Education disappointed by net-neutrality ‘loopholes’

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has vocal critics on both sides of the net neutrality debate.

Rules meant to prevent internet service providers from discriminating against online content might not be the safeguard that schools and colleges were hoping for, as net-neutrality supporters believe the Federal Communication Commission’s new policy might lead to “bidding wars” that could leave smaller campuses without access to a high-speed web connection.

The FCC passed the rules, 3-2, with all three of the commission’s Democrats voting for the measure and both Republicans voting against it.

Republican opponents of net neutrality have long argued that the rules constitute unnecessary regulations for web providers and internet users.…Read More

FCC to vote on net neutrality rules

Many in higher education support Genachowski's push for net neutrality.

Net neutrality apparently isn’t dead after all: Federal regulators are moving ahead with a plan to prohibit phone and cable companies from blocking or discriminating against internet traffic flowing over their broadband networks, despite Republican opposition to the plan in Congress.

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will outline his proposal for so-called “net neutrality” rules in a speech on Dec. 1.

Despite Republican opposition, Genachowski plans to bring his proposal to a vote by the full commission before the end of the year; many observers thought this was unlikely to happen after Republicans seized control of the House in last month’s elections.…Read More

House Democrats punt on net neutrality

Net neutrality was the Obama administration's top campaign pledge to the technology industry and a major priority of the current FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski.
Net neutrality was the Obama administration's top campaign pledge to the technology industry and a major priority of the current FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski.

In the latest development in the fight over so-called “net neutrality” regulations, House Democrats have shelved a last-ditch effort to broker a compromise between phone, cable, and internet companies on rules that would prohibit broadband providers from blocking or degrading online traffic flowing over their networks.

House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., abandoned the effort late on Sept. 29 in the face of Republican opposition to his proposed net-neutrality rules. Those rules were intended to prevent broadband providers from becoming online gatekeepers by playing favorites with traffic.

The battle over net neutrality has pitted public interest groups and internet companies such as Google Inc. and Skype against the nation’s big phone and cable companies, including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., and Comcast Corp.…Read More

Lawmaker’s net neutrality compromise: Solution or last gasp?

As House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., prepares to release his legislative proposal for new rules to preserve an open internet, a leaked version reveals that it would limit the FCC’s authority to enforce net neutrality, Ars Technica reports. According to the leaked draft, internet service providers (ISPs) would be forbidden to “unjustly or unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a consumer’s wireline broadband internet access service.” But the proposal would not apply to wireless broadband, and the FCC would be given no new rulemaking authorities regarding ISPs. If that sounds familiar, it should: It bears a very strong resemblance to the Google/Verizon “compromise” plan on net neutrality released to great dismay from public-interest groups in August. How did we get from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposals for clear net-neutrality enforcement and ISP transparency rules to this? First, factor in massive pushback, threats of lawsuits, and Capitol Hill lobbying from ISPs. Next, plug in a bitterly partisan midterm election year, which seems to have scared the daylights out of the Obama administration. Various D.C. folk have said they believe the FCC’s reluctance to carry out its own agenda is a by-product of pressure from the White House itself…

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IETF: AT&T’s net neutrality claim is ‘misleading’

The head of the internet’s leading standards body said Sept. 2 that it is “misleading” for AT&T to claim that its push to charge customers for high-priority service is technically justified, CNET reports. Internet Engineering Task Force chairman Russ Housley told CNET that AT&T’s arguments to federal regulators, which cited networking standards to justify “paid prioritization” of network traffic, were invalid. “AT&T in their letter [to the Federal Communications Commission] says the IETF envisioned this,” Housley said. “That’s not my view.” This particular debate began earlier this week, when AT&T sent the FCC a letter arguing that telecommunications providers need the ability to set different prices for different forms of internet service. Paid prioritization, AT&T said, was a form of network management that was “fully contemplated by the IETF” more than a decade ago. Everyone agrees that, in the late 1990s, the IETF revised its networking standards to allow network operators to assign up to 64 different traffic “classes,” meaning priority levels. That concept of “differentiated services” is referred to today as DiffServ, which allows high-priority communications like videoconferencing to be labeled with a higher priority than bulk file-transfer protocols that aren’t as sensitive to brief slowdowns. The disagreement arises from what happens if Video Site No. 1 and Video Site No. 2 both mark their streams as high priority. “If two sources of video are marking their stuff the same, then that’s where the ugliness of this debate begins,” Housley says. “The [IETF standard] doesn’t talk about that. … If they put the same tags, they’d expect the same service from the same provider.”

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FCC seeks input on rules for online services

The FCC is seeking public input on what rules should apply to wireless internet access.
The FCC is seeking public input on what rules should apply to wireless carriers and specialized internet services.

In the latest twist in the Federal Communications Commission’s pursuit of “net neutrality” rules to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against certain types of traffic flowing over their lines, federal regulators are seeking public input on what rules should apply to wireless internet access and specialized services that aren’t part of the internet but are delivered over wired broadband connections.

The agency’s move comes a few weeks after Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. announced a proposal of their own that would allow the FCC to enforce net neutrality rules for wireline broadband traffic would but exempt wireless carriers. The companies’ plan, which was not popular with public interest groups, also would leave room for broadband providers to charge extra to route traffic from so-called “premium services” over dedicated networks that are separate from the public internet.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, as well as many internet content providers, public interest groups, and education organizations, say net neutrality rules are needed to prevent phone and cable companies from abusing their control over high-speed internet access to become online gatekeepers for content.…Read More

Opinion: Corporate policy making would result in a net loss

Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google, and Lowell McAdam, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, are two major players in the net neutrality debate.
Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google, and Lowell McAdam, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, announced a business partnership last year. (AP)

Default Lines column, September 2010 edition of eSchool News—The future of digital-age learning could hinge on the boardroom deals being made by giant corporations as they seek to head off “net neutrality” regulations … and education leaders ought to speak up to make sure their voices are heard on this critical issue.

As we report in our story “Net-neutrality agreement sparks concerns,” Google and Verizon have floated a plan they hope can serve as a framework for federal regulators in drafting rules for net neutrality, which is the idea that internet providers can’t discriminate against certain types of traffic flowing over their lines. But several public-interest groups have slammed the companies’ proposal, saying it would lead to a two-tiered system of internet use that favors large organizations over smaller competitors.

The plan hatched by Google and Verizon would prevent service providers from slowing down, blocking, or charging to prioritize internet traffic flowing over their regular broadband lines. But it exempts wireless carriers from these restrictions. It also leaves room for broadband providers to charge extra to route traffic from so-called “premium services” over dedicated networks that are separate from the public internet.…Read More

Democrats push for FCC power over internet

A group of four Democratic politicians claims that a proposal announced last week by Google and Verizon does not give the federal government enough authority to regulate the internet, CNET reports. The companies’ net-neutrality proposal does not grant the Federal Communications Commission sufficient “oversight authority” and should permit the agency to slap new regulations on wireless services, the politicians said in a letter dated Aug. 16. It was addressed to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a fellow Democrat, who has been left in an awkward position after a federal appeals court slapped down the agency’s attempt to punish Comcast. The letter, drafted by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., says the idea of curbing FCC authority over wireless services “could widen the digital divide by establishing a substandard, less open experience for traditionally underserved regions and demographic groups that may more often need to access or choose to access the internet on a mobile device.” It also was signed by Anna Eshoo, whose district includes Palo Alto, Calif., Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, and Jay Inslee of Washington state…

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Google defends its net-neutrality plan

Despite much opposition, Google is defending its net-neutrality proposal co-authored with broadband and wireless provider Verizon, PC World reports. The search giant on Aug. 12 issued counterarguments on six points (Google calls them myths) that the company believes have been misunderstood about its proposal. Google says the proposed framework defends net neutrality, would protect the current internet we enjoy today, and is definitely not about writing legislation from the boardroom. Google also says its proposal has not sold out the fundamental concept of net neutrality—the idea that an internet provider should not be allowed to restrict web data traffic based on the traffic’s contents. The problem is it’s unclear whether the Google-Verizon plan really would protect users. The proposal leaves wireless networks out of net-neutrality regulation entirely, although Google disputes this notion. The company believes the proposal’s transparency rules that force companies to publicly report wireless traffic-management policies would ensure that providers play fair. The agreement also would create a two-tiered internet with a net-neutral public internet (the World Wide Web we use today) and a private, non-neutral internet for premium services that could be packaged similarly to cable television. Given the financial incentives from wireless and the private internet, it’s unclear whether the public internet would survive under this system…

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Net-neutrality agreement sparks concerns

Before the FCC moves ahead with any net-neutrality proposal, it must establish its authority to regulate broadband.
Before the FCC moves ahead with any net-neutrality proposal, it must establish its authority to regulate broadband.

Verizon Communications and Google Inc. have crafted a joint policy proposal they hope can serve as a framework for Congress and the Federal Communications Commission in drafting so-called “net neutrality” rules to ensure that phone and cable providers cannot favor their own services or discriminate against certain kinds of internet traffic that compete with their core businesses. But several public-interest groups have decried the proposal, saying it would lead to a two-tiered system of internet use that favors large organizations over smaller competitors.

Phone and cable TV companies that provide internet access should be barred from slowing down, blocking, or charging to prioritize internet traffic flowing over their regular broadband lines, Verizon and Google said in a policy statement released Aug. 9. But the companies left room for broadband providers to charge extra to route traffic from premium services over dedicated networks that are separate from the public internet.

Although broadband providers such as Verizon and internet-content companies such as Google are at opposite ends in the increasingly bitter debate over such rules, the two companies have been in talks for months to try to identify common ground.…Read More