Mozilla FCC Petition Argues ISP Relationships

The Mozilla Foundation is asking the FCC to change its position on ISPs, but the issue holds long debate. The federal agency’s recent decision has prompted Mozilla and others to argue their point.

“The FCC currently views last-mile Internet routing as only one commercial relationship: the relationship between an ISP, such as Comcast, and the end user. Mozilla is urging the FCC to recognize that technological evolution has led to two distinct relationships, adding a relationship between the ISP and edge providers,” Mozilla wrote in its petition to the FCC.

The Foundation believes that the agency should target the service ISPs offer to edge providers like Netflix and Dropbox, who need to send their bits over ISP networks to reach their customers.

Classifying the ISP/edge provider relationship as a common carrier service will be a little cleaner since the FCC wouldn’t have to undo several decade-old orders that classified broadband as an “information” service rather than telecommunications, Mozilla argues.

Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser and other software, explains its view in more detail in a blog post and the 13-page petition.

The petition was written by Mozilla Senior Policy Engineer Chris Riley and Public Policy Lead Alex Fowler. Riley, who formerly worked as an attorney-advisor at the FCC in 2007 and 2008, told Ars that he’s concerned FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s latest net neutrality proposal won’t withstand court scrutiny.

The FCC had to start from scratch after a federal appeals court ruled that anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules imposed common carrier obligations on ISPs, despite the fact that the FCC had declared that they were not common carriers.

Nonetheless, Wheeler has floated a new proposal that doesn’t declare ISPs as common carriers yet imposes no-blocking requirements on them. The proposal also allows edge providers to pay ISPs for a faster path to consumers, as long as the arrangements are “commercially reasonable.”

Wheeler hasn’t yet provided full details of his proposal, but it’s expected to be discussed at the May 15 FCC meeting.




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