Connectivity Principles and Consumer Choice
Cisco has long supported an open and innovative Internet. Many of the Internet's benefits come from its open nature and the ability of anyone to develop new and innovative devices and services that connect to it. Such innovation has created entirely new industries and has fostered competitive markets in Internet applications and equipment. Recognizing these advantages, Cisco helped produce the High Tech Broadband Coalition's "Connectivity Principles" in 2003, which were embodied in the FCC's Policy Statement of 2005. The Connectivity Principles and FCC Policy protect consumers with information and the ability to use the Internet in an open fashion. Cisco continues to support these principles:
- Broadband Internet access consumers should have access to their choice of legal Internet content within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plan.
- Broadband Internet access consumers should be able to run applications of their choice, within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plans, as long as they do not harm the provider's network.
- Consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to their broadband Internet access connection at the consumer's premises, so long as they operate within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plans and do not harm the provider's network or enable theft of services.
- Consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their broadband Internet access service plans.
Innovation inside the network is just as important as innovation in services and devices connected to the Internet. As the Internet becomes better, faster and more integral to our economy and personal lives, it is necessary for broadband Internet access providers to use innovative technology to manage their networks to provide quality of service and new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Cisco supports the use of network management tools by Internet access providers to improve the Internet experience as long as there is no anticompetitive effect. Specifically, Cisco supports:
- Broadband Internet access service providers should remain free to engage in pro-competitive network management techniques to alleviate congestion, ameliorate capacity constraints, and enable new services.
- Broadband Internet access service providers should remain free to offer additional services to supplement broadband Internet access, including bandwidth tiers, quality of service, security, anti-virus and anti-spam services, network management services, as well as to enter into commercially negotiated agreements with unaffiliated parties for the provision of such additional services.
Regulate Only if Problems Occur, Not Before
In recent years, telecommunications regulation has had a difficult time keeping up with changes in technology and markets. Imposing specific network neutrality rules now to address hypothetical problems would only compound the problem. Rather, the FCC has taken the appropriate path by setting forth principles and indicating that it will take enforcement action in the event that problems arise. At present, there is no indication of any significant violations of the Connectivity Principles by broadband Internet access providers. Cisco therefore supports case-by-case FCC action only if and when it is faced with a specific complaint with respect to the Connectivity Principles or related anticompetitive behavior.