Thursday, February 17, 2005


More Violations of Network Neutrality: Not Hypothetical Anymore!

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are running stories today about Vonage's complaint to the FCC about port blocking. The Journal quotes a Vonage spokesperson saying:
"Customers are being harmed and the value of the Internet itself is harmed when behavior like this occurs,"
And the Journal observes
The consolidation of the communications industry to a few huge companies offering phone, television, high-speed Internet connections and related services and equipment raises questions about whether independent services like Vonage or TiVo Inc., the maker of digital-video recorders, will be degraded or cut off by the companies providing network connections . . . shutting off a potential competitor could violate federal antitrust laws that bar companies that control essential facilities from refusing to give competitors the access needed to compete.
The Post says
Vonage chief executive Jeffrey A. Citron said his engineers went to many of the customers' homes in December to confirm that the local phone company, which provides high-speed Internet access for residents, had blocked Vonage's data stream, thus making it impossible to make calls.
. . . other major Internet firms, including Yahoo Inc. and Inc., have raised red flags as well. They fear a scenario in which the network owners cut deals with certain vendors of Internet content so that their information gets to consumers faster, or with higher quality, at the expense of others.
"It's disturbing to us to see a gatekeeper blocking a customer's use of a service that rides over the Internet," said Matthew Zinn, general counsel of TiVo Inc., which makes digital television recorders. "It's a dangerous precedent. The Internet represents the free flow of information."
. . . the FCC has not proposed rules on the issue. The major phone and cable companies have said that regulation is unnecessary because they have no plans to discriminate and that the problem was purely hypothetical.

"Not anymore," Citron said.

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