The leadup

In the past week, I have had several conversations with predominant republicans (whom shall rename nameless) who have made several off-putting comments regarding what is called “The Deregulation Acts of 96′ and 97′” which I find very worrisome.

In the last 24 hours, I have seen those talking points bleeding into the republican hopefuls and conservatives who, quite honestly, do not understand them or are being deliberate and can be assumed as being in Big Tech’s pocket, which I will explain below, but first a little backstory and history to bring everyone up to speed about what the acts are, what they do, and why they are important.

A brief history of Competetive Telecom Origins

For many of today’s generation, they just assume that the internet market (ISPs) just have always been there as we understand them now. There are several huge companies with tiny companies who all provide telephone and internet services that we pay monthly for access to. These services connect us to the web and connect our calls. This model is universal and revolves around the concept that the plant (copper and fiber in the ground and on the poles) is a public good that we the taxpayers own. That is very oversimplified but captures the essence completely as to what the dereg acts are centered around protecting.

It wasn’t also that way though. If you are old enough to remember the long-distance and “slamming” wars of the 1980s and early 1990s you might remember a euphemism called “MA BELL”. MA BELL was a group of “providers” who had a very restrictive stranglehold on the telecommunications market which lead them to rake customers over the coals with rate “slamming” among many other monopolistic traits. This included sending people bills for usage they never used and hiking rates and costs upon the end-users and general public.

Prior to the writing of the Dreg Acts, there were attempts made to break up the telecom monopoly which forced MA BELL into breaking up their company into smaller regional companies and providers which were known as the “BABY BELLS” but that’s all they did. It did not force them to change ownership and the control of the BABY BELLS was nothing more than smaller boards under the direct control of the original companies. If you are old enough to remember, they were called “Southwest Bell”, Northwest Bell” and so on. which then became the companies we would eventually know today such as At&t, Verizon, Century Link, and others, and kicked off the terrible telecom wars of the 1980s.

Additionally, it prevented anyone from entering the telecom markets which would lead to those same conglomerate companies having to compete in an open market. As we all know, a competitive market space, no matter what the industry, creates a series of “relief valves” that prevent companies from gouging their customers by providing service alternatives to the general public and a deregulated market space means lower prices for the end-user. It is a direct effect relative to the cause. Due to the greedy nature of our political class, there was no viable way to prevent the abuses of the BABY BELLs much the same as we have today with BIG TECHs holding on certain markets such as social media.

It was two very smart and thoughtful folks (Craig Clausen and Terry Barnitch) in Chicago who came up with the solution which was to regulate the copper plant (your phone wires) and classify them as a public good that we the public could LEASE back to the telecom providers as well as collect tax on for their operation and usage of those lines. Effectively cutting off the snake’s head forever. It meant that anyone who had the ability and the technology could create a competing providing company which is why today, we have the number of providers we do and lead to new provider markets such as Cellular, Wireless, and others.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

So what are the Acts?

Well, in a nutshell, they act state that we, the taxpayers, funded the network buildout over the last 75 years as the big conglomerate companies had used grants and awards from the federal government (taxpayer funds) to construct the networks we use today, giving them preference but stating they were not entitled to exclusive operations over those networks. Out of this, MA BELL was dismantled and the age of the LECs (Local Exchange Carriers) began. In the Telecom world we have two designations depending on the market share (how many customers you have in a particular area) which are called ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) and CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers).

What is the difference between an ILEC and a CLEC?

The difference, as mentioned above, revolves around the market share or number of subscribers a company has in any particular LATA. A LATA is an imaginary border around an area of subscribers that breaks them down into subgroup and individual markets. I say imaginary because they do not follow any geographical or states border like counties and states do. Typically each LATA is assigned or designated with an “Area Code” which you are all familiar with. The models expand based on the availability of DIDs (Direct Inbound Dialing) numbers and when they become scarce or near redundancy (duplicates) a new area code is created and a new LATA is established. It is a very flexible model and really only causes headaches for providers themselves.

The primary characteristic of an ILEC is…

The primary characteristic of an ILEC is…

Both must maintain licensing from both the state they operate in as well as must be approved by the FCC at the federal level.

Further reading about ILECs and CLECs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Net Neutrality, a brief synopsis

over the last 10-12 years many of you have heard about and may have even supported net neutrality in its various forms. Early on it was known as SOPA/PIPA but then morphed into what we know today as NET NEUTRALITY, which essentially was giving control and resources over to content providers who neither controlled networks nor built any network to deliver their content at the cost and expense of the provider themselves based on their usage and the charges the content providers would have to pay for the delivery of the services. Dictating market worth and viability based on a website’s popularity and they dressed it up as the internet providers attempting to limit the end user’s access to the content provided by companies like Youtube, Netflix, Google, and Facebook.

This concept is and was total contra to a competitive market space and essentially was a forced take over of the last mile networks and their customer base. The reason for this was that in a competitive market if a provider didn’t provide access to the last mile service you were looking to consume, a customer could just move to a different company and provider. Our demands as customers were problematic to those who wanted to control the flow of data and information on the internet all centered on the UPSTREAM CARRIER COST those content providers did not want to pay.

To give you a more recent example of this, in 2016 Trump shut down the attempts of content providers pushing Net Neutrality, and immediately, Netflix was swamped with 28 billion dollars worth of charges. This happened because, during the entire debate, they have stopped paying the UPSTREAM CARRIER CHARGES. That debt now had to be paid.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What are Upstream Carrier Costs?

To answer that you must understand how the ISP market and networks work and how they are composed. More importantly, understand how the internet works on the physical layer (the connection between you, the network the delivers your content, and the content provided by producing companies like Netflix)

The First, Middle, and Last Mile

As the heading suggests there are three parts of the networks we use today and while they work together, the composition and function of all are very different. What can be confusing is that your position and the position of the content providers can change depending on whether you are uploading data or downloading data.

The easiest way to conceptualize this is to think of a conversation between two people. When you speak to someone, that is you uploading data, and when you are listening, you are downloading. This is absolutely true for the person you are communicating to as well (This could be a person or it could be a company providing you with streaming video or website content like this article). When you are reading this article, you are “listening” or downloading while I, the writer, are “talking” or uploading.

Simple Point to Point and Point to MultiPoint Networks Middle Mile
Simple Point to Point and Point to Multipoint Networks Middle Mile

Due to the nature of an AGGREGATE network, there are two styles or models of network design which are called POINT to POINT (P2P) and POINT to MULTIPOINT (P2MP) and the easiest example is the difference between traditional DSL (Internet Provided by a Phone Company) and COAX Cable (Internet Provided by a Cable Company)

The difference is a P2P network deploys a single connection per subscriber (end-user customer) and a P2MP network deploys and shared connection between many users. Think satellite communications where you have a primary signal or hub that you and all your neighbors draw from. Ever get home and go to use the internet during hours where all your neighbors are home and you notice your internet is slow or less responsive? That is a P2MP connection where your provider runs a primary “pipe” into the center of your neighborhood and each address (subscriber) connects to the rest of the network at that point.

Now with the usage of fiber optic, it’s important to know that when using fiber optic, both of the models can be used based on the network designer’s method and thought process during the design process. In most cases, you will, however, see more P2MP models similar to the cable models you are accustomed to using.

The primary difference, other than networks design, materials, and infrastructure, is primarily how those different plant types (Copper Twisted Paid/Phone Lines – COAX Copper – Fiber Optic) is how they are taxed by the FCC and Local Commerce Control bodies. It is also important to understand that all three types of networks eventually all end up in the same place in order for them to interface and communicate with each other. These are called Pier Hotels or COLLOCATIONS and are mostly found within the Center Offices controlled and maintains by the ILECs mentioned earlier.

**Some interfacing can occur in off-network sites such as DATACENTERS as well but those facilities are outside of the preview of most regulation and regulating bodies**

The Middle Mile

The middle mile is the point where the First and Last Mile networks connect and transmit data over the LONG HAUL network, which only means the distance between you and the content or person you are communicating with and is by far the most expensive part of providing content or using the internet to communicate. Most of this is due to its design.

To simply this, think of your data, or the content you are consuming, as being a small boat traveling up a river that moves quickly in one direction (downstream) and you do not have a paddle to push your boat, or your paddle is not big enough to push your boat very fast (upstream) because you are fighting the current. This essentially is the difference between UPLOADING content and DOWNLOAD content.

This is where most people get lost so please stay with me. Ever notice the difference in your internet speed depending on if you are “talking” or “listening”? When you are downloading and they are uploading, that is you “listening” and when you are talking, they are “talking” you are uploading or paddling up the river against the current.

The UPSTREAM CARRIER COST, the cost to paddle up the river that providers and content providers pay to navigate and allow you as a user to travel from place to place on the network. This cost is what Net Neutrality was all about. No matter what anyone outside of the ISP industry tells you, this is what it was all about. I am not being one-sided or obtuse at all in this as it was all centered around the cost to deliver content to end-users. It had NOTHING to do with provided limiting access or attempting to force people into only having access to the providers content as the very nature of the business is to make money and by forcing your customer away from your network would result in, you guessed it, no revenue or money as the subscriber (you) would simply move to a network that did include the content you wanted.

The problem is that companies like Youtube, Facebook, and Netflix, do not own a network, therefore, must pay a premium to deliver their content (UPLOAD/TALKING) due to the very volume of the consumed bandwidth, which has made their business model very cost inefficient. If you remember the example given regarding Netflix, during the entire debate from SOP/PIPA to Net Neutrality, they and companies like them were not paying that cost. In fact, it was cheaper to spend a couple of million dollars buying politicians on both sides of the aisle (such as Kamala Harris (D) and Jim Jordan (R)) than it was to pay that bill, the UPSTREAM CARRIER COST. In Netflix’s case, the outstanding bill was over 27 BILLION DOLLARS (with a B), which should put things in a very clear perspective. They then used their platforms and the public media reliance on them to force outlets into the narrative of “the providers want to limit your access to information” which is and was entirely intellectually dishonest.

And this is why providers (largely P2MP cable/fiber network providers) jumped on board, as the service they provide are taxed and fee’d differently than your traditional P2P (telephone/DSL provider networks).

The oversimplified reason for this was whereas typical P2P providers paid a single tax on all their services to provide their service to their subscribers (regardless if it was phone, tv, or internet) the P2MP providers were forced into paying a redundant tax three and for times over, depending on how many services they provided over the LOOP.

**A loop is your connection to your provider**

It is this reason and this reason alone as to why during the discussion about SOPA/PIPA?Net Neutrality, there was and still is a clear divide and disagreement between the two different styles of network and you saw companies like Charter and Comcast begin pushing for net neutrality.

There is a whole other part of this discussion revolving around government-subsidized loops  (Biden Build Back Better) which is designed to force smaller providers into selling services at rates which they cannot sustain their companies and therefore removing them from the competitive market place whereas larger, national providers can absorb the loss more easily and survive, creating a market with fewer options, few options, means higher cost and more monopolistic companies, allowing for further restrictions and control of the data you and I seek to get or use.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

The Simple Conclusion to a Complex Dialog

So the purpose of this article was to bring to light the fact and vehicle the political and big tech establishment is using to effectively gain control of both the local networks, your ability to gain access to information, and control the dialog of free-thinking folk.

They are doing this by convincing people that it is providers trying to keep you captive and dependant on them for access to information. That is not the case what so ever no matter what you have heard and there is a growing rift within the communications industry over this as the content providers, not owning any network of their own are simply buying Washington and demanding control of the middle mile (upstream carrier network) without having built it or building one themselves.

The argument full circle

The center of this argument is really about an unholy alliance between popular platforms and content providers and the people who use those platforms to control the political narratives we are inundated with every day. It start when they began forcing the phase-out of public broadcasting as they figured out people are willing to pay for their content which as I described has a high cost to deliver over and above the already high licensing cost and access rights which are in place to prevent degradation of the competitive industry and preserve its independence.

The Rise and Fall of Peer to Peer Content Sharing

To understand the context of all of this, it is important to have an understanding that software and content ripping (otherwise known as piracy) is in fact a very good thing. I say this because the reason we have seen the advancement we have over the last 25 years is largely due to the years between when the DeReg Acts of 96′ and 97′ were authored and the mid-2000s. This was the rise of movie and software peering programs and services like Limewire and Napster. Say what you want about all the viruses and bad stuff that went on, but it was this which gave people access to the code and platforms which were then used to make other things such as programs, platforms, operating systems, devices, and hardware we enjoy today. But like any form of success, it drew a crowd of people who saw the financial gains and viability of those items and would give little afterthought as to its over effect on the technology industry as a whole. They began to close off that access saying it was theft (which some of it was, not going to lie) but there was also another effect that did nothing but make the market space more lucid and competitive, lower the cost of many things until the emphasis became person surveillance marketing which is the current model being deployed by companies all over a range of service from social media to television programs. We used to have a single service platform where all content was now available but now these content providers are hiding their content behind paywalls and forcing subscribers to pay the monthly recurring fees just to consume that content.

To put that into context, think about the cost to buy a movie these days and ask yourself why are you paying the same price for a movie which you cannot even touch because it is digital. What happens if Amazon Prime Video decided to close its door? would they burn all your content purchases to a disc and send it to you or would you be out all the money you spent on that content? The answer is self-evident and the gaming industry (think anything digital) is no different. Deploying a model that uses the fear of loss of your digital product to hold consumers captive to their services via monthly recurring charges just to access your content. Ask yourself, why are you going to pay a monthly fee for something you technically, already own?

Where we are now

To finalize and finish this argument. In recent months I have seen and heard many subtle digs from politicians (both republican and democrat) that we need to start getting rid of the DeReg Acts and saying it is due to market fairness when the acts themselves are all that stand between you, the general public and free and equal access to the information and data you need to make informed decisions.

The latest one is republicans speaking about section 230 and claiming it is a part of the Dereg acts when in reality are not. They are not even mentioned and came about long after the Dereg Acts of 96′ and 97′ were cemented into the communications industry.

You have to stop looking at things through a lens that pits us against each other. It really is us against the establishment and they are using our fears of loss, failure in investment and narrative to further restrict and close off the general public from even having the tools necessary to challenge them.

Anyone who says otherwise either does not understand doesn’t care to understand, or is acting intentionally.

Thank you for reading this and please leave me any comments about how you feel about things here or on the Modern Patriot’s Facebook group page.

To my fellow engineers and techies, I realize this was all oversimplified but understand it wasn’t written for us. I know there is much more to discuss but the average person just doesn’t know or have the time to get any deeper than this. Love you all, keep up the fight.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

About the author: Kevin Nutt Verified icon 1
One of many stones, the builders refused.

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