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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:

Federal Broadband Report proves wisdom of bi-partisan law to promote competition/reduce regulation

Many have missed the high significance of the NTIA Commerce Department report: "Networked Nation: Broadband in America."

  • In particular, press reports, which zeroed in on the histrionics of broadband critics, totally "missed the proverbial forest for the trees" on this one.
  • The fact is that this report is a very big deal for national broadband policy.    

First, this official United States Government report represents the consensus policy thinking and sign-off of all the many parts of the United States Government involved in setting United States broadband policy, including but not limited to: NTIA, FCC, FTC, USTR, CEA, OMB, OSTP, and the Federal Departments of Commerce, Treasury, State, Justice, and Agriculture. 

Second, this is the first and only official and comprehensive U.S. Executive Branch assessment of U.S. broadband strategy/policy and of U.S. progress in deploying broadband. Broadband critics can no longer say there is no official or clear U.S. Government broadband policy, because here it is:

Don't miss the new Exaflood analysis by Bret Swanson and George Gilder

For anyone wanting a good forward-looking perspective about the real challenges facing the Internet, look no further than the great new study "Estimating the Exaflood" by Bret Swanson and George Gilder.

Why this study is so timely and relevant is that the real problem facing the Internet is how to keep up with the exploding capacity demands of migrating to a video-driven Internet.

  • The net neutrality utopians want to assume that bandwidth is infinite and free -- magically supplied by others for their p2p bandwidth gluttony -- with no costs to, or no affect on, others.
  • The real world does not operate that way...

The report also is an important backdrop for why broadband networks must be allowed reasonable network management.

  • Without massive investment and reasonable network management, the quality and the responsiveness of the Internet will suffer as the exaflood surges.

Speaking at the Congressional Internet Caucus Wireless panel Wednesday

I am on the Congressional Internet Caucus wireless panel Wednesday with Blair Levin of Stifel Nicolaus, Michael Calabrese of the New America Foundation, and Jason Devitt of Skydeck.

The panel is on: "Opening up 700 MHz & White Spaces" What hath the FCC wrought?"

  • Should be interesting given that I am the only panelist not under the influence of "openness"...






Economic downturn injects reality into net neutrality movement's nano-management petitions

Concern about an economic downturn has a powerful practical effect of rationalizing public policy priorities.

  • Net neutrality proponents failed to persuade every official body in 2006 and 2007 to support net neutrality legislation/regulation, because most every responsible official could plainly see that net neutrality was a solution in search of a problem. 
  • Now the net neutrality movement has re-focused its crusade on manufacturing and contriving a "problem" by focusing on FCC petitions against Comcast's network management of p2p and Verizon's admitted and quickly-corrected mistake concerning text messaging.   

The economic downturn now provides even more perspective of how far out of the mainstream the net neutrality movement really is.

Economic downturn is worst time for net neutrality proponents to be discouraging universal broadband

We'll soon see if net neutrality proponents are reasonable and responsible. Do they grasp that calling for preemptive, anti-investment, regulation of broadband that would discourage deployment of broadband to all Americans -- is the last thing our Nation needs during this economic downturn?

  • The reality is that forward-thinking broadband deregulation has spurred massive investment in broadband and Internet infrastructure in the U.S. and this investment is spurring adoption of broadband faster than any communication service in American history.
  • Moreover, an unfettered broadband economy and infrastructure is key to capturing the economic and productivity gains of more universally-adopted broadband.

Broadband deployment, adoption, competition and investment is one of the great success stories of our economy.

  • The last thing our teetering economy needs right now is preemptive, anti-investment, net neutrality regulation of our cutting-edge communications sector that would only hurt the overall American economy.
  • This is no time for solutions in search of a problem.
  • We face real economic problems which require responsible broadband policies.  

The Common Sense Case Why Network Management Trumps Net Neutrality

Common sense dictates that the FCC will rule in favor of the critical necessity of broadband network management and against the FreePress and Vuze petitions which claim that prioritizing p2p traffic is an unlawful violation of the FCC's network neutrality principles. 

  • No one should mistake the FCC doing its job in investigating significant allegations (by issuing public notices for comments), for an FCC predilection against reasonable network management in favor of net neutrality supremacy.

The common sense case why network management trumps net neutrality:

First, the petitions violate common sense because the petitions are based on a false predicate and presumption. The petitions assume that the FCC's policy of network neutrality principles have the legal and binding effect of formal FCC rules or law and that they trump all existing law and rules. This is preposterous. Just because the petitioners make an impassioned and PR-manipulative plea for that view -- does not mean their petition holds any water.

APT rebuts Brodsky's "Connect Kentucky" broadside against bipartisan solutions that work

Bob Atkinson of APT has an excellent rebutal "Disconnected Condemnation" of Art Brodsky's unwarranted and radical attack on the bipartisan "Connect Kentucky" program that is sucessfully promoting broadband to all Kentuckians.

  • Mr. Atkinson exposes Mr. Brodsky's piece for what it is partisan "yellow journalism."

Pieces like Mr. Brodsky's show how low net neutrality radicals will go to forward their information commons/net neutrality agenda.

  • If they have to step on rural Americans in desperate need of broadband to get what they want, so be it -- nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of a socialized Internet... their end justifies their means... 

Frustrated net neutrality zealots are lashing out at a universal broadband success story

An obviously frustrated Art Brodsky of Public Knowlege, trashes the Nation's leading and successful pilot effort to promote universal broadband in the country -- Connect Kentucky -- in a voluminous post that's best described as a glass-half-empty, life-is-so-terrible-because-the-world-is-not-perfect, whine-fest.  

These two are so tunnel-visioned against anything private sector and so zealous for government nationalization of broadband infrastructure -- that they fail to see that there is a strong bipartisan and practical consensus around promoting universal broadband deployment to all Americans quickly and that Connect Kentucky has proven to be quite successful in achieving that bipartisan goal.   

More evidence the US is not falling behind on broadband, but leading the world

The Big Government advocates who try to paint the U.S. as falling behind in broadband so they can justify an activist National Broadband Policy -- have a huge and embarassing hole in their argument -- the U.S. lead in wireless/mobile broadband, including U.S. leadership in transitioning prime analog TV spectrum to mainstream digital broadband use.

  • The World Radio Conference of the UN, which is wrapping up this week in Berlin, indirectly showcases this U.S. lead in mobile broadband.
    • Per the International Herald Tribune, the U.S. is way ahead of the rest of the world in transitioning analog broadcasters to digital and reallocating this best-available spectrum for mobile-broadband use --
      • IHT: "The world is in varying stages in going digital, with U.S. broadcasters switching by 2009, Asian broadcasters by 2015, and most European countries somewhere in between." 
    • So how does being 2-6 years ahead of our international competitors in bringing the best available spectrum for mobile broadband to consumers -- constitute "falling behind" or "a failure of no national broadband policy?"

This U.S. world leadership in transitioning prime spectrum to optimal consumer use is powerful evidence of the superiority of our broadband policy approach, which embraces market forces more than just about any other major country in the world.