Policy & Regulation

Policy & Regulation / Featured Blogs

Canadians Aren't Buying Into Net Neutrality

The Tyee, an independent on-line magazine based in BC wrote a story about net neutrality more than a year ago, noting that most Canadians are sleeping through the debate. They followed up again last week. Despite what is called a "perfect storm of events that may crystallize the issue for consumers, businesses, politicians, and regulators," there hasn't been an overwhelming outcry, despite extensive press coverage of the most recent network activities. There are a number of voices who present a conspiracy theory on traffic shaping in Canada... more

Retrograde Inversion of Telecommunications Policy

Going backwards upside down. That's what we're doing with telecommunications policy in the U.S. The Comcast affair should prompt a re-examination of many decisions the FCC, Congress, and the courts have made over the last few years. When the FCC reports on its reactions to Comcast's activities, the right response will be "You're asking the wrong question." "What is reasonable network management" isn't the question we should be asking... more

Overloading the Internet? Recent Media Reports Based on Dangerous Misinformation

The London Times article (and a similar one in the Guardian) are based on dangerous misinformation. The net isn't slowing down, and nearly no technical experts believe major "overload" problems likely on the backhaul, core, or decent local loop... Net traffic per user, as documented by Odlyzko and Cisco, has been growing at about 35-40% the last five years, and that growth rate is flat and possibly down the last two years. The net has been able to handle the increase without price increases, much less overload, because the primary and rate limiting equipment (switches, routers, WDM, etc.) have simultaneously been going down at a similar 35-40%. Moore's Law is bringing costs down and capacity up at a remarkable rate. more

Who Makes the Any Apps Any Handset Call?

The Wall Street Journal today reported that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to reject a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by Skype that would establish a wireless Carterfone policy, i.e., that wireless carriers must allow subscribers to use any compatible handset to access any application, content or software. Chairman Martin has confidence that the marketplace solutions obviate any necessary FCC intervention. Such optimism must derive in part from the apparently newfound willingness of one major wireless carrier, Verizon, to support aspects of open access. Perhaps Chairman Martin has confidence in the marketplace based on the magnanimous offer of most wireless carriers to pro-rate their early termination penalties by $5 a month. But here's the rub... more

F2C: My Opening Remarks

Here are my opening remarks at F2C: Freedom to Connect yesterday: "I am honored to be among so many remarkable people. We have to be remarkable people, because we have a hell of a job to do. The Internet has been given to us. It is a miraculous gift, and a boon to our lives... at least in part because it accidentally matured outside the purview of profit and loss. Now the money has arrived. If you want to see what happens when the money arrives, look at Nigeria or Venezuela or Russia or Iraq..." more

Gaping Hole in Models for Using Spectrum Efficiently

In February, the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis published three studies (1, 2, 3) on spectrum licensing and spectrum utilization. Thanks to Nick Ruark for pointing them out... Reading on I was struck by a gaping hole in their assumptions. more

Google and the White Spaces

The white spaces proceeding is the next big opportunity for experiments in alternative ways of providing wireless highspeed internet access... A key advantage of unlicensed spectrum is that experiments in new technology can be carried out without asking the permission of spectrum licensees. To date, we have made very little spectrum available for unlicensed use and experimentation. The FCC has the discretion to decide whether the digital television "white spaces" may be used on an unlicensed basis... more

Google's Gigabit Gambit

Want a gig (1000 megabits per second) of Internet access bandwidth? Google says you could have it by the end of next year "from Manhattan to rural North Dakota (sic, I think they meant Vermont)" if their proposal to the FCC is accepted forthwith according to CNET's newsblog. Not only a gig but a mobile gig, accessible by cellphone or roaming computer -- no fiber required. Sound too good to be true? -- it isn't, IMHO! Engineering is not the problem... more

700 MHz Auction Winners: Why Block C Matters

Today the FCC announced the winners of the 700 MHz auction -- and you can see from pp. 62-63 of this document that Verizon won Block C. (Block C was set up in two nationwide paired blocks of 11 MHz each, which were auctioned off in very large geographic areas -- 12 licenses, each covering a "Regional Economic Area Grouping". Verizon won seven of the twelve licenses, covering all of the US except Alaska, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.) Why does this matter? more

Broadband Access: What Should We Regulate?

Network Neutrality is a hot topic in the US. The FCC held hearings in my neighborhood recently (while I was in Asia). Now I see Professor Susan Crawford will be testifying next Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Net Neutrality and the First Amendment." I look forward to her remarks, but I worry that the whole discussion will be focused on "IP Pipes," that is connectivity at network layer 3. This distracts us from the fundamental problem... more