Joho the Blogfccboston08 Archives - Joho the Blog

February 25, 2008

[fccboston08] FCC Hearing: Panel 2: Q&A

NOTE: I am live-blogging. Not re-reading for errors. There are guaranteed to be errors of substance, stand point and detail. Caveat reader.

McDowell: Does BitTorrent run differently on different types of network infrastructures?
BT: The engineers do take advantage of architectures. We rely on the basic structure of the Internet to handle congestion controls. The Internet has been doing that well.
McDowell: Is that what BitTorrent DNA does?
BT: It’s a competitive market, so we’ve worked on theability to run well in particular network envrionments.
McDowell: Should you be required to disclose that you don’t work well in particular types of networks?
BT: BT emerged as an open source protocol. We run it like an open standards process. We disclose it all. As issues materialize on particular networks, there’s demand for solutions, and we see a very open process.
Weitzner: The premise on the Internet is that there are standards that work, and the nodes and apps conform to those standards. If Comcast markets as Internet service, it ought to support Internet standards. Apps should be able to assume that they are operating in an Internet-compliant environment. Apps can’t conform when the carriers aren’t conforming and when they’re not given info.
Clark: In the beginning, we thought the apps should adapt to the underlying network. The user ought to decide what’s satisfactory not the app. E.g., a slow file transfer might seem unusable, but users find uses for it. In the end, it’s the user who should decide to hit the quit button. But crossing into paying for a service and expecting to get it requires adapting the net and the apps. We need tools for talking cross layer. There’s space for technical innovation.
Reed: Adapting to categories of networks traditionally have been the role of the IETF. E.g., 20 yrs ago there was a move to asymmetric networks. The community wanted to ban it. More pragmatic folks in the IETF said that it’s a reasonable technology an we have to be able to live with it. But that was the standard Internet, not the Comcast subclass of the Internet. If there are changes through the IETF, networks and apps will adapt. But it’s different when one vendor has a lock on one area and makes unilateral changes.

Now we see videos made by citizens today.

A retired fed lawyer says she needs the Net for her work playing music for cancer patients.

A worker for a small non-profit that makes a small TV app for participatory culture. Comcast’s filtering of BT harms his company and anyone who tries to post without going through a central authority. Comcast is “essentially ruining our system.”

A MIT computer science student sees it as a political issue. What will happen to MIT when it begins writing papers about the negative effects of this type of censorship. It affects the free flow of info.

The Maine Civil Liberties Union likes NN on First Amendment grounds.

Martin: David Clark, you want to change the business model…
Clark: Charging by the byte works poorly. But it might be worth exploring usage caps measured not in peaks but in gigabytes per month. [So, not $50/month for a max of 10Mb at any one time, but $50/month for a total of 5Gb (or whatever) of downloads.] The wireless guys are breaking the ice here. The current all-you-can-eat model has the advantage of encouraging people to try things, but it hides the cost and the value.
Martin: That could make sense in terms of business and maybe address some of the congestion problem. But with BT, it was their uploads that were being blocked, and they were below their limits anyway.
Clark: The ISPs haven’t characterized what acceptable use is. This is understandable because it’s very hard to know exactly what the conditions are going to be. But we can determine fairness of use among users without looking at the particular applications being used.
Martin: Do you think it’s important to distinguish among types of bits, not applications?
Clark: If there’s going to be any discrimination based on QoS, I’d rather have the user determine it. “This telephone call is really important!” Maybe 10% of your bits could be high priority, and you decide.
Martin: Was BitTorrent designed to get around some of the limitations of networks such as the cable network?
BT: The protocol was designed simply to manage large files. It doesn’t behave differently on different types of networks.

Reed explains a bit about how the IETF works. Locking in decisions around apps and QoS stops innovation in its tracks.
Bennett: It takes and months to get a solution through a standards body. Comcast has an obligation to solve it faster and to do the experiments.

Copps: Do we have enough info to proceed?
Clark: From the perspective of the academic the answer is simple: No.
Reed: My colleagues who try to collect data report a systematic shutting down of info.
Copps: Is this a serious problem?
Clark: Yes. E.g., we’re trying to find out if 10% of users generate 90% of the traffic. The only info I could get was from s. Korea. Not a single US ISP would give us the info even fully laundered. We don’t even know if there are consistently heavy users. They say it’s proprietary.
Copps: we really need to grapple with this.
Martin: Does that mean we shouldn’t take action, because we don’t have enough info?
Reed: No one has enough data to know whatt the current or projected traffic across the entire industry is.
Clark: The complaint before you does not require detailed traffic knowledge to make a decision.

Adelstein: How important network mgt practices for our ability to maintain our leadership in innovation?
BT: Incredibly important.
Reed: I spoke with the head of China’s largest portal. He’s got the rights to distribute the Olympics over their Net. That’s in competition with the state TV service. They may pass us with this new tech.
Bennett: If the FCC gets the decision right, you’ll increase the value of the carrier’s infrastructure. If you take the carrier out of it, the blocking will happen but it will be done by the guy down the street. The carrier is acting as a sheriff. If you add enough capacity so that there is no congestion, you’ll have to increase it 10- to100 times.
Clark: I disagree. The network does contain mechanisms to control traffic. The Comcast is a particular, nuanced response to what the Internet’s been doing for years, which is when too much traffic shows up everyone slows down. Being slowed down by our neighbor is right and it’s a good thing, because it means that when my neighbor isn’t there, I can go twice as fast. The question is whether the net is allocating in a way the user thinks is fair. (Should you be able to buy your way out, he asks) If you want to have nuances, you have to be clear about it or people won’t bother to innovate. No one wants to compete with Vonage because the carriers have done certain things.
Sony: Short term solutions should be recognized as having global implications.
Weitzner: The video innovation we’ve seen today is just the beginning. We ought to be working to get past the relatively mundane question of how to transport video in a civilized way.
Clark: There’s a world of innovation waiting to happen when there’s enough bandwidth.
Adelstein: Where is the line between sound network mgt and unsound? Between good discrimination an bad?
BT: I know it when I see it. Comcast is doing what [bac] hackers do to disrupt traffic. Forging data is outside the realm of reasonable.
Bennett: What I found lacking in the petitions against Comcast was any data about the condition of the network when the mgt practices were put into effect. They didn’t provide empirical data about how busy the Net was.
Clark: Using RST indicates that Comcast’s tools were inadequate for predicting and managing.
Bennett: The data is available.
Reed: I checked it out myself. They were indeed sending RST packets. They have to be carefully synthesized. And I discovered that to do that they had to use info from inside packet. I would view that as a pragmatic solution to the problem if someone had analyzed this technique and published a paper that says RST is a good way to solve congestion. But I can’t find anything. There is a bright line around hacking without public data. [Tags: ]

2 Comments »

[fccboston08] FCC Hearing: Panel 2: Statements

NOTE: I am live-blogging. Not re-reading for errors. There are guaranteed to be errors of substance, stand point and detail. Caveat reader.


Daniel Weitzner of MIT says the entire Web is peer-to-peer, although not technically. People use the Net in a synchronous, P2P manner. E.g., pages are pulled together from info all over. We depend on the open nature of the Web to enable that.

Richard Bennett (network architect): Does free speech require abandoning the active mgt of net traffic? If so, then we have to shut down the Internet. Is it legit to manage the Net by discriminating by application? The Net and its constituent nets serve different apps. E.g., VOIP needs to avoid jitter. It makes sense to move apps that don’t care about jitter (e.g., email) to the back of the queue. BitTorrent is insensitive to jitter; you care about the time between first and last packet, but not jitter of individual packets….except for apps like Vuze, but RB doubts Vuze’s business viability. If we abandon app discriminatory we have to get rid of IP because it includes info about the app in the packets. Get rid of Wifi because QoS discriminates among apps. Get rid of difference between UDP and TCP. We have to get rid of discrimination within their own homes. Even on Ethernet we have to discriminate among apps, e.g., WoS for audio systems to avoid lipsynching issues If you add capacity to a network, you’ve only moved the bottleneck from the first hop to the second hop. NN would inhibit rural delivery since it depends on wifi. So, sit back. We’ll solve it with more bandwidth and with revisions of the apps that use it, like BitTorrent.

David Clark says that TV is central here because it increases the traffic and it’s a collision of pricing models. We should be partnering, not fighting. Let’s talk about business model. The usage cost to Comcast for a month of user usage might be around $0.50. TV usage is 40 times as much (taking reasonable estimates), i.e., $20/month to cover your user costs. What’s going to give is the all you can eat flat rate pricing. We have to find a way that will be acceptable to the user. David likes selling tiers of consumption.


David says he finds the blocking of particular apps “troubling.” The ISP should not be imposing a value judgment on the consumer. That makes the customer into an enemy.


He says that they put desired-QoS and app bits in the header is so that the user could decide what apps and QoS s/he wants. He says that discrminating in favor of VOIP bits is not a violation of NN but he’d rather let users decide. He’d rather decide where to draw the line through case law than by a policy. So, ultimately he’s against the FCC adopting a policy.


Eric Klinker of BitTorrent explains why BT was invented: To move large files. He lists legit users of BT. Why, even Hollywood studios! If Comcast is allowed to block this class of app, it would stamp out “the most promising technology we have to do to deliver a near infinite” set of content.


David Reed (MIT): Providing Net access implies adherence to protocols and standards essential to a world wide net. Variance damages the Net and all its uses. Industry standard processes exist for disclosure, etc. Comcast’s secretive attempt to provide non-standard mgt is a problem. Access do not create the Internet. They provide access as part of a much large system. The Net is a network of networks that results from voluntary compliance with standards and protocols. You just have to agree to play by the ground rules. These ground rules have been around or 30 years. You have to agree to send on Internet datagrams. [He has a prop!] The content is inside the packet “envelope.” The content is meaningful only to the sender and receiver. The participating networks agree not to alter the contents. When congestion becomes extreme, it’s normal to discard the envelope because the sender is responsible for re-transmitting it. The Net was designed from the beginning to manage congestion. The network cannot eliminate it. It requires the senders to cooperate and slow down. This requires acceptance of standards. This is all part of the standard Internet. But Comcast unilaterally and secretly used its own mgt techniques, doing deep packet inspection and sending RST packets. This violates the expectations of users that the content of envelope will not be read. If the standard methods aren’t adequate, the provider should bring the situation to the IETF. Otherwise, Comcast is not providing access to the Internet, but to a selected portion of the Internet.

Scott Smyers, Senior Vice President, Network & Systems Architecture Division, Sony Electronics Inc. Sony thinks the Net is the future of delivery of TV. He believes in competition. I can’t tell what he thinks about Net neutrality.

[Tags: ]

2 Comments »

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part d-z

NOTE: I am live-blogging. Not re-reading for errors. There are guaranteed to be errors of substance, stand point and detail. Caveat reader.

Martin: Comcast didn’t just not publicize its policy of blocking BitTorrent. They actually denied it, right?
Ammori: Yup. We want to know what you’re blocking. And we think there are many better ways to manage traffic

Martin: Why would they lie about this?
Woo: They shouldn’t block any lawful application, much less do so secretly or lie about it. And while we know the carriers have made an investment, we also want to encourage app developers to invest. Who’s going to invest in an app if you fear it could be blocked, and not even transparently?

Martin: Consumers are being asked to buy more and more bandwidth but they’re not being told the limitations.
Yoo: Yes, transparency should even be the fifth principle. Also, some apps need a different network. Telemedicine can’t take a backseat to anything else. So, network management ought to allow discrimination.
Benkler: Disclosure is an important first step but it only works when there’s market discipline and consumers can switch. But we only have 1.5-2 services, on average. That’s not a lot of competition. You can extract rents from traffic that’s competing with services you, as a last-mile provider, also provide.
Verizon: We believe in transparency. Consumers don’t want the 30-page document so we’re trying to make it more understandable, while still providing the whole thing for those who want it. But every ay we block spam. You don’t want so much disclosure that it prevents us from providing network security.
Martin: Letting consumers know what they’re purchasing seems primary. Were any of the users exceeding the bandwidth that they’d purchased from Comcast?
Ammori: Know. In fact, VOIP providers side with us.
Wu: It’s odd that providers would complain about people using their produce. Users of Vuze want more bandwidth. The oil companies love it when users buy an SUV. There’s something odd about this debate.
Martin: Cable companies argue that consumers get a better deal by bundling channels rather than allowing them to pick their own channels, as I like. It’s odd that when consumers buy extra speed, you block them for using it. Inconsistent?
Comcast: No. First, we sell an “up to” amount of service, as part of shared network, and you’re not allowed to use it in a way that would degrade it for others. Our new disclosure is the best ever.
Martin: Is that the type of application developers need?
Ammori: No, we need to know what they mean by “high periods” and what “delay” means.
Benkler: We need a standard for disclosure.

Copps: I’m nervous. We have a transition to DTV by 2009. Now I’m hearing that by 2010 use may exceed capacity. This is all testimony to need for a national broadband policy. Mr. Ammori, what is the price we’re paiong for not having this kind of national strategy?
Ammori: Other countries have more capacity. The carriers profit from scarcity. We have Third World networks and we’re debating whether we can even manage current traffic. A lot of these problems would go away with genuine competition. We should manage traffic in ways that don’t block content.
Copps: How do other countries do network management?
Benkler: NN as a policy need only arose after we abandoned unbundling. Other countries have competition. You have to share costs and components when the network is high-cost. [E.g., open it up. Let 1,000 ISPs bloom.] We only have to set standards because we don’t have competition.
Wu: Asian countries tend to look at broadband as an infrastructure issue, like highways. There are obviously negative examples as well: China blocking content.
Yoo: Korea got there through gov’t subsidies. Japan overcharges for voice telecommunication. Wireless is likely to make the markets competitive.
Copps: You’re rolling out fiber, Comcast. How will this change network mgt?
Comcast: My engineers tell me that all networks in the world are maxed. We will never solve this problem purely by building capacity. [Yoo nods] We will always have to net mgt.
Verizon: As we put in fiber, the demand grows. Capacity helps and facilitates a “rich and robust Internet experience for consumers” [= sit down and watch your IP TV kiddies].

Adelstein: Japan has 100Mb to the home and they’re not having the NN discussion. Does Verizon use the RST packet for P2P? [Comcast forges a packet that breaks the BitTorrent connection]
Verizon: No. At this time we don’t have a need for it. We don’t have a shared network.
Benkler: If we accept duopoly, which is a weakly competitive market, then without market discipline we need regulatory discipline.
Adelstein: What are non-discriminatory ways to manage traffic?
Ammori: The providers promised not to discriminate.
Comcast: Comcast does not block any web site, app, or proocol. We manage based on objective assessment: during limited times, in limited geographic areas where the congestion is, only uploads, only when a seeding request comes, we only delay and not block, and when we delay a p2p upload until the congestion alleviates. With BitTorrent, a delay merely causes the system to move to a different, uncongested, node. The delay is imperceptible.
Ammori: You can believe Comcast or Vuze about whether they’re being affected. Comcast has lied about this from the beginning. The RST packets don’t just delay; they deny connection. Further, studies show that introducing minor delays hurts user adoption.
Comcast: My understanding that the delay doesn’t block or degrade. The AP experiment did not use BitTorrent the way it’s supposed to be used.
Wu: Comcast cannot deny that AP tried to use an Internet app in a particular way and were blocked. Comcast says that’s because they weren’t using the app the way it should be used. But Comcast shouldn’t be telling us how we may or may not use an app
Comcast: That’s not what I said. They weren;t using BitTorren the way BitTorrent says it should be used.
Benkler: The effect of delays is to say you may not use your computer to support this collaborative network function. Comcast offloads it to another network. But that’s how TCP works. It handles congestion in a non-discriminatory method. Comcast is telling you that you can’t do what other are doing. Delay is blocking in this case.

Deborah Taylor Tate, a commissioner who arrived late because of a plane delay, says we agree on more than we disagree about. We all want to deploy broadband everywhere. And we do have a role in global principles. We all agree that there can be reasonable network management.
Rep. Bosley (a state rep): The disclosures don’t tell me when I’m going to be cut off or delayed. There’s no competition in many parts of the US. We’ve spent $70B in this industry to speed up capacity. That’s not enough and it hasn’t been spen equitably. For that we need a national plan and transparency. We still have dial up in many parts of my area. Our electric system is non-discriminatory and transparent.
Tate: Are there other complaints, beyond the one that’s bee filed?
Ammori: Yes, but this is the key test case. There may be other interference we don’t know about . We don’t know how long Comcast was doing this.
Comcast: Generally, the customer reaction has been positive, not negative. There’s an appreciation of all that we do to maximize the Internet experience by blocking spam and viruses, etc.
Verizon: We haven’t had complaints about net mgt. The focus of our complaints is people want to know when we’re coming and can we deliver more.
Tate: I’m deepl concerned about child online safety, and piracy.
Ammori: We might discriminate among packets, but not by policy or application. We’re not looking for a detailed policy, just a statement that you will not discriminate based on policy or application. Don’t block access to lawful content. With the policy, we’ll figure it out. E.g., BitTorrent has a way to avoid congestion.
Tate: But disclosure would be enough.
Ammori: No, not without competition. You know you’re being blocked and have no option.
Benkler: Your analogy to common carriage is apt. Take minimal rules like Wu’s — no discrimination against lawful apps. Think of Carterphone — a general rule, and a procedure that allows a carrier to notify, say, BitTorrent that it’s generating too much traffic. That would be a model. A model.
Yoo: The shift in Carterphone came in monopoly. We have a duopoly. Duopoly is more competitive. Regulation is expensive. We can have a non-discrimination system, but it will be expensive. Typically, 500 subscribers share a node in a cable system. You could provision it with enough, but that’d be expensive. The more expensive it becomes, the harder it is for carriers to build out to rural areas. That’s the genius of the public safety provision of the 700MHz auction.
Tate: What’s the status of the industry-led p2p protocols?
Verizon: Early in the process.
Wu: It’s good to think about this in terms of common carriage. There are forms of discrimination that are reasonable. Many good ones go on already. FiOS devotes an entire wavelength to TV content. That’s fine discrimination. able does the same thing with their TV service. But we’re worried about the forms of anti-competitive discrimination. The FCC has already said this in their statement that it’s dangerous to have the carriers pick and choose among lawful applications. We’re not saying that all discrimination is bad. We’re saying anti-competitive discrimination is bad.

McDowell begins by noting that he has to pee. Do you think it’s ok to sell more bandwidth than you deliver?
Comcast: P2P during periods of congestion creates degradation for other customers which violates our terms of us. We don’t sell x amount of bandwidth. We sell it subject to not using our service in ways that degrade it for others. [Not the question.]
McDowell: If my neighborhood loves BitTorrent in the evening and it slows down.
Comcast: You’ve exceed according to the terms of service.
McDowell: Wu’s distinction between anti-competitive and non-anti-comp discrimination is important. Would it be less concerning if Comcast didn’t also sell TV?
Ammori: Less concerning. But even when discrimination is not anti-competitive, it still does serious harm. if they blocked BitTorrent even if they weren’t a TV company, it would still harm users and innovation.
Wu: Even if Comcast didn’t have a TV service, we’d still need NN. So many industries depend on these carriers, the carriers start to attract public duties.
McDowell: What would be the practical effect if you were required to carry all p2p at all hours, without discrimination?
Comcast: In the short run, it could be a significant degraded experience for many more customers, as opposed to the very small effect on a small group of people. And the BitTorrent users may be delayed anyway, but by net congestion not by our net management tool.
McDowell: Would more capacity solve it?
Comcast: No. We will always need network management.
McDowell: If that’s the case, would BitTorrent DNA help to rectify it? [DNA is the BT tool for balancing load, or some such]
Ammori: It might be a short-term project, but the carriers would adjust their networks.
McDowell: Does the protocol designer have an obligation to inform customers that it won’t work as well on particular types of networks?
Ammori: Not an obligation. But they should work together, if there’s a non-discriminatory principle.
Benkler: When you have full transparency, people can solve the problems on the edges.
McDowell: Should apps be required to disclose that it doesn’t work as well on some nets?
Benkler: No. Apps operate in an open market.
McDowell: Is NN an issue in Korea? Yes, it is. Only a network operator can provide things like VOIP. Is that what you want?
Wu: No. It’s cautionary as well as a role model. Great on access. Lots of censoring. The US can do better.
Woo: Japan and Europe do a lot of network mgt. They’re more candid about it.
McDowell: How can enhance the supply or demand side of the roll out?
Yoo: Lower the break-even number of subscribers to enable a last-mile provider to make a go of it. Let them use bandwidth more efficiently, including net mgt but not only that.
Wu: Letting consumers buy more of the last mile.

Martin: Can cable companies move some of their TV capacity to Net capacity?
Wu: Yes.
Martin: Doesn’t that creative a negative incentive to allow Vuze, etc.?
Wu: Yes. There’s obvious motive to suppress the next form of TV.
Martin: Does the FCC have the authority to enforce NN principles? Or do you think with Markey that it needs legislation?
Verizon: Yes you do.
Comcast: Not if you say they’re unenforceable.
Martin: Re-ask…
Comcast: You don’t have the authority to impose a forfeiture fine.
[Tags: ]

1 Comment »

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part c: Tim Wu

Tim Wu, Columbia Law and the coiner of the phrase “Net neutrality” (and, like Yochai, a personal hero of mine) says: Whatever we conclude about Net neutrality we should decide on a simple rule: NN should not include blocking lawful applications

He says the FCC should keep in mind that this discussion is also part of American foreign policy that the technology of censorship are being built into our technology (e.g., deep packet technology). We don’t want America to be known as the home of the filtered Internet. We’ve been presenting ourselves as the home of free speech, free markets, open Internet. We want to keep the Internet as a role model of freedom.

Christopher S. Yoo, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition, University of Pennsylvania Law School, says the industry is facing uncertainty. We don’t know how quickly traffic is growing. Quality of service depends on what your neighbors are doing on the net. We don’t know how downloads vs. P2P will work out. Network management has a role, he says. He talks about ow the NSF solved a traffic problem by preferring human-to-human sessions vs downloads. And the 700MHz auction allows some types of services to have priority. Conclusion: The FCC should not adopt a one size fits all policy… [Tags: ]

2 Comments »

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part b – Comcast and Verizon

Representative Dan Bosley talks about the need for broadband in western Mass., where he lives, because lack of it hurts the local economy. He compares stifling competition on the Net to stifling competition in grocery stores. He says aspects of the violation of NN remind him of slotting fees at groceries.

He says it’s about capacity, not content. Yes, there’s a lot of traffic. Competition will bring about capacity. Plus, we could use a national broadband plan, he says.

David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation, tells us that Comcast is committed to giving its customers superior Internet access. 60M households get broadband. What is the secret of this remarkable “success” [Mission accomplished!]? The lack of regulation enables competition. we’ve risked huge amounts of money to Users can use whatever VOIP they want, use Vuze and BitTorrent.


ut we do manage our network to maximize the experience. Every network is managed. Our customers want us to fight spam and viruses, and they want us to fight network congestion.


Bandwidth consumption is a real concern. We manage minimally, barely noticeable. This has a huge benefit for our users. We use the least intrsuvie methods.


We inform our users. We have recently clarified our policy on our Web site.

Networks discriminate. A Harvard medical network does in order to ensure the delivery of important data. [But that’s the point: If we had competition, we’d have ISPs with different offers and the market could decide.]

Tom Tauke, Executive Vice President – Public Affairs Policy and Communications, Verizon Communications talks about short codes, which I think are SMS’s. He sees to be justifying why they blocked pro-choice text messages. He says they were spam. They’ve also blocked messages that advertised wallpaper with “inappropriate” content and ring tones with inappropriate, um, tones. [Wow. So much for freedom of speech. I think this guy is screwing his own pooch…a turn of phrase that probably wouldn’t make it past Verizon’s censors.] He acknowledges that blocking the pro-choice message was a mistake that Verizon connected.

He recommends “industry action” — self-policing — to get over these little censorship problems.

[Tags: ]

Comments Off on [fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part b – Comcast and Verizon

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part a [Benkler rocks the house]

Marvin Ammori, General Counsel, Free Press, is first up on this panel. The panel is as long as a march of penguins. This is not about tech, he says. It’s about the future of the Net. Door #1: Open, fast broadband, innovative, etc. Door #2: Providers choose your sites for you [whoops, overstatement], etc. How can there even be a hearing to choose between these two doors, he asks. It’s because big companies are pushing open that door in DC.

Yochai Benkler of the Berkman Center. Two different issues. 1. Net is abut users connected to one another. 2. We need a restructuring of the basic decision to support a duopoly. [Go Yochai!]

1. The Net is about people connected to one another, at least once you stop looking throgh 20th Century business models. The carriers are based around delivering content and services. Only genuine competition will keep the Net open.

2. It was a mistake to enable the ISP consolidation. Net neutrality is important but it is only a partial solution to the failures of the market that is at beast only weakly competitive. We need to make the Net competitive all the way through.


BitTorrent brings together both points, he says. It is a decentralized structure to enable users to support one another, engage in peer collaborative. By myopia or malice, the last-mile firms are preventing competition. The way to ensure real competition is probably some form of unbundling and open access. This is a very American approach. But we abandoned them, instead handing access to two incumbent industries.

[Putting this in terms of the structural changes we need is, imo, exactly right.]

David Cohen [Tags: ]

1 Comment »

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: BitTorrent demo

The head of Vuze, Gilles BianRosa, is showing a demo of his BitTorrent client. There have been 20M downloads of Vuze in the past 12 months. It delivers high-def TV. He says Vuze enables viewers to find producers and vice versa. He connects live to a science video with gorgeous astronomical videos, although he can’t show it in high-def beause of Harvard’s projector. He hits the play button on the PBS channel. He then drops down into advanced view (= the old Azureus client). He explains that because it’s peer-to-peer, throttling some of the peers clocks it (or lags it) for everyone else.


So, the basic argument is that Vuze is used for legitimate TV time shifting via Net delivery. It uses BitTorrent. Throttle BitTorrent keeps this new form of Net TV to function well. Great example of a insurgent competitor being hurt by packet discrimination, with the implication that the discrimination is coming from companies that should see Vuze as a threat.


“We are not against reasonable network management. We are against network mgt with no boundaries.” Comcast owns the racetrack but also has a horse running in the race, he says. “The market should determine which services should win,” but markets need ground rules.


[Well done.]

Martin: I want to make clear that you have relationships with media companies, so the programming you’re providing is legal.
A: We are an open platform so people can upload what they want, but we feature legal content.

Martin: Your tech doesn’t allow users to exceed the upload capacity they’ve bought, right?
A: No, they couldn’t. [I think Martin’s making a point, not really asking.] [Heck, we’re not even allowed to use all the bandwidth we’ve purchased!]

Adelstein: How much traffic does uploading by your users generate?
A: Generally, upload is 10-20% of download capacity.

McDowell: The 1996 Telecom Act is the backdrop for this. We’re talking here about cable companies. Did you try to work around the inefficiencies present with cable companies?
A: We are agnostic about the network. By cooperating we can be more intelligent in distributing the strain.
McDowell: Are you one size fits all even though the networks have different limitations?
A: Of course.

Martin reiterates that Vuze does not allow users to exceed their capacity. They can only use the capacity they’ve purchased. [Excellent. This says something very positive about Martin’s stance (imo)] [Tags: ]

1 Comment »

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Commissioner McDowell

Robert McDowell is one of the Rep commissioners. He talks about the Internet as a new medium and calls us consumers. Sigh.

He says the Net has been through transitions. Now we’re facing a new one. He says he likes competitive markets better than “bureaucrats” like him. Thus, broadband networks have to have incentives to deploy new tech. To give them the incentive to extend the Net, they need to be allowed to make money. They do have to give access to all devices.

This is one of the conceptual disjunctions. The carriers claim NN is gov’t regulation of the Internet. Supporters of NN (like me) think that NN regulation would regulate the carriers. The carriers think NN imposes a new regulation. Supporters of NN think that NN preserves the existing architecture of the Net. [Tags: ]

1 Comment »

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Commissioner Adelstein

Jonathan Adelstein is the other Dem commissioner. (He also plays harmonica. I’ve seen him do it. He takes lessons from Howard Levy.)

He says that they’re taking video testimony today, and they ought to send it back to HQ via BitTorrent to see how it does. Scattered laughs.

After giving the obligatory reference to his time at Harvard, he goes back to the American Revolution. Just as the Constitution established freedoms, we need an Internet Bill of Rights to secure the freedom of citizens on the Internet. “The beauty of the Internet is that nobody is in charge and everybody is in charge.” (It’s cool to hear three senior gov’t folks in a row get it so right.)

He quotes TBL about the importance of an open Net. He too brings up the issue of consolidation. We’re going to see more competition in wireless, he says, but broadband is 93% controlled by the major providers. He says that at least he and Copps got AT&T to agree to support net neutrality as a condition of consolidation. (This was satisfying if only because after years of saying the net neutrality has no definition, AT&T defined it clearly in a couple of sentences.)


He says he comes here with an open mind, which, frankly, I find a little disappointing ;)

He closes by again exhorting us to create an Internet Bill of Rights. [I know! Let’s do it together on a wiki!] [Tags: ]

Comments Off on [fccboston08] FCC hearing: Commissioner Adelstein

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Commissioner Copps

Copps is one of the two Democratic commissioners. He begins by effusively thanking Markey. (If it’s not obvious, I am not non-partisan on this issue.) He’s glad that the FCC is getting outside the Beltway. Of course, the day will consist of panels of experts chosen by the FCC.

Copps says that the network operators are today making decisions about how Americans communicate. He says that until the FCC opened these hearings today, those decisions were being made in a black box. E.g., in 2007 we learned that one of the wireless providers rejected a text message as too controversial. US carriers hae required manufacturers to disable wifi access in some cell phones. Standard contracts contained provisions prohibiting customers from criticizing them. He says we don’t know that choices like these are unlawful, but they are determining how we communicate. We need a principle of non-discrimination. It would allow for reasonable network mgt but make it clear that the network operators cannot “shackle” the Internet. There ought to be a process for adjudicating claims of discrimination.

Copps makes it clear where he stands: We need to be suspicious of the carriers because they have a history of being devious and manipulative [my summary]. (Commissioner Adelstein, the other Dem, is nodding.) [Tags: ]

1 Comment »

Next Page »