Today’s FCC Internet Vote

Regarding today’s FCC vote, Suddenlink concurs with the statement issued by its national trade association, available here and pasted below.

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Statement of NCTA President & CEO Kyle McSlarrow
Regarding Today’s FCC Approval of the Open Internet Item

“Our consistent view has been that the current ‘openness’ of the broadband marketplace can be preserved while simultaneously fostering the innovation and massive private investment needed to ensure the future growth and vitality of the Internet. While we agree entirely with Commissioners McDowell and Baker that new regulation is not necessary to accomplish that goal, it has been clear for some time that there were three votes at the Commission for rules that would go much farther than those adopted today. Thus, the question before us has been whether rules could be drafted in a manner that avoids a raft of unintended consequences and that preserves broadband providers’ ability to innovate and invest in a marketplace that justly represents a great American success story.

“As I have stated previously, months of negotiations and discussions have led to a rough consensus of rules that we believe can accomplish those goals and avoid the extreme and counterproductive demands for rate regulation, unbundling of networks, and reclassification under Title II. While we will reserve final judgment until after we have an opportunity to closely review the text of the Order once it is released, it appears that the rules themselves contain that compromise consensus.

“We would like to commend Chairman Genachowski and his staff for working in good faith toward a workable compromise on this set of issues. While, like apparently everyone else in America, this would not be the Order we would have written, we do appreciate the attempt to provide certainty and to balance the openness of the Internet with the preservation of an incredibly dynamic and successful marketplace.”

Reasonable Network Management

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) finds questionable cause for concern in the FCC’s draft rules on so-called “net neutrality” …

The EFF is concerned about a particular pair of clauses in the current draft rules (PDF) for network neutrality. Those clauses impose no obligation on ISPs to permit “the transfer of unlawful content” or the “unlawful transfer of content.” In other words, ISPs don’t have to be “neutral” about illegal content, and those trafficking in it can’t complain to the FCC is their content is slowed, blocked, throttled, folded, spindled, or mutilated.

If there was any doubt about this, another section of the draft rules make it clear: “Furthermore, we have no intention of protecting unlawful activities in these rules.”

Fred von Lohmann, an EFF copyright lawyer, sees danger here. “That means that so long as your ISP claims that it’s trying to prevent copyright infringement, it’s exempted from the net neutrality principles and can interfere with your ability to access lawful content, use lawful devices, run lawful applications, or access lawful services,” he said last week.

Here’s how the same basic argument was stated at the EFF’s “Deeplinks” blog …

… now that the FCC has formally issued draft net neutrality regulations, they have a huge copyright loophole in them — a loophole that would theoretically permit Comcast to block BitTorrent just like it did in 2007 — simply by claiming that it was “reasonable network management” intended to “prevent the unlawful transfer of content.”

If you’re confused after reading those passages, join the crowd. EFF’s leap from unlawful to lawful content — and its seeming opposition to “reasonable network management” practices — is, in a word, baffling.

Michael Willner responds

Apparently even the ability for ISPs to reasonably manage their network — based on a clause in the draft rules — doesn’t go far enough in the view of the … EFF.

Unfortunately if groups like the [EFF] got their way with network neutrality regulations, freedom would be the last thing that many ISP users would experience.

Reasonable network management serves the purpose of allowing all users to have fair access to the network resources. Without it, a small minority of users would dominate the use of shared resources, degrading the Internet experience of nearly all network users.

Suddenlink Joins ‘Broadband for America’ Coalition

We previously shared news about the formation of this group. Suddenlink is now officially a member.

Harsh Words for Broadcasters from Mediacom CEO

In a letter addressed to Senate Communications Subcommittee Chair John Kerry, Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso has accused TV broadcasters of “economic blackmail.” He added:

… as the recent Sinclair/Fox experiences demonstrate, the [retransmission consent] system is broken. Consumers are being harmed both by the uncertainty created by broadcasters’ threats to allow their signals to ‘go dark’ and, over the longer term, by the increased costs that are the product of a negotiating process that allows broadcasters to hold consumers hostage.

Cable operators like Mediacom, Suddenlink, and others can only “retransmit” broadcast TV station signals if they secure the “consent” of the broadcast station owners. Increasingly, these owners demand cash payments in exchange for their consent; and failing operator agreement to the owners’ terms, the owners often demand that the operators drop the affected TV stations from their lineups.

Net Neutrality and the First Amendment

In a speech yesterday at The Media Institute, NCTA President & CEO Kyle McSlarrow argued that expected federal net neutrality rules might run afoul of the First Amendment.

If you’re interested in such subjects but, like me, can’t afford a constitutional lawyer, Paul Rodriguez offers a translation.

Broadband Discounts for Middle-School Students

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association — with agreement from member companies including Suddenlink — has proposed a program (“Adoption Plus” or “A+”) to promote “sustainable broadband adoption” among low-income middle-schoolers.

Overview here, and various statements of support here.

Promoting Digital Literacy

NCTA Chief, Kyle McSlarrow, spoke yesterday to the Family Online Safety Institute’s (FOSI) annual conference in Washington, DC. The focus of his remarks:

Teaching children how to use the Internet is about more than showing them how to navigate a computer or web browser; they must also be able to understand where they are going and where they shouldn’t go.

Details at CableTechTalk.

NCTA is the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Suddenlink is a member.

Broadband for America

 

Late last week, NCTA — the primary, national trade association representing Suddenlink and similar companies — helped launch a new coalition: Broadband for America. Their goal: “ensuring that broadband is available to, and used by, every household and business in America.”

NCTA Chief Kyle McSlarrow explains.

Check here for a list of coalition members.