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Net Neutrality : What Is It, and Why Should Libraries Care?. Bob Bocher Technology Consultant, WI Dept of Public Instruction, State Division for Libraries 608-266-2127, Topics to Cover. Definition and background

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net neutrality what is it and why should libraries care

Net Neutrality:What Is It, and Why Should Libraries Care?

Bob BocherTechnology Consultant, WI Dept of Public Instruction, State Division for Libraries608-266-2127,

topics to cover
Topics to Cover
  • Definition and background
  • Internet, telecom and FCC regulations
  • FCC Internet principles
  • Who supports what?
  • Impact on libraries and ALA position
  • What’s next?
net neutrality a definition
Net Neutrality – A Definition

Net Neutrality:

Accessing any content or using any service or application is done in a neutral fashion. That is, there is no network configuration, policy, or practice, outside of end user control, that discriminates against certain content, services, or applications.

net neutrality background
Net Neutrality - Background
  • Issue predates the Internet
    • Based on common carriage
    • Telecom: No one is refused service; all calls are connected regardless of location or content
  • Major legal difference between:
    • “Telecommunication service” (Title II)
      • Strong common carrier language
    • “Information service” (Title I)
      • Weak language
      • Internet is an information service

47 U.S.C. §202: It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, or services by any means or device, or to subject any person to any unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.

the internet and fcc regulations
The Internet and FCC Regulations
  • 1990s: Most consumers had dial-up
    • More than 7,500 dial-up ISPs
      • ISPs used telecom provider circuits
    • Most telecom/cable companies were not ISPs
  • 2000s: More consumers moving to broadband
    • More telecom/cable companies providing BB
    • Eroding line between telecom providers and ISPs
the internet and fcc regulations6
The Internet and FCC Regulations
  • 2000s: Broadband debate and neutrality issue
    • U.S. 15th or 20th in residential BB
    • President’s BB initiative: Connect all by 2007
    • FCC encourages more BB access
      • More access based on more competition
      • More competition based on less regulation
  • 2002: FCC says cable ISPs not subject to strong, common carrier regulation
    • Provide “information service”
the internet and fcc regulations7
The Internet and FCC Regulations
  • 2005: Supreme Court Brand X decision
  • 2005: FCC deregulates broadband
    • Treat telecom and cable ISPs the same
    • Removes common carrier language; no strong legal protection for maintaining “neutral” Net
      • Telecom circuit is part of unregulated Internet access
    • Issues “Broadband Access to the Internet” principles
  • 2007: FCC issues “Broadband Notice of Inquiry”
net neutrality statement
Net Neutrality Statement

The Commission [has] decided to reclassify broadband transmission facilities as Title I “information services” rather than Title II “telecommunications services.” To the uninitiated this sounds like semantics. But it has real consequences. That’s because the nondiscrimination obligations that attach to telecommunications traffic and which were vital to keeping the Internet open in the dial-up era no longer apply to broadband services.

We need a watchful eye to ensure that network providers do not become Internet gatekeepers, with the ability to dictate who can use the Internet and for what purpose.

— FCC Commissioner Michael Copps

fcc broadband access principles august 2005
FCC Broadband Access Principles(August 2005)

To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the Internet, consumers are entitled…

  • To access lawful Internet content of their choice
  • To run applications or use services of their choice
  • To connect their choice of devices that do not harm the network
  • To their choice of network and content providers
  • ALA’s position: FCC should add a principle of nondiscrimination
net neutrality who supports what
Net Neutrality - Who Supports What?
  • Neutrality is generally supported by:
    • Consumer organizations
    • Organizations supporting First Amendment
    • Content providers
    • Education and library community
  • Neutrality is generally opposed by:
    • Telecom/cable companies
    • Internet service providers
    • Organizations that oppose gov’t regulation
net neutrality supporters
Net Neutrality Supporters
  • End users lose control
    • Control moves from network edge to core
  • Stifle innovation and new services/applications
  • Concerns with evolving vertical market (triple play)—where telecom/cable providers control:
    • The underlying circuit
    • Actual Internet access itself
    • An increasing share of content
  • Little competition for voice/video/data services
net neutrality opponents
Net Neutrality Opponents
  • Must be able to manage network
    • Security, traffic management, illegal content
    • Discriminate for latency sensitive applications
      • Video, VoIP, hosted ILS
  • Telecom/cable need return infrastructure investments
  • Cannot control legislative outcome
  • No cases of abuse or discrimination
  • Market is better mechanism to address issue

"To date we are unaware of any market failure or demonstrated consumer harm from conduct by broadband providers."  –FTC report, June 2007

net neutrality ala fcc filing
Net Neutrality – ALA FCC Filing*
  • Supports FCC’s Internet Access Principles, but need to add nondiscrimination language
  • Endorses equitable broadband access for all
  • Endorses equitable broadband access for all Internet content providers, including libraries
  • Advocates for IF and diversity of opinion, regardless of the communications medium
    • Don’t want Internet to be like cable TV

* Filed June 14, 2007. Document is at:

net neutrality impact on libraries
Net Neutrality–Impact on Libraries

Libraries, schools, colleges, and nonprofit groups face threats to their ability to provide equal access to online information, and new technology services may be compromised.

–Michael Gorman, Past ALA President

  • Libraries are access providers
  • Libraries are content providers
  • Libraries don’t have deep pockets
  • Could make ISP selection difficult
  • Libraries concerned with
    • Digital divide and equity of access
    • First Amendment issues; diversity of opinions
net neutrality what s down the road
Net Neutrality – What’s Down the Road?
  • Internet Freedom Preservation Act (S. 215)
    • Includes common carrier protections
  • Impact of 2008 elections
  • AT&T commitment letter
  • DTV transition and FCC’s 700 MHz auction
  • Position of large content/application providers

“AT&T commits that it will maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its broadband Internet service.” --Dec 28, 2006

700 MHz auction parallels Net Neutrality debate. Google wants reserved “public” space, telecoms want “open” auction.

net neutrality what is it and why should libraries care questions

Net Neutrality :What Is It, and Why Should Libraries Care? Questions ??

Bob BocherTechnology Consultant, WI Dept of Public Instruction, State Division for Libraries608-266-2127,

home broadband adoption 2007 http www pewinternet org ppf r 217 report display asp
Home Broadband Adoption – 2007(