& cplSiteName &

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. (NYSE: 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        ADD A COMMENT
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   >   >>
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Shades of Ray
Why Analytics Is the Tech World's Digital Glue

3|27|17   |   02:20   |   (0) comments


It was obvious at the massive annual CeBIT enterprise tech trade show that the foundation for tech innovation right now is real-time analytics.
LRTV Custom TV
CommScope – Meeting the Demands of Tomorrow's Networks

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Phil Sorksy, Vice President International at CommScope, discusses addressing the challenges faced by service providers today, and as future trends emerge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
AMS-IX & Huawei's OSN 902

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei shows how its OSN 902 platform helps the Amsterdam Internet exchange to connect the world using multiplexing.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Smart Energy Innovation Center

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In Nuremberg, Huawei showcases its latest capabilities in the digitalization of Internet resources, network infrastructure and intelligence at its Smart Energy Innovation Center.
Valley Wonk
OFC & Hyperscale: A Good Mix?

3|24|17   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Cloud and telecom players want different types of equipment for their networks, as the chatter at OFC reveals.
LRTV Custom TV
Etisalat on NFV Journey

3|24|17   |   10:37   |   (0) comments


Etisalat is a service provider that prides itself on bringing innovative technologies to the markets it serves. It was one of the first operators to implement 3G and leads the pack in fiber penetration. Now, Esmaeel Al Hammadi, Etisalat's SVP of Network Development, explains the operator's journey to virtualization, beginning with the network core, as well as the ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 3

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting on the application of technologies and key business verticals such as transportation, smart city, manufacturing, media and finance.
LRTV Documentaries
No Regrets: Cox's Finkelstein on Fiber & More

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein examines the cable capex conundrum.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Next-Gen: The 'Mile High' View From Denver

3|22|17   |   11:56   |   (0) comments


Alan Breznick kicks off the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, casting his thousand-yard stare over cable's current competitive landscape.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 2

3|21|17   |   2:27   |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting digital transformation solutions around IoT, smart data centers, OpenCloud ecosystem and its newly announced storage-as-a-service solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving Better Mobile Customer Experience While Transforming the Mobile Network

3|21|17   |   7:47   |   (0) comments


Light Reading talked to George McGregor of Citrix about the NetScaler Mobile Gateway - an intelligent traffic management solution which can markedly improve the customer experience provided by mobile operators, even when traffic is encrypted. Critical network services can be consolidated and virtualized using NetScaler. Because of the unique architecture, ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: What's Next for Mobile Payments?

3|21|17   |   7:49   |   (0) comments


2017 marks the fifth consecutive year for Mastercard at Mobile World Congress and it was a great time to reflect on the amazing advances the payments industry has made as well as discuss "What's Next' in the digital commerce future. We spoke to James Anderson, executive vice president of digital payments at MasterCard, about digital wallets to tokenization to ...
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
High-Band 5G: Let's Address the Range Question, Shall We?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/21/2017
Eurobites: A1, Nokia Turn It Up to 11
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/22/2017
FTTH No Slam Dunk for Cable
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/23/2017
Nokia & Facebook Push Undersea Fiber to 32 Tbit/s
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 3/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
At MWC 2017, Qualcomm's CTO Matt Grob talks to Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders about the progress being made in the development of the technologies and standards that will underpin 5G.
Animals with Phones
Neither Do We Click Here
Is that a prerequisite?
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.