Network World’s Brad Reed has a pretty good news piece on the order FCC chairman Kevin Martin is trying to sell to the Comission’s Democrats. He quotes one of my favorite people, me:
Network architect and inventor Richard Bennett, who has long been critical of net neutrality advocates, says he has some concerns about the precedent the FCC sets if it votes to affirm Martin’s recommendation. In particular, he worries that the principles in the FCC’s policy statement are far too broadly defined and they will be used to encumber upon traffic management practices that are necessary for ISPs to keep their QoS high for the majority of their customers. Bennett says while ISPs should be barred from engaging in anticompetitive behavior by actively discriminating against rival online content, it should be allowed to slow or even stop transfers that are degrading the Web experience for other users.
“Even in this case where the FCC has banned the used of application-based discrimination, it’s perfectly reasonable for ISPs to discriminate against applications on behalf of a particular user,” he says. “Say you’ve got two customers, and one is using VoIP and the other is using BitTorrent. You’re going to need to give VoIP traffic preference over BitTorrent in order to ensure quality of service.”
I actually said something a little different. I want the ISP to allocate bandwidth fairly among users of a given service tier, and then prioritize within each account. So if the same user is running BitTorrent and Vonage at the same time, I want the Vonage traffic to have priority. Martin’s order would ban that practice, and that would be a Bad Thing.
The fact that Martin is proposing to do just that tells you that the FCC is not ready to impose regulations on ISPs yet. More study is needed, and some public comment on the proposed rules.
Kind of like, you know, a formal rule-making procedure. Hell of an idea, eh?
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