Sunday, February 24, 2008

FCC Debates Broadband Management and Net Neutrality

The FCC hosted an open meeting at Harvard Law School to considered the issue of Net Neutrality, network management, and, in particular, Comcast's role in limiting and/or slowing BitTorrent traffic from its subscribers. Panelists presenting their views included FCC Commissioners, Comcast's David L. Cohen, Verizon's Tom Tauke, BitTorrent's Eric Klinker, Sony's Scott Smyers, and noted speakers from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and M.I.T..

A archived webcast of the event will be posted on the FCC site shortly.

Some opening comments from the FCC.

Kevin Martin, FCC Commissioner: "Obviously network operators can take reasonable steps to manage traffic, but they cannot arbitrarily block access. This raises several issues in my mind. First, its seems important that they do so in a reasonable, open, and transparent way. consumers need to know if and how network management practices distinguish between different applications, so that consumers can configure their own applications and systems properly. And it means providing transparency to broadband consumers - in the promises to deliver increased speeds, services, and pricing."

Michael J. Copps, FCC Commissioner: "In the 1950s and ‘60s, the government was told that the entire phone network could be compromised if innovations like Hush-a-Phone and Carterfone where attached to the end of the telephone line. In the early ‘80s, the Department of Justice was told that breaking up Ma Bell would leave the United States literally unable to respond to a nuclear threat. More recently, we were told that forcing telecom carriers to accept enforceable network neutrality rules would jeopardize their financial future as they reconsolidated. And late last year we were told that wireless carriers couldn't make an open access model work-- until these very carriers changed their mind and came out in favor of just such a model."

Jonathan Adelstein, FCC Commissioner: "Just as it took the establishment of a constitution to secure Americans' freedom from government intrusion, now is the time to establish enduring principles to protect our citizens from losing their freedom on-line. We need to establish an effective Internet Bill of Rights that can secure Internet freedom for generations to come."


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