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New FCC Boss: We'll Defend Net Neutrality
Though vague positions and vague neutrality principles remain problematic...
by Karl Bode 09:47AM Wednesday Aug 26 2009
We've been complaining that while new FCC boss Julius Genachowski has been doing a ton of interviews, he hasn't actually been saying anything of substance -- apparently treading a vague middle ground either to avoid upsetting either consumers or huge corporate constituents, or to keep opponents to looming plans fighting blind. Of course as we've argued, the industry could use a lot less regulatory ambiguity, and a lot more, well, kicks to the hind quarters. Continuing that theme, Genachowski this week threw network neutrality supporters a bone, telling The Hill that he absolutely will defend network neutrality "principles":
quote:
"One thing I would say so that there is no confusion out there is that this FCC will support net neutrality and will enforce any violation of net neutrality principles," Genachowski said when asked what he could do in his position to keep the Internet fair, free and open to all Americans.
That would actually mean something if the FCC's four network neutrality principles weren't built on a foundation of sand. As it stands, the principle policy statement (pdf) Genachowski refers to isn't law and may not even be enforceable in court -- something Comcast's lawyers are currently trying to prove after getting their wrist slapped for P2P throttling last year. While Genachowski ambiguously supports already ambiguous network neutrality principles, it's not clear if he supports Congress's latest push to pass new neutrality legislation.

And there is, once again, the rub with Genachowski. The man is intentionally avoiding actual positions on any of the issues facing the sector at the moment. Of course the FCC is going to defend itself against Comcast's legal assault on their authority. Was that ever really a question? Yes, it's possible that Genachowski is keeping quiet to make it more difficult for opponents to coordinate opposition. It's also possible he's keeping quiet because there's no real plan to alter the status quo. We can't tell which side's up until he actually makes his stand.

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pandora
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Outland
kudos:2

Benefit of the doubt

I'd like to give this guy the benefit of the doubt.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:44

Re: Benefit of the doubt

I really would too, but if you look at every single one of his interviews, you really can't find a single instance of him taking a solid position on really anything of note...

It's all vague lawyer-ese. His cards are being held incredibly close to his chest.

asdfdfdfdfdf

@Level3.net

Re: Benefit of the doubt

In politics vague words can still have important effects. Stating general policy tendencies does signal to others what kind of behavior is likely to be tolerated and what isn't. Not giving specifics makes it difficult for enemies to coordinate opposition.
It could be productive to have a period of time where a positive tendency is in force without having a slug fest over specifics. It's about trying to steer things in a general direction.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: Benefit of the doubt

Well said. I couldn't have explained it better myself.

Politics is an annoyingly complicated game. Understanding it requires some foresight and imagination. Still, I hope Genachowski has the courage to stand up to the incumbents when the big conflict inevitably comes.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:44

1 edit
Not giving specifics makes it difficult for enemies to coordinate opposition.
That's a very good point, and I certainly hope you're right. Any policy done right is certainly going to have more than a few well-funded enemies.

SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA
A gov't of the people should be transparent and specific, not vague. There should be no enemies to the gov't, just constituents.

asdfdfdfdfdf

@Level3.net

Re: Benefit of the doubt

"There should be no enemies to the gov't, just constituents."

Different constituents have different and competing interests. Therefore any policy is going to have friends and enemies and the enemies are going to work to undermine the policy.

"A gov't of the people should be transparent and specific, not vague."

This is a tricky problem. When one is trying to fashion open, transparent, and fair government and one is confronted by groups that are not open and transparent organizations themselves, do not conceive of fairness and honesty as part of their agenda, and generally do not act in good faith how can one cope without exhibiting some subtlety oneself?

I realize this suggests that corruption is inevitable and opens me to charges of hypocrisy. I don't have a simple solution to this problem.

SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA

Re: Benefit of the doubt

Unfortunately, the edit I made to my post didn't take.
I also suggest that each constituent should be given equal weight, that includes corporations that should only be given as much preference as any other single constituent. At least, until coporate personhood is eventually retracted.

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

2 recommendations

Defending Net Neutrality

I have had to think about this today as I prepare to present to tomorrow's Broadband workshop: »broadband.gov/ws_tech_applicatio ··· ons.html

Just a few days ago, we had a Dutch ISP announce that they were going to preference only HTTP for several hours a day. Now that probably makes some semblance of sense on the surface, but dig just a little deeper and it has these harmful effects:

- anyone who is developing a new network product will be encouraged to make it HTTP based, even if it is not appropriate to do so

- no non-HTTP technology will ever be able to emerge to grow more popular than HTTP

This is very similar to the Cox experiment (whatever happened to that?) in Kansas and Arkansas, or Comcast's former discrimination against P2P uploads. Well intended, maybe, but too blunt and damaging.

We need a policy that allows network management, let me be clear on that. But we can't have ISPs hamhandedly turning their part of the 'net into an Oasis for the things they like and a Hell for the things that they don't. The Internet should evolve normally, not with ISPs picking winners and losers.
--
Robb Topolski -= funchords.com =- District of Columbia -- KJ7RL
Evil does seek to maintain power by suppressing the truth, or by misleading the innocent. --Spock and McCoy stardate 5029.5

NOVA_Guy
ObamaCare Kills Americans
Premium
join:2002-03-05

Re: Defending Net Neutrality

said by funchords:

We need a policy that allows network management, let me be clear on that. But we can't have ISPs hamhandedly turning their part of the 'net into an Oasis for the things they like and a Hell for the things that they don't. The Internet should evolve normally, not with ISPs picking winners and losers.
Wow! I don't think I could have said it better myself.

Now one can only hope that providers like AT&T start to realize this and take a reasonable approach to their wireless access policies. Allowing audio/video streaming apps like Major League Baseball onto their network while prohibiting audio/video streaming apps like Slingbox Player seems to be a situation screaming for rectification.
--
Trusting the Democrats to fix our economy and give us health care is like trusting the fox with keys to the henhouse, a brand new gas stove, and a pantry full of goodies for side dishes. In the end, all will be dead and nothing but lies will be told.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

1 edit

1 recommendation

Rob, I generally agree with you and I am not completely disagreeing with you on your statement "We need policy that allows network management,..". However, I would state that they have all the network management they need available to them right now. They can easily manage this very small group of people abusing their network (their own words) individually without attempting to shape the internet by blocking protocols or by affecting the entire user base by impeding their ability to use the connection they purchased. In reality what they really want is a way to manage monetization, not the utilization, of the network.

Who are they, or even any of us, to say what protocols, applications, or content is too much or more important than another to someone else? Real time video / voice may be important to one, where as real time gaming or web surfing may be important to another. It is not their or our decision to make for anyone else. They are a dumb pipe and the sooner they realize that and stop trying to be gatekeepers to appease the stock jockeys, the better off everyone will be.

If their network or a node can't handle the use of the users, regardless of what the use is, then they need to do one of the below things to "manage it", all of which are available to them now and require no laws or government intervention.

1.) Expand the network or node bandwidth capacity
2.) Reduce the # of users on the node or network
3.) Reduce the user's provisioned speed to something that the network or node can actually support when a large % of the users are utilizing it.
4.) Individuals that saturate the network or a node should be dealt with individually with even a termination of service if need be. By saturate, I mean use a large % of network utilization for a long period of time. This does not mean downloading xGB as a person can do that easily without ever using more than a very small % of the network/node bandwidth. In essences, it doesn't matter if I just downloaded the entire internet to my iPod if I never used more than 3% of the bandwidth available. But it does matter if I just did the same thing using 97% of the network resources for 28 days of the month.

Problem is they don't want to do any of those things. The first, cost money, the second reduces revenue, the third hurts their marketing efforts, and the forth gives them a black eye. They dug this hole. Let them climb out of it and let their short term stock jockeys suffer the consequences of their greed.
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

2 edits
Robb, I'm now watching you on video from the FCC headquarters, where you have just stated that you work for Google's lobbying groups in DC (Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation). It seems to me that your anti-ISP and anti-innovation stance is motivated by your connections with these groups, which are being paid by Google to promote laws and regulations that would help Google and cripple its current or potential competitors.

ISPs are not "picking winners and losers;" they're rationing expensive bandwidth so as to provide the most satisfying experience for the greatest number of their customers at a reasonable cost. Our customers want us to do this, and we will continue to do it for them despite your attempts to destroy us via unwarranted and unneeded regulation.

sivran
Vive Vivaldi
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1

Re: Defending Net Neutrality

Wow, the extent of your pro-ISP/anti-consumer bias is shocking.
--
In dadkins' memory, Think outside the Fox...
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

Re: Defending Net Neutrality

said by sivran:

Wow, the extent of your pro-ISP/anti-consumer bias is shocking.
We are advocating for our customers' interests. The extent of your ignorance of this is shocking.

S_engineer
Premium
join:2007-05-16
Chicago, IL

1 edit

Re: Defending Net Neutrality

So the rationing of bandwidth is a consumer interest, huh? Tell me, who specifically designates what a "satisfying experience" is?

The current rationing will only get worse as online video content becomes more prevelant. Failure to upgrade the oversold networks is the main problem.
--
BF69~~~Please stop suffocating gerbils!
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

3 edits

Re: Defending Net Neutrality

said by S_engineer:

So the rationing of bandwidth is a consumer interest, huh?
Absolutely. If you are going to charge users $30 per month, and 1 Mbps of bandwidth costs you $100 per month at wholesale, you need to carefully ration it. This means shaping traffic and preventing bandwidth hogging. If you don't, you can't give users good Web performance, and other things they need and expect, without charging them $80 to $90 per month for the 768K which the FCC has now tentatively set as its new standard for broadband. To simply raise prices, making service unaffordable, would truly be anti-consumer.

As for upgrading networks: Our networks don't need to be upgraded at the moment. They can already handle far more traffic than they're carrying. But if we can't at least break even on the cost of backbone bandwidth, it makes no difference how much network capacity we have.

sivran
Vive Vivaldi
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1
said by S_engineer:

So the rationing of bandwidth is a consumer interest, huh? Tell me, who specifically designates what a "satisfying experience" is?

The current rationing will only get worse as online video content becomes more prevelant. Failure to upgrade the oversold networks is the main problem.
Well, given that ol' wispy has no problem at all with flagrant net neutrality violations, and apparently believes web browsing to be the only legitimate use of the internet...
--
In dadkins' memory, Think outside the Fox...
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

3 edits

Re: Defending Net Neutrality

said by sivran:

Well, given that ol' wispy has no problem at all with flagrant net neutrality violations
Well, since there is no common definition of "Net Neutrality," there is no way to determine whether one might be "violating" it. Not that you have the right to tell me how to run my business or manage my network in any case.

funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6
Google, google, google, google, google, google, google, ...

... anything else that you have to say, Brett?

Robb Topolski
(not sponsored by Google)
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

1 edit

Re: Defending Net Neutrality

said by funchords:

Google, google, google, google, google, google, google, ...

... anything else that you have to say, Brett?
In this thread, it's all I really need to say. All of the organizations for which you work are puppets on Google's strings, and you have never yet voiced an opinion on this topic that was not 100% consistent with Google's agenda and interests.

But I have said a lot more elsewhere.

axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

Your money...

...please put it where your mouth is Mr. Genachowski. I so want to believe you but it is actions not words that win the day. Now go put on your best suit and go do something, anything for the consumers this year.

FLengineer
CCNA, CEH, MCSA
Premium
join:2007-06-26
Leesburg, FL

1 edit

1 recommendation

uh, some, uh

Question: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the United States on a world map. access the internet from home. Why do you think this is?

Miss Teen South Carolina:
FCC Boss Julius Genachowski: "I personally believe the U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh...people out there in our nation don't have maps computers, and, uh, I believe that our education like such as South Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as and...I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., err, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our...

hmmmm so few words changed and yet it sounds just like him.

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8 ··· iNxZ8Dww
rdmiller

join:2005-09-23
Richmond, VA

1 recommendation

Net neutrality?

At this point Net Neutrality is just a bunch of wishy-washy language put out by Chairman Martin. Why should Genachowski say anything at all about it. It has as much substance as telling children to behave themselves at the table.

Congress isn't going to do anything anytime soon. They're spinning in circles, trying to understand the difference between options and choices.
33358088
Premium
join:2008-09-23
kudos:2

Two words

Joe Biden

Titus
Mr Gradenko

join:2004-06-26
kudos:1

Re: Two words

said by 33358088:

Joe Biden
Three: They All Blow
--
bicker

join:2007-05-10
Burlington, MA

Balancing

The role of the FCC is to balance the needs of various sides of each issue. I think anyone expecting Genachowski to turn the FCC into an electronic Common Cause is being unreasonable.
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

2 edits

"Principles"

this FCC will support net neutrality and will enforce any violation of net neutrality principles
The Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution do not allow the FCC, or any other regulatory body, to enforce "principles."

They can only enforce laws or rules. The former, according to the Constitution, must not be vague. And the latter have to be formally codified after due process (a notice of proposed rule making, public comment, hearings, etc.). What's more, the agency has to have statutory authority to make and enforce the rules. (Federal law states that the Internet must remain "unfettered by State or Federal regulation," so it appears that in fact the FCC does not have that authority -- a point which Comcast is surely going to bring up in court.)

In short, the FCC legally cannot do anything within the realm of "network neutrality" -- a term which, by the way, is so broad and poorly defined that it is semantically null -- unless (a) it is legally authorized to do so by statute; and (b) it makes formal rules in a rule making process that allows public comment.

This is a good thing, because the Internet doesn't need regulation. Despite the fact that three "network neutrality" bills have been introduced in Congress since 2005 and not a single one has passed, none of the dire predictions made by Free Press (AKA "Save the Internet"), Public Knowledge, the New America Foundation, or any other of Google's lobbyists have come to pass. Thus, we can see that these organizations' scare stories are just hype.

Jim Kirk
Premium
join:2005-12-09
Westerville, OH

Re: "Principles"

said by SuperWISP:

none of the dire predictions made by Free Press (AKA "Save the Internet"), Public Knowledge, the New America Foundation, or any other of Google's lobbyists have come to pass. Thus, we can see that these organizations' scare stories are just hype.
Of course the same thing could be said about the so called "Bandwidth Apocalypse" the cable/tel cos and their shills have been crying about for years.
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

Re: "Principles"

Actually, it is happening. I'm an ISP, and I'm seeing an incredible bandwidth crunch every day at "prime time." From 5 PM to 10 PM, our pipes are saturated, and it's beginning to look as if satisfying all peak demand would force us to raise our prices to levels which consumers are unwilling to pay. Consumers need to learn that bandwidth costs money. Especially during peak hours.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

2 edits

Re: "Principles"

Sounds like you have too many users on your network, are allocating too much bandwidth to each user, or need to expand your network. More probable a combination of all 3.

So.... just because you are not managing your ISP as you should be, does not mean you have a bandwidth crunch any more than I am having a Honey Nut Cheerio shortage just because my box is almost empty.

Raising your prices is one way to do it. That will deter some from continuing to use your service (freeing up bandwidth) and hopefully give you the ability expand and to provide more bandwidth to those that stay or possible people that join.

The network will always balance itself out given time......
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

2 edits

Re: "Principles"

said by Skippy25:

Sounds like you have too many users on your network, are allocating too much bandwidth to each user, or need to expand your network.
No; the problem is that users are trying to do things that require more bandwidth than they are willing to pay for. We have done (and continue to do) everything in our power to reduce our bandwidth costs, but unfortunately, unless the FCC acts to eliminate price gouging on "special access" (the "middle mile"), we're stuck. We can't get prices for bandwidth under $100 per Mbps per month. Don't blame us; we've shopped around.
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA

Re: "Principles"

asdfdfdfdfdf has made some great points right above you. I feel for your situation, but you and your small ISP are not the majority and do not have the price and or abuse ability of Verizon, at&t, Comcast, TWC, Quest, etc... You're not the problem. It's the big boys...
SuperWISP

join:2007-04-17
Laramie, WY

2 edits

Re: "Principles"

said by jjeffeory:

you and your small ISP are not the majority
Actually, we are. There are thousands of small, independent ISPs and relatively few large ones.

What's more, "network neutrality" regulation (which isn't "neutral" at all; it's designed to favor the large corporations, like Google, which are lobbying for it at the expense of ISPs) would impact us far more than it would the large carriers. Would you really like to eliminate all alternatives to the telephone and cable companies? In that case, go ahead and heavily regulate what does not need regulating. And then don't complain to me when all of your choice is gone.

asdfdfdfdfdf

@Level3.net
I believe you are speaking the truth about your situation. I also don't doubt that bandwidth costs for small providers is a significant issue.
I'm frustrated, however, by the fact that you don't clarify that you run a small wireless service provider in wyoming(although your name gives some clue to this).

The economics for an AT&T or verizon or comcast is drastically different from the economics for your business. The incumbents have drastically lower bandwidth costs than you do and they are not being eaten alive by the usage patterns of even their heavy users. Bandwidth growth has actually been slowing and costs have been plummeting for the big players, according to analysts like dave burstein.

The incumbent cable and ilec providers represent around 97% of the market. All the other players, including yourself represent the other 3%. I'm not trying to argue that government should be indifferent to your concerns but policy has to be based on the reality of the 97%, not on outliers. I would have no problem with small companies, such as yours, being exempt from rules designed to curtail abusive practices by the incumbents but we shouldn't be giving the incumbents free reign as some misguided way of trying to protect small businesses.

•••