FCC Moving Ahead With Net Neutrality

Something seems to be missing from their idea regarding what the Internet should be about, though

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is moving forward with a net neutrality order at the agency’s December meeting, setting the stage for a likely fight over the contentious web rules on Capitol Hill.

Genachowski released the agenda for the FCC’s Dec. 21 meeting at midnight Wednesday, going right up to the wire to share his plans within the customary three-week time frame for circulating orders prior to an open meeting. The telecom industry has been buzzing about Genachowski’s plans for two weeks, after POLITICO reported he was considering taking action on net neutrality regulations, which would require all Internet service providers to treat web traffic equally on their networks.

However, details of Genachowski’s plans are still vague. The agenda released by the agency says only that the FCC will consider “an order adopting basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, competition, and free expression.”

Notice what’s missing? That would be information. Facts, figures, etc. Of course, I seriously doubt whether the FCC’s net neutrality orders, which will surely be shot down in Congress in a wonderful show of bipartisanship (no sarcasm intended, they’ve shot down Genachowski’s attempts to circumvent the legislative branch before), is intended to control the flow of information, yet, you know that the Progressives, with their fascist roots, would love to do just that.

The agenda did not make clear whether Genachowski’s proposal will require open-Internet principles to extend to wireless networks as well as traditional wireline networks. It’s also unclear whether the proposal will call for reclassification of broadband, as public interest groups have called for. As a result, it is so far difficult to immediately gauge where the various stakeholders will stand on the order.

The wireless web is the big deal for at least the next 10 years or so. Providers are moving towards LTE, otherwise known as 4g, which would push wireless Internet speeds up into the true home broadband range. Right now, 3G is at the low end of home broadband plans, at about 1.8mbps, with a through put that is typically lower (and also dependent, much like with a PC, on how fast the processor of the device actually is. An older iPhone 3 will not work as fast as an iPhone 4.) With 4G, we could be talking up to 100mbps (up speed). It’ll probably be a bit before that happens, one of the issues in the wireless web transmission is error correction, which is a long, boring explanation I won’t bother you with.

Yet, if the FCC does push this towards net neutrality, this could seriously damage future innovation. Some traffic must be controlled, especially those who are massive users. Wired could have problems too: while we may see a shift towards more home use of wireless, we shouldn’t expect that all that many consumers will pay the higher prices and do away with their wired Internet connections. And some content providers and users can cause heavy loads. Consider a story from early in November, which provides this little bit of knowledge

First is that during prime time, Netflix consumes up to 20% of all bandwidth. Second is that, during that usage, it’s 2% of users who are using up all this bandwidth. This does not bode well for net neutrality.

That can cause problems for the other 98%, slowing their access down. Companies like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, would like to throttle the usage down. Net Neutrality would preclude the companies from controlling the lines they paid enormous amounts of money to build.

The thing is, have we really seen any real problems with bandwith throttling? Has anything occured that necessitates the need for more government regulation? As I wrote previously

Regulation is a slippery slope, and the outcomes with government intervention never seem to match the original intent. Just consider that, if you search for the pros and cons on the issue, you will find more and more and more, till you are confused about what the actual issue was. If they really want the best for the consumer, they would make it so virtually any provider could offer broadband in an area, instead of just a few players each.

Interestingly, legislation was passed years and years ago which would open up competition. Yet, a decade later, there can still be no more than one landline provider per license area in the majority of the country. You will rarely find more than one cable provider. You might be able to get a wireless solution, like CLEAR or Hughes, but, imagine if you could choose between 5-10 providers in your area. Competition is the best route for innovation and keep the Internet as “fair” and open as it can be. And, if you don’t like the speeds you are receiving, get a faster plan!

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach. sit back and Relax. we’ll dRive!

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