Stop Internet Slow Lanes

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When you click around the Internet today, you might see a well-known and much-loathed symbol: the spinning wheel that means loading, waiting, pausing, buffering, and waiting some more.

No one wants to see this! It’s the worst! But today we, and some of our favorite sites, are choosing to display it as a form of protest. We’re speaking out against the FCC’s draft Internet regulations that would allow cable companies to create a two-tiered Internet, divided into fast and slow lanes. These proposed rules would stifle innovation, discourage creativity, and destroy the Internet that we know and love.

We’ve been speaking out about Net Neutrality for a while, in the Washington Post and on this blog. But now it’s really down to the wire, with final comments due to the FCC on September 15. Today is the day to tell our elected officials: this isn't right, and we won't stand for it. Please call your Senator and add your name to this letter of support. Otherwise we’ll all be seeing a lot more of that spinning wheel.

Thank you.

    1. Master Pip on

      When you say fast and slow lanes, do you mean certain protocols being throttled? Like P2P? Because that already happens in the UK... ISPs will always allow high priority to services such as streaming, but will heavily throttle file sharing applications.

    2. Missing avatar

      jeremycobert on

      So we cant trust the government with balancing a budget, protecting our privacy or pretty much anything else. And yet we should turn over the internet to them ? Wake me up when someone figures out how to remove the barriers and break up the monopolies internet providers now have.

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      Godewijn on

      Good to see Kickstarter join the effort. Let's make the message loud and clear that no matter how many times they try and try and try again we will stop it every single time. Let's make it a party :)

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      Journeyman on

      @Master Pip Nope--that's happening here, too, but this is more severe. It applies to the entire web.
      Basically, your ISP could decide to start charging websites for the privilege of being delivered in a timely fashion.

      Imagine if, for example, internet service providers decided to implement slow and fast lanes.
      All of the videos and images here on Kickstarter would suddenly take twice as long to load. Then, every ISP in the world would set a fee that the Kickstarter company has to pay in order to get their website delivered to customers on that ISP's "fast lane" service. Every website owner on the internet would have to pay a fee to every service provider in order to ensure speedy delivery of their sites.

      The problem that many net neutrality promoters foresee is that someday soon, it will become too expensive for small start-up companies and independent website owners to compete with the pricing (and therefore web speed performance) of the bigger established companies. This will stifle innovation on the internet, since slow websites cannot perform the many interactive experiences we now enjoy.

      So, this is not targeted at special applications like file sharing, gaming, and streaming video--it is targeted at web sites and all web content hosted on them.

      Hope that helps clarify!

    5. Daniel on

      @Master Pip No it's worse than throttle certain protocols. It allows *companies* to pay to reach your home faster. So (as a purely hypothetical example) imagine Amazon being willing to pay for the fast lane and their stream is all wonderful and lovely and Netflix either can't or won't pay and their streams are throttled in the slow lane... Basically it's like privatising internet delivery speed - huge media corps will wipe the floor with the little guys who can't pay. It is EXTREMELY bad.

      This John Oliver segment is excellent at explaining:…

    6. Daniel on

      What Journeyman said :)

    7. Steve Baker on

      Look at it like this. I have a small (Kickstarted!) business. We are just two people, we rely on our website to get business. Right now, we pay about $100 per year to have our web site hosted - and people can reach us as easily as they can reach any other company in the world.

      If we lose net neutrality - every ISP in the entire world will feel free to charge web site owners for access to their customers. Big companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon will negotiate contracts with those ISP's and get fast access to their customers. For the rest of us, it'll be impossible to even talk to every ISP in the world - let alone haggle prices. A new kind of business will have to appear that aggregates those charges - they'll be big enough to go out and do the haggling - and they'll charge us for "fast lane" service. Those businesses have to make a profit - so the cost for ME to get high speed access will be higher than big business competitors. Worse still, I really don't need access to every ISP in the world - I only need the ones who my customers use - so I'll be paying proportionately more per customer than big businesses.

      This is going to make my website drastically slower - and possibly completely inaccessible to many of my customers. It'll make it impossibly expensive to host videos - or even (perhaps) large, high resolution photos of my product.

      Instead of being a level playing field, big businesses will dominate the Internet. The "service aggregators" will become more like cable TV companies where the sites that make it to the end customer are the ones who pay the most - or perhaps the ones that carry their adverts.

      This issue will be true for almost every Kickstarted business...and because we're all heavily Internet-based, most of us will suffer badly - and many will simply die.

      So - if you love Kickstarters - you'd better be rooting hard for Net Neutrality!

      There is an argument that the ISP's customers will prefer ISP's that don't charge big fees to small businesses - and that will apply pressure to ISP's to offer reasonable rates. But that's not how people think. Consider how people buy insanely cheap inkjet printers - despite the high cost of ink...or how we accept adverts on cable TV rather than paying the cable companies more for TV without adverts. People are suckers for a low entry price...and that's what'll happen with ISP's. Pretty soon, the ISP's will be offering free or super-low-cost access in order that they can have a ton of subscribers and make a killing on charges to web sites...and people will rush to get it.

      What this does is make the Internet more like television...and what you'll get will be just like you get with TV - big TV companies making shows that people hate - and small, innovative content producers being unable to get a foot in the door. Contrast that to the Internet, where Kickstarted content providers can talk to you, the viewer, and make exactly the shows you want.

      How often do you consult Wikipedia?

      Wikipedia is the 5th most popular website in the world. It's ISP fees would be as big as YouTube, Microsoft, Google and Apple. But it's run on a shoestring by a bunch of amateurs. There is absolutely no way for Wikipedia to survive in a non-neutral internet.

      -- Steve

    8. Master Pip on

      Thank you all for your help in understanding this!

      I don't believe this is tabled in the UK at all, but of course that doesn't help the situation. Plus it massively harms the users - who are the ISPs to dictate that they receive their service slower if they don't toe the line and use ONLY those services who pay for a higher speed?

      Will they charge those customers less? I doubt it very much! The only people who win are the ISPs in this situation, and potentially the big corporations who pay a fee may get a bigger market share due to the better delivery speed.

      I have funded many projects (okay, six) on KS, and I have my own campaign running at the moment... Even though it's open to international backing, as all campaigns are, I'm not marketing to the USA at this time as the regulations around importing foodstuffs are too much of a pain for someone my size, but if I were to go that route in the future I would want to know I wasn't going to suffer accessibility issues due to some ridiculous tier system.

      But a new question... The speed of access to sites... What's the proposed difference? I can load a page in a second, for example. I'm not put out as a user if it takes twice as long. I remember dial-up and 56k modems. It may actually help streamline a few sites which are way too intensive on media content and ads that clog up my browser. A page on Cracked, for example, may take ten seconds to load at the moment because there's so much crud, ads, and trackers in the background. If they could lighten up a bit (I can't imagine they'd pay more - they're nothing but a money-machine) then I'd be happy.

      To conclude this, as I'm playing Devil's Advocate a little, I am NOT in favour of this fast-lane proposal. But could it be all bad?

    9. Steve Baker on

      There isn't a "proposed difference". The proposal is to remove all regulation and have the ISP's and the website owners negotiate. So one ISP might offer reasonable rates to small sites and huge fees to large site - another might find it too painful to deal with small website owners and just shunt them all into the very, very slow lane while selling all of the remaining bandwidth to the highest bidder.

      The winners (if there are any) would be people who don't use much except (say) Facebook, YouTube and MSNBC. Those three sites would be able to pay big $$$ to all of the ISP's and the cost of service to that kind of user could drop...perhaps to zero.

      The losers are small businesses - especially those trying to do innovative things with the web...and users like me who like finding weird corners of the web, unexpected little joys. I'm a Wikipedia fanatic - and that's going to be a total disaster to all of humanity in the event of the death of Net Neutrality. My wife and I get half of our income from our web-based small business - and it's certain that we'll lose customers, maybe we won't be able to stay in business.

      Then there are some difficult ones: Netflix, for example. They could win by being able to buy lots of bandwidth and guaranteeing good service to all customers of certain ISP's. However, lots of the ISP's (like Time Warner) are also cable-TV service providers and being able to legally throttle Netflix to the speed of a 1960's acoustic modem would be beneficial in preventing 'cord cutters' from dropping cable and switching to online streaming video services.

    10. James Burdo on

      I can't imagine relying on comedians like John Oliver for explanations. The view he expressed is ten years out of date.
      This whole thing is a PR campaign by Netflix to make everyone pay for their streaming. What's needed is competition among the ISPs, and putting the government in charge of business agreements will stifle it and reduce everyone to the same slow lane as in the Tragedy of the Commons.

    11. Dominick Coppinger on

      @James The thing here is that it isn't a different system that Net Neutrality supporters are proposing they just want to keep the internet as it is. For the most part we work in a neutral net at the moment, they just want to stop the deregulation of broadband which currently stops companies charging websites for different delivery speeds.

      At the moment to set up an internet business you just need the files for a website and to pay a company to host it. The differences you can pay for are things like personal support, bigger server loads (more people on at one time) etc. You pay all of this to one company and it is pretty damn cheap.

      However if the net loses its 'neutral' status it will allow the ISP's who the consumers buy their home internet services off (at the moment if you are looking to set up an online business you currently don't have to interact with them at all) to ALSO charge the OWNERS of businesses. The idea that they have proposed is that they would offer a 'regular' speed service at no cost but if an online business wanted they could pay a fee to the ISP and their website would be placed into a faster stream so all the users of that ISP would be able to access that website faster.

      They have said that they plan not to slow down other, non-paying, websites and that the fee would only be for a connection faster than what everyone has now. The problem there is that they would be free to slow down people if they wanted so they could force them to pay a fee otherwise they would be unable to compete. In fact the main reason they are in favour of this deregulation is so that they can raise income from both the consumers AND the businesses who provide content. In short the concern Net Neutrality supporters have is that a system that is entirely run off the greed of the ISP's (who have terrible track records) would lead to many many issues, would add an extra layer to setting up/maintaining online businesses and would generally reduce competition amongst internet businesses by giving the entrenched and massive businesses a huge advantage over new start ups.

      Since I got slightly off topic I will finish with this, Net Neutrality supporters aren't calling for the government to be put in charge of the internet (I think we can all agree that would be bad) at the very least they just want the system to stay how it is and want the FCC to maintain the status quo. There is a certain amount of calling for these principles to be enshrined in legislation rather than rules made by the FCC and to remove some of the loopholes that have been found but these are all around the idea of keeping the internet as an area with minimal government intervention and minimal intervention from the massive corporations that are the ISP's because lets face it, if the ISP's are given free reign whilst the government wouldn't be regulating the web the ISP's would be instead.

    12. Missing avatar

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      pouhack on

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      deleted on

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      Erica Pedroza on

      The first time I used internet was from a dial up connection about less than 1 Mbps speed. Now we have technologies like high speed broadband, wireless broadband, fiber optic connections etc. The speed has changed from 1 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Even though we have technologies like this, still getting network issues sometimes. Slow internet connections will surely affect IT companies but nowadays most of them have high speed internet connections. Here at Vancouver, companies like offers high speed internet service.

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