.
    December 8, 2017 at 4:11 am

    There is coming a time when the average user will finally wake up and will speak, but not with a petition, not with an email to some congress-person, but with the only
    "voice" that matters. Their money. Its all fine and dandy for net neutrality to go away, and I guess its fine that companies will be able to milk the customer for every dime just for the usage of their network services, but ask yourself this: What would happen if people decided they didn't WANT to pay those high prices?....what if people intentionally came together and literally "forced" the cable companies and ISP's to behave by NOT BUYING from them? Think it can't happen? Look at history, look at all the businesses that we thought COULDN'T fail or die out. (AOL?...Compaq...GM's Saturn car division....hell even PONTIAC Motor Cars!...etc.) if these companies are sitting in the shadows....salivating at the mouth....waiting for the muzzle to be removed so that they can run rampant over the consumer.....let this be the warning: Know your place, you're not as important as you might think to the average person. Having streaming TV and online content is nice, yes, but not if you're going to treat it like a privilege, and not the right that it is. Think you have the upper hand? try explaining that to your BOD (Board Of Directors) when you have to explain to them why your financial outlook isn't what you SAID it would be due to customer dropoff. Try explaining that to the employees you'll have to let go as you shut down various sites and facilities. Do not be fooled, and do not make the mistakes that other companies have made, know whom you serve. Us. The consumer, and if you start to get out of hand, we're not going to the government,...we're not petitioning or asking for signatures, we're just simply going to stop using you. You will throw offers, and bundles and packages our way, and the flyers and ads will get tossed in the garbage, and your online ads will be blocked. YOU are here because of US, and if you think you're going to treat US like your very own plaything? Think Again.

    You've been warned.

    'Nuff Said

  3. John Smith
    December 7, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    "So what you're telling me its ok that my cable internet provider who wants me to pay for their service instead of streaming it from youtube tv or sling or any other form of paid streaming service will block me or throttle me for not using their tv services? That according to them and you,"

    I never advocated anything even remotely close to this, nor the intent of "Net Neutrality" , or its rules have anything about forcing services on you.
    It is common among its advocates to never have bothered to read the rules, or the arguments against them.
    Maybe it is time to pay attention.
    This is about traffic going through a network that a business built, not the government.
    They have full right to charge extra to someone who is pushes their network to its limit vs someone who has average usage.
    It was never about allowing you to chose services from one provider vs another. So your argument has 0 relevance to this.

    "I'm using a lot of bandwidth to stream HD video. Yes it takes a lot of bandwidth to to play an HD stream, just think about when 4K becomes more prevalent and is out there to stream just like 1080p is now, but with all the bigger tvs out there, it's necessary to have it in full HD."

    And you want to be charged the same as the guy who uses very little bandwidth, right?
    That means you will scream "discrimination" if your ISP said, you have to pay $100 per month vs. that other guy who is asked to pay $30 per month.
    Do you have a business?Have you ever run a business? I doubt it, given your argument.
    No business can survive if a government puts its nose in their business like this, tells them they can't charge for their services, in a reasonable way. Where does this stop? Telling groceries they no longer can charge per lb, and have to sell you 10 lbs and 1 lbs at the same price?
    I hope you'd see how flawed is this argument, but I doubt you would.

    "It figures that someone in the business of making money on bandwidth would be in support of this. I'm sure your business is just pinching pennies trying to get by."

    Yeah, business are there to ..... make money. What a strange concept.
    They spent money and want a return on their investment, and running the business also costs money. Even more strange concept.

    I don't believe that I even have to explain this.
    You really think there are no costs to offer you bandwidth?

    Let me ask again, since non of the "Net Neutrality" advocates seems to be interested in answering this question (or more likely not qualified to do so):

    Do you understand how the Internet works?Are you in the business? Can you explain how transit and peering work? What controls that, and how?
    Are you aware, even the countries that have "Net Neutrality", their ISPs charge for premium routes when you peer with them? They charge for extra bandwidth, and throttle your traffic when you become detrimental to their network accessibility and performance?
    Obviously not. No one has told you how this works, because if they understood it, and explained it to you, no one would advocate this scam.
    I repeat, it is a scam, and a attempt from politicians to over regulate.
    The same administration that "fixed" your healthcare, what happened?
    The majority of us are now paying higher premiums, have less coverage, and higher deductible, this was a promise to lower all that. Trust the government at your own peril. They are never there to protect you. They are there to protect themselves, and their special interest groups that funded them.
    The facts that no one have been able to argue against, except for shifting the goal posts, changing the subject or just ignoring them:
    The Internet has been free, long before even Obama made it past elementary school.
    These rules do not guarantee or protect that, and in fact, if fully enforced would rise costs.
    These rules do not guarantee or have anything to protect free speech on the Internet. ISPs, and govs continue censorship, that will not change. You will not b able to control other governments and what they would allow. Forget that, you will not be able to control your own gov, and your own ISPs, backbone providers.
    The current rules have been in place since what, mid 2015? Then explain why ISPs, social media, and hosting services terminal users and accounts citing abuse, "offensive speech or behavior", ...etc?
    Explain why there are tiered accounts at ALL ISPs?
    Shall I go on?
    I won't matter. You were told to think like that, and refuse to do the thinking and the research for yourself.
    I suggest you ask anyone who actually works in the industry and is not a shill for gov or an activist for political group. You could use a 101 with a person that gives you a technical overview of this. You'll be able to understand how wrong supporters of this have been.

  4. Howard A Pearce
    May 18, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    I personally hope people are smart enough to oppose the state regulating communication - such as oral communication and printed communication. And yes, I forgot internet communication too. The last implicitly supported by the 1st amendment.

    But that is wishful thinking on my part as too many people only understand the constitution for the explicit words written there.

    • Dann Albright
      May 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      What happens when a company effectively stifles someone else's free speech by requiring them to pay a bunch of money (that they don't have) to receive similar treatment to other sites? Or do you view the constitution as only protecting people from free speech suppression by the government? What about corporate suppression of that right?

      • Howard A Pearce
        May 22, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        effectively stifles free speech ?
        You first problem is confusing free speech with freedom of speech !

        When a company violates the rights of others, then I ask the government to take action as opposed to you who wants the government to take action even before an actual crime has been committed.
        I believe a person is innocent until proven guilt and not the other way around.

        lastly, you didn;t provide an example of how that freedom of speech might be violated by a company so it is hard to comment on your claim that is might happen other than my statement above,

        What a company chooses to charge it's customer is there choice (assuming no contract to the contrary) unless you think the government can determine what you charge for your labor too - after all, you do support equality under the law I presume.

        Give me an example of that suppression you have in mind !

      • John Smith
        May 29, 2017 at 6:58 pm

        Yeah, because we never had free speech before Obama arrived in the White House right? Therefore he must "fix" the Internet, the same way he "fixed" healthcare.

        Here is my question to you and those who support such nonsense. Would you like the government to control your business? Your living sources?You people chant "government out of my body" but want the government in your bedroom, your work place, your business, and your food.

        Do REALLY think "net neutrality" is about fairness and free speech? Then you are sadly mistaken, and worse, taken for a ride. It is about government regulating yet another aspect of your life.

        Are you in the business that gets impacted by this? I can tell no.
        I am (not an ISP), but I get directly impacted with this. We make money out of bandwidth, and that also impacts our business. So you and obama are telling us either sell that bandwidth with same price for the abusers and the ones using it reasonably or we are bad guys.
        Obviously you and those who support this, never done your homework (other than reading the left's propaganda on it), and don't understand basics of peering and transit data on the Internet, and the costs of maintaining your network and offering such service.

        You also list how many signatures campaigns got, which is laughable since it was shown how bots were voting too, and the best argument on this, the uber technology and network expert John Oliver?
        Give us all a break Mr. Albright.
        This is pure propaganda, even your attacks on Pai's character and questioning his ethics.

        • Logan
          December 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm

          So what you're telling me its ok that my cable internet provider who wants me to pay for their service instead of streaming it from youtube tv or sling or any other form of paid streaming service will block me or throttle me for not using their tv services? That according to them and you, I'm using a lot of bandwidth to stream HD video. Yes it takes a lot of bandwidth to to play an HD stream, just think about when 4K becomes more prevalent and is out there to stream just like 1080p is now, but with all the bigger tvs out there, it's necessary to have it in full HD.

          It figures that someone in the business of making money on bandwidth would be in support of this. I'm sure your business is just pinching pennies trying to get by.