Today, September 10th, Is A Day Of Protest

When you come to AVC for the first time today, you will be met with a “modal” that shows the site loading slowly. This is my way of participating in a day of protest to send a message to the FCC and others in government that I don’t want to see an Internet where some sites can pay to load more quickly than others.

We’ve discussed this issue so many times at AVC that it’s old hat to most of us. Many of you don’t see things the way I do. I understand and respect that. But today, I am showing solidarity with everyone who sees it my way.

The modal will be gone tomorrow in case it annoys you.

#Current Affairs#policy#Politics

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave Pinsen

    Coincidentally, every site is slow for me now. I’m out in the country, dog sitting for my mother, and the wifi & cell reception here is spotty.

    1. David Semeria

      Spotty, very good Dave.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Wuff-i is driving him barking mad.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Heh. The dog has no spots though.

    2. awaldstein

      where r u?

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Sussex County, NJ. My mother has a small horse farm here. Here’s the farm’s chief exterminator.

  2. Sean Saulsbury

    Many sites already do pay to load more quickly — via CDNs and other technology that allows them to do just that. Are you arguing this should be banned? Or should everyone be forced to use these services (like how Americans are forced to buy health insurance)?

    1. fredwilson

      I’m talking about last mile not backbone

      1. Sean Saulsbury

        So it’s okay if it’s two or more hops away, but one hop is too close?

        1. fredwilson

          The only noncompetitive market in internet bandwidth/access is the last mile. That’s where this issue lies. The backbone is very competitive

          1. Sean Saulsbury

            Why not remove the very thing which prevents competition–which is government enforced prohibition of competition–instead of asking for more regulations?

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Because of the usual reasons used for having infrastructure for Bob and Martha for each of electric power, telephone, water, sewer, natural gas, cable TV, and, now, wired Internet access, installed just once and run as a regulated monopoly.

  3. Donna Brewington White

    I clicked over from email to get the experience that you describe, but Feedblitz overrides the modal.Although, I guess this also illustrates your point.

    1. William Mougayar

      Yep. Same for me. Strange loophole.

  4. sigmaalgebra

    Many of you don’t see things the way I do. I’m not sure I don’t see things the way you do.E.g., just for what I’ve done, some months ago I did write my Congressman here in NY, asked for network neutrality, sent via FAX, and did confirm that they had gotten the letter. Last week I called my Congressman again and asked for network neutrality, etc. And the cute system programmed at today did get me to leave a phone message at Senator Gillibrand’s office.But I don’t understand network neutrality as well as I would wish.E.g., I’m paying my ISP for 5/15 Mbps up/download bandwidth, and the Web site confirms that I’m getting those speeds. So, I don’t expect to get more than that 5/15 Mbps, but, if my ISP were to “slow” my speeds, then I would guess that they would be guilty of false advertising, fraud, or some such. E.g., on Windows, the little system management application Windows Task Manager does show TCP/IP data transmission rates — so, if were slow, then I’d notice, could see it in the graph in Windows Task Manager, and would get torqued which to me means, net, likely I don’t really understand network neutrality.Maybe network neutrality means that Netflix can’t cut a deal with my ISP to send me movies at 22 Mbps even though I’m paying my ISP for only 5/15 Mbps. That’s the main point of network neutrality?But, if I get from my ISP a static IP address (getting there — I was not allocating some class instances and, thus, was getting some null reference exceptions; fixed those), then I will likely get 25/101 Mbps. Then Netflix would have no reason to pay my ISP so that I could have, say, 22 Mbps, for, say, HD, download speed. So, then network neutrality would be moot? In this case, it sounds like soon as default speeds increase much of the issue of network neutrality will become moot.But, what the heck is the intention of Wheeler’s change? I’m unclear on that.Or, suppose Time-Warner and Comcast merge and then on-line movies from Warner Brothers will look really good for users with Internet access via the merged companies but other movies will look bad at default speeds?The cheap might drive the better out of the marketplace, e.g., maybe many Internet users would buy just the cheapest, slowest Internet access and when they need more from Netflix let Netflix pay the ISP? Then any Internet video entrepreneur who also needs their users to have, say, 22 Mbps download speed would not be able to compete?What are the driving economic issues, peering arrangements on the backbone exchange nodes?Is the main issue just movies (and maybe interactive games) and not blogs such as, if loss of network neutrality really is a big threat, then it could be a threat to my work in which case I should be willing to raise my head from writing code and pay attention so that, say, the code I write will be able to run as intended?

    1. JimHirshfield

      Look at this way…You pay the city. They build the street…perhaps expand it to 4 lanes. Wow! You’re getting a great deal, ’cause 4 lanes is more than enough to handle all the traffic you anticipate. But the city only sends the bus by your house every 3 hours because the bus company didn’t pay up to get approval to send the bus by every 30 minutes.You got what you paid for; the lanes are there for you to use. But the gatekeeper has other plans.

      1. LE

        You pay the city. They build the street…perhaps expand it to 4 lanes.Private companies funded the last mile with risk and after getting agreement from local towns. Not a back room deal by any means. Also involved much risk. If it didn’t everyone and their uncle would have tried to compete with them and the deal would have been different.One of the things about business is you can’t predict the future. The cable companies made their deals in the open and now they are benefiting from it. But they did take the risk. Just like people who are living in NYC who bought real estate and have cashed out. Who says life is fair?”Brian’s” father (Roberts of Comcast) did his first cable system in Tupelo Ms. in 19 fucking 63. That’s fifty years ago.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Your point seems to be: some entity took a risk, so they can do whatever the f they want now.Not buying that. Very different than buying real estate and enjoying the spoils of victory as it appreciates in value.I’m not pissing on the fact that they took risks and good for them that it was/is a successful venture. But that doesn’t mean they can change the rules unilaterally without consumer or regulatory input and oversight.

          1. LE

            But that doesn’t mean they can change the rules unilaterally without consumer or regulatory input and oversight.What rules are they changing exactly?Internet, as we know it today, wasn’t even around back in 1963. They decided to piggy back on an existing setup that they had in order to deliver another widget and make money from it.The internet is unregulated there is not central command and control. Consequently to me this is like saying “it’s unfair that they get to insert ads in their postal bills and make money from it”. Everyone should have access fairly to that envelope and people with more money shouldn’t be able to get in when I can’t. It needs to be fair! [1]I know that others somehow see this differently that’s obvious. They think it’s a public trust or something because it’s the internet and things are supposed to be free and unfettered (by the way that concept was never voted on it just happened).You know not a week goes by (ok that’s an exaggeration) when I get emails from people that are pissed off that I own some domain name that they want and that “you aren’t using it’s just sitting there you’re a squatter”. And those people somehow think that because it’s a domain name (that I worked fucking hard to get by the way learning Unix in 1985 (on nights and weekends) and study business 24×7 and spending money back when it was unheard of on a multi user system) they should just be able to get it from me for a price that they find reasonable. Totally childish and amazing. Nobody would ever knock on my door or think that they should be able to buy my Sony Rx100 camera or my car if I wasn’t “using it”. Or that I didn’t have a right to sell it and make money. But somehow because it’s the internet things are different.Separately I benefit from all the startups and from this entire concept. But I fully also understand the other side of it as well.[1] You know the telco’s gave contracts to allow people to publish yellow pages. And the legacy companies (RR Donnelly) made shitloads of money by charging for ads with that monopoly. And if you wanted a big ad and more attention you paid more money.

        2. sigmaalgebra

          Could that be garden like, beautiful downtown Tupelo, from Memphis go south until smell it and follow that until step in it Tupelo?

          1. LE

            I mean for god’s sake the man had to stay in places that didn’t have HVAC most likely. Give him a break!Separate story a former governor of PA (Milton Shapp) was able to run for governor because he owned Jerrold Electronics and had to travel all over the state in order to sell to startup cable systems (source: interviewed him for a college project) so he was able to meet all the local political movers and shakers.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Due to my business project, I’m interested in Internet network neutrality.For the Internet now, I’m not seeing that the issue of network neutrality is obviously a big threat. E.g., my Internet connection is the cheapest available from my ISP and has, as measured by the Web site, 5/15 million bits per second (Mbps) up/download bandwidth so that at, say, AVC a page of 2,289,818 bytes can download in, allocating 10 bits for each 8 bit byte,22,898,180 / ( 15 * 10**6 ) = 1.527seconds. For a slowdown I could use the Windows Task Manager to look at the data rate and see if I was getting the 5/15 Mbps I was paying for.But there may be more a more serious threat based around, say, high definition (HD) TV: At…can get definitions of various cases of HD TV with data rates from 4 Mbps for some YouTube HD, to 30-40 Mbps for Blu-Ray and 3 billion bits per second (Gbps) for some uncompressed RGB HD.So, if Bob and Martha are going to like a lot of Internet HD TV, then we’re talking a whole new video/media world here, new cameras, data links, storage, video editing tools, packet switches and routers, Internet backbone links, last mile equipment, end user display devices, etc.So we’re talking big time CapEx, challenges for incumbents, major changes in the regulatory, ownership, funding, revenue, digital rights, etc. structure of the current Internet and maybe new market domination opportunities for big players.Or, maybe with this future Bob and Martha are welcome to continue to use e-mail, surf simple Web sites, and download some PDFs as now, but, for 3 Gbps for movies, that will be paid for by the publishers instead of the end users so that, then, really, the publishers, maybe Time-Warner, Amazon, Netflix, Google, really are the new owners of 99+% of the Internet data rates, all the way from server through backbone and the last mile to the end user, and, thus, really, the Internet itself. With such ownership can come various cases of control, etc.So, the current Internet, including the last mile, would be junked and replaced by big players pushing HD movies at 3 Gbps, server to user.So, maybe that’s the threat.I’m just trying to understand, and so far I’m mostly just guessing.Back to my software.

  5. Mac

    Glad to be part of this. Thank you for your efforts. With Time Warner, I often feel net neutrality doesn’t exist.

  6. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Well done 🙂 It will be interesting to see how much impact there is from Netflix’s participation.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Also curious how their usual traffic dips mid-week. I don’t typically use Netflix on Wednesdays.

  7. Tom Labus

    Do you know Tim Wu?

  8. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Sorry I don’t see any difference … Is it country specific.Can’t you do it like this one?

    1. Cam MacRae

      That’s pretty much exactly what I get.

    2. JamesHRH

      nothing different for me either.

  9. laurie kalmanson

    Wifi public utility

    1. pointsnfigures

      No way. If wifi and internet became domains of a bureaucratic govt organization, it would be way slower and more inefficient than it already is. To borrow @JimHirshfield:disqus analogy on roads, only the bureaucrats favorite cronies would get first chance to drive on it. The others would be forced to pay bribes to the bureaucrats to get a chance.

      1. awaldstein

        I wonderIn the subways it’s private places like Bryant Park I think it’s public, on the traffic islands in the summer–think public as well.Anyone know how the funding happens in public places in NYC?

        1. pointsnfigures

          I know this morning in NYC, I couldn’t get on the Subway. Had to keep waiting. When I got on it was totally full. I also think public transit is a poor analogue comparison.We wouldn’t have had the internet if it wasn’t for Xerox Parc. I think Fred is right, the last mile has got to be competitive-and kept close to perfectly competitive. It’s not-and it’s heavily regulated. Guess who wins in heavily regulated battles-big corporations.

  10. jason wright

    socialism comes to avc.when i look at the blockchain i see the beginnings of a post modern form of socialism, and it looks very appealing.

  11. LE

    I’ll go with an excerpt from the top comment on HN:This does nothing to educate about it. There is no information here, just Oggie Boogie scary shit might happen (but don’t worry we won’t risk clicks to show you).Separately, the overlay should mention that it’s getting injected by cloudflare.I’m still waiting for the elevator pitch that would work in flyover country and with my aunt to be able to explain why the average person should care about this issue.I think the tech community is so wrapped up in how obvious this is that they haven’t come up with a decent way to explain it to people who like the low prices at Walmart and don’t really care if it puts local stores out of business.

    1. Richard

      If the AVC community isn’t charged up about about this issue, the chances are between slim and none that the general masses will be (and that was slim who just left the slim who just logged onto Netflix).

  12. Protests Are Bad For All

    I guess I won’t be visiting your site anymore… I don’t like what some companies do, but protesting only hurts the users, rarely the aim of the protest. So, stop it please…

    1. vruz

      Protesting doesn’t hurt the users. Not expressing your desire for change hurts the users. How will the FCC know they’re doing it wrong, otherwise?

    2. Russell

      arguably anonymous comments are bad for visitors too – will you stop that?

  13. Mike McG

    I’m skeptical that more tech regulation is the answer. How about making the ISP market more competitive by lowering the barrier to entry?

    1. fredwilson

      Last mile is tough. Monopolies or duopolies in almost every market in the US. Many of them given by the government

      1. Mike McG

        No argument there, but finding legal footing to keep the pipes neutral is jsut as tough. There’s a better history around market freedom fostering innovation than around the government’s plodding, bumbling intervention in tech sector. Lower the barrier to entry then allow ISPs to spring up where net neutrality is their USP.

      2. Sean Saulsbury

        All monopolies are created by government (i.e., by force). They forbid competition. Why isn’t the solution for the “last mile” to remove the regulations, rather than ask for more of them?

        1. sigmaalgebra

          The usual reason is the same for most utility services — electric power, city water, city sewer, natural gas, telephone, cable TV, and, now, Internet. So, put the last mile infrastructure in place and make operating it a government regulated monopoly. There is a lot of economic theory supporting this approach and 100+ years of experience. So, we have, e.g., the FCC, or if you will, the old DC branch office of AT&T Bell!Why? Else we would be running multiple sets of infrastructure for such utility services. So, want two or more sewer systems serving one neighborhood? Nope.Mostly we want only to be talking the last mile and hope that the rest is sufficiently competitive.

  14. David Clarke

    Ironically I got the below once I clicked through the modal. I guess Disqus are just strong advocates of net neutrality and have been way ahead of the ‘slow modal’ trend 😉

  15. Ciaran

    Broadly speaking I agree (even though I don’t live in the US). What I’m not sure of (and I may be missing something) is what the proposed solution would be and protest with no suggested solution will just end up the same way as Occupy, having achieved little but headlines. I think Ben Thomson summed this up brilliantly here (please excuse the very large quote pasted below…”(The) basic issue is that broadband capacity needs continue to increase, which requires ongoing investment. It ought to go without saying, but said investment is not free; I understand and in principle agree with the argument that internet access should be regulated as a common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, but that does not address the need for ongoing broadband investment, and calls for reclassification, to be taken seriously, must include proposals for ensuring the US doesn’t fall even further behind the rest of the world in broadband penetration, speed, and capacity.Specifically:Government control of the “last mile” would guarantee net neutrality, but then taxes must cover the investment necessary for upgrading our infrastructure. If this is the best plan, then calls for net neutrality ought to be combined with local activism pressing city and state governments to prioritize funding accordinglyOpen loop unbundling, which means separating ownership of the last mile infrastructure from the provision of Internet services, requires compelling Comcast et al to open their infrastructure to anyone who wants to be an ISP (this is how it works in many countries in the world, including almost all of those with vastly superior broadband speeds and capacity). However, the P/E ratio of your typical utility is far lower than that of a monopolistic ISP; enforcing open loop unbundling would truly be a battle, threatening billions in shareholder value (this is the best outcome in my opinion)Usage-based pricing, where you pay for the capacity that you use, would properly incentivize ISPs to support net neutrality, but would be strongly opposed by many in the tech industry who do not want customers keeping track of what services are bandwidth hogs (Hi Netflix!), or choosing slower speeds to save moneyOr, we could have the situation we have now: emotional appeals for net neutrality on one side, with ISPs arguing they have the right to maximize the economic utility of their networks by means that most consumers will never see (i.e. making content providers pay for fast lanes) on the other, and only the latter includes a solution for incentivizing ongoing investment.”I’d be honestly interested which of these you believe is preferable or realistic (or if you have another).

  16. jason wright

    why is coinbase now available in fourteen countries but not the UK?

  17. Sean Hull

    Will a change in net neutrality impact *all* internet users? Or just big firms? Will it affect disrupters?I did some speed tests for NYFW and found some results that offer surprising insights:

  18. Jeff

    Yup. There are days in American history we must always remember. Today is one of those days. Never forget. Never give up. God Bless America today and every day

  19. LE

    one for people with money and one for the rest of the sad lot.The world already operates that way. Search is controlled by google something they did not only with ingenuity and hard work but also with tons of funny money (like in order to be able to float youtube for so many years or offer gmail for free). Kind of like what Bezos is doing. I’d call that a “wealthy company” wouldn’t you? Staying afloat while losing billions of dollars.and startups either pay to play or go home.Poor startups. You’re not claiming that there aren’t people that are throwing money at startups in order to play the game are you?It’s not a right it’s a privilege to be able to start a business using internet funny money. News flash here. People started businesses (and still do) prior to angel list, yc, vc’s, techcrunch, techmeme , facebook, google. There’s nothing new about the internet that changes the “life isn’t always fair” theme that has persisted for many years. Nothing about it says “level playing field”.You know when I graduated from college I wanted to do a mail order catalog to sell “computer supplies”. But I didn’t have the money to do it. So I started another business to earn a living and to make the money to do the catalog. I didn’t whine that “only wealthy kids whose parents give them money can start businesses”. [1] I just found something that I could do.[1] You know like Bill Gates.

  20. PhilipSugar

    Actually you are wrong about the 1%. It is the 1% of the 1% if you want to talk about income inequality, which we can discuss. When people frame it like that they hurt people that work their ass off like me:

  21. sigmaalgebra

    Read my post in this thread where I conjecture that the issue will become really important when the big, paid publishers want to stream movies at 3 Gbps to people who otherwise have 15 Mbps download bandwidth. So, in that case, the publisher pays the user’s ISP for the extra bandwidth to that user from that publisher. We could end up with something like the early AOL and its essentially private network, where they own both ends of the wire (need their special software to get to their servers), walled garden. Of course, this flopped. But maybe Time-Warner, Netflix, Amazon, etc. will do enough in HD movies that need 3 Gbps mostly to create another walled garden. Maybe that’s the real threat.

  22. LE

    Spare the lectures.Well I assume your comment is not made for one particular person reading and mine isn’t either. So I will continue to lecture as I see fit. Just like others here who care to write more than a word or a sentence do.The world may work like that but the Internet largely doesn’t,Why does that matter? This isn’t baseball things change. The old timers may prefer it one way because it’s good for them. The newcomers may not. Same as with other issues.

  23. LE

    Also, Google doesn’t “control” search. It controls its own search.What? Of course it has de facto control of search in that it most people who do search rely on google.

  24. JamesHRH

    Key line in that article (which is terrific): “almost all of whom are bankers & CEOs”.Kind of neat that you can merge an idea from the Bible and a line from Shakespeare to create a quote to reflect the Internet enabled, globalized 3rd millennium: ‘first, kill all the bankers’.

  25. LE

    1% is arbitrary to me it merely conveys a concept.Besides isn’t this a bit of a last man over the bridge issue anyway? In other words all of us feel that we’ve earned what we have but hey the guy who has more he is just to lucky and needs to be stopped. He hasn’t earned it he’s stolen it or something like that.Meanwhile people with less than us would definitely think we are part of the problem if they had to “draw a line”.I recently had a change of thought along the same lines. Everyone frames what is fair by what they have or don’t have.Here’s an example (that actually led me to this concept).I was thinking about a person born into a rich family. Let’s call her “Ivanka Trump” for simplicity sake. [1] And I thought “oh boy see what an advantage she has being born with a father like Donald. Not me I thought. I’ve earned what I had my dad wasn’t Donald Trump!Then, a bit later I realized that a person living in the ghetto could say exactly the same thing about me. Because relative to that person my father might as well have been Donald. And the truth is he did pay for private college and high school (back when it was way less expensive but still obv. it cost money). And actually I really worked and connived the system to get in I wasn’t your smart brother (you have an academic brother, right?) either. So yeah “I earned it” and all of that.We can take this further. The person living in one of those “children starving in Africa countries” would think it’s great to be in Camden NJ most likely. Etc.

  26. Dave Pinsen

    At what level of wealth do the wealthy become slackers?

  27. LE

    People of free choice use google to do their searches. Therefore google has control over search because what they decide to do and how they do it means they get to set the rules. And you or I don’t get a say. It’s power.In other words there is no appeal process and there is no transparency as far as why and how things happen (so as to prevent further gaming of the system and for other reasons obviously).Along the same lines if something becomes so ubiquitous as to make the masses of lemmings flock, listen and obey (even if it is of free will) then it is a problem regardless of whether or not there is a gun (legal or otherwise) making them do that. So that is defacto control to me of “the thing”. Not law but “of fact”.Here’s another one. Among a certain group of people, YC (and HN) “controls what happens with startups”. (Of course to a much lesser degree than google “controlling search”.) As a result they are in a unique position to wield a great deal of obnoxious power that they have for sure”earned”. But they do have “control” even though by your point (which is fine by the way) “people are applying to Y Combinator and reading Hacker News” by free will.So YC doesn’t “control” startups and newly hatched entrepreneurs by your way of thinking but by my way of thinking they do.Oh hey here is an example (Sam Altman on behalf of YC):…We encourage all other accelerators to join us on this. It should be an easy yes. Exploding offers are the wrong thing for founders, and an accelerator that does the wrong thing for founders will not last long. And founders should think very hard about joining an accelerator that puts forth a short-fuse offer.Notice the manipulation going on as well as the “someone died and made them king” attitude. Of course nobody is obligated to go along with this but they have now cast a shadow on anyone doing things differently.

  28. PhilipSugar

    I said we can discuss. Maybe never. Just pointing out the facts. I would say Warren Buffet who after years of paying a tax rate on carried interest but now thinks I would owe more would define that.

  29. PhilipSugar

    Yup, you are right, just pointing out the facts.

  30. LE

    Buffet? He’s annoying and totally unreal. (Like those Geico commercials). Hey, at least Trump is annoying but real.The only reason people buy into anything he says is because he has an avuncular interface so he just seems so harmless. And nice. Why does that even matter? I’m sure all his deals are win win also.And he trouts around all this homespun stuff (plays board games and smiles so much) and keeps in his portfolio a few non important businesses which he no doubt keeps on his mantle simply to show how “main street” he is (like Borsheims (which we always hear about to keep up his folksy image) which has a grand total of 170 employees vs. 27,000 at Geico!). Like “look I’m so loyal once I buy I keep I’m a good guy I’m not neutron jack (Jack Welsh GE)”. Meanwhile nobody looks to hard at anything else (the public that is). They’re like “this guy is harmless”. (Not saying he isn’t harmless I’m just talking about “the image” and the Warren marketing arm).Anyway, obviously he’s a good businessman and knows how to make money no doubt on that.But the fact is that if Warren doesn’t care about money it’s because all of his currency (I mean the guy lives in a “dump” (by his wealth standards) that he bought 50 or 60 years ago) is in getting smoke blow up his ass by the public. That is what he lives for to be a business star and the way he got there is as you say playing business and every advantage that he could.(Like that Burger King tax inversion thing as I’ve read..)