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Buzz is Chairman Markey is planning a House hearing on Net Neutrality next week

The buzz is that House Subcommittee Chairman Markey is planning a hearing on net neutrality for Tuesday May 6th (probably AM) -- if they can line up their witnesses, which are still TBD.

I wouldn't be surprised if Professor Lessig is asked to testify yet again, after testifying before the Senate last week and the FCC the week before.

Read Cato's Timothy Lee's "Changing the Internet's architecture isn't so easy"

Kudos to Timothy Lee of Cato, for his post in Techdirt: "Changing the Internet's architecture isn't so easy." 

Mr. Lee challenged Professor Lessig's assertion at the Stanford FCC hearing that network owners have the power to change the Internet's architecture.

Why his insightful analysis is so devastating to Professor Lessig's core assertion underlying the need for net neutrality legislation is that it exposes some "inconvenient truths" about the reality of trying to change the Internet's architecture:

  • First, Mr. Lee brilliantly points out that to control which devices got what content like Professor Lessig posits, would require instituting some type of handshake protocol that would be extremely difficult to get adopted by device manufacturers.
  • Second, he points out how difficult it has been to change the Internet's architecture to IPv6, something there is a lot of consensus around to do.
  • Third, he explains that these changes in architecture Lessig posits would be extremely expensive and take a long time.

I recommend you read his full post, it's brief, well-reasoned and fresh.  

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:

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.”

Google's Baaaaack!!! And the "kicker" from DoubleClick is still to come

Clearly the market badly under-estimated Google's strength and resilience in a slowing economy given the ~17% leap in Google's stock price in after hours trading.  

  • Google's notorious lack of openness with investors helped make the market inefficiently, way-over-cautious.

42% revenue growth for an $18b a year company is amazing.

  • It is also amazing for there to be a business of this size and global scope that strongly asserts to have a business model that is unaffected by the turmoil in the macro-economy.
  • It certainly suggests some market power and network effects at work here, because this strong performance and guidance on the effect of the macro-economy -- is not "normal."

What I find most interesting is I don't think that the market yet understands what a growth kicker the DoubleClick acquisition will be for Google going forward. Google was coy about it and did not connect-the-dots for investors -- that they clearly see.

Google co-founder admits to discriminating against US content to improve search results

Google co-founder Sergy Brin, one of Google's most avid net neutrality proponents, candidly admitted today in Google's 1Q08 earnings call with investors, that Google "improved" its international search quality by "demoting non-country search results" on Google's improved country home pages.

This is interesting for a few reasons.

More evidence Google's bidding against itself was improper in 700 MHz auction to trigger conditions

The more we learn about Google's behavior in the FCC's 700 Mhz auction the more clear it is Google acted improperly and "gamed" the auction and Fleeced the American taxpayer as I explained in my original post on this subject.

Comcast-Pando Networks' "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" solves multiple problems

In a breakthrough agreement and announcement (see copy below), Comcast and Pando Networks, (the leading managed p-2-p content delivery service) agreed to:

  • Lead creation of a "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" for P2p users and ISPs; and
  • Create a process to better "share test methodologies and results" among all P2P providers and ISPs so everyone can:
    • Learn how P2P providers can optimize their applications for all types of networks; and
    • "More efficiently deliver legal content."

This is a profoundly significant development because it solves multiple thorny problems:

First, it breaks through and resolves the polarized net neutrality discussion where proponents only talk about ones own Internet "rights" but don't acknowledge the "responsibilities" that accompany any "rights" or acknowledge the effect those "rights" can have on the "rights" of others.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths