Companies, lawmakers tell US FCC to dump net neutrality

A group of 44 companies says net neutrality rules would hurt the Internet

As the U.S. Federal Communications Commission moves toward developing formal net neutrality rules, some U.S. lawmakers and telecom-related companies have told the agency that new regulations will cause more problems than they're worth.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced last month that he would seek to develop formal rules prohibiting Internet service providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content and applications. On Oct. 22, the commission is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking for net neutrality rules, the first step toward developing those regulations.

But 44 companies sent a letter, dated Wednesday, to the FCC saying new regulations could hinder the development of the Internet.

"Until now, the innovators who are building the Internet and creating the advancements in telemedicine, education and the vast array of other online products and services have done so in an environment driven by competition and innovation," said the letter, signed by Cisco Systems, Alcatel-Lucent, Corning, Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia. "We believe government's role in the Internet should be to support investment, jobs and new technologies, especially if they increase the opportunity for all Americans to connect online."

Instead, new net neutrality rules could prohibit broadband providers from offering advanced and well-managed networks, the companies said.

"Public policy should encourage more investment to expand access to the Internet, whether it is access through a cell phone, a laptop, a PC or any new device that we have yet to imagine," the letter said. "If the FCC takes a prescriptive approach to new regulations, then it could place itself in the position of being the final arbiter of what products and services will be allowed on the Internet."

A day earlier, a group of 18 Republican U.S. senators also sent a letter to Genachowski raising concerns about net neutrality regulations. Broadband is growing while other segments of the U.S. economy are struggling, and there have been only a couple of examples of broadband providers blocking or slowing Web content, said the letter, spearheaded by Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican.

"When the government picks winners and losers in the marketplace, the incentive to invest disappears," the letter said. "We fear that the proposals you announced ... will be counterproductive and risk harming the great advancements in broadband speed and deployment that we have witnessed in recent years and will limit the freedom of the Internet."

Net neutrality backers say new rules are necessary to protect the open nature of the Internet. The FCC in 2005 relaxed rules requiring network providers to share their networks with competitors and without a net neutrality rule, powerful, large broadband providers could shut out Web sites or applications, net neutrality advocates say.

Net neutrality rules would protect innovators and small businesses that want equal access to broadband networks from large companies that can enter into deals with network providers, said Art Brodsky, communications director for Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy group.

Since 2005, the FCC has enforced a set of net neutrality principles on a case-by-case basis, but it has never made formal regulations. Broadband provider Comcast filed a lawsuit challenging the FCC's authority to enforce the principles after the agency ruled in August 2008 that Comcast had to stop slowing peer-to-peer traffic in the name of network management.

Broadband providers and others opposed to net neutrality are engaged in a coordinated effort to stop the FCC effort in its tracks, Brodsky said. Arguments that net neutrality rules will stop telecom investments in networks are "nonsense and insulting," he said. "All [some] industries do is threaten and bully. It's like they're saying, 'If we don't get what you want, then you're not going to get your network.'"

Telecom providers operated under network neutrality-like rules for more than 70 years and investment continued, Brodsky said.

Telecom providers and their allies "have all the resources, Democrats and Republicans, that they've traditionally called upon, and it will obviously be incumbent on those of us who want a free and open and nondiscriminatory Internet to make the case," he added.

Tags net neutralityfcc

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service

24 Comments

Anonymous

1

What crap

"Until now, the innovators who are building the Internet ... have done so in an environment driven by competition and innovation,"

B.S. Net Neutrality is about network providers hindering or favoring content as it travels from the internet to their customers or back. There IS NO competition with network providers; they're utilities, and by definition have little or no competition.

These companies probably think that power companies should be able to charge whatever rates they want, even though their customers don't have the ability to switch providers.

Anonymous

2

The inventor of the world wide web disagrees

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1036_3-6075472.html

But what would he know?

Anonymous

3

Total crap

If Comcast and others have their way Netflix streaming will be next will be next to be "managed".

Anonymous

4

innovation

I mistrust the word innovation. Has Comcast actually ever invented anything that advanced the useful arts and sciences?

Anonymous

5

The net is owned by us

We have paid billions for inferstructure and taxes to help pave the way. It is now time to get to use what we paid for.

The next new thing will appear as another unneed or unwanted traffic over the internet that will be killed by those wanting to collect tolls on our property that we let other manage. They want it dead just as much Music wants you to only by a CD again again and again for each new device you buy.

Comcast does not want to upgrade their networks to meet the needed of the customers... just themselves (fancast).

Hell, Comcast is already scaling back product without price decrease to match, to FORCE customers to high priced digital service. This after their ads staying how with cable "we will protect you".

It is time that corportations that get to large enough size should be converted to non-profit. This way they have only one job, protect there customers not their owners.

Anonymous

6

Picking a convenient catch phrase...

"Instead, new net neutrality rules could prohibit broadband providers from offering advanced and well-managed networks, the companies said."

Managing a network well has nothing to do with net neutrality.

An advanced network is what net neutrality is after. Ie. more high speed fibre, less DPI's.

Anonymous

7

Time for some changes

Since the big providers don't want to be on the hook for the backbone, perhaps they need to step out of the picture and concentrate on provisioning the head end.

Honestly the backbone should operate as a utility rather then be at the mercy of a handful of end to end providers.

Anonymous

8

blocking or slowing Web content and applications (bandwidth throttling) is NOT innovation in my dictionary

Anonymous

9

Industry Shills - Ugh!

In my opinion, compelling IP-based content and services are best created where there is neither favoritism nor exclusion of sites or services. Keeping carriage separate from content keeps us safe from exploitation.

Not having Net Neutrality gives up end user's equal access to all sites and services. There will be gatekeepers everywhere, and Information Superhighway Robbery.

The equipment companies and network providers and common carriers did not invent the Internet any more than Al Gore did.

I've had enough of "Unleashing the power of our Entrepreneurs!" Net Neutrality is a leash to keep the dogs of greed at bay.

Anonymous

10

Both sides.

I think they need to be very careful with their laws. I can imagine a few situations where the laws could make some "good" network practices impossible.

Net neutrality laws need to address the situation where a provider or backbone stops or impedes particular traffic. i.e. choke skype because its a competitor to their POTS or break P2P because it can saturate a link above what somebody thinks is fair use. There was talk a while back about charging google because they were using more bandwith than anybody else.

They need to be careful that they don't:
1) Stop a provider from being able to carve up their network into separate bits. i.e. For years we've been able to buy garanteed back haul from the carrier. i.e. say a little 1M service. Sometimes the carrier provides this as a share of a bigger service. Often this allowed "bursting" to consume bandwidth that other clients weren't using. If the other clients were using their full share of the service then we wouldn't be able to burst.

In the network world we seem to be moving to a model where everything is IP and the provider might want to sell a guarantee of say 20% of an IP link to Fred. The 20% might not be always used so they let there general user base use this available bandwidth to get better service but then when Fred decides to do whatever he does then it "impacts" the other user base. i.e. the net neutrality laws might stop the ISP and Fred doing this because it "impacts" other users even if it is a method that has been used by carriers to give good quality, reasonable price links for years (i.e. small ISPs don't need to run or buy their own fibre).

2) Our upstream ISPs can block traffic to and from our address space at various points if necessary. This would be most useful if we were weathering a DoS attack. We could say turn off all traffic from outside the country. This allows us to limit the size of the attack while letting the geographic region that contains most of our client's clients access their service.. I can imagine net neutrality laws saying they couldn't bias traffic like that.

From a moral point of view there is a big difference between blocking traffic to survive a DoS or selling a guaranteed portion of a network and screwing over competition or innovative protocols. From a technical point of view there is very little difference. Laws will operate in the technical space.

Anonymous

11

Most of the opponents are cable/telecommunications companies

They claim that it will hurt innovation, but what they mean is that it will hurt corporate innovation. Right now one reason why the internet is so successful is simply because people are no longer subject to the mercy of a company to find information. You can find whatever information you please without penalty.
I do not trust these telecommunications companies who want to defeat "net neutrality" simply because we have seen what these companies of done with other technologies such as the phone and cable. We can only view certain content on cable based on the rates we pay, and our information is only provided based on what the cable company chooses. And telecommunications, remember "Ma Bell" you could only take the calling rates based on what Ma Bell chose. The internet was in a way a workaround in that part back in the 70s and 80s.
How can one trust a corporation anyway, when the economy is up we are told we have to pay higher prices due to supply and demand, but when the market is down they tell us we have to pay higher prices in order to continue the quality of service we enjoy. Will prices ever really go down or remain flat?

Anonymous

12

Hinder development of the internet as a *business model*

They're playing with words. Neutrality will not hinder development of the internet, it will just <strong>hinder development of it as a business model</strong> by preventing commercial concerns from hogging the bandwidth for their product-hawking activities. Sorry guys, that ain't what the internet is for. Period.

Anonymous

13

Which GOP have been lobbied?

List the GOP who have been lobbied so we can write to their constituent media that they have been bought off.

Anonymous

14

"Network neutrality" is a corporate agenda

The article above stats that the rules would "[prohibit] Internet service providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content and applications." True, but no one is doing that now and it is not a problem. What WOULD be a problem about the rules is that they would also prevent ISPs from ACCELERATING applications, even if it's necessary to make them work. They would also prevent ISPs from reining in bandwidth hogs who blocked or slowed the same traffic. They'd raise the price of Internet service, lower the quality of that service, and force small, rural and competitive ISPs out of business.

So, why is there so much lobbying for them, especially by groups like Public Knowledge (mentioned above)? Look at the lobbying groups' funding. They are all funded, directly or indirectly, by Internet monopolist Google. Google wants the rules because buried in them are many provisions that would increase Google's profits and preserve its monopoly.

Anonymous

15

Doesn't make them bad guys

Cable companies are charged by the content providers for their content - that's why you pay more for premium channels. Phone rates are set they your state's utility commission. If you really want to worry about something, worry about the fact that Disney and ESPN want to apply the same pay-for-content model to the Internet as cable TV - Net Neutrallity doesn't forbid that. Think what that will do to the cost of your Internet connection.

Anonymous

16

Oh bullshit. If they can ACCELERATE an application they should be ACCELERATING all the applications. Explain again how Google and only Google would be the only one benefiting from a free and open and unfiltered internet to EVERYONE?

Corporate whore.

Anonymous

17

Good thing internet censorship has never been a problem.

"True, but no one is doing that now and it is not a problem"

Unless you live in China. Or Australia. Or Burma, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, or Vietnam. I would prefer if we kept the internet open to things the ruling party doesn't like.

Anonymous

18

Brett, is that you?

LOL!

Anonymous

19

Spearheaded by Sam Brownback"

MONEY: Isn't nice when those helping the company companies are those senators who get money from them...

Example -- "the letter is spearheaded by Senator Sam Brownback",

Opensecrets.org --- His second best donor in 2008 was -- drum-roll please --- AT&T, and in 2004, number 1 as SBC ---(IDT should have gave more, I guess)

Rank ↓ Contributor ↓ Total ↓ I
2 AT&T Inc $28,700

2006 1, 9 and 14th was as follows --
1 IDT Corp $19,250
9 AT&T Inc $13,500
14 Verizon $12,500
2004:
1 SBC (*Now AT&T) $20,000
2 IDT Corp $18,250
3 Sprint Corp $ 17,000
13 Verizon Communications $11,000

If there was real Internet competition, meaning that you could choose your broadband provider as well as your internet provider, Net Neutrality would be a moot point -- customers could just leave.

But Net Neutrality is a consequence of allowing vertical integration and the creation of a duopoly, where the players needs to be examined as they do not have the best interests of the customers or the country, but of their shareholders or personal wealth.

"When the government picks winners and losers in the marketplace, the incentive to invest disappears," ---

Excuse me but the government already picked the winners and losers when it removed line sharing and wholesale rates (UNE-P) and put thousands of small competitors out of business.

And the idea that net neutrality will harm investment? Let me be clear -- Verizon and AT&T are NOT the companies investing -- it is the customers who have been charged for fiber-based networks they never received as state laws were changed to give the companies more money to invest in the networks -- and they have been collecting this money since the 1990's. ---

We've documented this -- read our now --free ebook ---and included it as part of our broadband filings.

http://www.newnetworks.com/broadbandcommentsrelease.htm

And the money is being collected today in the form of price hikes ---
New York State Department of Public Service, June 2009

“We are always concerned about the impacts on ratepayers of any rate increase, especially in times of economic stress,” said Commission Chairman Garry Brown. “Nevertheless, there are certain increases in Verizon’s costs that have to be recognized. This is especially important given the magnitude of the company's capital investment program, including its massive deployment of fiber optics in New York. We encourage Verizon to make appropriate investments in New York, and these minor rate increases will allow those investments to continue.”

While the FCC will make noise with Net Neutrality, no one is discussing that customers have been and continue to fund the networks and that the phone companies should have already rewired 117 million homes as they collected over $300 billion and counting -- It is the reason we are 15th in broadbnad.

Do you think Sam Brownback ever called for an investigation of his 'sacred cow, AT&T as to who's funding U-Verse or why we're 15th? While we heard of change, it seems the only change is going to be how much funding these Congressmen got.

The Hardware vwndors? Well, who buys their equipment today? They were ambivilant at best about protecting competition because they wouldn't want to annoy their cash cows.

And be on the look out for astroturf and co-opted groups who put out statements but are really being funded through AT&T and Verizon...

Why do you think no one has said -- Hey, AT&T, you control 22 states -- why are you rolling out seriously inferior products over the old copper wiring when you promised to rewire most of the states with fiber? Why are you still collecting billions for network upgrades you never made?

And Verizon, didn't we pay for you to upgrade ALL of the state, not where you pick and choose? And weren't the networks we paid for open to ALL competition -- how did you get the FCC to close down competition so we're sitting here in 2010 with nothing to show for the billions you collected?

They were the caretakers of America's critical infrastructure, yet, no regulator has actually said - the Emperor has no clothes.--- Instead, the entire broadban policy is to NOT mention the incumbent's failure to deploy, the money collected or the harms caused by removing competition... instead, we talk about surface issues like Net neutrality, a consequence of no competition.

Bruce Kushnick,
New Networks Institute.
bruce@newnetworks.com

Anonymous

20

He is inventor of WWW, not Internet

Very smart, but he is the inventor of the WWW, not the Internet.

And, we are talking about innovation in the Internet.
WWW is JUST ONE application that is carried by the Internet.

Efficient operation of the network requires prioritizing some applications
over others. Just like if you had limited hospital resources, you would serve
a young child over an old person.

Of course, the FCC can and must decide which prioritization is good for the society
and which is not - which the current framework does on a case by case basis.
It does not mean you throw out the baby with the bath water.

Anonymous

21

BLOCKING TRAFFIC

For those of you who say they are not blocking traffic, I have seen our company's video totals plummet when one of these ISP's, especially Comcast and some mid-west company I haven't heard of (the name escapes me), blocks my videos and accelerates videos by a content company they have an investment in.

This happens time, and time again. Some are metering what you watch. If they can bring a HD picture to your televsion with no extra cost (thank you Cablevision), then they can deliver a significantly smaller picture to your computer at no extra cost. Don't let them hoodwink you. Fight this Net Neutrality BS or else you'll be sorry during your next video surfing or video game surfing experience.

Anonymous

22

Think about it

Net Neutrality merely prohibits the ISP from altering the service levels among content providers. for example, they cannot give you slower video download speed while providing faster speeds to their in-house video-on-demand. And they cannot provide faster speeds to some content provider who pays a premium for the faster service.

Google is far from a monopolist; there are multiple search engines available. Given that Google has been fighting with the IPSs for a while tells you that the ISPs are unlikely to give Google any performance advantage.

Broadband access should be a commodity, a connection to the internet with NO interference, NO arbitrary change in performance and NO preference given to any one content provider. A blank, wide-open pipe to whatever is out there. ISPs are, of course, allowed to manage the network load but that must be an open and transparent process; if there's overload, ALL users see some degradation and all Content Providers run a little slower.

RCharles

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