Sandvine (TSXV:SVC) Chief Technology Officer Don Bowman has been invited to an FCC roundtable on an Open Internet. Bowman is one of seven industry experts who will attend the meeting in Washington D.C this Friday.
Sandvine has been active in the debate over an open internet which heated up earlier this year following contentious comments from current FCC Chairman and former wireless industry lobbyist, Tom Wheeler. Judging by the Waterloo company’s recent stance on the matter, it seems unlikely Bowman will reveal himself to be a supporter of Wheeler’s take on internet “fast lanes”.
Wheeler’s plan would see telco giants like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T relieved from their existing burden of “blocking or degrading” internet services, meaning tiered pricing in which consumers would have to pay for a priority fast lane and a system in which broadband providers would be able to charge content providers like Netflix and Amazon for the kind of broadband speeds that are necessary for them to operate.
This, of course, flies in the face of Net Neutrality, a term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, and refers to the idea that ISPs should treat all data equally for fear that the open, democratic nature of the web could be gradually led into a world of censorship and suffer from a lack of competition.
Wheeler later backtracked from his comments, but many are still very wary of a person of his profile in the particular seat of power he occupies.
“He’s blowing smoke,” said L.A. Times economy writer Michael Hiltzik. “The critics are right. Wheeler’s proposal will turn the Internet as we know it into the private preserve of a handful of rich and powerful companies. It will make them richer and more powerful. And you’ll be getting the bill. If the commission votes for the proposal, it will then be subject to months of public comments. But the risk is it could become law by the end of this year.
In July, Sandvine, which makes network policy control equipment and software that gives ISPs visibility to the traffic on their networks and creates service tiers that ensure internet traffic is properly billed, submitted comments to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Open Internet. The company warned that Pay for Priority is a massive unknown, and could create unintended consequences.
Mr. Bowman holds several US patents relevant to the discussions, including one entitled Systems and Methods for Traffic Management.
The hearing will be streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live.