MetroPCS has managed to piss off a bunch of public interest groups for violating the FCC's Net neutrality rules by blocking select Internet content, CNet reports.
Representatives from the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, and Presente.org sent a joint letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski complaining that MetroPCS is blocking or capping access to popular Internet applications and services, including Skype, Google Voice, and Netflix.
"MetroPCS appears to be in violation of the Commission's recently adopted Internet rules," the letter states. "Although these rules have not yet taken effect, the Commission must not use this as an excuse to ignore or delay action on MetroPCS's harmful practices."
The letter's authors say that even if MetroPCS claims it needs to limit VoIP services for its lowest service plan as a form of "reasonable network management," that argument should be dismissed.
"VoIP services require little bandwidth to operate, and contribute little congestion to broadband networks," the letter states. "Furthermore, the MetroPCS plans permit unlimited YouTube viewing, which (even if compressed) likely requires more bandwidth and creates more congestion than many VoIP communications."
One of the provisions in the new FCC mandated net neutrality deal would have Comcast-NBC sharing their content with multiple online video providers. The only problem, NBC has already worked out an exclusive deal with Hulu. This could mean the FCC is looking to take Hulu down a peg, by spreading content more widely.
The relevant section of the regulation reads, "Comcast would be required to offer NBC Universal programming to any online video provider that has reached a similar deal for content with some of NBC’s competitors." This would make Hulu less of a draw if the content could be had elsewhere. Hulu's premium service has already had trouble attracting subscribers.
Of course, it is also possible that the FCC has little intention of enforcing these regulations, in which case Hulu could continue on as usual. We like the idea of having content available everywhere, but without a controlled experience where content producers get a big cut of the take, they might sour on the idea of online distribution even more than they already have.
The picture above might look like a Photoshop masterpiece from your worst nightmare, but let me assure you this is no joke. It came from a marketing webinar put on by two companies that service Verizon and AT&T showcasing a new system that helps providers figure out where your traffic is going so they can charge accordingly. In a nutshell this is everything the EFF warned us about, and is pretty much the doomsday scenario from the net neutrality bible.
It’s hard to imagine the carriers getting away with this type of behavior in the current market, but it does point out that not only does the technology exist, but several companies are on the market trying to hock the concept as we speak. Either way it sounds like the cell carriers have all but determined they need to increase revenues, and this could very well be the future we face. Below is a direct quote from the webinar that Wired managed to lift from a trusted source.
“[We use] a number of different methods to accurately identify the application -- methods like heuristic analysis, behavioral and historical analysis, deep packet inspection, and a number of other techniques. What's key is that we have the best application identification available on the market, which means that even applications that are encrypted or use other methods to evade detection will be correctly identified and classified... We essentially feed this real-time information about traffic and application usage into the policy and charging system. Each subscriber has a particular service plan that they sign up for, and they're as generic or as personalized as the operator wants.”
Cats and Dogs living together? Mass hysteria? Let us know after the jump.
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?
Google just can’t seem to catch a break these days. Not only is it now engaged in an ugly legal battle with Oracle over its Java implementation in Android, but it’s also now stuck defending its business negotiations with Verizon. Just in case you haven’t followed the story up until now, Google and Verizon unveiled a joint proposal that would preserve net neutrality on the land based internet, but accomplished this by essentially giving away any hope of similar fairness in the wireless world.
Many have called this act a brazen sell-out, but Google’s Richard Whitt instead wrote it off as a compromise instead. "It's true that Google previously has advocated for certain openness safeguards to be applied in a similar fashion to what would be applied to wireline services, however, in the spirit of compromise, we have agreed to a proposal that allows this market to remain free from regulation for now, while Congress keeps a watchful eye."
The primary argument Google uses to defend itself is that there is more choice and competition the wireless space. While most households have only one or two choices for wired broadband service, many have at least 3-4 wireless options. The main issue here is that Google has put itself on the side of the wireless carriers who are clearly putting business concerns ahead of consumers. Wireless spectrum is a scarce resource, we get that, but if wireless companies can arbitrarily limit our access to new bandwidth intensive services they have little incentive to continue upgrading their networks.
There were rumblings last week that Verizon and Google had struck an unseemly deal to end net neutrality, but today the two companies have issued a statement clearing the whole matter up. The proposal for "an open internet" makes some bold suggestions, at least when you consider who's involved. For fans of net neutrality, it's encouraging, but still a bit of a mixed bag.
The policy proposal is based around two main points. First: "Users should choose what content, applications, or devices they use, since openness has been central to the explosive innovation that has made the Internet a transformative medium." This all goes to the idea that content cannot be preferentially treated online. This is a big step for Verizon in particular with their status as an ISP. The statement also calls for enforceable penalties for companies found to be violating these tenets.
The second tentpole here is a sentiment that "America must continue to encourage both investment and innovation to support the underlying broadband infrastructure." Along with this a recognition that wireless and wireline broadband are different, and may need different levels of regulation to continue to grow. Google and Verizon appear to be conceding the point that wireless bandwidth is too constrained for all parts of net neutrality to be enforceable right away. What they are encouraging, is transparency. What do you think of the proposal? Sound off in the comments.
The news this morning seemed gloomy, and frankly, confusing. The New York Times was reporting that Google and Verizon had come to a deal wherein Google would pay Big Red carriage fees to ensure preferential treatment on Verizon's broadband network. A move like this could conceivably lead to more fees on users for accessing certain content online. This is completely counter to the principals of net neutrality that Google has long espoused. If true, this would have been a huge blow to net neutrality.
Just a few hours later Google's public policy Twitter account tried to clear things up saying the New York Times story is just wrong. Later in the day Google was on the offensive telling the Guardian, " The New York Times is quite simply wrong. We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open internet." Verizon also issued a statement saying the reports are mistaken.
So what do you believe? Are these accusations from the Times and others based on some actual facts of the Google/Verizon relationship that we are not aware of?
The FCC headed by Julius Genachowski has made it clear that Net Neutrality is a top priority. So much so that they intend to boost their authority in order to impose rules on all purveyors of IP data. Both AT&T and Verizon have voiced concern with the prospect of being weighed down by new regulations. The two are now pushing for Congress to intervene and come up with Net Neutrality compromise legislation.
The principal of Net Neutrality holds that an ISP should be required to treat all data in exactly the same way. For instance, an ISP could not filter torrent traffic and delay/ block it. By asking Congress to head the FCC off at the pass, the telecoms are hoping they can lobby their way to weaker regulations.
We're concerned that any congressional action would rules would likely be filled with loopholes enabling ISPs to continue non-neutral practices. Do you think the FCC should move ahead with making rules, or should the legislative branch tackle it?
As FCC chair Genachowski moves toward an announcement on future broadband regulations, sources are indicating that he is leaning toward keeping the current system mostly intact. The turnaround comes in the wake of the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision that the FCC overstepped its autority when it fined Comcast in 2008 for throttling torrent traffic. There were rumors that the FCC would attempt to reclassify broadband providers giving them more regulatory powers, but that course of action has apparently been ruled out.
Instead of an overhaul in regulation, only minor changes would be made. The exact policies were not detailed, but the goal would be to ensure the FCC has some roll in future policy discussions. The whole issue has left the FCC's net neutrality plans up in the air. It is unclear if they will have the clout to push many changes in the current climate.
Where should the FCC go from here? Is it just time to pack it in and get ready for more traffic shaping?
A federal appeals court today ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the legal authority to impose strict net neutrality regulations and require ISPs to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic.
Perhaps no one is happier about the ruling than Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, who challenged the FCC's authority to impose net neutrality rules in the first place. And no one is likely more disappointed than current FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, who last October announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of net neutrality rules, despite the fact that Congress hadn't given the agency permission to do so.
There are a lot of implications to the ruling, including what will become of the ginormous national broadband plan the FCC released last month. Some of the initiatives written in the plan would require clear authority to regulate broadband, such as a proposal to expand broadband by tapping into the federal fund that subsidizes telephone service in poor and rural communities, the New York Times reports.