No such thing as middle ground in regulation.
I actually think No Regulation at this point would be better than any of the plans proposed so far.
And after compromises, it will just be a litigation fest like the TA96.

- Peter

Larry Yunker wrote:

Dave,
I can see your points and I agree that OVER-regulation could lead to the sort of harms that you list. Unfortunately, the alternative of NO-regulation would enable backbone providers of the internet to weed out the smaller providers by deprioritizing traffic, blocking ports, charging tolls, etc. I think that the correct course would be a MIDDLE GROUND of regulation which would differentiate between backbone neutrality and last-mile neutrality. Since the success of the internet has long been based on the premise of non-discriminatory peered-backbone access, I think the goal should be to prohibit backbone providers from discriminating based on type-of traffic, source-of traffic, or destination-of traffic. This means that in an ideal scenario, the government would prevent the likes of L3/AT&T/Verizon from even looking at the type of traffic that is flowing through the backbone. They don't need to know what the traffic is. Rather, their business is to get that traffic from point A to point B and make sure that there is switching/routing capacity. They should not be positioned to decide WHO gets to have the best routes or WHO gets to have the fastest response time. If this is allowed, the only providers left standing in 2010 will be the backbone providers themselves (anyone that has EVER dealt with a RBOC as a competitor should be able to attest to the fact that RBOCs sell their own services to themselves MUCH cheaper than they sell those services to their competitors). I realize that taking this stance against "Tiered-Access Internet" forecloses on all of the promised INNOVATIONS that will lead to true end-to-end QoS on the public internet. Yet, I'd rather have today's internet with non-discriminatory routing rather than "tomorrow's internet" monopolized by Ma-Bell. Please note: I think that last-mile providers ought to be free to offer whatever limited/prioritized/deprioritized traffic TO THEIR OWN SUBSCRIBERS as they deem necessary. If you want to block your own subscribers from getting P-to-P traffic, running servers, or downloading movies that should be your prerogative. Perhaps you should be required to disclose this "limited-access" internet service to your subscribers, but you should be free to set up your own policies regarding the traffic that flows to/from YOUR OWN CLIENTS. I see no reason that the government needs to regulate this sort of activity beyond requiring ISPs to divulge content filtering/blocking policies. I figure it this way: if you are a last-mile internet provider and you are blocking content to/from your clients, the clients usually have to opportunity to switch to another provider. IF you are the only provider of service in the area, then one could argue that free market economics will drive new competitors to enter if/when there are enough unsatisfied customers. The core policy reason to regulate backbone providers is to ensure that internet traffic can continue to freely travel the globe without unnecessary limitations. This same policy reason does not apply to last-mile providers because end-users/consumers/content-providers can all CHOOSE their last-mile provider whereas we cannot choose the path that our packets take when crossing the backbone of the internet! The real question is whether we can get legislators to understand this CRUCIAL difference. - Larry


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