Category Archives: Internet Policy

Finally, the FCC has made the much anticipated decision on Net Neutrality. The full text of its orders has been released Read the final document here. The ruling is mainly directed at wired Internet services and is a bit lenient on wireless service providers. It will require broadband service providers to make their network management practices transparent. No blocking and no discrimination of lawful sites, services or application on the wired portion of the Net, while the wireless broadband service providers are not required to comply with the no discrimination principle, and partly comply with the no blocking principle. So wireless broadband service providers can slow down or speed up sites, and can block applications as long as they can justify that the blocked application do not compete with the video and telephony service they provide.

It seems that the controversy surrounding the Google and Verizon proposal on managing Internet traffic has re-ignited the debate on Net Neutrality. The proposal claims to be in favor of open Internet, but with some exceptions like wireless services! It makes you wonder, isn’t wireless the future of the Internet? “GoRizon” have also suggested some on line services to be excluded from Net Neutrality principles, like health care monitoring, “advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options.” With so much uncertainty as to which form of Internet traffic regulation would benefit society at large, it might help to brain storm on certain scenarios which could happen if we go ahead with one or other form of regulation.Sarah Kessler has compiled 7 such scenarios“Net Neutrality: 7 Worst Case Scenarios”.

Net Neutrality wars…”If cable and the Bells can’t negotiate special deals, neither can Google.” opponents of Net neutrality.

Are all  packets created equal? It is more like asking is the Internet neutral by design? The answer is no. It seems to favor text than voice, for instance. The more you hear this debate on Net neutrality, it is easy to realize that it is a battle between two giants – Cable companies(especially AT&T, Comcast) and Content providers (particularly Google). After the Federal Courts decided unanimously that the FCC doesn’t have the authority to tell Comcast on how to manage its network, the FCC has been trying hard to find a legal loophole which gives it the authority to regulate the Internet. Many proponents suggested the FCC reclassify the broadband Internet into the telecommunications services rather than the previous Information services, which is outside FCC’s regulatory authority. But the FCC seems to have decided to take a ‘third way’ without reclassifying broadband Internet. Time will decide whether this new path will be challenged in courts too.

What makes Net neutrality interesting is it is a partisan issue, the Democrats are pushing the FCC to take whatever means available to it legally to preserve the openness of the Internet, while the Republicans, on the other hand are threatening it with ‘see you in court’ remarks. But here is an addition to the debate, a claim made by a Republican representative – if the Cable companies are not allowed to make deals with their clients for a preferential treatment of their traffic based on price, then the Content providers(read as Google) should not be allowed to discriminate among content…like Google’s ranking of search results (that is not neutral ;)).  Read more.

I dug a bit more today and found some interesting nuggets in Microsoft’s comments about the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules.

The software giant, long a proponent of open Internet policies, isn’t as keen on some portions of a proposed rule by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that would restrict any discrimination of Web traffic or applications by broadband access providers such as Comcast, AT&Tand Verizon. more