• Anna Gomez Sparks Fresh Energy as FCC’s 5th Commissioner

    The FCC now has its full lineup with the Senate confirming Anna Gomez as the fifth commissioner. This confirmation gives the agency the ability to take swift action in regulating communication and, potentially, space matters. Gomez was nominated in June after facing Republican opposition to the previous candidate, Gigi Sohn. Once she takes office, she […]

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  • Ofcom seeks input on revised net neutrality guidelines in new consultation
    Ofcom seeks input on revised net neutrality guidelines in new consultation

    Ofcom is in the process of seeking public input on revised guidelines that outline how net neutrality should be applied in the United Kingdom. As the regulatory body responsible for monitoring compliance with net neutrality rules, Ofcom aims to offer guidance to broadband and mobile providers to ensure they follow the established regulations. It’s important to note that the rules themselves are defined in legislation, and any amendments would require the involvement of the UK government and parliament.

    Net neutrality is rooted in the principle that individuals utilizing the internet should have the authority to dictate their online activities instead of being subject to restrictions imposed by their service providers. Ofcom highlights the crucial role net neutrality has played in granting users access to desired content and services, while enabling content and app owners to connect with their online audience.

    Considering the various developments that have occurred since the implementation of the current regulations in 2016, such as increased demand for capacity, the emergence of prominent content providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime, and advancements in technology like 5G, Ofcom has undertaken a review.

    The objective is to ensure that net neutrality fosters innovation, investment, and growth for both content providers and broadband/mobile companies. Striking the right balance in this regard can enhance consumer experiences online, allowing for the introduction of innovative services and expanded choice options.

    While preserving net neutrality remains crucial to safeguard consumer choice, Ofcom is proposing clearer guidelines to assist broadband and mobile providers in the following areas:

    • Offering premium quality retail broadband or mobile packages, such as those with minimal latency to expedite data transfer and response times.
    • Developing new “specialized services” that may encompass support for applications like virtual reality and driverless cars.
    • Implementing traffic management measures to alleviate network congestion during peak usage periods.
    • Introducing “zero-rating” packages under various circumstances, wherein users aren’t charged for accessing certain services—for example, online public health advice provided by the NHS.

    Ofcom also puts forward guidance pertaining to broadband providers prioritizing and zero-rating access to emergency services, implementing parental controls, and managing internet traffic on airplanes and trains.

    Furthermore, Ofcom presents its stance on whether broadband providers should be allowed to charge content providers for carrying traffic. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support the notion of implementing such charges, but the ultimate decision lies with the UK government and parliament.

  • Anna Gomez Sparks Fresh Energy as FCC’s 5th Commissioner
    Anna Gomez Sparks Fresh Energy as FCC’s 5th Commissioner

    The FCC now has its full lineup with the Senate confirming Anna Gomez as the fifth commissioner. This confirmation gives the agency the ability to take swift action in regulating communication and, potentially, space matters.

    Gomez was nominated in June after facing Republican opposition to the previous candidate, Gigi Sohn. Once she takes office, she will be the third Democratic commissioner in the agency, which currently leans in favor of the administration’s party.

    Under Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC has focused on improving broadband access and updating space-related rules, following the unpopular tenure of Ajit Pai during the Trump administration. However, with an incomplete count of commissioners, the agency has been limited in its capabilities. Any politically contentious issues, like net neutrality, faced deadlock with a 2:2 split.

    Though the FCC has accomplished what it could under the circumstances, the rules they oversee are thankfully less driven by partisanship. Broadband affordability and quality across the nation are shared goals among the agency’s members.

    The confirmation of Anna Gomez now allows the FCC to operate as an independent expert agency, aligned with, but not under the control of, the executive branch. Senators like Ted Cruz opposed the confirmation, but the objections were disregarded.

    Gomez’s fellow commissioners welcomed her with supportive statements, although it remains unclear what her vote will specifically lead to. There’s a possibility that under Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s leadership, the FCC may reinstate net neutrality rules with stronger legal support or implement new broadband privacy regulations amidst growing skepticism in the tech industry.

    What happens next is yet to be determined, and we may gain more insight in the upcoming FCC meeting or through subsequent statements. The next meeting is scheduled for September 21st, where they will likely provide hints about the agency’s future plans.

    In light of Anna Gomez’s confirmation, here are what the other commissioners had to say:

    “Anna is a true expert, and her extensive experience will be an asset for the agency and the public we serve.” – Commissioner Geoffrey Starks

    “Ms. Gomez has dedicated her career to public service…I am pleased to welcome her as a colleague and collaborate on policies to protect consumers and advance the interests of all Americans.” – Commissioner Brendan Carr

    “Ms. Gomez’s commitment to public service is evident throughout her career. I anticipate a fruitful collaboration with her in faithfully serving the public interest in her new role as Commissioner.” – Commissioner Nathan Simington

    And from Chairwoman Rosenworcel:

    “Anna brings a vast knowledge of telecommunications, a strong record of public service, and a dedication to keeping the United States at the forefront of connectivity. Her international expertise will greatly benefit the agency. I look forward to working with her to ensure equal access to modern communication and to maintain the United States’ leadership in the digital age.”

  • Net Neutrality’s Eternal Struggle
    Net Neutrality’s Eternal Struggle

    As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of ethernet, it’s a good time to reflect on how this technology has connected the world in ways that were once only imagined in stories. However, amidst all the advancements, there is a fundamental aspect that ties everything together, known as net neutrality. Net neutrality is a set of principles that holds great importance in the policy landscape. It has been a recurring topic on The Verge, and it’s a story that continues as long as there are people connected to the internet. The internet cables that bind us also have a significant impact on human politics, analogous to the roads that have linked people for centuries.

    The internet has become an incredibly diverse space, catering to various users’ needs. For some, it’s as simple as using the Facebook app on their phone. Others find entertainment in platforms like TikTok and Fortnite. And there are those who remember the days of Delphi forums and IRC chatrooms. Regardless of how each individual perceives the internet, its existence is made possible by a complex global infrastructure. In the early days, this infrastructure operated under the idea that all internet data should be treated equally. This means that internet service providers (ISPs) shouldn’t favor certain types of content over others. This principle is the essence of net neutrality, ensuring that users can freely access any website or service without discrimination.

    However, as the internet evolved into a powerful economic force, internet service providers became more dominant, leading to a recurring pattern of greed. This sparked a fight for net neutrality, which involved a coalition of supporters who believed that the internet’s openness should be protected by law. On the other side were powerful interests that saw profit potential in controlling access to the internet. Unfortunately, in this battle, there were some innocent casualties who were unintentionally affected.

    While progress may seem unstoppable, the truth is that even the best laws and regulations require ongoing maintenance. They need to be upheld and adapted by every generation. Recent years have shown us the importance of having collective faith in our institutions, and the internet is no exception. It’s more than just a network of tubes. Despite its flaws, the internet represents a hopeful belief that we can connect, learn, and grow together. This is what We stands for and why the fight for net neutrality is still worth it.

  • Breaking Down Net Neutrality: An Exploration of the Heated Debate
    Breaking Down Net Neutrality: An Exploration of the Heated Debate

    The issue of net neutrality has become a contentious topic, causing a divide among politicians. In simple terms, net neutrality is the belief that everyone should have equal access to the internet and its content. The legislation surrounding this concept aims to prevent internet service providers from charging more for faster service or from blocking or slowing down certain content. These laws also classify the internet as a public telecommunication utility, meaning it should be regulated by the government. While federal net neutrality laws exist, some states have taken matters into their own hands and implemented their own rules.

    President Biden has tried to reintroduce net neutrality by nominating Gigi Sohn, a pro-net neutrality candidate, to the Federal Communications Commission. However, Sohn withdrew from consideration due to personal attacks. Several states, such as California, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, have passed their own net neutrality legislation.

    The history of net neutrality dates back to 2005 when the Federal Communication Commission first established the principles behind it. However, it was not until 2015, under President Obama, that the Open Internet Order granted the FCC the authority to enforce these principles. This order classified internet service providers as telecommunications services and implemented rules to prevent them from interfering with legal content or charging extra for better service. In 2017, under President Trump, the FCC repealed these rules, leading to legal battles over the rights of states to impose their own net neutrality regulations. California’s net neutrality bill faced numerous challenges, but the legal fight was eventually dropped in 2022. President Biden has attempted to revive federal net neutrality regulation through executive orders and nominations, but has faced significant obstacles.

    Opponents of net neutrality argue that allowing internet service providers to charge different prices for different services would encourage innovation and investment in expanding bandwidth. They claim that market pressure and the oversight of the Federal Trade Commission already ensure net neutrality practices. Some also predict that net neutrality rules could lead to higher costs for consumers, suggesting that providers may start charging based on the number of users, ultimately forcing everyone to pay more.

    On the other hand, proponents of net neutrality believe that it guarantees equal access to the internet for all, regardless of wealth or status. It also prevents internet service providers from controlling the information consumers can access. Net neutrality laws can prevent rich companies from purchasing faster internet speeds and stop providers from exempting their own content from data caps, which levels the playing field for smaller, independent companies.

    In Europe, there is a debate around whether large U.S. tech firms like Google, Netflix, and Facebook should be taxed to fund the maintenance and expansion of the region’s telecommunication network. Supporters argue that those responsible for generating internet traffic should contribute to the infrastructure costs. However, opponents worry that this could incentivize companies to disregard net neutrality principles and turn to non-EU internet service providers, potentially harming the security and quality of internet services.

  • Indian telecom giants demand tech firms cough up for network usage
    Indian telecom giants demand tech firms cough up for network usage

    Indian telecom operators, the second largest in the wireless market, have recommended that internet companies compensate for using their networks. They argue that this would level the playing field and ensure fair distribution of costs. Jio, India’s largest telecom operator, suggested that internet companies contribute based on their traffic, turnover, and number of users. Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, two other major telecom players, agree with this proposal. The telecom operators believe that such compensation from internet companies would support network development and guarantee a stable internet infrastructure in the country.

    India is one of the largest wireless markets globally, but its average revenue per user is relatively low. Telecom operators face immense costs in using 5G airwaves and hope that the regulator will intervene to improve their margins. They argue that requiring internet companies to share the network costs will enable smaller startups to thrive. However, critics warn that this could breach the principles of net neutrality. Ten years ago, concerns over violations of net neutrality led the regulator to ban Meta’s Free Basics initiative in India. Tech companies and industry associations oppose the proposal, fearing reduced investments in innovation and increased burden on consumers.

    Interestingly, there is a complex relationship between telecom operators and tech giants in India. Telecom networks in the country serve as key distribution partners for tech firms. For example, Jio recently partnered with Netflix to bundle its streaming service with telecom plans. Jio also collaborates with Microsoft to establish cloud data centers in India. Google and Meta are important investors in Jio, collectively investing billions. Google has also invested in Airtel. These partnerships and investments emphasize the interconnectedness of the telecom and tech industries but also raise concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

    Telecom companies in India argue that their recommendations do not violate net neutrality principles. They propose a flexible approach that allows telecom service providers to increase their infrastructure investments and help internet companies benefit accordingly. This, they believe, would ensure the affordability and accessibility of the public internet for all. The telecom operators underscore the growing demand for network capacity due to increasing traffic, especially with the advent of 5G and eventual transition to 6G. They emphasize the need for big technology companies to contribute financially, as their bandwidth-heavy applications heavily rely on robust network infrastructure.

    It’s worth noting that this push from Indian telecom operators is not unique. Similar recommendations are being made by network operators and other bodies in countries such as South Korea and various European nations. The stakeholders argue that internet companies should bear some network costs because the traffic on telecom networks continues to grow exponentially. Without contributions from businesses and content providers, funding for the massive infrastructure required to support this traffic surge may be insufficient. Consequently, advocating for financial participation from big technology companies becomes crucial to ensure the successful rollout of advanced networks like 5G and future 6G.

  • EU Founders Concerned as Proposed Net Neutrality ‘Paywall’ Threatens Internet Access
    EU Founders Concerned as Proposed Net Neutrality ‘Paywall’ Threatens Internet Access

    The internet is a level playing field where everyone, from big companies to small startups, can access and send data quickly and without discrimination. However, a new European law is causing concern among entrepreneurs.

    Brussels has initiated an online consultation regarding the future of the connectivity sector and infrastructure. This consultation could potentially lead to internet providers charging websites fees for access and disrupting the principle of net neutrality, which ensures equal treatment of all internet users.

    While the focus may be on big tech companies, startups are worried about the unintended consequences that this law may bring. They fear that restricting internet access could distort the startup ecosystem, hamper innovation, discourage new market players, and hinder investment in the tech industry’s growth.

    Johann Svane, head of policy at Danish Entrepreneurs, expressed his concerns about the negative impact on startups and urged to maintain the current net neutrality regulations, emphasizing that there is no need to fix something that isn’t broken.

    The ongoing debate can be compared to cars on a motorway, where big tech companies are like the large number of cars, and broadband providers are the ones responsible for maintaining the infrastructure. Broadband providers argue that it is unfair for them to bear all the costs and propose that big tech companies contribute towards upgrading the infrastructure they heavily rely on.

    Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, also supports this argument, suggesting the need for a new financing model to address the substantial investments made by telecoms companies.

    Inés Moreno-Alonso, director at Allied for Startups, voices the need to understand this conversation from a broader perspective beyond big tech versus big telco. She emphasizes that startups, SMEs, and consumers should have a say, as they are integral parts of the internet ecosystem.

    Startup founders express their worries about the uncertainty surrounding the issue. They feel powerless and excluded from the discussion, highlighting that there is minimal awareness and dialogue about the potential changes to net neutrality.

    Although Brussels claims that any new regulations will not violate the principle of net neutrality, Moreno-Alonso argues that introducing network fees will inevitably create an imbalance. She states that allowing payments within networks will lead to a two-tiered internet, which contradicts the net neutrality principle.

    Startups are concerned that if fees are imposed on larger companies, it may discourage their scaling and competition against established incumbents. They fear that the introduction of fees could also pave the way for smaller players to be subjected to such financial burdens in the future, further inhibiting their growth.

    Similar fees implemented in South Korea have demonstrated negative consequences, such as a decrease in content production and quality, slower digital transformation, increased prices for consumers, and reduced investment in network infrastructure. This experience serves as a cautionary example for the potential impacts of introducing fees.

    Research conducted by the European Parliament also suggests that the South Korean experiment has not been successful, with reports and expert opinions largely agreeing on its failures.

    A report from Startup Poland, which surveyed 143 startups in central and eastern Europe, found that almost all respondents believed that imposing fees on larger companies would make it more challenging to create successful startups. Furthermore, 72% of startups anticipated a negative effect on fundraising.

    Startups like inStreamly, which operates in the intersection of video games and live-streaming, foresee potential disruptions due to increased traffic and new regulations. They worry about losing a significant portion of their market and see the idea of a paywall on the internet as both surprising and regressive.

    The proposed changes challenge the established norms of open and unrestricted internet access and pose significant concerns for startups and the future of innovation. The outcome of the consultation and subsequent decisions will shape the landscape for internet businesses and users going forward.

  • Net Neutrality Repeal Failed to Bring Internet Apocalypse
    Net Neutrality Repeal Failed to Bring Internet Apocalypse

    It’s been one year since the controversial net neutrality rules were repealed by the FCC. Many net neutrality proponents believed that this would spell the end of the internet as we knew it. However, upon closer examination, we find that the internet has actually improved since the regulations were relaxed.

    Prior to the repeal of net neutrality, there was a lot of hysteria surrounding the issue. People genuinely believed that without government intervention, all the online services we enjoyed would disappear. This sentiment was widely accepted as truth, despite the fact that these services were already in existence before net neutrality rules were implemented.

    The panic continued as organizations like the ACLU warned that without net neutrality, we would be at the mercy of powerful telecommunications giants. However, none of these dire predictions actually came true, highlighting the exaggeration and absurdity of the push for net neutrality rules.

    Net neutrality aimed to define the internet as a public utility, subject to regulatory oversight. This meant that internet service providers were required to provide equal connection speeds to all websites, regardless of content. Prior to net neutrality, providers had the freedom to offer different connection speeds and even charge extra for faster speeds on certain websites.

    Supporters of net neutrality believed that this was a necessary measure to prevent internet service providers from abusing their power. They saw it as a way to protect consumers from excessive charges. However, the reality is that market forces were already responding to consumer demand, and consumers had the freedom to choose which services and providers to use.

    Comparisons to the railroad industry, which was regulated as a public utility, remind us of the negative consequences of such regulation. The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), created to regulate railroads, ended up stifling innovation and progress. It took the abolition of the ICC for the industry to recover and flourish again.

    Contrary to the warnings of net neutrality advocates, the repeal of net neutrality has actually led to positive outcomes. Internet speeds have increased by nearly 40 percent since the repeal, as service providers have been allowed to expand their infrastructure without regulatory barriers. This is good news for both companies and users.

    While some publications have reluctantly admitted that none of the dire predictions came true after the repeal, they still cling to the belief that an unregulated internet is not truly free. However, the evidence suggests that less government regulation leads to better outcomes for both companies and consumers.

    We should keep this in mind the next time we’re told that lack of regulation will bring about the end of the world. The reality is that freedom from excessive government regulation often leads to positive results. The internet is a prime example of this.

  • Uncovering Big Tech’s Sneaky Red Herring: The Net Neutrality Fallacy
    Uncovering Big Tech’s Sneaky Red Herring: The Net Neutrality Fallacy

    In order to have a successful public debate on a complex issue, it’s important to come up with a catchy phrase or buzzword. Although many may not fully understand what Net Neutrality means, they strongly support the idea of neutral internet networks. Big Tech companies recognize the passionate discussions that surround the topic of Net Neutrality among policymakers and consumers. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they consistently use the threats to Net Neutrality as an excuse to oppose connectivity-related policy initiatives, even when these initiatives have little or nothing to do with Net Neutrality.

    A prime example of this strategy is Big Tech’s arguments against the Fair Share proposal, which aims to address the investment gap holding back Europe’s internet infrastructure. The proposal suggests that Large Traffic Generators (LTGs), those who exceed a 5% bandwidth threshold on national telecoms networks, should pay for the data traffic delivery service they receive. This would contribute to the sustainability of the internet networks. Importantly, the Fair Share proposal aligns with Net Neutrality principles and includes safeguards to protect against any undermining actions by involved parties.

    It is worth noting that even the European Commission agrees that Fair Share does not violate Net Neutrality. Commissioner Breton has dismissed these concerns, stating that they have no intention of changing Net Neutrality as it is deeply embedded in their values and Digital Decade goals. Additionally, the European Parliament has recently approved a report on competition policy that specifically calls for large traffic generators to contribute fairly to telecom network funding without compromising Net Neutrality. These reassurances demonstrate that any Fair Share proposal adopted in Europe would fully align with the Open Internet Regulation, which protects Net Neutrality principles.

    Despite these clear statements, Big Tech continues to accuse the proposal of violating Net Neutrality without offering any substantiation of their claims. They argue that Fair Share will hinder innovation, media pluralism, and freedom of speech without providing any concrete evidence of how this would occur. Unfortunately, their repeated use of the Net Neutrality buzzword has gained some support in Brussels and could potentially impede the much-needed investment in European internet infrastructure.

    As the European Commission reviews the contributions to its consultation, we will address the misconceptions surrounding the impact of Fair Share on Net Neutrality directly. The regulations in the European Union’s Open Internet Regulation (OIR) do not prohibit charging Large Traffic Generators for the services they receive. In fact, the OIR encourages parties to negotiate tariffs for specific data volumes and speeds of internet access, as long as these agreements do not limit the rights outlined in the Regulation.

    Fair Share does not affect traffic whatsoever. It does not involve blocking, slowing down, altering, restricting, interfering with, degrading, or prioritizing traffic. Under Fair Share, all traffic, whether from Large Traffic Generators or regular Traffic Generators, will be treated equally in terms of traffic management. No traffic will be given preferential treatment, and the service provided will be the same for all types of generators.

    In the event of a dispute, breach, or litigation regarding the Fair Share agreement between a Large Traffic Generator and a network operator, the delivery of traffic service must continue. Any unilateral actions, such as throttling or blocking traffic from a Large Traffic Generator, would be a violation of the OIR legislation and subject to sanctions. The same would apply in a situation without Fair Share in place.

    Fair Share will not impact access to an open and free internet. It does not restrict or limit the rights of end-users or the services they utilize to send and receive information, access content, or choose other services (as stated in Article 3.1 of OIR).

    Continuing to rely on this misleading argument is not only inaccurate but potentially harmful to Europeans. It distorts the debate and diverts attention from the real issue at hand: Europe requires investments in its digital infrastructure for the benefit of all its citizens in the future. It’s time for Big Tech to accept their role in making this happen.

  • Strong Alliance Fights for European Net Neutrality
    Strong Alliance Fights for European Net Neutrality

    At the beginning of this year, the European Commission initiated a discussion about the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure. The main focus was to determine if all parties benefiting from digital advancements should contribute to the necessary investments in the area. To address this, the Europeana Foundation joined forces with Creative Commons and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to provide a joint response.

    In our joint response, we appreciate the European Commission’s efforts to improve broadband access and expand network capabilities, enabling innovation. However, we express our concerns regarding the potential establishment of a legal basis for telecom companies to demand payments from content and application providers for traffic generation. This could compromise net neutrality and the principles of an open and fair internet, which we strongly value and defend.

    Our joint submission emphasizes the specific impacts this development would have on knowledge and cultural heritage institutions. The Europeana Foundation, Creative Commons, and IFLA represent organizations and individuals involved in galleries, libraries, archives, museums, and other sectors facilitating the sharing of knowledge and culture, particularly online. We play crucial roles in serving European communities by providing resources, services, and fostering creativity and innovation to create a trusted digital environment.

    The Europeana Foundation, as the guardian of the European data space for cultural heritage, actively works towards a vision where access to culture remains open and accessible to all. We fear that these new potential fees would negatively affect the institutions and communities we support. As repositories of vast amounts of data, we are responsible for collecting, preserving, and making various forms of media and information available to the public. While individual users may not utilize the entirety of our collections, collectively serving our communities requires handling large amounts of data. Additionally, we cater to academics and researchers who may require comprehensive access to datasets for their public-interest activities.

    Under the proposed conditions, institutions like ours may be classified as “large traffic generators” and subjected to new fees. As organizations serving the public, we already face significant budget constraints, and such fees would further limit the services we provide. Instead of allocating our resources to fulfill our missions, we would essentially be contributing to the profits of telecom operators.

    In our joint response, we highlight several alternative ways to support an open and affordable internet. These include expanding wireless services, promoting community networks, updating universal service funding, and collaborating with knowledge and cultural institutions that already work on providing internet access to local residents. We hope that these ideas, among others, will be the main focus as the consultation progresses.

    The Europeana Foundation, Creative Commons, and IFLA are ready to cooperate with the European Commission and other stakeholders to explore alternative approaches that ensure an open internet and equitable treatment of data traffic for all, in line with the principle of net neutrality.