Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Lori MacVittie, Charlotte Spencer-Smith, Anders Wallgren, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

Agile Computing: Article

Living with “Fast” and “Slow” Internet Lanes: FCC Votes in Favor

Who will step in and introduce the kind of competition that is needed to prevent the doomsday scenarios from becoming reality?

The Internet has been buzzing over the recent news of a federal proposal that creates the equivalent of "slow" and "fast" lanes online. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday, May 15, 3-2 in favor of a new proposal that enables the creation of Internet fast lanes, where broadband and cable providers such as Comcast can charge companies like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and other over-the-top (OTT) providers to pay for priority traffic over a fast lane. The original FCC Open Internet Order of 2010 didn't declare that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were common carriers that must transport everything irrespective of the content - but it did outlaw pay-for-play fast lanes. The 2010 Open Internet Order is what companies like Verizon challenged and what led to parts being struck down in January 2014 by the US Court of Appeals. The 2010 Order failed to provide legal reasons for "the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules" and the US Federal Appeals Court agreed with the ISPs. In order to impose such regulations, ISPs would need to be classified as common carriers, and would essentially be held to the same standards and regulations as your telephone company (telco). Your telco provider does not charge you extra to make calls during peak hours or to guarantee that calls won't be dropped. The public will now be allowed to provide comment, before the FCC enacts the final ruling later in the year. Adding fuel to the debate is whether or not the FCC can enforce policies that do not "divide the Internet into the ‘haves' and ‘have nots.'" Categorizing the debate this way does have the result of drawing individuals into the discussion that would otherwise have been content on the sidelines.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler insisted that the new proposal would not squeeze out the little players and that fast lanes will only be made available when they are "reasonable." It will be interesting to see what constitutes reasonable. He also called out that ISPs could not prioritize traffic from their own subsidiaries to the detriment of others and that Internet providers won't be able to penalize companies that don't pay for the fast lane by slowing their speeds. But giving one company more lanes on the Internet highway translates to a possible unintended consequence of fewer lanes for the rest of the traffic. And that additional fast lane revenue could create an incentive for broadband providers to allow network congestion to build, forcing companies to pay up or deal with the consequence of slow service.

The FCC fast lane plan did not impact deals like the ones reached between Comcast, Verizon and Netflix, in which Netflix (kicking and screaming) agreed to pay for direct connections to the broadband companies' networks to improve streaming speeds. The fast lane plan also does not cover traffic discrimination on the mobile Web. AT&T moved early this year to monetize wireless data caps by charging content providers for the right to serve up video and other media without chewing up consumers' monthly data limits. Eligible 4G customers can get mobile content and apps over AT&T's wireless network without impacting their monthly wireless data plan. The price of data is charged to the content provider and customers are billed based on usage.

The FCC has to consider public comments and face scrutiny from lawmakers before anything can happen. Many of the prophets out there are playing out the ultimate Internet doomsday scenarios, such as:

  1. Only popular and profitable services get capacity because these providers can afford to pay.
  2. Rates go up significantly and niche applications are blocked or relegated to the slow lane.
  3. When you sign on with an ISP, you will then get access to only the restricted portfolio of services offered by that particular ISP. It will be just like signing on to a cable company and getting only the programming the cable company has chosen.
  4. Will ISPs each issue their list of Internet "channels" to tell us what we can access? This may be easier than providing a list of what is blocked or slowed down.
  5. If service providers can adjust charging for the optimization of the increasingly scarce resource of bandwidth, what incentive is there for them to build more capacity? Why not just keep the network the way it is, and command higher and higher prices for the privilege of using it?

While the debate continues to play out in the media and increasingly in Washington, I thought it worthwhile to provide an alternative view on why the situation is perhaps not as dire as some would have us believe: good old-fashioned innovation and competition, the cornerstone of American capitalism.

In my series of blogs on net neutrality, I've suggested that the removal of the FCC's open Internet rules on blocking and preferential services might not in reality provide U.S. Internet access providers with the clear and unfettered path they expected to create new profits from Internet traffic control. In one example, I speculate that the device manufacturers might get in the way or demand a financial cut. In another, I imagine that edge-providers might not be an easy sell, and may even be among those that choose to set up shop as competitive access providers, now that the gate has been opened to imaginative competitive differentiation.

Like most things, the reality will likely be vastly different than the frenzied speculation. An alternative view is that we can look at the end of net neutrality as a step forward for competition in the world of Internet access by providing increased differentiation opportunities which are good for competition. If the only difference between services is price, then it's tough for new entrants to make a business case for entering the market. However, if every access provider offers a different suite of preferred edge providers, this expands the opportunities.

Who will step in and introduce the kind of competition that is needed to prevent the doomsday scenarios from becoming reality? This is a network infrastructure business, and traditionally the cost of entry has been prohibitively high. That's why we tend to think of telecom carriers and cable companies as "natural monopolies" and choose to live with the situation, alleviated somewhat by a modicum of regulation. However, this is the 21st century and the world is a very different place then when the net neutrality debate began over 20 years ago and the legal wrangling began. The cost of bandwidth has plummeted, broadband wireless access technologies are much more capable and cost-effective, and there are many large corporations such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google and more with deep pockets. There are also investors interested in anything disruptive and game-changing. What is clear is that disruption based on price alone will be the exception and not the norm.

Follow us on Twitter for more updates, and maybe more opposing views, on the ongoing net neutrality debate.

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud, BUSS. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda was CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. At MetraTech, Esmeralda was responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution for enterprise and SaaS products, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of resource and service control software, now part of Extreme Networks.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...