Thursday, January 29, 2009

Net Neutrality Provisions Inserted Into Democratic Broadband Stimulus Bill

Warning To Carriers: If You Are Dumb and Greedy Enough To Take The Money - YOU DESERVE TO BE CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT

The confluence between "technology" and "civil rights" is a strange orgy of ideas. The government seeks to expand the coverage of broadband in America while controlling the carriers as they make use of various bandwidth rationing schemes.

On the one side are the supposed consumer advocates who see traffic shaping as a violation of consumer rights. In their view - If a consumer was promised 6mb of throughput they should be free to make use of it as they please. On the other side is the operator. They know that if all of their customers made constant use of 6mb that their network infrastructure would crash.

Add a wireless access scheme which is by default a shared medium and you can double the assurance of catostrophy. Where as with a wire line access technology the carrier can add a better medium (ie fiber) or faster electronics - in the wireless world "God ain't making more spectrum" so the only way to go is to attempt to get better modulation schemes within the very same spectrum.

I assure you that the very same people resisting traffic shaping schemes by the carriers will be the first people suing the carriers if and when their individual performance suffers as a result of unmitigated use of the infrastructure ,that is by definition a shared one.

House Democrats are signaling support for network neutrality as the Energy and Commerce Committee attaches network neutrality and open access mandates to almost $3 billion in grants and loans for network build-outs to unserved and underserved areas of the country.

Democrats sent a strong signal Jan. 22 that network neutrality would play a starring role in the $6 billion broadband piece of the U.S. House's overall $825 billion economic stimulus package. In approving $2.9 billion for network build-outs in rural and underserved areas, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce insisted that network neutrality and open network mandates be attached to the funding.

"These are public dollars. Networks built with this funding should be open," Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said. The mandates require the winners of the funding to allow any legal device to be connected to the new networks, and network operators are prohibited from discriminating in the handling of network traffic.

In a business meeting that extended late into the night, the House panel approved a grants program to be operated by the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) that calls for 25 percent of the $2.9 billion to be spent on areas of the country with no broadband access with the remaining 75 percent poured into "underserved" areas.

The other half of the $6 billion dedicated to broadband build-out in the House stimulus package calls for $2.9 billion in grants and loans to administered by the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is not under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, but it is expected that the same network neutrality and open network mandates will be attached to the funding.

The overall stimulus bill may reach the floor of the House the week of Jan. 26. The Senate's version is currently being drafted.

The mandates represent a major shift in the policy battle over network neutrality. Under Republican control and the Bush administration, efforts to pass network neutrality laws faced opposition from telecommunications and cable companies, which adamantly objected to the idea of government control over their network management practices.

In the House, a network neutrality amendment to a telco reform bill failed in 2006. The Senate has never had a floor vote on network neutrality, but the Senate Commerce Committee voted against a network neutrality amendment to the 2006 telco reform bill.

Since then, the network neutrality debate has centered around the FCC's legal status and ability to enforce the agency's Internet principles. In August 2005, the FCC declared that consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice, run applications and services of their choice, and plug in and run legal devices of their choice. The FCC also said consumers have a right to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

No comments: