With groups like Free Press and SavetheInternet.com shaping much of the public debate over network management, NCTA hoisted itself up on the soapbox Thurs to try and get a different message out to the masses—one that doesn’t involve seat warmers sleeping through FCC hearings. “In the public discussion about network management, I wanted to take a few minutes to put in context what I think is largely missing—the actual consumer experience for American broadband customers is a huge success story,” NCTA pres/CEO Kyle McSlarrow told reporters during a news conference Thurs. With office workers gathered round broadband connections to watch NCAA tourney play this week, the picture he’s trying to paint is timely. McSlarrow’s pitch: instead of big, bad cable (or, more specifically, Comcast) trying to stifle Internet innovation, cable is responsible for broadband’s success by investing more than $100bln to install fiber—thus forcing telcos to roll out their own broadband offerings. McSlarrow slammed govt intervention in network management. “What is and should be a set of engineering challenges that network architects from ISPs, technology and applications companies, and content companies should resolve has been turned by some into a theological debate deposited at the door of the FCC,” he said. As for criticism lobbed at Comcast for delaying some BitTorrent traffic, the cable chief said he thought the MSO’s prior policy adequately disclosed its network management practices to consumers. After the controversy, Comcast updated its disclosure policy. “They improved it. I think everybody can improve,” McSlarrow said, suggesting that the same disclosure obligations apply to peer-to-peer networks as well. “How many customers even realize that they just turned their computer into a server having nothing to do with their actual Internet experience? Proper disclosure is an obligation not just of network providers but of applications providers as well,” he said. No word yet on who the FCC will call to testify at next month’s hearing on the issue at Stanford.

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