Maybe you thought that the Federal Commission Friday ordered Comcast to end “discriminatory network practices.” After all, that’s what the Commission said in its release following the agency’s 3-2 ruling.
But in his own statement on the matter, Chairman Kevin Martin said:
“We do not tell providers how to manage their networks. They might choose, for instance, to prioritize voice-over-IP calls.”
This, even though, earlier in his statement, Martin specifically segues from the Comcast-BitTorrenet blocking dustup to a telephony example of unacceptable behavior:
“When faced with a similar situation with Internet telephony, we took quick action to stop a telecommunications carrier from blocking competitive VOIP providers.”
What Martin appears to be saying:
Go ahead and discriminate. Just tell your customers that you’re doing it. And let them decide if they want to remain customers.
Here’s the FCC release and Martin’s statement. Here’s Richard Bennett’s rundown at Circle ID.
The Net net: The idea that all traffic on the net should be carried with equal best efforts is not what got endorsed Friday. Comcast and other Internet service providers can and (likely) will start prioritizing traffic, even creating tiers of service.
With the FCC chairman’s blessing, as long as it’s openly done.
The slope is less slippery now. But the Internet is headed down the path to more, rather than less, FCC regulation.
As one former president might say, after all, figuring this out will depend on what your definition of “open” is.