6 minutes might transform the discussion on LTE-U/LAA & WiFi spectrum. Larry Strickling of NTIA "prefers the model of the Internet Engineering Task Force... we always prefer a model that invites more participation rather than less. ...  I think you’re making a good point. If Obama had a third term, I think I’d be able to work on it. " Everyone laughed, but he had made his point. (full quote below) Larry is the U.S. lead on Internet issues like the ICANN contract and made a strong speech favoring multi-stakeholder and community processes. Vint Cerf and Laura DeNardis added strong endorsements of participatory processes.

At the end - 132:30 or so in the video - I asked them about whether 3GPP/ATIS should also have open participation, especially around the issues of LTE-U/LAA and Wi-Fi spectrum. These are far bigger Internet policy issues than anything ICANN is likely to do. At about 137: Larry addressed the issue, including mentioning he didn't know the details of 3GPP. Vint spoke about how important it is to apply multistakeholder processes to technical discussions that relate to policy. 

A moment later, Laura DeNardis spoke up. "I’d like to also respond to the issue of Open Standards. I am extremely passionate about this. If one believes that the process for setting the technical rules for the Internet is also a public policy issue, then having openness in that procedure is of vital importance.

Many people don’t have the technical expertise or the financial backing or the time to get involved but just having a procedure where people have the option to get involved is vitally important. open in in participation also open in implementation. I want to extend what you said to the standards being openly published. We cannot have accountability if we do not have transparency. Often, technical decisions determine wider issues."

The smart move for Susan Miller, head of ATIS & 3GPP, is to immediately open up the group. Until about a decade ago, ATIS committees were open to everybody. The DSL standards they developed in an open committee in the 1990's are holding up remarkably well. She can do that with a few phone calls to people like Kathy Brown of the Internet Society and leaders of IETF, IEEE & similar groups. Miller has known the issue for more than a decade, when I reported about the closing of the ATIS DSL committee not long after the Chair of that committee had publicly said he was proud it was an open group. With AT&T, Verizon, Comcast & Time Warner on the board, ATIS can certainly fund itself even if a handful of the smaller companies don't want to pay for membership.

In practice, letting a few civilians and academics in will change very little. As Larry notes, there aren't many with the skills, time and money to get involved. Most of what goes through 3GPP is difficult to understand even if you have Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, if wireless isn't your specialty.   

In contrast, anyone can participate in the IEEE groups - you just have to go to some meetings. The IETF, which makes most "Internet" decisions is totally open and does everything in public. The proof the IETF does a good job begins with my ability to write this and your ability to read it. In practice, most of the leaders of the IETF are corporate engineers, especially from Cisco and Ericsson. But the non-corporate types prevent gross abuses.  

On the other hand, to be a member of 3GPP, you have to be a member of ATIS, the U.S. standards organization, or one of several other national standards groups. ATIS membership rules have no provision for individuals or most Civil Society. "Full Membership is open to service providers, manufacturers, distributors, and developers of communications, entertainment and information technology products and services." I just discovered they also offer an affiliate membership that is open to universities, so I was mistaken when I said it was only corporate. I believe it is very expensive. It is certainly not "open" in the forms we are discussing.

Fadi Chehadé, ICANN CEO, was in a later session. Marietje Schaake of the EU and Kathy Brown of the Internet Society were among the two dozen other prominent speakers at the Columbia U. SIPA Conference on Internet Governance 

Since the Smoking Gun submission about reducing competition, pushing through LTE-U/LAA without wide public participation is an invitation to an antitrust suit.

Thanks to Joly MacFie and the Internet Society, you will be able to watch the full event.

I asked the question at 132:30 or so. All you see is the back of my head in the lower corner. I made a mistake when I said 3GPP/ATIS was company only.

At 1:37, Larry made his remarks. "I personally prefer the model of the Internet Engineering Task Force. I don’t know the model of the 3GPP. I don’t know whether it is set up to exclude people or it’s just the way it conducts its business or the technical expertise required discourages other people from participating or not. In general, we always prefer a model that invites more participation rather than less. ... I think you’re making a good point. If Obama had a third term, I think I’d be able to work on it."

DeNardis followed, with the quote above.


The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein


Professor Noam's "Many Internets" http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim