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Internet Pioneers Discuss Net Neutrality

Columbia University law professor Tim Wu invented the word Net Neutrality in 2003

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality



Before David J. Farber was chief technologist at the FCC from 2000-01, he was, literally, one of the people who laid the groundwork for today's Internet. If Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn are considered fathers of the Internet, then Farber is the grandfather. He's also among those who think the FCC got it wrong.

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Proposed Ban on Internet Fast-Lanes and new rules that would treat the Internet like a public utility.

Rule 1: No blocking of lawful traffic. In other words, an ISP is prohibited from preventing an Internet user's access to any legal sites. The rule specifically allows ISPs to refuse transmission of unlawful traffic, including material that infringes on copyrights, or child pornography.

Rule 2: No throttling. The order defines that as “…impairing or degrading lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, application, service, or use of a non-harmful device.”

Rule 3: No paid prioritization. That means an ISP is prohibited from establishing a fast lane for traffic from a company willing to pay to put its content on that lane. Moreover, the order includes a so-called “transparency clause.” Ever notice a slowdown in your Internet connection? Maybe it's just a traffic jam. Or maybe your Internet service provider is playing traffic cop, and you got shunted to the slow lane. Under Net Neutrality, ISPs are required to disclose the reason for the slowdown.

2014 Net Neutrality Definition of Broadband Monopoly - FCC public Comment - Preventing Broadband Cable Company F^ckery.

Comcast Exempts Itself From Its Data Cap, Violates (at least the) Spirit of Net Neutrality 2012
Recently it came to light that when Comcast customers are able to stream Comcast Xfinity video to their Xbox360s, it will not count against their data cap. This decision is a perfect example of the behavior that net neutrality rules were designed to prevent AND raised additional questions about the true motivation behind data caps.
If you have an Xbox360, there are a lot of ways you can watch Internet video right on your TV. You can watch your favorite game on ESPN, catch up on TV shows with HuluPlus, or choose from Crackle, EPIX, Netflix, TMZ, or Zune Video.
If you're a Comcast customer, of course, you have to watch what you watch. Comcast's broadband comes with some fine print: data caps. With data caps, you might find your internet cut off if you use too much of the service you thought you paid for (do it twice and you will be cut off for a year).
Of course, in addition to selling access to the internet, Comcast also sells pay TV subscriptions. These pay TV subscriptions are finding new competition from internet-based “over the top” video services like Netflix. Since data caps seem tailor-made to keep people away from Comcast's video competition, they've always seemed a little bit suspect. This new announcement helps to highlight why.
Let us start with the net neutrality (or, in FCC speak, Open Internet) concerns. Net neutrality is designed to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from leveraging the fact that they control the pipe to your house for anticompetitive ends. As the FCC has explained, “broadband providers have incentives and the ability to discriminate in their handling of network traffic in ways that can harm innovation, investment, competition, end users, and free expression.”

Response Bob Frankston:
In a sense there is nothing new here - the Xbox is simply replacing the set top box (STB) with a general purpose computer. Doing so exposes limits of the “neutrality” framing which seems to apply only to IP traffic and not the facilities themselves. The good news is that going over IP does make the carrier policies more visible and thus subject to scrutiny. Note that general purpose isn't the same as open - it's just a business decision by the carriers.
The openness of client devices, be they the Xbox or the video board on your PC that protects content, is a separate issue. What is important is that the policies shift from being network functions to end point functions. This allows us decouple connectivity policy from social and application policies.
It also creates more stakeholders for common connectivity. Already FiOS is looking beyond its customer base in order to compete with Netflix. I expect the same to happen with Comcast at which point the business need to extend their reach will require rethinking policies that limit connectivity.

2012 AT&T's new plan to charge Web sites for their customers' mobile usage (Gigaom)
"AT&T won't give up on trying to monetize its pipes, and thanks to a lack of network neutrality on wireless networks, its limited data plans, and a hunger for bandwidth-consuming mobile apps, it may have found a way to charge the likes of Facebook, Spotify and startups offering bandwidth-heavy applications for the privilege of sending their bits over Ma Bell's cellular network."
Here we go again. Camel. Nose. Tent. Greed.

2011 When talking about Net Neutrality Issues you might believe what you read.
But the truth about how comcast or whatever ISP is entitled to more money cause you are downloading all day long is the following. . .

How to Discredit Net Neutrality
By Milton Mueller Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies.

On Tuesday (November 30) Internet backbone provider Level3 publicly accused cable-based ISP Comcast of trying to thwart competing video services delivered through the internet. Comcast was, according to Level3, suddenly choosing to charge it more because of its carriage of Netflix traffic. The accusation was consciously framed to raise net neutrality alarms. It appeared as if a cable TV giant was using its control of internet access to make access to a competing, over the top video service more expensive. Key figures in the NN movement took the bait, accusing Comcast (to combine some of the more colorful phrases, of being a "toll-collecting, nuke-wielding hydra."
Then the full story came out. This was a peering dispute. In peering agreements, two ISPs exchange traffic without paying each other, on the assumption that both parties have roughly balanced traffic and benefit equally from the interconnection. When there is no balance - that is, when ISP A reaps more benefit from the interconnection than ISP B - it is common practice for ISP A to pay ISP B for the service. These interconnection agreements are embodied in privately negotiated contracts and accordingly the market for internet interconnections is pretty robust and flexible. At least, it looks that way to anyone familiar with the 30-odd years of interminable, costly regulatory disputes over telephone interconnection arrangements. By winning the Netflix bid, Level 3 assumed the status of a content distribution network and increased the amount of traffic it would be pumping through Comcast. CDNs typically pay ISPs for carriage rather than peering.
Faced with this information, some NN advocates responded appropriately. Public Knowledge quickly retreated to an appeal for transparency, in effect admitting that "we don't really know what's going on and we wish the FCC would use its authority to find out." Free Press on the other hand has kept in place a rather strident news release saying ""This is just a preview of what a media monopoly will look like in the Internet age one company, consolidating its media power to squash competitors, stifle innovation and price-gouge consumers."
Both Free Press and PK have done an outstanding job of fighting for the autonomy and freedom of internet users. But their approach to NN has always been saddled with two problems.
Problem one is the pitfall of "bandwidth egalitarianism," i.e., the crazy idea that bandwidth is not a scarce resource that must inevitably be rationed or managed in some ways, including the price system. As we have argued before, net neutrality concerns should never be confused with bandwidth egalitarianism; the bad thing is not "charging for bandwidth" or "tiering" per se, but anti-competitive discrimination and whether the network intermediary uses its market power over access to exert vertical leverage over content, services and applications.
Problem 2 is the idea that public interest regulation is inherently good and can fix anything and everything that ever goes wrong. Increasingly, advocates of net neutrality have pegged their case to a larger and more powerful role for FCC regulation in the internet industry. And thus the net neutrality debate, instead of focusing on developing new institutional arrangements to preserve internet freedom on BOTH the demand and supply side, descends into a replay of the early 1980s, Reagan-era punch and judy show between democrats and republicans, with one arguing for "more government" and the other for "less government." Neither talking much sense about what the government should actually do. While we believe that there should be rules securing end user rights regarding access to internet content, services and applications, we think it is a mistake to equate this with "more FCC regulation" just as it is a gross oversimplification to equate a complete absence of rules regarding net neutrality with "more freedom."
There is an important lesson to be drawn from this episode about how to pursue - and not to pursue - the goals of Internet freedom associated with net neutrality. The Level 3 maneuver is a good example of what can and will happen with an over-regulated internet: one business interest complains about another about a commercial negotiation and attempts to bring in the feds simply to get a better business deal. Opening up these contractual arrangements to political mediation is a slippery slope. The scope of regulation - and the costs of participating in the industry - steadily rise as more and more aspects of the industry are sucked into this vortex.

In the current political climate, if net neutrality is framed as "more regulation" and anti-net neutrality is framed as "less regulation" who d'ya think will win? And if NN advocates allow themselves to be snookered into being pawns in a bargaining game between telecom giants, who wins from that?


Net Neutrality, 21ST Century Linguisitc rights, filters, censorship Access, rights right to know

The basic principle of network neutrality is that there should be no impediments, political, legal, or economic, to the movement of content on the internet. At the basis of the concept, all data, all information transmitted over the internet is managed by the transmission companies equally. The proponents of tiered service would give preference to one set of information providers over others based on willingness to pay for preferential transmission or other criteria.

The phrase net neutrality, is really more of a rallying cry than a technical term which describes a policy that would prohibit Internet service providers from exploiting their role in delivering information to favor their own content, or the content of the highest bidders.

Network neutrality is one component of a complex global system of managing information flows. Interference with network neutrality come in two forms:

(1) restriction or censorship of information transmission and
(2) differential transmission and access based on fees paid or other criteria (tiered service).

Network neutrality is challenged for a variety of reasons, like censorship, encryption, and economics.

There are four primary “actors” in the American network neutrality debate.

  • Content providers make up the first set
  • At the other end of the “pipe” there are the end users.
  • The “pipe,” the network through which content flows from content providers to content consumers. A
  • Governments that seek to regulate information transmission and, on occasion, the content.

Internet neutrality involves both commercial and political issues.

Once Google or Verizon decide to monitor the packets you'll understand this is surveillance. People who are pushing for a nonneutral world are pushing it for monetary purposes,” said Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for privacy online. Interfering with packets,creates the space for this kind of surveillance, that worries the members of the Riseup collective . Without neutrality, say advocates of online privacy, the Internet becomes more like a mall — where users are from the start viewed as consumers — and less like a public square.

Governance Project, Syracuse University, Net Neutrality as Global Principle for Internet Governance, Nov. 5, 2007:

For network neutrality updates—Resource Shelf at

Date: October 16, 2009
Internet Pioneers Speak Out on Net Neutrality

15 October 2009
Honorable Julius Genachowski
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Washington, DC
Via email

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We appreciate the opportunity to send you this letter. As individuals who have worked on the Internet and its predecessors continuously beginning in the late 1960s, we are very concerned that access to the Internet be both open and robust. We are very pleased by your recent proposal to initiate a proceeding for the consideration of safeguards to that end.

In particular, we believe that your network neutrality proposal's key principles of "nondiscrimination" and "transparency" are necessary components of a pro-innovation public policy agenda for this nation. This initiative is both timely and necessary, and we look forward to a data-driven, on-the-record proceeding to consider all of the various options.

We understand that your proposal, while not even yet part of a public proceeding, already is meeting with strong and vocal resistance from some of the organizations that the American public depends upon for broadband access to the Internet. As you know, the debate on this topic has been lengthy, and many parties opposing the concept have systematically mischaracterized the views of those who endorse and support your position.

We believe that the existing Internet access landscape in the U.S. provides inadequate choices to discipline the market through facilities-based competition alone. Your network neutrality proposals will help protect U.S. Internet users' choices for and freedom to access all available Internet services, worldwide, while still providing for responsible network operation and management practices, including appropriate privacy-preserving protections against denial of service and other attacks.

One persistent myth is that "network neutrality" somehow requires that all packets be treated identically, that no prioritization or quality of service is permitted under such a framework, and that network neutrality would forbid charging users higher fees for faster speed circuits. To the contrary, we believe such features are permitted within a "network neutral" framework, so long they are not applied in an anti-competitive fashion.

We believe that the vast numbers of innovative Internet applications over the last decade are a direct consequence of an open and freely accessible Internet. Many now-successful companies have deployed their services on the Internet without the need to negotiate special arrangements with Internet Service Providers, and it's crucial that future innovators have the same opportunity. We are advocates for "permissionless innovation" that does not impede entrepreneurial enterprise.

We commend your initiative to protect and maintain the Internet's unique openness, and support the FCC process for considering the adoption of your proposed nondiscrimination and transparency principles.


Vinton G. Cerf, Internet Pioneer
Stephen D. Crocker, Internet Pioneer
David P. Reed, Internet Pioneer
Lauren Weinstein, Internet Pioneer
Daniel Lynch, Internet Pioneer


The American Library Association's President issued a statement on the new FCC net neutrality proceeding. The text is available from the FCC web site in PDF form relative to what the Commission is proposing.

School Library Journal ran a piece in the matter. The story included extraneous issues that are not being dealt with in the net neutrality proceeding by the FCC but in other dockets. For those participating in FCC proceedings, the Commission normally rebukes commenters who raise extraneous issues outside a particular docket's scope unless there is good cause for the matter to come up. The hub for speed issues but not net neutrality issues is at

LISTen, one of the LISNews podcasts, talked about the net neutrality proceeding in its most recent episode. While the discussion is brief it does discuss what was not an FCC decision but rather the start of a process.


Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a radically changed internet five years from now: dominated by Chinese-language and social media content, delivered over super-fast bandwidth in real time. Figuring out how to rank real-time social content is "the great challenge of the age," Schmidt said in an interview in front of thousands of CIOs and IT Directors at last week's Gartner Symposium/ITxpo Orlando 2009. Watch 6 minute excerpt of video interview.

  1. Within five years there will be broadband well above 100MB in performance - and distribution distinctions between TV, radio and the web will go away.
  2. Within five years there will be broadband well above 100MB in performance - and distribution distinctions between TV, radio and the web will go away.
  3. don't know how to rank real time info.

"Stifling Innovation and Eroding Consumer Choice Search Neutrality Foundems Google Story Search engines are the undisputed gateway to the internet, and Google, with a 90% share of the search market in the UK and 72% in the US,
wields unprecedented economic power. Googles own revenues last year
exceeded $21 billion, but this pales next to the hundreds of billions of dollars of other companies revenues that Google controls indirectly through its search results and AdWord listings. Recently, it seems that Google has started quietly exercising this control in ways that can suppress competition, stifle innovation, and erode consumer choice."