Blog posts tagged with 'Net Neutrality'
Thursday, July 17
In a must-read piece for GigaOm, Richard Bennett, the co-inventor of Wi-Fi, argues that Title II would do much more harm than good to the Internet. An excerpt:
Technology regulators must be humble, only intervening in commercial squabbles as a last resort. For all its warts, the permissive broadband approach to internet regulation is the better way forward. The FCC should free broadband networks from the specter of telephone-era regulations and nudge them in the direction of even higher performance, including expedited delivery services for applications that need them, such as immersive video conferencing, HD voice, and other real-time applications.
Read the entire piece over at GigaOm.
Monday, July 14
Title II Regulation and its Potential Impact on Deployment of
21st Century Broadband Networks and Services
Thursday, July 24th
Mandarin Oriental Hotel – The Gallery
Featuring Keynote Speaker
Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
Commissioner Pai will be followed by a diverse panel of legal, policy and financial analysts that will discuss the potential legal, policy and financial impact of regulating broadband under Title II of the Communications Act.
Director, Center for Boundless Innovation in Technology
Senior Vice President and TeleMedia/Internet Analyst, Washington Analysis
Visiting Senior Policy Scholar, Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy
Ph.D. fellow in Internet Economics, the Center for Communication, Media and Information, Technologies at Aalborg University in Denmark
Bruce Mehlman (Moderator)
Co-Chairman, Internet Innovation Alliance
Breakfast will be served
*This event complies with House and Senate ethics standards*
Tuesday, June 24
Eighty years ago this month, the Telecommunications Act of 1934 was created to regulate America’s nascent telephone service. At the time, only about 12 percent of U.S. families had phone service and rotary phones were the norm. Touch-tone phones wouldn’t appear for another three decades. This was the era of “party lines” and operators memorialized in movies sitting in front of large switchboards connecting callers to “KLondike 5-1234.”
As we mark the law’s 80th anniversary, now is not the time to slap the modern, high-speed, innovative and entrepreneur embracing Internet with rules that Congress designed for rotary telephones.
Keeping the Internet available to everyone is the right goal. However, applying Title II of the 1934 law, which treated traditional phone service as a public utility, to broadband could bring the pace of entrepreneurism and investment on the Internet to a crawl. Since 1996, when Congress last updated telecommunications laws, ISPs have invested more than $1.2 trillion. The average Internet connection speed in the U.S. has just hit a remarkable 10 Mbps, which is more than enough to stream an HD movie.
Suddenly putting the Internet under Title II could result in too much innovation needing pre-approval by the FCC. Instead of today’s “bottom up” dynamism in which consumer demands drive change, the web could become hostage to the federal government’s timetable. The spirit and freedom to innovate could depend on Congressional and FCC action.
Today’s Internet is the most free and accessible it’s ever been. That’s getting lost in the push for Title II regulation. America’s broadband deployment continues to rise and 70% of us now have broadband connections at home, according to Pew. People are spending more time online, enjoying real-time benefits with education, healthcare and entertainment.
The less drastic solution is reflected in the FCC’s two existing efforts to balance legitimate consumer interests with the need to maintain the Internet’s dynamism. The FCC’s 2005 Open Internet Policy Statement and its 2010 Open Internet Order both struck that balance.
Yes, the DC Court of Appeals overturned parts of the 2010 Order. But crucially, major ISPs continue to abide by the openness policies, which shows that they recognize the value of providing the freedom that Net users demand.
Belligerents making hyperbolic arguments from opposing corners dominate too many debates in Washington. Ensuring an open Internet doesn’t have to be one of those fights. Nobody wants to turn what we used to call the “information superhighway” into a four-lane toll road with federal monitors stationed at every onramp. Nor should there be an HOV lane only accessible for the wealthiest that leaves the rest of us stuck in a slow moving traffic jam.
Now is the time for common sense rules that are fair to consumers and companies and ensure high speed Internet access to individuals and entrepreneurs without the unintended consequences of 1930’s rotary phone era regulation.
Monday, June 23
At The Hill, Kate Tummarello reports that House Republicans want to take the net neutrality issue out of the FCC’s hands:
Republicans on a House panel want the country’s antitrust regulators, not its telecom regulators, to take the lead on net neutrality.
During a Friday hearing held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust Law, Republicans questioned the need for net neutrality regulation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
“The Internet has flourished precisely because it is a deregulated market” and should be kept open through “vigorous application of the antitrust laws,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said.
The idea, according to Tummarello, is for the Federal Trade Commission to take the reigns:
“As regulatory proceedings continue to stretch on, a question I have is whether there might be a more efficient and more effective way to safeguard against potential discriminatory behavior than federal rulemaking,” Subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said in his opening statement.
“That is where antitrust law comes in.”
Friday, June 06
With the net neutrality debate once again on the front burner, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President Jim Cicconi has penned a lengthy post at the company’s Public Policy Blog to break down how reclassifying broadband service under Title II is a bad idea for just about everyone with a stake in the open Internet. An excerpt:
Title II would not prohibit the creation of fast lanes and slow lanes on the Internet — that is clear in the plain language of the law, not to mention 80 years of FCC precedent and court decisions. Arguments to the contrary are pure fantasy. At a minimum, Title II supporters have to concede that their argument depends on the bank shot that an appellate court will agree (a) that the FCC can change its mind about how the Internet works after the Supreme Court has validated its prior decision; and (b) the FCC can then ignore the plain language of the statute and 80 years of precedent to determine that the prohibition of “unjust and unreasonable” discrimination actually means it can prohibit any discrimination. And think of all the additional proceedings that will be needed to unpack where we draw the lines between information services “haves” and telecommunications services “have nots.” If that is the road we choose to travel, the investment uncertainty alone will have a massive negative impact on American broadband deployment for years to come.
There’s another important argument against Title II — invoking it would risk massive collateral damage to many, if not most, U.S. Internet companies. Title II could turn every edge or content company into a common carrier for at least part, if not all, of their services.
Cicconi goes on to argue that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler already has a way to ensure an open Internet without the regulatory hammer of Title II:
Section 706, as interpreted by the court and explained by Chairman Wheeler, does provide a path. It’s a path AT&T supports. For one, it has already been blessed as a valid source of jurisdiction to address the kinds of concerns articulated by Chairman Wheeler and others throughout the current debate. In upholding Section 706 authority, the Verizon court gave the FCC wide latitude to prohibit conduct that would deter broadband investment. And the approach that Chairman Wheeler has proposed would clearly prevent practices like paid prioritization that we feel would change the fundamental nature of the Internet.
Thursday, May 29
The latest flare up in the never-ending net neutrality debate involves the possibility that the FCC could regulate Internet service under Title II. At The Hill, Kate Tummarello reports the very idea of Title II has already inspired work on a bill from House Republicans:
A new House Republican bill would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from going forward with a proposal for stronger regulations on Internet service providers.
Late Wednesday, Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) — vice chairman of the House Commerce subcommittee on communications — introduced a bill that would keep the FCC from reclassifying Internet providers to treat them more like traditional phone companies, which are heavily regulated.
“The Internet has remained open and continues to be a powerful engine fueling private enterprise, economic growth and innovation absent government interference and obstruction,” Latta said in a statement announcing his bill.
Tuesday, May 27
Speaking of the FCC, Julian Hattem at The Hill reports that Senate Republicans aren’t yet going to step into the Commission’s latest foray into the net neutrality debate:
The top GOP senators on the Appropriations Committee and the subcommittee overseeing the FCC both told The Hill this week that they don’t expect a rider preventing the commission from moving forward with the effort.
“I don’t see any possibility of that. I really don’t,” said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), the ranking member of the Financial Services and General Government subcommittee.
“It’s not there yet,” added the top Republican on the full committee, Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.). “But you know, this is early.”
Monday, April 28
Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made waves when he announced new net neutrality (yes, it’s back) rules. At Tech Policy Daily, Roslyn Layton argues that the Internet sky is not falling:
There is no doubt that feelings about net neutrality are strong. Many consider the Internet a human right and that it should not be subject to market norms, indeed that it should be offered without charge and under government control. But whether we like it or not, there are real world costs to delivering the internet. Furthermore the services that we overwhelmingly use online (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix etc) do not do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They expect to make a profit, and if it means that they improve their service so we chose them over others, so be it. The reality of what the FCC proposes actually puts the power in the hands of content and application providers – subject of course to what their customers demand.
The FCC will reportedly take up the proposal at its May meeting. Stay tuned…
Monday, January 06
2014 is here, and the year ahead promises to be a big one in tech, beginning with a major court ruling that could shake things up in the next few days. As Kate Tummarello of The Hill reports, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals may soon rule on the FCC’s “net neutrality” rules:
Verizon argues the FCC cannot regulate Internet providers like traditional telephone companies and is hoping to triumph over the administration in the second most powerful court in the land.
A decision against the rules would be a blow to President Obama, who made net neutrality a campaign pledge in 2008. It would also erase one of the central achievements of former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Flashbacks to three years ago, anyone?
Monday, April 01
Over at The Hill, Brendan Sasso warns President Obama is headed into a “political minefield” as he mulls a successor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski:
It’s an important choice for Obama, as the next chairman will face difficult decisions over how to provide enough airwaves for mobile devices, preserve the openness of the Internet and promote competition.
Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and fundraiser for Obama, was considered the clear favorite for the job just last week. But then a coalition of public interest groups sent a letter to the president bashing him, and 37 senators signed a letter supporting an alternative pick: FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
“Wheeler is still the front runner, but it isn’t as secure as it was a week or two ago,” another industry watcher said.
Monday, March 25
Last Friday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced he would be stepping down from the Commission. Today, The Hill‘s Brendan Sasso highlights what could be a major challenge for Genachowski’s successor:
The next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could face a high-stakes and politically explosive decision.
If a federal court strikes down the commission’s net neutrality rules, the next chairman will have to decide whether and how to try to reinstate them.
The next chairman’s response to a negative court ruling could spark a vicious fight with congressional Republicans on one hand, or leave the agency almost powerless to regulate modern technologies on the other.
Sasso goes on to report that the outgoing Chairman believes the FCC’s net neutrality rules will stand:
In an interview on Friday, Genachowski said he is confident that the commission will defeat Verizon’s challenge, noting that the same court recently sided with the FCC over data-roaming regulations.
“I think that we won the debate on whether to have an open Internet and whether the government has an appropriate role,” Genachowski said, adding that he believes the regulations have spurred innovation and investment. He declined to comment about the potential for reclassification.
Of course, Genachowski wasn’t the only member of the FCC to announce he was leaving. Commissioner Robert McDowell also announced his departure last week, and in an interview with Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica, he took a parting shot at the Commission’s net neutrality work:
First of all, I’ve been a strong advocate for a free and open Internet. What I opposed really focused on, first of all, there is no market failure that needed to be addressed. Second, the FCC did not have the statutory authority to do what it did. Third, if there had been a problem there were laws already on the books that would have addressed the problem.
There wasn’t a problem before the rules and there’s not a problem with any danger of a closed Internet in this country after the rules. For those who think the rules have preserved an open Internet, that’s sort of like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise.
Thursday, January 17
In a post for Multichannel News, titled “In Netflix’s Version of Net Neutrality, It’s Entitled to Non-Neutral Treatment,” Todd Spangler breaks down Netflix’s new push for Internet providers to carry their high volume of traffic:
To Netflix, its Open Connect content delivery network program is an all-around win: By caching frequently accessed (and high bit rate) video in ISPs’ data centers, Netflix saves money on CDN costs; ISPs can cut upstream bandwidth utilization; and end users get a better streaming experience.
Netflix argues that this just makes the Internet better for everyone, and doesn’t cost ISPs a dime since Netflix is footing the bill to install the CDN caches anywhere the providers want.
But some ISPs are chafing at Netflix’s offer. Time Warner Cable has gone on record to complain that it’s unfair for Netflix to hold back “super HD” and 3D content unless a broadband provider plays ball and opens its doors for Netflix’s servers.
Spangler argues Netflix’s actions are anti-competitive, since the company is essentially demanding ISPs cut them a special deal. It also restricts content from certain consumers. As Fred Campbell of the Communications Liberty and Innovation Project (or CLIP), writes:
With its “Open Connect” model, Netflix is withholding content from the customers of ISPs that decline to accede to its demands. Though the details of its demands are unknown, it appears Netflix is requiring that ISPs “peer” with them or pay for the installation of Netflix equipment inside their networks as well as the ongoing costs of operating that equipment.
Like Spangler, Campbell also sees this as a move to reduce competition in the market, especially given Netflix’s increased clout through a recent deal it cut with major content providers:
Netflix recently announced a new multi-year licensing agreement that makes it the “exclusive American subscription TV service for first run live-action and animated features from the Walt Disney Studios.” In addition to Disney-branded content (e.g., The Lion King), the deal includes content produced by Pixar (e.g., Brave), Lucasfilm (e.g., Star Wars), and Marvel (e.g., The Avengers). Netflix also announced a multi-year deal with Turner Broadcasting and Warner Bros. that includes the Cartoon Network and exclusive distribution rights to TNT’s television series Dallas. As an analyst recently told Ars Technica, “These movies, if you’ve got young kids—you’ve got to have Netflix.”
Barring some sort of advanced technological breakthrough — say, content beamed directly into our heads — streaming video is the future of entertainment. That makes this latest maneuver by Netflix worth paying attention to. As Campbell points out:
Unfortunately, most consumers won’t realize that Netflix is trying to impose its costs on all Internet consumers to gain an anticompetitive price advantage against its over-the-top competitors.
Friday, December 07
With Verizon’s challenge to the FCC’s net neutrality order still making its way through the courts, John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports at least one Commissioner is worried the outcome could lead to more regulation of the Internet:
If a D.C. federal appeals court upholds the FCC’s network neutrality rules, Republican commissioner Ajit Pai expects the Democrat-led commission to expand regulation of the Internet, including into the mobile wireless space and usage-based pricing.
That came in a speech to the Phoenix Center in Washington on Thursday, according to a copy of the text.
Commissioner Pai also stated that any attempt to reclassify broadband under Title II would “dramatically slow broadband deployment.”
Monday, November 19
As Verizon continues to battle the FCC’s net-neutrality regulations in court, the company has argued the rules are a violation of first amendment rights. This, Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports, is not sitting well with some Democratic House members:
Three top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a letter to their colleagues on Friday, calling attention to a “troubling” constitutional argument Verizon has made in its bid to overturn net-neutrality regulations.
Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (Calif.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.) and Edward Markey (Mass.) warned that Congress’s power to regulate the communications industry would be severely restricted if the court accepts Verizon’s claim that the net-neutrality regulations violate its First Amendment free speech rights.
Thursday, July 05
When the FCC announced its net neutrality rules two years ago, major Internet provider Verizon was quick to challenge them in court, pushing for a lighter regulatory touch. On the other end of the spectrum, advocacy group Free Press was also quick to challenge the rules, long calling for the FCC to enact expanded regulations.
Now, Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports, the group has dropped its court challenge in order to “direct our resources elsewhere in the continued campaign to preserve the open Internet.”
Tuesday, July 03
Verizon is still seeking FCC approval for its proposed spectrum deal with cable companies, but that’s not stopping the wireless provider from continuing to fight the Commission’s net neutrality rules in court. As The Hill‘s Brendan Sasso reports:
In Monday’s filing, Verizon argued that instead of “proceeding with caution” in light of the Comcast ruling, the FCC adopted rules that “go even farther than its prior action and impose dramatic new restrictions on broadband Internet access service providers.”
“Here again, the FCC has acted without statutory authority to insert itself into this crucial segment of the American economy, while failing to show any factual need to do so,” Verizon wrote.
The company argued that Congress never authorized the FCC to regulate Internet access and that the agency acted without sufficient evidence to suggest the rules were necessary.
Verizon claimed that the rules violate its First Amendment free speech rights.
According to Sasso, the FCC’s legal response to the suit should arrive in September.
Monday, April 11
Last Friday, with a 240-179 vote mainly down party lines, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives repealed the FCC’s net neutrality regulations. Opponents of the FCC’s rules shouldn’t crack open the champagne, however, as the bill is expected to die in the Senate, and even if it somehow makes it to President Obama’s desk will surely face a veto.
Tuesday, April 05
With the GOP-controlled House working to repeal the FCC’s net neutrality regulations, the Obama administration has preemptively signaled they will veto any repeal that reaches the President’s desk. Reports Tony Romm and Eliza Krigman at Politico:
A Statement of Administration Policy issued late Monday emphasized that the White House “strongly opposes House passage” of the resolution of disapproval, which would roll back rules the FCC enacted in December that require Internet providers to treat all traffic equally.
The administration described any Republican attempt to undo the FCC’s work as one that would “undermine a fundamental part of the Nation’s Internet and innovation strategy — an enforceable and effective policy for keeping the Internet free and open.”
Meanwhile, via Cecilia Kang at the Washington Post (among others), the lawsuit brought by Verizon against the FCC regarding the new regulations has been dismissed in federal court due to a technicality:
In an order Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed the legal basis the companies used to file. Judges Karen Lecraft Henderson, David S. Tatel and Brett M. Kavanaugh said in the court’s order that a challenge to the FCC rules must come after the so-called net neutrality order is published in the Federal Register, and said the “prematurity” of Verizon’s lawsuit was “incurable.”
But as the National Journal‘s David Hatch reports, Verizon isn’t backing down:
A Verizon spokesman blamed the dismissal on the FCC, which he said was unclear about when an appeal should be filed. He confirmed that the telecom giant plans to resubmit its suit, but this time it will wait until the commission publishes its new Internet rules in the federal register next month.
Monday, April 04
Via The Hill‘s Sara Jerome, the Republican effort to kill the FCC’s net neutrality regulations will receive a fast-track hearing from the House Rules Committee today at 5 pm.
Friday, March 25
The Hill’s Gautham Nagesh reports that House Oversight Chairman Darrel Issa has some lingering questions about how the FCC’s net neutrality rules came about — specifically, how much the White House was involved:
Issa wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday asking for more information on the numerous visits made to the White House by top FCC officials while the commission was formulating its net-neutrality rules, which were passed in December.
In the letter, Issa informs Genachowski that his previous response to inquiries on the topic were incomplete, and asks for full records and logs of all meetings.