An Internet Monopoly Problem

We have a problem. For many nights, over the last few months, we’ve tried to stream TV shows or movies only to get perpetual loading. Ten seconds of video will play followed by ten seconds of loading screen. Needless to say, this makes streaming virtually impossible.  It’s not just streaming either. Normal web browsing will slow to a crawl and sites will become unreachable.  I would run speed tests and, at times, got download and upload speeds much less than what we were paying for.

At one point, Time Warner Cable sent a technician over.  (Important detail, they scheduled an appointment after we complained in a tweet but didn’t @ them.  They didn’t even consult us, they just looked up our information based on previous correspondences and messaged us as to when our appointment was.)  The tech came over and examined our network.  Everything seemed fine to him.  Unfortunately, the problems didn’t stop, but got worse.  One night, while watching Hulu on our Roku, we were subjected to persistent "loading messages."  We’d get twenty seconds of show followed by ten seconds of a loading screen.  This wasn’t our wireless network, mind you.  The Roku is connected via a wired connection.

The problems got so bad that B, in sheer exasperation, wanted to just cancel our account with Time Warner Cable and see alternatives.  That’s where the big problem lies, however.

You see, Time Warner Cable is a monopoly in our area when it comes to high-speed, wired Internet access.   Sure, there are some alternatives, but they are all so slow and/or expensive as to not be a real alternative.  Not convinced?  Well, here’s a breakdown:

Time Warner Cable Internet:  Our current provider.  We’re paying about $35 a month for 15Mbps Internet access.

Verizon DSL: Verizon is actively trying to ignore/ditch DSL in favor of the much more profitable mobile market.  I had to wade through page after page about FIOS which isn’t available in my area before their website directed me to a page on DSL Internet.  Finally, I found an offer for 15Mbps for $30 a month.  Sounds good, right?  Well, there are some little details.  First off, this is part of a series of speed ranges.  The whole offering is 1.1Mbps – 3Mbps, 3.1Mbps – 7Mbps, and 7.1Mbps – 15Mbps.  When I actually hit "Order now", I was told it would be 3.1 – 7Mbps.  Also, the price went up to $35.  Also, this requires you to get a Verizon home phone line.  Lastly, this price was only good for one year (and would doubtlessly include "taxes and fees" to increase our rate).  So in the end, Verizon wants us to pay more than TWC for half the speeds.


Satellite Internet: Some people suggested satellite Internet.  I had heard that it was very expensive, but people said it had come down in price, so I looked into it.  HughesNet wanted $60 a month for 10Mbps of Internet access or $130 for 15Mbps.  Not only that, but there were caps involved.  Currently, our TWC connection has no caps.  HughesNet, however, claimed to be giving between 60 and 70 GB of data to use per month.  At first glance, this might seem like enough.  My own rough estimate of our Internet usage suggested that we use about 50GB per month.  The problem is that the 60GB of data per month is "10GB Anytime allowance PLUS 50GB of Bonus Bytes (2am-8am)".  The 70GB plan was 20GB anytime and the rest for 2am-8am.  Yes, the cap is really 10-20GB during the times when you’re most likely to use your data (8:01am – 1:59am) and the rest for the early morning hours when almost nobody is on.  So, for our usual usage, we’d be facing an effective 10-20GB cap for at least double our current price.


Wireless Internet: For the most part, wireless plans have obvious shortcomings: They tend to be more expensive and they have lower data caps.  I wondered, though, whether Verizon Wireless would even sell us a 50GB plan.  If so, maybe it would be worth our while.  After some digging, I found a plan for 50GB a month that should get us the data that we need.  Unfortunately, it would cost $375 a month!  Even a data-only plan with equivalent amount of data cost $335.


The other options (dial-up, going without Internet) just are not compatible with a modern web developer.  Who would want to buy website work from someone without the Internet access needed to make changes?

Competition is healthy for businesses and users.  It makes companies improve their services and lower their prices.  Businesses, knowing that their customers could defect at any moment, do everything possible to retain users.  You can see this in areas where Google Fiber becomes available.  After much complaining, the entrenched ISPs begin improving speeds/service and lowering prices.  Unfortunately, since  Time Warner Cable is a monopoly in our area (something that is true in many locations), they can feel free to let their network quality decline while raising their prices.  Since the alternatives are worse then TWC, sadly, Time Warner Cable will continue to get our monthly payments and we’ll have to brace for spotty Internet access for some time to come.

Why You Need To Upgrade WordPress Now (and Back It Up While You’re At It)

Last week, there was a big announcement in the WordPress world about a security vulnerability existing within many plugins.  Plugin authors scrambled to fix the issues quickly while the call went out for everyone to update their plugins and Word Press installations.  As a web developer, I understood what the vulnerability was all about, why it could be so dangerous, and what an attacker could use it to do.  As I thought about it, though, I realized that non-web developers might need a quick primer on just what the problem was.

The Problem

Word Press can be a wonderful tool for developers.  Not only is it a Content Management System, but it has a series of functions available to programmers to use in the course of writing code.  You don’t have to re-invent the wheel because Word Press has built in functions that can be used to complete the job.  A long time ago, there might have been security concerns with WordPress’s functions.  Thankfully, though, the WordPress team has put a lot of effort into security.  Unfortunately, the documentation for a couple of the functions were vague.  Developers thought that two of the functions were sanitizing the user’s input when they weren’t.

Clean That Input

What does sanitizing input mean?  It means that a developer should never trust what a user enters into a system.  If a user is prompted to enter a number between 1 and 10, it shouldn’t be assumed that they didn’t type 11.  Or abc.  Or ‘ and 1=1; Delete From Users.  If the wrong user input is blindly accepted, the program might give bad results, crash, or – even worse – allow a malicious user to run commands that could compromise the security of the server, its data, and subsequent users.  Luckily, before user input is used, it can be checked and potentially harmful contents can be neutralized.  In the case of the WordPress vulnerability, the lack of cleaning up user input meant that a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attack could be formed.

What is XSS?

Cross Site Scripting (or XSS) happens when malicious user input placed on a website and is used to run scripts on a user’s computer.  Suppose, a blog had a comment page that had a XSS vulnerability.  An attacker could craft a link in the form of<script>document.cookie = "expires: Wed, 1 Apr 2015 12:00:00 UTC; path=/";</script>

This particular link would erase the person’s cookies – effectively logging the person out of the website.  Annoying, but ultimately harmful.  However, a more advanced form of this attack might read information stored in the cookie variables (e.g. usernames, passwords) and send them to the attacker (perhaps by using JavaScript to load an image with the data to send in the image’s link).  If the attacker sent this more advanced link to a user, he could take control of that user’s account.

Now, imagine a comment form.  The basic comment form is quite simple.  Just take the user’s comment and display it on the website.  Not hard, right?  If I input:

Very nice article.  I agree wholeheartedly.

then that should appear on the page.  What, however, should happen if I write:

Very nice article.  I agree wholeheartedly.  <form action=””>Credit Card Number: <input type=”text” name=”CCNumber” /><input type=”submit” /></form>

Should that appear on the page as is?  In case you don’t “speak HTML”, that comment – if left unfiltered – would make a form appear on the page asking for a user’s credit card number. This phony form won’t fool anyone, of course, but a more advanced version of this could wipe out all elements on a page and display a real looking login page – with the usernames/passwords being sent to the attacker (and logging the users in if the attacker wanted to be extra sneaky).  The form could also ask for a user’s personal information or payment information – compromising the user’s credit card number or other details.

In all of these cases, the attacker uses not only the XSS vulnerability, but the trustworthiness of the website being used to fool users.  If your users usually pay for access to your website, they might not think anything is wrong when your website suddenly reports that it needs to confirm the users’ credit card numbers.

How Do I Stop XSS?

Stopping Cross-Site Scripting attacks is actually very simple.  I even had to resort to it while writing this article.  My blog post editor kept wanting to turn some of the HTML tags into actual HTML.  To keep it from doing this, I replaced all “<” angle brackets with &lt; (the HTML code for “<“) and all “>” angle brackets with &gt (the HTML code for “>”).  Doing this to user input should make the attacker’s HTML code show instead of being interpreted and run.  Of course, to do this, you need to know how to work with the code behind websites.

But What About WordPress Plugins?

When you use WordPress plugins, you need to have some level of trust as to the quality of the code.  Few users have the time (or the skill) to pour over all of the code in all of their plugins to spot all of the vulnerabilities.  The best most users can hope for is that the developers (or users with the time and skill) find the bugs and fix them.  This fixes will be posted as updated versions.  This is why it is essential to keep WordPress, its plugins, and its themes up to date.  It doesn’t matter if the vulnerability in Really Cool Plugin was fixed in version 1.3 if you’re still running version 1.2.  And don’t think you can hide behind people not knowing what version you are running.  Hackers can use automated tools to scan many sites for many different vulnerabilities – only giving their attention to the openings that they want to exploit.

How do you update?

To update your WordPress installation, log into your WordPress installation’s admin panel (usually  Under Dashboard on the left hand side is a menu option called “Updates.”  Clicking this leads you to a page where you can update the WordPress core installation, plugins, and themes.  (In the case of the latter, bad coding can lead to security holes within themes which might be patched with a new version of the theme.)

What about plugins with no updates?

Not every plugin author updates his plugins on a timely fashion.  Whether because he is busy on other projects or because the plugin you are using isn’t being actively developed anymore, you might still find yourself running vulnerable plugins.  Worse still, you might not know it until the plugin is exploited.  There are security plugins that can be used to mitigate the risk, but in the end one of the best defenses is a good backup.  Make sure that you have backups of your website files as well as your database.  With luck, you’ll never need them, but if you do you will be glad that you had them.

Techydad Backup & Update Service.

There are many WordPress plugins that one can use to backup ones WordPress sites.  If anyone needs any assistance, I’d like to extend an offer, though.  I’ll backup your website and database once a week as well as run monthly updates on your site for a monthly fee.  If you are interested, contact me and we can discuss pricing.

Stay safe online and happy blogging, everyone!

A Seder Filled With Pandemic, Lost Teeth, And No Internet

Toothless_JSLFriday night was the first night of Passover.  As such, we had the first Seder.  It was nice and the boys enjoyed it.  They even stayed up until the very end – going to sleep at 12:30am!  (Their bed time is usually 8:30pm so this was quite the late night for them.)  The next day/night, though.  THAT’s when things got interesting.

As the second Seder neared, we decided to give the boys a snack.  After all, there’s a lot of stuff to get through in a Seder before we eat.  So, among other snacks, I cut up some apples for us to share.  Now, JSL had two very loose teeth for some time.  They were actually pointing outward a bit which was quite creepy to look at.  The first one came out after JSL bit into a slice of pizza at an Autism fair.  (I ran with him to the bathroom to extradite the tooth.)  As he bit into an apple slice, the second tooth began to bleed and got very wiggly.  As much as I shook it, though, it wouldn’t come out.  The bleeding stopped, though, so we made our way to the Seder.

Once we arrived, the boys and I played a few games with one of B’s relatives.  It turns out that he’s quite the gamer and brought along Pandemic.  He explained the game as he set up for the four of us. We didn’t get to play the whole game (as the Seder started), but what we did play was very different from other games I’ve played.   In other games, you are out for yourself (and, perhaps, a teammate) trying to beat the other players.  In Pandemic, all of the players are working together.  You don’t sabotage the people playing with you, but try to figure out ways to help them.  After all, you are all playing as medical professionals fighting a series of illnesses.  If you all lose, the illnesses spread out of control.  If you all win, the illnesses are eradicated.  I could definitely see playing this with B and the boys to help NHL understand how to work with people to achieve a goal.  I could also see this being used in an office environment as a team building exercise.  I’ve been eyeing the game ever since that night and it’s only a matter of time before I buy it.

The pre-meal portion of the Seder passed without anything unusual happening.  Which is saying something considering that B’s family’s Seder routinely involves people being whipped with scallions, her uncle talking like one of her aunts, and another relative of hers read her passage with liberal use of the Hebrew word shadayim (breasts).  (It’s quite a fun Seder.)  As we began eating the meal, JSL eagerly started eating the matzo ball in his soup… and then screamed out.  His tooth was bleeding again.  I was prepared and took him away from the table where this time the tooth came out.  I wrapped it up, helped him with his bleeding mouth, and comforted him (it was late already and a bit traumatic).

After dessert, the Seder started back up, but we had to leave.  It was already past midnight.  We got home and despite my suggestions, JSL insisted on writing a note to the Tooth Fairy that night.

We also discovered something else:  We had no Internet.  None at all.  It had been getting a bit flaky over the past month.  Honestly, we wondered whether this was intentional due to our cutting cable, but the person on the phone insisted (after trying many things) that it looked like a bad Ethernet port in our cable modem.  Since we own our own modem and don’t rent it from the cable company, we had to buy a new one.  (We figured out that – given how much this one cost us and how long it lasted – we paid about $2.80 a month for it.  So it was a very good deal.)   On Sunday, we decided to shop for modems.

Except there was one problem.

It was Easter Sunday.

Stores are closed on Easter Sunday.

In the end, we found a store that was open, had the cable modem we needed, and at a decent price as well.  We brought it home, got it set up, and… still nothing.  Another call to our cable company and some tests later and we still had no Internet.  Just when I thought we’d need to wait a few days until they could send a technician over, the guy on the phone said he’d try sending a refresh signal to our modem.  Sure enough, that did it.  Which leads me to wonder whether that was the problem all along and whether our old modem is still good.  (We might give it to B’s parents to try since they need to stop renting a modem.)  Either way, we have Internet again and it seems pretty reliable so far.

And that was our eventful Seder.  Instead of "Next Year In Jerusalem", perhaps I should close my Seders with "Next Year… a bit more boring please."

Was your holiday weekend eventful?

Network Neutrality Shouldn’t Be A Political Issue

On Monday, President Barack Obama expressed his support for strong Network Neutrality protections in the form of classifying ISPs under Title II.  Soon after this, Senator Ted Cruz – a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet – tweeted the following:

This for me upset for many reasons.  Mostly because it seemed like Senator Cruz was opposing Network Neutrality simply because President Obama supported it.  In other words, he is basing his stance on political spite, not on actual understanding of the issues at hand.  One of the problems is that the definition of Network Neutrality has gotten muddied with other gripes against cable ISPs and by repeated statements by opponents misstating the intent of Network Neutrality.  Let’s first look at what Network Neutrality really means.

What Network Neutrality Is

In short, Network Neutrality means that two data requests of the same type will be treated the same.  So if I request a video from YouTube, a second video from Netflix, and a third video from an online VOD service that my ISP runs, all three videos should download at the same speeds.  Yes, there might be some variance due to the speeds of the originating server or whether a router along the way is slowing traffic down, but my ISP won’t intentionally make one service’s speed faster than another service of the same type.

This History of Network Neutrality

This is nothing new.  In fact, this is how the Internet has been run since its inception.  Recently, however, a few big ISPs decided that this needed to change.  One impetus was that the ISPs saw that Internet companies were making a lot of money in a method that utilized the ISPs’ connections without directly paying the ISPs.  One of the first to publicly state this was the then-CEO of AT&T, Ed Whitacre.  He said that companies like Google, Yahoo!, and Vonage shouldn’t "use the pipes for free."  Of course, this ignored that Internet companies pay their own ISPs for bandwidth.  Those ISPs, in turn, either pay upstream ISPs or – if they are top-level ISPs – have peering agreements with other ISPs regarding payment for traffic flow.  On the other side of the equation, customers pay the ISPs for access.  The ISPs then either have peering agreements or pay upstream ISPs who do.  Nobody is getting a free ride.

Ed Whitacre, wasn’t dissuaded, though.  He wanted Internet companies to pay AT&T for the right to access AT&T’s customers while collecting money from their customers for the right to access the Internet companies’ websites.  In other words, AT&T would get paid twice for the same traffic.  This made as much sense as AT&T trying to charge a pizzeria for making money when AT&T customers phoned in orders because the pizzeria got their phone service from Verizon and not AT&T.

There was a second reason for this desire to get paid by Internet companies, though.  As Internet video services such as Netflix began to take off, the ISPs – many of whom also provided cable TV service – felt threatened.  If people could get all of their video entertainment from Netflix, YouTube, etc., why would they need to subscribe to cable?  Some people figured this out and blazed a trail as cord cutters.  The ISPs responded by calling for there to be a fast lane – for people who would pay for extra-special priority access – and a slow lane for everyone else.  Internet video companies would need to pay this extra money or find their service unusable.  Of course, this would raise the price of the service and thus would help to make the cable ISPs’ TV offerings seem better by comparison.  In addition, the ISPs instituted service caps and overage fees.  This was to keep people from being able to download too much video without needing to pay more.  Again, using Internet video too much would make your bill go up so (they hoped) people would stop watching Internet video as "too expensive" and would go back to cable TV which didn’t have these restrictions.

What Network Neutrality Isn’t

Caps and overages are a bit of a detour, however.  While a case might be made that applying them to one service (Internet video) while not applying them to another service that financially benefits the ISP (cable TV) is a neutrality issue, this isn’t the biggest complaint.  That is reserved for the fast lanes – prioritizing one service over another based on payment.

But isn’t prioritization just good network management?  Should ISPs be required by law to give an e-mail message the same priority as a video conference?  Of course not.  ISPs would be free to allow e-mail packets to slow down a bit while the video conferencing packets whizzed by.  What the ISPs couldn’t do is make packets from one e-mail service slower than packets from another e-mail service or make one video conferencing service slower than another one.  In other words, they couldn’t form fast lanes with toll access.

Another complaint is that Network Neutrality would legislate away the ISPs offering speed tiers.  Currently, you can pay one amount for normal speed Internet access and pay more to get faster speeds.  Wouldn’t Network Neutrality do away with this?  Again, the answer is no.  Remember, we aren’t measuring the speed of Netflix to me versus Netflix to you.  We are measuring the speed of Netflix to you versus the speed of a competing video service to you.  If I pay for faster speeds than you have, I’ll get Netflix faster than you would, but we would both get it at the same speeds as we would get any other video service (again, at least as far as the ISP can control).

Getting back to Senator Ted Cruz, is Network Neutrality Obamacare for the Internet.  Well, I don’t want to get into a huge debate over Obamacare – its pros and cons, whether it should be kept as is, improved, or repealed entirely.  So let’s just look at what Senator Cruz meant by his statement.  For those opposed to Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act represented a government takeover of health care coverage.  What was once decided by free market insurance companies, they contend, is now decided by big government agencies.  Thus, Mr. Cruz is envisioning Network Neutrality as the government forcing ISPs into a course of action instead of letting the free market dictate what action they took.

There are two problems with this.  First of all, there is no free market.  Most places in the United States have only one or two wired broadband ISPs available to them.  I only have one by me.  If I don’t like this ISP’s actions or prices or caps, my options are to 1) stay with the ISP or 2) go without Internet.  If I didn’t like my health care coverage, I could jump to a different insurer.  Yes, you could argue about details like coverage levels and pricing, but insurance companies have competition in their marketplace.  ISPs do not.  Even Comcast’s CEO stated that they don’t compete with Time Warner Cable (who they want to merge with).  At most, a cable ISP and a phone company ISP will share some territory.  There is no true free market – only monopolies and duopolies.  Under these conditions, the ISPs know they can do whatever they want without fear of punishment from their customers fleeing to the competition.

Secondly, Network Neutrality isn’t a government takeover of the ISPs.  It is simply the government saying "you can’t play favorites and destroy the Internet just to make a bigger profit."  We have regulations for a lot of things.  Many of these regulations have good reasons behind them.  We prevent food companies from just tossing whatever they want in their food (regardless of how edible it is) and claiming different ingredients on the label.  We keep toy companies from marketing unsafe products.  We prevent companies from marketing products as cures when there is no proof that it is one.  In none of these cases is the government taking over the business and telling it what to do.  The government is simply setting the boundaries.  "You can market anything you want, but if you call your product a Cure For The Common Cold, be ready to back it up with hard data."

What Would Title II Do?

If the FCC classified ISPs under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, it would give them the legal authority to stop ISPs from slowing down competing services or from giving priority to services that pay the ISP extra.  It is true that Title II usually comes with rate regulation components, but the government can exempt the ISPs from this portion while still holding them accountable for the rest.

Is Government Mandated Network Neutrality Ideal?

I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of government mandated Network Neutrality.  I do fear giving the government extra powers which might get twisted and abused later on.  However, the ISPs refuse to "play nice" online and have repeatedly shown that they will do anything to wring more money from anyone and everyone they can – even if it means destroying the open playing field of the Internet to do so.  We can’t count on the companies to police themselves and we can’t count on a "free market" to keep the companies in line.  Customers can’t sue the ISPs to keep them in line since the ISPs’ legal departments would crush any individual with legal fees (or would just settle quietly to prevent a legal precedent from being set).  The only entity capable of keeping the ISPs from abusing their monopoly/duopoly positions is the government.  The government has a history of taking on monopolies to keep them from abusing their powers and hurting consumers.

Why Network Neutrality Shouldn’t Be Political

I get it.  Small government advocates don’t want the government to expand.  They don’t trust that the government won’t abuse any new powers they are given.  I’m completely in agreement with this on many issues.  (For example, allowing the NSA to spy on everyone with no warrant or oversight.)  Unfortunately, the alternative of allowing the big ISPs to dictate exactly how the Internet is used isn’t a viable option either.  Politicians from both sides of the aisle should recognize that this isn’t an issue of government attempting to seize scary new powers.  It is an issue of the government trying to stop a monopoly (the ISPs) from trying to use their monopoly position (wired broadband Internet access) to boost the sales of another product with competition (cable TV).  It is also a case of the monopoly (the ISPs) trying to interfere with their competition (Internet Video) by requiring said competition to pay the monopoly (fast lane access) or find their service unusable (slow lanes).  Both parties should be in favor of protecting consumers – if only to try to attract more voters from the 3.9 million people who submitted comments in favor of Network Neutrality.

If checks and balances need to be enacted to prevent government overreach, so be it.  However, don’t torpedo all Network Neutrality efforts simply because "the other party is in favor of it and so it must be icky."

NOTE: The computer image above is by DTRave and is available from

A Slow Internet Protest

anigifToday, on many sites across the Internet, you might see a loading sign instead of your favorite content.  No, the Internet hasn’t broken down.  Not yet, anyway.  Instead, these sites are taking part in "Internet Slowdown Day."

What is Internet Slowdown Day?

No, it’s not a day to get offline (though that might be an unintended result).  Instead, it’s a day to protest against the government and big ISPs who want to dismantle Network Neutrality.  I’ve written about this topic before in Save Our Internet and My Open Letter To The FCC Concerning Network Neutrality.  Here’s a quick refresher, though:

Today, if you want to get a piece of data from a server, you make a request from the server that holds the data.  That request travels up your ISP’s lines, to the ISP that hosts the server, to the server which starts sending the data.  That data now flows back down the server’s ISP’s lines to your ISP and finally to your computer.  Granted, this is a simplified description, but the point is that it doesn’t matter whether you are requesting a video from Netflix or a photo of a funny cat.  All of the data is treated the same.  Furthermore, the same data from two different sources get treated the same.  So it doesn’t matter if your video request is to Netflix, YouTube, or some tiny new video company.

This isn’t the way the ISPs want the Internet to work, though.

For years, the ISPs have looked at the money that some sites make, especially Internet video companies like Netflix, and have seen them as threats to their own video offerings.  For example, if you could get all of your video needs from Netflix, you might not need to pay extra for a cable TV subscription.  Obviously, the ISPs don’t like this and have been trying to fix this.

Their solution is to claim that we need an "Internet Fast Lane."  The way this would work (as far as the ISPs say) would be that all traffic would operate as it does now, except companies could pay the ISPs for access to the "fast lane" to deliver their data faster.  The way it would really work is as follows:

  1. The "non-fast" lane would quickly become a slow lane.  The more sites that pay for fast lane access, the more money the ISPs would get.   If the non-fast lane is too fast, sites won’t want to pay so the ISPs will have a financial incentive to slow things down.  In addition, any new upgrades will go towards the money-generating fast lane, not towards the non-revenue-producing slow lane.
  2. Big companies would be able to afford to pay for fast lane access at every ISP.  Smaller companies wouldn’t be able to afford this and thus would get stuck in the slow lane.
  3. Exclusive deals might be cut to force competitors into a slow lane.  For example, imagine what would happen if Amazon cut a deal with Comcast to make Amazon the "official Comcast Internet Video streaming site."  Netflix’s traffic would slow down while Amazon’s sped up.  This would lead to Comcast customers leaving Netflix and going to Amazon.  Meanwhile, users on Cox might find the opposite to be true.  The Internet video streaming sites that are usable might wind up depending on what ISP you are in.

Of course, we don’t have to worry about this because people could just leave their ISP if the ISP tried this, right?  Wrong.

Most people have a choice of only one or two fixed-line broadband options.  This means there isn’t much of a choice to switch.

Still, all this is theoretical, right?

Wrong.  Check out this graph of Netflix speeds for Comcast users.  That dip in October of 2013 is when users started noticing trouble.  Netflix complained to Comcast who feigned innocence.  They, instead, blamed Netflix for the problem.  Then, Netflix started paying Comcast protection money to improve Netflix’s speed.  Look at the graph and see if you can spot when that was.  If you said January/February of 2014, you’d be right.

So ISPs are willing to monkey with the speeds of the sites we want to access, don’t feel any competitive pressure due to being monopolies or duopolies, see dollar signs if they do this, and have teams of lobbyists telling Washington that their way is the best.  The only thing that can stop them?  The people.  If Internet Users, en masse, tell the government that they want Network Neutrality protected and that they don’t want their Internet broken by greedy ISPs, then we might just win and our favorite sites won’t have to show "Loading Because We Couldn’t Afford Fast Lane" spinning wheels.

NOTE: The image above comes from and was offered to sites to display to help fight for our Internet.

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