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Ed Richards of Ofcom on Net Neutrality

Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, was at Columbia today... NN (Net Neutrality) debate does give us insight into importance of disclosure to consumers -- consumers should be able to switch providers, and they should know which ISPs are making prioritization decisions. This should be an obligation of suppliers to communicate this information to consumers. In particular, he says that Ofcom is actively exploring whether network operators whose traffic shaping activities change materially should have to tell consumers -- and if these changes are significant consumers should be allowed to break their contracts with the provider without penalty... more

Whose Network is it Anyway?

In reading a Q&A with Verizon's Brian Whitten I found this striking Q and A: "Q. With a fiber connection being symmetric, many fiber providers such as Paxio are providing symmetric connections such as 5Mbit, 10Mbit, 30Mbit. Why is Verizon keeping this arbitrary asymmetric limit with Fiber? A. ...Indeed, our FTTP network can easily support a symmetric data service. As market dynamics change, we would re-assess the benefit to our customers of introducing a class of symmetric data services." My reaction is "No thank you, I'd rather do it myself". To understand my reaction you need to recognize the difference between wanting to build my own bridge across a stream and asking why I'm not allowed to cross it myself using my own boat. more

Vint Cerf, Dave Farber Debate Net Neutrality

Two Internet pioneers, Vint Cerf and Dave Farber, debated on the issue of proposed Net neutrality regulations supported by companies like Google and Amazon.com. The pair of technologists appeared to agree on at least one thing: Network operators, in general, shouldn't be allowed to interfere with Net users' activities. Where they disagreed was on the role that Congress and federal regulators should play in the ongoing debate over so-called Net neutrality, the idea that network operators must generally give equal treatment to all content that travels over their pipes.

Related Links:
The Great Debate: Net Neutrality (includes audio recording) more

Google Warns With Anti-Trust Complaints for Net Neutrality

Google warns it will not hesitate to file anti-trust complaints in the United States if high-speed Internet providers abuse the market power they could receive from U.S. legislators... If the legislators ... insist on neutrality, we will be happy. If they do not put it in, we will be less happy but then we will have to wait and see whether or not there actually is any abuse," Vint Cerf, a Google vice-president and one of the pioneers of the Internet, told a news conference in Bulgaria. more

Americans Continue Buying Broadband at Record Pace

Americans continued to sign up for broadband -- both cable and DSL -- at record rates in the first quarter, according to a report from the Leichtman Research Group.

A total of 3.06 million net additional subscribers signed up for broadband in the quarter, bringing the total of high-speed Web subscribers to nearly 46 million. Nearly 25.8 million subscribers have cable, while DSL is used by about 20.2 million subscribers. more

Net Neutrality Further Complicated by Opposition from Hardware Firms

The political debate in Washington over the concept known as Net neutrality just became a lot more complicated. Some of the largest hardware makers in the world, including 3M, Cisco, Corning and Qualcomm, sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday firmly opposing new laws mandating Net neutrality -- the concept that broadband providers must never favor some Web sites or Internet services over others. more

If It's Not Neutral It's Not Internet

The success of a proposal by AT&T and Verizon to end net neutrality does not threaten the Internet. The broadband customers of AT&T and Verizon will just no longer have access to the Internet. The development appropriately creates alarm among AT&T and Verizon's customers, but the combined customer bases of these companies represent less than 2% of the billion or so users of the Internet. The fact that access to the Internet requires net neutrality does not depend on laws passed by the US Congress or enforced by the FCC. Neutrality arises as a technical and business imperative facilitating the interconnection 250,000 independent networks that choose to participate in the Internet. more

Net Neutrality Again!

I had hoped to take a longer break from the theme of Net Neutrality, but a piece on Om Malik's blog by Daniel Berninger seems to be screaming for a reply. Berninger hails from Tier 1 Research; his credentials show a close association with Jeff Pulver's Free World Dialup, and hence a piece that is sympathetic to the 'Save the Internet' movement. His legalistically styled piece attempts to suggest that, in the absence of conformance to network neutrality principles, telephone companies will lose their common carrier status and therefore should lose their access to low cost rights-of-way. Good try, Dan... more

Preserving "Rational Competition"?

In What's Driving the Next Telecom Law, David Isenberg writes about the incumbents desire to preserve "Rational Competition"... Rational competition is the idea that corporations, knowing their own costs, and their competition's pricing, will price their products to maximize profits. It is tied up in the language of predatory pricing. Some economists argue that predatory pricing is rare, because it is, in fact, irrational... The flaw in the incumbent's argument is twofold... more

How to Increase Broadband Competition

Susan Crawford, seeking to learn from Korea and Japan, identifies three routes towards broadband competition... Facilities based competition: Still waiting for that mythical third wire, or perhaps some unused, unlicensed TV spectrum, but not holding my breath. (Broadband over powerline? It is such an encumbered technology that it is its own barrier to entry.) Wholesale access: Been there, tried that, but the Bells wouldn't unbundled elements... more

Smaller Cable Companies Take Aim at Network Neutrality

Young, wealthy Internet companies like Google shouldn't expect to get "special favors" from network operators that have sunk billions of dollars into fiber investments, the head of a smaller cable company said Monday...

"I think what the phone industry's saying and what we're saying is we've made an investment, and I don't think the government should be coming and telling us how we can work that infrastructure, simple as that," Commisso said during a panel discussion about issues faced by companies like his, adding, "Why don't they go and tell the oil companies what they should charge for their damn gas?" more

Comparative Broadband Ideas

The primary reason that Japan and Korea do so much better than the U.S. on any measurement of broadband (availability, penetration, price, speed) is that there is fierce competition in the market for broadband internet access in these countries. ...How do you increase competition in the U.S. for broadband access? Right now, we have giants fighting with each other -- cable and telephone companies. Small numbers of these companies control 80%-90% of the market for broadband access... more

Net Neutrality Bill Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

After failing last week to add a provision to a telecommunications reform bill, four Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday introduced a free-standing bill aimed at preventing broadband carriers from discriminating against competing Web content or services.

The bill, sponsored by Representatives Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jay Inslee of Washington state, Anna Eshoo of California and Rick Boucher of Virginia, would create a net neutrality law banning phone and cable companies from charging Web sites for faster data transmission, or blocking their online competitors' content and services. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.  more

Network Neutrality Upsetting Worldviews?

With everyone talking about network neutrality, with all the heat, it didn't feel good to have to be in NY today and miss the goings-on in Washington. I watched part of the late afternoon markup session online, with Rep. Barton sounding awfully effective as he marched steadily through Title III -- quickly taking votes, soothing congress people who were suggesting soon-to-be-rejected amendments, and sounding confident. The only substantive work I heard was the rejection of an amendment that would have left in place all state laws that regulate the subjects of the bill -- like mini wireless networks. But the real news had already happened... more

Net Neutrality Provision Rejected

Internet companies and consumer groups calling for a new U.S. law that would prohibit broadband providers from blocking or degrading some connections lost a major battle this week when a U.S. House of Representatives committee voted down such a provision.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, during debate on a telecommunications reform bill, rejected an amendment that would write so-called net neutrality provisions into U.S. law. Backers of a net neutrality law want Congress to prohibit U.S. broadband providers from blocking or slowing their customers' connections to Web sites or services that compete with services offered by the providers. more