I have filed comments (available here) to the National Broadband Policy Notice of Information (09-51). Excerpt from the executive summary:
Open standards, and particularly royalty-free standards, are the very foundation of the Open Internet as we know it, and Internet leaders are vocal that open and royalty free standards are essential to its future.
So broadband, and the Open Internet on which broadband is based, is not just about technical and business innovation, it is also about standards innovation.
But the term “royalty-free” is found nowhere in the 59-page Broadband Notice of Information, and “[e]quipment and protocol standards” merits only a single sentence buried in “Other Mechanisms” after “tower siting, pole attachments, backhaul costs, cable franchising and rights of way issues.” Standards need a bigger voice in America’s broadband dialog.
Broadband means new services, not just faster speeds for existing services. A prime example is video, a critical element of broadband deployments worldwide, be it in the form of IPTV, “over-the-top” video, online video, or video incorporated into new services like telemedicine and health care records.
It is both ironic and telling that “reasonable and necessary” (“RAND”) licensing practices that have developed through the US DTV experience have done little to nothing to contribute royalty-free video technologies or standards now needed for broadband deployments, which today are essentially captured by proprietary solutions. Convergence means worlds and business models collide, but is this really an acceptable, necessary, or desireable outcome, or foundation for future innovation?
Standards strategy has been integral to broadband policies around the world, and needs to be integral to America’s broadband policy. Standards can be America’s broadband advantage.
I. THE NOTICE OVERLOOKS ROLE OF ROYALTY FREE STANDARDS4
A. “Royalty Free” is Not Mentioned Once in 59-Page Notice
B. Royalty Free Standards Are a Defining Characteristic of the Open Internet
C. New Video And Other Broadband Services Need Royalty Free Standards
II. CURRENT “RAND” POLICY PREFERENCES ARE NOT WORKING
A. DTV Licensing Practices Exemplify Standards Issues in Broadband Policy
B. Current “RAND” Practices Should Not Carry Forward as Broadband Policy
III. NEEDED: POLICY PREFERENCE FOR ROYALTY FREE STANDARDS
A. Our Network Age Needs Greater Policy Engagement in Standards
B. Royalty Free Standards Enable Open Industry Structure
C. Broadband Policy Should Promote Transparency, A Level Global Playing Field,
Open Value Chains, Ex Ante Disclosure, Proactive IP Analysis and a
Preference for Royalty-Free