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Why FreePress' Comcast Petition unreasonably defines "reasonable network management"

The FreePress Comcast petition has an unreasonable view of what "reasonable" network management is in the FCC's net neutrality policy.

First, the petitioners ignore the reason the FCC exists in the first place -- the absolute necessity for some network management in order for communications systems to function as needed.

  • The predecessor to the FCC, the Federal Radio Commission was created in 1927 because of the chaos of an completely unmanaged network (like the petitioners currently are advocating for) --
    • too many stations were broadcasting on too few frequencies making the airwaves a garbled and unworkable "tragedy of the commons."
  • The Government brought order to this chaos by granting the FRC/FCC the authority to make spectrum licensed property, grant licenses, and assign frequencies and power levels for each license.  

Second, the petitioners ignore that "reasonable network management" of communications is directly analogous to reasonable traffic management of our roadways.

  • It is perfectly "reasonable" to:
    • have stop and yield signs to protect drivers and manage traffic;
    • prohibit driving "into the box" of an intersection at the change of a light to prevent traffic gridlock;
    • Place time and high-occupancy-vehicle restrictions on the most jammed thoroughfares to avoid network gridlock.
  • It is perfectly reasonable to manage communications network traffic in a similar way so that the counterproductive actions of the few at the wrong time do not make the network unworkable for the many.
    • The petitioners have taken the unreasonable and narrow position that any differential restriction of IP traffic or applications are per se discriminatory and bad and could not have a legitimate or beneficial impact.
      • The petitioners view is unreasonable because any network requires a modicum of management to make the network functional.

Third, the petitioners are unreasonable in expecting that all traffic or applications be treated the same; because they never have been in the past. 

  • For the last few decades the FCC has treated enhanced services (data/information services) differently than telecommunications services in a whole host of regulatory, design and financial ways.  
  • The FCC requires network managers to provide government communications traffic priority access in times of emergency.
  • The Government has had vastly different rules and laws for telecom, wireless, cable, broadcast, and satellite networks and the traffic/content on those networks.
  • In privatizing the Internet, the backbone has had three very different tiers of Internet traffic for carriers by size and reach -- that lead to differential financial treatment of traffic.
  • Moreover, different Internet applications can have very different traffic requirements from the network; these different network needs cannot be met consistently if the network is random and not managed. For example:
    • Voice applications are real-time and require priority to prevent latency and ensure quality of service. 
    • Some applications require both variable and large amounts of bandwidth like gaming. 
    • Some applications require a guaranteed constant amount of bandwidth like safety or health monitoring. 
    • Other applications are highly complex and require multiple protocols to function.
  • The point here is that without the fantasy of infinite bandwidth, some periodic prioritization is necessary to protect consumers and deliver expected quality of service.

Fourth, the petitioners are unreasonable in stifling innovation at the core of the network because of a bias for innovation at the edge of the network. 

  • With the explosion in bandwidth demand required by a video enabled Internet, it is unreasonable for bandwidth-hogging applications providers who ride the Internet largely for free to expect that network providers solve their insatiable demand for near free bandwidth by investing in ever more bandwidth.
    • Once again, this is the "tragedy of the commons' dynamic where the applications providers -- who contribute little to recovering the cost of the Internet, while also using most of the Internet's bandwidth -- have virtually no incentive to conserve bandwidth because someone else is subsidizing it. 

Fifth, it is unreasonable for the petitioners to expect that network security not be secure.

  • The petitioners propose the nonsensical notion that it is deceptive if a network manager does not disclose all its network management and security features publicly and in advance.
  • That is as silly as expecting a bank to disclose the combination to its vault or the countermeasures it takes to prevent the loss of what it is guarding!
  • Given that the Federal Government is concerned that p2p file sharing applications like Bittorrent:

Bottom line: Just because the petitioners want the Internet to be regulated as a public commons; doesn't make it so. 

Just because the petitioners want all competitive broadband networks to be regulated as monopoly common carriers; doesn't make it so.

  • The petitioners seem to have amnesia  and forgotten that their radical view of net neutrality regulation has already been rejected by the FCC, the House, the Senate, the FTC, the DOJ, the Supreme Court and the States of Maryland, Maine and Michigan.
  • It will take more than a bogus FCC petition and trumped up charges for the FCC or the Government to reverse the greatest de-regulation success story of all time -- the Internet.