Net neutrality: When does transparency collide with competitive edge?

When does transparency hurt your competitive edge? That question will be at front and center among Internet access providers as they mull over the six-principle Net neutrality framework outlined by the FCC. Look for a big scrum over network management transparency.

When does transparency hurt your competitive edge?

That question will be at front and center among Internet access providers as they mull over the six-principle Net neutrality framework outlined by the Federal Communication Commission on Monday.

In a speech FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined the six-principle framework for Net neutrality (Techmeme, FCC statement, Genachowski speech, OpenInternet.gov):

  • Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • Consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
  • Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
  • Internet access providers can’t discriminate against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management.
  • Internet access providers must be transparent about the network management practices they implement.

Look for that last item to be highly contentious. As a consumer, I want to know how the broadband network is being managed to keep bandwidth flowing, limit download-happy folks and maintain uptime. I may even want a my provider to discriminate against bandwidth hogs---assuming I'm sharing the network. Meanwhile,  network management techniques could be viewed as a competitive edge to a provider.

You can rest assured there will be a big scrum over the transparency of network management. The comment period for the FCC's Net neutrality principles will kick off in October.

In the meantime, you should weigh Genachowski's full remarks. What network management disclosure would you want from your Internet provider? What's the line between transparency and competitive edge?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com