Net Neutrality

Broadband for the people

The Federal Communications Commission conducted a public hearing this week on network management before a group of law students — as opposed to, say, engineering students who are the ones who study network management — where lead witness Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) declared [T]he Internet is as much mine and yours as it is Verizon’s, AT&T’s or Comcast’s. Please keep front and center in your examination the needs and wishes of the community of users rather than a small coterie of carriers. As a matter of law, Markey would have flunked if that were an exam question. But of course the government has a right to try to control whatever it wishes one way or another. The interesting and relevant Read More ›

Unleashing the Exaflood

Bret Swanson and George Gilder have a column in today’s Wall Street Journal in which they argue that more Internet capacity will be necessary to keep up with movie downloads, gaming, virtual worlds and other fast-growing applications. They explain that Internet capacity will have to increase 50 times in the next couple years in their recent report “Estimating the Exaflood: The Impact of Video and Rich Media on the Internet — A ‘zettabyte’ by 2015?,” which I discuss here. In their column, Gilder and Swanson warn this won’t happen if politicians re-regulate network providers: The petitions under consideration at the FCC and in the Markey net neutrality bill would set an entirely new course for U.S. broadband policy, marking every Read More ›

The Coming Ad Revolution

Check out Taylor Frigon’s blog post, “A paradigm’s shift in the way you get information,” which links to a story in the Wall Street Journal by Esther Dyson entitled: “The Coming Ad Revolution.” Dyson’s column discusses major changes in advertising that have been on their way for years but which few people today even see coming. Frigon writes: The article outlines an impending paradigm shift in the way people find information, which will have a tremendous impact on the advertising business and those that support it. But this revolution in the way that people find information will impact more than just the ad industry. We wrote about some of the potential implications in the world of search two months ago Read More ›

Markey’s bark worse than his bite

Markey: “The bill contains no requirements for regulations on the Internet whatsoever.” The long-awaited network neutrality bill of Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) was unveiled this week. H.R. 5353 establishes a new broadband policy and requires the Federal Communications Commission to conduct an Internet Freedom Assessment, with public summits and a report to Congress. Broadband Policy According to the bill, it would be the policy of the U.S. to: maintain the freedom to use for lawful purposes broadband telecommunications networks, including the Internet … ensure that the Internet remains a vital force in the United States economy … preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of broadband networks … safeguard the open marketplace of ideas on the Internet by adopting Read More ›

Estimating the Exaflood

Bret Swanson and George Gilder predict that the U.S. Internet of 2015 will be at least 50 times larger than it was in 2006. Their report, “Estimating the Exaflood: The Impact of Video and Rich Media on the Internet — A ‘zettabyte’ by 2015?,” estimates that annual totals for various categories of U.S. IP traffic in the year 2015. It projects: Movie downloads and P2P file sharing of 100 exabytes Internet video, gaming and virtual worlds of 200 exabytes Non-internet IPTV of 100 exabytes, and possibly much more Business IP Traffic of 100 exabytes Gilder notes that an exabyte is equal to one billion gigabytes, or approximately 50,000 times the contents of the U.S. Library of Congress. This report expands Read More ›

Proliferating pricing plans?

Scott Wallsten of the Progress & Freedom Foundation says we should experiment with new broadband pricing plans. I agree. With vast differences in broadband usage from one consumer to the next, and with video moving to the Internet, telcos invading the cable TV space, the Net disaggregating traditional content companies, new advertising and subscription paradigms bursting onto the scene, and ill-advised calls for Net Neutrality to regulate (and stifle) this fast-changing landscape, new pricing schemes can accommodate the diversity of the exaflood and leave Net Neutrality in the dust. New network processor technologies from the likes of EZchip are incorporating sophisticated OAM (operations, accounting, and management) capabilities to monitor and price fine grained flows if needed. We don’t know what Read More ›

BitTorrent delays no big deal

I was honored to participate on Grover Norquist’s “Leave Us Alone” radio program with guest host Derek Hunter to discuss Comcast’s attempts to “block” certain Internet traffic, as reported last week: NEW YORK (AP) — To test claims by users that Comcast Corp. was blocking some forms of file-sharing traffic, The Associated Press went to the Bible. An AP reporter attempted to download, using file-sharing program BitTorrent, a copy of the King James Bible from two computers in the Philadelphia and San Francisco areas, both of which were connected to the Internet through Comcast cable modems. We picked the Bible for the test because it’s not protected by copyright and the file is a convenient size. In two out of Read More ›

Is the FCC losing its nerve?

This week the Federal Communications Commission failed to muster 3 votes to deregulate the broadband access services of Qwest Communications, as it has already done for Verizon in early 2006. The nature of the relief we’re talking about is analogous to the commission’s reclassification of DSL as an “information” service rather than a “telecommunications” service in 2005. In both cases, the effect is to free broadband providers from onerous common carrier regulation, allow them to tailor their offerings to customer needs and not be forced to offer their services to competitors at regulated, cost-based rates for resale. To be fair, the relief Verizon got didn’t garner 3 of 5 votes. Verizon’s petition was filed pursuant to Sec. 10 of the Read More ›

Eric Schmidt and Laurence Tribe on common carriage and net neutrality regulation

Over at Huffington Post, Timothy Karr claims that “One attendee — a member of the Darwin-challenged Discovery Institute — sought to argue that the Internet be completely free of regulation” during the question and answers following Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt’s address to the Progress & Freedom Foundation’s Aspen Summit. That would be me. Actually, I make no such argument. There is a place for antitrust enforcement (provided it aims to protect competition, not competitors) and consumer protection. I draw the line at economic regulation, or competition policy, which tries to ensure that everyone who can afford to hire a lobbyist profits and no one who can afford to hire a lobbyist fails in the marketplace. I asked Schmidt Read More ›

Singing our tune

Hal Singer of Criterion Economics has a good article opposing Net Neutrality in the current Cato Institute journal Regulation: With the advent of streaming video and other bandwidth intensive applications, the demand for bandwidth is projected to overtake the existing supply quickly. Regulators and legislators should not interfere with a broadband service provider’s ability to manage this “coming exaflood” with intelligent networks. At best, the price of Internet service will skyrocket if broadband service providers can meet the coming traffic using only expanded infrastructure. At worst, the Internet experience for all users will deteriorate. Given the tremendous uncertainty over the future of the Internet and the need to encourage innovation and investment, it seems dangerous to interfere with heavy-handed regulation Read More ›