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ISPs Have Great Ideas for Broadband Rules

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Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t write a more necessary (and sarcastic) article about U.S. ISPs’ efforts to craft a nationwide broadband policy than the one over at DSL Reports. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and others have signed onto a plan being pushed by nonprofit group Connected Nation to measure broadband penetration that’s aimed at increasing broadband usage. However, as DSL Reports makes clear, the package is hardly something to cheer about.

As alleged by another not-for-profit organization, Public Knowledge, Connected Nation’s mapping abilities are questionable and much of the group’s efforts go toward selling consumers the services of the larger incumbent carriers. Connected Nation’s ties to AT&T (through BellSouth) set off alarms a few years ago, much the way the embrace of its policies by the ISPs do today. These are the same ISPs currently trying out some very unfriendly consumer tactics, such as tiered broadband and traffic blocking, which makes Connected Nation look like the fox guarding the hen house.

Essentially the ISPs want Connected Nation to take public money and create a map of the U.S. that shows which communities have broadband, and which ones don’t. They want this even though they could just as easily ask the ISPs for that data (after all, some of them have given up a lot more when asked) themselves.

The FCC has let the inmates run the asylum and dictate broadband policy for a long time. Perhaps as broadband becomes more necessary to our entertainment and work, consumers will recognize that these issues are not abstract ones, but rules that affect our ability to get streaming HD content, high-quality medical care in rural areas and other such services that have broader repercussions on our daily lives.

6 Responses to “ISPs Have Great Ideas for Broadband Rules”

  1. Stacey Higginbotham

    Brett, interesting testimony and perspective. The regulation I’m advocating involves mapping access to broadband, which I would think a smaller ISP would find beneficial. Your testimony relates to P2P network management, and I don’t entirely disagree with you, although your point about not allowing third party content providers to use my computer I have some questions about. That cuts out an opportunity for P2P to evolve into a legit and efficient distribution model, although a business model does need to be worked out.

  2. It’s not fair or reasonable to tar all ISPs with the same brush. Our independent ISP is truly working to increase broadband deployment and is going where the big guys don’t go. We do offer different tiers of service (it’s only reasonable; service that costs us more to provide should have a higher price to the user) and do have classes of service which prohibit and allow servers and P2P (again, to reflect our cost of providing the service). See my testimony to the FCC at the link above for more before you advocate regulation that would put us out of business, leaving only the big guys like Comcast and AT&T.