Light Reading
Even after all these years and all this talking, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler thinks net neutrality hasn't been talked about enough.

Meet Tom Wheeler, Net Neutrality Procrastinator-in-Chief

Mitch Wagner
6/2/2014
50%
50%

When it's time to stand up and be counted, FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler pulls up a chair and sits down.

In a bold decision May 15, the FCC voted 3-2 along partisan lines to go ahead and think about maybe passing its proposed net neutrality rules. The rules are a masterpiece of befuddlement, saying carriers can and can't give companies preferential Internet access. Wheeler tried to reassure net neutrality proponents that the FCC won't allow a two-tier Internet to develop, prioritizing traffic for big companies that pay for it while putting everything else in the slow lane. And yet that's precisely what the FCC's rules do -- allow carriers to charge companies for higher-speed Internet access. (See FCC Split on Net Neutrality Plans .)

Wheeler approaches decision-making with the enthusiasm of a child facing going to school on a sunny June day. And yet Wheeler is bold and decisive compared with fellow commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai, who wanted to delay the vote. Rosenworcel warned about "rushing headlong" into a decision, as if 12 years isn't enough talk. That's how long ago Columbia University law processor Tim Wu articulated the principles of net neutrality. Maybe Rosenworcel thinks we should talk about the issue for another 12 years?

Or maybe 12 years isn't long enough? Net Neutrality is based on regulations governing telegraphs dating back to 1860. Is 154 years long enough to talk about an issue?

Prior to the May 15 vote, Wheeler set out to reassure net neutrality advocates that the FCC would abide by a US Court of Appeals decision that Internet fast lanes could not be "commercially unreasonable." And yet this is no protection at all -- neither companies nor consumers have any way of knowing what's reasonable or unreasonable. Developing guidelines for what's commercially reasonable will require still more time. Yay! More meetings!

Wheeler's motivation is clear. He wants to avoid a decision. He wants to not handle net neutrality at all, run out his term as chairman of the FCC, and let the whole thing be somebody else's problem. He's following a political strategy made popular by the governor in the movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas: "Dance a Little Sidestep:"

Wheeler can, of course, point out that three previous FCC chairs also tried to kick this can down the road -- two succeeded and the third, immediate predecessor Julius Genachowski, passed rules that were immediately overturned on appeal. But Wheeler, in his role as advocate for first, the largest wireless industry lobby, and then, the largest cable lobby group, already lived through those debates -- shouldn't he know where he stands by now?

In his prevaricating, Wheeler has managed to tick off both sides. Democrats and net neutrality defenders are angry that Wheeler's FCC doesn't go far enough, while Republican free-marketers denounce any attempt to regulate the Internet. It takes a rare talent to tick off both sides of a polarizing issue. I'm reminded of the clueless journalist in the Carl Hiaasen novel Tourist Season who proposed opinion columns with headlines like, "Vietnam: Time to Try Again?" and "Abortion: What's the Big Deal?"

Carriers need a decision on net neutrality. The decision needs to be one that permits investment in infrastructure and innovation, while preserving people's rights to free expression and startup innovation. But even a bad decision is better than the current climate of uncertainty, which has existed as well under three previous FCC chairs.

One-hundred fifty-four years is long enough to spend making up your mind.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

(25)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/6/2014 | 2:22:25 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
Seven, do you see any value in an internet search engine? I don't pay google for my searches, but there are ads. And YouTube has ads, too. Have you given up entirely on YouTube since they added ads? If not, then you are paying for the service with your attention and marketing potential.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/6/2014 | 1:49:41 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
mhhf1ve,

How much a month are you willing to pay for YouTube?  That is the question you have to answer to put a value on it.

Let me use an analogy.  Do you go to parks that charge entrance fees?  For example, I have been to Yosemite and paid to enter.  I more often go to local parks that are "free".  Of course, they aren't free because I am paying the city to own and maintain them.  So, there is some value but it is small or as I would put it negligible.  

That is the way I see YouTube.  Do I really need to have every Chive, Funny or Die, or Tosh.0 clip up there?  No.  Is it fun to find the oddball clip.  Sure.  But if YouTube was deleted, it would not cause me to go find an equivalent service that I pay for.

Again, I think you need to think of the phone analogy.  You paid your local company.  When you made a long distance call, they would pay the tolls to your long distance provider and the terminating phone company.  If all call centers came out of 1 place, then that phone company would owe the others a lot of money.  Right now a big number (30% is a standard notion) of traffic is coming from one source.  Cogent can't expect that to be viewed as a standard symmetrical peering arrangement.  I would expect them to get a bill and pass it on to Netflix.  Netflix chose to bypass Cogent in one case.  Probably cheaper for them.

The bigger issue to me is only with Comcast as AT&T, Verizon, etc....own no content.  Only Comcast does.  I am surprised that the FCC has not forced them to drop NBC-Universal, like the way Studios has to get out of the theater business.

seven
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/6/2014 | 1:02:33 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
I might add that I can also understand why the FCC would do nothing. In fact, I'm also concerned about the unintended consequences of the FCC making new regulations for the internet.
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/6/2014 | 12:58:49 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
Seven, I'm actually fine with companies paying for faster speeds, but I also see a danger that --without any regulation-- ISPs will sneakily force every distributor to pay a non-competitive toll. I fully disagree with you that YouTube content has no value. And I don't want an internet that would kill off a service like YouTube because the ISPs would be able to charge an incredible toll for YouTube's content to be delivered reliably.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/5/2014 | 7:39:32 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
mhhf1ve,

The Cable Industry pays BILLIONS to the content owners like Disney for the privilege of putting in the fastest of fast lanes - an HD channel + an SD channel for their content.  So, why do you think that suddenly that Disney is going to pay anybody?  They have content that people want.  We know that because we pay for it.

Youtube has no value because it essentially has worthless content.  Free content is worth exactly what you pay for it.  Nothing.  If there was value, we would pay to watch it.

Netflix is already trying to get into the content ownership business because of this.  They know that as a middle man, they have very minimal value.  The Internet is working real hard to eliminate most middle men.  The only people that needs middle men are small players who can't keep up.  

I agree you have the right to put content up and distribute it.  If you are Ernest Hemingway or Steven Spielberg or Metallica then you get to get paid for doing so.  If you are not, then expect to have to pay a middleman.  

Next thing to think about.  So, are you going to force cable tv systems to eliminate all their channels and deploy all their bandwidth for net neutral internet?  If not, you have already lost the thought that all content is created equal.  Disney, Fox, Sony, Viacom, etc. are all getting paid to have the best possible fast lane created for them.  

Now let's go to the Title II idea.  So, in the phone world assymetric traffic requires compensation between carriers.  So, we would need to put a system like that in place for the ISPs.  You okay with that?  Oh, wait....that is what you are complaining about already.  Now, I like the Title II idea but I am just saying that I can understand the notion of not doing anything.

seven
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/5/2014 | 4:31:05 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
So Disney has leverage, and netflix does not. So netflix has no value? There's a bit of a leap of logic there that doesn't quite make sense. Plenty of consumers pay for netflix and find value in the service. But there are other entities that might be harmed by a non-neutral internet. YouTube doesn't have the same leverage as Disney does-- is it also a worthless middle man? Are content owners the only entities that have the right to equal expression on the internet?
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/5/2014 | 3:50:19 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
mhhf1ve - He can justify it by saying that even a small minority can generate a massive flood of feedback. And that they're all just fickle and following what Stephen Colbert says and don't care deeply about the issues. Or that the industry voices understand the technology and business needs better. 

A cynic would say that the floods of people who hit the FCC website aren't campaign contributors, and that money is what talks in Washington.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/5/2014 | 3:37:36 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
 

Let Comcast ask Disney for streaming money and see what happens.  My guess is the cost of EPSN goes to $1B per home served.  Then Comcast gets on their knees and begs for mercy.

In other words, be a content owner - don't be a middle man.  The value of being a middle man like Netflix is essentlally 0.

seven

 
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/5/2014 | 2:50:55 PM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
Nothing is broken? So it's just fine for comcast to require video streaming companies (besides netflix) to pay for faster delivery? What if search engines needed to pay more for reliable connections? Where do the tolls end?
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/5/2014 | 12:40:41 AM
Re: The public commenting period is still going...
Mhhf1ve, What happened recently was that the courts left that as the only option for regulating Internet Service. The thing is that the change to use Title II is a one way street. Right now, as far as I can tell, nothing is broken. So, why make the switch now? To protect Netflix? Other than that, Hulu will never have that problem. It will end up the other way around. ISPs will pay Hulu for the privilege of delivering their content. This is why Netflix is trying to change to a content maker. Remember content ALWAYS gets paid. Content has always gotten paid by al distribution channels and always will. Aggregators (Netflix) are just middle men. Seven
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
More Blogs from Column
PICMG, which develops open modular standards for embedded computing, looks ahead to the next decade.
As it embraces SDN and NFV, the networking industry needs to ensure it doesn't create new silos and repeat the innovation-stifling mistakes of its past.
Give it up for the optical specialists who are more than mere 'plumbers.'
Operators can cut the cost and complexity of extending legacy services to all-IP environments.
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.
Jonestown
Mobile Backhaul: Going to the Dark Side?

10|30|14   |   2:26   |   (1) comment


Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan shares his view on a dark trend that bubbled up at Light Reading's annual backhaul conference in NYC.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With YuLiao

10|30|14   |   6:27   |   (0) comments


Yu Liao, chairman of the Chinese Association for Renewable Energy in Germany, discusses the role that ICT solutions play in helping to grow renewable energy resources in Germany.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview

10|30|14   |   2:54   |   (0) comments


Sifang has been working with Huawei on several projects. JingTao Wu, Assistant President of Beijing Sifang Automation Co. Ltd., believes that the cooperation with Huawei can facilitate Sifang's process of internationalization.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Better Connected Smart Grid: Powering Laos

10|30|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Electricite Du Laos (EDL), a state-owned corporation, discuss the importance of ICT solutions in serving their country's energy needs.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Junwei Lu

10|30|14   |   4:50   |   (0) comments


Professor Junwei Lu of Griffith University Australia describes his work with micro grid technology and the future of the power industry.
LRTV Documentaries
The Next-Gen Network Disconnect

10|29|14   |   01:23   |   (2) comments


There's a lot of talk about making networks more simple with SDN, NFV and next-gen broadband technology – but what about the complexity of introducing such capabilities?
LRTV Custom TV
Grow Your VPN Service Revenue

10|27|14   |   4:00   |   (0) comments


Watch how CSP product managers can better differentiate and maximize the value of their Internet, VPN and cloud services for business services customers, by adding premium application performance visibility to their data services.
Upcoming Live Events
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed