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If there's Internet in hell, there will be no net neutrality

It’s time to step up and fight if you don’t want slow loading sites.

No net neutrality in hell
Credit: Baltasar Vischi

If there were only two lanes on the Internet – fast or slow – then what netizen would want the slow lane? About two-thirds of the people who have commented on Net Neutrality don’t want the Internet broken into slow and fast lanes; another two-thirds told the FCC that broadband providers should be reclassified as common carriers. Only about 1% of those commenters are “clearly opposed to net neutrality.” It’s of little surprise that net neutrality haters “would profit from a closed Internet.”

Battle for the net Battle for the Net

After reading about how Comcast forced Netflix to pay up after reducing Netflix’s service to “near VHS quality” (pdf), I was pretty ticked about the scumbag-like tactics. After all, if I’m paying for a specific speed, then you better believe I expect to have that service without my connection throttled just because certain ISPs want to take over and ruin the open Internet.

Netflix “secrets”

Like you, I use the Internet for knowledge, for play, for work, for many things other than Netflix, but I do use it for Netflix as well. On USA Today, Kim Komando wrote about three Netflix secrets; only the first one was news to me, about an 11-minute Example Short 23.976 that allegedly shows your video bit rate, or how fast you are streaming the video, and resolution quality on that screen.

“Typically, Netflix streams 1080p resolution at 3 Megabits per second (3,000 kilobits per second).” The point was to check your bit rate against the speed for which you pay your ISP. Run a speed test and if it’s the correct "speed you’re paying for, and it’s faster than Netflix bit rate, call your provider and let it know there’s a problem with Netflix streaming. You might find out that you’re being throttled.”

Between 6 AM and 7:30 AM on a Sunday – when there should be no network congestion – numerous attempts to check the frame rate did nothing other than the infinite spinning red circle indicating continual buffering. So I called Netflix to find out what the issue was so I could wrap my head around it before writing about it. Yet according to Netflix customer service, Example Short 23.976 is only for Netflix engineers’ testing purposes. He did say he’d pass along the information that the video was being reported in the media.

There are other steps that Netflix suggests trying if the service loads slowly or if it is continually buffering. For bad quality, the Help Center suggests setting your video quality to high in the Playback Settings if you have a HD plan. If you have a data cap and can’t gobble up HD like it’s going out of style, you can manage data usage to change video quality settings.

As an FYI, since this was news to me, if buffering problems continue, then you can access the “secret settings menu” while streaming in order to change your streaming rate. On Xbox and Playstation consoles, you can access the “secret” Netflix diagnostic menu by pressing the following buttons on your controller: Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, up, up, up. On a Windows PC, press Shift+Alt+Left Click to access the hidden menu. On a Mac, press Shift+Option+Click.

Secret Netflix diagnostic menu Netflix

Diagnostics include A/V stats, load custom DFXP file, logging, player info, stream manager and A/V sync compensation. A/V stats, for example, include info such as playing bitrate, buffering bitrate, video frames and dropped video frames.

Time to step up & fight if you don’t want slow loading sites

Now, back to endless buffering and slow loading screens if net neutrality dies. Will that happen if Comcast and Time Warner Cable merge together under a “GreatLand Connections” banner? ISP service plan prices may jack up, of course, but other services that you also pay for – think Netflix – should not be required to pay up for a fast lane in an Internet superhighway robbery scheme. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) would have you believe that classifying the Internet as a public utility would kill an open Internet and “inflict major collateral damage on the net economy.” Below is one example of the confusing scare tactic ads the NCTA is currently running.

NCTA ad opposing net neutrality NCTA

If net neutrality is crushed, and speeds plummet, the 1990s will call and want their slow 28.8k / 56k modem speeds back. Waiting and waiting and waiting, that’s not something you pay for and it’s surely not something you want. If there’s Internet in hell, then the infinite wait for the screen to load will be the default. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to see the slow load screen other than banners protesting a “broken” net on September 10’s Internet Slowdown Day.

Join "Team Internet." You can participate by running a banner on your website, sending out push notifications via your iPhone or Android app, sharing message images on Facebook, or changing your social media avatar to a “spinning wheel of death.”

Internet slowdown Battle for the Net

Time is running out to take a stand and publicly file net neutrality comments with the FCC. On September 10, the Internet is not actually slowing down…but the constantly spinning load banners might become a reality if we don’t defend net neutrality. Battle for the Net states:

Cable companies want to slow down (and break!) your favorite sites, for profit. To fight back, let's cover the web with symbolic "loading" icons, to remind everyone what an Internet without net neutrality would look like, and drive record numbers of emails and calls to lawmakers. Are you in?

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