The FCC’s public wireless network blocks lawful Internet traffic

June 13, 2011

According to the FCC’s own hard-to-find disclosure, the FCC does not operate its own broadband “public use wireless ‘Hotspot’ network” according to the FCC’s Open Internet regulations that it mandated for most everyone else.

  • Without this link to the policy, one would have to stumble upon the oblique reference to the 4-27-11 “VPAAC Hotspot Network” reference in the FCC newsroom, then click on “VPAAC Hotspot Network” and then click on the button “Expand,” then go to the very end of the document, to find the FCC’s terms-of-use policy for its public broadband network.

Ironically, the FCC’s public wireless network terms-of-use policy #3 says: the FCC’s broadband networkwill block all inbound Internet traffic to minimize any negative impact” on the network user.

 

  • This blocking of Internet traffic is in stark contrast to the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which essentially defined Internet “openness” throughout the order as not blocking lawful Internet traffic requested by a user.

The FCC’s own public network policy is also not transparent like it expects most every other broadband provider of Internet access service to be. 

  • What does it mean that the FCC “will block all inbound Internet traffic?
    • Most people think the Internet is by definition an interactive medium where packets go outbound from a user and inbound to a user.
    • If all inbound Internet traffic is blocked, how is it Internet access?
    • And if this policy does not actually block all inbound traffic as it says, (which appears to be nonsensical,) on what basis does the FCC discriminate what inbound traffic is blocked or allowed?
  • The FCC policy is also far from transparent in disclosing its network management practices in how it discriminates to “minimize any negative impact on the WHSN user.”
    • It suggests, but is not clear, that the FCC policy is to discriminate against video streaming or other high-bandwidth applications that could have a “negative impact” on the user.
  • The FCC is also not transparent in disclosing what the performance characteristics are of their broadband network.
    • Could it be that the FCC network does not meet the download and upload expectations the FCC has set for most all other broadband networks in the Nation? 

Lastly it is ironic that the FCC, which is very concerned about universal broadband availability to the public soonest, only offers “limited Hotspot coverage when visiting the Portals II FCC headquarters.”

  • With most of the FCC’s headquarters building unserved by the FCC’s broadband “Public Wireless Hotspot Network,” when will the FCC commit to a buildout timetable to ensure when the public can access the Internet via the FCC’s public wireless network in at least 98% of the FCC headquarters complex?

In sum, given the importance the FCC placed on rushing the Open Internet Order and net neutrality regulations into place in December 2010, and given the importance the FCC is supposedly placing on getting the transparency regs right before publishing the net neutrality order in the Federal Register, it would seem important for the FCC to lead by example and operate its own wireless network for the public in the same open, transparent, non-discriminatory manner and operating excellence that the FCC expects of most every other broadband operator in the U.S.

  • Given the fact that the FCC has had such difficulty operating their own broadband network according to the FCC’s own open and transparent regulations and standards, maybe the FCC should reconsider the wisdom and practicality of the FCC’s December Open Internet Order.

 

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One Response to “The FCC’s public wireless network blocks lawful Internet traffic”

  1. look it up said

    Try a fact check and look up a definition. Stop spewing “most people think”, the problem is they don’t. The fact is that outbound and inbound only refer to the direction of the first data packet, not all data packets. They are blocking traffic originating from external networks, not responses to requests from internal networks.

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