I released a report on the Internet’s technical history Friday at the ITIF World Headquarters in Washington, DC. Thanks to a great turnout and a fantastic panel of very smart people commenting on the paper, we kicked off a lively new thread in the Net Neutrality discussion, so the launch was a success.
FCC Chairman Genachowski helped create interest in the report by unveiling his net neutrality program earlier in the week. I take issue with the Chairman’s notion that the Internet is fair to all applications; explaining why leads to a discussion of the weakness of the net neutrality arguments and the need to keep innovation alive in the network itself. You can download the report and get a video of the discussion by clicking this link to the ITIF’s web site. Enjoy.
In FCC Chairman Genachowski’s long-anticipated statement on net neutrality rulemaking today, the Chairman made the claim that the Internet architecture is both unbiased and future-proof. However, as ITIF notes in a forthcoming report, “Designed for Change: End-to-End Arguments, Internet Innovation, and the Net Neutrality Debate”, the Internet’s architecture doesn’t make it future-proof, the process of experimentation and continual improvement does; rule making can seriously jeopardize Internet flexibility unless it’s undertaken with great care. In addition, it’s important to note that the Internet has always preferred some applications over others; it favors content over communication, for example. Network management is necessary as a means to overcome the Internet’s structural bias, so strict rules limiting network management to the mitigation of spam, malware, and attacks are not good enough. Carriers must be empowered to enable communications applications to compete equitably with content applications; only the carriers can provide fair access to diverse applications and users.
The approach to Internet regulation that focuses exclusively on the rights of consumers and the responsibilities of carriers belies the fact that the Internet invests substantial network control at the intelligent edge; the Internet gives each of us the power to be a producer as well as a consumer, and with that power comes responsibility. We can innovate without permission, but we all have to behave responsibly. It goes without saying that open access networks are desirable, so the real test of the FCC’s rulemaking will come from its assessment of both user behavior and operator management practices. We have every confidence that the Commission will undertake a serious, rigorous and fact-based rule making. The Internet enables innovation to the extent that carriers provide robust and reliable transport services to applications; if this capability is preserved and enhanced by a sensible network management framework, innovation will win.
This blog is now on MidPhase Hosting instead of Bluehost. It seems quite a bit faster. Bluehost has really gone downhill in terms of response time, and is blacklisted by some spam fighters.
The personal blog is still at bennett.com/blog. This one is all about the Innerwebs.