Tag Archives: Net Neutrality

A goal realized: Network lobbyists’ sweeping capture of their regulator

By Tom Wheeler – “Here’s how the telecom industry plans to defang their regulators,” a September 12, 2013 Washington Post headline announced. “[T]elecom giants including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have launched multiple efforts to shift regulation of their broadband business to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC,” the article explained.

The companies’ goal: to move regulatory jurisdiction from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Strategically, it is a brilliant sleight of hand since the FTC has no rulemaking authority and no telecommunications expertise, yet the companies and the policymakers who support them can trot out the line that the FTC will protect consumers.

With this vote, the FCC walked away from over a decade of bipartisan efforts to oversee the fairness and openness of companies such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, and Verizon. These four companies control over 75 percent of the residential internet access in America, usually through a local monopoly. Henceforth, they will be able to make their own rules, subject only to very limited after-the-fact review.

The assertion that the FTC will be able to provide that protection adequately is an empty promise. The people at the FTC are good people, but they have neither network expertise, nor the authority to make rules. more>

Network Neutrality Can’t Fix the Internet

The FCC is poised to dismantle common carriage for broadband and wireless providers. That’s bad, but the internet itself is worse.
By Ian Bogost – It makes sense to construe broadband and wireless providers as common carriers, like telephone companies and utilities. And a majority of Americans, no matter their affiliation, support regulating internet providers in this manner.Security breaches, privacy violations, election meddling, wealth inequality, and a host of other concerns have sullied the tech sector’s reputation.

A public darling during the Obama years, when net neutrality won out, the tech industry has effectively become Big Tech, an aggressor industry along the lines of pharmaceuticals, oil, or tobacco.Local retailers have to manage their searchability on Google, or pay for ads to compete with big companies like Amazon. Restaurants must make sure they’re listed on Google Maps and Yelp and OpenTable.

Creating a mobile app requires payment of registration fees for listing products on the Google or Apple app stores, and a substantial commission on every sale or subscription.

If the internet is to remain a public utility, it must also become a public utility worth using, and one that doesn’t dismantle the society that would use it through neglect and deceit and malice.

It’s time to stop treating the internet as a flawless treasure whose honor must be protected from desecration. It hasn’t been such for a long time, if indeed it ever was. more>

The FCC’s net neutrality proposal: A shameful sham that sells out consumers

By Tom Wheeler – Fighting against monopolization in the internet era…meet ideologically-driven “do what the big guys want.”

A fair and open internet is the backbone of the digital economy. The FCC has sold out to the wishes of the companies it is supposed to regulate over the consumers it is supposed to protect.

For more than a decade, previous Republican and Democratic FCCs have tried to bring fairness and balance to the delivery of the internet to consumers. Every one of those efforts has been opposed by the corporations that consumers rely on to deliver the internet. Now the Trump FCC has simply cut to the chase, there is no need for the big companies to sue—they’ll just be given everything they want.

The assertion that the FCC proposal is somehow pro-consumer is a sham that doesn’t pass the straight-face test. It is impossible to find anything pro-consumer in the expert telecommunications agency walking away from its responsibilities in favor of an agency with no telecommunications expertise or authority. more>


Net Neutrality Trumping Privacy Undercuts The U.S.-EU Data Safe Harbor

By Scott Cleland – The U.S. government’s Internet priorities in Europe are upside down.

It has chosen bits over bodies, prioritizing protecting the neutrality of innumerable inanimate Internet bits over protecting peoples’ privacy and personal data.

The European Court of Justice has made it doubly clear that Europeans have a right to privacy concerning how Big Internet companies collect and use Europeans’ private data in Europe and that the European Court of Justice will be vigilant in protecting Europeans’ privacy going forward.

In stark contrast, Big Internet companies’ lobbying in the U.S. has been very successful in ensuring that Americans have virtually no right to privacy concerning Big Internet companies. Both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have proven very weak Big Internet privacy enforcers. more> http://tinyurl.com/ommyahp

Internet Fast and Slow Lanes

By George Mattathil – How the retail connections operate is what is critical for most regular users of the Internet, except for those who may be operating remote servers in co-location centers. The retail connection is the regular Internet access, or broadband access.

Now the economics regarding retail and whole connections. The cost involved in the retail connection is on a per subscriber basis. But the cost of wholesale connections is distributed over all the potential users of the wholesale connection. So wholesale connection is very cost effective, while the retail connections are very cost sensitive. more>

Recommendations to the FCC for the path forward

The FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, wrote accurately in his blog, “the idea of net neutrality (or the Open Internet) has been discussed for a decade with no lasting results.” The stalemate is the result of an attempt to solve technology problems using legal and political methods.

Designing network systems involve making tradeoffs for efficient resource allocation, functionality and preventing deadlocks. This inherently involves treating different sets of bits differently. Hence trying to mandate “principles of equality” in network design is a meaningless exercise, as has been demonstrated.

The legal root of the current conundrum is the past FCC mistake of classifying the Internet as an “information service,” exempt from FCC regulations. After exempting the Internet from regulations, the appeals court logically rebuffed efforts to regulate the Internet through fuzzy linguistics.

The intrinsic dilemma with Internet access is cost per connection is not a constant, but varies with technology and the “deployment distance” for each termination. Result is higher cost in less populated areas (disregarding the affordability factor.) Hence, some form of network deployment subsidy is necessary in the current market configuration.

RecommendationsTherefore, the long term solution is to declare that the Internet access will be regulated to conform to “common carrier principles” that have evolved over the centuries — starting with ferry operators — taking into account the unique attributes of the Internet. In exchange for accepting network deployment subsidies, network providers must comply with the common carrier principles for Internet access, to be formulated.

Obviously, this requires action by the Congress, which is messy, complicated and long drawn-out. But a declaration to that effect will provide clarity in the marketplace, and may even speed up the Congressional process.

The rise of the Internet, the divestiture of the AT&T [2, 3, 4, 5, 6], and the downsizing of the Bell Labs [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] created a market vacuum. The Bell Labs used to be the final technology authority regarding networks. Parts of the Bell Labs were absorbed into different entities, dispersing the knowledge and expertise accumulated over a century. The current FCC regulatory framework presupposes the existence an external technology authority.

The current network market structure is vastly different from the monopoly market when the FCC was formed. As history has shown, the FCC cannot fulfill its mandate without independent technology expertise. Current legal-centric FCC processes may have been adequate, when quasi-independent technology expertise was available externally. But changes are necessary to effectively manage the changed market structure. The simplest solution will be to develop that expertise internally, within the FCC, and enhance current legal-centric processes — to factor in technology-driven constraints, limitations and possibilities.

The legal-centric FCC processes also have a secondary deleterious impact. Issues related to networks belong primarily in the technology domain. Superimposing a legal framework on technology evolution can create unhelpful distortions. Technology issues and problems need to be addressed as such. The “net neutrality discussions” is an illustrative example of how not to do technology policy.

In addition to the complications created by rapid development of new technologies and wholesale changes of market structures, the idiosyncratic behaviors of financial markets were also in play — as the dot-com bubble. The result is widespread misconceptions about “Internet.” One critical issue is the mis-identification of the success factors of the Internet.

The “magic of the Internet” is the universal adoption of public common standards and practices, which resulted in the astonishing benefits generated. The key to continuing the “magic of the Internet” is making sure that the common standards and practices are followed so that unified network and application interoperability are maintained, helping continued development of a vibrant marketplace.

The focus of regulatory oversight need to be shifted from the current “Internet focus” to “open standards, interfaces and practices.” A critical precursor to that step is for the FCC to become strictly “technology neutral,” allowing the free market to operate creating the best possible network capabilities with public common standards, interfaces and practices.

Net neutrality: issues and solution

As expected, FCC’s Net Neutrality rules have been struck down by the court. The reason is FCC’s position is self-contradictory.

2002 FCC rule classified broadband/Internet as an information service, and outside the purview of FCC regulations. But 2010 FCC Net Neutrality ruling, placed conditions on the Internet service providers. Verizon’s challenge brought out this contradiction, and the court invalidated FCC’s 2010 Net Neutrality rules.

What is the way forward? The solution is not restoring Net Neutrality, as some have suggested.

Net Neutrality is a legal construct imposed on how networks are to be designed. Legal principles have no place in the design of networks, or for that matter, in the design of any technology products. But legal rules may be applied in the manner in which the technology systems are operated, or used.

Designing network systems involve making tradeoffs for efficient resource allocation, functionality and preventing deadlocks. This inherently involves treating different sets of bits differently. Hence, prudent engineering practices cannot be reconciled with the legal principles embodied in the Net Neutrality.

However, imposing telephone-centric common carrier regulations are also not appropriate for future networks, if it is to evolve to its full potential. The reason is that the phone-centric regulations were a compromise: In exchange for a government sanctioned monopoly [2, 3], AT&T agreed to be regulated as a utility. Network industry is no longer a monopoly, but has many entrenched competitors. And one of the critical issues is limiting market power abuses.

One issue, probably the most important, absent from the extensive discussions is the technology constraints involved. One critical factor for the current impasse is the lingering aftereffect of the dot-com bubble. The dot-com bubble created and reinforced the idea that all future networks are to be IP (Internet Protocol) based – “All-IP.” However, there is no technology rationale for this conclusion.

There are four primary data types: voice, data, video, and connected devices. Each has its own unique characteristics and requirements. Developments in digital technology enable transmission of all these data types over packets (internet.) That does not mean that the optimum network for these data needs is internet.

The situation is similar to transportation. It is feasible to build flying cars that also operate in water. But nobody argues that flying cars should be the universal transportation solution.  We have car, bus, train, boat, ship, plane, spacecraft, etc.  Each of these are designed for different transportation needs and requirements.

If we design networks in a similar manner — design different networks optimized for different services targeted for different data types — the issues related to the Net Neutrality will get simplified, allowing simpler resolution. However, such an approach will provide only limited, if any, opportunities for political drama.

The Thorny Issue of Net Neutrality

By Jeff Clark – The problem with the net neutrality debate is the lack of a clean slate to defend either model of the Internet. Telcos are not private companies in any honest sense of the word, so they cannot take unmitigated refuge in the concept of private property. On the other hand, these companies still aim to make a profit. In addition, attempting to treat telcos as purely public entities is likewise unwarranted.

Essentially, net neutrality is less far reaching a topic than proponents and opponents would insist. more> http://tinyurl.com/lxmhs57

Dial-up rules for the broadband age?

By Scott Cleland – Eventually the truth comes out.

In 1999, Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig popularized the notion of the Internet as a “commons” with “neutral” access. In 2002, his student, now Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu, coined the new term “net neutrality.”

In 2006, Free Press organized SaveTheInternet.com and redefined net neutrality as “the First Amendment of the Internet” guaranteeing freedom of speech, while simultaneously accusing ISPs of discrimination and being gatekeepers, censors, and toll-booth collectors. more> http://tinyurl.com/okwmg7b


We’re About to Lose Net Neutrality — And the Internet as We Know It

By Marvin AmmoriNet neutrality is a dead man walking.

That’s where we are today €” waiting for the most powerful court in the nation, the DC Circuit, to rule in Verizon‘s case. During the case’s oral argument, back in early September, corporate lobbyists, lawyers, financial analysts, and consumer advocates packed into the courtroom: some sitting, some standing, some relegated to an overflow room.

Once the court voids the nondiscrimination rule, AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason. Whim. Envy. Ignorance. Competition. Vengeance. Whatever. Or, no reason at all. more> http://tinyurl.com/qj5ulvz