Yesterday, the U.S. Senate defeated an attempt to block the pending Net neutrality rules. The bill was defeated by a 52-46 vote. This was an important vote since a similar bill to block the implementation of the rules was passed in the House with 241-178 vote. It is difficult to understand if the votes are for principle or to support certain lobbying telecom concerns as the Net neutrality proposal would prevent carriers from interrupting or modifying the flow of Internet traffic. This is a major victory for ITSPs and ASPs like Broadvox that provide VoIP/SIP Trunking and hosted services and a major loss for AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and others.
However, the issue of Net neutrality has not been put to rest as legal challenges are expected from Verizon and some consumer advocates wanting stronger consumer protections. The Verizon challenge argues that the FCC does not have the authority to create this new set of rules to govern Internet traffic flow. Obviously, the FCC disagrees. Since these stances are based upon the interpretation of the 1934 Communications Act, an act now 77 years old, it will be important if the courts permit the changes in technology and innovation to redefine/modernize what defines a phone call. The challenge is focused upon each parties' position on the stated responsibility of the FCC to “protect and promote" telephone service. This was expanded in 1996 to include video and competitors to the ILECs.
So, what is the win? The existing principles protecting broadband and the Internet are as follows:
- Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choices.
- Consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
- Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
- Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers and content providers.
These principles would be added:
- Internet access providers cannot discriminate against particular content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management.
- Internet access providers must be transparent about the network management practices they employ.
These principles will become rules on November 20 depending upon how the courts respond to the legal challenges. If the rules stand, then services using BYOB will improve. They will not have the QoS of dedicated broadband but the services will not be subject to the whims of the broadband provider. The broadband provider will not be able to establish traffic practices that favor their services, applications or content over a competing service provider. This is good for the IP community and IP communications in general. It will be good for cloud computing and Unified Communications as a Service. There is little not to like.
See you on Monday with another recipe and more on the criteria for the selection of broadband. Have a great weekend!
David Byrd is vice president of marketing and sales for Broadvox, and is responsible for marketing and channel sales programs to SMBs, enterprises and carriers as well as defining the product offering. Prior to joining Broadvox, David was the vice president of Channels and Alliances for Eftia and Telcordia. As director of eBusiness Development with i2 Technologies, he developed major partnerships with many of the leaders in Internet eCommerce and supply chain management. As CEO of Planet Hollywood Online he was a pioneer in using early Internet technologies to build a branded entertainment and eCommerce website company partnered with Planet Hollywood. Having over 20 years of telecom sales and marketing experience, he has held executive positions with Hewlett-Packard, Sprint and Ericsson.