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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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July 18, 2008 9:05 AM

NetNeut Update: FCC Hammer Coming Down on Comcast?

Recently, FCC chairman Kevin Martin made known his intent to rule against Comcast in the matters involving their interference with P2P traffic. A vote with the full FCC is scheduled for August 1st at which point an official decision will come down along with whatever sanctions or punishment the FCC decides to hand down to Comcast.

While I've long questioned what net neutrality really means and am still wary of any of the legislation I've seen addressing these issues to date because of overly broad language, I was quite heartened to hear Martin's thoughts on how to address Comcast's behavior.

While the possibility of levying financial punishment still exists, Martin's primary focus seems to not be on fines or banning certain network practices but instead on ensuring full disclosure by incumbents as to how they're managing traffic on their networks.

Chairman Martin must be reading App-Rising.com as that's one of the key steps I've been advocating for as a partial solution to net neutrality for months!

Before we have the government start banning network management practices, I'm curious to see what would happen if we made the network operators play with their cards up to their customers, who will then be able to make informed decisions regarding which broadband provider to subscribe to.

Now I know this isn't a perfect or the ultimate solution as this previous paragraph assumes a competitive marketplace where consumers have choice and market forces will reward those network operators who best address the needs of their customers.

But in the near term I don't see much harm in allowing network operators to continue managing traffic without government interference so long as they're transparent as to what they're doing. In this way we can put the marketplace to the test to see if its competitive enough to drive incumbents to be reasonable and responsible in how they treat their customers.

In the meantime, we can keep a close eye on what they're doing, how the market's responding, and how the American public is being treated. And then if the market proves incapable of reacting effectively to protect consumers' interests, we can move forward aggressively on legislating the specific dos and don'ts fo proper network management.

Let's not be too hasty in saddling a nascent market with imprecise legislation that will only lead to protracted court battles. Instead, I'd prefer to see us start with ironclad rules regarding disclosure and then leave the threat of net neutrality legislation hanging over incumbents head like Damocles sword representing a promise to move swiftly enshrine net neutrality in law if network operators don't play nice with both applications and users alike.

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