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#SubCommTech Examines Current and Future Use of Data Prioritization


WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), held a hearing today examining data prioritization and how it is critical to the internet’s function and growth. #SubCommTech members heard from a range of expert witnesses who testified on the how and why data is currently prioritized on the network, and potential needs for future prioritization.

In her opening remarks, Chairman Blackburn set the record straight on the issue of prioritization, stating, “It may be an uphill climb, but what we are trying to do with this hearing is to leave aside the simplistic ‘fast lane’ talking points and kick off a more realistic discussion on the subject. My net neutrality bill left out the old language banning all paid prioritization because I believe that we need a more nuanced approach. For the government to consider a ban on any prioritization on the Internet, paid or unpaid, we need a better understanding of what specific harmful conduct we are trying to address, and a better understanding of how to leave the door open for the beneficial prioritization that’s necessary to keep the Internet as we know it working, and to bring even more benefits to consumers.”

Chairman Blackburn listens as witnesses provide their testimony

Full Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), dispelled the myth of the internet being compared to a highway, commenting, “The internet isn’t a highway, where there can be so-called fast and slow lanes. The internet is actually a network of networks, with many layers managing the data that flows across it. There are application layers that establish the connection and encrypt data, there is the transport layer that prepares data for transport, and there is the network layer, which identifies the packet routing sequence. Within these layers, there are many different players aside from your ISP involved in managing traffic. Devices, software, Wi-Fi routers, and content delivery networks, or CDNs, can all load, manage, and relay traffic in different ways.”

He continued, “A complete ban on prioritization would not permit this and would not allow some services and applications to operate smoothly. In other words, prioritization currently exists across the internet architecture and is necessary to ensure the internet functions properly.”

Mr. Paul Schroeder, Director, Public Policy and Strategic Alliances, Aira Tech Corporation, discussed why the incredible technology powering his Aira device needs the prioritization of data, testifying, “Aira has an interesting case to make regarding prioritization…We need to send video upstream, and as you know, often upload speeds don’t match download speeds. Our critical case to make is that our service can’t work if we don’t have priority, low-latency access. I think we talk about eighty milliseconds, is what we try to achieve, or better, of latency. If somebody is out and about moving, they really do need that instant video feedback that the agent can then provide, but that video is moving in the opposite direction of what we usually talk about.”

Click here or on the image above for video of Mr. Schroeder’s opening testimony and a demonstration of how his device utilizes prioritized networks to provide instant access to visual information for blind or visually-impaired individuals

Mr. Richard Bennett, Founder, High Tech Forum, testified regarding the current architecture of the internet, stating, “The backbone-oriented, end-to-end architecture of the research Internet has given way to today’s Content Delivery Network model. Large firms such as Google, Amazon, and Netflix have gained control over their network traffic by playing the roles of both network and application. The traditional regulatory model that separated content from communications no longer fits; large content interests own worldwide networking facilities, only connecting to Internet Service Providers to perform the relatively simple task of delivering streams of Internet packets over the last mile.”

Mr. Peter Rysavy, President, Rysavy Research LLC, spoke to the importance of data prioritization in the application of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, saying, “The fact is that the application and quality of service requirements for different applications vary. There may be some IoT applications that don’t need prioritization, but to expand the number of applications, to allow innovators the full range of everything that is possible, many of these techniques of quality of service management will be essential…the more artificial restrictions that there are on what kind of applications can be deployed, the less competitive industry will be because you can be assured that other countries who wish to dominate in a space are not going to handicap their technologies.”

The Majority Memorandum, witness testimony, and an archived webcast are available online HERE.

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