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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.