FCC En Banc

3:05 PM -- I'm at Stanford University, attending the second FCC en banc hearing, the "do-over" for the Harvard event where Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) stacked the deck.

The hearing is intended to examine the issue of outside applications running on high-speed networks, triggered by the discovery that Comcast was throttling back peer-to-peer (P2P) bandwidth. (See FCC Mulling New Internet Rules and Comcast Caves In to P2P Pressure.)

It's open to the public, so the Net neutrality crowd is probably going to arrive in force. A parody musical group called the Raging Grannies was the only sign of mischief as of 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Time), one hour before the hearing was due to start.

Stanford isn't exactly the hotbed of protest that U.C. Berkeley was, but I'll check outside later on to see if other signs and banners got put up.

Depending on how kind the WiFi network is and how interesting the panel sessions get, I'll add other comments via the message board below.

You can download the agenda's hearing in a Word file, here.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:43:07 PM
re: FCC En Banc The sad truth of wifi -- as the room filled up, the bandwidth went down. Hmph.

The auditorium is barely half full, if that much. Surprising - but then again, most people have day jobs, and most students here probably don't wanna sit around listening to FCC talk for six hours.
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:43:06 PM
re: FCC En Banc ...for FCC commissioner Deborah Tate, from a couple of isolated but loud audience members. Likewise for McDowell.
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:43:06 PM
re: FCC En Banc I should clarify: the first 45 minutes of this are set aside for introductory remarks -- grandstanding, essentially, but some of it is interesting.

Jonanthan Adelstein, FCC commissioner, is saying the 700MHz auction "dashed the hopes" for a third broadband competitor to go up against cable and telcos.

Adelstein mentions protesting at Stanford, as a student, against nuclear research. Draws one "whoo!" from some guy off to the side...
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:43:06 PM
re: FCC En Banc Lawrence Lessig's opening talk was a call to action, telling the crowd (which seems pretty much all net-neutrality-friendly) that they have to get involved in what's happening in Washington; otherwise, the decisions won't go their way.

Various applause and one "That's right!" came from some parts of the crowd. They're enthusiastic, but the room isn't full enough to give them an overwhelming presence.
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:43:05 PM
re: FCC En Banc This one, from Lawrence Lessig, was a hit:

"You don't talk about trusting a compny, the same way you don't talk about trusting a tiger even though the brand management for tigers is very cute..."

There was more to the sentence, drowned out by laughter.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:43:05 PM
re: FCC En Banc I'm listening when I can but predictably Rick Carnes, President of Songwriters Guild of America, focused most of his talk on the problems of illegal filesharing "Stealing a song is not a victimless crime," line didn't get much of an applause, at least from what I could detect via my 20 kbit/s audio-only stream to the event. he closed saying "First order of business is to detect and stop illegal file sharing,"...got a few golf claps.
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:43:04 PM
re: FCC En Banc He also applied a song title for the hearing: "Don't Neuter the Net"
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:43:04 PM
re: FCC En Banc Most of the event is boring me -- remember, this is testimony to the FCC, so people are basically restating old arguments pro & con.

Interesting finale to the first panel, though: Robb Topolski, the engineer who apparently discovered Comcast's P2P throttling, notes that it's *still* happening, despite all the publicity, and that it's enforced 24 hours a day, not just when the network is congested.
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:43:03 PM
re: FCC En Banc Not a big surprise that nothing's changed yet. Comcast hasn't moved to this new "protocol-agnostic" platform and won't until later this year. interesting that Robb said he's seen throttling happen at all hours of the day, which he says suggests proof that it's not just occuring during congestion. It's also been interesting to hear the discussion about what defines "blocking," something Comcast has denied doing. Robb asserts that packet resets are akin to that...versus delaying, as Comcast has claimed. Would be a better discussion if Comcast could've made this event..but FCC said it also offered invites to Time Warner, ATT and Verizon, and they declined too.
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:42:58 PM
re: FCC En Banc btw, for the archives' sake: I did manage to post a regular story on the hearings (with pictures!)

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