1Gb Internet service could be coming to a city near you.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Julius Genachowski issued a nationwide "Gigabit City Challenge" to broadband providers and state and municipal community leaders to roll out 1Gb Internet service in all 50 states by 2015. Genachowki's hope is that establishing at least one gigabit community in each state will spur innovators to create new businesses and industries.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV operator, has settled a complaint brought forth by federal regulators for failing to comply with certain conditions of its NBCUniversal acquisition. As part of the settlement, Comcast will fork over an $800,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury and offer broadband Internet access as standalone service "at reasonable prices and with sufficient bandwidth" without requiring a subscription to cable video service.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has thrown up another roadblock in the path of AT&T’s plan to get its hand on T-Mobile USA. The FCC Chair voiced concerns over the proposed merger back around the time the DOJ filed a lawsuit seeking to block the deal. Now Genachowski has requested official hearings to take place should that suit fail to stop the merger. AT&T’s legal counsel got a little snippy upon hearing the news.
Google and Verizon caused quite a fuss a few months ago when they came out with their proposal for net neutrality regulation. Many found its exemption of wireless technology unacceptable, and according to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, the FCC wasn't too pleased with it either. Genachowski came short of a full scale indictment of the companies at the Web 2.0 summit, but laid some of the blame for the lack of progress on them.
“I would have preferred if they didn’t do exactly what they did when they did. It slowed down some processes that were leading to a resolution," Genachowski said. The FCC said when the proposal first came out that they weren't looking for more discussion on the topic. Instead they intended to move forward with reasserting FCC control over broadband. The public statement by Google and Verizon drew attention away from that course of action.
It's true, we haven't seen much movement on the net neutrality front since last summer. The firestorm over this proposal, and caution by the FCC may likely contributed to this lack of action, but it seems we should have seen some progress by now. Do you think the Google/Verizon plan did more harm than good?
Remember when Comcast was sanctioned by the FCC for throttling BitTorrent? Well, they’re still in court trying to get that overturned, but at the same time they’re making some noise about the whole issue of Net Neutrality. On the face of it, their position sounds downright reasonable. Comcast is pushing for “clear rules” for Net Neutrality from the FCC.
The internet giant is apparently worried that the all but inevitable regulations pushed by FCC Chair Genachowski could end up being overly broad and confusing. Comcast says that they were completely surprised that fiddling with users’ BitTorrent connections and lying about it would be frowned upon. They just want to avoid that sort of embarrassing incident in the future.
Comcast also spoke disapprovingly of the tone of debate saying, “It’s truly sad that the debate around “net neutrality,” or the need to regulate to “preserve an open Internet,” has been filled with so much rhetoric, vituperation, and confusion.” There seems to be a bit of a disconnect here, considering a lot of that rhetoric comes from the ISPs. It could be that Comcast is just trying to save face as it becomes clear Net Neutrality will move forward.
Verizon is coming out swinging as the FCC is poised to officially adopt new Network Neutrality regulations. The FCC is expected to approve FCC Chair Julius Genachowski’s new policies on October 22nd. The cell carriers contend that the realities of managing their networks are not compatible with the new rules. They have even gone so far as to claim that their mobile networks could be “crippled”.
Verizon CEO, Ivan Seidenberg, didn’t mince words, saying of the proposal, “[It’s] a mistake, pure and simple - an analog idea in a digital universe." He claimed that the regulations may keep Verizon from prioritizing packets for important applications, like emergency communications for first-responders.
Seidenberg indicated that Net Neutrality regulations could damage, or halt, our “progress toward a connected world.” Even as the Verizon chief was making these claims, the FCC received a letter signed by 30 prominent investors in technology businesses that support the proposed regulations. Is Seidenberg overstating his case, or trying desperately to save us all from ourselves?
In a separate joint statement with Google, Verizon clarified that they accept Net Neutrality principals for wireline broadband, just not for their wireless networks. "Verizon and Google might seem unlikely bedfellows in the current debate around network neutrality, or an open Internet. And while it's true we do disagree quite strongly about certain aspects of government policy in this area -- such as whether mobile networks should even be part of the discussion -- there are many issues on which we agree," the companies wrote.
The two largest wireless providers in the US, Verizon and AT&T, are not cool with the FCC’s new push for Network Neutrality. On Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech outlining plans to create a set of binding Net Neutrality rules that would extend to the wireless industry. AT&T claimed regulation was not needed saying, "AT&T has long supported the principle of an open Internet and has conducted its business accordingly."
The companies also argue that wireless service is a different animal, and Net Neutrality practices may not be feasible. "On a wireline broadband network, you know where your customer is," said Verizon VP of Regulatory Affairs. "So you can build capacity to handle the peak demands. But on a wireless network, you have a crowd converge on a site that suddenly has 10 times or 100 times the users competing for the same resources."
AT&T and Verizon both pointed out that they were behind the FCC initiative for wired broadband, just not for their wireless networks. Verizon also called attention to their policy to allow any compatible, certified device to use its 3G network. Consumer advocates say that there are multiple non-neutral practices taking place on wireless broadband networks to be dealt with. VoIP applications, like Skype, often find themselves barred from operating on cellular 3G networks. With the FCC already investigating competition in the wireless industry, this may lead to still more hearings. Should Net Neutrality extend to cellular data networks? Let us know in the comments.
It was no surprise today when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech on Network Neutrality. In the speech, at the Brookings Institute, Genachowski suggested formalizing the FCC’s “principals” of neutral networks, making them official policy. The FCC Chair proposed two specific rules. The first would prevent ISPs from slowing any specific type of Internet traffic. This would, however, still allow for reasonable network management practices. The second rule would require ISPs to be completely transparent about what sort of network management practices they were using.
Network Neutrality has been of more mainstream interest since congressional hearings on the subject began a few years ago. Amidst all the talk of “a series of tubes’, very little got done. Now Genachowski is making his case in no uncertain terms. “I am convinced that there are few goals more essential in the communications landscape than preserving and maintaining an open and robust Internet,” said the FCC Chair. He went on to clarify that the proposed changes would also apply to wireless providers.
For their part, ISPs are almost universally against the changes. They claim that Net Neutrality requirements would prevent them from managing their networks. Genachowski attempted to assuage their fears, explaining that violations of the proposed rules would be handled individually. The FCC will begin seeking public input and feedback at its meeting in October. So, do you feel we need regulation to ensure a neutral Internet?