& cplSiteName &

Net Neutrality Fight Peaks at FCC Deadline

Mari Silbey
7/18/2014
50%
50%

After technical issues at the FCC's website forced an extension, the final deadline for comments on the Commission’s Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will arrive tonight at midnight. So far, no one has been shy about expressing an opinion.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has filed a lengthy document urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to avoid reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers, limit new regulatory mandates, and refrain from addressing interconnection agreements within the Open Internet framework. Among other issues, the filing contends that Internet Service Providers should not be required to reveal more detailed information about network congestion. Declaring that "the current transparency regime is sufficient to protect Internet openness," the NCTA asked the FCC to reject calls for greater disclosure.

From the document:

    The Commission likewise should reject the proposal to require ISPs to "disclose meaningful information regarding the source, location, timing, speed, packet loss, and duration of network congestion." As an initial matter, congestion at a particular point in the network is not necessarily evidence that the quality of service to consumers has been degraded, because ISP networks are built with redundant paths that enable Internet traffic to be routed around points of congestion. Furthermore, as the NPRM acknowledges, network congestion can occur at any point in the Internet, not just the last-mile portion controlled by ISPs. For example, some large content providers like Netflix may choose to route traffic over congested links from transit providers rather than spending more money to route traffic over open links from CDNs.

The NCTA's comments allude to the ongoing public battle between Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and such major broadband service providers as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) over who is to blame for declines in video streaming performance. (See Verizon Threatens to Sue Netflix.)

Not too surprisingly, Netflix has filed its own concerns with the FCC, and stated a position that is directly counter to the NCTA's. In its official comments regarding the Open Internet NPRM, Netflix said that:

    The Commission should adopt clear and strong open Internet protections that prevent blocking, interconnection access tolls, unreasonable discrimination, and paid prioritization on any point in the network controlled by the terminating ISP. Transparency rules should be augmented to require ISPs to provide meaningful, real-time disclosures of network performance and congestion to keep the public properly informed.

Further, Netflix argued that "failing to address interconnection abuse by terminating ISPs will undermine the efficacy of any open Internet or consumer protection rules that the Commission adopts in these proceedings."

Caught in the middle between Netflix and ISPs are transit providers like Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) and Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: CCOI). In addition to official comments by both companies asking the FCC to intervene on interconnection agreements, Level 3 has extended the debate to its corporate blog.

In a post on July 17 (hat tip, DSLReports), the company claims that Verizon has inadvertently admitted to "deliberately constraining capacity from network providers like Level 3 that were chosen by Netflix to deliver video content requested by Verizon's own paying broadband customers." The post concludes that "all of the networks have ample capacity and congestion only occurs in a small number of locations, locations where networks interconnect with some last mile ISPs like Verizon."

The Level 3 rhetoric is the latest in a series of accusations suggesting that ISPs are allowing specific peering points to degrade. However, veteran engineer Peter Sevcik pointed out recently that Netflix’s performance across all ISPs improved when the company signed a direct interconnection deal with Comcast. The agreement removed traffic from the middle-mile networks, relieving congestion everywhere. Sevcik does not blame middle-mile network providers like Level 3 and Cogent, but instead noted that Netflix could be buying more capacity. (See Netflix's Problem Is Its Transit Network – Report.)

The FCC will have a lot to consider as it combs through the latest Open Internet commentary. One thing that's clear, however, is that arguments over network interconnection agreements have steadily crept further into the net neutrality debate. Level 3 VP Bill Wohnoutka said recently that he believes the industry will make significant progress on peering capacity issues over the next year. (See Net Neutrality: Level 3 Sees Peering Progress Soon.)

The question, however, is what role will the FCC play? (See Net Neutrality Redux? FCC Probes Peering Problems.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/22/2014 | 12:07:56 PM
Re: Backwards
sam,

The reason it makes a difference is really simple.  Premium Content Owners run things.  Disney owns ESPN.  ESPN gets paid a LOT by Cable Companies for formating and distributing their content.  But (for example) the PAC-12 has a big TV deal with ESPN and gets paid a lot of money by ESPN.  Note thet the PAC-12 is doing off ESPN items on the PAC-12 Network and getting paid directly by the Cable Companies.  At some point in the future, you can imagine a day when the PAC-12 steps neatly around ESPN and takes all the money directly from the Cable Companies for its content.

ESPN (and Disney) are simply Content Aggregators in this model and the money flows uphill to the source of content.  In a similar vein, Jerry Seinfeld is still making a lot of money from the Syndication of Seinfeld.  NBC not so much (or at least not a lot when its shown on non-NBC owned channels).

See the point?  Content Aggregators are like the record labels of the music world.  Do we really need Capital Records if a band like Metallica can post its own tunes to iTunes?  What this means is that the Internet over the long term will work to eliminate middle men and in the long term that they will have no business model (caveat in the next paragraph).

Now what the Aggregators CAN do is do what the record labels used to do.  Locate and market new talent.  That is essentially what CBS did with the Big Bang Theory.  It funded some talent that it knew (Chuck Lorrie) through some lean times and marketed the show until it took off.  Now poof, its the #1 show and everybody is raking in the bucks.  Just like startups, most new shows fail.  The better Aggregators do a great job at sponsoring content more likely to succeed.

As a counter example, lets use Youtube.  I read a statistic that most (like 90%) of Youtube videoes have less than 5 views.  Nobody markets them and their content has low value.  Compare it to say "The Guild" where dollars were spent to market the videos.  Or Funny or Die.  Or Twitch TV.  Or TED. If you are not going to source content, then you need to be able to select content like you were a TV Studio in the old days to make money.

Netflix is starting to do its own content.  It doesn't have "channels with recommendations" of indie projects or small names, but it could.  But just hosting, reformatting, and streaming content is a dead business in the long run.  People will just do it themselves.

seven

 
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/22/2014 | 11:41:24 AM
Re: Backwards
Why should that distinct make a difference? So are a number of news sites as well as others that simply aggregate content from various other sources. To me the operative word here is "content."
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/21/2014 | 6:27:50 PM
Re: Wheeler
We're already heading toward a realm where users have to pay a steep premium for uncapped service, so I wonder if a premium tier that offers faster speeds to some sites -- or exempts some select services (like AT&T's sponsored data) is only a matter of time? FCC seems relatively warm to these kinds of proposals.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/21/2014 | 4:31:25 PM
Re: Backwards
sam,

Netflix is barely a content provider.  They are primarily a content aggregator.  Real content providers DO get paid by Comcast.  See Disney.

seven

 
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/21/2014 | 4:12:34 PM
Backwards
I'm with Prof. Tim Wu, who I understand came up with the term "net neutrality and thinks Comcast should be paying Netflix. Folks pay for broadband because, among other things, they love to stream video from content companie like Netflix...and those broadband charges go straight into the pockets of the ISPs.

Are we headed to a point where ISPs will have tiered charges for different content providers?

 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
7/21/2014 | 12:25:23 PM
Re: Wheeler
I agree that Title II reclassification seems beyond the reach of the FCC - there is just too much lobbying firepower from the big guys to make that one likely. 

The only real battle may be around the notion of "premium" Internet services. I think we are going to see more creative approaches to getting content closer to customers to try to alleviate the various bottlenecks, but whether there will ever be a true "premium service" in the local loop is still a question mark in my mind. 

 
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/20/2014 | 3:32:33 PM
Re: Wheeler
I personally have intermittent issues with my home Comcast service when using Netflix. It's not a major annoyance, but I do sometimes notice that Netflix stops completely for a period of time. 

As someone who uses Comast's internet service but does not subscribe to its cable service, I wonder what the company thinks about its television business being consumed by streaming media. Of course, that's why the company has moved into buying media companies such as NBC Universal.

Actions speak louder than words. 
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/20/2014 | 4:18:05 AM
Nice run down
Great rundown of where the fight is at right now, it is really scary to think what actually is at stake in this fight. 
KBode
100%
0%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/18/2014 | 5:04:53 PM
Wheeler
Good read! Wheeler has already made it clear they won't be including peering in their neutrality rules. In fact, I'm not sure they'll be including much of anything in the rules outside of banning things ISPs never intented to do anyway (block sites and services outright, throttle some services for no reason)....I think it's also highly, highly unlikely Wheeler heeds consumer advocate calls for Title II reclassification.
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.
LRTV Custom TV
How Intel Is Powering the 5G Era

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading tours a series of 5G "super demos" so see how Intel envisions the 5G-connected future. We take a look at a prototype connected BMW, a light pole with environmental sensors that provides 5G wireless to a smart home and a fully untethered virtual reality experience.
LRTV Custom TV
Source Photonics CEO Doug Wright Talks About the Future of Source Photonics

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Source Photonics' CEO, Doug Wright, talks to Light Reading about how the company is continuously investing in its operations to meet not only its customers' current technology demands but also to deliver their next-generation technology needs.
LRTV Custom TV
Live Demo: DevOps in Service Chains & 5G Network Slices PoC

3|29|17   |     |   (0) comments


Executives from PoC collaborating companies – Patrick Waldemar, VP and Head of Technology at Telenor Research, John Healy, VP of the Datacenter Network Solutions Group at Intel, Vincent Spinelli, SVP of Global Sales and Marketing at RIFT.io, Mats Eriksson, CEO and co-founder of Arctos Labs, and Mats Nordlund, CEO and co-founder of Netrounds – review ...
LRTV Documentaries
The Year of Fat & Skinny Bundles

3|29|17   |   21:06   |   (0) comments


In this fireside chat, Roku's Andrew Ferrone predicts that 2017 will be the year of multichannel OTT video bundles and spells out other trends in the OTT and pay-TV markets.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
BBWF 2016: Orange Poland's Next-Gen Central Office

3|28|17   |     |   (0) comments


Introduction to Orange Poland's legacy next-generation central office solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Viavi at OFC 2017

3|28|17   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Editor-in-Chief Craig Matsumoto reports from the Viavi booth at OFC and gets an update on the 400G testing market from Tom Fawcett, VP and GM of LAB & Production. At this year's event, Viavi won three awards from Lightwave magazine and showcased an interoperability demo with Ethernet Alliance and Finisar.
LRTV Custom TV
Connecting the Entire Home With DOCSIS 3.1

3|28|17   |   3:58:   |   (0) comments


Hitron Technologies had the first cable modem certified for DOCSIS 3.1 and already has over 120,000 units in the field. Greg Fisher, CTO of Hitron, provides an update on his company's rollout of new gateways and why he thinks DOCSIS 3.1 will continue to drive value for operators into 2017 and beyond.
LRTV Interviews
Amazon Prime's Hand of God Creator on Producing for OTT

3|28|17   |     |   (1) comment


Ben Watkins is the creator, writer and producer of Hand of God, a series on Amazon Prime. At Light Reading's Cable Next-Gen conference in Denver, he explained the advantages of producing for an OTT platform versus traditional TV.
LRTV Custom TV
How Metrological Keeps Cable Customers on the Couch

3|28|17   |     |   (0) comments


Metrological offers an open source solution that reduces the time it takes cable operators to integrate OTT content into the linear television viewing experience.
LRTV Documentaries
The ABC of OTT

3|28|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Cable Next-Gen conference in Denver, Ben Watkins, creator of Amazon Prime's Hand of God show, explained how producing content for an OTT platform differs from producing content for traditional TV.
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.
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
FTTH No Slam Dunk for Cable
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/23/2017
Unlocking China's $194B Telecom Market
Robert Clark, 3/27/2017
Welcome to the Wild West of Privacy
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/24/2017
WiCipedia: Supergirls, No More Excuses & Media Monitoring
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 3/24/2017
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
Working From Home Doesn't Work for Everyone Click Here
You shouldn't nap on your keyboard, for instance.
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.