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)


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  • John Engle

    If you regulate something, then it’s NOT open and neutral. DUH.

    • DaveK

      You clearly do NOT understand what it means to be “open” and “neutral”. Maybe you should not reply to articles you don’t understand?

      The concept that all data traveling within the network is treated equally. Nothing is prioritized or blocked. In other words, your phone or cable company should NOT be able to play favorites with the content that goes over the network.

      An open Internet is one where users are in control and competition is
      encouraged. It means it is not up to the big phone or cable companies to
      decide which sites and services will work and which won’t. An open
      Internet is one where you can innovate without permission and everyone
      has a chance to be the next Google or Twitter or New York Times.