Level 3 is Still Trying to Make Hay

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on December 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Since November 30th, Level 3 has made five filings in the FCC’s Open Internet Proceeding in which it raised “net neutrality” concerns about the agreement it had previously reached to purchase connectivity from Comcast.  Yesterday, Level 3’s CEO sent another letter to the FCC and the Department of Justice in which he urged the FCC to consider regulating broadband Internet access providers generally to deal with its concerns. The fact that Level 3 did not file its latest letter in the Open Internet docket (such a filing would be prohibited under the FCC’s sunshine rules) may indicate that Level 3 has abandoned its frivolous net neutrality claims.

In any case, this is a pretty remarkable call for regulation of Internet interconnection arrangements that have worked remarkably well without regulation. To try to justify this unprecedented regulatory intervention, Level 3 says that, absent regulation, ISPs can “coerce payments from broadband backbone and independent content providers” thanks to their “dominant control over access to their subscriber’s eyes and ears.”

Wait a minute. Up until now, last-mile ISPs have mostly been buyers rather than sellers of Internet interconnection services. If you ask me, there’s not much crazier in business than buying something that you could, according to Level 3, be selling. Apparently, ISPs have run up billions of dollars in unnecessary expenses that, in fact, could have been revenue. I understand how the buy/build dilemma works, but buy/sell seems like a no-brainer.

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I See Consensus, People

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on December 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm

By Ellen Blackler, AT&T Executive Director – Public Policy

I hope I’m not jinxing it by mentioning it, but there is a quiet and promising consensus emerging.  And, no, I’m not referring to the long-running debate surrounding the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding…We won’t know how that story goes until next Tuesday.

What I’m referring to is the consensus around, of all things, the best way to regulate privacy on the internet.   There were a few glimmers of it in the FTC’s dialogue on online privacy leading up to its report released earlier this month.  It picked up some speed during the comment period for the NTIA’s Green Paper and really takes off today with that paper’s release.  I’ll save you the time of reading the nearly 80-page report by bottom-lining it for you.  NTIA puts great emphasis on a new kind of code of conduct, developed with input from consumers, industry and government stakeholders, and robustly enforced with government oversight.

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Cupcakegate?

Posted by: Bob Quinn on December 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm

It’s Christmas. It’s time to make merry. It’s time for some cheer.  Yet, inexplicably, Public Knowledge has suddenly adopted an anti-cupcake agenda.  For many years AT&T has provided sweets to policymakers as well as journalists and others, who we work with daily.  Used to be cookies, now it’s cupcakes.  We just figured that after being served hot coffee and waffles the Commission was up for something sweeter.  Perhaps Public Knowledge is just upset that we didn’t send any to them. Well consider it done.  They’re on the way.

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Honoring Our Warriors

Posted by: Joan Marsh on December 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm

April was behind the microphone, her voice timid at first but growing in confidence with each word.  She was singing “O Holy Night” and her rendition was beautiful.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

April is the wife of a US Soldier in residence at the Walter Reed Medical Center. We gathered at the Malonge House on the Walter Reed Campus last weekend for a holiday celebration with our wounded warriors and their families, families who call the Malonge House their home so they can remain close to a soldier that is undergoing treatment and rehabilitation for injuries received while enlisted. For the past two years, AT&T has sponsored a holiday party at the facility that is full of wintry treats, festive music and a flurry of toys for the children of these brave men and women.  These soldiers, many of them injured grievously, answered the call of service to their country and made sacrifices beyond what should be asked. Yet these men and women bear the burden of their wounds with strength and dignity, as do the families and loved ones that surround them.

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What Does it Mean to Be a “Peer?”

Posted by: Bob Quinn on December 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm

The blogosphere continues to churn over the Comcast-Level 3 kerfuffle.  Level 3 even saw fit to respond to this humble blogger in a press release (a comment on a blog, a response blog or even a to-the-point tart tweet I get, but a press release?).

According to Level 3, I “missed the point completely,” in suggesting that there may be some inconsistencies between what Level 3 is saying now about Comcast and what it said five years ago about Cogent.  Level 3 insists that this dispute, unlike its dispute with Cogent, is not “just a peering dispute.”  Now look, I’m a Cubs fan so obviously I miss on a lot of things, but on this…let’s take a closer look.

The way I understand what happened here was that Level 3 went to Comcast and asked Comcast to provision capacity to meet Level 3’s expected (doubled) traffic volume.  Comcast offered to provide some capacity but said that, if Level 3 needed more, it would have to pay for it.  Level 3 believes that Comcast should simply provision the capacity to exchange traffic with Level 3 at no charge.  Sounds an awful lot like a peering dispute to me.  And, it sounds a lot like the press release rationale Level 3 used in its dispute with Cogent five years ago.  And while Level 3 says now (and then to be fair) that traffic balance was one factor in a peering relationship, it was the ONLY factor they deemed fit to discuss in that release back in 2005. 

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