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Powell Warns Net Neutrologists Not to Be Naive

Just got this email reporting the speech made by former FCC Chairman @ F2C organized by David Isenberg. "Former FCC chairman Michael Powell is up on the stage at the Freedom to Connect conference right now, and he warns the tech elite crowd here not to be naive about the dangers of asking Congress for legislation on Net Neutrality. As he explains..." more

Telecom Policy Review Panel Calls For Net Neutrality Legal Safeguards

The Telecommunications Policy Review Panel report [Canada] was released yesterday and while the immediate reaction will no doubt focus on the recommendations for a market-oriented approach with significant changes to the CRTC, I would call attention to three other recommendations gleaned from reading the executive summary (the full document is nearly 400 pages). more

Is the U.S. Dancing to a Different Drummer?

Is the United States in full retreat from internationally recognized regulatory best practice? Or is it instead headed toward some different destination -- "dancing to the beat of a different drummer"? Where is this likely to lead? The following is an introduction to a paper, published by IDATE, from J. Scott Marcus, a Senior Consultant for WIK-Consult GmbH: "...What has radically changed is telecoms regulatory practice in the United States. The U.S., in a long series of regulatory decisions, has largely abandoned its long-standing regulatory principles and moved in an entirely new direction." more

Old New Telco Thinking

Ahh, so the telecom incumbents have come up with a "new" idea for the Internet -- usage-based pricing. That's right, more usage (for things like VOIP and video especially) means more costs to operate the network, so users should pay by the bit, or some similar metric. It's all so logical! But wait a minute. I thought what sparked the consumer Internet revolution was the fact that ISPs didn't charge by the minute, but offered flat-rate monthly fees. And what catalyzed the boom in cellular usage here in the US was the shift from heavily usage-based pricing to the largely flat rates we see today... more

U.S. VoIP and Broadband Policy: Today's Debate is Off the Mark!

Despite rather rapid growth in broadband access, the U.S. is falling further and further behind other countries -- we're now ranked #16 in the world. What's slowing the U.S. down? Two threads dominate U.S. broadband policy debate today. The first focuses on traditional telecom regulation -- reciprocal compensation, universal service, e911, and CALEA (wiretap capabilities). The second focuses on "Internet freedoms," i.e., guarantees that your broadband access provider won't block or inhibit specific applications like VoIP. more

The Search for Net Neutrality

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, freely available version) examines the growing trend toward a two-tiered Internet, which upends the longstanding principle of network neutrality under which ISPs treat all data equally. I argue that the network neutrality principle has served ISPs, Internet companies, and Internet users well. It has enabled ISPs to plausibly argue that they function much like common carriers and that they should therefore be exempt from liability for the content that passes through their systems. ...Notwithstanding its benefits, in recent months ISPs have begun to chip away at the principle. more

Flushing the 'Net Down the Tubes

Doc Searls has written a brilliant piece framing the battle for the 'Net at Linux Journal. The piece is long, but if you take the time to read just one essay on the 'Net and the politics surround it this year, read this one. If you're involved in public policy, it's especially important that you take the time to understand what's at stake here. One of Doc's main points: we haven't framed the conversation correctly and our poor choice of words makes the argument seem overly technical and arcane when it's really about freedom, markets, and innovation. more

Vint Cerf Speaking Out on Internet Neutrality

In a U.S. congress hearing held yesterday November 9th, significant focus was projected on "network neutrality" and a new telecommunications bill affecting the Internet. "This bill could fundamentally alter the fabulously successful end-to-end Internet," says Alan Davidson in the post on Google blog. Vint Cerf was not able to testify because of the Presidential Medal of Freedom award ceremony at the White House, but submitted the following letter to the hearing... more

The Great Internet Transformation? A First Stab

Is it just a coincidence that some of the leading Internet-based application companies are pushing aggressively into network connectivity at exactly the same time the major telephone companies are pushing into content? Or are we witnessing the end of the Internet as we know it? Think back to the online world fifteen years ago. There was AOL, there was Compuserve, there was Prodigy, and there was Apple's eWorld. Sure, there were researchers and students posting to Usenet newsgroups and navigating through Gopher sites, but the Internet was a sideshow for individuals and business users. ...the online world of those days was fragmented and small. Every online service was an island. Are we going back to those days? more

Monetizing the Internet

What would duopoly providers of internet access really like to have? They'd really like to be paid for providing non-commodity services. They'd really like to be rewarded for running the network, top to bottom. "But that's not possible," you say. No provider can tell one packet from another. Providers can only block the ports used by applications they don't like, and that's a clumsy, unwinnable arms race. The applications can always switch to common and useful ports, and no provider wants to alienate its subscriber base. But what if providers could inspect the contents of packets, without using too much computational power, and discriminate among applications? "Naah," you say. "They can't possibly do that."... more

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