October 2, 2009
Two weeks ago Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC, laid out his plans to support Net Neutrality. He does support the concept of net neutrality and views it important enough to codify the initial rules imposed upon the Internet Service Providers (ISP). These rules were the extension of similar guidelines imposed upon AT&T, and later the RBOCs, in determining how calls by other carries would be regarding on the incumbents networks. Calls from competitors needed to traverse the networks with the same speed and quality as calls that originated and terminated with the incumbent, or ILEC. These guidelines were later assumed to be inherited by application service providers (ASP) and users of the Internet until challenged in 2005. That challenge resulted in today's concept of net neutrality where an ASP wants essentially equal access to the IP networks of its competitors or any other ISP.
My position on net neutrality and bandwidth pricing has evolved over the last 12 months as I have studied the issues further and sought to develop a position that recognizes the need for Broadvox to be able to provide a quality VoIP/SIP Trunking service. This is not possible if the primary carriers can slow or block voice packets or any other traffic they find disagreeable. Whereas, my concern is over voice, other traffic pushing network capacity and performance include gaming applications, mobility apps, texting, video from YouTube and others. It is a lot of traffic. Managing and transporting that traffic has a cost. So my first new position is...we should pay for bandwidth consumption. Networks are built to by people to make money. A fair charge for bandwidth serves the user and network provider by enabling the expansion and maintenance of the network to support growing usage and new applications. We all win. The real problem is defining fair charge. To paraphrase...I can't tell you what a fair price is but I can tell unfair price when I see it.
The next evolution of my thoughts concerns the application of net neutrality. I was quite pleased to see Genachowski announce his support of the principal over the protestations of AT&T, Comcast and others. I was less enthusiastic when he extended that application to the wireless service providers. Wireless is going through a major technology transition from 3Gto 4G. The cost and speed of that transition is critical for the wireless carriers to remain competitive. Can they meet the challenges of the market and be fully network neutral at the same time. I know that Google for one is salivating at the prospect of offering wireless applications using the infrastructure of others while positioning themselves as the real value to the consumer. Google is using its massive ad revenues to offer one "free" service after another, commoditizing products well in advance of their life cycles. Supporting net neutrality becomes difficult in the face of this ever aggressive market strategy, hence, the reason for the modification of my views. Net Neutrality must not come at the expense of the ability to charge a fair price for services.
The FCC must restrain itself from imposing conditions that will hamper the US in its development of world leading communications networks and services. The line between regulating and free markets must be drawn carefully. It is not a straight line and it may not necessarily result in balanced positions. It needs to the drawn the right way and it that is a circuitous route, then so be it.
Enough for today, get ready for another new recipe on Monday. Enjoy the weekend.
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