Feature Article

Free eNews Subscription>>
April 30, 2014

Media Bias and Net Neutrality: Nothing Neutral About It

I am an advocate of competition and better access to spectrum for use by the public. The Super Wi-Fi event I help run (though just about everyone else has abandoned that term) is intended to highlight the possibilities of self-directed spectrum through spectrum sharing and databases (or, in other words, more access via more pathways), and I fully believe that if we open up to general use we will realize more and greater benefit. Some friends would call that a free market position.

All of that said, I find myself on the other side of the great debate about Net Neutrality. More specifically, I am disgusted with the media for dragging out lots of interviewees who have nothing substantive to say.  These empty talking heads talk about the power of Comcast (AT&T should be grateful that Comcast is now the Bobby Heenan of communications companies) and then they blame the FCC for failing to keep the monopolists in check. Turn the channel and you hear a different angle, but it’s the same “Beware the Boogeyman in your Utility Closet.”

So, what’s my beef?

First, let’s set the record straight. It is the courts that have made necessary the redefinition of Net Neutrality.  This is not an activist chair looking to make carriers happy, but an FCC that can’t find a path that is not blocked by some rulings or lawsuits waiting in the wings. Accordingly, the FCC finds itself having to rethink how it talks about Net Neutrality.

Second, the entire world (including many of my IETF friends) are claiming that Comcast will somehow deliberately degrade service without checks and balances, while ignoring the history of the Internet’s peering model.

In reality, balanced traffic is dealt with by peering, and imbalanced service is dealt with by transit agreements. If a service is causing network blockage the “best effort” will be an inadequate experience. The use of video over the Internet has exploded the disparity of peers and made transit accounts more common, while also making Content Delivery Networks [CDNs] more essential to balance traffic load.  As such, if Comcast wants to compete with the CDNs to balance the traffic better for their customers, it is a natural innovation … and not anticompetitive.

Thus, to borrow from a network for which I don’t have much use, I have set up a fair and balanced conference call for May 22 that you can register to listen in on HERE, once the order is delivered. Glenn Richards of Pillsbury Law and Executive Director of the VON Coalition will moderate the call, and I have asked Scott Bradner (Board of Trustee of Internet Society and American Registry of Internet Numbers) and David Frankel (CEO of ZIPDX, frequent ex parte commentator to the FCC) to participate. The team will discuss the order and whether there is a Boogeyman that will be unleashed as a result of the new policy.

My hope is that the call will get enough press to encourage other sources to participate, and that by doing so the coverage can expand from fear mongering to civil debate.

FOLLOW MobilityTechzone

Subscribe to MobilityTechzone eNews

MobilityTechzone eNews delivers the latest news impacting technology in the Wireless industry each week. Sign up to receive FREE breaking news today!
FREE eNewsletter