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FCC to announce a “third way”

The FCC has said it’s going to announce on Thursday a “third way” to regulate the broadband access providers to make sure that they leave the Net open and neutral. The first two ways are (1) to give up on protecting the Internet, or (2) to reclassify the Net as a communications network that counts as a common carrier (i.e., it has to let all bits go through equally, regardless of the app, origin, content, etc.).

The Washington Post headline of the AP story unfortunately reads “FCC to impose some new regulations on broadband,” thus reversing the actual meaning, which is expressed in the lead sentence: “Federal regulators plan to impose additional rules on broadband providers.” Big, big difference.

Anyway, this is a happier day than two days ago. For how happy, we’ll have to wait until Thursday’s announcement…

8 Responses to “FCC to announce a “third way””

  1. Yay for Google! Let us celebrate how Google is not to be at the mercy of the telecos! It should be a very happy day for Google!

    And I will be astounded if any of the “little people” get anything :-(.

  2. Unintended Consequences will abound in this sort of thing. When your “neutral” service gets worse because QOS suddenly became illegal, for instance….

  3. It’s more about what we won’t have taken away, Seth.

    So, James, you are saying that the access providers are already violating Net Neutrality? Interesting.

  4. David, what do you mean “we”? That’s sort of my point. I actually agree with Google as a telecom policy matter, but Google and me is NOT “we”. Anyway, my prediction of yesterday is testable – how’d I do? (by which I mean, how do the sections of today’s announcement work out for those of “we” who aren’t Google?)

    James, I really doubt QoS is going to be illegal, it’s just a political football. And of course QoS is not “neutral”, for heaven’s sake, that’s by definition.

  5. Seth, you’re the one who keeps bringing in Google! “We” for me does not mean large companies out for profit above all else. I.e., it does not mean Google, although I’m, in favor of Google and every other company in the world (including the access providers, of course) making money over and via the Net. The “we” in my use of it here is, roughly, the rest of us: ordinary users who want to use the Net in a widely diverse set of ways, and who don’t want someone else deciding what the Web is “really” for.

    Vague? Yeah.

  6. > Seth, you’re the one who keeps bringing in Google!

    Right – because that’s who these provisions are for. We-not-Google are in exactly the same place as before. No? Do you disagree?

    Third time – I made a prediction on May 5. The prediction is testable (roughly). As far as I can make out, I was correct.

    I should make clear I think the FCC action was fine. But it was for “large companies out for profit”, not “the rest of us”, that’s just what it was. How many of “the rest of us” deal in capacity-straining amounts of bandwidth?

  7. No, we’re not in the same place we were before. Before, the courts had ruled that the FCC does not have authority to require non-discrimination. Now the FCC will again have authority. So, we’re only in the same position if you think the Comcast decision made no difference. (Or, you’re defining “before” as “before” that decision.)

    If you’re asking why I think a Net Neutrality policy matters to those of us who are not Google, then I’ll end up saying the things you’ve heard from me before. In fact: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/2006/04/22/why-net-neutrality-matters/

    Oh, hell, here it is anyway: It matters to We-not-Google because without an enforceable NN policy, access providers will be tempted to prioritize apps and content based on decisions about which apps/content are more valuable to users (at best) and on which apps/content are more valuable to the access provider (at worst). I don’t want access providers to have that power unconstrained.

  8. I’m defining my terms as, do We-not-Google have any more practical rights or privileges against ISP’s after this FCC action than before it? Note, NOT, if we-not-Google were in theory to want to do something on the scale of Google, would that be possible – that would be a trivial and PR-flack interpretation.

    > Net Neutrality policy matters

    But this is not a “Net Neutrality policy” in the abstract, where the term can mean anything that sounds good. This is several specific provisions of law.

    Did this change, from that old article? “Free speech. AOL recently “accidentally” blocked email critical of it. Canada’s version of AT&T, Telus, blocked access to a site supporting workers with whom it was negotiating. How long before providers routinely block access to sites they deem inappropriate for their customers, for their customers’ own good, of course?”

    Yes or No? I believe the answer is “No”. The legal provision which gives ISP’s this power was not repealed. Free speech is in the same place as before, as far as I see.

    Regarding “access providers will be tempted to prioritize apps”, this is absolutely necessary to be done as a technical matter, otherwise the most bandwidth-hungry apps will crowd out all the others. That’s obvious. It’s also the point technical people keep making. Note your arguments is basically that We-not-Google are benefiting because various big apps makers are better off, which is at least, let us say indirect.

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