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[ NNSquad ] [NNSquad] RE: Why ISPs are Terrified of Being Reclassified [by the FCC]

Message: 7
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2010 12:40:27 -0800
From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren@vortex.com>
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Why ISPs are Terrified of Being Reclassified [by
    the FCC]
To: nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Message-ID: <20100303204027.GA24830@vortex.com" target="_blank" href="mailto:20100303204027.GA24830@vortex.com">20100303204027.GA24830@vortex.com>
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Why ISPs are Terrified of Being Reclassified [by the FCC]

http://bit.ly/bHYnDE  (Huffington)

NNSquad Moderator

For starters, I have a problem with the FCC trying to reclassify ISPs.  However, the basis I surmise they would seek this is the basis that some ISPs are no longer simply ISPs (at least, not the ones engaging in preferential content treatment).  They are more closely related to ICPs (Internet Content Providers), and by the extension of the Cable Act (see: http://www.techlawjournal.com/internet/80908.htm) it can be argued that Comcast's Internet offering (for instance) is more like a Cable TV-offering with Internet on the side.

On the side of Network Neutrality, the FCC's approach is encouraging, because it's calling out the elephant in the room.  By providing preferential treatment of media services that qualify as "video programming", they are in-effect no longer ISPs: providing ungoverned access to a telecommunications network as their primary service.  They are very much "broadcasters" that offer alternate services on their access platform (see:  http://voices.washingtonpost.com/posttech/2010/02/att_verizon_cable_industry_war.html).

However, what I hope is that Genachowski is bluffing.  I hope this threat is just a threat and meant to scare content/access conglomerates into accepting Network Neutrality principles as a method of saving their own asses from regulation.  While their argument is sound, I feel that the FCC's regulation of the Internet on the scale of Title 2 classification is dangerous to the Internet, free-speech, and a host of commercial applications.  ISPs shouldn't be the only ones concerned about this move, if it's legitimate.

While it could be debated ad infinum regarding the technical nature of TCP/IP being a telecommunications protocol (point-to-point), and not a broadcast protocol, the definition of "cable services", per the 1996 Telecommunications Act, says it covers: "the one-way transmission to subscribers of video programming or other programming service, and subscriber interaction, if any, which is required for the selection or use of such video programming or other programming service."  Video streams can be quantified, largely by use of UDP, as one-way transmissions.

-Dave Berry