[opensource] Support Network Neutrality!

Jim Dinan dinan at cse.ohio-state.edu
Mon Jun 12 17:51:30 EDT 2006


Nick Hurley wrote:
>> So, is there something out there right now that prevents ISPs from  
>> already doing this?
>>
> 
> In terms of technology? No. In terms of law, it's more vague, but  
> basically yes. I don't even understand it myself, but while there  isn't 
> really a law, they know that the FCC will jump down their  throats if 
> they do anything like that, unless 5252 passes the senate,  which I have 
> been hearing conflicting reports on the likelihood of.

I've done a little homework on this.  The problem with H.R. 5252 is that 
it does *not* contain the network neutrality regulations that were 
present in other similar bills that did not pass.

H.R. 5252 does introduce some worthwhile regulations: Requiring VOIP 
providers to provide reliable E911 Service, requiring that service 
providers sell broadband service as a standalone service (not requiring 
cable TV or VOIP services as a condition of subscribership), a provision 
for seamless mobility across ISPs, as well as anti-discrimination and 
'competition neutrality' regulations.  The franchising stuff is a little 
more tricky.  I think what this boils down to is that the franchising is 
intended to foster the growth and expansion of broadband ISPs into new 
service areas and to establish the ISPs as regulated infrastructure in 
their service areas.  There may be some additional regulations about 
price fixing, etc incorporated in the term 'franchise' that I'm not 
aware of but I don't see it in the bill.

As far as not incorporating a provision for network neutrality I'm not 
convinced this is a big deal.  As it stands, there is no regulation now 
that prevents ISPs from prioritizing traffic and blocking access to 
specific content.  Certain ISPs have even done this in the past (AOL is 
one) but given customer demands, any company that chooses to provide 
non-neutral service runs the risk of losing their customers to a 
competitor.  Likewise, imposing neutrality on ISPs may be bad for 
innovation because if it is not done very carefully it may limit the 
creation of new technologies and prevent provides from providing 
legitimate QoS.  As far as the problem where an ISP can mess with 
another VOIP provider's traffic, I think this may be covered by the E911 
regulations.

For more info, refer to the Library of Congress HR5252:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.R.+5252:

Cheers,
  - jim.

-- 
James Dinan <dinan at cse.ohio-state.edu>

Graduate RA - Computer Science and Engineering
               The Ohio State University


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