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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 12/ 7/2010

FCC net neutrality plan gets picked apart from all sides

By Cecilia Kang

A net neutrality regulation proposed by the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is getting picked apart from many sides.

Verizon Wireless’ chief executive Daniel Mead met on Friday with Chairman Julius Genachowski his staff and argued that the broadband market doesn't need new rules. A public interest group and a coalition representing tech giants Google and Skype also met with FCC officials Friday to urge that the rules apply equally to wireless and fixed-wire broadband networks and that they clearly state priority delivery of content won’t be tolerated.

The FCC's net-neutrality proposal has garnered support from labor unions, Web founders like Craig Newmark of Craig's list and some venture capitalists. And it's received cautious support from carrier AT&T and Comcast.

But in the days leading up the Dec. 21 FCC vote on the rules, officials are also hearing criticism on details of the proposal, which hasn't been made public.

In a meeting with FCC officials, including Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell, Mead said if the agency decides to pursue net-neutrality rules, it should follow a framework proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) last November that would, among other things, include a “sunset provision” that would end the regulations in a couple years, according to a filing.

Markham Erickson, head of the Open Internet Coalition and Gigi Sohn, head of public interest group Public Knowledge, met last Friday with John Giusti, chief of staff to Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps.

In the meeting, Erickson and Sohn, stressed that Genachowski's proposal should include a clear definition of what a broadband access provider is. Erickson and Sohn urged Copps – a pivotal ally whom Genachowski must win over – to apply such a definition to wireless access providers and other broadband companies who want to escape regulation.

According to a source who has seen a draft of the rules, the chairman’s proposal introduced last week omits such a definition, an idea he put out in his initial policy proposal more than one year ago:

As such, we propose to define broadband Internet access service for purpose of these rules as "[a]ny communication service by wire or radio that provides broadband Internet access directly to the public, or to such classes of users as to be effectively available directly to the public.

Erickson and Sohn also pressed Copps to ensure that the rule “make[s] clear that paid prioritization [of content] is presumptively unreasonable.”

A source who has seen the draft rules said the FCC would view paid prioritization of content as “a negative thing,” but the agency doesn’t put the burden on a carrier to show that the activity is reasonable.

That means the FCC wouldn’t automatically presume violations of net-neutrality when a company like Verizon Communications gives better delivery of online video from partner YouTube than, say, to Netflix or Hulu. On a case-by-case basis, the agency would take up investigations of alleged discrimination and apply its rule on “unreasonable” network management.

Some telecom law experts say that such an approach would bode well for the biggest network operators.

“This could be a total, huge gaping loophole,” said Marvin Ammori, a communications law professor at the University of Nebraska. “We know that carriers are very powerful and they want a vague rule that makes it harder for a startup like Zynga to come in and claim unreasonably discrimination. That’s a tough battle for any of these innovators who don’t have the deep pockets the carriers do.”

Paul Gallant, a research analyst at the MF Global investment firm, said cable operators will generally like usage-based pricing options offered by Genachowski in his proposal. But that could hurt competitors such as Netflix.

"Depending on where the tiers were set, usage-based pricing on wireline broadband could end up deterring some people from dropping cable for over-the-top video," Gallant wrote in a recent research note.

"To the extent that Netflix’s growth plan anticipates significant mobile subscribership, wireless carriers’ network management decisions could have a material impact on Netflix’s mobile offering," he wrote.

Related stories:
FCC net neutrality plan: paid prioritization and higher fees

FCC Chairman to propose a plan for net neutrality

FCC net neutrality plan faces Republican opposition, uphill battle

By Cecilia Kang  | December 7, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  FCC, Net Neutrality  
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Net Neutrality (content) = Rural Free Delivery (mail)

It is really as simple as that, but I hasten to add that there are a number of trees which get in the way when you are trying to see the forest.

1. There are no "local" networks - States and Counties for RFD. Just like there is no "Long Distance" telephony, just longer or shorter paths. When the Bell System was broken up, the political fiction disappeared.

2. During the period RFD was established (ca. 1890-1930), Ground Transportation enjoyed little or no economies of scale. To say, as Commercial interests do, that UPS spawned FedEx is disingenuous in the extreme. RFD was a Socialist Principle (choke on that) which spawned a business (UPS etc., based upon the internal combustion engine) then competitors based on flight. Flight took away the fiction of "Long Distance" - gee where have we heard that before ?

3. The Republican code for State's Rights is "Interstate Commerce". It is simply the fiction of "Long Distance" which has served the would be Robber Baron so well. RFD plays well with Castle Doctrine (memo to TP, look it up), it's the Barons that hate it.

Posted by: gannon_dick | December 7, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The FCC must show its cards on its authority - where is it? as I have blogged on here:

Posted by: MikeWendy | December 7, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The overall question in all of this is, given the fact that bandwidth is limited, and will be for some time, do we want video streaming services such as Neflix or Vudu or Amazon on Demand to gum up the works of the internet so bad that other traffic suffers?

Posted by: moonwatcher2001 | December 7, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

The FCC must show its cards on its authority - where is it? as I have blogged on here:

Posted by: MikeWendy | December 7, 2010 10:44 AM |
They have the duty to resolve disputes. It is all the authority they need. Denial of service is not a "retreat" from confrontation nor a remedy for unlawful discrimination.

Posted by: gannon_dick | December 7, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Butt OUT FCC!!!!

Just let competition resolve any issues that MIGHT come up.

A pre-emptive strike by ANY governmental entity will do what it always does: FUBAR the whole internet!

BaO is POISON!!!

TBC ~:>{)

Posted by: TheBlackCherokee | December 7, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Hightechforum published Kevin Werbach's position on this. His disclosure explains a lot, but it's still interesting.

Posted by: marylandmom1 | December 7, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The good news the "sunset provision". Bad news no country left by then. The diversity czar Mark LLoyd is going to do us in.

Please Check out song called teapartiers I can’t hear you at

Here’s a verse

When he lost his commie czar it must have knocked off his sox
theirs actually someone reporting news but its only Fox
he still has another czar Chavez loving lloyd
he’s busy trying to make free speech null and void

Posted by: JoeAstroturf | December 7, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Verizon, Google, Skype, Craig's list, AT&T, and Comcast. It's good to know that "We the Giant Corporations" are being consulted by the FCC. The rest of us get to watch or write letters to the FCC, I guess.

Posted by: converse75 | December 7, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

It is impossible to look at net neutrality without looking at the connection between Comcast, NBC, and HULU, which is a competitor of Netflix. Comcast gives Hulu an unfair advantage because of the way it violates the spirit of net neutrality. It does that so that Netflix will have a smaller margin, and find it more difficult to compete. It is exactly the thing businesses should be afraid of as they support the strongest possible net neutrality laws and regulations. Net Neutrality benefits EVERYONE *including telcos*. The lack of it will only benefit certain telco's and only short-term. I hope government gets this right...

Posted by: JohnAkerson | December 7, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Still trying to figure what labor unions have to do with the FCC. They do favor big government and government intervention in commerce, so I assume the FCC is asking for their approval to show support for regulation. Oh, wonderful, say goodbye to the internet as we know it.

Posted by: bajaMN | December 7, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

It sounds as if certain lobbyists - including Cecilia Kang, Google's Reporter and Network Neutrality Lobbyist at The Post - have access to this document, while members of the public do not. This is not the "transparency" that Julius Genachowski promised when he became Chairman of the FCC! If this regulation is such a wonderful compromise, why is the FCC afraid to publish it for review by the public, rather than just by chosen corporate lobbyists?

Posted by: LBrettGlass | December 7, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm for giving this proposal a chance to work. Chairman Genachowski and his staff are trying to pick their way through a complex set of circumstances and come up with a workable approach that would not be dead on arrival (or dead at the courthouse) and which will provide reasonable consumer protections. The FCC faces many other important challenges, and approving this plan would allow the FCC to focus on them. If it works as desired that would be great. If not any subsequent shortfalls can be addressed once they become apparent.
Bruce Hahn
American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance

Posted by: bhahn | December 7, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

it's really simple, this rule applies to all forms of internet access. no exceptions.

no service provider can give priority to any company period, let the consumers choose, if your partner company isn't doing as well as someone else maybe you should re-think your product and price. there is a reason it's not selling.

There net nuetrality is now set, anyone not adhering to those rules will be fined and/or shutdown.

end of discussion, you don't like it? too bad.

Posted by: scotdavidson | December 7, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Why do I hear Glen Beck whispering in my ear,I told you so John didn't I,and I think he's right. Where about to loose our INTERNET connections as we know them today will change,new cost will limit exposure for many INTERNET users.The common "Joe" may he be a contractor or laborer ability to afford the net would be diminish instantaneously,news or Tea Party affiliations would diminish who in Government wouldn't want that after all limiting our ability to communicate would be rewarding for those up for election. John Carey

Posted by: jpc46 | December 8, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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