Cisco weighs in on net neutrality

This is historical by now, but I was curious about it so I checked:

“We strongly support the principle of an open Internet,” Cisco CEO John Chambers wrote in a letter to Congressman Joe Barton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We must, however, balance the fact that innovation inside the network is just as important as innovation in services and devices connected to the Internet. Broadband Internet access service providers should remain free to engage in pro-competitive network management techniques to alleviate congestion, ameliorate capacity constraints and enable new services.”

Chambers makes one very excellent point: most of the talk about Internet innovation in DC is about services attached to the Internet, and not the system of lines and routers itself. The neutrality regulations would stifle innovation in the core structure of the Internet, which will eventually lead to stagnation in the services space, even worse than the stagnation we’ve seen since the Bubble burst. That can’t be good.

Full text of COPE Act

The COPE Act is in Thomas now, and the lies about it fly fast and furious in Nutrialand. See the bill here, and notice this:

‘‘(3) ADJUDICATORY AUTHORITY.—The Commission shall have exclusive authority to adjudicate any complaint alleging a violation of the broadband policy statement and the principles incorporated therein. The Commission shall complete an adjudicatory proceeding under this subsection not later than 90 days after receipt of the complaint. If, upon completion of an adjudicatory proceeding pursuant to this section, the Commission determines that such a violation has occurred, the Commission shall have authority to adopt an order to require the entity subject to the complaint to comply with the broadband policy statement and the principles incorporated therein. Such authority shall be in addition to the authority specified in paragraph (1) to enforce this section under titles IV and V. In addition, the Commission shall have authority to adopt procedures for the adjudication of complaints alleging a violation of the broadband policy statement or principles incorporated herein.

Nutria claim this means the FCC lacks the authortity to punish broadband abuse. Right.

The rules they’ll enforce are in Appropriate Framework for Broadband Access to the Internet over Wireline Facilities:

• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.

• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.

• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.

• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

That doesn’t seem too complicated.

NRO likes the new network

Here’s a great editorial from National Review Online on the cool new network:

Where the telecoms predict bold innovations, advocates of net neutrality see Orwellian nightmares. They argue that if telecoms are allowed to speed up the delivery of some content, there is nothing to stop them from slowing down or blocking content they don’t like. But such anti-consumer behavior is unlikely in a competitive market. Let’s say George Soros somehow took over Verizon and made troublemaking websites like National Review Online disappear from his network. Competition from other broadband providers would discourage him from thus breaking his customers’ hearts.

Net-neutrality advocates argue that there isn’t enough competition among broadband providers to ensure that service degradation would be punished or that telecoms would charge Internet companies fair prices for faster service. Most U.S. broadband consumers are forced to choose between their local cable and local phone companies, they argue, giving these telecoms a “virtual duopoly” in the broadband market.

Leave aside the FCC’s finding, noted in the Supreme Court’s ruling on this matter, of “robust competition . . . in the broadband market,” including not just cable and DSL, but burgeoning satellite, wireless, and broadband-over-powerline technologies. Ignore also the argument that net-neutrality legislation could actually entrench the bigger players at the expense of new technologies that might otherwise compete by differentiating their services.

They make an important point: there’s a lot of doubt about the business plan for new broadband, but that’s all the more reason to let the market sort it out. The Nutria want to abort it before we ever get a chance to see what it can do. That would be a dreadful mistake.

The Daily Neut – Part II

Recent developments on the neut front have the New York Times showing a failure to grasp the concept:

“Net neutrality” is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. Cable and telephone companies that provide Internet service are talking about creating a two-tiered Internet, in which Web sites that pay them large fees would get priority over everything else. Opponents of these plans are supporting Net-neutrality legislation, which would require all Web sites to be treated equally. Net neutrality recently suffered a setback in the House, but there is growing hope that the Senate will take up the cause.

And Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee flying off into a socialist Neverland:

It is of the utmost importance that, if I connect to the Internet, and you connect to the Internet, that we can then run any Internet application we want, without discrimination as to who we are or what we are doing. We pay for connection to the Net as though it were a cloud which magically delivers our packets. We may pay for a higher or a lower quality of service. We may pay for a service which has the characteristics of being good for video, or quality audio. But we each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me.

There’s actually nothing magical about how the Internet delivers packets, it’s a machine that follows a strict set of rules. The Net Neutrality advocates are indeed hostile to levels of service that are good for video or good for audio, and nobody is even thinking about a service that blocks access to anybody; in actual fact the COPE Act that was passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee expressly forbids that. So this is simply another strawman argument from somebody who should know better.

Porn drives the web

The porn business may be the decider in the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD standards battle for hi-def DVDs, according to PC World. But some aren’t so sure:

“I love the whole pornography concept simply because porn is still the number one money-making use of the Internet,” Duplessie said. But I don’t believe the porn industry will drive the format. Like any other industry, it will supply what the consumer wants.”

Nonetheless, it’s taken for granted that porn drives the web. Work that out for net neutrality if you can.

The Daily Neut

Here are two items from the neut front. First an article in Salon by Big Neut Tim Wu in which he makes a little sense:

None of this is to say that a good network-neutrality rule must be absolute, or even close to absolute. It’s an open secret that AT&T and Verizon want to become more like cable television companies. If Verizon wants to build a private network to sell TV, that would justify broad powers to control the network, a precondition to providing the service at all. No neutrality rule should be a bar to building better networks that do more.

OK, so why are you trying to do just that, prevent American companies from building better networks?

And the other is a piece by Mumon, a very prominent figure in the world of wireless networks:

The real issue for “net neutrality” is that an advanced internet needs to be built, financed, and initiated through the government help, like it is in Korea, Japan, and China. That’s why our access charges are so steep relative to these places. Put big pipes everwhere, and the high class QoS services can easily coexist with the best effort folks. That’s an issue of capital infrastructure deployment and build-out, which in the US, with its lack of centralized planning for such things, doesn’t exist. Hopefully rapid deployment of true competitive access schemes (Broadband Power Line, WiMax) might alleviate this problem. But that takes a new policy, committment, and intervention, with a quid-pro-quo of warranties of operability.

Mumon cites the WaPo’s editorial today, and essentially agrees with it:

Yet perhaps without realizing it, those who are now advocating “net neutrality”– the notion that those who shell out the big bucks to build new much higher speed networks can’t ask the websites that will use the networks intensively to help pay for them– could keep this new world from becoming a reality. Further, they could deprive the websites themselves of the benefits of being able to use the networks to deliver their data-heavy content.

That’s all I have time for today.

The Senate takes a stand for freedom

The Senate took a step toward preserving the freedom to innovate yesterday with the introduction of a telecom bill that puts the wild claims of the net neuts in perspective:

Absent from the legislation are any regulations related to “Net neutrality,” also known as network neutrality, that companies such as, Google, Yahoo, Intel and Microsoft have been lobbying for during the past few months. Instead of handing the Federal Communications Commission extensive powers to police violations–an idea defeated in a House of Representatives committee vote last week–the FCC would merely be required to prepare annual reports on any problems.

That’s exactly what’s appropriate for now: show us a problem and we’ll fix it, but buzz off if all you have is hysteria.

Sen. Ted Stevens is no dummy.