President Obama Hearts Net Neutrality and May Hate Metered Broadband


President Obama took questions via YouTube today, and professed a belief in net neutrality — not necessarily the generic net neutrality that most agree with — namely the idea that broadband providers shouldn’t block content or make companies pay for preferred delivery over their pipes — but a fairly specific vision that may even include resistance to allowing carriers deliver managed services or possibly tiered pricing on the consumer side.

“We’re getting pushback, obviously, from some of the bigger carriers who would like to be able to charge more fees and extract more money from wealthier customers. But we think that runs counter to the whole spirit of openness that has made the Internet such a powerful engine for not only economic growth, but also for the generation of ideas and creativity.”

The idea of carriers extracting more money from wealthier customers could apply to the large ISPs pressuring the big content providers to pay more for delivery, but Obama may be tying the idea of net neutrality to those same ISPs trying to extract more money from the end consumer through tiered pricing plans or higher fees. It’s unclear, but as far as I can tell net neutrality isn’t going to stop efforts to implement tiered pricing for broadband such as what Time Warner Cable (s twc) proposed last year. His statements aren’t all that surprising given the Obama had campaigned on a pro-net neutrality platform, but it’s still worth checking out the video below.


Richard Bennett

Yesterday I was accused by a boutique ISP owner of being a stooge for Google, and today I’ve got a wild-eyed Bolshie calling me a shill for Ma Cable, so I must be doing something right.

Obama’s sound bite should say: “A consensus is emerging among the major industry players in the the Internet ecosystem around most of the issues raised in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding. The FCC is conducting this inquiry with full openness and transparency, and we’re hopeful that the remaining issues can be resolved to most everyone’s satisfaction. You can’t please everybody, and we realize that any new regulations in an area that has historically been unregulated will draw some criticism. But the debate on the Open Internet is proceeding in a constructive manner, without the animosity and childishness that we’ve seen on health care and government spending. At the end of the day, the right of anonymous fools to leave retarded comments on blogs will be preserved, even though their mamas don’t approve.”

Alfred Packer

Hey, DIck Bennett,

Didn’t realize your position as a paid ITIF industry shill had you inside the inner circle at the White House.

Those of us who are on the inside laugh at your comments about how Obama isn’t aware of the current state of the debate on network neutrality. But since you are the know-it-all about everything, I guess we’ll believe you.

All that aside. Imagining him giving a 40 second answer that encapsulated your preferred (and absurdly incorrect) characterization of the debate is a hoot. Politicians don’t speak like old washed up hacks whose psychosis-ladended expertise is rewarded with Cable money.

We all know you and your cable and Bell company supporters would like to promote the frame that the debate is where you say it is, or that the public interest community is changing their rhetoric, but it is a fantasy that exists in your head. No one who is on the inside at the Commission or WH is seriously considering the ATT-pushed RAND 202 discrimination standard. That’s just industry propaganda, a good tactic to make it seem like the debate has shifted, but in reality it has not.

Richard Bennett

Actually, the state of the debate has developed quite a bit since the Big O took office. The courts are preparing to deliver a big blow to the FCC for over-reaching in the Comcast network management case, Verizon and Google reached an accord on all of the issues but one, Comcast has made the bid to acquire NBCU, increased its DOCSIS 3 penetration and upped its speeds twice, AT&T has upgraded from HSPA to HSPA+ on its wireless network, and Amazon has changed its position on premium services in a major way.

There’s no serious consideration for anything like a ban on volume-based pricing, and there’s an developing consensus that fee-based IP transport services should be permitted as long as they’re available on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

Even the horror stories told by the fear and trembling interest groups have changed as they try to manufacture a justification for stopping Internet evolution. I don’t fault Obama for ignoring this issue, because he actually does have some real issues to worry about.

Haji Sillah Seesay

I think it’s a bit strident to claim that the guy hasn’t been paying attention with attention. He’s been in office for a year and the realities of ‘net neutrality’ have not changed. Let’s face it. when you take office at a time when the economy of the precipice of capitulation, net neutrality better not be in your top tier priorities. Give the guy a break…….

Richard Bennett

He’s clearly been paying more attention to things like health care, the economy, the budget, and the Massachuetts election than to net neutrality lately; these were the old talking points from the election, not the current state of the debate. The discussion about the Open Internet NPRM is now pretty clearly focused on payment for enhanced IP delivery services and the disclosure terms.

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