Live Blogging the FCC Hearing


In case you came here from an outside link, I’ve continued after lunch in a second post.

2:18 – Really break for lunch.

2:13 – 15 minute break for lunch (which will make us only 15 mins behind schedule but also very hungy).

Oh wait, two more questions from C. Martin. Does the FCC have the authority to enforce network neutrality principles? Verizon: Yes, the FCC has asserted it. Comcast: IPS isn’t enforceable. FCC doesn’t have authority to impose a fine right now.

2:09 – Only network operator can provide VoIP in Korea for example. There are good stories and bad stories about Asia. P. Yoo: They do network management in Europe and Asia even though they have more bandwidth.

1:51 – Justice Scalia’s Pizza Delivery Model? Ok that sounds cool but what is it? Help please!

P. Wu: We can have non-discrimination system, it is just going to be expensive. Problem is that 500 people share a node that can’t handle 500 operating at max lawful speed. This becomes very expensive. Thus network management is a way to build out to rural areas more efficiently. The public safety solution at 700 MHz is similar.

P. Wu: There is some discrimination going on all the time. That is ok. But what is dangerous is having the carriers pick and choose certain applications. Anti-competitive discrimination is bad.

C. McDowell(aka the funny one apparently): Does the BT style of P2P cause customers to consume more bandwidth than they are paying for? Comcast: P2P during network congestion cause degradation that is a violation of our usage policy. We don’t sell a particular amount of bandwidth. We provide a service up to a certain amount subject to condition that customer doesn’t degrade other customers.

C. McDowell: If lots of people in my neighborhood want to use BT am I exceeding my limits? Comcast: You are exceeding what you contracted for.

C. McDowell: Discrimination is sometimes ok, but we need to be concerned about is anti-competitive discrimination. FP: This would be less of a concern if it wasn’t anti-competitive, but it would still have negative effects that are important.

C. Far SL: What would happen if you didn’t do what you do? Comcast: Everyone would feel a degradation in their service. BT users might not even see a difference b/c of the resulting congestion.

P. Benkler: Simple requirement of disclosure might not be enough…

1:33 – More Questions. Last entry was getting far to long. So more of it.

Good debate between Comcast and FP about if this is just delaying or blocking. Comcast noting the failure of the AP experiment (was only going after one computer). BT the way it is denied to be used isn’t noticably degraded.

P. Wu: Comcast is violating Principle 2. Comcast: No we aren’t.

P. Benkler: Problem is that this delay is blocking when it stops only a particular type of application. (I’m not sure about that… it is just a certain type of discrimination).

C. Tate: Are there other complaints than are here? FP: We had lots of complaints but we only have evidence of interference re: BT (and ya know, Comcast doesn’t disclose). Comcast: Customer reaction has been positive more than negative. We block spam and viruses to maintain service levels.

C. Tate becomes the first person to drop the privacy bomb. Asks, FP if what they want is more than traditional limits on common carries? C. Tate: Can’t this be solved with just disclosure? FP: But that isn’t what the IPS says.

12:51 – Panel One Questions.

Chairman Martin: Did NSF disclose they would limit? P. Yoo: Not sure.

Chairman Martin: Did Comcast deny until they were caught? Free Press: Yes. What we want is more disclosure.

P. Wu: Transparency is the beginning of consumer choice. We know more about bananas than we do about our internet. P. Yoo agrees with P. Wu. The gov’t should require more disclosure (like the SEC).

Chairman Martin: FCC should require Comcast to disclose? Free Press: Yes, but we also need to prevent discrimination b/c we have a weak duopoly (or even monopoly in many places). P. Benkler agrees (which is good since he made the point earlier).

Verizon (?) agrees that they should disclose, some consumers want lots of info, some don’t. Also, we can’t compromise network security.

Chairman Martin: Have any people exceeded their limits? FP: No.

Chairman Martin: When people do more that is good… but why sell all you can eat? Comcast: We aren’t restraining people from using the service in the way we are selling it. It is always sold as a shared network and we disclose that people can’t use it in ways that harm other users. Our APU and FAQ disclose this. FP thinks that this isn’t enough info for application creators to understand and work around.

C. Copps: We are paying a price for the lack of a national broadband strategy. FP: In this country companies don’t have to compete and thus can profit off of scarcity. Traffic grows at 40% per year but networks don’t upgrade for this. If we had competition it would be good, but we don’t.

C. Copps: What are other countries doing to deal with these problems? FP: Lots of different things, Korea has subsidies. Other countries have different approaches.

C. Adelstein: We have an infrastructure problem here. Does Verizon do the same things as Comcast? Verizon: We don’t use reset packets, we don’t have a shared network architecture like cable does.

C. Adelstein: Is Comcast delaying or blocking? Comcast: We do not block anything (period). What we are doing is a limited form of network management during limited periods.

FB: You can believe that Comcast or you can’t (cause they lied before). Studies show that if you delay something this is effectively blocking.

12:12 – Panel One. Going it alphabetical order. Because discriminating on the basis of names is cool.

On a side note Congressman Markey is now on the side next me. But he has a chair. I’m totally jealous.

Panelist 1 – Free Press. P2P is used to share good stuff. Hollywood uses it, NASA uses it. Vuze is a competitive threat to Comcast. Disrupting P2P is anticompetitive. Want commission to note that networks can’t discriminate. Comcast argues that the RNM (reasonable network management) footnote swallows everything else.

Door #1, open internet, life is good. Door #2, closed internet, WW3 happens (yeah, so I was a debater, everything bad ends up causing WW3), etc.

Panelist 2 – Prof. Benkler. Two long term issues in internet policy. Internet is about users connnection to each other, not to providers. What we need is infrastructure, not unending rules. Web 2.0 is about people connecting to each other. Duopoly competition requires us to have have regulation that keeps networks open, down to the physical layer.

Unbundling and open access are the heart of the 96 Act. We however, have created a duoply structure that has created the worst of all possible worlds.

Panelist 3 – Judge Bosley. In western Mass broadband is important for economic development. Small businesses need bandwidth. Who gets to say what we need? (Nobody should.) This sounds like slotting fees at supermarket, pay for the end of the aisle. But this has become anticompetitive.

Issue isn’t content, it is capacity. ISPs have a point here, but we need to have an open net to find the most creative and innovative solutions. What we need is a national broadband plan. As is, ISPs have no incentives to increase average speeds, etc.

Panelist 4 – David Cohen, EVP Comcast. Wants to be a participant and not the main course for the meal. Comcast wants to give customers a superior internet experince. 92% of the country has broadband availble through cable. What is the key to success? Market forces and a lack of gov’t regulation.

There is nothing wrong with network management. This must happen. We have to fight congestion, spam, and viruses. Bandwidth consumption is a real concern. Goal is to have a minimal impact on a small number of users. We don’t block any websites or applications (but HMS does!).

Panelist 5 – Tom Tauke, Verizon. Here to talk about short codes. Unsolicited text messages are bad (why exactly are we talking about this here?). I think that short codes are those things that American Idol uses to have you vote? Really, totally at a loss.

Political and issue advocacy campaigns should have short codes. This demonstrates how errors in the marketplace are disclosed (coming back to networks now).

Panelist 6 – Prof. Wu. YAHSO (Yet another Harvard Shout Out). Whatever RNM is it shouldn’t include blocking certain applications (but what about discrimination?). The greatest use for filtering was to sell tech to China. US has sold itself as the land of free speech, free internet, and freedom all around. That is why we should be a role model for open networks (the American Internet should be open and free!).

Panelist 7 – Professor Yoo. He has slides (sorry live listeners). A person who uses lots of bandwidth is fine when the network is empty, but if everyone wants to use it at the same time that is bad (sort of like rush hour). We are having a structural change from central servers to distributed servers. Problem is that our infrastructure was built for the first.

Can’t have just one solution, problems are hard. Not sure what is happening or what will happen in the future. NSF used to give priority to terminal sessions and limit file transfers. They did this to make a better experience for everyone. This is a tool in the kit. FCC shouldn’t take a tool out of the kit.

11:53 – Technology Demonstration Starting (only 8 mins behind schedule, not bad).

Gilles BianRosa, Chief Executive Officer, Vuze, Inc. (went to HBS, the Harvard love is strong around here).

Here to make a case for real transperancy. Work around the clock above a chinese restaurant (Silicon Valley is such a great place). Provide content from TV, Hollywood, and other places. What is really cool is that they have HD content.

Harvard has amazing broadband apparently (who would have guessed). Vuze also hosting content about this hearing. People want to watch long form (i.e. tv length) HD content. This includes streaming content.

Because network operators are interfering Vuze has to engage in a “cat and mouse game” with network operators. Agree that operators should protect their networks. But we need ground rules about what is reasonable network management.

P2P is here to stay and shouldn’t be discriminated or degraded in any way. Assurance of good faith is not enough. Can’t give carte blanche to network providers (it was funny, but you really had to hear it). Biggest problem is that they compete with comcast.

This isn’t a freeway on ramp. This is a horserace where comcast owns the track and a horse. So slowing another horse a few seconds is a big deal (I think I got that right?). The market should decide what services should win. Markets need ground rules to function correctly.


Vuze is legal right? Yeah, totally.

People have bought certain bandwidth right? Yes, Vuze can’t give them more bandwidth than they could get otherwise.

Has Vuze had discussion with ISPs? Yes…

What is the characteristic here? US networks are asymmetric. This is different than most other places in the world. We need to understand the limitations so that we can build our product correctly.

Chairman Martin – All that is happening is that people are using what they have legally purchased. A: yes.

11:46 – Commissioner McDowell. Grandfather was born in Sommerville. No Harvard connection I guess. Apparently in 1890, when they didn’t have telephones!

New media economy has growing pains as we see new records for usage every year. America watched 9 billion (?) videos online in December — thanks WGA! YouTube alone takes more bandwidth than the whole internet did in 2000.

Gov’t can’t make decisions as fast as the private sector. Therefore network operators need the right incentives. New networks have to pay back investors. But consumers need the right to pull content of their choice at any time, on any device, etc.

Section 230 of the Communication Act (yay, the first real law source) — internet should be unfettered by federal or state regulation. Caused the FCC to adopt the IPS. The 4 Principles are subject to “reasonable network management”. We are here today to try and figure out what that means.

11:35 – Commissioner SL. Went to KSG instead of HLS (and apparently taught history at the college). Well I guess we can’t all be perfect.

The FTC has held its own hearing on Net Neutrality and it is about time we did the same. Another BT joke, not as funny as the first one.

We should have an internet bill of rights. We are endowed with the unalienable right to liberty on the internet. (That sounds cool. But what does that mean?) Openness is a fundamental requirement to take advantage of all that the internet can offer.

Allegations that have been made are serious. We need to find out more (and more love for the internet policy statement, IPS from here on out).

And again with the Internet Bill of Rights.

I see a few people coming in and out of the east side door…

11:31 – Commissioner (Far Stage Right), we should setup a common law-esque adjudication system to develop rules about the internet. Choice that are made should be made in public with gov’t, scholars, etc.

If anyone is any here and can see the name plates and let me know what they are that’d be great, I feel silly calling them Far SR, SR, Center, SL, and Far SL.

11:24 – Question to answer today. What providers are violating the Internet Policy Statement? Need to understand this issue so that the FCC can act appropriately.

Net Neutrality isn’t just a theoretical challenge, story about cell phone networks censoring text message. I never heard about that before.

11:22 – Room is at fire capacity. We are working on an overflow room. If they tell us more I’ll let you know.

Firefox is crashing every 20 seconds for me so I had to switch to ie. As a result I’m behind and this is a mess. My apologizes. I think all the people here must be clogging the interweb tubes.

11:16 – First Oscar joke, This shouldn’t be “No County for Old Bandwidth.”

And some red meat for the crowd, don’t want to turn Bit Torrent into Bit Trickle.

11:06– Opening comments from Chairman Markey. Highlights, this isn’t just Verizon’s or Comcast’s network. We lack competition. Competition is good (faster, cheaper, better!).

The live closed captioning is cool. There are some professors and lectures at HLS that could use that tech.

11:04 – Getting started “soon”. I see Professor Weinberg in the middle of the room about two rows back. Damn, he must have been here at 9 am.

Time stamps being brought to you by the Comcast cable box that I can see from where I am sitting!

10:50 – The Good News, this place is packed. The Bad News, I’m stuck sitting along the wall on the far stage right, but I do have a wall outlet over here so it isn’t a total loss!

If anyone else is here right now go ahead and post in the comments, of if you want to get me find me at kevs.parker on gtalk.


  1. tsullivan

    February 26, 2008 @ 12:51 am


    The “pizza delivery model” comes from Justice Scalia’s dissent in Nat’l Cable and Telecomms. Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Servs., 545 U.S. 967 (2005). The opinion is available at

  2. Aaron

    February 26, 2008 @ 10:54 am


    Not quite sure on what you mean by saying US networks are asymmetric (in Vuze posting), can you explain?

  3. Berkman Center Events & Webcasts » Blog Archive » Live Updates from Today’s FCC Hearing at Harvard Law School

    August 21, 2008 @ 7:10 pm


    […] Kevin Parker is liveblogging the event. […]