Net Neutrality

Regulate the competition

Although he favors regulation of broadband service providers, Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks it would be a terrible idea for the government to involve itself as a regulator of the broader Internet, according to the Washington Post. It is possible for the government to screw the Internet up, big-time. For one thing, regulation isn’t easily contained. For another, if the government “screws” Internet access, the Internet as a whole could suffer. Google’s continuing support for network neutrality regulation underlines the fact that Google has a higher market share than any of the broadband service providers it seeks to regulate. Google is the subject of an antitrust probe; broadband service providers are not.

Jurisdiction to regulate Google?

The Internet Policy Statement adopted by the FCC during the Bush administration provided that “consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.” Consumers may no longer be entitled to competition among Internet application, service and content providers, according to the Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang. According to sources, that language is rewritten in the draft proposal by [FCC Chairman Julius] Genachowski and has been changed in a way that suggests broadband access providers cannot impair competition for Web applications, service and content providers. Google has previously stated that the FCC only has jurisdiction to regulate broadband service providers. The FCC’s open Internet principles apply only to the behavior of broadband carriers — not the Read More ›

Big labor cautions FCC

The Communications Workers of America have shared some advice with the FCC regarding proposed network neutrality regulation expected to be unveiled next week. We cannot afford a repeat of the near-freeze on capital investment by telecom compannies that took place in the early part of this decade in response to a regulatory framework that ignored market realities. We are still paying for that decline as we play catch up to other nations in high-speed broadband deployment. This is a reference to the debacle FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s former boss concocted when implementing the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Robert W. Crandall of the Brookings Institution has said … much of the new policy of assisting small-scale entrants was a failure, inducing investors Read More ›

Perspectives on net neutrality

The FCC is expected to issue a proposed network neutrality regulation next week, and in a column entitled “The Coming Mobile Meltdown,” Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. observes Unless we miss our guess, this dynamic is about to rudely change the subject from net neutrality to a shortage of wireless capacity to meet enthusiastic consumer demand. * * * *usage-based pricing could potentially pull the rug out from under the business models of Google and other Web powers, whose services now appear “free” to customers. Imagine if broadcast TV had charged by the minute. Your dad would have turned off the set during the commercials. In “A Rule Too Far,” Thomas G. Donlan points out Chairman Genachowski will find he is Read More ›

Verizon Wireless-Google partnership could trigger lawyerfest

Verizon Wireless and Google plan to co-develop several devices based on the Android system that will be preloaded with their own applications — plus others from third parties, a possible contender to Apple’s huge iPhone application store. They will market and distribute products and services, with Verizon also contributing its nationwide distribution channels. If the network neutrality mandates in the Markey-Eshoo bill were to become law, I don’t see how VZW and GOOG could preload applications, if the applications favor certain content on the Internet when they are used. That would seem to violate the “duty” of Internet access service providers to not block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade the ability of any person to use an Internet Read More ›

Swanson on the problem with ‘net neutrality’

A must-read from Bret Swanson: Despite the brutal economic downturn, Internet-sector growth has been solid. From the Amazon Kindle and 85,000 iPhone “apps” to Hulu video and broadband health care, Web innovation flourishes. Mr. Genachowski heartily acknowledges these happy industry facts but then pivots to assert the Web is at a “crossroads” and only the FCC can choose the right path. The events of the last half-decade prove otherwise. Since 2004, bandwidth per capita in the U.S. grew to three megabits per second from just 262 kilobits per second, and monthly Internet traffic increased to two billion gigabytes from 170 million gigabytes–both tenfold leaps. * * * * At a time of continued national economic peril, the last thing we Read More ›

FCC’s “heavy hand”

FCC Chairman Julius Genochowski’s recent net neutrality speech failed to persuade the Washington Post, which editorializes … ISPs, which have poured billions of dollars into building infrastructure, would have little control — if any — over the kinds of information and technology flowing through their pipes. * * * *Mr. Genachowski claims that the FCC “will do as much as we need to do, and no more, to ensure that the Internet remains an unfettered platform for competition, creativity and entrepreneurial activity.” He will advance this goal by insisting on transparency; he will jeopardize it — and stifle further investments by ISPs — with attempts to micromanage what has been a vibrant and well-functioning marketplace.

Common carrier for you, not for me

A Google representative worries that the company’s investment in Google Voice could be undermined if the service is subjected to common carrier rules.

Whitt said it would become “a real challenge” to justify Google’s investment in Google Voice if the FCC declared it was subject to common carrier rules. “Imposing legacy common carriage requirements would be unfortunate not just for Google Voice, but also for lots of innovative companies, large and small, who are using the Web to revolutionize the way people communicate with each other,” Whitt said.

Aren’t common carrier rules what Google wants to impose on broadband service providers through network neutrality regulation?
Of course they are.
Google seems to realize that common carrier rules are antagonistic to investment and innovation, so it’s difficult to understand how the company’s efforts to induce policymakers to impose these rules on Google’s broadband service suppliers is anything other than a bald attempt to exploit the regulatory process to shift costs on to someone else.

Read More ›

Profitable to favor your competitor

DirecTV and Verizon’s FiOS service have recently announced app stores modeled directly on Apple’s App Store, notes the New York Times. This doesn’t seem consistent with the rationale for the proposed “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009,” (H.R. 3458) introduced by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), which assumes that broadband service providers will discriminate against unaffiliated applications in the absence of heavy-handed regulation. Internet access service providers have an economic interest to discriminate in favor of their own services, content, and applications and against other providers. A network neutrality policy based upon the principle of nondiscrimination and consistent with the history of the Internet’s development is essential to ensure that Internet services remain open to all consumers, Read More ›