Yesterday the FCC voted to issue a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding the application of some elements of Title II of the Communications Act to ISPs. With the courts having determined that the FCC cannot apply net neutrality under currently defined regulatory boundaries, it has decided to ask for a restructuring that may save or destroy the progress and innovation of IP communications in the US. It may save it by assuring ISPs cannot arbitrarily affect various applications or competitive products traversing their networks. It may destroy it by causing the same ISPs to determine they cannot afford to expand their networks if they cannot manage negative traffic impacts.
AT&T is threatening to halt or slow the rollout of U-verse IPTV and Verizon has joined them in complaining that the Third Way is unfair and unnecessary. A few weeks ago, I noted that AT&T has asked to decommission their TDM network within ten years. In addition to the cost savings, they were anticipating a time when fewer regulations would be applied to their business. Now that freedom may be withdrawn before they ever experience it.
The NOI is a bit of a ruse. Voted 3-2 along party lines, it seeks comment on whether the FCC should maintain the current structure, apply Title II to the ISPs or, move forward with the Third Way alternative. Most of know that Julius Genachowski, FCC Chairman, has too much invested in the Third Way to alter his approach based upon a NOI. However, by performing this step, he appears to be acting fairly and wisely.
Initially, Broadvox saw the Third Way as a positive step. For the most part we still do. However, when the government decides to write a new law anything can result and those results could make things worse. Net Neutrality is a needed objective. I'll face the following months or years with my fingers crossed. After all, the individuals involved are all politicians with their own motivations and interests. Odds are they will not match with the IP community or ecosystem.
Enjoy the weekend and I'll have new recipe on Monday!