Category Archives: Devices

Woz to FCC: Save the Internet

Wozniak to the FCC on net neutrality:
Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use. The personal computer revolution would have been delayed a decade or more. If I had to pay for each bit I used on my 6502 microprocessor, I would not have been able to build my own computers anyway.
He also details examples of how difficult it was to start a new service the way the telephone system used to be, how radio used to all be freely receivable, and how cable TV is mis-regulated. He summarizes his case:
I frequently speak to different types of audiences all over the country. When I’m asked my feeling on Net Neutrality I tell the open truth. When I was first asked to “sign on” with some good people interested in Net Neutrality my initial thought was that the economic system works better with tiered pricing for various customers. On the other hand, I’m a founder of the EFF and I care a lot about individuals and their own importance. Finally, the thought hit me that every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed. Every audience that I speak this statement and phrase to bursts into applause.
Then he asks for all that not to happen to the Internet:
We have very few government agencies that the populace views as looking out for them, the people. The FCC is one of these agencies that is still wearing a white hat. Not only is current action on Net Neutrality one of the most important times ever for the FCC, it’s probably the most momentous and watched action of any government agency in memorable times in terms of setting our perception of whether the government represents the wealthy powers or the average citizen, of whether the government is good or is bad. This decision is important far beyond the domain of the FCC itself.
Ain’t that the truth.


NPRM Diagram 2: scope of rules

Here’s the diagram from the NPRM that the FCC folks mentioned frequently at the NANOG panel (The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010) regarding scope of net neutrality rule making:


It does seem to clarify some of the points made by the panelists.

More Liveblogging from NANOG Net Neutrality Panel

The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010. Notes continued from the previous post. See the pages 37-51 of the NPRM.

Question from a provider: VoIP traffic prioritization from essentially our own service?

Moderator: One thing that won’t be allowed is prioritizing your own service over someone else’s similar service; that’s almost the whole point. FCC person: This is contemplated in the document. Existing services wouldn’t have to be reworked rapidly. Seeking input. Reasons to be concerned. Monopoly over last mile has a position to differentially treat such a service. This is one of the core concerns.

Q: Giving the same priority to somebody else’s similar VoIP service is essentially creating a trust relationship; how much traffic will the other service provider send? Continue reading

Liveblogging from NANOG Net Neutrality Panel

The subtitle is The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010. The ground rules of the panel are that it’s not about politics or policy. It assumes there will be net neutrality, and it’s about getting actual network engineers and architects involved in implementing it. Prior reading: pages 41-51 of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). I’d actually recommend starting at page 37, which is where the NPRM discusses codifying the existing four Internet principles (see below).

A huge number of comments have been received already, by Jan 15 deadline. More comments are solicited. See also

The general idea is to take six proposed principles and turn them into rules that are enforceable and not unreasonable:

Proposed Rules: 6 Principles

  • Access to Content
  • Access to Applications and Services
  • Connect Devices to the Internet
  • Access to Competition
  • Nondiscrimination
  • Transparency
The first four principles have been around for several years. The last two, nondiscrimination and transparency, are the same as the ones Scott Bradner’s petition recommended back in June 2009. Back then I mentioned as I always do that the FCC could also stop talking about consumers and talk about participants. Interestingly, their slide at this talk did not use the word “consumer”, so maybe they’ve gotten to that point, too.

The FCC is also making a distinction between broadband and Internet. There are existing rules regarding “managed” vs. “specialized services” for broadband Internet access, but for net neutrality in general, maybe different rules are needed. Continue reading

Comcast: P2P Stifling Fail! Says FCC Chair

princques.png Maybe attacking Kevin Martin’s vanity is the way to get net neutrality, or at least that seems to have backfired on Comcast:
Remember how Comcast this week told us that 1) the FCC's "Internet policy statement" (PDF) had no legal force and 2) that the agency might not have the authority to enact such rules even if it wanted to? Those theories will soon be put to the test, as Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin now says he wants to rule against Comcast in the dispute over the company's P2P upload throttling. Score one huge, precedent-setting win for net neutrality backers.

Martin stands up for "principles"

Martin broke the news Thursday evening by way of the Associated Press, telling them that "the Commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers' access to the Internet. We found that Comcast's actions in this instance violated our principles."

Comcast loses: FCC head slams company’s P2P filtering, By Nate Anderson, ars technica, | Published: July 11, 2008 – 01:30AM CT

Oh, wait:
The decision could be an historic one, but not for its actual effect on Comcast. The cable company has already announced plans to transition away from the current throttling regime to something that looks more at overall bandwidth use rather than particular applications. Trials in Pennsylvania are currently underway on the new system, set to be deployed by year’s end. Martin’s order would therefore not require the company to do anything new, but it would have to provide more detail about past and future practices.
Lots of sound and fury signifying…?

I’d say it’s a bit too early to say Scott Cleland was wrong when he said enforcement of the FCC’s net neutrality principles was “preposterous”.


Google Wins by Losing 700Mhz Wireless Spectrum Auction

This interpretation seems good:
The real winner here is Google precisely because it lost. Google committed to bidding the minimum $4.6 billion that would trigger open device and open application rules that it had lobbied for, but nobody seriously thought it actually wanted to win the auction. Building out and operating a wireless network is a much lower-margin business than search advertising, and even leasing out the spectrum would have been a distraction. But by putting its $4.6 billion on the table early, it was able to dictate the new rules of the game. Rules that Verizon is now stuck with. All Google really wants are broadband wireless networks that cannot discriminate against Google mobile apps or Android phones no matter who operates them.

Breaking: FCC Confirms that Big Winner in Spectrum Auction is Verizon. So Why I s Google Smiling? Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch, 20 March 2008

The new rules aren’t as good as one might have hoped, and now somebody has to make the FCC enforce them, but at least they’re better than the old rules.


Principles: the FCC’s Don’t Mean Squat –Cleland

fccprinciples.png Duopoly apologist Scott Cleland spells out what everybody should have already known:
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.

The Common Sense Case Why Network Management Trumps Net Neutrality, Scott Cleland, Precursor Blog, 15 Jan 2008

Indeed, it is preposterous to think that the FCC ever meant to enforce its net neutrality “Policy Statement” of August 2005. Even if it did, the very way the four “principles” in that statement are worded, every one in terms of consumers, excludes the very existence of participatory services such as BitTorrent.

Cleland’s blog goes to great lengths to spell out what he considers common sense (which means he knows he doesn’t actually have a legal argument). Don’t be surprised if his items get parrotted by other anti-Internet-freedom blogs. And don’t be surprised if the FCC rules in favor of Comcast, even though any competent network engineer can tell you that there are ways to do network management that don’t involve faking reset packets, a technique that would be considered malicious denial of service if it came from any entity other than an ISP, not to mention Comcast’s BitTorrent stifling seems closer to the fraudulent promise of unlimited service that got Verizon fined by New York State.

[Clarified:] It’s not about network management. It’s about a few corporations and their political allies trying to stifle net neutrality and Internet freedom against the best interests of everyone else, including their own customers.