Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Larry Alton

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
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.