Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Craig Lowell, Carmen Gonzalez

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
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web ...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...