Science and Tech


Web Host Slaps FCC With Dial-Up Speeds Over Net Neutrality

Web host Neocities has slowed down traffic coming to its site from the FCC’s computers, to protest proposed fast-lane rules.
Posted at 10:06 AM, May 10, 2014

One site feels the best way to get through to the FCC on the net neutrality issue — is to give it a taste of the worst-case scenario.

Web hosting and design company Neocities, which offers free website design to its users, has throttled the FCC’s connection to its site to 28.8kbps.

That’s a crawl by today’s standards. For comparison, web tracker Akamai says the average broadband connection in the U.S. was approaching 10mbps last year.

Currently, anyone visiting Neocities from the FCC’s computers would deal with speeds more than 400 times slower than that. The throttling applies only to IP addresses coming from the FCC, so nobody else in inconvenienced.

The extreme-sounding measure is a protest against FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposed Internet guidelines, which would let ISPs charge content providers a premium for higher bandwidth. The worry is it will force everyone else — providers and web users alike — into the Internet's "slow lane." (Via BGR)

Neocities founder Kyle Drake explained on the official blog: the trick uses server-side code to detect the incoming traffic and crank back the bandwidth to a slow trickle.

“If it bothers you that I'm doing this, I want to point out that everyone is going to be doing crap like this after the FCC rips apart Net Neutrality.”

“In the grand scheme of things,” says The Verge, “the protest means little. It's doubtful that many people browsing the web at the FCC have ever visited or even heard of NeoCities. But that's not the point.”

The point is to show the FCC what a new status quo could look like, by applying the fastest network speeds 1994 had to offer to today’s web. A world of information at your fingertips! Eventually.

To that end, Drake has posted his throttling code to GitHub, so other server operators can get in on the fun.

We wouldn’t hold our breath for a big name like Google to try it out, but those companies are aware of the risks a fast lane poses to the Internet.

Dozens of them, including the likes of Google and Netflix, have officially urged the FCC to reconsider Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed fast lane rules. (Via Re/code)

As have venture capitalists, U.S. Senators and Twitter. (Via, Office of Sen. Ron Wyden, Twitter)

Even the FCC’s other commissioners have taken to publicly worrying about it. Several have urged Wheeler to postpone the vote so the FCC has more time to understand what it would mean for the American Internet.

Wheeler has extended the public comment period leading up to the vote, but has indicated he will not delay the proposal itself. The commission is set to vote on Thursday.