Feeds

FCC boss hints at change to neutrality policy

'Pay for priority' set to be revisited?

Business security measures using SSL

Internet neutrality – the principle that all traffic is equal – may be the official policy of the Federal Communications Commission, but it's also something that new FCC chair Tom Wheeler seems to consider still on the table for discussion.

That is, if the definition of “net neutrality” means there is never any scope for a provider to apply quality of service as a product differentiator – something which becomes contentious when people begin debating neutrality. As things now stand, the FCC takes a dim view of payment to get higher quality of service.

Wheeler endorses the idea that a Netflix might want to buy a higher QoS to ensure guaranteed performance, as distinct from best-effort performance. Answering questions after an address given to Ohio State University – the video is available here – Wheeler put his position in response to a question by radio and TV news presenter Mike Thompson.

The Q&A session starts at around the 29 minute mark.

Thompson: “Mr Chairman, you said regulating the Internet is a non-starter. What exactly does that mean? … How much regulating should the FCC do of the Internet?”

Wheeler: “What the Internet does is not an area that is appropriate for federal regulation … with a few notable exceptions. The requirement that a 911 call over the Internet gets through is non-negotiable. Issues like child pornography need to be stopped on the Internet is not a bridge too far.

“But considering what else the Internet delivers, and what else the Internet does should be off-limits to the government”.

Thompson: “Do you support 'net neutrality? That a cable broadband provider like Time Warner or AT&T cannot limit Netflix, cannot block Netflix?”

Wheeler: “Let me be clear on that. There's a one-word answer: Yes. We stand for the open Internet. As I was saying … you can't have access unless you have the ability to access any lawful network, and we put in place, I should say the previous chairman … put in place the 'open Internet' rules. We're currently defending them in court, Verizon sued to block them.

“We expect that sometime this month or next month, the court will rule. We're hopeful that the court will affirm ... reasonable rules that require carriers to make sure they provide access.”

And then the interview reaches the hot-button moment, when Wheeler cites Netflix unprompted:

Thompson: “Should carriers be allowed to charge more for data hogs, someone who plays online video gaming 20 hours a day?”

Wheeler: “We're seeing the market evolve in ways that there will be variations in pricing, and there will be variations of service … I am a firm believer in the market. I think we're going to see a two-sided world, where Netflix might say, 'I'll pay in order to make sure that you might receive … the best possible transmission of this movie'. I think we want to let these kinds of things evolve.

“We want to observe what happens from that, and we want to make decisions accordingly … the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made.” ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.