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[ NNSquad ] FCC Hearing today (Monday, 25-02-2008)

I won't attempt to do a full debrief - I'm sure that many others are doing
that. What surprised me is that it was more than a stage show. I there was
more focus on Comcast's practice of looking inside packets than I'd expected
since the topic was very general. 

There was some unintended humor in Comcast's representative getting loud
applause that was suspiciously loud. One issue not raised was Comcast's
denial before they admitted they were in fact interfering with certain
packets -- though in conversations later the commissioners are very aware of
that. Of course Richard Bennett defended them but I don't want to speak for
him since he's on this list and can speak for himself.

My sense is that the rage generated by these practices is going to be the
main form of restraint whatever the wording is. Apparently in Seattle 1000
people lined up to testify. In Cambridge a large hall at the Law School was
full and people were turned away. And the rest of us did without lunch lest
we lose our seats (or standing space). 

As I've said I do see NN in the larger context of the business model of
charging for transport. I got a chance to talk to Kevin Martin afterwards he
agreed that one issue that frustrates local ownership is the ability to get
cable content without a cable provider. This happens to be related to
current FCC hearings about the cable industry so I want to learn more the
hearings. I was pleasantly surprised that he and others at the FCC were not
at all defensive about what I've called the Regulatorium and recognized it
as a problem.

In terms of NN remember that we are talking about neutrality for the 1% of
the broadband capacity we get to use -- the other 99% is perfectly
non-neutral and achieving neutrality there is the real challenge. I see the
Bit Torrent meddling primarily an effective way to get people to be aware
that there is an issue.

There was no real discussion of the plight of the small ISP because the
sense was that this was indeed about freedom of speech. David Reed gave a
good talk and made it clear that one can provide other kinds of services but
they aren't "Internet Access".

This hearing was far different than the FTC broadband hearing I attended
last year -- the commissioners were all there and asked real questions
whereas the FTC just had panelists talking among themselves. I'm also
prejudiced because I was pleased with the choice of panelists.

I'm planning to send in my own submission but want to do some editing and
maybe a companion Q&A essay in light of the hearings.