Scott Jordan
Department of Computer Science University of California, Irvine
  Net Neutrality

Net neutrality represents the idea that Internet users are entitled to broadband Internet service that does not discriminate on the basis of source, destination, or ownership of Internet traffic. This idea has formed the basis for vigorous public policy debates over governmental regulation of the Internet or Internet access. Both the United States Congress and the Federal Communications Commission have been actively involved.

 

Net Neutrality

We argue that neither the extreme pro nor con net neutrality positions are consistent with the philosophy of Internet architecture. Our view is that the net neutrality issue is the result of a fragmented communications policy unable to deal with technology convergence. We develop a net neutrality policy based on the layered structure of the Internet that gracefully accommodates convergence. Our framework distinguishes between discrimination in high barrier-to-entry network infrastructure and in low barrier-to-entry applications. The policy prohibits use of Internet infrastructure to produce an uneven playing field in Internet applications. In this manner, the policy restricts an Internet service provider's ability to discriminate in a manner that extracts oligopoly rents, while simultaneously ensuring that ISPs can use desirable forms of network management. We illustrate how this net neutrality policy can draw upon current communications law through draft statute language. We believe this approach is well grounded in both technology and policy, and that it illustrates a middle ground that may even be somewhat agreeable to the opposing forces on this issue.

Our proposed layered approach to defining nondiscrimination rules that removes the need to define either “managed services” or what constitutes the “Internet portion” of a provider's offerings. We propose that any QoS mechanisms that an ISP implements in network infrastructure layers should be available to application providers without unreasonable discrimination. Requiring such an open interface can ensure that ISPs are prohibited from refusing to provide enabling Internet infrastructure services to competing application providers in order to differentiate the ISP's own application offerings, prohibited from providing Internet infrastructure services to competing application providers at inflated prices in order to favor the ISP's own application offerings, and prohibited from making exclusive deals to provide enabling Internet infrastructure services to certain application providers. It can also ensure that ISPs have the right to apply network management mechanisms that do not threaten a level playing field, and to make arrangements with consumers, application providers, and peering ISPs for Internet infrastructure services in a manner that does not conflict with the above goals.

This type of layered approach, requiring an open interface, is a more streamlined and more effective solution that carving out a set of managed services. There is no need to define what constitutes the “Internet portion” of a provider's offerings. There is also no need to define what constitutes “managed services”, as the open interface requires access to lower layer QoS mechanisms that enables real-time applications, rather than carving out real-time applications as an exception. The open interface thus encourages competition in managed services, rather than inhibiting such competition.

This paper is intended for people with a background in communications policy:

A Layered Network Approach to Net Neutrality, International Journal of Communication, Special Section on Net Neutrality, vol. 1, 2007.

This paper is intended for people with a technical background in networking:

Implications of Internet Architecture on Net Neutrality, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, vol. 9 no. 2, May 2009, pp. 5:1-5:28.

 

Net Neutrality for Mobile Broadband Service

We analyze the technical differences between wired and wireless networks, and conclude that net neutrality, if properly defined, should apply to both networks. We furthermore conclude that wireless broadband access providers can effectively implement reasonable traffic management by controlling the amount of QoS of traffic, rather than by directly controlling what applications are used. We address whether differences between wired and wireless network technology merit different treatment with respect to net neutrality.

We are concerned with whether the challenges of wireless signals and mobility merit different traffic management techniques, and how these techniques may affect net neutrality. Although wireless networks require stronger traffic management, we find these differences are only at and below the network layer, and hence wireless broadband access providers can effectively control congestion without restricting a user’s right to run the applications of their choice.

We are also concerned with which wireless applications or services should be covered by a net neutrality requirement, and whether this requires the definition of managed services. We argue that since the differences between wired and wireless networks lie in lower layers, net neutrality in both wired and wireless networks can be effectively accomplished by requiring an open interface between network and transport layers. We argue that this is a more streamlined and more effective solution that carving out a set of managed services.

This paper is intended for people with a background in communications policy:

The Application of Net Neutrality to Wireless Networks Based on Network Architecture, Policy and Internet, vol. 2 issue 6, 2010, article 6.

This paper is intended for people with a technical background in networking:

Traffic Management and Net Neutrality in Wireless Networks, IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management, vol. 8 no. 4, December 2011, pp. 297-309.

 

Subsequent FCC Actions

In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted the 2010 Open Internet Order, which included rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking traffic, and from using unreasonable discriminatory network practices.

In 2014, the United States Court of Appeals vacated a part of this Order, which again generated considered public interest and debate.

In response, the FCC proposed a new set of regulations, which again generated considered public interest and debate.

In 2015, the FCC passed the 2015 Open Internet Order, which included rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking traffic, from throttling traffic on the basis of content or application, from charging for prioritization of traffic from a third party, and from unreasonably interfering or disadvantaging a consumer's ability to use their broadband Internet service. The 2015 Open Internet Order also classified broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service, and classified mobile broadband Internet access service as a commerical mobile service. These classifications gave the FCC the authority to implement the rules. I am honored to have been able to contribute toward the writing of the FCC's Order, as well as toward preparing the FCC for its successful defense of the Order in Court, in my role as the FCC's Chief Technologist during this time.

In 2018, the FCC passed the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which repeals most of the rules in the 2015 Open Internet Order, as well as the classifications of broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and mobile broadband Internet access service as a commerical mobile service. The repeal of the rules and classifications is currently being litigated.

 

Portions of this work were supported by NSF. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or IEEE. This material is presented to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Permission must be obtained from the copyright holder for systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in these papers for a fee or for commercial purposes, modification of the content of these papers, reprinting or republishing of this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, and to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works.

Scott Jordan   UCICSNetworked Systems