Network neutrality is an IoT issue too: This week the FCC issued an plan that would reverse the rules put in place during the last administration that prevent ISPs from discriminating against certain packets on their networks.
The network neutrality rules prevent your broadband provider from slowing down traffic from specific companies. The concern is that an ISP like Comcast might slow down competing TV traffic from Netflix (like it did in 2014). Or in the smart home, perhaps it would prioritize packets from its own home automation and security service as opposed to Nest’s.
I’ve spent almost a decade of my reporting career writing about the effort to first enshrine net neutrality into a formal regulation, and then watched a lawsuit kill it. During that time I also watched ISPs throttle traffic, enact punitive peering agreements and more. At the same time, the fears over net neutrality shifted from broadband networks over to wireless networks, where issues like offering Netflix to a T-Mobile subscriber for free caused similar concerns over the control carriers and ISPs had over how a consumer could experience the internet.
In 2015 The FCC finally passed network neutrality rules formalizing principles that originated back in 2005 with Republican FCC Chairman Michael Powell. But the way it did it was by classifying telecommunications as a public utility. This freaked out the ISPs. There were plenty of reasons for that, yet the FCC headed by Tom Wheeler (a former lobbyist for the telecommunications industry) that enacted the rules, took care to exempt the ISPs from most upsetting aspects of being a public utility.
But the carriers chaffed. With a new chairman, plus less support initially from big internet companies that stood to benefit from net neutrality in 2008, but now have the power to go head-to-head with the ISPs, ISPs saw a chance. This week the FCC said it will vote on December 14 whether or not to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules. This is a big story for the internet at large and there are several aspects of the internet of things that make it a great test case for network neutrality, so it’s a topic I’ll go into more depth on in a later issue.
However, beyond the frustration I feel at what is an anti-consumer and anti-innovation act by the FCC, I’m also dismayed by how much of a waste of money and time resources this all is. Lobbyists have spent millions of dollars and hours discussing this one single issue. I’ve written what is likely a book-length amount of copy on the topic as have others. And for what? We’re not adding to the debate? The compromises that were reached in the 2015 net neutrality regulations did not unilaterally favor consumers or Google to the detriment of the ISPs.
There were plenty of loopholes in the 2015 net neutrality rules that a sympathetic FCC can use to ease up on ISPs. So the idea that a repeal is needed is ridiculous. A repeal only returns us to the status quo that started this fight all the way back in 2005 once technology began infringing on the ISP’s revenue streams and they acted to stop it by blocking applications and services on the internet.
This was regulation that solved an actual problem. Which is exactly what the government is supposed to do. To suddenly repeal what took almost a decade to enact soon after coming into power isn’t a step forward or even backward. It’s just another step toward the corruption of our democracy.
Cisco is offering financing to cities for connected tech: The U.S. is further behind Europe and Asia when it comes to developing smart cities. One reason for this is the governments in other countries are investing in technology through grants and other programs. Meanwhile, in the U.S., finding funds for tech can be tough. Cisco, recognizing this, has created a $1 billion City Infrastructure Financing Acceleration Program. The funding will be provided through Cisco Capital in partnership with private equity firm Digital Alpha Advisors and pension fund investors APG Asset Management (APG) and Whitehelm Capital. However, there’s a large part of me that worries about cities striking revenue-sharing deals with private firms as part of funding for a connected traffic light or parking system. It also begs the question of how non-lucrative government services such as providing air quality data or safety in parks might find funds for technology. (SecurityWorld Market)
A crowdsourced ethics curriculum for techies: This has some really good ideas and books on it if you’re into that sort of thing. If you aren’t, you probably should be. (Tech Ethics Curriculum)
Meet the Chinese company that’s enabling the surveillance state: This profile of Megvii and its Face++ platform is a good indicator of what it means when a computer can identify people and what value a company accrues when doing that well. As humans, our face is our identity more so than a social security number or whatever other government issued ID is. We only moved to numbers because that was easier for computers to track. Once computers can track faces easily then we have to start thinking about security in an entirely new way. Because unlike our passports, our credit cards and our social security numbers, our face is visible and out there in the world. (MIT Technology Review)
Former AT&T IoT chief Glenn Lurie has a new gig: Lurie, who was the former president and CEO of AT&T Mobility Consumer Operations before he left in late summer, has joined Synchronoss at the CEO. Synchronoss is a company best known for messaging technology that it sells to a who’s who of carriers around the world. So Lurie’s staying with telecom, but not necessarily IoT. (Fierce Wireless)
Read the EU’s thinking on IoT security: The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) has published a report that tries to establish a framework for IoT security. It’s a long read and I’m not through it yet. So far there’s nothing groundbreaking in it from the perspective of how it defines the IoT, what aspects need to be secured and that security has to happen horizontally across the entire services and device. If nothing else, you will gain a deep respect for the difficulty of “securing the IoT.” (ENISA report)
Amazon’s Lambda service gets some real power: I didn’t even have to wait until next week’s AWS ReInvent conference to pick up some exciting news about Amazon’s serverless computing efforts. This week, Amazon beefed up its Lambda service to allow for better authentication and ascertaining privileges on demand, more dynamism in figuring out where to process certain requests and bigger limits for what you can do on [email protected] For more on why Lambda matters read this. (AWS blog)
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Ronald Ng says
One topic, that I haven’t seen commented on, is remote users (of large corporations) who need to log in to their corporate network via VPN. Now, since this is a business VPN, it appear as ESP traffic, which would be encrypted, and have a lower priority, and most likely, lower bandwidth. Those of us who have to work on-call will suffer greatly. I guess that would mean we would have to drive into the office.
Art Lancaster says
Stacey – A couple of comments. Deregulation of telecommunications networks was a big part of the innovations leading to voice communications becoming low cost with lots of competition. Your posting includes the key points for why we did not need the FCC to turn the Internet into a regulated public utility. Innovation and markets will work around the obstacles from the traditional operators, and indeed that innovation stops them from actually being able to errect them. Better would be for the government to actually take the anti-trust laws seriously by blocking mergers such as AT&T Time Warner, and their prior mistake of Comcast NBCU.
Next, the rush to 5G is a way for large carriers to charge us for similar services to WiFi and adding SIM cards to our streaming IP boxes. The services 5G offers are similar to metro WiFi today, except in licensed spectrum with paid subscriptions. Thus look out for paying for each connected IOT device in the 5G world.