Tag Archives: FCC

Is Online Gaming Going to be Affected by the Net Neutrality Repeal?

Most of us remember a few months ago when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was hearing the case for and against “net neutrality.” Now, we are slowly hearing about the repercussions of repealing net neutrality.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a video game industry lobby group, has decided to join in the lawsuit against the FCC, joining a mix of Democratic state attorney generals, tech companies like Mozilla (Firefox), and many more.

The ESA noted that its members will be harmed by the repeal and it would hurt online gaming the most. In a statement, the ESA said this was “because the FCC’s order permits ISP’s to take actions that could jeopardize the fast, reliable, and low-latency connections that are critical to the video game industry.”

Net neutrality is a very controversial topic in politics. The rules prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling lawful Internet traffic and prevent extra-charges for people looking to get better access. These rules are crucial to the video game industry according to an ESA brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the DC Circuit.

Also in the brief, it was noted that while music and movie streaming providers can use buffering to account for network problems, the ESA noted that their clients can’t do the same.

The ESA is also very worried about the downloads of large games and how these games can be “slowed down” due to the loss of net neutrality.

Big names in the video game industry that are represented by ESA include Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Ubisoft, and Disney.

ESA’s case will be under the name of Mozilla Corporation v. Federal Communications Commission and the United States of America. 

 

FCC redefines broadband

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to redefine broadband after proposing the change last year. The newly defined broadband will be “internet which is actually fast enough to use.” According to the FCC, that means it isn’t considered broadband internet unless the consumer is guaranteed download speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) or faster and upload speeds of 3 Mbps or faster.

The proposal was supported by companies such as Netflix and Google, who will undoubtedly reap the benefits in consumer satisfaction. Why? To get any kind of buffer-free service, it’s recommended to access at least 1.5Mbps connection, with 5Mbps recommended for HD, and 25 for 4K content.

fcc comissioners
“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to redefine broadband.” Graphic from Extreme Tech

According to the former FCC policy from 2010, “broadband” was considered 4Mbps down/1Mbps up. The new policy seems to go above and beyond, then, for considering the Mbps needed for broadband consumers. However, a single internet connection is usually shared between several individuals. Let’s say you happen to be trying to stream a video at the same time as a couple of your roommates — you’d need a minimum of 15Mbps in order for everything to work seamlessly.

While the FCC isn’t actually forcing internet service providers to speed up connections, you can bet companies are going to try to speed up their internet now that they can’t claim many of the current packages on the market are broadband. This new definition will simply make it easier for the consumer to compare truly acceptable speed packages to their poor counterparts.

As an additional plus for many consumers, this new policy might also affect the pending Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. With two of the largest internet service providers combining forces, the US is looking very seriously at a monopoly over two-thirds of the country. They won’t only influence bills;with their power they could influence government regulations to model their company policies. Smaller provider companies simply wouldn’t have the means to compete.

On the other hand, now that broadband has been narrowed down to a much smaller percentage of packages currently on the market, the Department of Justice might decide that a Mega-Comcast would be against government policy on monopolies.

Internet Slowdown Day (Or: Why do they keep doing these things?)

On Sept. 10, the Internet and its users were once again affected by online supporters of net neutrality. This time, the protest was named “Internet Slowdown Day” and, as the name suggests, some participating content hosting sites put a “loading” symbol atop their pages. Other participants hosted banners, glitchy videos, and other ads promoting the cause in related ways.

Participating sites this time around included Netflix, Tumblr, Etsy, Kickstarter, and Urban Dictionary. Even Google decided to take an active role in Internet Slowdown Day, which it hadn’t in previous freedom of the Internet protests. All sites involved, of course, asked their users to contact the FCC and local political representatives in order to prevent the end of net neutrality.

"Internet Slowdown Day" is a protest for Net Neutrality. Graphic from Daily Dot
“Internet Slowdown Day” is a protest for Net Neutrality. Graphic from Daily Dot

And what exactly is net neutrality, one might be wondering?

Basically, net neutrality is about a lot of complicated and business related things that some of us normal people just don’t get. It looks like, at the end of the day, we’re talking about keeping the Internet a neutral ground for all users, regardless if they’re browsing or trying to make their own Facebook/Reddit/Netflix.

For starters, the Internet is a pretty equal ground for anyone trying to get a business going, a book published, or any other endeavor for a minimal price. However, if net neutrality (the idea that all content hosters are entitled to the same speed) is taken away, this may change.

If this is taken away, it will be because the FCC and lawmakers have given permission to service providers (like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T) to charge for speed. It’s basically like putting in SmartPass lanes for the sites who can afford it (like Netflix) and allowing everyone else to be left in the dust. Because, honestly, how many of us will want to use sites that take ten times longer to load, no matter how much better their content might be? Would we all be using Facebook if during the initial years it had loaded at the pace of an AOL connection? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Turn off the tube

When I was growing up, my family never had cable and didn’t get a DVD player until I was in high school. We rarely watched TV and if we did it was usually the morning and nightly news. To this day, we still don’t have a TV in our living room or in any of our rooms. I thought this was normal until I came to Radford University.

My roommate and I didn’t have a TV in our room our freshman year and everyone in our hall thought we were crazy. When I got my first apartment, I didn’t get a cable subscription and my friends also thought I was crazy. When I said I didn’t particularly want to get cable for our apartment this year, I was quickly overruled. I never realized how obsessed Americans, especially young people, are with TV.

According to the FCC, the average child has spent the equivalent of three school years in front of a TV before they enter first grade. By 18, an average American child will have watched more than 10,000 hours of television—an entire year and 51 days.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

Am I the only person who’s disturbed by these statistics?

My friends have always teased me for not seeing as many movies or TV shows as they have. I was always the “lame” one who never saw anything. “Star Wars”? Never seen it. “Casablanca”? Never seen it. “Lord of the Rings”? Not interested. “Jersey Shore”? You couldn’t pay me to see it. I guess this makes me “lame.”

My friends ask me, if I didn’t have cable growing up, what did I do with all of that time? I read books and newspapers. I spent time outside. I did arts and crafts. I carried on conversations with other people. I went out and lived my life instead of watching other people’s lives through their fake storylines. My parents believe that TV dumbs us down and there are much better ways to spend our time, and I’d have to agree. After reading the FCC statistics, I have to wonder how much children miss out on because they are too busy watching TV.

Now that I’m on my own and I get to call the shots, I will admit that I watch more TV than I used to. But that doesn’t mean that I sit around and watch it as much as the average person does. Sometimes when my brain is fried and I’m trying to relax, I’ll turn on the tube for some background noise. I have a Hulu account so that I can track the shows I do watch. But I also make sure that I buy a newspaper at least once a week and follow the news online.

I think it’s more important to follow actual news rather than fictional or “reality” news. I try to carry on conversations with some of my classmates about current events, and I’m sad to say that many of them can’t keep up. I won’t apologize for knowing the names of the Republican presidential candidates instead of the “Jersey Shore” cast.

Who’s the lame one now?