FCC poised to not require NN for broadband over powerlines

Communications Daily's cover story today indicates that the FCC is poised to rule August first, that broadband over powerlines (BPL) is an information service, just like it has already ruled that Cable modems and DSL are an unregulated info service. The FCC has longstanding precedent for treating like services the same, otherwise they could be found being legally arbitrary and capricious by a Federal court.

The effect of a BPL info services ruling would make what is known, that BPL does not have market power in broadband, official and obvious. As a new broadband entrant with miniscule market share, BPL does not warrant common carrier telecom service regulation that includes non-discrimination net neutrality obligations.

WOW!! New FCC report shows broadband competition growing fast!

The new FCC report on U.S. broadband competition provides powerful real world evidence that broadband competition is increasing and vibrant -- seriously undermining the assertion of neutrality-ites that a “broadband duopoly” exists and that the broadband market is failing.


Let’s look at some powerful new broadband competition facts in the FCC report.


There were 2.75 million new mobile wireless new high speed additions in the 2H05, which means mobile wireless, (a DSL/cable competitive alternative) comprised 35% of all new 2H05 high-speed additions in the U.S., compared to 41% for DSL (3.2m) and 20% for cable modems(1.6m). (see table 1, “High Speed Lines” page 3 of FCC report.)

Where are you Molly? CNET Executive Editor no longer debating...

The following was my latest post on the CNET comment-fest (432 comments ) on CNET Executive Editor Molly Wood's blasting of my NPR Morning Edition commentary. We in the commentariate have not heard from her in a long time. 

It is Day 27 of "CNET holding equal time hostage." I still request t hat we be allowed to have a guest column to balance your staunch pro-NN point of view or that we should do at least do a podcast. 

Now it appears that you are not participating in your own forum. Unless I missed it you have not participated in this lively 400+ comment-fest on NN -- for quite a while. Molly, we have only begun to scratch the surface of why net neutrality is such a monumentally bad idea and misguided public policy.

NN's gross misrepresentation of FCC broadband competition data

The way many neutrality-ites take the FCC broadband competition data out of context reminds me of the classic book “How to Lie with Statistics.” The analysis below should be called “How to put the FCC Broadband Competition Report Data in Honest and Fair Context.” Or “Why the Broadband Duopoly Assertion is Superficial Misrepresentation.”

The first important context is the DIRECTION of broadband competition. It is critical to acknowledge that broadband is a new market that is largely replacing the monopoly dial-up market where consumers had virtually no choice. None of the FCC data suggest that this market is trending back to monopoly or getting less competitive than before. On the contrary, most every time series of data that matter show that the broadband market is becoming increasingly competitive. Is there perfect competition now everywhere? Of course not; that’s a red herring. The honest and fair question should be: is the competition policy that replaced monopoly policy working and resulting in increasing competition and consumer choice and deployment of new technologies? (i.e. the purpose of the 1996 Telecom Act) The answer to that fair question is yes! It is working and making steady and impressive progress over time for most all of America.

Powerful evidence it's not a broadband duopoly

The Washington Post's good article "Rewriting the Web for Mobile Phones" is powerful evidence that there is not a broadband duopoly in the U.S. The article explains that both Google and Yahoo are introducing programs specifically-designed for mobile phones, which by the way outnumber PCs in the U.S.

If broadband  access was a broadband duopoly, why would both Google and Yahoo be investing in moble phone Internet interfaces? And why does Microsoft have Mobile Windows on the popular Treo phones?

It doesn't sound like market failure to me. An analyst in the article said: "These are still the early days of the Mobile Web. Theres going to be a big, big market and there are some huge players that are gong to put a lot of resources into this area." (I ask why Snowe-Dorgan has no sunset provision for when there is more competition -- could it be that they never want it to sunset becuase the issue is not sufficient competition but protection from competition?

Yahoo in the article is making our case for us why one-size-fits all NN regulation is inappropriate for mobile phones (which by the way have not had NN since 1993.) Yahoo spokeswoman said: "With the mobile Web, we don't just try and plop PC-based services onto the phone. The network speeds are different, the device capabilities are different and the what consumers want from us is different."

If Yahoo understands how different Mobile broadband access is from landline broadband access, why does Yahoo support the rigid, one same NN rule for every broadband carrier regardless of their differences?  Could it be protection from competition?

NN forum shopping

The Heartland Institute flags in an article that two prominent State Attorney Generals are now backing NN.

Like the kid that doesn't like what one parent says, goes and asks the other to get the answer they seek, neutrality-ites don't want to hear the "NO!" that they got from the FCC, the DOJ antitrust division, the House of Representatives and the Senate Commerce Committee.
In Washington this transparent maneuver is called "forum shopping." It is the common practice for those with weak or losing arguments.

Microsoft trying to duck explaining NN stance to its investors

There was a good Reuters story today that flags that Microsoft does not want to have to explain its NN position to its shareholders.

Microsoft is in the awkward position of asking the SEC, which is all about full disclosure, why Microsoft should not have to explain a major change in its public policy position that could have a material effect on the value of the company long term.

Inconvenient truths from Berners-Lee/Farber NPR debate on NN

The NN debate between Tim Berners-Lee and David Farber on NPR was useful.

My takeaway from David Farber was two main points: First, no one can define the problem NN is trying to solve; and second, that there are sufficient laws and mechanisms already in place to address any net neutrality concerns, if they transform from being hypothetical to real. 

My big takeaway from Tim Berners-Lee's comments was his over-simplification that left the impression that NN is what everyone has now and have always had.  

To make NN sound less radical and controversial, net neutrality proponents routinely like to imply they just want to restore the situation to the way it was before the FCC's 2005 decision to declare DSL an unregulated information service.

However, if that was truly the NN game plan, and there was no other agenda:

Why are none of the NN bills (Snowe-Drogan or Markey Bills) written as restoring or reinstating what existed in regulation or legislation before if that is truly the case? (Why is it completely new language that applies to all the non-copper technologies it never applied to before?)

Why is net neutrality so hard to define? (If NN is the way its always been, couldn't we just use past definitions?)

Why is the term NN a relatively new term used for the first time on the Internet -- just a few years ago?

NN is "Reverse Robin Hood"

In the real world, NN would have a "reverse Robin Hood" effect where NN would "rob" from light bandwidth users and "give it" to heavy users of bandwidth. The mantra of NN is "non-discrimination" which is a politically-manipulative way of saying broadband pricing must be uniform or averaged

Practically, it means that people that could be paying a lower price for demanding less bandwidth or sevices are forced to pay a higher price to subsidize those who demand and use more bandwidth and services. Simply, NN takes from the bandwidth "poor" and gives it to the bandwdth "rich" -- a classic "reverse Robin Hood" scenario.