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Internet Governance 27 August 2013

New OIAC Report Offers Insight Into How To Continue Growth Of Open Internet

Sally Shipman Wentworth
By Sally Shipman WentworthSenior Vice President, Project Staff

This past week, an Advisory Committee to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the Open Internet Advisory Committee (OIAC), released its 2013 Annual Report. Within this report are a series of papers and case studies intended to help unpack some of the more challenging aspects of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order. The Internet Society’s Chief Information Technology Officer, Leslie Daigle, was part of the OIAC and recently offered her reflections on the outcome over on our Internet Technology Matters page.  

The OIAC is comprised of a diverse set of experts (technical experts from industry, academia, technical organizations and civil society), and while consensus among this diverse group wasn’t always possible, the report does provide useful insights into the range of perspectives on some critical topics for the future of an Open Internet in the United States.

While the OIAC report is clearly intended to inform U.S. regulators, the topics covered arguably have broad applicability outside the U.S. Recognizing that each country or region has unique regulatory and market conditions and challenges, the OAIC report offers some important perspectives shed light on some of the trickier aspects of the Open Internet including:

  • Usage-based pricing, tiers, and data caps – defining the terms, identifying different stakeholder concerns and teeing up some of the policy issues;
  • Differential treatment of applications in the mobile environment – a case study on AT&T/ Facetime considers ways to balance the unique considerations for mobile broadband operators and the Open Internet policy objectives;
  • Diversity and evolution of the mobile broadband market and impacts on competition – how the complexity and dynamism of the mobile market will impact how new actors interact in the market and the implications for competition;
  • Understanding the nature and role of specialized services – how to define and monitor the emergence of specialized services and the impact of these services on the market;
  • Implementation of transparency objectives – recommends labeling program for consumers to compare and understand service offerings.

Many of these topics are under consideration today by regulators around the world and the OIAC Report may offer new insights on how to think about these issues and what steps might be taken to support the continued growth of the Open Internet.  

I would encourage policymakers and everyone who is interested in the intersection between regulation and the Open Internet to read the report carefully and consider whether there are insights or lessons that could be applied beyond the United States.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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