The FCC’s first instinct when it encounters a legitimate issue with Internet management should be to involve the multi-stakeholder community through such means as reaching out to the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Society, and professional organizations such as ACM and IEEE.
When usage, delay tolerance, and loss tolerance are all unknowns, we fall to an unknown level of quality. While this simplifies billing, it doesn’t do justice to the needs of applications, innovation, or investment.
A side effect of switching from the current billing model to a quality-based model is that the unproductive net neutrality debate summarily ends. When users have control over the end-to-end quality of each application transaction, the means used by the provider to deliver the desired quality are unimportant.
What the FCC can do is help to keep large swathes of the American population from falling behind. And it can do this by saying yes to network deployment and innovation. A good first step in that process is to let go of the vacuous virtuous cycle of networks + apps innovation. That argument is illogical.
Many parts of the bundle of services offered by today’s ISPs are information services, and it’s disingenuous and reductive to claim that such services are simply means of isolating problems and deploying mitigations. The FCC’s mistaken use of the notion of network management suggests working backward from the goal of Title II classification to the best justification that could be found.
Administrative agencies don’t do their best work when consumed with settling scores and playing politics. We’re all going to benefit from FCC actions based on balanced assessment, rational analysis, and good old-fashioned American optimism.
Broadband ISPs are in the same game as dial-up ISPs: providing customers the ability to access and share information. This is not a complicated issue. Hence, Lily Tomlin’s telephone operator Ernestine is not really part of the picture any more. She was a great lady, but like Manu Ginóbili of the San Antonio Spurs, she’s retired.