Connection matters: FCC and net neutrality, Apple and peering

That FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, he’s getting slammed from all sides. As we’ve written, net neutrality advocates are protesting his plans for new open Internet rules, saying they don’t actually preserve the principle of equal treatment of online traffic. But regulation-averse lawmakers see Wheeler as overreaching.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House communications and technology subcommittee, is unhappy with Wheeler’s actions on net neutrality and rules about airwaves auctions.

“I fear that we may be headed into some rough waters,” Walden reportedly said at an FCC oversight meeting today. Republicans have said they oppose reclassification of broadband providers as common carriers, which Wheeler said he hasn’t ruled out as part of his net neutrality proposal. Broadband reclassification would give the FCC clear regulatory authority over providers, and according to Walden’s prepared remarks, would “harm consumers, halt job creation, curtail innovation and stifle investment.” If you think those arguments sound familiar, you’re right. They’re the ones cited by proponents of broadband reclassification and net neutrality.

In other online-connection and content matters: When a big group of tech companies including Google and Facebook a couple of weeks ago signed a letter to the FCC speaking out against “discrimination” on the Internet, Apple’s name was conspicuously absent.

The Wall Street Journal said then it might have been because Apple is in talks with Comcast for a streaming-TV service. Now, a media analyst is reporting that Apple is negotiating deals with Internet service providers for direct network connections, also known as peering. Ars Technica notes that Dan Rayburn has been openly critical of Netflix, which has signed similar deals but has complained about the “tolls” it has to pay.

He praises Apple for seeing “paid interconnect deals as simply part of the costs associated with building out their own CDN network.” But he also incorrectly says other major tech companies — which he says have their own CDN deals with ISPs — are not “complaining” like Netflix is.

For example, after the FCC voted to move its net neutrality plan forward last week, Amazon reportedly said in a statement: “Consumers should not be denied highest quality access to the content of their choice because of discriminatory deals cut by their broadband Internet access provider. A strong non-discrimination rule is needed.”


Photo: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new open Internet rules on May 15, 2014 at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.  (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (4246 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of, the Mercury News tech website. Email: