Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would examine IP interconnection and deals Netflix has made with Comcast and Verizon to improve service to Netflix subscribers.
Interconnection has been a topic of incredible contention on the regulatory level and amongst representatives on Capitol Hill. Whether interconnection is an issue that should be grouped into the net neutrality conversations has yet to be decided. And the impact this could have on the potential mergers between Comcast and Time Warner Cable and AT&T and DirecTV is also in the air.
The Chair of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, explained that consumers want transparency from their internet service providers. “Consumers need to understand what is occurring when the services they pay for do not deliver the content they desire,” said Wheeler. “Especially when that content is also paid for.”
The following can be attributed to Michael Weinberg, Vice President at Public Knowledge:
Public Knowledge commends Chairman Wheeler and the FCC for taking steps to understand what is happening in the peering and interconnection sectors. As Public Knowledge wrote in its March comments, one of the biggest problems with peering and interconnection is the absence of public information about it. While there has been plenty of speculation surrounding what is and is not happening with peering and interconnection, the truth of the matter is that anyone not directly involved with a specific agreement has no way to know if the agreement represents a reasonable agreement between the parties or a degradation of the open internet.
The first step to being able to correctly evaluate agreements connected to peering and interconnection is to understand how the market works generally. Public Knowledge hopes that this effort by the FCC will begin to shine a light on this increasingly important aspect of the internet. We look forward to participating in this process. Whatever the result, the public benefits when it can evaluate conditions on the merits without having to rely on bits of second hand information.
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