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How redefining broadband's lowest speed could be anti-competition & undermine universal broadband availability

I was surprised and concerned to read in Comm Daily today that the FCC's broadband data collection rulemaking "is expected to swap the FCC minimum speed for broadband -- 200 kbps -- for a tiered approach. The lowest tier would set 768 kbps as the minimum speed, an FCC source said."

  • I certainly hope this is not the case, as it could have a ton of negative unintended consequences which I will outline below.

How could changing the baseline minimum definition of what is broadband turn out to be anti-competition and undermine the universal availability of broadband?

More evidence of why a Mobility goal must be part of any "National Broadband Strategy"

CNET highlights new Comscore research that shows that mobile broadband is the fastest growing type of broadband.

  • One would think this hot consumer demand for "mobility" would universally be viewed as a good thing, but it isn't viewed that way by pro-regulation/net neutrality proponents.  
  • They fear rapidly increasing consumer demand for mobile broadband will undermine political support and the rationale for their pro-regulation proposals to regulate and subsidize one primary stationary broadband provider.

Proponents of a new National Broadband Strategy have two huge vulnerabilities:

  • technological bias that American consumers only want fast stationary broadband speed (and not mobility too); and
  • An anti-competition policy bias that the development of broadband competition over the last several years isn't working and can't work.

Those powerful policy biases against:

Exposing the sanctimony of net neutrality activists

Enough of Net neutrality activists' hypocritical sanctimony over freedom, free speech and democracy! It is sickening.

Net neutrality activists claim to support freedom, free speech, and democracy, but they really don't in practice.

First, let's look at the recent activist whining from FreePress/SaveTheInternet about how the FCC network management forum at Harvard was somehow hijacked by Comcast sympathetic attendees or who these activists have derisively called "seat fillers."

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: 

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.

Connected Nation broadband legislation would stimulate economy; Markey legislation would stifle it

Connected Nation's new report on the economic impact of pending broadband mapping bills shows how public/private partnerships could accelerate broadband deployment to all Americans and provide an estimated $134b direct economic stimulus per year for the nation.

  • The pending broadband mapping legislation adopts a bipartisan consensus approach of public/private partnerships to discover where broadband gaps are and how to stimulate actual broadband deployment to those underserved areas.
    • This mainstream approach is focused on a consensus mainstream goal that has bipartisan mainstream support -- encouraging broadband deployment to all Americans.

Contrast this mainstream legislation to promote universal broadband, with the new fringe net neutrality legislation proposed by House Telecom Chairman Ed Markey.

National Broadband Strategy Proponent has blindspot for mobile broadband

I was very surprised at the answer I got when I asked Bob Atkinson, the ITIF author of "Framing a National Broadband Policy" a question at the Alliance for Public Technology panel discussion last Friday on the topic of: "Framing a National Broadband Policy."

Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management -- new one-pager

Given the flurry of comments to the FCC on the FreePress petition on Comcast's network management due yesterday, I produced a new NetCompetition one-pager on Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management. I find the one-page format is useful to crystalize my thinking and boil my thoughts down most succinctly.

The primary conclusions in the one pager are:

  • Net neutrality has an inherent bias against network management.
  • Network Neutrality defines network management as discrimination.
  • Net neutrality is not a "practical' principle; the word "reasonable" exists for a reason. 

For those who don't want to use the one-page format or link above, I have copied the full text below:

Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management   Net Neutrality has an inherent bias against network management.   

NetCompetition press release on Markey Net Neutrality Bill -- wolf in sheeps clothing

  

For Immediate Release                                                                    

Contact:  Scott Cleland

February 13, 2008                                                                                              

202-828-7800  Markey Net Neutrality Bill is “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” 

WASHINGTONScott Cleland, chairman of NetCompetition.org, today released the following statement regarding Representative Ed Markey’s proposed net neutrality bill:

 

Chairman Markey's Net Neutrality Wolf in Broadband Sheep's Clothing Act

The long-awaited new Net Neutrality bill is finally coming out from House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey and Rep. Chip Pickering -- it's now called "The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008."

After reviewing the draft version circulating among the media this evening, here are my initial takeaways on the new proposed legislation.

First, the proposed legislation attempts to rebrand the controversial "net neutrality" issue as "Internet Freedom" and "broadband policy."  

  • While most all of the net neutrality buzzwords still pepper the legislation (open, discrimination, blocking, degrading, etc.) conspicuously absent from the legislation is the well-known and never fully defined "net neutrality" brand. 
  • This is odd given all the effort Markey's supporters have put into branding this issue over the last two years. 
  • It is doubtful that most people on the Hill, in industry, and in the press will stop calling it Markey's new Net Neutrality bill. 

Second, the bill's primary purpose is a bold attempt to reverse longstanding United States broadband policy by amending Title I of the 1934 Communications Act. This Markey bill would:

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths