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Following a proposal that many fear threatens net neutrality, a plethora of tech companies today have come together to support net neutrality in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The group is led by Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, and Twitter, as well as many others. Notably missing, however, is Apple.

The letter voices disapproval of a recent proposal that would allow people to pay more in order to gain a higher priority from their internet service provider. The letter focuses on keeping the internet open, and perhaps treated as a utility. The companies make the case that with this new paid prioritization proposition, ISPs would be discriminating both technically and financially against internet companies

“If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet,” the letter reads. While the companies don’t offer a specific course of action to avoid this issue, they do plead that the FCC should do something to prevent the possibility of discrimination and paid prioritization, and in turn make the market for internet services more transparent.

The letter is signed by more than 50 tech companies. In addition to the aforementioned tech powers, eBay, Reddit, Tumblr, Kickstarter, OpenDNS, Zynga, and Foursquare have also all signed the letter. Notably missing, however, are the major carriers, ISPs, and Apple.

There’s no obvious reasoning that Apple would not want to sign the letter. Being that more than 50 other companies signed, it does seem odd that Apple didn’t. Of course, there’s always a chance that Apple will release a separate statement about the issue. Although, the company has been rather quiet on net neutrality so far. It’s possible that with enough support from the companies already in this coalition, however, that Apple could join at some point.

The full letter is below (via The Verge).

Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Reilly: We write to express our support for a free and open internet. Over the past twenty years, American innovators have created countless Internet-based applications, content offerings, and services that are used around the world. These innovations have created enormous value for Internet users, fueled economic growth, and made our Internet companies global leaders. The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination. An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and opportunity for billions of users.

The Commission’s long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth.

According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them. If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.

Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrim- ination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent. The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low.

Such rules are essential for the future of the Internet. This Commission should take the necessary steps to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce so that America continues to lead the world in technology markets.

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31 Responses to “Microsoft, Google, and others stand together to voice support for net neutrality, Apple declines to join”

  1. You people that are FOR Net Neutrality clearly have learned absolutely nothing from Ed Snowden have you?

    How will they police this new NN law? The only possible way will be to monitor every packet sent over the Internet. DO. YOU. GET. IT. NOW?

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    • mikhailt says:

      What, you’re not making any sense. What does that have to do with network neutrality AT ALL?

      They can do the same even if network neutrality was not mandated. Mandated or not, deep packet monitoring is possible.

      The whole point is maintain the same neutrality we had since the Internet was born, to prevent the ISPs from effectively determining what customers can get data quicker or slower.

      My ISP should not even decide what I can do with my pipe when I paid for unlimited data at certain rate for. If I want to get Netflix, it should be coming to me at the highest speed I can get with my plan. ISP should not even be slowing it down because *Netflix* didn’t give them the money even though they already have paid for their outgoing bandwidth and I paid for my incoming bandwidth.

      If ISPs are suffering traffic issues, they should not be offering unlimited data plans in the first place.

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      • Let’s say that Comcast decides that CNN’s Video Streaming service is using too much bandwidth. In turn, they are throttled to 50Mbps aggregate for all Comcast customers… Is that okay?

        Before you answer, remember that Comcast owns NBC, and an act such as this would steer customers (including ad dollars) away from their competitor and into Comcast’s own pockets, as well as damage the perceived reputation of their competitor.

        If *their* video is choppy unless you are watching at 2:15am but every other news stream is smooth any time of the day, then instant loss of user base.

        Those sorts of situations are why we need Net Neutrality…

        Further, connectivity is a risky business. A car accident, lightning strike, or dozen other issues and there is a service outage requiring human intervention. It is a business with high cost in customer support, equipment upkeep, line maintenance… and on … Valuations are single digit multiples of profits, and that is assuming that there is even a positive and not kept afloat through government subsidies. Customer Service Stats are universally poor.

        And then you look at services like Twitter, WhatsApp, or basically anything Intellectual Property only and essentially zero monetization strategy… Multiples of triple digits, valued in the many billions… an idea that is worth more than entire functioning telecom networks.

        Would you really want to pull a “let the market decide” where there are government mandated monopolies in the form of franchise agreements that limit competition, and let those companies supplement their income from their captive audiences by making back-room dealings to prop up services from Company A by sabotaging connectivity to Company B – F by saying “online backup services are now slowed to 256Kbps, unless you use Company A’s offering”?

        Finally, Level 3 (major backbone provider for the internet) has publicly said that *no one* is suffering from congestion at the middle mile. The problems that exist are last-mile, or fighting amidst your neighbors for speed due to under-sized links provided by older equipment.

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      • mikhailt says:

        I assume you meant to reply Isreal, not me? I’m all for network neutrality. My comment was to first explain that the deep pocket monitoring or NSA tapping onto the lines does not change if we have network neutrality or don’t have it.

        By the way, if customers are paying for 50Mbps each and there are 20 of them in one area, that means Comcast must have 1GBps of incoming bandwidth ready for the customers to use in any way, each customer limited to 50Mbps as stated by the plan. They SHOULD not be slowing down certain sites for everybody because they felt like it was carrying too much traffic for them. All of the internet traffic is already limited once it maxes out *50Mbps* per customer. It’s Comcast’s fault for not having the bandwidth ready for the customers, not Netflix. Netflix should be allowed to stream 50Mbps to each customers in that area without paying Comcast because we already paid for that. Netflix pays for the outgoing bandwidth as well.

        Why should Netflix pay again just because Comcast’s network can’t carry the traffic that we paid for?

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  2. darrenoia says:

    I’m so glad that these companies have taken a stand, and it’s very disappointing that Apple didn’t join them. The ISPs have such deep pockets and such deep lobbying hooks into Congress that the only way the good guys (i.e., the rest of us) can win is for the tech giants to pit their even greater weight against the ISPs.

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    • Just another reason to jump ship from Apple. Apple it seems, likes its controlled experience to such an extent, they are willing to enable others to control you too.

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      • remoteviewed says:

        Er …..thanks for you input.

        Now go back to your Windoze computer.

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      • Peter Rooke says:

        I think I’m with you, Robert… I’ve given Apple a TON of money over the last 8 years and since Steve died, they’ve lost innovation and have just become about money. I’ve been looking at Google’s offerings of late and they do seem to be a lot more innovative. As my current hardware ends its useful life I will consider my options.

        And to clarify, I don’t consider ‘slide to unlock’ style patents to be innovation… it’s common sense. The last truly innovative thing Apple did was the iPhone – everything since has been evolution of existing ideas.

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      • Peter, please tell me what part of google is innovated besides google glass. Their android system is the same as it has been for years just like apple, it is the hardware makers and their overlay that changes things and adds new gimmick feature, mainly the Galaxy S series. People need to understand majorly if it isn’t broke dont fix it, which if rumors are true apple is doing by making a bigger screen phone and their OSX is leaps and bounds above Windows and ChromeOS. The apple TV is far superior than the Chromecast at least at the moment. I am all up for innovation but please do not say that Google is innovating and Apple is not. If you want to overhype innovation then say both companies are not since their computers, streaming boxes and mobile devices including tablets have been mainly the same for several years.

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      • darrenoia says:

        Well, slide to unlock may seem like common sense in hindsight, but I imagine it took a great deal of thought and whatnot to come up with originally. Lots of what Apple’s done seems like the only way it could’ve been done, thanks to Apple. That’s why I don’t exactly look to Google as the champion of innovation or anything. They could arguably be more innovative than Apple in some areas now, but whatever the courts may say, they ripped off the iPhone lock, stock and barrel. Without the iPhone, Android would look a lot like a Blackberry ripoff instead.

        Anyway, back to the point at hand and Robert’s comment on the closed experience… it’s an interesting question, isn’t it? In a way, these big players could benefit from a pay-to-play system, because if you need to have a giant pile of cash just to get into people’s doors, then the innovative startups will be all but eliminated as a threat. Is that why Apple is so silent on this issue? Are they hoping to leverage their size to squeeze out the smaller, nimbler competitors? I’d hope not… but who can say?

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      • mikhailt says:

        Huh? You have no proof that Apple didn’t join the list because they’re against network neutrality.

        Plenty of companies didn’t join the list, you’re going to tell me except for the companies on the list, everybody else is against network neutrality?

        I wasn’t on the list, does that mean I’m against it?

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  3. By not approving, Apple leaves themselves as the lynchpin whom the FCC wold have to convince and make concessions for. Apple will not approve of a deal easily unless they can get something out of it. This is the time that apple will flex muscle.

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    • mikhailt says:

      What are you talking about?

      There’s nothing to approve or disapprove at all. This letter does nothing but to tell FCC that those companies are not happy with what FCC wants to do.

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  4. I honestly don’t see why folks take a “the sky if falling” stance when it comes to challenges to net neutrality. Adding priority to packets is nothing new and doesn’t negatively affect everything in the system. Google itself has a similar system in place in it’s own search engine (pay us a little more and we’ll make sure your website link is at the top of the search results list). Google isn’t the only one on this list to use similar systems. People should ask why their internet connection speeds are rated for 30 Mb/s but never get to realize that speed. Folks, if you want to get upset about something, get upset that you are already paying for something that you not getting.

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    • standardpull says:

      Adding priority isn’t a big deal. But it isn’t about priority – it’s about delivery.

      Priority is perhaps “VoIP” packets should get more of the wire than FTP. Pretty simple. This is more about “Comcast packets will be delivered well, everyone else will have their packets sent at such a rate to promise failure”

      Simple QoS is one thing. The threat is what the ISPs are promising – destroying services.

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    • Google allows for “paid advertising” at the top of searches, not having your site go to the top of non-paid sites. Big difference. If it didn’t say “ad” next to it, it would destroy all the credibility Google Search has earned to date.

      As to your inability to understand our concerns; have you been asleep the last two decades? Have you not seen what corporate America has done when left unregulated?

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    • And now we will get even less, as these ISP’s retard our internet connection further. What you will pay for their “fast lanes” is going to be what you get now, everything else will be slowed. They will justify this by saying that what we have now is the max and thus they must lower the water to raise the bridge. This is how companies work, they do not work in your favor, only their own.

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  5. Apple is losing its way. Now let’s see what Amazon, Facebook, and Google can do to change the world.

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    • rogifan says:

      Because they didn’t sign this letter? Wtf?

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    • Tallest Skil says:

      Keep your FUD to yourself.

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    • Sadly this is actually well inside of Apples controlled experience mentality. To control the user in all things, to allow them to experience only what they want you to experience. The only way to take that control from them, is to stop buying their products. Which is why my next Phone will be a Android… I will have to wait until my current Iphone 3 dies, so to justify replacing it.

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      • “I will have to wait until my current Iphone 3 dies, so to justify replacing it.”

        It’s 2014… Think of that statement for a while…

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      • jrox16 says:

        I agree that Apple needs to stand up for net neutrality and if she doesn’t that goes to show your point being true…which, as an Apple fan, greatly disappoints me and also compels me to stop supporting Apple.

        However, buying an Android phone won’t help because Google doesn’t make money off Android directly, and you’ll just be giving your money to an Asian company which has nothing to do with our net neutrality. In other words, making a statement by switching to an Android phone won’t actually make the statement you wish to make unfortunately.

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      • jrox16 says:

        This is a complex issue and more study into the true motivations of these companies is needed:

        http://www.wired.com/2013/07/google-neutrality/

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      • Lets look at some of the facts my friend, as it’s perfectly fine to purchase another platform, and if we only had Android the market would suffer, but I feel the those that can shed light on such outlandish ideas should.

        (1) The “walled garden” more accurately know as “code signing” is the reason why iOS leads the industry in security and performance. Apple’s software engineers vet the app of the developer before it goes live on the App Store. This ensures optimal system performance, virtually no malware, and visually pleasing for the user. Google play allows their developers to make whatever crap they want and place it for download in the Google Play Store. Why is this a bad idea… well ninety-nine percent of all mobile malware in 2013 targeted Android devices because Google doesn’t have the security measures. In Cisco’s 2014 Annual Security Report they found a 71% encounter rate for web-delivered malware on Android compared to just 14 percent for iPhone users. http://9to5mac.com/tag/cisco-security-report-2014/

        (2) App Store: Aside from the undeniable fact that Google Play looks like a trailer park garage sale with its awful different shapes (where is the uniformity), the app store has the worst selection of premium apps. They do however, lead the pack when it comes to free apps, but I will remind you that “Cheap things aren’t nice, and nice things aren’t cheep” so picking a software provider because they are less expensive but expecting to get better performance is both insane and illogical. One can not spend less and get more!

        (3) iOS leads in games: SuperCell, makers of Clash Of Clans, spent a year and half getting this game over to Android. Google Play still doesn’t have Super Cell’s newest game Boom Beach either.

        (4) The part of your post that is most amazing is the fact you have a 6 year old device that you are clearly still able to use; I have my iPhone 1 and this remains true for me as well. Android phones have a shelf life of about 2 years… most of them are half of that, while PC’s have a shelf life of 3 – 5 years. Your little iPhone 3G, mind you it was made in 2008 so the technology was exponentially less advanced back then, is still able to keep up with todays internet on a hardware and software level. That is a feat that should forever put Apple in the hall of fame. Android phones lock up today all the time during normal use, they lock up with as much as 2 GB’s of memory while your iPhone 3G has but 128 MB, this is just another fact of many that can never be refuted by Handroid fans (Android fans that just hate because they don’t understand why Apple is so much better).

        (5) Hardware: One example, the iPhone 5 has a touchscreen latency that is 2.5 times faster then Android. Apples iDevices are mitered out of piece of aluminum while Androids are plastic and glued together. In nearly every 3D and speed benchmark done on the Android Flagship GS 5 vs the 8 month older iPhone 5s it fails, and fails BIG TIME! Look at Anandtech’s test http://goo.gl/5j8LfF. Again… their flagship phone fails compared to Apples 8 month older iPhone yet the slower competitor is more innovative??

        See the real reason to Apple’s incontestable success is precision. First you have the software that runs the device. iOS is written in a language (while close to Java) that is itself superior to Android’s. The entire developing environment for Apple devices is years ahead of Android. Android’s lifespan is about 8 years while iOS and OS X are built on a library of code from 1985. Think how long Apple’s software engineers have had to perfect this OS. That doesn’t mean it is without problems or bugs, but to say an OS (the most important part of any electronic device) that is almost 4 times as mature isn’t going to be more optimized to near perfection is just wrong. Then there is hardware, another factor that separates the vanilla products that Windows, Google, and Samsung make. Apple has software and hardware engineers all working together to build one phone vs the competition who make a OS version that isn’t optimized specifically for each and every part of the hardware. When you buy an Android phone the manufacture adds software that was not intended nor engineered precisely for the device, then it gets another does of bloatware from the retailer. I know you can root the Android device and install a stock version of Android without all the crapware but that business model is just inferior and breads crap software that needs 2X as much rap to account for this (while NOT being any faster). Take the battery for instance, Apple’s battery (hidden behind 3 screws lol and can be replaced by the user in less then 1 minute) isn’t replaceable allowing for an increase in battery size since you don’t have to account for all the plastic needed to make it user replaceable (iFixit.com). The lighting cable that was used on the iPhone 5, the one that everyone ran their man pleaser’s about saying “Apple is just making more money on a new cable” was created because it was impossible to build the iPhone 5 without a smaller form factor in the bottom of the device, iFixiT.com pointed that out. Apple puts all its resources to build the worlds best smartphone while Google and Samsung build 10’s of different variants. Google is cheaper not more innovative, someone please give me 1 (other then a search engine) thing that is more innovative that Google makes.

        ok… my coffee cup is empty now :)

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    • mikhailt says:

      Dude, why are you here? Go to the other sites if you don’t like Apple anymore.

      There is no evidence that Apple is against network neutrality nor are they for.

      This is just a letter to the FCC, it has no legal values of anything.

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  6. Didn’t I read on this site that Apple is currently in talks with Comcast to get priority treatment for its future Apple TV? Assuming I’m remembering that correctly, that could why they wouldn’t sign on.

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