Ferree, Swanson Cite Common use of Traffic Shaping, Property Rights in Filing
WASHINGTON D.C. - Recent petitions urging the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit certain traffic management tools fail to acknowledge the complexities of broadband networks, explain PFF President Ken Ferree and Senior Fellow Bret Swanson in comments filed today with the agency. Ferree and Swanson note that traffic shaping is used, and accepted, by a multitude of other industries and federal intervention in broadband traffic management would undermine the property rights of network operators.
In the filing, Ferree and Swanson, Director of PFF's Center for Global Innovation, note that a variety of industries use tools to shape traffic. "[W]hen a busy signal greets our attempt to call home on Mother's Day we do not file a complaint with the FCC, the 'singles' lift lines at ski resorts do not incite consumer riots, and early-bird specials at chain restaurants are all but de rigueur," Ferree and Swanson explain. "Those who provide services to the public generally use some tool to shape demand for the benefit of all users." The authors conclude that broadband access should be treated no differently, especially in light of the increased demand placed on networks from various applications, such as video and voice service.
Ferree and Swanson also cite the technical complexities of broadband networks to illustrate how the Petitioners underestimate the complicated task of traffic management.
"The use of buffering, queuing, scheduling, marking, labeling, parsing, replicating, prioritizing, modifying, metering, policing, collision avoiding, packet re-setting, and packing re-sending is becoming ubiquitous," they explain. "Today's newest communications equipment is specifically designed for ever-more fine grained 'traffic management' so that 'triple play services' - voice, data, video - and service level agreements - SLAs - can be delivered efficiently and robustly on converged networks." Moreover, if traffic management is federally regulated, it would drive down investment and hinder broadband infrastructure expansion.
The authors question the rationale for asking for government intervention in the broadband market. They explain that the Petitioners, "both make allusions to the 'growing power of network operators' or the supposed 'broadband duopoly' to suggest that perhaps there is a market failure justifying government intervention. The facts simply do not support such a hypothesis." Moreover, federal intervention in traffic management clearly undermines the property rights of network operators to determine how to manage their networks in order to fill the needs of their customers.
The comments can be found in their entirety on the PFF website.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.