Policy & Regulation

Policy & Regulation / Most Commented

CircleID's Top 10 Posts of 2007

Here is a list of the most viewed news and blog postings that were featured on CircleID in 2007. Best wishes for 2008. more

FCC Chairman Martin a Tireless Consumer Advocate - Who Knew?

In a counter-intuitive move for a Republican free marketeer, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has sought to impose substantial additional regulations on cable television. Chairman Martin ostensibly can retain his credentials by claiming that a 1984 law requires the FCC to act when cable television systems serve 70% or more of the U.S. population and 70% who can subscribe do so. more

Unbridled Discretion and Prior Restraint: The Verizon and Comcast Stories

Let's say that providing communications infrastructure is an inherent function of a state. Most people think of the internet as a telephone system, and most people think the telephone companies aren't supposed to choose which calls will go through based on their content. People think that because they think internet access, like telephone access, is a utility -- like electricity conduit, water pipes, etc. -- that has something to do with the government, and the government isn't supposed to discriminate. more

Financial Times on Telecoms Separation

I've written that a Network Neutrality law needs a Network Management Exception, and I've laid out how this exception is likely to become a giant vacuum-cleaner-fish loophole. The way out is the separation of infrastructure from service, so infrastructure operators can have no financial interests in the services they carry, hence no motive to discriminate in anti-competitive ways. Now today's Financial Times has an editorial on the EC telecom regulator, Viviane Reding's proposal to beef up national telecom regulatory authority within European countries and create a Europe-wide so-called super-regulator. more

Europe's Telecommunications Infrastructure Dramatically Shaken Up

The European Commission has adopted a raft of proposals that will see Europe's telecommunications infrastructure dramatically shaken up. At the heart of the proposals, which represent the biggest change in telecommunications regulation in five years, is the Commission's desire to see the European telecommunications market made into a more level playing field. The existing framework was set in place by the Commission in 2002. more

Making the Wireless World More Web-Friendly

Your wireless carrier (in the U.S., probably AT&T or Verizon Wireless) has a lot of control over the handset you can use and the applications that can run on that device. In fact, wireless carriers routinely ask for (and get) an enormous slice of the revenue from applications that work on their networks, and they force handset manufacturers to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to be allowed to sell devices that can connect to these networks... This has had bad effects on the ecosystem of the wireless world. more

How the Internet On Cable Became the Internet As Cable

When Rogers Communications began promoting its Rogers@Home high-speed Internet service nearly a decade ago, the company branded it "the Internet on Cable." Years later, their service, as well as those of their competitors, is gradually morphing into "the Internet as Cable" as broadcasters, Internet service providers, and cultural groups steadily move toward the delivery of content online that bears a striking resemblance to the conventional cable model. more

A Packet of Lies

I've been reading the kerfuffle around Comcast's blocking of various random network protocols with interest. Whilst I remain convinced that blanket "network neutrality" legislation remains just a form of digital gripe water (cures colic for cybernauts), there's clearly a problem. As I previously alluded there's a definite consumer protection issue over what you buy when it says 'Internet' on the tin. So here's tuppence worth of additional input... more

Why a Net Neutrality Law is Not Enough

Once we decide that Network Neutrality is a good thing to (re)enshrine in law, then we need to ask how to do that effectively. One way would be to pass a law saying, "Thou shalt not discriminate." That's the current approach. But network operators will say that they must manage their network, and if, in the course of network management, they were to disadvantage some source, destination, application, service or content, they might be accused of violating the law. So any Network Neutrality law must have a Network Management Exception... more

What Did the Bush Admin Promise the Telco's in Early 2001?

I have a hypothesis: The Bush administration came to power in December 2000. American telcos were on the precipice about to go into Free fall. We have seen how Bush politicized the Justice Department and are much more aware thanks to John Dean's Broken Government and Charlie Savage's Take Over of the intense desire to aggregate executive power to feed the Addingtons belief in the Unitary Executive. We now know that Cheney was meeting with the energy industry in early 2001 promising them whatever they wanted. We may begin to ask what the domestic telecoms industry was being promised? more

Europe Weighing Broadband Price Regulation

The gap between broadband haves and have nots in the European Union has widened during the past year, a trend that might warrant price regulation similar to that imposed on the market for mobile roaming charges earlier this year, the European Commission said Monday. more

Rent vs. Buy: The Driver of Economics

We the people like to own stuff and not pay rent to use it (BTW, rent includes taxes but that's another story). They the oligarchs like to own the stuff and charge us rent to use it. The rise of a middle class has historically meant the rise of a property-owning class. The underclass pays exorbitant rents. The telecommunications world -- or at least the US part of it -- is a battle of rent vs. buy. Economics says that ownership or rentership is all based on access to capital. Certainly capital is a huge part of the equation -- can you spell "home loan"?; but it's not the whole story... more

P2P: Boon, Boondoggle, or Bandwidth Hog? (The Dark Side)

Yesterday's post explained how peer-to-peer (P2P) applications use the processing power, bandwidth, and storage capacity of participants in a service rather than centralized resources. This makes such applications generally less subject to catastrophic failure, much less subject to running out of resources (since each new user brings new capacity as well as new demand), and much cheaper FOR THE PROVIDER of the application in terms of hardware and bandwidth required. It's the FOR THE PROVIDER part that's the rub. Let's consider the case of BBC's iPlayer service... more

CALEA Roundup: 2005-2007

The wrangling around the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) is one of those issues that creeps inexorably forward and is hard to follow unless you're really focusing. So here is a quick, if longish, overview: CALEA is a 1994 statute that requires telephone companies to design their services so that they are easily tappable by law enforcement in need of "call-identifying information." Back in August 2005, following a request from the Dept. of Justice, the Commission moved swiftly to impose CALEA obligations on providers of broadband access services and "interconnected VoIP" services... more

ARIN Statement on the Future of Addressing Policy

ARIN has just released a statement on the future of addressing policy. Specifically addressing the future of IPv4 addressing. What ARIN does is to emphasize the current policies and say they will be enforced even stronger than today if needed. I.e. there is no announcement of a change in policy. more