The Slow Death of Network Neutrality

Many people soiled their suits this week when it was revealed that Google and Verizon – with the apparent oversight of the Federal Communications Commission – began negotiations about how to implement a tiered Internet. If solidified, and officially endorsed, it would have marked the beginning of the end of the principle of network neutrality on the Internet.

The parties involved have denied this activity, to their chagrin. Read More

Sending All the Wrong Signals

Perhaps it really is “thanks for the memories” when it comes to the issue of network neutrality. In the wake of a federal court decision in May striking down the FCC’s authority to impose neutrality principles on broadband service providers, a well-organized and -funded corporate and astroturf campaign seems to have turned political momentum on the issue around – away from re-implementing the principle as a point of law.

Last month, members of Congress held two closed-door meetings with representatives of the broadband services industries about whether or not to re-write the Telecommunications Act of 1996. A major point of discussion was the principle of network neutrality, and what to do with it. Read More

Net Neutrality: Thanks For The Memories?

The heads of policy peeps just about exploded last month after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s authority to stop internet service providers from conducting data discrimination (violating the informal principle popularly known as “network neutrality“). A couple of weeks of hand-wringing later, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski releases a statement outlining his plans to re-empower the agency to regulate the way by which ISPs manage their network traffic.

It’s a somewhat arcane policy principle, but in plain English it breaks down like this: the FCC classifies network service providers in one of two ways – telecommunications providers and information service providers. Telecommunications providers (like old-skool telephony) are subject to “common carriage” rules – this means the networks must not refuse interconnection, cannot discriminate against other carriers and customers, and cannot refuse the use of non-destructive applications on their networks. Information service providers, on the other hand, do not fall under the common carriage paradigm. Read More