FCC Files Open Internet Final Rule

by on Sep.22, 2011, under Uncategorized

Selections from the FCC’s Final Rule in the Open Internet Proceeding, filed with the Federal Register today:

SUMMARY: This Report and Order establishes protections for broadband service to preserve and reinforce Internet freedom and openness. The Commission adopts three basic protections that are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as our own prior decisions. First, transparency: fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of their broadband services. Second, no blocking: fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services. Third, no unreasonable discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic. These rules, applied with the complementary principle of reasonable network management, ensure that the freedom and openness that have enabled the Internet to flourish as an engine for creativity and commerce will continue. This framework thus provides greater certainty and predictability to consumers, innovators, investors, and broadband providers, as well as the flexibility providers need to effectively manage their networks. The framework promotes a virtuous circle of innovation and investment in which new uses of the network—including new content, applications, services, and devices—lead to increased end-user demand for broadband, which drives network improvements that in turn lead to further innovative network uses.

DATES: Effective Date: These rules are effective November 20, 2011.

[. . .]

Synopsis of the Order 


In this Order the Commission takes an important step to preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation, investment, job creation, economic growth, competition, and free expression. To provide greater clarity and certainty regarding the continued freedom and openness of the Internet, we adopt three basic rules that are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as our own prior decisions:

i. Transparency. Fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their broadband services;

ii. No blocking. Fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services; and

iii. No unreasonable discrimination. Fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

We believe these rules, applied with the complementary principle of reasonable network management, will empower and protect consumers and innovators while helping ensure that the Internet continues to flourish, with robust private investment and rapid innovation at both the core and the edge of the network. This is consistent with the National Broadband Plan goal of broadband access that is ubiquitous and fast, promoting the global competitiveness of the United States.

[. . .]

We recognize that broadband providers may offer other services over the same last-mile connections used to provide broadband service. These “specialized services” can benefit end users and spur investment, but they may also present risks to the open Internet. We will closely monitor specialized services and their effects on broadband service to ensure, through all available mechanisms, that they supplement but do not supplant the open Internet.

[. . .]


[. . .]

A. The Internet’s Openness Promotes Innovation, Investment, Competition, Free Expression, and Other National Broadband Goals

Like electricity and the computer, the Internet is a “general purpose technology” that enables new methods of production that have a major impact on the entire economy. The Internet’s founders intentionally built a network that is open, in the sense that it has no gatekeepers limiting innovation and communication through the network.3 Accordingly, the Internet enables an end user to access the content and applications of her choice, without requiring permission from broadband providers. This architecture enables innovators to create and offer new applications and services without needing approval from any controlling entity, be it a network provider, equipment manufacturer, industry body, or government agency. End users benefit because the Internet’s openness allows new technologies to be developed and distributed by a broad range of sources, not just by the companies that operate the network. For example, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was able to invent the World Wide Web nearly two decades after engineers developed the Internet’s original protocols, without needing changes to those protocols or any approval from network operators. Startups and small businesses benefit because the Internet’s openness enables anyone connected to the network to reach and do business with anyone else, allowing even the smallest and most remotely located businesses to access national and global markets, and contribute to the economy through e-commerce4 and online advertising.5 Because Internet openness enables widespread innovation and allows all end users and edge providers (rather than just the significantly smaller number of broadband providers) to create and determine the success or failure of content, applications, services, and devices, it maximizes commercial and non-commercial innovations that address key national challenges—including improvements in health care, education, and energy efficiency that benefit our economy and civic life.

The Internet’s openness is critical to these outcomes, because it enables a virtuous circle of innovation in which new uses of the network—including new content, applications, services, and devices—lead to increased end-user demand for broadband, which drives network improvements, which in turn lead to further innovative network uses. Novel, improved, or lower-cost offerings introduced by content, application, service, and device providers spur enduser demand and encourage broadband providers to expand their networks and invest in new broadband technologies.6 Streaming video and e-commerce applications, for instance, have led to major network improvements such as fiber to the premises, VDSL, and DOCSIS 3.0. These network improvements generate new opportunities for edge providers, spurring them to innovate further.7 Each round of innovation increases the value of the Internet for broadband providers, edge providers, online businesses, and consumers. Continued operation of this virtuous circle, however, depends upon low barriers to innovation and entry by edge providers, which drive enduser demand. Restricting edge providers’ ability to reach end users, and limiting end users’ ability to choose which edge providers to patronize, would reduce the rate of innovation at the edge and, in turn, the likely rate of improvements to network infrastructure. Similarly, restricting the ability of broadband providers to put the network to innovative uses may reduce the rate of improvements to network infrastructure.

[. . .]

B. Broadband Providers Have the Incentive and Ability to Limit Internet Openness

[. . .]

The record in this proceeding reveals that broadband providers potentially face at least three types of incentives to reduce the current openness of the Internet. First, broadband providers may have economic incentives to block or otherwise disadvantage specific edge providers or classes of edge providers, for example by controlling the transmission of network traffic over a broadband connection, including the price and quality of access to end users. A broadband provider might use this power to benefit its own or affiliated offerings at the expense of unaffiliated offerings.

[. . .]

Second, broadband providers may have incentives to increase revenues by charging edge providers, who already pay for their own connections to the Internet, for access or prioritized access to end users. Although broadband providers have not historically imposed such fees, they have argued they should be permitted to do so. A broadband provider could force edge providers to pay inefficiently high fees because that broadband provider is typically an edge provider’s only option for reaching a particular end user.17 Thus broadband providers have the ability to act as gatekeepers.18

[. . .]

Third, if broadband providers can profitably charge edge providers for prioritized access to end users, they will have an incentive to degrade or decline to increase the quality of the service they provide to non-prioritized traffic. This would increase the gap in quality (such as latency in transmission) between prioritized access and non-prioritized access, induce more edge providers to pay for prioritized access, and allow broadband providers to charge higher prices for prioritized access. Even more damaging, broadband providers might withhold or decline to expand capacity in order to “squeeze” non-prioritized traffic, a strategy that would increase the likelihood of network congestion and confront edge providers with a choice between accepting low-quality transmission or paying fees for prioritized access to end users.

Moreover, if broadband providers could block specific content, applications, services, or devices, end users and edge providers would lose the control they currently have over whether other end users and edge providers can communicate with them through the Internet. Content, application, service, and device providers (and their investors) could no longer assume that the market for their offerings included all U.S. end users. And broadband providers might choose to implement undocumented practices for traffic differentiation that undermine the ability of developers to create generally usable applications without having to design to particular broadband providers’ unique practices or business arrangements.25

[. . .]

C. Broadband Providers Have Acted to Limit Openness

These dangers to Internet openness are not speculative or merely theoretical. Conduct of this type has already come before the Commission in enforcement proceedings.

[. . .]

These practices have occurred notwithstanding the Commission’s adoption of open Internet principles in the Internet Policy Statement; enforcement proceedings against Madison River Communications and Comcast for their interference with VoIP and P2P traffic, respectively; Commission orders that required certain broadband providers to adhere to open Internet obligations; longstanding norms of Internet openness; and statements by major broadband providers that they support and are abiding by open Internet principles.

[. . .]

D. The Benefits of Protecting the Internet’s Openness Exceed the Costs

Widespread interference with the Internet’s openness would likely slow or even break the virtuous cycle of innovation that the Internet enables, and would likely cause harms that may be irreversible or very costly to undo. For example, edge providers could make investments in reliance upon exclusive preferential arrangements with broadband providers, and network management technologies may not be easy to change.38 If the next revolutionary technology or business is not developed because broadband provider practices chill entry and innovation by edge providers, the missed opportunity may be significant, and lost innovation, investment, and competition may be impossible to restore after the fact. Moreover, because of the Internet’s role as a general purpose technology, erosion of Internet openness threatens to harm innovation, investment in the core and at the edge of the network, and competition in many sectors, with a disproportionate effect on small, entering, and non-commercial edge providers that drive much of the innovation on the Internet.39

[. . .]

There is no evidence that prior open Internet obligations have discouraged investment;41 and numerous commenters explain that, by preserving the virtuous circle of innovation, open Internet rules will increase incentives to invest in broadband infrastructure. Moreover, if permitted to deny access, or charge edge providers for prioritized access to end users, broadband providers may have incentives to allow congestion rather than invest in expanding network capacity. And as described in Part III, below, our rules allow broadband providers sufficient flexibility to address legitimate congestion concerns and other network management considerations.

[. . .]

Finally, we note that there is currently significant uncertainty regarding the future enforcement of open Internet principles and what constitutes appropriate network management, particularly in the wake of the court of appeals’ vacatur of the Comcast Network Management Practices Order.

[. . .]


[. . .]

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Bob Frankston at OneWebDay: Infrastructure Commons – The Future of Connectivity

by on Sep.15, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Announcement at ISOC New York)

ISOC-NY OneWebDay Event:

Bob Frankston – “Infrastructure Commons – the Future of Connectivity”


The 6th annual global OneWebDay celebration will be Thursday September 22 2011. ISOC-NY’s contribution will be to host respected computer scientist and Internet iconoclast Bob Frankston who will present on the theme “Infrastructure commons – the future of connectivity”.

The subways, roads and sidewalks are vital infrastructure. The Internet should be no different – our economy, health and safety depend on our ability to communicate. Yet its provision and economy are based on outdated, inequitable, and inefficient telecom models. How do we move to a connected future?

What: Bob Frankston “Infrastructure commons – the future of connectivity”
When: OneWebDay, Thu Sep 22 2011 – 7.15pm – 9pm
Where: Rm. 202, Courant Institute NYU, 251 Mercer St NYC
Who: Public welcome. In person or by webcast.
Webcast: http://livestream.com/internetsocietychapters
Twitter:@isocny, #onewebday, @bobfrankston
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=175684272508607
shorturl: http://bit.ly/frankston


We are happy to also announce that Dave Burstein of DSL Prime has agreed to moderate the session. Dave will also talk about the practicalities of establishing community networks.

About Bob Frankston

Bob Frankston is a native Brooklynite who first started working with computers in 1963 when he was just 13. He later graduated from MIT. He is best known as the co-author of VisiCalc – the spreadsheet program that was the original killer app that sold a million Apple II’s. This has led to many awards. Working for Microsoft in the 90s Frankston was very much responsible for the integration of Internet functionality into the Windows operating system, thus jumpstarting popular adoption of the network. In recent years, Frankston has been an outspoken advocate for reducing the role of telecommunications companies in the evolution of the Internet. He has coined the term “Regulatorium” to describe what he considers collusion between telecommunication companies and their regulators that prevents change. (Bio)

About Dave Burstein

As the editor and publisher of industry newsletter DSL Prime since 1999 Dave Burstein probably knows more about the state of the U.S. broadband industry than anyone else alive. He is an author and an award-winning broadcaster.


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A Choice of Futures: Dan York on Moving to a New Role at ISOC

by on Sep.14, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Disruptive Telephony)

[. . .]

We have before us a choice of futures.

One choice leads to a future where innovative companies like Voxeo can emerge, thrive, disrupt and succeed.

Another choice leads to a future where what little “innovation” there is exists only at the will of the gatekeepers to the network after appropriate requirements and/or payments are met. Other choices lead to outcomes somewhere in between those polarities.

How will we choose?

[. . .]

[N]ow we see services like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and more that seek to provide a nice pretty space in which you can exchange messages, photos and more… without ever leaving the confines of the service… they are a walled garden with just many ways to access the garden and to look over the walls.

Everyone wants to own your eyeballs… to host your content… to provide your identity…

And we see companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft seeking to control a large degree of how we connect to and use the mobile Internet…

And we see a change from “permissionless innovation” where anyone can set up a new service… to a model where you have ask permission or agree to certain “terms of service” in order to connect your new service to other services or to have your app available on some platforms…

And we see countries that want to throw up a wall around their citizens… sometimes to keep information from coming in… and sometimes to keep information from going out… and sometimes to be able to shut down all access…

And we see players who did control our communications systems always looking for opportunities where they could maybe, just maybe, stuff the proverbial genie back in the bottle and regain that control they lost…

[. . .]

[T]his coming Monday, September 19th, I will join the Internet Society as a staff member.

The Missing Link

The particular project I will join within ISOC is a brand new initiative targeted at helping bridge the gap between the standards created within the IETF and the network operators and enterprises who are actually deploying networks and technologies based on those standards. To help translate those standards into operational guidance… to help people understand how to deploy those standards and why they should, what benefit they will see, etc

The initiative is currently called the “Deployment and Operationalization Hub”, or “DO Hub”, and while that may or may not be its final name, the idea is to find/curate content that is already out there created by others, create content where there are gaps, make it easy to distribute information about these resources… and promote the heck out of it so that people get connected to the resources that they need. The initial focus will be, somewhat predictably, on IPv6, but also DNSSEC and possibly another technology. It is a new project and the focus is being very deliberately kept tight to see how effective this can be.

[. . .]

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(Europe/UK) Robert Kenny Rebuts AT Kearney’s “Viable Future Model for the Internet”

by on Aug.26, 2011, under Uncategorized

(From Benoit Felten’s blog and Communications Chambers)

Developments in Europe . . . Benoit Felten, A Slap in the Face of Net Discrimination Lobbyists:

Under the title Are Traffic Charges Needed to Avert a Coming Capex Catastrophy?, economist Robert Kenny builds a systematic refutation of the AT Kearney paper. Kenny disects each of the arguments that forms the AT Kearney reasoning and breaks each one of them down with clinical precision.

The starting point of Kenny’s piece is potentially the most important one: that the need for a change in traffic management is taken as a postulate by AT Kearney and in no way demonstrated. This to me is the most important messages for policy makers and regulators: before meddling with internet traffic management, make sure you understand exactly what is happening, don’t take anyone’s word for it.

From the Introduction to Robert Kenny’s rebuttal:

The net neutrality debate is now gathering steam in Europe, both at the Commission level and in member states. Against this background, four European telcos commissioned a report from AT Kearney [ATK], to support their opposition to net neutrality regulation. This report, A Viable Future Model for the Internet, claims that carriers are facing ballooning capex requirements to fund the growth of internet traffic and that the best way to address this structural problem is via traffic charges to online service providers [OSPs].

If massive capex is required, and this needs to be recovered from OSPs, that would be a significant argument against net neutrality regulation, since it would necessarily end the principal that consumers could access any (legal) site they wished – ISPs would block access to sites that had not paid the charges the ISPs had chosen to impose.

Broadly the logic of ATK’s report as follows:

  • Telco investors are already seeing lower returns than investors in other players in the internet value chain
  • Telcos face ballooning capex
  • This capex is unsustainable
  • OSPs are not contributing to the costs of traffic
  • In a two-sided market, both sides pay
  • Traffic charges are necessary because otherwise OSPs have no incentive to constrain traffic costs
  • OSPs can easily afford increased charges
  • Increasing retail prices will be challenging
  • It is practical to implement traffic charges to OSPs
  • Enhanced quality services can be introduced without degrading the basic internet

However I believe both its starting assumptions and its logic are open to significant challenge. This paper reviews the ATK report, from technical, economic and regulatory perspectives, and makes the case that ATK’s conclusion (that the best way forward is traffic charges to OSPs) is not at all well-founded. I consider in turn each of the logical steps above.

Note that the focus of the economic analysis in this paper is primarily on fixed networks, though the qualitative arguments apply equally to both fixed and mobile networks.


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Ford Pondering Mesh Networking

by on Aug.16, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Connected Planet)

What if the car could be used to create a network? What if it could connect to other cars to form a constantly morphing mobile mesh network that helped drivers avoid accidents, identify traffic jams miles before they encounter them and even act as a relay point for Internet access?

By Kevin Fitchard

August 10, 2011

[. . .]

Ford believes the key is Wi-Fi, but not the ordinary access point and receiving device setup. What Ford envisions, [Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Research Paul Mascarenas] said, is a high-powered, heavily encrypted Wi-Fi that establishes point-to-point connections between cars within a half-mile radius. Those connections could be used to communicate vital information between vehicles, either triggering alerts to the driver or interpreted by the vehicle’s computer. An intelligent car slamming on its brakes could communicate to all of the vehicles behind it that it’s coming to rapid halt, giving the driver that much more warning that he too needs to hit the brakes.

But because these cars are networked—the car in front of yours is connected to the car in front it and so forth—in a distributed mesh, an intelligent vehicle can know if cars miles down the road are slamming on their brakes, alerting the driver to potential traffic jams. Given enough vehicles with the technology, individual cars become nodes in a constantly changing, self-aware network that can not only monitor what’s going on in the immediate vicinity, but across a citywide traffic grid, Mascarenas said.

[. . .]

But Mascarenas said Ford and other automakers can build other applications into the intelligent vehicle network. For instance, not cars but the roads and structures cars use can be embedded with Wi-Fi radios allowing drivers to connect with parking garages, tollbooths or even rest areas through the ad hoc network.

[. . .]

The key, Mascarenas said, is drawing a sharp line between the vehicles as nodes on the network and the vehicles as receivers of information. In order for the system to work, every car acts as a node on the network, occasionally receiving information and services pertinent to the driver but most often acting as a mere relay passing that data down the line of cars until it reaches its destination. When paying a toll, no driver wants to share his credit card data with the 20 cars between his and the tool booth. Ford, however, believes it can put the security and encryption in place that allows such relays to work without compromising individual the privacy of its customers.

The collaborative mesh network could even be used as a mobile broadband alternative to the wide area cellular network. Offload points on the roadside would be used to backhaul traffic to the Internet, but the cars themselves—so long as they all remained a half mile from one another—could pass a Netflix movie stream or a video call down the highway to the vehicle requesting it.

[. . .]

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Public Knowledge: Data Caps Are Screwing Things Up

by on Jul.15, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Public Knowledge)

It is unclear why excessive data use that does not cause network congestion matters to Comcast. It is further unclear how Comcast determined that 250 GB was “excessive” in 2008, and why it has not revised that level in the years since.

By Michael Weinberg on July 14, 2011

[. . .]

While Comcast is not alone in imposing data caps, its data cap is problematic for at least two reasons.  First, the punishment for going over the cap is draconian.  Two violations in six months can result in one year of internet exile.  For many customers, losing access to Comcast will be losing access to their best option for a fast internet connection.  (Take a look at this chart of ISP performance from Netflix if you are not convinced.  Notice that ISPs end up clustering by underlying technology type, with cable providers leading the pack followed by DSL and eventually wireless.)

Second, Comcast does not even claim that the caps serve a legitimate purpose.  In 2008, Comcast drew an explicit distinction between throttling designed to ease network congestion and data caps designed to punish “excessive” users.  It is unclear why excessive data use that does not cause network congestion matters to Comcast.  It is further unclear how Comcast determined that 250 GB was “excessive” in 2008, and why it has not revised that level in the years since.

In fact, Comcast appears to now be contradicting statements it made to the FCC in the past about its data cap.  In 2008, Comcast went to some pains to draw a distinction between congestion management practices such as peak time throttling and “excessive use” policies like data caps:

“These congestion management practices [such as throttling] are independent of, and should not be confused with, our recent announcement that we will amend the ‘excessive use’ portion of our Acceptable Use Policy, effective October 1, 2008, to establish a specific monthly data usage threshold of 250 GB per account for all residential HIS customers.  … That cap does not address the issue of network congestion, which results from traffic levels that vary from minute to minute.”

[. . .]

Ultimately these caps punish consumers for trying to adopt new internet services, especially services based in the cloud.  As the FCC noted in the National Broadband Plan, cloud-based services can bring huge benefits to the public.  However, many cloud-based services involve transferring significant amounts of data back and forth between a user and a remote server.  As a result, data caps allow ISPs to discourage people from using cloud-based services simply because they can.

[. . .]

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Matt Lasar/Ars Technica: Metering: Lack of Competition, Not Congestion

by on Jul.12, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original article at Ars Technica)

[. . .]

Newspaper reports suggest that at least some [Canadian Telecommunications (CRTC)] commissioners aren’t buying arguments that the telcos need [usage-based billing] to “discipline” consumers so that they won’t congest networks with excessive downloading.

“No single user or wholesale customer is the cause of congestion,” Bell vice-president Mirko Bibic explained to the CRTC at the event. “But clearly, wholesale users contribute a disproportionate share of total traffic, and by extension, congestion.”

This did not impress CRTC Vice Chair Len Katz. “When I took a look at your forecast over the next five years, (Internet traffic) growth seems to have curtailed,” he challenged the telco. “Am I missing something here?”

[. . .]

Canadian telecommunications advocate Michael Geist has been following the hearings as well. “By the time lunch rolled around, it was clear that claims that usage based billing practices are a response to network congestion is a myth,” Geist wrote about Monday’s discussions.

[. . .]

This event follows a long and controversial debate about UBB. The fight went into high gear when the CRTC acceded to telco requests last September, granting them the right to charge indie ISPs on a metered wholesale basis (plus a 15 percent discount).

But in January, one of the indies published its new rate schedule just before the policy was about to go into effect. This included data caps that dropped from 200GB to 25GB in exchange for monthly rates that jumped by about CAN$10 a month.

The yogurt hit the fan. Over a third of a million people (around one percent of Canada’s population) signed openmedia.ca’s petition against wholesale metered billing. With all of Canada’s top parties raising hay about the matter, and elections approaching, Canada’s conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper got the memo. The government told the CRTC to suspend the decision—or have it done for them from above.

[. . .]

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Video: M-Lab Broadband Measurement Tool

by on Jul.01, 2011, under Uncategorized

RT @saschameinrath: “Everything you wanted to know about the M-Lab broadband measurement platform (in an awesome 2-minute video): http://bit.ly/kGyGEF

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Barbara van Schewick Calls on FCC to Open Public Comments on Verizon/Android Tethering

by on Jul.01, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Barbara’s blog, Net Architecture)

The questions raised by the complaint are too important to be decided without public participation: The C Block of the 700 MHz band is currently the only spectrum that is subject to mobile network neutrality rules.

June 11, 2011

According to recent news reports, Verizon Wireless has asked Google to disable tethering applications in Google’s mobile application store, the Android Market. Tethering applications allow users to use laptops or other devices over their mobile Internet connection by attaching them to their smart phones.

In early June, Free Press filed a complaint with the FCC alleging that this behavior violates the openness conditions that govern the use of the part of the 700 MHz spectrum over which Verizon Wireless’s LTE network operates. The FCC seems to have designated the proceeding as a restricted proceeding under its ex parte rules, which means that the public will not be invited to comment on the issues raised by Free Press’s complaint.

Today, I asked the FCC to open up the proceeding for public comment. (The full text of the letter is here (pdf) and copied [on Barbara’s blog].) The questions raised by the complaint are too important to be decided without public participation: The C Block of the 700 MHz band is currently the only spectrum that is subject to mobile network neutrality rules.[1] Knowing that there is at least some part of the mobile spectrum that is protected by basic network neutrality principles is important for users, innovators and investors. Whether the openness conditions indeed afford protection depends, however, on how they are interpreted and enforced. Thus, the proceeding has important implications for many businesses, innovators and users in the Internet ecosystem, so they should have a chance to have their voice heard, too. In addition, as I explain in the letter, the proceeding raises important issues regarding openness in mobile networks in general.  Here is the text of the letter.

[. . .]

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NY Times: Dutch Adopt Net Neutrality Law

by on Jun.22, 2011, under Uncategorized

“I could also see some countries following the Dutch example,” said Jacques de Greling, an analyst at Natixis, a French bank. “I believe there will be pressure from consumers to make it clear what they are buying, whether it is the full Internet or Internet-light.”

(Original at The New York Times)


June 22, 2011


BERLIN — The Netherlands on Wednesday became the first country in Europe, and only the second in the world, to enshrine the concept of network neutrality into national law by banning its mobile telephone operators from blocking or charging consumers extra for using Internet-based communications services like Skype or WhatsApp, a free text service.

[. . .]

Operators could still offer a range of mobile data tariffs with different download speeds and levels of service, but they would not be able to tie specific rates to the use of specific free Internet services.

Under the law, Dutch operators could be fined up to 10 percent of their annual sales for violations by the national telecommunications regulator, OPTA.

Patrick Nickolson, a spokesman for KPN, said that the measure could lead to higher broadband prices in the Netherlands because operators would be limited in their ability to structure differentiated data packages based on consumption.

“We regret that the Dutch Parliament didn’t take more time to consider this,” Mr. Nickolson said. “This will limit our ability to develop a new portfolio of tariffs and there is at least the risk of higher prices, because our options to differentiate will now be more limited.”

[. . .]

The Dutch restrictions on operators are the first in the 27-nation European Union. The European Commission and European Parliament have endorsed network neutrality guidelines but as yet have taken no legal action against operators that block or impose extra fees on consumers using services like Skype, the voice and video Internet service being acquired by Microsoft, and WhatsApp, a mobile software maker which is based in Santa Clara, California.

[. . .]

Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch deputy prime minister who supported the net neutrality restrictions, said that the new rules would ensure that Internet services were never threatened.

“The blocking of services or the imposition of a levy is a brake on innovation,” Mr. Verhagen said. “That’s not good for the economy. This measure guarantees a completely free Internet which both citizens and the providers of the online services can then rely on.”

Besides the Netherlands, only one country, Chile, has written network neutrality requirements into its telecommunications law. The Chilean law, which was approved in July 2010, only took effect in May.

[. . .]

The debate over net neutrality in the Netherlands erupted in May when Eelco Blok, the new chief executive of KPN, the former phone monopoly, announced plans to create a new set of mobile data tariffs that included charges on services like WhatsApp that allow smartphone users to avoid operator charges for sending text messages.

Use of the free text service has spread rapidly, eroding operator text revenues.

According to KPN, 85 percent of the company’s customers who use a Google Android phone downloaded WhatsApp onto their handsets from last August through April. As a result, KPN’s revenue from text messaging, which had risen 8 percent in the first quarter of 2010 from a year earlier, declined 13 percent in the first quarter of this year.

At a presentation to investors in London on May 10, analysts questioned where KPN had obtained the rapid adoption figures for WhatsApp. A midlevel KPN executive explained that the operator had deployed analytical software which uses a technology called deep packet inspection to scrutinize the communication habits of individual users.

The disclosure, widely reported in the Dutch news media, set off an uproar that fueled the legislative drive, which in less than two months culminated in lawmakers adopting the Continent’s first net neutrality measures with real teeth.

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Rob Powell, Nov. 2010: Definitions, Dialogue, and the FCC

by on Jun.06, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Network Ramblings)

On Friday [November 5, 2010], a wide-ranging group of thinkers filed a statement with the FCC in response to an otherwise unassuming NPRM entitled “Further Inquiry into Two Under-developed Issues in the Open Internet Proceeding“.  What they had to say was not for or against the NPRM itself.  Rather, they simply praised how it separated the concept of the internet from that of specialized services.

[. . .]

I think that this differentiation gets directly to what I once on this site referred to as the sloppiness of language surrounding the Network Neutrality shouting matches.  We all view the network neutrality from our own perspective.  Viewers see it in terms of pricing and choice.  Corporations see it in terms of services they provide and get paid for.  Institutions see it as a transformative societal phenomenon, and so on.

But when the FCC goes to regulate it, it has run into a lack of vocabulary common to each point of view.  After all the discussions, proposals, arguments, and lobbying, one still cannot state network neutrality unambiguously today without it being crippled by unintended consequences or containing loopholes the QE2 could pass through at low tide.  This is because the internet is a living thing.  It’s not a service but a platform that can provide virtually any combination old, current and future services, and it can and will morph in response to regulations much more quickly than the rules and regulations ever could.

[. . .]

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Hungry Beast on Net Neutrality: “The Internet Does Not Judge”

by on May.19, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original video on Marc’s blog)

Marc Fennell of Hungry Beast gets a lot right here.  This video features Barbara van Schewick, Douglas Rushkoff and John Perry Barlow. The key to it is where he starts: with Barbara van Schewick explaining “Network Neutrality’s” origin in the Internet’s design as a general purpose platform for end user innovation. A proper discussion of the nature of the issue can be laid out if we start there — because that characteristic is what’s at stake in all the discussions of such concerns as “next generation networks,” “quality of service,” “specialized services” or “reasonable network management.”

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ISOC-NY, June 14: INET Regional Conference NY

by on May.13, 2011, under Uncategorized

(from Internet Society-New York)

INET NY announced for June 14 2011

Vint Cerf, Tim Berners Lee, Larry Strickling to speak

The Internet Society (ISOC) will present an INET Regional Conference on June 14 2011 at the Sentry Center in NYC. The theme is It’s Your Call. What Kind of Internet Do You Want? The distinguished lineup of speakers will include ‘Father of the Internet’ Vint Cerf, World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the U.S. Department of Commerce Lawrence Strickling.

What: INET New York
When: Tuesday June 14, 2011: 9am-5.30pm EDT
Where: Sentry Center, 730 Third Avenue, NY NY 10017
Who: ISOC Members $25, Others $50
Register: http://isoc.org/nyinet
Agenda: http://bit.ly/inetnyagenda
Hashtag: #inetny
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=145503388852445
Site: http://www.isoc.org/nyinet

With almost two billion people online, the Internet is a catalyst for boundless creativity and growth. But the decisions we make in the coming months and years will determine whether it remains a global platform for innovation and expression for people everywhere. Join us on June 14 as we set the agenda for the future of an open Internet. We’ll identify and examine the critical decisions that will shape the future of the Internet:

  • Who will help define the Internet’s evolution?
  • What role should government and private industry play?
  • How do we provide greater bandwidth and access?
  • What does online privacy mean in the age of Facebook and Wikileaks?

This is a unique opportunity to network with the thought leaders and policy makers who are designing the global networks of tomorrow and help develop the policies that will drive future Internet innovation.

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Wired, Jan 2009: Comcast’s Dark Lord Tries to Fix Image

by on May.11, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Wired)

[. . .]

It took him six weeks of short-burst sleuthing to reach his conclusion. In a detailed post on DSL Reports — a site for broadband enthusiasts — under his online name, funchords, [Robb] Topolski laid out a case against his Internet service provider. Comcast appeared to be blocking file-sharing applications by creating fake data packets that interfered with trading sessions. The packets were cleverly disguised to look as if they were coming from the user, not the ISP. It was as if, in the middle of a phone call to a friend, Comcast got on the line and in the caller’s own voice told the friend he was hanging up, while the caller simultaneously heard the same message in the friend’s voice.

[. . .]

By the end of 2007, 22 cents of every dollar spent on broadband in the US went directly to Comcast. And that figure looks like it’s only going to increase; the number of ways to connect to the Internet reliably and at high speed is shrinking, not growing. “There’s this magical thinking, both in the tech community and the regulatory community, that competition will solve all problems,” says Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. “Well, get over it. The evidence says we’re not going from two pipes to three but from two pipes to one.”

[. . .]

[Brian] Roberts truly believed Comcast was ready for tech stardom as the Facebook or Google of 2008. Instead, he got Topolskied. On October 19, 2007, the AP story broke with the headline “Comcast Actively Hinders Subscribers’ File-Sharing Traffic, AP Testing Shows.” Bloggers called for protests and boycotts; the Electronic Frontier Foundation said Comcast was using tricks formerly used by “malicious hackers.” A coalition of Internet law scholars and consumer groups petitioned the FCC to step in. Instead of basking in glory, Roberts found himself at the center of the fight over network neutrality—the attempt to keep ISPs from discriminating between different kinds of traffic and, say, favoring their own video or VoIP services over another company’s.

[. . .]

The Topolski affair, as far as Roberts is concerned, is all based on a misunderstanding. Every company “manages” its network by restricting and opening access to maintain speeds. [. . .] “You’ve always had Ma Bell managing its network for things like how you handle voice traffic on Mother’s Day. You get a busy signal occasionally.”

[. . .]

In August, the FCC issued a 67-page report that read as if Comcast was the worst company the FCC had ever regulated. Comcast lied about its actions, schemed to prevent oversight, confused customers, and put the future of Net-based innovation at risk. The commissioners doubted Comcast’s contention that blocking BitTorrent helped its network. [. . .] The final verdict was devastating: “In laymen’s terms, Comcast opens its customers’ mail because it wants to deliver mail not based on the address or type of stamp on the envelope but on the type of letter contained therein,” the FCC wrote. “This practice is not ‘minimally intrusive’ but invasive and outright discriminatory.”

The FCC didn’t levy a fine. In fact, it’s still not even clear whether the commission has the regulatory right to punish such behavior.

[. . .]

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Bob Frankston: The Internet Lost in Translation

by on May.07, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Bob’s site)

In 1949 a Bell Laboratory researcher, Claude Shannon, published a paper on a new science of “Information”.

With this understanding we can revisit connectivity by thinking in terms of relationships and communications between end points. The message itself doesn’t even exist along the path – yet the defining assumption of telecom is that the message itself is being transported as valuable cargo.

Bell Labs had sponsored the research with the goal of improving phone networks but was not prepared to embrace the full implications of the new science which made explicit the distinction between information in the information sense and information encoded in numbers or bits.

Today’s telecommunications business dates back to the days of the telegram when each message was treated as precious freight to be carried over the carriers wires just like a railroad would carry a box of cargo.

Cross-country telegraphy worked because we had just dots and dashes. If the signal becomes a bit fuzzy we could fix it by (re)generating fresh dots and dashes. As anyone who played the game in which you whisper a message from person to person knows it’s hard to preserve the voice message over a distance.

The solution was to turn voice into distinct ones and zeros just like the dots and dashes which could be preserved over any distance.

We can treat an Internet data packet just like any message and pay a carrier to deliver the message to the destination just like Pheidippides did at Marathon or like the telegraph companies did in the 19th century.

That is what we do and it misses the point of the Internet.

With the Internet we only need to exchange enough bits for the purpose. If we agree on a coding system I can send you “1B, 3b, 2o” then you can put them together to spell Bob. It doesn’t matter what order you get the letters in and if you are missing one I can resend it. You don’t even need all of them if you know Bob is the only name in your list that has two B’s.

Exchanging bits doesn’t even require a network. We can use any means available. Charging for carrying the bits is like trying to put a toll on a city street – there are simply too many other paths and it doesn’t make any sense to limit our paths so that toll-collectors could make a profit.

In 1897 the British Copyright office issued a report warning us of the dangers of creating scarcity by taking our abundance and dividing it up as property.

Yet this is just what we do by translating “Internet” into “Telecom” and using a property model wherein owners use their control to be the sole providers of services and transport.

People who create their own solutions are competition and those who add capacity are seen as thieves!

We may have a thousand wires running past our homes but we can only use one of them and must subscribe to a provider. We’ve taken the essential unlimited capacity for exchanging bits without wires and created exclusive properties in the guise of spectrum allocation.

Claude Shannon gave us an understanding to liberate us from the constrictions of telecom’s “pipes”. The Internet has given us a hint of what is possible once we can exchange bits instead of paying to send messages.

Yet today’s policies miss the point even as the telecommunications model is failing. The reason we need a “broadband” policy is that funding infrastructure by selling services fails when we can do it ourselves and bits are not consumables with a limited supply.

But then why should we expect common infrastructure to be a profit center any more than garbage collection should be a profit center?

The message from the market is simple. Instead of depending on service providers we should own our own facilities.

Home networks are not really networks – they are just wires and radios we use to exchange bits. We can get the same rapid improvements in price/performance by being able to invest in our communities rather than being beholden to providers.

Our home networks have been founts of innovation. We need to own the facilities that connect our homes to each other.

On the surface the Internet seems to be just another telecommunications service. In Information vs. Telecom I provide the deeper understanding necessary for challenging our accepted paradigms.




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Bob Frankston: Information versus Telecom

by on May.07, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Bob’s site)


In 1897 the British Copyright Commission issued a report. One of the observations is as salient today as it was then:

A limitation of supply by artificial causes, creates scarcity in order to create property. To limit that which is in its nature unlimited, and thereby to confer an exchangeable value on that which, without such interference, would be the gratuitous possession of mankind, is to create an artificial monopoly which has no warrant in the nature of things, which serves to produce scarcity where there ought to be abundance, and to confine to the few gifts which were intended for all.

There is no limited supply of letters of the alphabet or the bits we use to encode information. Yet we have created scarcity by adopting a property model in the form of spectrum allocation and by confining our ability to communicate to narrow pipes as if the very thoughts we communicate are freight to be tariffed by a government commission.

The telecommunications industry is based on this idea that there is a business in transporting meaning be it using the runners in ancient Greece, the telegraph of Napoleon’s era or today’s telecommunications providers with their scarce supply of “minutes”.

The big idea behind the Internet is that we can decouple the exchange of meaning, that is, what we communicate, from the representation or alphabet of bits, ones and zeros.

Thomas Kuhn has written about paradigm shifts – how changes in our understanding of the familiar change the world. We saw this happen in the 16th century. Copernicus looked at the same skies that mankind had observed for millennia but instead of seeing a solar system in which planetary motion was described in complex epicycles he saw planets orbiting around the sun. Nothing changed but our understanding and it is that understanding which gave Newton and others the insights that give us today’s world. Copernicus’ insight and Newton’s Calculus gave us the tools for a dispassionate understanding of the solar system.

As Gleick explains in his book, Information, Claude Shannon’s Information Science has given us a vital tool for understanding how we exchange information. The idea of measuring information in bits seems simple and sensible but understanding how the ideas apply to the real world turns out to be fraught with pitfalls.

James Gleick is a great writer who can translate arcane technical stories into exciting tales for a relatively wide audience. And his story of the rise of the concept of “Information” is exciting in itself.

We can use the science of information and our pragmatic experience with today’s Internet to formulate a policy that relies on markets rather than regulators. We can exchange bits over a common infrastructure just as we use common roads and sidewalks. Just as the road system emerges out of our local streets our networks emerge from our local efforts at networking.

Without the burden of the overhead of maintaining an infrastructure for each service we are free to innovate, taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by this new commons.

Let’s not forget that the United States was founded on the idea of creating opportunity bolstered by the guarantee of freedom of speech. We must not cede our future to the misguided idea that we may run out of words.

[. . .]

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FCC Notice: Establishing Open Internet Advisory Committee

by on Apr.28, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at the Benton Foundation)

Submitted: April 21, 2011 – 3:31pm

Originally published: April 21, 2011
Last updated: April 21, 2011 – 3:37pm


Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States

In a Federal Register notice, the Federal Communications Commission announced its intent to create the Open Internet Advisory Committee.

The purpose of the Committee is to track and evaluate the effects of the FCC’s Open Internet rules, and to provide any recommendations the Committee deems appropriate to the FCC regarding policies and practices related to preserving the open Internet. The Committee will observe market developments regarding the freedom and openness of the Internet and will focus in particular on issues addressed in the FCC’s Open Internet rules, such as transparency, reasonable network management practices, differences in treatment of fixed and mobile broadband services, specialized services, technical standards, and the state of competition.

Links to Sources

Open Internet Advisory Committee

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FCC’s Open Internet Apps Challenge

by on Apr.22, 2011, under Uncategorized

(From Challenge.gov)

Important dates

Submission Period:
Start: Feb 01, 2011 12:00 AM EST End: Jun 01, 2011 11:59 PM EDT
Judging Period:
Start: Jun 15, 2011 12:00 AM EDT End: Jul 15, 2011 11:59 PM EDT
Public Voting Period:
Start: Jun 15, 2011 12:00 AM EDT End: Jul 15, 2011 11:59 PM EDT
Winners announced:
Aug 08, 2011 12:00 AM EDT


The FCC challenges individuals or teams of researchers, inventors and software developers to produce research and create apps that empower consumers to monitor and protect Internet openness.  With this challenge, the FCC seeks to encourage and facilitate the development and use of open Internet software tools, both fixed and mobile, as well as research on relevant open Internet measurement results, methods, techniques and approaches.

(For more information about Internet openness, see www.openinternet.gov)

The winners of the Open Internet Challenge will be invited to FCC headquarters in Washington, DC, to present their work to the Commission and to be honored with an FCC Chairman’s reception.  Winning apps and research will be featured on the FCC’s website and social media outlets.  Winners will be reimbursed for authorized travel expenses.

WHAT IS THE OPEN INTERNET?The term “open Internet” describes the Internet as we know it—an open platform, that enables consumer choice, freedom of expression, competition, user control, and the freedom to innovate without permission.  On the open Internet, end users can communicate freely with others, send and receive information of their choice, and develop and use applications and services of their choosing. On December 21, 2010, the FCC adopted high-level rules of the road for broadband providers to ensure that the Internet’s openness is preserved.

OPEN INTERNET APPS CHALLENGEThe Open Internet Challenge is designed to encourage the development of creative, innovative and functional software tools that provide users with real-time data about their fixed or mobile broadband Internet connection, as well as Internet-wide patterns and trends based on aggregate data.

Today, Internet users have access to some software tools that provide real-time information on network properties such as network performance, traffic shaping, and application discrimination.  These apps enable end-users to monitor their Internet service.  The resulting data can help researchers and policy makers gain a better understanding of the evolution of the open Internet.

The Open Internet Challenge seeks to encourage the development of new, more effective applications that provide users with information about the extent to which their fixed or mobile broadband Internet services are consistent with open Internet principles.  These software tools could, for example, detect whether a broadband provider is interfering with DNS responses, application packet headers, or content.

These applications should also collect anonoymized data that can be used for network research and analysis of patterns and trends in Internet openness.

One popular platform for Internet software tools is Measurement Lab (M-Lab), “an open, distributed server platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools.” Those interested in running their software tools on the M-Lab platform should contact the M-Lab steering committee, which coordinates research on the M-Lab platform.


This challenge also seeks novel and innovative research papers that analyze relevant Internet openness measurement techniques, approaches, and data.  Research on Internet openness can improve policy making and advance Internet transparency, which helps to sustain a healthy Internet.  The research must be new or recent and directly involve open Internet principles. For example such research may illuminate how widely fixed and mobile broadband providers observe the FCC’s open Internet principles, or how advanced network services can be provided in a way that adheres to open Internet principles.

Both published and unpublished papers will be accepted.  Published research papers need to have been published after January 2007.  Both published and unpublished papers are limited to 20 pages (11 point font).


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NY Times: House Votes to Block FCC’s Open Internet Order

by on Apr.09, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at New York Times)

Published: April 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives approved a measure on Friday that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from regulating how Internet service providers manage their broadband networks, potentially overturning a central initiative of the FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski.

The action, which is less likely to pass the Senate and which President Obama has threatened to veto, is nevertheless significant because it puts half of the legislative branch on the same side of the debate as the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in restricting the FCC’s authority over Internet service.

House Joint Resolution 37, which was approved by a vote of 240 to 179, was spurred by the FCC’s approval in December of an order titled “Preserving the Open Internet.” The order forbids the companies that provide the pipeline through which consumers gain access to the Internet from blocking a user’s ability to reach legal Internet sites or to use legal applications.

[. . .]

It is likely that Democrats in the Senate can defeat the measure, but by no means is that certain. The joint resolution was initiated under the Congressional Review Act, meaning that it cannot be filibustered and requires the support of only 30 senators to bring it to the floor.

President Obama courted Silicon Valley supporters during his campaign by promising to enact a “net neutrality” provision, as the FCC’s order is known. Advisers to the president have said that he will veto the resolution; it would then take a vote by two-thirds of each house of Congress to override the veto.

In addition to opposing the FCC’s order in Congress, some broadband providers, including Verizon, have said they will challenge the order in court. Those challenges can begin once the regulations become final, in a few months. Last year, the appeals court ruled that the FCC did not prove it had the authority to sanction another major Internet provider, Comcast, for blocking access to the file-sharing service BitTorrent.

[. . .]

Democrats [. . .] said that without the FCC’s open Internet policy, broadband companies that also own content providers, like Comcast’s ownership of NBC, would be free to block the Web sites of competitors. Six Democrats voted with the majority on the resolution, while two Republicans voted against the bill.

[. . .]

Few of the debaters raised some of the more technical issues that are at the center of the debate over broadband regulation, like specialized services and tiered rates. Specialized services, for which a broadband company uses part of its Internet pipeline to deliver dedicated services to specific customers, worry regulators who fear that companies will invest more to develop those more profitable offerings while neglecting to update basic broadband service.

[. . .]

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House to Vote on Measure Against FCC NN Order; Administration Threatens Veto

by on Apr.06, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Broadband Breakfast)

By Jonathan Charnitski, Managing Editor, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2011 – The House of Representatives is anticipated to hold a floor debate and vote this week on a measure that would put the kibosh on net neutrality rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission late last year, but the White House has said that it would likely veto such a measure should it come across the President’s desk.

House Joint Resolution 37, which is a Resolution of Disapproval, states simply that Congress disapproves of the Open Internet Order issued by the Commission late last year and that the rules shall have no effect.

[. . .]

Energy and Commerce Republicans have closed ranks on the issue and rallied around the assertion that the Order creates uncertainty and disincentives for companies to invest in the Internet economy. Rep. Walden, however, appeared uncharacteristically on his heels when defending that point during questioning by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) at Monday’s hearing.

While Rep. Walden has frequently used the failure of the FCC to conduct a market study to justify its net neutrality rules as evidence that the action is economically unfounded, he seemed unable to offer a response when Rep. Polis presented independent market analyses indicating that the Order created more certainty – not less – in the marketplace.  Instead, Rep. Walden deferred back to ambiguities in the FCC’s grant of authority under the Telecommunications Act to regulate the Internet.

[. . .]

Moreover, the administration, which has long supported net neutrality, has indicated that it “strongly opposes” the measure and that it faces a veto should it reach President Barack Obama’s desk.

“Disapproval of the rule would threaten those values and raise questions as to whether innovation on the Internet will be allowed to flourish, consumers will be protected from abuses, and the democratic spirit of the Internet will remain intact,” said the administration though the statement.  “If the President is presented with a Resolution of Disapproval that would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the Resolution.”

[. . .]

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Robin Chase: To Create Jobs, Keep Internet Open

by on Apr.05, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Politico)

By: Robin Chase
April 5, 2011

Low barriers to market entry encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation. High costs and bureaucracy stifle it.

So far, I bet every person, Republican and Democrat, is with me.

So what is the issue with the GOP’s call to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s order that gives it power to regulate the Internet, and the Democrat’s fierce defense of it? Both in the name of innovation and job creation?

[. . .]

Zipcar would not exist without a free and open Internet. There would be no company with $186 million in 2010 revenues, no creation of 474 full-time jobs serving 540,000 members.

Our innovation was to make renting a car as easy as getting cash from an ATM. Open access to the Internet was central to Zipcar’s success.

It is only because of the ease, speed and zero marginal cost of finding, reserving and unlocking a car that any consumer would be willing to rent a vehicle for as little as an hour — or any company would be willing to offer it.

What is at stake with the FCC order is the government’s ability to protect and maintain low barriers to entry to the Internet. The FCC order is not about services that run on the Internet, like Google, Amazon, or Facebook. It is about maintaining low cost and open access to the Internet.

When I founded Zipcar in 2000, access to the Internet was protected by the Communications Act. Since 2005, guaranteed access to the Internet, at low cost, has been increasingly challenged.

[. . .]


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House Energy & Commerce Report to Rules Committee Opposing the FCC’s Open Internet Order

by on Apr.03, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Available at the House Rules Committee site)

Selection from the Dissenting Views, p. 26:

HJ Res 37 would undermine the Internet economy by allowing broadband operators to pick and choose winners and losers. It would allow broadband network operators to block applications, content, and services traveling on their networks absent any disclosure to consumers and without legitimate network management reasons.

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Tomorrow, April 4: House Rules Committee to Hold Hearing on Resolution Against FCC’s Open Internet Order

by on Apr.03, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original post at the House Rules Committee site)

Full Committee

H.J. Res 37 — Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to regulating the internet and broadband industry practices.

H-313 The Capitol

Meeting Information:

Meeting Time:  Monday, April 4, 2011 at 5:00 PM in H-313 The Capitol.

To watch this hearing, click here.

For more information on this bill, click here.


  • Text H.J. Res 37 — Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to regulating the internet and broadband industry practices. [PDF]
  • Text of H. Rept. 112-51 — From the Committee on Energy and Commerce. [PDF]


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Public Knowledge: Peak Bandwidth

by on Apr.01, 2011, under Uncategorized

(By the way: April Fools!)

(Original posted at Public Knowledge)

“If bandwidth providers could deduct a reasonable percentage of the revenue from their residential service from their overall tax bill, they would be incentivized to stretch bandwidth further while simultaneously exploring alternative communication supplies.”

Public Knowledge: Peak Bandwidth

By: John Bergmayer

The era of plentiful, low-cost bandwidth is approaching an end. The supply of bits, the raw material of our information economy, is rapidly dwindling. The good news is that commercially viable mitigation options are ready for implementation. The bad news is that unless mitigation is orchestrated on a timely basis, the economic damage to the world economy will be dire and long-lasting.

Bandwidth is the lifeblood of modern civilization. It fuels most communication worldwide and is an input for entertainment, commerce, telemedicine and a myriad of other products used in everyday life.

Dark fiber has been generous in yielding copious quantities of bandwidth to fuel world economic growth for over a century, but that period of plenty is changing.
In the following, we describe the nature of the problem, options for mitigation, and required timing.

[. . .]

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NY Times Obit: Paul Baran, 1927-2011

by on Mar.28, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at New York Times)

Paul Baran, Internet Pioneer, Dies at 84


Published: March 27, 2011

[. . .]

In the early 1960s, while working at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., Mr. Baran outlined the fundamentals for packaging data into discrete bundles, which he called “message blocks.” The bundles are then sent on various paths around a network and reassembled at their destination. Such a plan is known as “packet switching.”

Mr. Baran’s idea was to build a distributed communications network, less vulnerable to attack or disruption than conventional networks. In a series of technical papers published in the 1960s he suggested that networks be designed with redundant routes so that if a particular path failed or was destroyed, messages could still be delivered through another.

[. . .]

Mr. Baran received a master’s degree in engineering from U.C.L.A. in 1959. Gerald Estrin, who was Mr. Baran’s adviser, said Mr. Baran was the first student he ever had who actually went to the Patent Office in Washington to investigate whether his master’s work, on character recognition, was patentable.

“From that day on, my expectations of him changed,” Dr. Estrin said. “He wasn’t just a serious student, but a young man who was looking to have an effect on the world.”

[. . .]

In recent years, the origins of the Internet have been subject to claims and counterclaims of precedence, and Mr. Baran was an outspoken proponent of distributing credit widely.

“The Internet is really the work of a thousand people,” he said in an interview in 2001.

“The process of technological developments is like building a cathedral,” he said in an interview in 1990. “Over the course of several hundred years, new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations, each saying, ‘I built a cathedral.’

“Next month another block is placed atop the previous one. Then comes along an historian who asks, ‘Well, who built the cathedral?’ Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.”

Mr. Baran’s wife, Evelyn, died in 2007. In addition to his son, David, of Atherton, Calif., he is survived by three grandchildren; and his companion of recent years, Ruth Rothman.

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Art Brodsky: AT&T Celebrates Broadband Plan by Buying Out Competition

by on Mar.20, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original at Huffington Post)

AT&T Celebrates Broadband Plan by Buying Out Competition

By Art Brodsky

Posted: March 20, 2011

AT&T commemorated last week’s one-year anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan in its own, unique way. Ending a week of celebrations, it bought one of the other four biggest competitors, T-Mobile, further shrinking competition in wireless broadband, further concentrating an already concentrated market. Now instead of the big four wireless companies, there are the bigger three.

The government hasn’t blocked a telecom merger yet, but this one should given these policymakers pause. And if they let it through, there should be some very strong conditions.

That $39 billion move was just the capper to the celebrations. It levied bandwidth caps on its customers. It then told its customers that it was a no-no to use data from their broadband data plan service to connect a Blackberry to a laptop. Not all data is created equal. Separate tethering plan required, it seems. That basically sums up the state of broadband in America.

[. . .]

It’s a good thing that news organizations picked up the usage-cap story, because AT&T didn’t make it very clear in its new Terms of Service. This is what the company told customers: “Data Usage. For more information about the use of your High Speed Internet Service, data usage allowances that may apply to your service, how much data you use, and management of your data usage, please refer to www.att.com/internet-usage.” That’s very helpful.

[. . .]

Los Angeles Times tech editorial writer/blogger Jon Healey commented that even if the cap doesn’t affect users now, “it’s troubling when a broadband provider that faces little competition summarily raises prices, particularly when the move hurts rivals in a separate market. AT&T’s pay-TV service competes with online video-on-demand offerings from Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Apple and CinemaNow, to name just a few. If the bandwidth caps deter consumers from using those services, that’s a very bad thing.”

That’s the point. High-speed Internet access is still a market with little competition and the government has been trying to stress the need to convert to a broadband-based economy. There is nothing in the National Broadband Plan to address that crucial fact. Indeed, the plan’s writers ignored the study that addressed the issue of competition.

[. . .]

How else is the National Broadband Plan being honored? In North Carolina, the same Time Warner Cable is on the verge of winning the legislative war to keep municipalities from offering their own competing Internet service. TWC has been trying for years to get the bill passed and now, with a friendly legislature, they have a good shot. The local groups who beat back the bill the last couple of years are fighting valiantly but they recognize it’s an uphill battle.

And up in Minnesota, cable company Mediacom is still fighting against a $66.5 million broadband stimulus project, filing a complaint with the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Inspector General against Lake County, Minnesota. Those companies trying to squash municipal networks should realize the local governments wouldn’t take on the challenge of a network if they got decent service from the private sector.

Somehow, the caps and the challenges seem at odds with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s vision that “what matters is the full broadband economy – a broad and widely available ecosystem of fast networks, valuable applications, and innovative devices.”

By most measurement, U.S. consumers still pay more money for less speed than other developed nations. Nothing in the National Broadband Plan will address that situation.

[. . .]

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Berners-Lee Warns ISPs on Net Neutrality

by on Mar.19, 2011, under Uncategorized

(Original post at the UK Guardian)

Berners-Lee Warns ISPs on Net Neutrality

By Charles Arthur
Wednesday 16 March 2011

The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has warned Internet service providers (ISPs) that plans for a “two-speed” internet go against the principles that have let the net grow so rapidly in the past two decades.

“Best practices should also include the neutrality of the net,” Berners-Lee told a round table in Westminster on Wednesday morning, convened by the communications minister Ed Vaizey. Content companies, represented by Facebook, Skype, the BBC and Yahoo, squared up to ISPs, with input from consumer representatives including the Open Rights Group, the Consumers’ Association and the communications regulator Ofcom.

[. . .]

Berners-Lee told the meeting that “every customer should be able to access every service, and every service should be able to access every customer … The web has grown so fast precisely because we have had two independent markets, one for connectivity, and the other for content and applications.”

Vaizey said the meeting had been “useful and productive” and that “it was important to discuss how to ensure the internet remains an open, innovative and competitive place.”

“Net neutrality” – in which services are treated exactly equally as they pass over the net, no matter what their source or destination – has become an increasingly vexed topic as demands on ISPs and mobile carriers have begun to outstrip capacity.

ISPs have thus suggested that they should be allowed to manipulate the transfer of data, but that they would be transparent about how and what they were doing.

[. . .]



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Scott Bradner on Congress and Net Neutrality: Eyes in Their Ankles

by on Mar.19, 2011, under Uncategorized

(from Scott Bradner’s  column at NetworldWorld)

Eyes in their ankles: The congressional view of network neutrality

By Scott Bradner, Network World
March 14, 2011 10:43 AM ET

Scott Bradner

For quite a while I’ve been baffled by the inability of too many members of Congress to understand the importance of the network neutrality discussion. I’m not satisfied that I know for sure, but I may be getting closer.

[. . .]

Too many in Congress, and elsewhere, see that any attempt at ensuring network neutrality will, in the words of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., “stifle innovation, in turn slowing our economic turnaround and further depressing an already anemic job market.”

This type of reaction only makes sense if someone has absolutely no idea how the Internet works or what it is used for.

The only way such an objection makes sense is if you only look at the carriers and assume that they will be worse off if they cannot get a piece of the action for the business that is done over their networks.

So, the argument must go, let the carriers control everything and they will create jobs and expand the economy.

Let’s look at some actual data from the U.S. Census Department. Total U.S. commerce in 2008 (the latest year reported on) was about $22 trillion. Of this about $3.7 trillion was in the form of e-commerce, mostly over the Internet. Most of this (92%) was business-to-business. Doing business over the Internet depends on the Internet working and working fairly.

What about the carriers? The National Cable & Telecommunications Association reports that the total cable company customer revenue for 2008 was about $85 billion and the FCC reports that total U.S. telecommunications industry revenues for 2008 was $297 billion. Thus, total carrier (cable plus telephone) revenue was about $382 billion or about 10% of the value of the business done over the Internet. Commentators that focus on the well-being of the carriers are ignoring the vast majority of the value of the Internet. They want to penalize the 90% to benefit the 10%.

This is an inability to see the value riding over the ‘Net, which is the same thing as having your eyes in your ankles pointing down so they can only see strips of asphalt and miss the cars and trucks riding on the asphalt.

[. . .]





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Today, March 14: SXSW Tackles Net Neutrality

by on Mar.14, 2011, under Uncategorized

(At SXSW as I post this)

Monday, March 14: SXSW Tackles Net Neutrality in Special Series of Presentations

The ongoing issue of net neutrality clearly impacts all aspects of the digital creativity we celebrate at SXSW. With this in mind, we are very excited about morning programming at the Radisson Hotel on Monday, March 14.

At 9:30 am, Senator Al Franken will talk about “An Open Internet: The Last, Best Hope for Independent Producers.”

At 11:00 am, Sharon Strover and Alex Curtis will cover “Why the FCC Can’t Please Anyone: Net Neutrality Blues.

At 12:30 pm, acclaimed author TIm Wu will explore “Net Neutrality Forever: The Very Long View“.

Don’t miss out on these important presentations — the future of the internet as we know it is potentially in the balance here.


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March 15 @ SXSW: Internet Evolution: Hyperconnected, Hyper-Real

by on Mar.14, 2011, under Uncategorized

(On SXSW Schedule for tomorrow)

Internet Evolution: Hyperconnected, Hyper-real

Time: 11:00 am, Tuesday, March 15

Venue: Austin Hyatt, Big Bend Room, 208 Barton Springs Road

What are your fears and hopes for the future of the Internet? People who do not understand the potential threats may never get to benefit from the possible opportunities. Most technology experts foresee: wireless devices embedded in everything – including us; nearly invisible cameras recording activity in all public spaces; databases cataloguing our online actions; massive data centers that allow that information to be sorted and understood in new ways; changes in work and home environments as the Internet of Things and everyware applications become widespread and immersive, invisible, ambient, networked computing makes us available to more people in more ways. And what about the implications of a direct brain-to-computer interface? Join in a discussion aimed at illuminating the concerns that should be addressed today to prepare for the potential future scenarios predicted by experts as documented by Pew Internet & American Life Project surveys and other current research.


Janna Anderson Dir Imagining the Internet.orgCome to see my Core Conversation – “Internet Evolution: Hyperconnected, Hyper-real” at 11 a.m. Tuesday March 15. Also starring YOU and principal discussants Paul Jones of ibiblio, tech policy expert Mike Nelson (formerly IBM and Clinton White House) and Chris O’Brien of the San Jose Mercury News. My Bio: Lead author of the Pew Internet & American Life Project “Future of the Internet” surveys. Associate professor at Elon University specializing in emerging media. Founder and director of Imagining the Internet, http://www.imaginingtheinternet.org/, a Webby Honors-winning online compilation of survey studies and documentary videos illuminating people’s hopes and fears for the potential future of the Internet. This project, launched in 2003, has involved more than 200 Elon students in global communications research and documentary journalism. Has written articles for USA Today, Advertising Age and the New York Times News Service. Author of the book “Imagining the Internet,” (Rowman & Littlefield) and the “Future of the Internet” book series (Cambria Press). On the editorial board of Newspaper Research Journal; reviewer for New Media & Society; contributor to State of the Future reports. On the steering committee for the Internet Governance Forum-USA and a member of the boards of the Lifeboat Foundation and DiploFoundation. M.A., University of Memphis. Faculty at Elon University since spring 1999. Previously spent 20 years working as a copy editor, reporter, and features editor at papers in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Paul Jones Dir University of North Carolina Paul Jones runs ibiblio.org, a data archival site that hosts open source software and collaboratively created sites including Groklaw, Project Gutenberg, eTree.org and over 2000 other projects. ibiblio.org is supported by University of North Carolina’s the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Jones was co-chair of the 2010 International World Wide Web Conference, cited for his use of video and video conferencing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and an IBM Faculty Research Award winner — all in the past year. Jones’ poems are found in several anthologies including Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 – Present (Scribners).



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