Newsbreak: U.S. Gov, Vint Cerf believe 3GPP should be multistakeholder, participatory

6 minutes might transform the discussion on LTE-U/LAA & WiFi spectrum. Larry Strickling of NTIA “prefers the model of the Internet Engineering Task Force… we always prefer a model that invites more participation rather than less. …  I think you’re making a good point. If Obama had a third term, I think I’d be able to work on it. ” Everyone laughed, but he had made his point. (full quote below) Larry is the U.S. lead on Internet issues like the ICANN contract and made a strong speech favoring multi-stakeholder and community processes. Vint Cerf and Laura DeNardis added strong endorsements of participatory processes.

At the end – 132:30 or so in the video – I asked them about whether 3GPP/ATIS should also have open participation, especially around the issues of LTE-U/LAA and Wi-Fi spectrum. These are far bigger Internet policy issues than anything ICANN is likely to do. At about 137: Larry addressed the issue, including mentioning he didn’t know the details of 3GPP. Vint spoke about how important it is to apply multistakeholder processes to technical discussions that relate to policy. 

A moment later, Laura DeNardis spoke up. “I’d like to also respond to the issue of Open Standards. I am extremely passionate about this. If one believes that the process for setting the technical rules for the Internet is also a public policy issue, then having openness in that procedure is of vital importance.

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Dave on the decline of the West in communications

Tony Rutkowski, an American once very active in the ITU, wrote a piece for CircleID lamenting the diminished role of Western companies. His conclusion was this was a rejection of the ITU. I strongly differed and wrote this comment.

Actually, many parts of the ITU are thriving. The new DSL standard,, was almost completely developed by the ITU working group. It brings DSL speeds to hundreds of megabits and sometimes a gigabit.

Tony is right many of the Western companies are less active. In one way, that’s not a surprise. We’ve seen the end of formerly great contributors to communications like Siemens and Nortel as well as the decimation of Bell Labs. Everyone else has cut back.

Much of the slack in research – and ITU standards – is being taken up by Asian companies like Samsung, NTT and Huawei. The ITU, unlike most other groups, has done a great job of involving the new players. In other parts of the ITU, Africans and Latin Americans are deeply involved, a good thing.

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Robin Hood in reverse: Mark Zuckerberg’s takes from the poor

facebook executivesWould-be rulers of Africa and IndiaFollow the money, which is flowing from poor countries to the U.S. giant  Facebook is putting up no money for the free traffic, Instead, Zuckerberg is demanding ISPs in poor countries subsidize Facebook. The companies have little choice but to give in before a competitor does. Facebook has hundreds of millions of users without broadband. Facebook will market aggressively the local carrier who agrees to subsidize Facebook. Even with Facebook’s changes to allow more into the program they are excluding 95+% of Internet sites. The carriers are given “an offer they [almost] can’t refuse.” Their people are younger than Marlon Brando was but in general are less subtle.

Put another way, does not offer even 5% of the Internet, is not a non-profit organization and extracts money from poor countries to benefit wealthy Americans. Take a look at Zuck and his multi-millionaire colleagues in the picture. 

This is far more than an issue of “net neutrality,” “zero rating” or false advertising. Facebook & Google/YouTube have enormous scale and a big cost advantage. This is a huge obstacle to competition developing, especially outside the major developed countries. I originally believed Facebook was buying control of the web throughout the world, something pretty ugly. I didn’t expect to discover it was “buying” nothing. Instead, Zuck’s minions threaten dire consequences for telcos who won’t give Facebook  preference. 

The misinformation is massive. Until the recent changes, 99% of Internet sites was not accessible via “” The much heralded move toward openness will leave at least 95% of Internet sites unavailable. Ignore the pr and read the rules about joining at, especially the technical requirements. I’d be very surprised if even 5% of websites will ever qualify. In particular, no African, Brazilian or any other serious competitor to Facebook will be allowed. They do that by blocking anything that uses voice or video, crucial parts of Facebook and subsidiaries. 

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Opinion: Multistakeholder crucial for important standards

Hobbling Wi-Fi is more than just a technical issue. The U.S. and EU strongly advocate public participation in important Internet decisions, as NTIA Chief Larry Strickling makes clear below. The U.S. in particular has fought hard at the ITU for our version of “multistakeholder.” The U.S. actions and motives at ITU can be questioned but the idea of public participation is sound. 

Some of the most important Internet regulations are currently made in industry bodies like 3GPP and ATIS. 3GPP on wireless, ATIS and the Broadband Forum on DSL, ETSI and other standards groups have generally done superb jobs on the technology. For example, the work of Tom Starr and others in ATIS and ITU twenty years ago is the reason interference between DSL lines can manage interference.

The IEEE and IETF standards groups are completely open and obviously have done important work. As Leslie Daigle of the Internet Society writes

 “Allowing the community of Internet technology developers and users to create and experiment, build without permission, and feed their real-world experience back into the standards process, supports the uniquely innovative character that is the hallmark of the Internet. The top-down imposition of mandatory standards runs contrary to this process, preventing standards from developing in response to fast-paced technological evolution and market needs.”

The Internet is designed to bring people together and to increase communication on multiple levels. On a human level, the Internet brings people together socially based on common interests and by allowing independent networks to communicate with each other. On a technical level, the established protocols of the Internet help enable systems to communicate and execute tasks seamlessly. Many of these protocols would not be possible without the collaboration of global standards development organizations working collaboratively, in an open manner.

Standards developed with global input from a diversity of sources through open processes have the greatest chance of producing outcomes that are technically exceptional, leverage cutting edge engineering expertise, and support interoperability and global competitiveness in technology markets.”

Active public participation is necessary

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U.S. Supremes: ATIS & 3GPP antitrust vulnerability

Antitrust standardsPrima facie case if industry comes together to block competition. The U.S. Supreme Court just made a powerful argument that standards bodies should be open and multistakeholder. They definitely can be sued. Over 15 years reporting on telecom standards, I’ve seen innumerable efforts in standards to favor some companies and exclude others. In one case, I believe a company forced out of business had a very strong case that could have resulted in nine figure damages. (Metalink) As the company ran out of funds, they decided they couldn’t afford the legal fees on what would have been a long drawn out case.

The “smoking gun” memo, signed by 11 international telcos, made clear to anyone with common sense they were trying to use LTE-U/LAA to hobble completion and free WiFi offloading. China Mobile, China Telecom, AT&T, CHTTL, KT, China Unicom, T-Mobile USA, Sprint, Telefonica, France Telecom/Orange and Telecom Italia in their candor invited an antitrust prosecution. There are enough wealthy companies interested in Wi-Fi legal fees should be easy to raise. 

The smart move for ATIS and 3GPP is to open their groups to public participation. 

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“Verizon intends to be out of the wireline business within the next ten years,” FCC filing

Completely correct only for three states.  Verizon & AT&T have decided to shut down at least 20M landlines between them, going wireless only, as I’ve reported several times. The evidence is in many state filings and financial reports. I believe the Florida Power & Light FCC filing in the title, while accurately quoted. was only meant to apply to the three FP&L states. In other states, my opinion is they will keep most but not all FiOS lines while dumping 10M lines of copper.  

“All the evidence shows that Verizon has been abandoning its efforts to build out wireline broadband. Verizon, in fact, has made clear it intends to be out of the wireline business within the next ten years, conveying this clear intent to regulated utilities in negotiations over joint use issues and explaining that Verizon no longer wants to be a pole owner. … Publicly available evidence abounds. … Verizon is obviously no longer interested in the wireline broadband business and sees its financial future in the wireless industry.” 

FP & L’s attorneys have written to me with the “three state” update. I’m pretty sure that Verizon intends to continue offering FiOS to 15M+ homes in it’s traditional Northeast region. It’s a good and profitable business, beating cable in some territories despite extremely high pricing. Verizon and AT&T have been coy on the subject. As far as I know, neither has ever gone on the record with how many lines they intend to scrap in favor of wireless.

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Dave in India on neutrality facts

Verizon in an article in India’s Economic Times disputes a report that they throttle their service based on the application. A far as I know, today they don’t, and neither do the other large U.S. telcos and cablecos. The big issue today is throttling at the peering point, where companies like Verizon refused ordinary connections without payment. Verizon claims that has nothing to do with neutrality and obfuscates. I asked Tim Wu, who coined the phrase, whether edge throttling was a neutrality violation. It is. 

Verizon is accurate that they do not throttle applications such as VOIP, I believe. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t violating neutrality.

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