Time-Warner and Net Neutrality

Reader groundhum sent a link to a very interesting article in Ars Technica about Time-Warner, net neutrality and billions of dollars in stimulus money. It shows how TWC continues to try to exert its influence on the future of the Internet to protect its other businesses.

The stimulus bill recently passed by Congress includes $7.2 billion for broadband in unserved and underserved areas. To spend this money, which will be distributed as grants, the agency administering the grants has asked the FCC for help defining "broadband", "unserved" and "underserved". The FCC is also supposed to help define "non-discrimination obligations that will be contractual conditions" for the grants.

"Non-discrimination" or "net neutrality" means, in a nutshell, that an ISP can't block or slow down certain Internet traffic. In Time-Warner's case, the danger is that it will throttle video and voice-over-Internet traffic to force users to continue subscribing to a "full package" of cable, telephone and Internet services.

The FCC has asked for comments on how it should define terms for the grants, and here's what Time-Warner said:

Now is not the time, nor is this the appropriate proceeding, to engage in a debate about the need for net neutrality obligations," two TWC lawyers warned the FCC on Monday. The discussion should stay strictly focused on broadband deployment, the company insists.

This has been Time-Warner's strategy all along. "Focus on deployment" means that we should let Time-Warner use public right-of-way for its fiber network, give them a monopoly on delivering service over that network, and then allow them to charge whatever they wish and limit the service as they please. We don't do that for water, sewer or electric, and there's no reason we should do it for Internet.


Ars Technica has been all over this issue. Another recent article showed just how high the TWC proposed prices are in relation to other providers:


But the only favors being done here are to TWC's bottom line. That base rate works out to a truly jaw-dropping $6 per GB per month, and it's so far out of line with competitors' plans as to shock even the most cynical heart.