Seth Johnson had an important insight. He realized that the current FCC Open Internet Proceeding [.pdf] makes a clean distinction between managed services and an Open Internet. He drafted a Comment to the FCC emphasizing this distinction, and tweaked it up in collaboration with a fairly large group of Internet experts . Among the signers of the Comment are Steve Wozniak, David Weinberger, Clay Shirky, David P. Reed, Scott Bradner and Bill St. Arnaud. The comment says, in part,

Application-independent transmission of packets describes in technical terms what distinguishes the general purpose platform of the open Internet from specialized services, and serves to clarify that distinction even in circumstances where no rule is applied beyond truthful representation of a service as open Internet access of a certain speed and capacity. More importantly, the cost of any deployment of specialized services to the exclusion of open Internet access can be clearly delineated in terms of access to and availability of a general purpose platform. This is not to say that stronger regulation is not required, but rather that the analysis and pursuit of effective policy to assure the open Internet has been profoundly advanced by the FCC in their addressing this distinction. Its application allows the impact of specialized service offerings on the availability of the open, general purpose platform to be observed with a clarity that was not available before.

David P. Reed has posted a nice essay about why he signed on. So has Brough Turner.

The idea that the Open Internet is not a service isn’t new to the FCC. When Kevin Werbach was there, maybe a decade ago, he had a graphic that showed little clouds representing telephony, radio, TV and the Internet. The next slide showed the Internet cloud covering the whole page; telephony, radio and TV were little labels inside the Internet cloud. The FCC never changed to accommodate Kevin’s insight. Its structure continues to reify the distinct-services model. The current Comment should remind the FCC that this well-understood issue remains on the table.

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2 Comments

  1. Brett Glass says:

    The comment referenced above advocates micromanagement of network owners’ private property to such an extent that it constitutes confiscation. Sorry, Dave, but as a network operator I will give you control of my network when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.