Light Reading
Amid heated debate, the FCC passes a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet" that could allow ISPs to charge more for priority service.

FCC Split on Net Neutrality Plans

Mari Silbey
5/15/2014
50%
50%

Despite spirited public protest both inside and outside its chambers -- with one audience member escorted out by security in the middle of the session -- the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on "Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet" Thursday.

The move -- the latest in a series of net neutrality-related decisions and proclamations from the FCC -- formally sets in motion a process that could lead to paid priority access for some companies on the Internet.

The NPRM was approved by a 3-2 vote that split along party lines, with Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly dissenting from the majority. Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel voted in favor of the rulemaking proposal, alongside FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

In the short term, the only thing the FCC has agreed to do in passing the controversial NPRM is to explore its options for regulating broadband service. The notice specifically seeks public comment on "the benefits of applying Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Title II of the Communications Act, including the benefits of one approach over the other, to ensure the Internet remains an open platform for innovation and expression."

But, as further reading quickly indicates, the proposed rulemaking contains elements that could transform the US broadband landscape. Among other things, the notice raises the specter of "fast lanes" on the Internet for companies that pay for priority access and much tighter regulation of cable, telco, and other broadband providers. "While the Notice reflects a tentative conclusion that Section 706 presents the quickest and most resilient path forward per the court's guidance, it also makes clear that Title II remains a viable alternative and asks specifically which approach is better. In addition, the proposal asks whether paid prioritization arrangements, or "fast lanes," can be banned outright."

The issue of fast lanes has been a topic of heated debate ever since the FCC decided last month that it could allow broadband providers to offer paid, priority access to Internet bandwidth to companies like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) Opponents of paid prioritization worry that this would effectively create a two-tiered system favoring companies that can pay for superior data delivery. (See Comcast's Cohen: Define Internet Fast Lanes and FCC's 'Middle Ground' Already Under Attack.)

Chairman Wheeler, who has championed the idea, sought to ease those concerns at this morning's meeting. Reiterating a pledge he made at the Cable Show last month, he said that the FCC would not allow a two-tiered system to develop. "If someone acts to divide the Internet between haves and have-nots, we will use every power to stop it." (See FCC's Wheeler: 'Internet Will Remain an Open Pathway'.)

He further explained his intentions by saying the FCC would consider it commercially unreasonable, and therefore prohibited, if a broadband provider slowed Internet speeds below the threshold described in a subscriber's paid-for service, blocked access to lawful content, or charged a content provider more money to use the bandwidth already paid for by an Internet subscriber. "When content provided by a firm such as Netflix reaches the consumer's network provider, it would be commercially unreasonable to charge the content provider to use that bandwidth for which the consumer had already paid."

Separate from the issue of fast lanes on the last mile of the Internet is the question of how or whether to regulate interconnection agreements between Internet service providers and transit providers like Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT). Referring specifically to peering and interconnection agreements, Wheeler said today, "That's a different matter. It is better addressed separately."

In addition to considering fast lanes and nondiscrimination policies, the FCC's latest NPRM calls for comment on enhancing transparency rules, how mobile broadband users are impacted by net neutrality rules, and installing "an ombudsperson with significant enforcement authority to serve as a watchdog and advocate for start-ups, small businesses and consumers."

Reaction to the FCC vote was swift and predictable. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) pledged to "work constructively with the FCC and other stakeholders" to "develop a balanced approach that protects the open Internet." However, the trade group also warned against imposing "the heavy-handed regulatory yoke of Title II" on cable operators and other providers.

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the fast-lanes concept but applauded the idea of regulating broadband providers more closely. And MoveOn, which staged loud protests at the FCC's headquarters and elsewhere, slammed the effort to advance a "two-tiered Internet."

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(12)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/20/2014 | 12:11:12 PM
Re: Already legal?
Kq4ym - Given the way video and voice are moving to IP, all consumers will soon be high-speed users. Businesses too if the videoconferencing vendors and evangelists get their way.
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/18/2014 | 6:04:53 PM
Re: Already legal?
The commissioners are being politically  correct at this time, not trying to rock the boat too much, untill they get the corportations and hopefully the public behind the proposed new rules. It's a safe bet through that the internet will soon be changing, and probably end up with higher costs to users who may ultimately foot the bill for the extra charges placed on high speed users.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/17/2014 | 4:34:34 PM
Re: Bandwidth caps
It's not just big business that wants fast lanes. For example, all video providers, no matter what the size, need high throughput and low latency. And they should have them -- for a price.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/16/2014 | 7:18:32 PM
Already legal?
The FCC doesn't have to authorize Internet fast lanes—they're already legal.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler repeatedly said today that his network neutrality proposal doesn't authorize Internet fast lanes.

"This proposal does not provide or mandate paid prioritization," he said to reporters after the FCC's vote. "There is nothing in this proposal that authorizes a fast lane. We ask questions but don't jump to conclusions."

So has everyone who called this a "fast lane" proposal gotten the story wrong? Not exactly.

As Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said during today's meeting, there are no rules at all against Internet service providers blocking traffic or prioritizing some content over others. That's because a federal appeals court this year overturned the FCC's previous net neutrality order, issued in 2010.

brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/16/2014 | 5:48:10 PM
Re: The technical community
Dennis,

I had this conversation with Duh! outside of these forums.  One of the first clicks through to my blog was from a site that was an advocacy site that was all about telecom and internet services.

I looked at the article and said:

- IP was replacing POTS and ATM because those protocols could not be intercepted.

- IP was the first convergence protocol

When Duh! and I messaged about this, I was very concerned that people that are reading such sites are still making voting decisions.  These decisions are based on not just no information but bad information.  I also feel obligated to post on these topics when they come up.

seven

 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/16/2014 | 4:50:35 PM
Re: The technical community
Agreed -- it's a steep uphill climb, but one worth making.
Duh!
50%
50%
Duh!,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/16/2014 | 4:34:39 PM
Re: The technical community
This is the way of the world. 

In my experience, about half the regulators and all the politicians are ideologues.  The rest of the regulators are intelligent and can be reasoned with, even if you sometimes have to spoon feed them.  That includes bureau chiefs and staff as well as commissioners.  Between having Henning Schulzrinne and a few high powered Technical Advisory Councils, they do have competent technical resources to draw on. 

And anything we do to shed light has to be better than nothing.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/16/2014 | 3:37:36 PM
Re: The technical community
The technical community may know more about this than everyone else, but the reality is that policy will continue to be set by regulators, politicians, and others who don't necessarily have the depth of knowledge that you may think they need. This reality isn't limited to telecom regulation -- the people who think they know most about issues often play an insignificant role in making the rules. There's no clear and easy way to fix this.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/16/2014 | 12:50:00 PM
Re: The technical community
Duh,

As you and I have discussed in other forums, I think this is very important.  We need to get the technical details right.

On top of that we need a model for the lay person for a comparison.  Right now our technical lingo runs right by them.  Tubes doesn't work, Fast Lane doesn't work.

Okay so, let me suggest a model that does work.  The famous Big Rock Model.  Video - the only thing that really matters here - is the Big Rock.  Unless you put them in first then the Sand will fill the container and block the ability to get the Big Rocks in.

Look forward to hearing other replacement models.

seven

 

 

 
Duh!
50%
50%
Duh!,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/16/2014 | 11:22:16 AM
The technical community
The public "Net Neutrality" debate is an extension of the QOS vs one-size-fits-all debates that the technical community has been having since about 1990.  The issues are subtle.  But at least we could argue them on a ground of more-or-less common understanding of how the ARPAnet/Internet works, even if we couldn't agree on the fundamental question of scarcity vs abundance.  These days, it is pretty much impossible to be heard over the shouting of the ignorant mob.

We in the technical community have somewhat of an obligation to try to improve the quality of the debate by debunking demonstratably false arguments and clearing up misconceptions. 

One thing has bothered me in particular:  the utterly inapt "fast lane on the information superhighway"  metaphor.  We all know that the Internet does not behave anything at all like a highway.  But the misconception that it does leads people to pretty extreme conclusions.  I've written about this here before, and expanded those ideas in my blog

Can all of us - regardless of where we have stood on the technical debate - please help clear up ignorance and misconceptions whenever we can?
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (4) comments


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Google Continues Gigabit Expansion
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/27/2015
Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/26/2015
Overture Builds on NFV Foundation
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/27/2015
LightSpeed Looks to Plug the Gigabit Gap
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/23/2015
Parks Predicts HBO OTT Success
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 1/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Weekly Executive Interview
Join us live for Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, Universal, Intel and Microsoft, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he has to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.