& 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
Light Reading sits down at CES with the head of Cisco's service provider video business, Conrad Clemson, to discuss how NFV and cloud security relate to video, the challenge of managing 4K/8K traffic, the global expansion of Netflix and virtual reality.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Documentaries
All Change in Video

2|11|16   |   33:12   |   (1) comment


At this moderated panel at 2020 Vision in Dublin, Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader of Light Reading, sits down with Jeff Finkelstein, director of network architecture at Cox Communications, to discuss the rapidly changing video market.
LRTV Custom TV
Hosting in Ireland, Past & Present

2|10|16   |   16:07   |   (0) comments


Garry Connolly, president of Host in Ireland, presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
What's Hot in Mobile Commerce?

2|10|16   |   12:18   |   (1) comment


Claire Maslen, financial services relationship manager at the GSMA, talks about the development of the digital commerce sector and the types of relationships that mobile operators are developing to further their m-commerce strategies.
LRTV Documentaries
EANTC Tests Nokia IP Routing & Mobile Gateway VNFs for Real World Deployment

2|9|16   |   5:08   |   (1) comment


Nokia obtained validation of its virtualized router and virtualized mobile gateway capabilities through rigorous testing performed by EANTC. The results set a new industry benchmark for outstanding performance, scalability, resiliency and manageability. Nokia VNFs are ready for telco cloud deployment, so that service providers can accelerate mobile, business and ...
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Level 3's Jack Waters

2|8|16   |   26:15   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
LRTV Custom TV
The Composable Telco

2|8|16   |   24:46   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Principal Analyst Caroline Chappell presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
LRTV Custom TV
Join Us at the Digital Operations Transformation Summit

2|4|16   |   03:52   |   (0) comments


The Digital Operations Transformation Summit on February 21, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre will bring together 50 senior executives to engage in a unique debate on the opportunities and challenges presented by the transformative evolving digital landscape. RSVP now at events@lightreading.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Making the Test: ADVA Ensemble Connector vs. Open vSwitch

2|4|16   |   01:28   |   (0) comments


Light Reading, in partnership with EANTC, recently tested ADVA's Ensemble Connector, which replaces open vSwitch and offers carrier-grade capability and interoperability. The test results strengthen ADVA's credibility as a provider in the virtualization space.
LRTV Custom TV
Bridging the Gap Between PoCs & Deployment in NFV

2|4|16   |   31:50   |   (0) comments


Charlie Ashton of Wind River presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Dublin.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Mike Aquino

2|3|16   |   17:34   |   (0) comments


The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Shades of Ray
MWC: Buckle Up for 5G & the IIoT

2|2|16   |   02:28   |   (0) comments


This year's Mobile World Congress looks set to be a 5G land grab and a chance to get down and dirty with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – but what will the 5G discussions actually be about?
LRTV Custom TV
Case Study: Building China's Next-Gen TV Networks

2|2|16   |   5:01   |   (0) comments


With over 2 billion viewers worldwide, Shenzhen Media Group is one of China's largest content producers. By partnering with Huawei and Sobey, SZMG was able to modernize media operations with the Converged News Center, a production studio that is a model for next-generation workflows.
Upcoming Live Events
March 10, 2016, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 5, 2016, The Ritz Carlton, Charlotte, NC
May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Lights Fire Under 5G, Plans 2016 Trials
Iain Morris, News Editor, 2/12/2016
Yahoo & Verizon Sitting in a Tree...
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 2/8/2016
Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/8/2016
It's Time to Integrate OTT Video
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/8/2016
Andreessen Facepalms on Facebook Free Basics
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 2/10/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and G.fast for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.