Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, March 19, 2021

AT&T will now start counting steaming video on HBO Max towards its customers' data allowances. The change comes after a federal court said that California can enforce its net neutrality law, which prevents Internet Service Providers from blocking or slowing down traffic to particular applications or websites.



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I titled it that way because in the minds of most folks I know Net Neutrality means not throttling, not forcing users to use sponsored services vs the web services they choose, not being selective about what services are something you must charge for.

The idea that a "sponsored data" violates Net Neutrality is bit silly - other than companies would find a way to set data caps ridiculously low. Does the law stop them from telling me what resolution I am allowed to stream in too? It apparently doesn't ban data caps...

I see where they tried to go but this law needs a rework.

#1 | Posted by GalaxiePete at 2021-03-19 10:13 AM | Reply

So why was AT&T not counting HBO Max towards a customer's data allowance? Do they own it?

#2 | Posted by eberly at 2021-03-19 10:16 AM | Reply

@#2 ... So why was AT&T not counting HBO Max towards a customer's data allowance? Do they own it? ...

Usually in return for payment, an ISP will favor the content of a provider in such a manner. This is usually seen as a way for entrenched content providers to make it more difficult for upstarts to get into the market, e.g., by creating a higher barrier to entry (i.e., the payments to the ISP for "looking the other way regarding data caps") for the upstarts.

It was that barrier that started talk of the "need" the net neutrality law, e.g., unfair competition.

In this AT&T instance, it seems that the law is working as desired, removing HBO Max's unfair advantage.

Of course, customers of HBO Max, who now see their usage being treated as everyone else's usage, may not be happy.

#3 | Posted by LampLighter at 2021-03-19 12:17 PM | Reply


Thanks for the clarification, Lamp.

And if HBO Max subscribers aren't getting anything special from AT&T, it helps out the smaller regional ISP be more competitive.

I was under the impression net neutrality was more about slowing down bandwidth for customers....maybe that's part of it but it makes sense to address all these issues.

#4 | Posted by eberly at 2021-03-19 12:26 PM | Reply

@4 ... I was under the impression net neutrality was more about slowing down bandwidth for customers ...

It has been spun as that and, like most spinning, there's some (not a lot, but some) truth to it.

One example... one entity can pay for higher speed for its customers. Under net neutrality that wouldn't be allowed, and those customers would no longer get that higher speed, hence the "slowing down under net neutrality" mention.

#5 | Posted by LampLighter at 2021-03-19 01:23 PM | Reply

Net neutrality wasn't just about slowing connection speeds, but about preventing network providers from discriminating based on the source of the information. There is some debate about how fine-grained that service-level throttling should be allowed to go. For example, should they even be able to throttle streaming services separately from any other application using the same protocols? There is no debate, however, if they are throttling one streaming service, they should equally throttle all streaming services, including their own.

The reality is, net neutrality has been the law of the land for most of the commercial internet's existence. It really only became an issue with the "Brand X" decision allowing cable internet to remain classified as an "information service". Interestingly enough, Antonin Scalia wrote the dissent which said it was clear cable ISPs should be classified as common carriers as dial-ups already were. Now it's the Republicans that are fighting against such classification.

Up until 2017, the FCC had worked to enforce net neutrality. The removal of those rules under Ajit Pai were done in a blatant manner that completely ignored the vast public comments against the removal of Title II and net neutrality. In fact, there was evidence that many of comments in favor of Pai's proposal were actually entered by bots who had stolen people's identities. The FCC refused to release information that would have allowed investigation of the source of the comments. It was this action to remove Title II classification, and Pai's FCC saying they had no jurisdiction to enforce regulation on ISPs that led to this California law (and others like it). The FCC tried to say that despite it disclaiming any authority to regulate, its order pre-empted the States from regulating ISPs.

There is a pretty good summary of this history on Wikipedia as a start.

#6 | Posted by StatsPlease at 2021-03-20 10:43 AM | Reply

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