A central policy question concerning the future of the Internet, cloud computing, and the National Broadband Plan is whether there should be Internet priorities or a priority-less Internet?

  • The crux of the grand conflict over the direction of Internet policy is that proponents of a mandated a neutral/open Internet insist that only users can prioritize Internet traffic, not any other entity.

To grasp the inherent problem and impracticality with a mandated neutral or priority-less Internet, it is helpful to ask if the Internet, which is comprised of hundreds of millions of individual users, has a mutual “hierarchy of needs” just like individuals have a “hierarchy of needs,” per Maslow’s famed, common sense “Hierarchy of Needs” theory.

  • Briefly, renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow, devised his common sense “Hierarchy of Needs” to explain inherent human priorities, i.e. that some human needs are more important or urgent than others.
    1. Physiological needs (air, water, food, sleep) must be met first, then…
    2. Safety needs (security, stability) must be met, then…
    3. Social needs (belonging, love, acceptance, betterment) can be met, then…
    4. Esteem needs (status, achievement, responsibiliity and reputation) can be met, then finally…
    5. Actualization needs (becoming everything one is capable of becoming) can be met.

The obvious point here is that the Internet, the ultimate network of individuals, does indeed have its own Internet version of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.”

  • Physical needs (functional/reliable power, bandwidth access, and broadband device; reasonable network management) are prerequisite needs to everything else because no other Internet need can be met if one is not on the Internet, is “un-served” by any Internet access provider, or the Internet access is not operational, functional or reliable.
    • The Adminstration’s NOFA rules implicitly recognized an Internet hierarchy of needs by prioritizing getting broadband access to unserved areas before adding access to under-served areas.
    • (This is like Maslow’s insight that someone with no air does not worry about thirst or hunger…)
  • Security needs (cybersecurity national defense, protection of life and property, protection from denial of service attacks, bot-net takeovers, virus/malware infections, cybercrimes and abuses, invasions/abuses of privacy, and “other harmful activities”) are also prerequisite needs because without security and safety one can not take full advantage of the Internet.
    • President Obama said in his cybersecurity address 5-29-09: “Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient. We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.”
    • (This is like Maslow’s insight that someone is not worried about how they look if they are trying to survive or are scared…)
  • Social needs (communicating freely, democracy, joining communities, collaboration, competition, innovation, efficiency/speed, economic growth and opportunity, investment, fiscal restraint, etc.) are also generally prerequisite needs because without groups, interaction, and benefits, there is little need for status or reputation.
    • (This is like Maslow’s insight that one does not worry about one’s standing in a group until one is part of a group…)
  • Esteem needs (broadband ranking in the world, responsibility to, and taking care of, others) are generally prerequisite needs to maximizing ones full potential — the most highly evolved Maslow-ian need — actualization.
  • Actualization Needs (openness)

In closing, the big takeaway here is that proponents of mandated net neutrality are out of synch with the reality, necessity and common sense of Internet priorities.

  • To assume in law or some fifth broadband principle that bit priortization or interference — is generally nefarious and is not legitimate, necessary and fully in line with the natural priorities of users — would destroy the Internet’s inherent and necessary hierarchy of needs.

Mandating the aspriational goal of an open Internet would be like putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

  • Openness, like Maslow’s ultimate need for self-actualization, is an important aspiration and end goal, but not something that can be mandated via law or regulation before other more necessary priorities have been addressed and met.
  • Simply, physical, security, social and esteem needs must be satisfied generally, and in that basic order, before true Internet openness can be achieved.

Lastly, the extent to which the FCC’s National Broadband Plan works within the common sense framework of an “Internet hierarchy of needs,” will largely determine the Plan’s practical and ultimate usefulness to our Nation.








New evidence of very serious Internet security problems sheds new light on why Senate Chairman Rockefeller has taken such a forceful leadership role on cybersecurity and why President Obama made increasing cybersecurity a national security priority in his 5-29 cybersecurity address.

  • Computerworld reported testimony before a Congressional oversight panel that sensitive details about a Presidential safe house, Presidential motorcade routes, and every U.S. nuclear facility were leaked on the Internet via a LimeWire P2P application.
  • This serious Internet security problem with P2P applications was also the subject of a 2007 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) report , which documented the severe security implications of P2P file-sharing programs that commonly have technological features that induce sharing of information that people did not want or expect to be shared.

The continued seriousness of P2P file-sharing breaches have prompted House Oversight Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns “to call for a ban on the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) software on all government and contractor computers and networks,” per Computerworld.

In this increasingly heightened cybersecurity context, it is ironic that the FCC’s first net neutrality decision concerning its Broadband Policy Statement was a highly controversial 3-2 decision that indicated that P2P application traffic may not be subject to focused network management and that P2P applications were like any other Internet application.

  • However, to the extent that P2P applications continue to be the primary source of many of the most severe Internet security problems — from national security sensitive data breaches, to mass IP content piracy, to mass privacy/identity theft vulnerabilities, to widespread denial-of-service attacks and outages, to frequent bot-net zombie takeovers, to the rapid spread of viruses, worms and malware — the FCC will increasingly have to heavily weigh Internet security factors in determining what constitutes the presumed boundaries of reasonable network management.
  • The view that any bit interference is presumed in advance to be an act of bad faith and a violation of net neutrality and the spirit of an open Internet — is becoming increasingly extreme, irresponsible, and dangerous in this environment.
  • That extreme view fosters a climate where bad actors believe they can act with impunity and no accountability and Internet users are expected to fend for themselves — and increasingly vulnerable and un-protected from harms that disproportionately happen via P2P applications.

See previous parts of this series on “The Open Internet’s Growing Security Problems” here: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, & XIII.


People are not approaching this from the perspective of helping us analyze what the trade-offs are” said FCC Broadband Coordinator Blair Levin about public comments to the National Broadband Plan — per Multichannel News.

  • Industry’s comments have attempted to be very focused on helping the FCC understand and appreciate the many explicit trade-offs involved in this very important proceeding.
A recap of the key trade-offs facing the FCC:

  • The consensus and momentum behind promoting broadband to all Americans would be endangered by an unnecessary controversy over net neutrality.
  • Continued strong private broadband investment and deployment depends on regulators not thwarting the opportunity for a market return on investment.
  • Emphasizing economic broadband regulation would mean de-emphasizing broadband competition.
  • Emphasizing new open Internet regulation would mean de-emphasizing network reliability and cybersecurity.
  • Looking backwards to the past for tomorrow’s policy answers means a less forward-looking National Broadband Plan.
  • Emphasizing broadband resale would mean de-emphasizing facilities-based broadband competition and deployment.
  • Promoting economic growth requires not undermining rare growth sectors with unnecessary economic regulation.
  • More economic broadband regulation would mean less smart network innovation.
  • Less private broadband investment and deployment would mean more need for scarce Federal funding.
  • Less availability of Federal funding means more focus on unserved areas and broadband adoption.
  • Emphasizing broadband speed de-emphasizes broadband mobility.
  • Picking industry and technology winners is picking industry and technology losers.

In closing, there are many very clear tradeoffs confronting the FCC that industry has endeavored to analyze for the FCC to date, and that industry will continue to analyze for the FCC in the months ahead.


Choice, having the benefit of a selection of different alternatives to choose from, springs from the risk and opportunity of market competition — not from Government economic regulation.

  • The latest net neutrality conspiracy theory is that the U.S. wireless industry masquerades as a competitive market, but really is a collection of monopolists bent on denying their customers choice.
  • The more the net neutrality extremists ratchet up their demonization of broadband providers in their desperate quest for the media’s and regulator’s attention, the more they are departing from reality and the mainstream.
    • Increasingly, they are coming off as virulently anti-competition and desperate for the goverment to effectively seize control of broadband infrastructure to forward their agenda of a property-less Internet or an information commons.
    • Increasingly frantic that the new Government did not mandate their commons agenda in the stimulus package or in the Adminstration’s broadband grant conditions, they are resorting to ever more extreme and irrational characterizations of things that others can see as patently untrue.
      • Demonizing wireless providers as not interested in satisfying customers as a means to earn their business, belies the obvious every day facts of constant marketing by four different national providers, routine offers of more value for less money, the lowest prices and most usage in the world, and over 600 different handsets to choose from.
      • Remember the last time “this boy cried wolf?” FreePress’ Save the Internet arm breathlessly warned broadband providers would take away Americans freedom of speech, if net neutrality legislation or regulation was not mandated immediately. After three years of free speech demonization, we hear nary a peep about freedom of speech any more… was the Internet saved or was it never really at risk?

It is in this context that it is easier to see this latest demonization campaign of wireless providers as another well-orchestrated campaign by FreePress and its allies to try and justify new government regulation generally and mandating wireless net neutrality specifically.



  • FreePress’ signature is one-sided allegations that leave out obvious information that would disprove the statistics they use.  
    • Consider the New York Times editorial yesterday “Who Rules the Mobile Bands” that claimed that American wireless users pay more on an annual basis for wireless service than Europeans do when the full truth is Americans enjoy much cheaper wireless prices than Europeans do and consequently consume four times more wireless minutes of use than Europeans do.
    • Consider the same selective analysis of David Pogue’s New York Times column, “The Irksome Cellphone industry” where he picks at pricing issues totally out of context of the overall value that American wireless consumers enjoy relative to any other country.


  • The standard MO of FreePress is find an imperfection in the market and conclude competition has failed and the Government must regulate.
    • Their implicit and heroic assumption is that Government regulation is perfect, making is superior to competition.

In closing, choice comes from competition not government.

  • It wasn’t until the Government privatized the Internet that it took off and became a phenomenon of enormous consumer choice.
  • It wasn’t until the FCC ruled Broadband was an unregulated infomation service that facilities-based competitive choice took off.

One need only look at the countries that regulate the Internet the most to see who has the least Internet consumer choice — China, Iran, Myanmar…

If it is really choice one seeks, choice flourishes best in the absence of government dictating what people and businesses can and cannot do on the Internet…

Update: If anyone questioned FreePress’ role in this latest orchestrated campaign against the wireless industry note this FreePress hyperbole that “Phone exclusivity is an abuse of power.” They have no credibility…


July 21, 2009  

Contact: Scott Cleland




NetCompetition.org Files Reply Comments on National Broadband Plan NOI

Plan should ensure Government & private sector can work together and aren’t at cross-purposes


WASHINGTON – In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Inquiry, NetCompetition.org today filed reply comments with the FCC regarding the National Broadband Plan.


In his comments, Scott Cleland, Chairman, NetCompetition.org, made three main points about the Plan; it should:

· Affirm competition policy;

· Set a high-consensus bar for defining problem(s) i.e. “demonstrable public interest harms;” and

· Reject, like the Administration did in the NOFA rules: extreme net neutrality; a one-tier, “dumb-pipe” Internet; the call for an all-fiber Internet, and calls for grandiose speed targets.


Cleland said: A key challenge for the FCC in devising a National Broadband Plan will be to get the best out of both the private sector and the Government without the two being at cross-purposes.


Cleland added: “In devising the National Broadband Plan, the FCC has to answer these fundamental questions: what does the private sector do better than Government in broadband? And what does Government do better than the private sector in broadband?”


Lastly, Cleland said: The ultimate equation of success that the National Broadband Plan will be judged by in the years ahead will be: Was the National Broadband Plan a “net plus” or a “net negative” from the original baseline foundation and trajectory?



NETCompetition.org is a pro-competition e-forum representing broadband interests. See www.netcompetition.org.






Reply Comments on National Broadband Plan – Notice of Inquiry (NOI)

GN Docket No. 09-51



I. What is the Broadband Plan Implementation Vision?


The FCC’s main “fork-in-the-road” decision in developing its National Broadband Plan is whether to recommend to Congress to: Re-affirm the current competition vision/law/precedent for broadband policy and build upon the strong foundation and momentum of facilities-based competition in the marketplace? Or Design the more Government-centered broadband ecosystem policy recommended most prominently by FreePress/Open Internet Coalition members, and re-build the common carrier regulation regime of the twentieth century?

What engine of choice will the FCC recommend to Congress: competitive forces and private investment? or Government forces and taxpayer money? In other words, will the FCC: affirm a competitive broadband ecosystem where consumers vote with their wallets about which innovations, technologies, and companies succeed or fail on the merits? Or Endorse a regulatory broadband ecosystem where regulators largely pre-determine which innovations, technologies and companies will be favored, and hence win or lose?

The FCC has a tightrope to walk here. As the FCC learned with the implementation of both the 1992 Cable Act and the 1996 Telecom Act, heavy-handed economic-regulation can backfire and ultimately crash private investment and economic growth. Thus, the Plan must balance promoting the competition policy that has been proven to work with over 90% of the country, with the need to lift up the remaining part of the country where broadband competition has yet to prove economic.

The ultimate equation of success that the National Broadband Plan will be judged by in the years ahead will be: Was the National Broadband Plan a “net plus” or a “net negative” from the original baseline foundation and trajectory?

Lastly, in devising the National Broadband Plan, the FCC has to answer these fundamental questions: what does the private sector do better than Government in broadband? And what does Government do better than the private sector in broadband? A key challenge for the FCC in devising a National Broadband Plan will be to get the best out of both the private sector and the Government without the two being at cross-purposes.

· For the full text of this argument:

o http://www.precursorblog.com/content/whats-broadband-plan-implementation-vision-affirming-competition-policy-or-the-retro-genda


II. Defining the Problem(s) is the Crux of the National Broadband Plan


First, the continued lack of an interoperable public safety network to allow our first responders, fire fighters and law enforcement to efficiently and effectively communicate and coordinate via broadband services to save lives and property, after attacks like 9-11 and hurricanes like Katrina in New Orleans, remains the most “demonstrable public interest harm” for the FCC Plan to address.” It would be hard to imagine a National Broadband Plan that does not identify the long-unaddressed, high-consensus, urgent priority of interoperability for our first responders, fire fighters, and law enforcement as one of our nation’s most “demonstrable public interest harms” to address most expeditiously.

Second, our Nation’s lack of adequate cybersecurity is another highly “demonstrable public interest harm.”In his Cybersecurity Address 5-29-09, President Obama said: “This new approach starts at the top, with this commitment from me: From now on, our digital infrastructure — the networks and computers we depend on every day — will be treated as they should be: as a strategic national asset. Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient. We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.” “In short, America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” …”It’s about the privacy and economic security of American families.” “…this is also a matter of public safety and national security.” From the White House Cyberspace Policy Review: “The digital infrastructure’s architecture was driven more by considerations of interoperability and efficiency than of security. Consequently, a growing array of state and non-state actors are compromising, stealing, changing, or destroying information and could cause critical disruptions to U.S. systems.” In short, while security may have been an afterthought or a lower priority for the Internet before, President Obama has made it clear that cybersecurity threats are a “demonstrable public interest harm.” In other words, if the broadband Internet/cyberspace is not safe and secure, other Internet priorities/benefits cannot be achieved.

Third, given that the FCC’s original statutory purpose includes “promoting safety of life and property” and given the fact that the broadband Internet has helped facilitate widespread and massive digital theft of intellectual property via p2p applications, I will be surprised if the IP community cannot make a persuasive case to the FCC that current mass digital IP theft is a “demonstrable public interest harm.”

Fourth, anything that would prevent reasonable network management to maintain a reliable broadband Internet infrastructure for communication and commerce would be another “demonstrable public interest harm.” Any actions that would prevent broadband providers from being able to mitigate denial of service attacks, viruses, worms, spam, zero-day-threats, and other malware, and manage network congestion would clearly undermine the necessity of reasonable network management. Simply, reliability is a demonstrable prerequisite for fulfilling the fourteen purposes Congress enumerated in its call for a National Broadband Plan:” “advancing consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national purposes.”

· For the full text of this point: http://www.precursorblog.com/content/defining-problems-crux-national-broadband-plan

III. What do Broadband Stimulus Decisions Signal about Future of Broadband and Net Neutrality?

The Administration implicitly rejected extreme net neutrality.

The Administration explicitly rejected a one-tier, “dumb-pipe” Internet. 

The Administration implicitly rejected calls for an all-fiber network.  

The Administration explicitly rejected calls for mandating grandiose speed targets.

The Administration favored facilities-based competition/investment over artificial resale competition.


· For the full argument and evidence of this point: http://www.precursorblog.com/content/what-do-broadband-stimulus-decisions-signal-about-future-broadband-net-neutrality-policy


Respectfully submitted,


Scott Cleland

President, Precursor LLC,

Chairman, NetCompetition.org