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AT&T, NCTA Seek Clarification From FCC On Level 3 Dispute

in Broadband's Impact/FCC/Media Ownership/Net Neutrality/Uncategorized by

WASHINGTON, February 16, 2011 - The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and AT&T  submitted a letter Monday to the Federal Communications Commission requesting that the Commission clarify its recently announced net neutrality rules as they relate to backbone internet services.

The letter to Chairman, Julius Genachowski asks that the Commission “promptly and publicly affirm that Internet peering and other Internet backbone services, including the backbone arrangements described by Level 3 and Comcast” are not subject to the recently announced network neutrality rules.

The current dispute between Comcast and Level 3 began after Level 3 signed a deal with online video provider Netflix . Level 3's network currently delivers content  such as video, audio, and games to networks operated by cable and telephone companies, which in turn transmit the data over the "last mile" of the Internet into subscriber's homes. Comcast has indicated it would like to change the two companies peering arrangement in order to accomodate the expected uptick in traffic coming from Level 3 as Netflix traffic increases.

The FCC voted late last year to expand and cement its network openness principles with the Open Internet Order. AT&T and the NCTA have expressed concerned that  the new FCC rules could reach into areas of internet service beyond the Commission's intent. The rules, they contend, are designed for end users of the internet and not the core commercial services that providers negotiate with each other.

NCTA and AT&T ask in the letter that the FCC  "swiftly, clearly and publicly affirm that arrangements for Internet peering and other Internet backbone services are not subject to the net neutrality rules, and that the agency will decline efforts to become involved in these commercial disputes."

The Order is not currently expected to be enforced until this summer, but the industry is looking for clarification ahead of time. The new rules are expected to be put in place on a case-by-case basis but there is no sign yet from the FCC on how the new rules will be applied in order to provide certainty and clarity for internet providers.

Nate Hakken is a native of Washington, DC. As the son of two itinerant academics, Nate spent much of his childhood living in England and Scandinavia. He has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, as well as a J.D. from Vermont Law School, where he studied Internet and technology law. Nate is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as a sound engineer, teacher, camp director, outdoor adventure guide, and medical researcher. Outside of work, he is an avid cyclist who competes across the Mid-Atlantic and has been known to play the guitar when asked nicely.

1 Comment

  1. Isn’t the article just sainyg that they are putting caps on the amount of broadband usage that users get from those providers? I don’t get how it is actually controlling what you view, except that it might be harder to stream videos while staying within your limit unless they reduce the amount of GB per month even further so that you can’t watch Youtube videos and stuff. But I definitely agree that the internet should not be controlled by companies like AT&T. The internet should be available to everyone, not just those who can afford it.

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