Hollywood: Specialized Services Are Consumer-Friendly

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Hollywood studios told the Federal Communications Commission Thursday that if consumers are going to get quality video or Voice over IP service over broadband, the agency will need to refrain from applying nondiscrimination rules on specialized services.

And while it stopped short of saying the FCC should not apply expanded and codified network neutrality rules to wireless broadband, it did say there were special network management issues the commission needed to take into account.

That came in its reply comments to the FCC, which asked for input on whether it should apply net neuatrality rules to managed services and wireless broadband.

The Motion Picture Association of America left do doubt it was categorically opposed to the former:"The Commission should clarify that commercial agreements for enhanced performance will remain unregulated."

The studios pointed out that there is a growing demand for online video from a new generation that is mobile and hungry for ever-more content, which requires the network prioritization -- say video over e-mail -- that prevents the jitter and delay that degrades the video experience.

"Tech-savvy consumers -- particularly the next generation of youth in this country -- are increasingly devouring content on an assortment of devices and in limitless locations, " MPAA told the FCC. "Demand is growing for online libraries of full-length films, interactive features, competitive gaming with high-tech graphics, live sporting events in HD, and many other bandwidth-hungry services. Based on a recent study, we also know that consumers are very interested in viewing television content over the Internet. Yet over half of the respondents indicated frustration with the lack of smoothness associated with streaming video."

The studios also argued against requiring a certain percentage of the pipe be set aside for public internet traffic, saying a fixed requirement would be "arbitrary and unfair." That set-aside has been suggested as a way to insure that networks do not favor those specialized services to the detriment of Internet traffic.

As for whether wireless broadband should get a carveout from any network neutrality regs, the studios did not take a position, but said that wireless broadband has "unique challenges" given that its spectrum is shared, the number of users around the nearest cell site fluctuates and that it has major spectrum constraints at the same time its services are getting exponentially more popular.

"To ensure a high-quality viewing experience, therefore, wireless providers must be extra vigilant when managing their networks,37 especially when particular devices or applications result in excessive bandwidth consumption," said MPAA, leaving the answer unspoken but implied that the FCC needed to give them that flexibility.