8/25 Report from DCIA CEO Marty Lafferty


Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyThe Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) and Cloud Computing Association (CCA) are very pleased to welcome IBM to our all new co-hosted CLOUD DEVELOPERS SUMMIT & EXPO 2014 (CDSE:2014), featuring industry leaders Amazon, Dell, Google, Microsoft, NetSuite, Oracle, Rackspace, and SAP, among many other cloud-computing innovators.

Delegate registration at early-bird rates ends September 6th for CDSE:2014, which will take place in Austin, TX on October 1st and 2nd.

Business strategy and technical sessions covering the latest trends — Mobile Cloud, DevOps, and Big Data — as well as general interest cloud service topics will be featured along with a special focus on three economic sectors experiencing the most cloud adoption: Media & Entertainment, Government & Military, and Healthcare & Life Sciences.

IBM is a CDSE:2014 Gold Sponsor.

IBM’s keynote address, “Mobile Cloud Architectures,” by Sal Vella, Vice President, Rational Product Development and Customer Support, IBM Software Group, will highlight how government and healthcare entities, and businesses from banks to retailers, are using cloud-based mobile development and delivery environments to very quickly develop in the cloud, deliver on mobile, and test using innovative mobile and cloud capabilities.

Most industries are also demonstrating a strong preference for hybrid-cloud environments by blending the use of on-premises and off-premises environments. Real client examples will be featured.

Sal Vella oversees worldwide development and support of the extensive IBM Rational Product Portfolio.

In previous positions, he was the Vice President for IBM Software Group Architecture and Technology based in Somers, NY, responsible for the IBM Software Group Technical Architecture including architectural standards, support of industry standards, and setting standards and guidelines for IBM’s large software development organization.

Sal Vella was also IBM Vice President, Development, Distributed Data Servers and Data Warehousing, and IBM Director of Enterprise Content, responsible for managing IBM’s worldwide development of its Content Management software portfolio; and has also been responsible for the development of Storage Software and development of the DB2 Universal Database product set.

IBM will also present two workshops: “DevOps Services in the Cloud: From Idea to Production in Minutes” and “IBM Bluemix: Build, Deploy and Test a Mobile App in the Cloud.”

Sandhya Kapoor, Senior Software Engineer, IBM Ecosystem Development, Strategic Initiatives, will lead the DevOps Workshop.

Do you want to build, deploy, and optimize mobile and cloud applications quickly? Attend this session to experience a rapid development environment with integrated services for DevOps — you just need minutes, not weeks, to be up and running with a fully integrated environment offering all the services and tools you need.

If you need a secure, private environment to collaborate across your team and your external consultants (as others are doing today), this is the place for you: Get your hands on an end-to-end solution with the services you need to deliver your innovative ideas quickly. Mobile testing and feedback is included!

Sandhya Kapoor has been working in the Austin, TX Lab since 1989, contributing to IBM’s major software projects including Bluemix, IBM’s Cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Offering, Distributed Computing Environment (DCE), WebSphere Application Server, Stack products using WebSphere Application Server, Business Process Manager and Pure Application Systems.

Check-out Sandhya Kapoor’s blog here and follow her on twitter @sandhya_ibm.

Leigh Williamson, IBM Distinguished Engineer, IBM Mobile Software Development Strategy, CTO Team, Rational Software, will lead the Mobile Apps Workshop.

Do you need a way to have users just shake their mobile device to provide detailed In-app Bug Reporting — without time consuming manual entry on status and the issue? How about Over-the-Air Distribution to get your latest app version in the hands of testers fast?

What about Automated Crash Reporting and User Feedback and Sentiment? You need all of this and more. Attend this session to see how you can instantly gain these capabilities through the cloud. Plus, you’ll learn how you can build and deploy an App in minutes in the IBM Bluemix environment.

Leigh Williamson has been working in the Austin, TX lab since 1988, contributing to IBM’s major software projects including OS/2, DB2, AIX, Java, WebSphere Application Server, and the IBM Rational portfolio of solutions.

Check-out Leigh Williamson’s blog here and follow him on twitter @leighawilli.

IBM’s participation exemplifies the two major offerings of CDSE:2014:

During the business conference at CDSE:2014, thirty-six highly focused strategic and technical keynotes, breakout panels, and Q&A sessions will thoroughly explore cloud computing solutions, and ample opportunities will be provided for one-on-one networking with the major players in this space.

At eighteen co-located CDSE:2014 instructional workshops and special seminars facilitated by industry leading speakers and world-class technical trainers, attendees will, see, hear, learn and master critical skills in sessions devoted to the unique challenges and opportunities for developers, programmers, and solutions architects.

All aspects of cloud computing will be represented: storage, networking, applications, integration, and aggregation.

To learn more about conducting an instructional workshop, exhibiting, or sponsoring CDSE:2014, contact Don Buford, Executive Director, or Hank Woji, VP Business Development, at the CCA.

If you’d like to speak at this major industry event, please contact me at the DCIA.

Register now. Share wisely, and take care.

8/18 Report from DCIA CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyIn July, the DCIA was among a record number of organizations and individuals to submit public comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its 2014 Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) on how the Commission should ensure that the Internet remains open.

In fact, the FCC’s website was so inundated with comments in support of Net Neutrality that it crashed multiple times, leading the FCC to extend its submission period several times.

We remarked at the time that reviewing the million or more submissions qualified this exercise as a cloud computing big data project.

This week, to further develop its understanding of the issues and examine the actions it may take, the Commission announced that it will host a series of staff-led Open Internet Roundtable Discussions at its headquarters.

The roundtables will be free and open to the public, and will also be streamed live here.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will preside over the roundtables. Democrat Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel as well as Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly will be there to discuss the issues.

These discussions will focus on public policy considerations and how they should be addressed to protect and promote Internet openness in both the fixed and mobile markets; the technological considerations involved in protecting the open Internet; how the competitive landscape and the economics of providing broadband and online services affects Internet openness; how the Commission can effectively enforce the current and proposed open Internet requirements; and the various legal theories underlying possible Commission actions in this area.

Here’s the schedule for the roundtables and the designated FCC bureau staff member to contact for more information, including requests to participate in these discussions:

Policy Approaches to Ensure an Open Internet — Tuesday September 16th morning — Kristine Fargotstein, Wireline Competition Bureau, 202-418-2774.

Mobile Broadband and the Open Internet — Tuesday September 16th afternoon — Dan Ball, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Spectrum and Competition Policy Division, 202-418-1577.

Effective Enforcement of Open Internet Requirements — Friday September 19th morning — Stephen Ruckman, 202-418-8192.

Technological Aspects of an Open Internet — Friday September 19th afternoon — Henning Schulzrinne.

Economics of Broadband: Market Successes and Market Failures — Thursday October 2nd — Tim Brennan.

Internet Openness and the Law Tuesday October 7th — Stephanie Weiner.

The decisions of the FCC and lawmakers regarding Net Neutrality are extremely important to the advancement of the cloud computing industry.

Columbia University Law Professor Tim Wu, credited with coining the term, said, “Network Neutrality is best defined as a network design principle.”

"The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally."

"This allows the network to carry every form of information and support every kind of application."

"The principle suggests that information networks are often more valuable when they are lessspecialized — when they are a platform for multiple uses, present and future."

"A useful way to understand this principle is to look at other networks, like the electric grid, which are implicitly built on a neutrality theory."

"The general purpose and neutral nature of the electric grid is one of the things that make it extremely useful."

"The electric grid does not care if you plug in a toaster, an iron, or a computer."

"Consequently it has survived and supported giant waves of innovation in the appliance market."

"The electric grid worked for the radios of the 1930s works for the flat screen TVs of the 2000s."

"For that reason the electric grid is a model of a neutral, innovation-driving network."

Industry leaders Google, Apple, Netflix, and many others have announced their support for policies that protect the open Internet.

Numerous young Americans have asked the FCC to preserve Net Neutrality so that they can better compete in the workforce and have equal access to all information on the web, regardless of point of origin.

Others have referenced America’s commitment to a free-market economy and the basic structure of capitalism, which demands that all ventures have equal opportunity to compete, so that the best services can be made available to the public.

And most commenters have agreed that it is the FCC’s job to defend the Internet’s integrity. Share wisely, and take care.

8/11 Report from CEO Marty Lafferty


Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyThe Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) and Cloud Computing Association (CCA) are very pleased to welcome SAP to our all new co-hosted CLOUD DEVELOPERS SUMMIT & EXPO 2014 (CDSE:2014), featuring industry leaders Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft among many other cloud computing players.

CDSE:2014, which will take place in Austin, TX on October 1st and 2nd, is now accepting delegate registrations at early-bird rates.

SAP’s keynote address, “Staying Ahead of the Game,” by Scott Campbell, Senior Principal for Media, Sports & Entertainment at SAP America, will highlight the rapid innovation SAP provided to help the German soccer team gain a distinct advantage in the 2014 World Cup.

Scott Campbell brings over 25 years of operational and business leadership experience to SAP’s Industry Value Engineering Practice in North America, which helps customers get the most from investments in SAP’s platform by bringing benchmarking, best practices, and creative new approaches to innovation — such as using design-thinking and other solutions-oriented techniques.

Today, you can manage your entire business — customer relations, finance, human resources, procurement and much more — in the cloud with the most comprehensive cloud computing portfolio available on the market.

35 million business users already use the SAP Cloud, seamlessly integrating with their on-premise solutions and maximizing business agility.

Scott Campbell’s keynote will outline — in a very practical way — how your company can leverage the cloud to stay ahead of the game.

SAP will also present two workshops, “Ariba — Join the World’s Largest Sourcing Network” and “Developing Real-Time Data Solutions Using the SAP HANA Cloud Platform.”

Mark Willner will provide the hands-on tutorial of Ariba.

As Principal Technical Solutions Consultant at Ariba, an SAP Company specializing in Source-to-Pay Applications, Mark Willner engages with prospective customers to demonstrate the integration of Ariba products to their ERPs (SAP, Oracle, etc.) or other back-end solutions and explain the architecture of Ariba’s cloud solutions.

Find out how to join over one million suppliers that have registered and actively trade their products and services on the Ariba Network.

The workshop will also highlight integration scenarios between Ariba cloud solutions and customer ERP systems; featuring Ariba PO/Invoice Automation, Procure-to-Pay Solutions, and Upstream Procurement Solutions (sourcing, contracts, and supplier management).

This workshop will give developers an overview of what technologies can be leveraged to build these types of integrations and the software requirements necessary to build-out these solutions.

Account Executive for Big Data Solutions at SAP, Robby Richardson will conduct the SAP Workshop on real-time data solutions using the SAP HANA cloud platform.

As the in-memory Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering from SAP, HANA enables customers and developers to build, extend, and run applications in the cloud.

This workshop will provide an overview of the solutions and a selection of examples from the 1,500 developers and start-ups that are running their solutions on the world’s fastest real-time data platform.

SAP’s participation exemplifies the two major offerings of CDSE:2014:

During the business conference at CDSE:2014, highly focused strategic and technical keynotes, breakout panels, and Q&A sessions will thoroughly explore cloud computing solutions, and ample opportunities will be provided for one-on-one networking with the major players in this space.

At the co-located CDSE:2014 instructional workshops and special seminars facilitated by industry leading speakers and world-class technical trainers, attendees will, see, hear, learn and master critical skills in sessions devoted to the unique challenges and opportunities for developers, programmers, and solutions architects.

All aspects of cloud computing will be represented: storage, networking, applications, integration, and aggregation.

Examples of other sessions that show the depth and breadth of CDSE:2014 include “Mobile Cloud Architectures” by IBM’s Sal Vella, “Tackling Big Data with Hadoop & Open Source” by Talend’s Cedric Carbone, “Reducing IaaS Costs with Predictive Analytics” by QRhythm’s Sergey Sherpluk, “Media & Entertainment Cloud Object Stores” by Aspera’s Mike Flathers, “HIPAA in the Healthcare Cloud” by OnRamp’s Chad Kissinger, and “Cloud Mining for Government Agencies” by TechLabs’ Stephen Leibholz.

To learn more about conducting an instructional workshop, exhibiting, or sponsoring CDSE:2014, contact Don Buford, Executive Director, or Hank Woji, VP Business Development, at the CCA.

If you’d like to speak at this major industry event, please contact me at the DCIA. .

Share wisely, and take care.

8/4 Report from DCIA CEO Marty Lafferty

The Digital Due Process (DDP) coalition, in which the DCIA is a member, for more than two years has advocated reform of the seriously outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to protect data stored in the cloud.

Very significant progress has been made since late June when we marked the milestone of achieving a majority of the US House of Representatives to support HR 1852: The Email Privacy Act (EPA).

The EPA will require government agents to obtain warrants from a judge in order to force service providers to disclose private data they store in the cloud for their customers.

In fact, it’s now conceivable that — with your help — we can surpass a two-thirds majority of co-sponsors for this measure (two-hundred ninety).

The bill was originally sponsored by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Tom Graves (R-GA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) and would create a bright-line, warrant-for-content rule for electronic communications.

Since our last report on this, the following Republican Members of Congress have signed-on as co-sponsors to EPA: Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Tom Cole (R-OK), Doug Collins (R-GA), David Jolly (R-FL), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Vance McAllister (R-LA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Michael Turner (R-OH), and Todd Young (R-IN).

Meanwhile, our lead co-sponsors have also added these Democrats: Judy Chu (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).

There continue to be proportionally more Republicans than Democrats, and we also need Members of the House Judiciary Committee to sign-on and encouragement of Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to pass the bill out of Committee.

Now is the time for the full House to move swiftly to pass this common-sense reform that has huge bipartisan support.

Please make time on your schedule today to call, fax, or email your Congressional representative — targeting Democrats and Judiciary Committee Members in particular — and urge action.

The lone holdout on ECPA reform remains the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which wants new powers to obtain data directly from service providers.

The SEC’s position is made untenable by the support for ECPA reform by criminal justice agencies, which should have greater powers than civil authorities.

At a recent House hearing, FBI Director James Comey said that amending ECPA to require a warrant “won’t have any effect on our practice.”

He went on to note specifically that concerns about the outdated nature of ECPA “make sense to me.”

Effective law enforcement will not be hampered by a warrant requirement.

The SEC does not have the power to force its way into private offices to seize paper records from filing cabinets; it should not have the power to force its way into digital filing cabinets.

Members of Congress can show they take their constituents’ privacy seriously — and that they can enact meaningful reform — by passing this bill.

As the SIIA has proclaimed, “At a time when there is little agreement in Washington, this stands out as a bipartisan priority to level the playing field for protection of electronic communications.”

The Yoder-Graves-Polis bill gives Congress the rare opportunity to update digital communications privacy for the 21st century by providing the same amount of privacy to online as offline communications, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

Twenty-eight years is long enough to wait given the changes in digital technologies since the eighties, before the the World Wide Web was even invented.

If the House votes on the bill, it will pass, so now’s the time. Share wisely and take care.

7/28 Report from DCIA CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty Lafferty

The Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) and Cloud Computing Association (CCA) are very pleased to welcome Microsoft to our all new co-hosted CLOUD DEVELOPERS SUMMIT & EXPO 2014 (CDSE:2014).

According to research firm IDC, by 2017, the cloud computing industry is expected to more than double from its 2013 level of $47.4 billion.

The cloud’s 23.5% compound annual growth rate is five times faster than that of the broader technology market.

The needs have never been greater for developers, programmers and architects to advance their knowledge, capabilities and skill-sets in order to profit from this revolutionary transformation in the business processes of the future.

Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure is helping to drive this growth with services that provide enhanced performance, scalability, and additional security, which conventional web hosts just can’t provide.

For web developers, this means access to hosted applications and data, along with cloud-based development services, enabling them to create web applications that have access to data and services like never before.

To help industry participants learn how to capture their share of this huge opportunity, the DCIA & CCA have partnered to present CDSE:2014 in Austin, TX on October 1st and 2nd.

Keynoting for Microsoft on the topic “Enabling DevOps for the Cloud” will be Haishi Bai, Microsoft’s Technology Evangelist for Azure.

Haishi is an active technical writer with two published books on cloud computing and a blog with 0.5 million views yearly.

He’s been working in the industry for 17 years, and has been accumulating software development skills since he was 12, when he wrote his first programs in BASIC.

After he joined Microsoft, Haishi’s focus has been promoting Azure adoption by speaking at events, creating samples, guidance, frameworks, and tools as well as engaging with customers at different project phases to guide their cloud computing projects.

Haishi’s keynote will highlight such areas as “focus on your application,” “learn and innovate,” and “continuous improvements.”

Microsoft will also offer two workshops at CDSE:2014, which will cover “Getting Started with Microsoft Azure” and “Big Data with Microsoft Azure.”

Joining Haishi in conducting these workshops will be Microsoft Research Connections’ Senior Research Program Manager, Wenming Ye.

After completing his graduate work at University of Colorado Boulder, Wenming joined SRI International, where he focused on design and development of innovative wireless, handheld, and web-based simulation tools and services.

He returned to Boulder as a developer on the commercialization team at Tech-X Corp, where he developed and productized large-scale HPC software.

Wenming is currently responsible for cloud-based big data and big compute projects at Microsoft Research Connections.

Microsoft’s participation and that of the other major cloud brands exemplify how this inaugural summit and expo is co-locating two related but distinct events with broader audience appeal than prior CCA & DCIA offerings.

First, it’s providing the kind of senior-level strategic business conference we’ve pioneered with the CLOUD COMPUTING EAST and CLOUD COMPUTING WEST conference series — and for which audiences will be of the same caliber as the decision-maker attendees for those.

And second, it adds an all new opportunity for cloud-solution providers and vendors to present hands-on instructional workshops and special seminars — and for which audiences will be more directly involved in developing, programming, and implementing cloud-computing solutions.

The schedule has been carefully organized so that workshop attendees do not have to miss out on the thematically related conference sessions that are most directly related to their areas of interest.

During the conference part of CDSE:2014, highly focused business strategy and technical keynotes, breakout panels, and seminars will thoroughly explore cloud computing solutions, and ample opportunities will be provided for one-on-one networking with the major players in this space.

At the co-located instructional workshops and special seminars facilitated by more than one-hundred industry leading speakers and world-class technical trainers, attendees will, see, hear, learn and master critical skills in sessions devoted to the unique challenges and opportunities for developers, programmers, and solutions architects.

All aspects of cloud computing will be represented: storage, networking, applications, integration, and aggregation.

Three tracks will cover mobile, logistics, and big data considerations that cut across nearly every enterprise vertical migrating business functions to the cloud.

Three tracks will zero-in on three economic sectors that are now experiencing the most explosive growth: media and entertainment, government and military, and healthcare and life sciences.

Register now for CDSE:2014 to take advantage of early-bird rates.

To learn more about conducting an instructional workshop, exhibiting, or sponsoring CDSE:2014, contact Don Buford, Executive Director, or Hank Woji, VP Business Development, at the CCA.

If you’d like to speak at this major industry event, please contact me at the DCIA. .

Share wisely, and take care.

Don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back. Today we #ResetTheNet to stop mass spying. Encrypt everything! Learn how: http://thndr.it/PVxjUl

Don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back. Today we #ResetTheNet to stop mass spying. Encrypt everything! Learn how: http://thndr.it/PVxjUl

11/11 Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyThe DCIA salutes incoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and looks forward to working with his new administration to continue broadband development initiatives spearheaded by former Chairman Julius Genachowski and to launch additional endeavors that will help advance the distributed computing industry.

Chairman Wheeler’s carefully chosen staff includes Chief of Staff Ruth Milkman, Senior Counselor Phil Verveer, Head of the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force Jon Sallet, Special Counsel Diane Cornell, Special Counsel for External Affairs Gigi Sohn, Acting Managing Director and Advisor to the Chairman for Management Jon Wilkins, Acting Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Roger Sherman, and Legal Advisors to the Chairman Daniel Alvarez, Maria Kirby, and Renee Gregory.

The new Chairman takes over the Commission at a time when the speed of innovation of Internet-based services in the private sector holds promise to continue at a breathtaking pace, and the potentially beneficial impacts to society and the economy of transformative technologies which rely on network connectivity — with cloud computing arguably chief among them — are nothing short of enormous.

At the same time, the challenges to continued advancement have never been greater due to several factors, ranging from threats to end-users’ trust of their network operators and service providers as a result of old and new abuses; to threats to innovators’ abilities to deploy new offerings as a result of unchecked hampering by threatened industry incumbents whose entrenched business models are being disrupted by these advances.

President Obama could not have nominated a better candidate for FCC Chairman than Tom Wheeler, whose breadth of experience and track record of accomplishments uniquely qualify him for this role.

We’re pleased that the Chairman has tasked Diane Cornell with heading a temporary working group over the next two months to identify FCC regulations that are past their prime and FCC procedures that can be improved upon — and to employ crowdsourcing, among other methods, as a contemporary communications technique to be employed by this group.

DCINFO readers should seize this opportunity to be a part of that crowd.

If successful, this effort will help prioritize matters the Commission needs to address to ensure continued expansion of such promising areas as mobile cloud computing, big data, and the migration to IP transport of high-value multimedia.

The concepts behind “content everywhere available to each person at any time” have an excellent chance of moving closer to reality under Chairman Wheeler’s expert guidance.

We are also heartened by Chairman Wheeler’s acknowledgment of the Commission’s responsibility “to act in the public interest, convenience, and necessity” to assure that innovation and technology advance with speed while preserving the relationship of trust between networks and those connected by them.

And we’re thrilled by his description of himself as “an unabashed supporter of competition because competitive markets produce better outcomes than regulated or uncompetitive markets.”

An increase in wireless broadband spectrum is an obvious need at this time.

But our chief concerns as a new and formative industry center on two other areas: privacy violations by unbridled over-reaching federal agencies; and collusive resistance to change by entrenched industries whose power structures permit and support anti-competitive behavior.

Specifically, we need resolution of the issues that threaten our continued growth internationally as a result of Edward Snowden’s exposures of scandalous NSA practices.

And even more importantly, we need resolution of the real issues at the core of the Aereo broadcast retransmission dispute.

An extension of compulsory licensing to this new technology could provide a stopgap measure to end the current litigation, protect the now necessary dual revenue streams for over-the-air TV stations, and enable innovators like Aereo and FilmOn to emerge from the shadow of copyright infringement.

Our view of the real problem here goes much deeper, however.

And it is that independent IPTV needs to be legitimized as a multichannel video program distribution (MVPD) channel and enabled to enter into carriage agreements with television programming services.

It’s time for the realtime distribution of TV channels to break free from the current limitations that shackle them — of only being licensed for exclusive delivery by broadband network operators.

The future can best be secured with the support of a pro-competition FCC by encouraging and not discouraging investment, by nurturing and not stifling innovation; by increasing and not reducing competitive opportunities, by protecting and not violating the trust of consumers, and by ensuring that the benefits of new communications technologies are accessible to all and not just a few.

We are fully aware that the FCC alone does not have the power unilaterally to address the issues that are posing such serious threats to the further advancement of our industry, the economy, and society at large.

But the Commission’s abilities to advise Congress and to influence other agencies are strong, and its leadership in these areas can be unequalled in the federal government.

And to fulfill its role as the "Optimism Agency," act it must, and as Chairman Wheeler has requested, act nimbly. Share wisely, and take care.

7-9 Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyThe DCIA believes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) exceeded its authority and acted without proper Congressional approval by promulgating net neutrality regulations that took effect last year after being narrowly passed by a 3-2 vote in December 2010.

The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit previously ruled in a case involving Comcast that the FCC lacked authorization to regulate broadband, which is currently considered an information service rather than a telecommunications service.

Instead of proceeding with caution after the court ruling, the Commission moved ahead with its open Internet order, considered by many at the time to be a “reckless power grab,” imposing additional restrictions and discriminating between wireline and wireless access providers, while excluding major portals, app store operators, search engines, and others.

The FCC’s regulations also require broadband Internet providers to disclose information about their network management practices, which in itself could be an important component of a more fully developed and properly sanctioned program to ensure transparency.

Now Verizon and MetroPCS have filed litigation against the FCC in a brief filed Monday with the DC Circuit as part of the operators’ ongoing 18-month legal challenge to the regulations.

The two operators originally filed suit against the Commission’s rules in early 2011, only to have their complaint dismissed on a technicality. The suit was re-filed, and in March the court allowed the challenge to proceed after dismissing the FCC’s request for a delay.

The companies argue that the rules should be vacated because they conflict with the Communications Act, are outside the FCC’s authority, and violate constitutional rights.

In a more difficult argument, the telecoms’ appellate brief also contends that the regulations violate their free speech rights because they strip providers of control over what they transmit and how they transmit it, and compel carriage without compensation.

Their point is that other major gatekeepers to Internet-based content are excluded from this anti-discrimination requirement. Whether others should be included, or whether there should be different standards for different participants in the web ecosystem remains an unanswered but important issue at this juncture.

This also opens a more complex set of considerations, including placement of liability for copyright infringement and the question of censorship, which need far more discussion in the context of an acceptable regulatory process.

In addition, the concerns voiced by both independent (as opposed to carrier-owned) content providers and public advocacy groups regarding fair and equitable treatment of Internet data remain unanswered.

From the DCIA’s perspective, which is focused on commercial advancement of distributed computing over the Internet and other networks, the FCC’s movements here have been in no way beneficial.

Without a more comprehensive approach, too much marketplace uncertainty remains, and private sector interests and the public at large would be better served by vacating the Commission’s current rules.

The FCC’s regulations, which ban all Internet access providers from blocking sites or competing applications and impose greater restrictions on those that do so through wireline networks, may have been well intended, but were clearly premature and incomplete. The basic problem, as noted above (and at the time it was issued) is that the FCC’s order imposes classic common-carrier obligations on broadband providers, which is prohibited by the Communications Act.

Further complicating this issue, the advocacy group Free Press, which also sued the FCC contending that it acted arbitrarily in adopting different standards for wireless and wireline providers, this week withdrew its lawsuit rather than file a brief in the case.

The group isn’t satisfied with the neutrality regulations, but decided to drop the litigation; which it was pursuing in order to improve the rules and not contest the FCC’s authority or basis for imposing them.

Free Press and a coalition of more than 100 organizations, academics, start-up founders, and tech innovators instead launched the Declaration of Internet Freedom — five principles outlining the basic freedoms that all Internet users should enjoy. This effort is meant to spark a passionate, global discussion among Internet users and communities about the Internet and our role in protecting it.

What is needed is a complete reworking on the now outdated Communications Act in light of today’s Internet and the business realities of providing access and fostering continued investment and innovation.

If the court simply overturns the FCC’s regulations, wireless and broadband Internet providers could be allowed to block online content and competing services, and that would not be a good thing. And the potential for consumer net users and digital content providers to benefit from more advanced and flexible services could be curtailed if the court doesn’t do so, and that would be bad, too.

The FCC’s response to the telecoms’ brief is due in September. Meanwhile, if you agree that Expression, Access, Openness, Innovation, and Privacy are principles that should be secured for the Internet globally, please sign the Declaration of Internet Freedom. Share wisely, and take care.

7-2 Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyThe DCIA commends Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and the US House Energy and Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee for holding a Hearing Wednesday June 27th focused on the Future of Video.

Most of the regulations under which current television programming distributors operate were put in place before the advent of the Internet, video downloading, over-the-top (OTT) streaming, and now IPTV and cloud-based storage and delivery.

"The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates based on a bygone era," Chairman Walden noted, referencing the 1992 Cable Act. "It was meant to spur competition and it worked. But the act does not apply to YouTube, iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Roku and Sky Angel."

In addition to conflicts among broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) over carriage deals, new issues for online video providers, which depend on Internet service providers (ISPs) to reach their viewers, are emerging.

ISPs are often also MVPDs themselves, and therefore subject to scrutiny for the even-handedness in their treatment of independent video services versus those that they own-and-operate.

Indeed, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has recently initiated an antitrust investigation into whether cable companies are using broadband data caps to steer consumers to their own Internet video services and discourage, by pricing, the usage of video services not controlled by them.

Witnesses in the two-hour hearing included David Barrett, President, Hearst Television; Charlie Ergen, Chairman, Dish Network; Jim Funk, Vice President, Roku; David Hyman, General Counsel, Netflix; Robert Johnson, CEO, Sky Angel; Michael O’Leary, EVP, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA); Michael Powell, President, National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA); and Gigi Sohn, President, Public Knowledge.

If anything, the panel focused more on today’s disputes among competing distribution technologies and business models than on views of the divergent interests represented in terms of what the future may hold.

Predictably, Hearst Television’s Barrett defended existing retransmission consent rules, saying the rules should also be applied to new entrants in the video marketplace including IPTV providers, while Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen characterized these as outdated regulations that have led to an increasing number of station blackouts.

"Local broadcasters are a government-sponsored monopoly," Ergen said at one point, and also complained of station group owners unfairly leveraging their market power to demand higher fees.

Barrett maintained that retransmission dollars are critical for a “21st century media company” to fund local programming, including multicast channels and newscasts.

Ergen, whose DVR offering introduced an ad-skipping AutoHop feature in May, which is being met with legal challenges from CBS, FOX, and NBC, defended that capability as doing nothing more than improving on “existing, legally accepted and widely available technologies” in response to consumer desires.

Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) referred to Ergen as “Mr. Hopper” asking if he understood why Subcommittee Members would object to a service that would skip-over political ads. “I understand the consumer very well, but I am not a politician, so I cannot say I understand your concerns as well,” Ergen responded.

The hearing also addressed data caps — Internet service providers’ (ISPs) limits on the amount of bandwidth consumers can access in a single month. Netflix’s David Hyman argued that platforms and networks should not use their leverage to “stifle video providers” from independent sources.

"When you couple limited broadband competition with a strong desire to protect a legacy video distribution business, you have both the means and motivation to engage in anti-competitive behavior," he said. "Add to this mix a regulatory and legislative framework largely crafted before the modern Internet era, and you have the makings for confusion and gamesmanship."

"Netflix is the largest provider of subscription video in the country," The NCTA’s Powell (formerly an FCC Commissioner) responded. "We sell broadband. Their services help stimulate the services we sell."

In March, Comcast announced it wouldn’t count toward the monthly data limit videos viewed on its Xfinity application via the Microsoft Xbox game console, while continuing to apply broadband used for Netflix and other on-demand streaming services.

Public Knowledge’s Gigi Sohn further warned of the abuse of data caps as a way for cable operators to favor their own video services and stressed that there has to be robust development of Internet video competitors for the industry to advance in the public’s interest.

Sohn said the traditional media industry is “trying to limit the online distribution of independent programming.”

"I know it’s too late to do a bill in this Congress," said Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX). "In general, I think we need less regulation than more. I look forward to big things happening in the next Congress, but it has to be done in a bipartisan basis." Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) meanwhile has co-authored a bill to wipe away many communications regulations.

There’s no doubt this issue will continue to be a subject for US lawmaker consideration, with more than an introductory hearing to guide a process to determine what rules should be eliminated, which ones revised, and whether new ones are needed. Share wisely, and take care.

6-25 Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyThe DCIA commends the US House Energy & Commerce Committee’s leadership and bipartisan approval this week of a resolution opposing the United Nations’ and its International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) attempt to assert and impose unprecedented governmental regulation over the Internet.

The Internet’ss current multi-stakeholder governance model fosters continuing investment and innovation absent heavy-handed regulatory controls.

Beyond the substantial growth that the Internet and related distributed computing technologies are contributing to the global economy, unprecedented advances in political freedom can also be attributed to the current model.

Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack’s leadership of this initiative has been particularly laudable: “In many ways, we’re facing a referendum on the future of the Internet. A vote for my resolution is a vote to keep the Internet free from government control and to prevent giving the UN unprecedented power over Web content and infrastructure. That’s the quickest way for the Internet to one day become a wasteland of unfilled hopes, dreams, and opportunities.”

We strongly urge the timely support of this resolution by the full US House of Representatives and similar actions by other responsible legislative bodies around the world in advance of the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai with 190 nations expected to participate this December.

At WCIT, the International Telecommunications Regulations, comprising an international treaty developed nearly 25 years ago to deal with global telephone and telegraph systems at the time, will be opened for revisions.

And while any amended treaty would only be binding in the US if ratified by the Senate, the implications of currently proposed changes, if adopted elsewhere around the world, would have profoundly damaging effects on the operation of the Internet everywhere.

The secret drafting of ITU proposals in preparation for WCIT has been widely and rightly criticized by public interest groups for a serious lack of transparency. But our concerns go deeper than that.

If the ITU is successful in taking power over the Internet with the proposed amendments, such technologically valuable activities as the current flexibility of Internet-connected devices to perform as both clients and servers would be jeopardized.

Certain communications among devices would be hampered based on jurisdictional considerations and governmental security intervention measures, including repressive surveillance of Internet users and sanctioned censorship of the Internet.

Eli Dourado, a researcher at George Mason University, articulated this aspect of the looming battle well:

"It’s really one between Internet users worldwide and their governments. Who benefits from increased ITU oversight of the Internet? Certainly not ordinary users in foreign countries, who would then be censored and spied upon by their governments with full international approval. The winners would be autocratic regimes, not their subjects."

In addition, a sending-party tax to be paid by content providers, would upend longstanding principles of Internet architecture and take us back to the days of the extortionary taxes that were once imposed on long-distance phone-calls. Some of the most promising cloud-based content delivery applications and systems would be made economically unfeasible.

The ongoing and smoothly proceeding transition to IPv6 would come to a grinding halt.

We join the Internet Society, representing engineering groups that develop and maintain core Internet technologies, in objecting to these proposals on principle and as a practical matter.

Independent organizations including the Society, as well as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and the Worldwide Web Consortium, already deal much more effectively than the ITU possibly could with such fundamental tasks as network and domain name registrations, allowing the Internet to develop and evolve with relatively fast responses to changes in technology, business practices, and consumer behavior.

We also agree with Philip Verveer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, who said, “It is important that when we have values, as we do in the area of free speech and the free flow of information, that we do everything that we can to articulate and sustain those values.”

And the negative economic impacts of the proposed treaty changes on expansion of Internet-based services as well as job creation would be devastating.

Verveer called the proposals unworkable and said they would have unintended consequences that would seriously harm the Internet. We concur, and urge DCINFO readers everywhere to join us in their opposition. Share wisely, and take care.