Dave Burstein of DSL Prime has posted profiles of 30 FCC candidates to his web site, including one transition team member:
Susan Crawford, now teaching at Michigan, also has enormous respect from her peers and would bring international perspective from her role at ICANN setting world Internet policy
The selection of Crawford to join Kevin Werbach on the FCC transition team has already gotten some of my colleagues on the deregulatory side pretty excited, as she has the image of being a fierce advocate of a highly-regulated Internet. And indeed, she has written some strong stuff in favor of the “stupid network” construct that demands all packets be treated as equals inside the network. The critics are missing something that’s very important, however: both Werbach and Crawford are “Internet people” rather than “telecom people” and that’s a very important thing. While we may not like Crawford’s willingness to embrace a neutral routing mandate in the past, the more interesting question is how she comes down on a couple of issues that trump neutral routing, network management and multi-service routing.
We all know by now that the network management exception is more powerful than Powell’s “Four Freedoms” where the rubber meets the road, but we lack any clear guidance to ISPs as to how their management practices will be evaluated. Clarification of the rules is as much a benefit to carriers as it is to consumers. The one way to ensure that we all lose is to keep lumbering along in the murk of uncertain authority and secret rules. Internet people are going to ask the right questions to their candidates, and anybody who can satisfy both Werbach and Crawford will have to be a good choice. Check Werbach’s web site for his papers. Unfotunately, the most interesting of them is not yet in print, “The Centripetal Network: How the Internet Holds Itself Together, and the Forces Tearing it Apart”, UC Davis Law Review, forthcoming 2008. Perhaps he’ll post a draft.
The question of multi-service routing is also very important. Crawford has written and testified to the effect that the Internet is the first global, digital, multi-service network, which is substantially correct. The Internet is not fully multi-service today, however, and can’t be unless it exposes multiple service levels at the end points for applications to use easily. The generic public Internet has a single transport service which has to meet the needs of diverse applications today, which is not really an achievable goal in the peer-to-peer world.
A network that provides each class of application an appropriate transport is built-in to the architecture of IP and can be provided at the end points without compromising a correct interpretation of “non-discriminatory” behavior. That’s the challenge for regulators as well as for engineers as we move forward. More on that later, but suffice it to say that it’s lot better to have Crawford vetting FCC candidates than Tim Wu, Larry Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain, or Yochai Benkler. And BTW, she’s a Comcast customer.
One of the names Burstein mentions is Cisco’s Bob Pepper. I’d very much like to see Pepper take a seat on the FCC, as he’s an amazingly bright and knowledgeable guy. I had the pleasure of joining him at a couple of events in Europe recently (written up on this blog and elsewhere) and came away deeply impressed with his acumen and ability to summarize technical issues in a cogent manner. Pepper has FCC background, which is a big plus.
So take heart, free marketers and Internet boosters, things are moving along quite nicely.
Here’s some bloggy goodness on the transition team in general.