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Free Press’ FCC filing & Harold on Markey

Here is an extract from the summary of FreePress.net’s filing with the FCC protesting Comcast’s throttling of bittorrent, a clear violation of Net neutrality (and possibly of laws against impersonation, although that one seems like a stretch to my non-lawyerly mind):

Free Press focuses these comments on two topics: network discrimination and required disclosure.

Regarding network discrimination, Free Press et al. urges the FCC to declare that discriminatory tactics, such as those employed by Comcast, violate federal policies and will not be tolerated. First, we demonstrate that four relevant sources of law prohibit broadband discrimination: 1) The FCC Internet Policy Statement, 2) The Communications Act, 3) Precedent in a recent order and 4) The FCC orders eliminating ISP open access. Second, we refute the arguments advanced that discrimination is merely ‘reasonable network management.’

Arguments based on bandwidth, “delaying,” and anti-competitiveness are as dangerously wrong as they are irrelevant. Moreover, we show that Comcast’s actions are anticompetitive.

Regarding disclosure, Free Press et al. demonstrate that, while network providers must be required to disclose their network management practices, disclosure is not enough. First, network providers should be required to disclose their network management practices so that consumers, the tech community, software providers, and the FCC can respond accordingly.

Second, while we generally prefer a competitive market solution, which disclosure can often promote, disclosure alone will not result in pro-consumer or pro-innovation market outcomes here. The market is too concentrated for disclosure to discipline the market participants or empower consumers.

Third, network providers have repeatedly made a deal with the public and the FCC in merger reviews, sworn declarations, and FCC proceedings—the network providers were relieved of competition and in exchange promised not to discriminate, not merely to disclose their discrimination. Similarly, the FCC pledged it would ensure for consumers an open Internet, not mere disclosure, should the network providers break their vows. The rubber has now hit the road.

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Harold Feld explains Ed Markey’s Internet bill, and why he likes it even though it’s not as strong as it might be.

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One more item just crossed the ol’ digital desktop: J.H. Snider, a Shorenstein Fellow, is having a talk and dinner on Feb. 19 at 6pm on the current FCC auction as “a paradigmatic example of special interest politics and media failure.” It’s in Cambridge, and if you want to go, you have to rsvp to camille stevens by putting an underscore between her names and sending it to her @harvard.edu. In any case, you can read Snider’s “The Art of Spectrum Lobbying: America’s $480 Billion Spectrum Giveaway, How it Happened, and How to Prevent it from Recurring” here.

4 Responses to “Free Press’ FCC filing & Harold on Markey”

  1. Futile comment: referring people to more critical posts

  2. Sorry Seth. Richard comes at this from an engineering perspective He ignores the economic and public policy dynamics that constrain design. In this regard he is as hopeless a curmudgeon without tolerance for a nuanced argument as David is a head in the clouds Net utopian.

    My comment sized sound-bite on this one is that “structural separation” should be mandated and enforced to permit market forces to assure the quality of service and throughput that both sides consider to be of paramount importance.

    Okay. I can’t resist one more mean swipe at Richard… he cleverly inserts “telemedicine” into the list of “real-time internet applications” with a high quality of service requirement. To that I say, “Let them lease circuits!” We have plenty of dark fiber in the ground and available bandwidth in the air for critical off-net applications. The idea that everything should run in the same pipes is comparable to the idea that we should save utility costs by distributing public water supplies through the sewers.

  3. But “structural separation” wouldn’t have changed anything in the Comcast case, which is about P2P bandwidth-hogging. Nor would a price-nondiscrimination law have changed anything here, because again, that doesn’t address overloading upload capacity. People are constantly being fed these red herrings.

  4. Good points. Clearly cable and telecom services need to be regulated in concert with each other.


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