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Chairman Announces Competition Winners

August 5th, 2011 by Jordan Usdan

This morning FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the winners of the agency’s latest contest on, a competition for scientists and software developers to engage in innovative research and create useful apps that further the understanding of Internet connectivity and network science. A video of the Chairman’s remarks and the award presentation are available here:

The three winning teams were recognized at a ceremony with remarks by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C.  The winning teams also presented their apps and research to the Commission.

The three winning teams are University of Michigan & Microsoft Research; School of Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology; and The ICSI (International Computer Science Institute) Netalyzr Project. Descriptions of the winning entries are detailed below.

The Open Internet Challenge sought to encourage the development of innovative and functional applications that provide users with information about the extent to which their fixed or mobile broadband Internet services are consistent with the open Internet.  The research component of the challenge sought academic papers that analyze relevant Internet openness measurements, techniques, and data.  The challenge was designed to encourage and reward the creation innovative and useful research.

The challenge is posted on, a new website and digital platform where entrepreneurs, innovators, and citizen solvers can compete for prizes by providing novel solutions to problems large and small.  Details of the challenge are posted at You can view other FCC challenges at

Thank you to our judges:

Mark Allman, Senior Research Scientist, ICSI
Mark Crovella, Professor of Computer Science, Boston University
Peter Eckersley, Senior Staff Technologist, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Jim Kurose, Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science, UMass Amherst
Craig Labovitz, Chief Scientist, Arbor Networks
Jason Livingood, Executive Director, Internet Systems Engineering, Comcast
Venkat Padmanabhan, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research India
Dina Papagiannaki, Senior Research Scientist, Intel Labs Pittsburgh
Craig Partridge, Chief Scientist, Raytheon BBN Technologies
K. K. Ramakrishnan, Fellow, AT&T Labs-Research

And congratulations to our winners:

Open Internet App Award Winner
People’s Choice App Award Winner

MobiPerf, Mobile Network Measurement System

University of Michigan & Microsoft Research

MobiPerf (official website is a lightweight and accurate mobile network measurement tool designed to collect anonymous network measurement information directly from mobile end users. It runs on Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile devices and completes within 2-3 minutes. Users are able to obtain a rich set of basic network information (e.g., the device’s IP address as seen by the server and the network type such as HSDPA), network performance information (e.g., downlink/uplink throughput), as well as a set of more advanced network properties including network policies (e.g., cellular ISPs’ port blocking and NAT policies).?  MobiPerf helps identify the bottleneck network behavior for resource constrained mobile platforms as well as expose both the performance and energy impact of mobile network policies on end users.

Open Internet Research Award

Detecting ISP Traffic Discrimination and Traffic Shaping,
School of Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology

The research proposes methods that enable Internet users to detect two aspects of openness. First, an active probing method called “Differential Probing” or DiffProbe, to detect whether an access ISP is deploying delay or loss discrimination against some of its customer flows. The basic idea behind DiffProbe is to compare the delays and packet losses experienced by two flows: an application flow of interest and a probing flow. The paper describes the statistical methods that DiffProbe uses, a novel method to identify scheduling, evaluation experiments, and a few real-world tests at major access ISPs. Second, the work presents methods for active and passive detection of traffic shaping in ISPs. The active tool, ShaperProbe, enables users to detect whether their ISP is shaping traffic, and to estimate the extent of shaping. ShaperProbe is hosted as a free, open source, service on M-Lab.  The paper presents traffic shaping data from users of the tool since 2009 (from about one million runs), and showcases studies of four large ISPs. The passive tool detects and estimates application-specific traffic shaping by looking at an ongoing TCP connection on the user’s machine.

Netalyzr: Illuminating The Edge Network

The ICSI (International Computer Science Institute) Netalyzr Project

This paper presents Netalyzr, a network measurement and debugging service that evaluates the functionality provided by people’s Internet connectivity. The design aims to prove both comprehensive in terms of the properties it measures and easy to employ and understand for users with little technical background. Netalyzr is structured as a signed Java applet (which users access via their Web browser) that communicates with a suite of measurement-specific servers. Traffic between the two then probes for a diverse set of network properties, including outbound port filtering, hidden in-network HTTP caches, DNS manipulations, NAT behavior, path MTU issues, IPv6 support, and access-modem buffer capacity. In addition to reporting results to the user, Netalyzr also forms the foundation for an extensive measurement of edge-network properties. To this end, along with describing Netalyzr’s architecture and system implementation, it presents a detailed study of 130,000 measurement sessions that the service has recorded between June 2009 and September 2010.

University of Michigan & Microsoft Research team

Z. Morley Mao
Feng Qian
Paramvir Bahl
Cheng Chen
Junxian Huang
Yutong Pei
Zhiyun Qian
Birjodh Tiwana
Zhaoguang Wang
Qiang Xu
Ming Zhang

The ICSI Netalyzr Project team

Nicholas Weaver
Christian Kreibich
Boris Nechaev
Vern Paxson

Georgia Institute of Technology team

Partha Kanuparthy
Constantine Dovrolis

FCC Files Court Motions Opposing Premature Challenges to Open Internet Order

January 28th, 2011 by Austin Schlick General Counsel

austin schlickThe rules that govern when and how parties may challenge FCC orders are clear, and Verizon and MetroPCS filed too early when they challenged the Open Internet order.

Today, the FCC filed several motions with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking that court to dismiss both companies’ challenges as premature.

For easy public access, we have posted the motions below:

Motion of the FCC to Dismiss
Verizon v. FCC, No. 11-1014 (D.C. Cir.)

Motion of the FCC to Dismiss and to Defer Filing of the Record
MetroPCS Communications, Inc., et al. v. FCC, No. 11-1016 (D.C. Cir.)

Motion of the FCC to Defer Consideration of Verizon’s Motion for Panel Assignment and to Defer Filing of the Record
Verizon v. FCC, No. 11-1014

New Rules for an Open Internet

December 21st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

Julius GenachowskiAlmost everyone seems to agree that the openness of the Internet is essential — it has unleashed an enormous wave of innovation, economic growth, job creation, small business generation, and vibrant free expression.

But for too long, the freedom and openness of the Internet has been unprotected.

No rules on the books to protect basic Internet values.  No process for monitoring Internet openness as technology and business models evolve.  No recourse for innovators, consumers, or speakers harmed by improper practices. And no predictability for Internet service providers, so that they can effectively manage and invest in broadband networks.

Earlier today, that all changed.

As a result of a vote, which was just taken by the FCC, we have — for the first time — enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness.

The rules we have adopted are straightforward, and they enshrine a set of key principles.

First, consumers and innovators have a right to know the basic performance characteristics of their Internet access and how their network is being managed.  We have adopted a transparency rule that will give consumers and innovators the clear and simple information they need to make informed choices in choosing networks or designing the next killer app.

Second, consumers and innovators have a right to send and receive lawful traffic — to go where they want, say what they want, experiment with ideas — commercial and social, and use the devices of their choice.  Our new rules thus prohibit the blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of devices to the network.

Third, consumers and innovators have a right to a level playing field.  No central authority, public or private, should have the power to pick winners and losers on the Internet; that’s the role of the commercial market and the marketplace of ideas.

That is why we adopted a ban on unreasonable discrimination.  And we are making clear that so-called “pay for priority” arrangements involving fast lanes for some companies but not others are unlikely to be allowed.

The rules also recognize that broadband providers need meaningful flexibility to manage their networks to deal with congestion, security, and other issues.  And we recognize the importance and value of business-model experimentation, such as tiered pricing.

These rules fulfill many promises, including a promise to the future – a promise to the companies that don’t yet exist, and the entrepreneurs who haven’t yet started work in their dorm rooms or garages.

Today, the FCC did the right thing for the future of Internet freedom, and I look forward to building on today’s roles as the FCC continues its work to promote innovation, investment, and job creation, and to improve the lives of the American people through communications technology.

Liveblogging the Vote on Rules Protecting the Open Internet

December 21st, 2010 by George Krebs

FCC December Open Commission Meeting, Washington, D.C.

Today’s meeting is being live streamed. We’re also live tweeting this morning from @FCC. Join the conversation for these open Internet rules using #oir. A statement from Chairman Genachowski and the full slate of commissioners will be posted to the FCC homepage shortly following the meeting.

10:24am ET

This is about the vibrancy of the Internet. Its freedom, its openness, its unfathomable potential. Today we affirm that hallmark. The last twenty years have demonstrated the importance of the Internet in virtually every layer of American society. Yet adequate protections currently do not exist. These rules will get the job done.

Every student who dreams an app, every curious tinkerer who devises a device, every innovator who sees an opening to push our nation forward. And every speaker who enters their discourse into the marketplace of ideas, every business owner who reaches for the next American summit. That’s who we’re protecting today. While we recognize the need for a measure of restraint in this changing landscape, and have included provisions to that end, the wonders of the Internet must not be stifled.

The majority of the focus this morning will center around the open Internet rules. Today’s commission meeting, however, will hear two items. First, a presentation from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau on a Framework for Next Generation 911 Deployment. This will mark watershed movement for our nation’s first responders by developing a framework to provide multimedia resources beyond voice-only. Then we will tackle the final item, Preserving the Open Internet. Votes on both of these items will follow their presentation.

10:57am ET

The commissioners take their place and the meeting is set to begin. A capacity crowd is on hand to witness this historic day.

First, the Next Generation 911 item.  As Public Safety Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett announces, the order takes the form of a “Notice of inquiry concerning the transition from the current, voice-only 911 system to a broadband-enabled, next-generation 911 system.” More complex participation, allowing for texts, video, and multimedia in contacting 911. After the presentation, commissioners make remarks.

11:16am ET

“It’s time to bring 911 into the digital age… 911 is an indispensible tool. Broadband can make it even better,” Chairman Genachowski says. Commissioners’ comments are roundly positive with Commissioner Baker thanking public safety professionals, first responders, and agency staff for vaulting 911 into the next generation. Vote on the Notice of Inquiry for deployment passes unanimously.

11:22am ET

We now move to the momentous item of the morning. FCC staff line the table to present the Preserving the Open Internet and Broadband Industry Practices order. Chairman Genachowski cedes the microphone to Sharon Gillette, Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau.

“This order will establish three basic rules: transparency, no blocking, and no unreasonable discrimination,” Gillette says. “Collectively they protect and empower consumers. Provide clarity for broadband providers.”

Entrepreneurs, investors and consumers depend on these principles. Broadband providers require stability. Home broadband has grown astronomically and they now have the financial viability they seek. “Rules we propose will bring increased certainty to this vital sector of the American economy,” Paul de Sa says.

11:27am ET

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Ruth Milkman takes over. Consumers are using mobile broadband at an accelerating pace. Users are gaining greater access to a diverse range of applications and programs. Concerns have been raised about blocking. We are adopting a measured approach. Mobile providers may not block access to lawful websites or block apps that compete with their voice and video telephony services, where providers have the most incentive to leverage their position.

11:32am ET

Chief Counsel Austin Schlick details the Commission’s legal authority. The 1996 Act confers “authority and discretion to settle on the best regulatory or deregulatory approach to broadband.” We’re also charged with promoting competition, overseeing broadcasting. Blocking limits the ability of broadcasters to have equal access over the internet. “In short,” Schlick says, “the open Internet rules will permit efficient, nation-wide communications.”

11:48am ET

With the conclusion of the presentation, senior Commissioner Michael Copps begins. “It is my hope we will continue the great American Internet story… We cannot afford to relegate Internet authority to large corporations and think of what might have been.” Previous communications technologies have also fallen victim to private control. “In 2003 I warned that the Internet may be dying because of a lack of provisions.”

All we need to do is look at the history of the FCC. Commissioner Copps gives a brief history of the outgrowth of the telephone and demonstrates how its deregulated path follows that of the Internet. “Sound familiar?” Copps asks. One company, AT&T, insisted that for safety and maximum progress they needed to dominate the industry. He fears today’s order doesn’t go far enough, “in my book today’s action would and could have gone further. I considered dissent very seriously. But it’s clear to me that without action today, work on network neutrality would halt.” Copps ensures the importance of today is lost on no one. “We have in our grasp now the most promising communications technology in all of history. Needs to be responsive to all, available to all, and affordable.”

12:09pm ET

Commissioner Robert McDowell begins his dissent – “for those joining us for the first time” – by noting that over 90% of the votes at the FCC are bipartisan and unanimous. He disagrees sharply with how we should provide for an open Internet. “The era of legal Internet arbitrage has dawned,” he says. Says the measure is becoming politicized. McDowell sites several government studies to bolster his argument. His contention: nothing is broken that needs fixing; FCC does not have authority; proposed rules will cause irreparable harm.

12:23pm ET

Two lengthy statements later Commissioner Mignon Clyburn makes remarks. She will concur in part, approve in part. There are areas in the current order she would have liked strengthened. “First, I would have extended all of the fixed rules to mobile. Some communities, such as African-Americans, rely on mobile Internet more than others.” While the route taken is not the one she would have picked, she believes it is appropriate for the Commission to act. “Without an open Internet, consumers will have few choices and opportunities.”

12:44pm ET

“I really, really, really dissent,” says Commissioner Meredith Baker. The Commission put its thumb on the scale for how the Internet will operate. “At best, the majority solves a problem of its own making.” She says this order will add to uncertainty. Baker details her seven complaints, warning against preventing prospective harm.

12:53pm ET

As the final speaker of the afternoon, Chairman Genachowski takes the mantle. He opens with a quote from World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, “The Web as we know it [is] being threatened.” Today we are adopting enforceable rules to preserve open Internet values, The freedom and openness of Internet is unprotected. No process for monitoring, no recourse for innovators, no predictability for providers.

There are those on both extremes, Chairman Genachowski says, I reject both. “We heard familiar comments today, often trotted out to oppose any government action.” The lack of basic rules of the road are starting to hamper growth. Commonsense rules are key for economic growth, job creation and competitiveness. Even after the Commission promoted Open Internet principles in 2005, we’ve seen clear deviations.

At the same time, government must not overreach or pretend to have knowledge about this dynamic and rapidly changing marketplace that we do not possess. “Today we’re adopting rules of the road that strike the right balance,” he says. “Our action will advance our goal of having America’s broadband networks be the freest and fastest in the world. And our action will ensure Internet freedom at home, a foundation of our argument for Internet freedom around the world.”

The Chairman will now lay out the key principles the order enshrines.

12:58pm ET

The six principles are as follows:

1) Transparency. Consumers and innovators have a right to know the basic performance characteristics of their Internet access and how their network is being managed.

2) No Blocking. A right to send and receive lawful traffic. This prohibits blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of non-harmful devices to the network

3) Level Playing Field. A right to a level playing field. A ban on unreasonable discrimination.  No approval for so-called “pay for priority” arrangements involving fast lanes for some companies but not others.

4) Network Management. An allowance for broadband providers to engage in reasonable network management. These rules don’t forbid providers from offering subscribers tiers of service or charging based on bandwidth consumed.

5) Mobile. Broadly applicable rules requiring transparency for mobile broadband providers, and prohibiting them from blocking websites and certain competitive applications.

6) Vigilance. Creation of an Open Internet Advisory Committee to assist the Commission in monitoring the state of Internet openness and the effects of our rules.

1:07pm ET

Chairman Genachowski concludes his remarks and the afternoon’s meeting. “Today a strengthened FCC is adopting rules that empower consumers and entrepreneurs and protect free expression. These rules fulfill many promises, including a promise to the future. A promise to the companies that don’t yet exist, the entrepreneurs that haven’t yet started work in the dorm rooms or garages.”

A vote is taken and the order passes 3 – 2, with “ayes” from Genachowski, Copps and Clyburn; dissents from McDowell and Baker.

The Perfect, the Good, and the FCC

December 1st, 2010 by admin

Guest Post by Kevin Werbach

It has been a busy week in U.S. communications policy, with an FCC meeting adopting important spectrum policy reforms, an FCC complaint about Comcast’s approval policies for cable modems, and a dispute between Comcast and Level 3 over fees for Internet backbone traffic.  And late last night, it got even more interesting.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reportedly circulated a draft Open Internet order, to be considered at the FCC’s December 21 meeting.  According to a statement given to reporters, the order builds on the compromise terms from Congressional negotiations led by Representative Henry Waxman this fall.  What does that mean?  I’m confident of two things: Hardly anyone will like the proposal; and it’s the right thing to do.

Advocates of network neutrality will be disappointed the FCC isn’t going forward with “reclassification” of broadband access as a regulated telecommunications service, while many Republicans and network operators will complain about a “power grab” to “regulate the Internet” even after Democratic losses in the midterm elections.  Both should  put aside their ideologies and look realistically at the situation.  Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

If you believe in the need to protect the open Internet, this is the realistic way forward, and it could lay the groundwork for other steps if necessary in the future.  If you see network neutrality as a dangerous drag on Internet investment, this is the realistic way to remove that regulatory overhang. Kill this proposal, and it’s hard to envision anything but years of further uncertainty, most likely ending with a worse compromise down the road. I don’t love it either, but I’m a realist.  The fate of network neutrality will hinge not on the FCC’s rhetoric, but on its implementation.  There can’t be implementation without an order.  And I can’t see any other order making it through in the current environment.

It’s important to understand how we got here.

It seems like the network neutrality fight has been going on forever.  When I entered academia in 2004, I thought the issues were pretty well developed.  Concerns about closed, discriminatory broadband networks, which I and others started writing about five years earlier, were widely recognized. The outcome also seemed pretty clear.  Even FCC Chairman Michael Powell, a Republican who favored deregulation of broadband access networks, acknowledged the importance of an open Internet.  He gave a speech setting forth four “Internet freedoms” which should be protected to ensure innovation and consumer choice.  A year later, the FCC memorialized those principles in a policy statement, and the Supreme Court ratified the FCC’s deregulatory classification of broadband on the theory that it retained the power to act when it found the justification.  The only question was how the FCC would actually move forward when issues arose.

Fast forward through five years of loud, contentious fights.  We’re pretty much still in the same place.  The FCC’s one attempt to take more specific action, its 2008 order against Comcast’s network management practices, was overturned in court earlier this year.  This uncertainty benefits no one.  It hurts those in favor of network neutrality the most, because companies are moving forward with infrastructure investments and business strategies that become difficult to unwind after the fact.  We’ve already seen exclusive content deals like ESPN3 and TV Anywhere take hold.  There are reports of application blocking and other restrictions on wireless networks.  And now, Comcast and Level 3 opening up a can of worms in the backbone market.  The FCC might find these practices legitimate, but until it’s operating under a defined legal and procedural framework, it can’t even make that assessment.

The network neutrality battle is frequently posed as a binary choice: inaction or reclassification.  In fact, neither is realistic.  Concerns about the open Internet won’t go away if the FCC does nothing now.  Comcast’s clumsy 2008 response to peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic won’t be the last time a network operator provokes popular and Congressional ire.  And broadband will only become more important and economically significant.  In other words, network neutrality rules will be on the FCC docket indefinitely, until the agency takes a concrete step forward.  Again, I say this with the perspective of someone who has watched this issue now for a dozen years.

On the other side, whatever the merits of the reclassification path, it’s not going to happen.  There may have been a window of opportunity earlier this year, but it closed.  A majority of the members of the House of Representatives signed on to a letter opposing the idea, and one could scarcely create a better issue to draw the united fire of grassroots Tea Party activists, the most powerful bipartisan corporate lobbying interests, and Republicans eager to take down the Obama Administration.  I could imagine an FCC Chairman risking everything to push reclassification at any cost, but I can’t say I’d recommend that to Chairman Genachowski now.  Especially when there’s an alternative that achieves the same objectives.

Keep in mind that reclassification itself doesn’t make Net neutrality happen, even if the FCC order survives the court challenge. It gives the agency legal authority and a set of precedents, but applying those precedents to contemporary broadband practices will still be a painstaking process. Everyone knows the 1996 Telecommunications Act is outdated in this converged digital era.  Anything the FCC does is a necessary stopgap until Congress replaces it, a process likely to take several years.  The open Internet is the principle worth fighting for, not a particular legal theory.

While there is no guarantee of success under the approach Chairman Genachowski has chosen either, there is a good legal basis to support it.  The Supreme Court in the 2005 Brand X case expressly stated that Title I “ancillary authority” gave the FCC some authority to adopt broadband rules.  And the court that overturned the FCC’s Comcast order actually provided a roadmap for a successful do-over, by emphasizing what the Commission failed to argue then.  This new approach would parallel what I proposed in a law review article, Off the Hook, published at the beginning of this year. The FCC picked the wrong statutory provision in Comcast, and its sloppiness in the proceeding under prior Chairman Kevin Martin undermined its legal case.  The current Chairman won’t make those mistakes.

It’s not the most satisfying solution, but it’s the best option today.


Disclosure: I co-led the FCC review for the Obama Administration’s Transition Team in 2008, and advised the FCC and National Telecommunications & Information Administration in 2009.  My FCC consulting engagement ended before Chairman Genachowski developed the current proposal, and these are entirely my personal views.


Cross-posted from

The Future of Internet Policy in America

May 7th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

Read video transcript here.

Cross posted from

Open Internet Reply Comment Deadline Extended to April 26th, 2010

April 8th, 2010 by Sharon Gillett

A number of parties have requested that the FCC extend the reply comment deadline so that “all interested parties may evaluate and consider the legal implications of” the Court’s decision in Comcast v. FCC (DC Cir. April 6, 2010).

While the FCC does not routinely grant extensions of time, the FCC concluded that “good cause exists to provide all parties an extension.” Therefore, the FCC extended the reply comment date from April 8 to April 26, 2010. Comments can be filed through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (the docket number is 09-191).

In the Order granting the extension, the FCC also reminded interested parties that on April 28th, the FCC will be holding the Approaches to Preserving the Open Internet Workshop in Seattle Washington. A press release announcing the participants should soon be released.

April 28 Workshop on Approaches to Preserving the Open Internet Workshop Scheduled

March 26th, 2010 by Robert Cannon - Senior Counsel for Internet Law - Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis, FCC

Bob CannonThe FCC will hold its next workshop in the Open Internet proceeding on  Wednesday, April 28, at 9:30 am, at the Jackson Federal Building in Seattle, Washington.

As previous workshops have shown, the Internet’s openness is integral to the success of the online ecosystem, enabling innovation, investment, speech, democratic engagement, and consumer benefits. Called Approaches to Preserving the Open Internet, this workshop will address how the Internet’s openness can best be preserved, including by examining historical and ongoing efforts to protect Internet openness in the U.S. and other countries, and by discussing the key technological, economic, and legal considerations relevant to the need for and substance of the Commission’s proposed open Internet policies.  Panelists will address these issues across Internet access platforms, including mobile wireless broadband.

The workshop will be streamed live at FCC Live.  You can submit question to the panelists during the workshop via e-mail, or on twitter using #Oidiscuss.  Additional information concerning the workshop, including the participating panelists and the agenda, will be posted to the Workshop webpage at