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Regulation

Net Neutrality: Latest Proposal Will Make Everybody Unhappy

In the latest net neutrality proposal, the Federal Communications Commission has reportedly cooked up an idea guaranteed to unite both net neutrality advocates and carriers: They're both going to hate it.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) head Tom Wheeler is considering a plan to split the Internet, separating the "back-end" connection between carriers and content providers from the "retail" connections between carriers and consumers, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal late Thursday. The FCC would require net neutrality on the back end, classifying it as common carrier, but leave carriers free to cut special deals with consumers.

The proposal would give the FCC authority to police deals between content companies like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and broadband providers. Says the Journal:

    The proposal would leave the door open for broadband providers to offer specialized services for, say, videogamers or online video providers, which require a particularly large amount of bandwidth. The proposal would also allow the commission to explore usage-based pricing at some point, in which consumers are charged based on how much data they use and companies are able to subsidize traffic to their websites or applications.

    While the FCC still believes there should be room for such deals, its latest plan would shift the burden to the broadband providers to prove that the arrangements would be beneficial to consumers and equally available to any company that would like to participate. FCC officials believe reclassification would put them on much stronger legal footing to block such deals when they are anticompetitive.

Carriers, which have resisted any kind of net neutrality regulation, are going to hate this proposal. So will net neutrality advocates, who want to regulate the Internet end to end.


Find out more about key developments related to broadband on Light Reading's dedicated broadband channel.


The proposal as described by the Journal has at least three big unanswered questions:

  • Would this proposal apply to the wired Internet only, or would it also apply to wireless connectivity? The consumer Internet is increasingly becoming a wireless network.

  • The Journal article talks about the connection to the customer as a "retail" connection. What kind of effect would this proposal have on business Internet customers?

  • Would carriers and content providers be allowed to cut deals to provide subsidized connections to consumers where, for example, Facebook pays to allow consumers to connect to Facebook (and only Facebook) for free?

It's difficult to see where this proposal makes sense. Why discriminate between the two ends of Internet connections? It doesn't even make sense politically; carriers aren't going to like this any more than they've liked any other proposal for net neutrality and net neutrality advocates have already started opposition. Either regulate the whole Internet, or none at all.

— 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 [email protected]

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brooks7 11/1/2014 | 3:14:11 PM
Re: Under what paradigm would this work  

You are incorrect in the middle point.  You are making an assumption that is not true.  Your assumption is that the metro connections are not congested.  And by the way regulating neutral does not force anyone to add more bandwidth.  It just means that you have to treat all sources equally.  If its a T-1 then its a T-1 treated fairly.  That is your mistake.  You can not force people to add bandwidth under Title II.

seven

 
Jack42 11/1/2014 | 3:05:18 PM
Re: Under what paradigm would this work "In any other case, there is no requirement for an Access ISP to provide more peering bandwidth.  If I was Verizon, I would peer to Level 3 with a T-1 line.  There is no legal requirement for Verizon (or any other ISP to do any more)."

This is the exact reason why the last mile providers need to be regulated.  Thank you for helping make the point.

"The whole point is that to effectively make the kind of service that folks are talking about work.."

You are flat out incorrect in this point.  Simple upgrades to peering connections will solv the bottleneck problem.  It is a behavioral decision not to do it.

"...companies like Level 3 will lose a tremendous amount of business." 

Yes, you are correct.  Competitive companies will loose business if monopolies are allowed to use market dominance to force purchase terms.  Again, this is the behavioral problem that needs to be corrected through regulation or break up.

 
brooks7 11/1/2014 | 2:28:42 PM
Re: Under what paradigm would this work Jack,

You are making an assumption that you can not depend on.  That as a Content provider you can control the entire path to the end consumer.  Let me give you a very simple example.  Suppose you are a customer of a company local to me SONIC.net.  In that case, your ISP is not connected directly to the Internet Backbone and the packet can pass through multiple transit providers.

Unless you have explicit connections, then you can guarantee service to the edge ISP.

In any other case, there is no requirement for an Access ISP to provide more peering bandwidth.  If I was Verizon, I would peer to Level 3 with a T-1 line.  There is no legal requirement for Verizon (or any other ISP to do any more).

The whole point is that to effectively make the kind of service that folks are talking about work, companies like Level 3 will lose a tremendous amount of business. 

 

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Jack42 11/1/2014 | 1:51:09 PM
Re: Under what paradigm would this work I am curious about your statement:  "I think the challenge that this essentially requires the direct peering mechanism from a large content provider to end Consumer ISPs to have stuff work.  Intervening transport could cause issues otherwise.  I will have to think on that."

Is seems you are effectively saying that a content provider "should have to buy" access directly from a last mile provider in order to have this traffic delivered without interference.

By saying that, than you are ok with a last mile provider forcing content providers to buy access from themselves vs allowing competition to dictate who a content provider buys access from.  

I would suggest you read the blog posts from Mark Taylor at level3 who does a wonderful job of explainging how last mile providers are degrading consumer service by intentionally not upgrading peering points for traffic flow.   

http://blog.level3.com/open-internet/verizons-accidental-mea-culpa/  

This is typical behaviour a monopoly who uses market dominance to force purchasing terms.

Just saying.....

 
Jack42 11/1/2014 | 1:31:14 PM
Re: It's the same bad proposal as previously, except..... You are incorrect in your statement.  I am not "unhappy with regulating things as a common carrier".  What I said is that the FCC is wrong to attempt regulation on transit providers, when it is the last mile provider that needs to be considered a common carrier and subject to regulation.  So, my point is that they appear to be indicating, they are willing to regulate the wrong party in this debate.

So, I am sure we can all agree, we are commenting on unconfirmed information here. There is no official NPRM to comment on, related to the subject of this post.  However, this information was most likely "leaked" on purpose to gauge response without commiting to an offical position. 

If you are in favor of fast and slow lanes, then we are clearly in disagreement about what course is better for the country.  I personally believe that a consumer should not be gouged by a monopoly.  I firmly believe that we, as a country and a society, benefit greatly from a network neutral, fair and equal access internet. 

This statement is a secret code:  "The FCC would require net neutrality on the back end, classifying it as common carrier, but leave carriers free to cut special deals with consumers."

I'll decode "special deals with consumers"  for you:  "Consumers should expect to get gouged with tons of new fees and countless levels of charges based on the content of data.  And if consumers submit to being gouged, then the last mile providers will ensure they don't intentionally disrupt the flow of internet traffic from it's source to the consumer.....the consumer who is already paying last mile provider to recieve this service"

 

 

 

 
brooks7 10/31/2014 | 8:26:32 PM
Re: It's the same bad proposal as previously, except..... Jack42,

 

The challenge is that you may be unhappy with regulating things as common carrier.  Look back in the thread with some comments that Tom Nolle had and you can see some specifics.

There are many others.  I am not sure that this proposal - which is not yet a proposal - works.  I have not seen any specifics.  Also, you are quoting the response to a NPRM.  Now if you actually READ the NPRM, you would have found page after page of questions.  That inlcuded the ability to set up QOS classes (aka Fast Lanes).  And that was the problem with all but about 200 of the responses to the NPRM.  They were very uneducated and provided no value.  Quoting them as a statistic here is bad for your credibility.  Most of the folks here are highly educated on the realities of the issues involved.  By quoting a protest without understanding the value, you have said that you don't want to participate intellectually.

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Jack42 10/31/2014 | 7:57:59 PM
It's the same bad proposal as previously, except..... This reads as if it is the same propsal that wheeler previously made:  charging more for a fast lane that works, except he is now willing to regulate transit providers as a common carrier.

Sorry, but it's the last mile providers that need to be regulated as a common carrier so they start providing the service that the consumer has been already paying for.  

Could Wheeler be any more obvious of a tool for the cable/lec industry?  I guess he didn't understand what the President meant whe he said that he expects the FCC to ensure Net Neutrality is implemented and stays there.  Maybe its time Obama found someone up for doing the Job expected.  I mean 3 MILLION responses made it pretty obvious what everyone wants done here, except the last mile monopolies.

Does anyone remember when AT&T wasn't too helpful about letting MCI access it's network. Where would the industry be today without the 1984 Consent Decree?  Thats what this is turning into.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
brooks7 10/31/2014 | 4:31:22 PM
Re: Under what paradigm would this work Hey Carol,

I guess what they would have to do is more closely define what an Internet Service is.

I would think that they could create an Internet Access Service that is an Information Service.

Then they could create an Internet Transport Service that was Neutral or actually under Title II.  Even under the Title they one can create multiple classes of services that happen business to business.  I think the challenge that this essentially requires the direct peering mechanism from a large content provider to end Consumer ISPs to have stuff work.  Intervening transport could cause issues otherwise.  I will have to think on that.

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marjsdad 10/31/2014 | 4:03:13 PM
Net Neutrality: Latest Proposal I think the proposal is brilliant. ISPs can sell interconnection to content providers on a nondiscriminatory basis, and provide backdoor services for OVDs on a non-discriminatory basis, as well as gaming priority or telemedical priority, etc., on an individual basis. Everybody speeds up, nobody slows down. Brilliant and workable.
nasimson 10/31/2014 | 2:19:47 PM
lose-lose Its not so black and white as "back-end" and "retail". There is a lot of grey area in between. FCC has opened more questions than it has answered. NN debate is taking too long to settle. Seems that FCC does not have full grasp on what it is trying to regulate.
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