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NCTA Implores Need For Flexibility in Managing Cyber Attacks

Why do cable operators need to be able to manage their networks against cyber attacks that threaten the public's safety and security? Let the National Cable and Telecommunications Association count the ways.

In further comments to the FCC on broadband and public safety, homeland security and cybersecurity, NCTA pointed to the "viruses, worms, spam, malware, spyware and denial-of-service attack" that operators have to combat daily, to the tune of 11.5 billion blocks per month by Comcast alone.

That adds up to a lot of bandwidth. NCTA says the government needs to afford cable operators the flexibility to respond to those threats. "Network providers widely agree that the ability to deploy innovative tools to combat cyber threats, as part of comprehensive, coordinated public/private sector efforts, is a critical part of securing and safeguarding the nation's broadband future, and should be incorporated into the Commission's national broadband plan," NCTA said.

The group also argues that allowing cable operators the "flexibility and tools" to manage their networks will further the broadband adoption goal that is the FCC's focus as it prepares a broadband rollout plan for Congress.

"Ensuring that network providers have the flexibility and tools needed to address network security is also fundamental to broadband adoption strategies," said NCTA. "Reluctant broadband adopters need confidence in the networks in order to overcome fears and other concerns that prevent them from utilizing broadband services."

The FCC's network neutrality rulemaking proposal even got a shout-out for saying it would be reasonable network management to "address harmful traffic or traffic unwanted by users."

The cable trade group also put in a plug for more coordination among government and industry, while citing the cooperation already ongoing with the Department of Homeland Security and administration's National Cybersecurity Initiative. For example, NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow is a member of the President's National Security & Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

The FCC's Communications, Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council also includes some top level cable execs: Time Warner President Glenn Britt, Cox President Patrick Esser, and Comcast EVP John Schanz.

But NCTA says there should be more such cooperation. "A common thread that has emerged from the ongoing, multi-faceted cybersecurity policy initiatives is the need for greater coordination and collaboration between government and network service providers to further cybersecurity objectives," NCTA said in its comments.