Net Neutrality, DTV Atop Martin’s List

“We have to strike an appropriate balance” in network neutrality and network management, Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said, as he cited the most significant issues facing the FCC during the waning days of his leadership.

Martin also took credit for “pushing” the criteria that led to last week’s Tru2way deal between major cable operators and Sony, and he put a high priority on finding a process to “allow network operators to have a reasonable return without enabling a bottleneck.”

“Consumers have the right to access the Internet … without a provider getting in the way,” Martin said.

During the final session of the “D: All Things Digital” conference (May 27 to 29), Martin listed the network-management issues, along with the digital-TV transition as the two “most significant issues” on his agenda for this year. He also cited “reforming” universal service and supporting subsidies for broadband construction — especially in rural areas — as major goals.

“Educating the public will be a significant challenge” during the final months of the digital transition, Martin said. “We’ve seen consumer awareness increase,” he noted, but acknowledged that there is also “more confusion of what steps they need to take.” He congratulated “industry efforts” to explain the DTV transition steps, but offered no specific next steps that the commission will address.

Martin boasted about the FCC’s role in crafting the rules requiring cable operators to open up set-top boxes for CableCards. That stance led to “the commercial arrangement” that Sony unveiled for the Tru2way format earlier in the week, he said. (See page 4.)

“The more that you standardize the interface,” he explained, the more providers will be able to “converge in that middle capacity.”

The FCC chairman cited the recent Clearwire/Sprint alliance with cable operators and technology firms to create a wireless broadband service.

“This is a significant change in the wireless industry,” Martin said, characterizing it as a move “in an entirely new direction.”

“I’m trying to develop new open wireless networks to encourage more innovation,” he said.

Gary Arlen

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.