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Takeaways from Senate net neutrality hearing; & proposed FCC framework on network management

The big surprise of the hearing was that Chairman Martin was a last minute witness. The Committee created a new first panel for just Chairman Martin, which ended up consuming about 60% of the allotted time for the whole hearing, and which was also the prime time when most of the Senators and press were in attendance. This surprise testimony practically relegated the other panel, which was expected to be the main event, to more of sideshow status.

Overall, this hearing was slightly more balanced than its House counterparts. Chairman Innouye continued his very measured and balanced approach, in that he said things that each side wanted to hear.

  • Given that the Senate Commerce Committee is historically quite bipartisan, and that this committee remains split largely down the middle, I doubt if we will see much real movement on Dorgan-Snowe's net neutrality bill this session.
  • If Chairman Inouye actually thought net neutrality legislation should make progress, he wouldn't have waited fifteen months since the introduction of the Dorgan-Snowe bill to hold the first hearing on it.
  • It appears the real purpose of this hearing was basically to let off steam and throw the net neutrality activists a bone. 

The real import of the hearing was two-fold: 

Dick Armey's clarity of thought and perspective on net neutrality

Be sure to read Dick Armey's succinct analysis and perspective on net neutrality in his op ed: "Spare the Net."

  • I am a big fan of Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- he is one of the true free-marketeer giants of our era.

My letter to Senate Committee on Net Neutrality asking: Why now? Why worsen recession?

Below is the full text of the letter I sent to all members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate leadership questioning why of all times -- now -- for pushing net neutrality?

April 22, 2008

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye

722 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510-1102

ATTN: Telecom Legislative Assistant

Dear Chairman Inouye:

Hance Haney finds more Orwellian doublespeak in Lessig's FCC Lecture on net neutrality

Kudos to Hance Haney of the Discovery Institute, who in his Tech Liberation Front blog post: "What did he say?, found another big misrepresentation whopper in Professor Lessig's lecture to the FCC on net neutrality last week.

  • Hance pointed out in elegant detail, that Professor Lessig took the extensive quotes about the important value of end-to-end arrchitecture from former FCC Chief Economist Gerald Foulhaber in 2000 -- completely out-of-context.
    • Hance: "Normally when you quote someone extensively but selectively and you’re making a different (arguably opposite) point, you acknowledge that."

  • Like I explained in my previous post "Bringing sunlight to Professor Lessig's Orwellian Doublespeak lecture at the FCC" I identified three clear instances of Professor Lessig misreprenting the views of others or weaknesses in his net neutrality argument.  

    • Hance's keen memory and ear identified a big fourth example.

    • I'll bet others heard additional misrepresentations or half-truths in Professor Lessig's FCC lecture -- as four misrepresentation examples clearly represent a pattern of not shooting straight to the public on net neutrality.

Don't miss -- FCC's McDowell: why engineering problems should be solved by engineers not bureaucrats

The wisdom and clarity of thought prize at the FCC's enbanc hearing at Stanford goes to --- FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell!

I urge you to take a few moments and read the following excerpt from Commissioner McDowell's statement yesterday -- it really gets to the heart of the matter of what the appropriate role is for the FCC in broadband network management issues.

"...In their joint press announcement, Comcast and BitTorrent expressed the view that “these technical issues can be worked out through private business discussions without the need for government intervention.”

U.S. Not falling behind world on broadband/Internet -- must read New York Times on new study

Kudos to John Markoff of the New York Times for a excellent, informative, and balanced article about the ongoing debate over where the U.S. really ranks in the world on Internet/broadband infrastructure.   

  • The article, "Study Gives High Marks to U.S. Internet," does a good job of letting both sides of this fierce and ongoing debate get in their best points.

First, the article shares the news of the seventh annual World Economic Forum report produced by a French Business School which shows that the U.S. ranks 4th up from 7th last year and which contrasts with the more narrow OECD study that focuses on broadband penetration and shows the U.S. ranking lower and falling.

Second, what I most appreciated was that the article candidly explored that there are two opposing world views at work trying to use statistics and studies to promote their world views.

Nyet neutrality activists making big mistake defending Internet socialism

Save the Internet campaign director Tim Karr in Huffington Post and columnist John Dvorak in PC Magazine are making a strategic blunder in their latest posts in responding to Andy Kessler's Wall Street Journal op ed "Internet Wrecking Ball" in bringing the net neutrality discussion back to a political philosophy discussion about whether the Internet should continue be a free market or whether Government should effectively "socialize" the Internet with net neutrality economic regulation and a implementation of an "information commons" agenda. 

New NetCompetition.org one pager: Why Markey net neutrality Bill would regulate the Internet

  

Why the Markey Net Neutrality Bill Would Regulate the Internet

H.R.5353 would alter the FCC’s priorities to put Internet regulation ahead of competition   

Where the Markey Bill explicitly would regulate the Internet: 

The Left's Anti-competitive National Broadband Strategy; Reed Hundt yearning for monopoly regulation

The uber-communications-advisor of the left, Reed Hundt, gave an eyebrow-raising exclusive interview with Telephony-Online yesterday where he shared his views "on how to change broadband policy."  

Technology neutrality policy in NTIA broadband report is great guide for FCC on Network Managment

One subject I was surprised was not discussed openly at the FCC's Harvard field hearing on: Broadband Network Managment Practices, was the U.S. Government's existing policy of "technology neutrality." (The policy is pasted at the end of this post. It comes from page 5 of the NTIA January 2008 report: Networked Nation: Broadband in America 2007. http://www.ntia.doc.gov/reports/2008/NetworkedNationBroadbandinAmerica2007.pdf)

  • Technology neutrality, which is simply the policy of government not discriminating in favor of one technology over another, has been central to the U.S. Government's free market policy towards the Internet for years.
  • The FCC implemented technology neutrality policy in applying similar information service deregulatory status to the various broadband techologies: DSL, Cable modem, Wireless Broadband and Broadband over Powerlines -- in four separate (5-0) FCC rulemakings.

Why the consistent legal precedents of technology neutrality are so relevant to the FCC's investigation of the FreePress/Vuze petitions on Comcast's network management, is that big broadband providers like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (among others) have very different technologies that require very different network management approaches.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths