FCC’s new CTO is well-tooled for the upcoming net neutrality ruling

FCC’s new CTO is well-tooled for the upcoming net neutrality ruling

Above: Anti-“Fast Lane” protestors camped outside FCC.

Image Credit: Fight for the Future

The CTO position at the FCC demands a person who is technically proficient in networks and the Internet, and also one who isn’t afraid to get neck-deep in policy making.

At least that’s what the past has shown. The last CTO, Henning Schulzrinne, played a central role in the commission’s ruling that all mobile carries had to support 911 calls via text message.

Now the FCC has announced the name of a new CTO — Scott Jordan, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Irvine.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement, “Scott’s engineering and technical expertise, particularly with respect to the Internet, will provide great assistance to the Commission as we consider decisions that will affect America’s communications platforms.”

As for Jordan’s skill set, the commission has been hyping his network and Internet chops. It stressed the importance of Jordan’s work on “communications platforms, pricing, and differentiated services on the Internet,” and “voice, data, and video on the Internet and on wireless networks.”

By talking about the new CTO’s experience in communications platforms and pricing, the commission is calling attention to Jordan’s fitness for making policy around network neutrality, likely the biggest issue Jordan will be involved in at the commission during his tenure.

And Jordan, it turns out, has already weighed in with the commission on the issue.

The last time the the FCC considered a rulemaking on the subject, Jordan filed a comment. And the statement isn’t exactly complimentary of the commission’s work on the issue so far.

“Neither the extreme pro nor con net neutrality positions are consistent with the philosophy of Internet architecture” Jordan and a co-author write in the statement. “The net neutrality issue is the result of a fragmented communications policy unable to deal with technology convergence.”

The FCC’s proposed Open Internet plan was met with loud criticism from the tech community because it seemed to open the door to carriers like AT&T and Comcast selling Internet “fast lanes” to the highest bidder. This could create a system where small, innovative Internet companies could be prevented from competing on a level playing field with it’s more established and well-monied rivals.

Jordan will take over as CTO in a few weeks, just in time for the real wrangling over the Open Internet proposal to begin.

The period for public comment on the proposed rulemaking ends September 15.


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