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It's the Internet, Stupid

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  • Seth Johnson
    ... It’s The Internet Stupid A Comment on Notice of Inquiry, FCC GN Docket No. 09-51 Comments on A National Broadband Plan For Our Future, Notice of Inquiry,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2009
      > http://itstheinternetstupid.com/

      It’s The Internet Stupid

      A Comment on Notice of Inquiry, FCC GN Docket No. 09-51

      Comments on A National Broadband Plan For Our Future,

      Notice of Inquiry, FCC GN Docket No. 09-51.

      The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) aims at building a
      new economic foundation for the United States by providing, “job
      preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy
      efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed,” et cetera. As
      one step towards these goals, the ARRA mandates that the FCC deliver a
      National Broadband Plan to Congress by February 17, 2010.

      The National Broadband Plan mandated in Section 6001(k)(2) of the ARRA
      makes clear that its objectives are for, “all people of the United
      States . . . the public . . . [for] advancing consumer welfare, civic
      participation, public safety and homeland security, community
      development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency,
      education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial
      activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national
      purposes.” It would be impossible to achieve most of these benefits
      without the Internet. The most direct, most immediate way to reach
      these objectives is via broadband connections to the Internet.

      Broadband has other uses, to be sure. It is used for cellular
      backhaul, in cable TV systems, for proprietary financial transaction
      networks and for other proprietary enterprise networks. While cellcos,
      cablecos and enterprises may need better broadband technologies for
      their own proprietary purposes, these uses don’t rise to the level
      that would require a National Broadband Plan for “all people of the
      United States.” The people of the United States already have
      reasonable telephone and television services; they need faster, more
      affordable, more ubiquitous, more reliable connections to the

      Broadband is not the Internet. Broadband is shorthand for a diverse
      class of wired and wireless digital transmission technologies. The
      Internet, in contrast, is a set of public protocols for
      inter-networking systems that specifies how data packets are
      structured and processed. Broadband technologies, at their essence,
      are high-capacity and always-on. The essence of the Internet is (a)
      that it carries all packets that follow its protocols regardless of
      what kinds of data the packets carry, (b) that it can interconnect all
      networks that follow those protocols, and (c) its protocols are
      defined via well-established public processes.

      There’s risk in confusing broadband and Internet. If the National
      Broadband Plan starts from the premise that the U.S. needs the
      innovation, increased productivity, new ideas and freedoms of
      expression that the Internet affords, then the Plan will be shaped
      around the Internet. If, instead, the Plan is premised on a need for
      broadband, it fails to address the ARRA’s mandated objectives
      directly. More importantly, the premise that broadband is the primary
      goal entertains the remaking of the Internet in ways that could put
      its benefits at risk. The primary goal of the Plan should be broadband
      connections to the Internet.

      The FCC’s Internet Policy Statement of 2005 is a first attempt to
      codify important aspects of the Internet independent of access
      technology. It advocates end-user access to content, and end-user
      choice of applications, services and devices. It says that Internet
      users are, “entitled to competition,” but it does not spell out the
      entitlement to the benefits of competition, such as increased choice,
      lower price and diversity of offers. It fails to provide for
      information about whether advertised services perform as specified. It
      doesn’t address packet inspection, packet discrimination, data
      collection or end-user privacy. It is not clear that all of these are
      within the FCC’s purview, but it is abundantly clear that all of these
      factors should be critical to a National Broadband Plan that addresses
      broadband connections to the Internet.

      Therefore, we urge that the FCC’s National Broadband Plan emphasize
      that broadband connection to the Internet is the primary goal. In
      addition, we strongly suggest that the Plan incorporate the FCC
      Internet Policy Statement of 2005 and extend it to (a) include
      consumer information that meaningfully specifies connection
      performance and identifies any throttling, filtering, packet
      inspection, data collection, et cetera, that the provider imposes upon
      the connection, (b) prohibit discriminatory or preferential treatment
      of packets based on sender, recipient or packet contents. Finally, we
      suggest that the Internet is such a critical infrastructure that
      enforcement of mandated behavior should be accompanied by penalties
      severe enough to deter those behaviors.


      John Perry Barlow, co-founder Electronic Frontier Foundation,

      Scott Bradner, University Technology Security Officer, Harvard
      University, sob@...

      Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime, daveb@...

      Robin Chase, Meadow Networks, rchase@...

      Judi Clark, independent consultant, judic@...

      Gordon Cook, Editor & Publisher, Cook Report on Internet Protocol,

      Steve Crocker, Author RFC #1, CEO Shinkuro, steve@...

      Susan Estrada, President, FirstMile.US, susan@...

      Harold Feld, blogger http://wetmachine.com, haroldjfeld@...

      Tom Freeburg, CTO Memorylink, tom@...

      Dewayne Hendricks, CEO Tetherless Access, dewayne@...

      David S. Isenberg, isen.com, LLC & F2C:Freedom to Connect,

      Jeff Jarvis, City University of New York Graduate School of
      Journalism; Author of What Would Google Do, jeff@...

      Mitch Kapor, co-founder Electronic Frontier Foundation,

      Larry Lessig, Professor at Harvard Law School & Director of Harvard
      University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics,

      Sascha Meinrath, Open Technology Initiative, New America Foundation,

      Jerry Michalski, independent consultant, jerry@...

      Elliott Noss, CEO Tucows, enoss@...

      Leslie Nulty, Principal, Focal Point Advisory Services/Project
      Coordinator, East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network Project; and
      Treasurer, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility,

      Tim Nulty, CEO, East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network Project

      Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, tim@...

      Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Forum, andrew@...

      David P. Reed, early contributor to the Internet architecture, MIT
      Media Laboratory, dpreed@...

      Howard Rheingold, Author of The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs,

      Roy Russell, GoLoco, Inc., roy@...

      Doc Searls, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society,

      Micah L. Sifry, Personal Democracy Forum, msifry@...

      Dana Spiegel, Executive Director, NYCwireless, Dana@...

      Aaron Swartz, Co-Founder, BoldProgressives.org, me@...

      Katrin Verclas, Co-Founder, MobileActive.org, katrinverclas@...

      David Weinberger, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society,

      Stanton Williams, Board Chair, ValleyNet, stan.williams@...

      Brian Worobey, CEO, openairboston.net, brian@...

      Esme Vos Yu, founder of Muniwireless.com, esme@...
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