Cisco And Oracle Applaud The Looming Death Of Net Neutrality

Both Oracle and Cisco (not coincidentally major ISP vendors) have come out in full-throated support of the FCC’s plan to kill net neutrality. FCC boss Ajit Pai has been making the rounds the last few weeks1 in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, trying to drum up support of his attack on broadband consumer protections. Pai met with Cisco, Oracle, Facebook and Apple in a number of recent meetings, but so far only Oracle and Cisco have been willing to enthusiastically and publicly throw their corporate fealty behind Pai’s extremely-unpopular policies. In its letter, Oracle (which also supported the recent dismantling of consumer broadband privacy protections2) is quick to trot out the stale and debunked canard3 that net neutrality stifled telecom investment:

“From our perspective as a Silicon Valley technology company, what should have been a purely technological discussion of managing traffic on internet networks has inexplicably evolved into a highly political hyperbolic battle, substantially removed from technical, economic, and consumer reality. Further, the stifling open internet regulations and broadband classification that the FCC put in place in 2015 – for just one aspect of the internet ecosystem – threw out both the technological consensus and the certainty needed for jobs and investment.”

If you’re playing along at home, you should, by now, realize this is bullshit. Once again, public SEC filings, earnings reports, and ISP executive statements contradict4 this claim. Killing net neutrality and broadband privacy protections is about one thing: letting giant incumbent ISPs make more money by abusing the lack of competition in the broadband last mile.

And while that’s good for ISP vendors like Oracle, that’s not so great for the smaller companies that need a healthy, level playing field to do business. That’s why over 800 startups5 have come out in opposition to the FCC plan. Like Oracle, Cisco was similarly eager to ignore the vast negative repercussions of the FCC’s plan in a statement over at the company’s website6 that also, again, insists net neutrality stifled investment:

“The proposal will review what is needed to protect consumers and prevent anti-competitive behavior, while rolling back Title II reclassification, which has inhibited investment. The balanced approach Commissioner Pai unveiled will encourage new investments in broadband networks and speed the development of innovative services, including Internet of Things technologies, telemedicine, distance learning, emergency services, and mobile 5G.”

As we’ve noted, Pai’s “balanced approach” involves first gutting all FCC authority over broadband, then shoveling the remaining, paltry authority back over to an already limited FTC authority that AT&T lawyers have demostrated they’re able to tap dance around7. Both Cisco and Oracle are well aware that the goal here isn’t “balanced” regulations or “protecting consumers”; the goal is to turn a blind eye to the lack of competition in the broadband space (a disease for which neutrality violations are just one symptom) for the sole benefit of their clients at AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Charter.

Oracle and Cisco’s vocal support of the killing of net neutrality comes as former net neutrality supporters like Netflix and Google have remained notably silent8 this go-round. Contrary to some media narratives, Google hasn’t really been a vocal net neutrality supporter since 20109, and its interest in protecting an open internet has waned exponentially after launching an ISP (Google Fiber) and jumping into wireless. Netflix has similarly toned down its rhetoric to aid its lobbying under the Trump administration, while shifting its overall focus toward international expansion.

That has left startups, consumers, smaller companies (like Roku10 and Mozilla11) under-funded and under-gunned as they fight to keep the internet resembling something vaguely like a level playing field.

References

  1. ^ making the rounds the last few weeks (www.recode.net)
  2. ^ dismantling of consumer broadband privacy protections (www.mediapost.com)
  3. ^ stale and debunked canard (www.techdirt.com)
  4. ^ contradict (www.techdirt.com)
  5. ^ over 800 startups (www.techdirt.com)
  6. ^ statement over at the company’s website (blogs.cisco.com)
  7. ^ tap dance around (www.techdirt.com)
  8. ^ notably silent (www.techdirt.com)
  9. ^ since 2010 (www.techdirt.com)
  10. ^ Roku (www.techdirt.com)
  11. ^ Mozilla (blog.mozilla.org)

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