Ruling: FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules Don’t Apply To ISPs

A US appeals court today ruled that the FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t apply to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which might set a precedent for prioritization of Internet traffic. The ruling might seem pedantic and not that important for advertisers, but it means that ISPs can, without fear of punishment, strike deals with websites to prioritize web traffic. The net neutrality laws are based on the same principle as the “common carrier” terms, which mean that certain types of telephone calls aren’t prioritized over others, so that the phone lines are always open to everybody, all the time. If the same laws don’t apply to the Internet, ISPs can do deals with large companies to ensure that their services have more bandwidth, taking bandwidth away from smaller websites or projects. So if you have a digital UX/UI experience, campaign, or project that isn’t in on one of these deals, it could be de-prioritized and fall on its head because of a lack of bandwidth. Or, in the words of the ruling, “it might degrade the quality of the connection to a search website like Bing if a competitor like Google paid for prioritized access.” The FCC is currently in the process of appealing the ruling, so this might not stand for long, but until it is actually overturned it’s an important development to keep a close eye on. 

A temporary setback for net neutrality

FCC Proponents of net neutrality were dealt a harsh blow last week when a U.S. appeals court ruled that the FCC could not stop Comcast from slowing service on peer-to-peer file sharing site BitTorrent. The unanimous written decision from the judges never rebukes net neutrality philosophically, but claims the FCC overstepped its powers in the realm of broadband regulation.

In all likelihood, Comcast’s victory will be the catalyst for a larger showdown that could play out in one of two ways. In the first scenario, the FCC will push back by redefining broadband as a Title II service and reassert it’s right to enforce net neutrality. Doing so would require the FCC to make a compelling argument for the switch and could be met by a challenge from the Telecommunications and Cable industries that would take the issue back to the courts — possibly to the Supreme Court eventually. A second scenario, and perhaps the more appropriate solution, is that Congress directly defines the FCC’s authority (or lack there of) in the realm of broadband regulation. Continue reading “A temporary setback for net neutrality”

Will net neutrality kill cloud gaming?

Will net neutrality kill cloud gaming? (Microsoft Xbox)Column originally featured on MediaPost

The title of this post is “Will net neutrality kill cloud gaming?” — and no, that’s not the wrong way around. While a handful of game developers just advised the FCC on the importance of net neutrality for the future of online gaming, and to an extent correctly so, there are cause-and-effects in play that also pose significant threats.

Let’s get some definitions out of the way. First off, for the purposes of this post, “cloud gaming” refers to games that are rendered in the cloud (i.e. on servers). In essence, this is the promise of services like OnLive, a gaming offering that portends high-quality gaming on the simplest of devices by centralizing the heavy lifting in the cloud. It’s not there yet, but the intent has many gamers’ hopes up for a day in the future when they can leave the hardware arms race behind. Read more.

The battle over wireless networks begins

The battle for net neutrality begins (iStock)The FCC has thrown down the gauntlet about network neutrality. While there is a case to be made both for and against a government mandated network neutrality, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is strongly making the case for it. He’s working to have the FCC’s current governing principals turned into hard-coded rules, and to increase the four to six, adding in a principal regarding network non-discrimination (aka neutrality) and one on transparency and openness.
Those are some fighting words.

The FCC has so far skirted around the issues of network neutrality, ruling in ways that indicated their support of the concept, but not calling it out specifically. This latest move is going to cause ripples. Continue reading “The battle over wireless networks begins”

Tuesday sexy tech trifecta

Sexy tech trifecta (iStock)Tuesday has brought a perfect trio of tech stories to feature. A mix of good news on the economic horizon, Australia’s exotic travel for blogging trade, and a new appointee to the FCC from the incoming President elect. Check out these top three glorious stories:

1. Hang on till 2010. Despite analysts’ predictions that tech spending will decline in 2009 (and that the earth will implode and we’ll all be living in Hoovervilles–do check out Scott Brown’s “Guided Tour of the Most Awesome Depression Ever” in this month’s Wired), things are looking brighter for those of us who can hold on for a year. By 2010 Forrester Research says spending could increase again…by as much as nine percent. So hang on to your hats, hunker down and let the fowl winds pass ya by, matey. There’s fair weather round the corner. Continue reading “Tuesday sexy tech trifecta”