Monday, October 15, 2012

BITAG Announces Retirement of Founding Executive Director, Dale Hatfield, and New Executive Director, Douglas Sicker


Denver, CO (October 15, 2012):  Today, the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) announced that Dale Hatfield, BITAG’s founding Executive Director, is stepping down from his position.  He will continue to work with BITAG in an advisory capacity.  BITAG also announced the appointment of Professor Douglas Sicker as its new Executive Director and Chair of the Technical Working Group.

Under Hatfield, an Adjunct Professor in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder and former Chief Technologist of the Federal Communications Commission, BITAG began operations and has issued three separate reports on various technical topics that affect Internet network management.  Hatfield said, “I am extremely pleased with the progress that we have made in creating a great multi-stakeholder organization that I think can serve as a model for further developments in Internet governance.  I cannot think of anyone better than Doug Sicker to lead BITAG into the future.”  

Sicker has held various positions in academia, industry and government.  In addition to his roles at BITAG, Sicker will continue as an endowed professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder with a joint appointment in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program.  From 2009 to August 2012, Sicker served in a series of government positions.  Most recently, Sicker was the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Advisor for Spectrum at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Sicker also served as the Chief Technology Officer of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and prior to this served as a senior advisor on the FCC National Broadband Plan.  He has also served as Director of Global Architecture at Level 3 Communications and Chief of the Network Technology Division at the FCC.   Doug was involved in the early efforts to establish BITAG and its Technical Working Group TWG.  Sicker said, “Building upon what Dale has helped to create, I am confident in BITAG’s ability to take on increasingly challenging technical issues and I am looking forward to working with the members of the Technical Working Group to do so.”

Gigi B. Sohn, BITAG Board Chair and President and CEO of Public Knowledge, said, “BITAG is indebted to Dale for his service and efforts in building and leading the BITAG for the past 3 years.  In Doug Sicker the Board has found a leader with the professional background, personal integrity, and technical expertise to take on the most challenging technical issues related to network management.”

Questions should be directed to BITAG’s Deputy Director, Kaleb Sieh, at 303-720-7351 or ksieh@bitag.org.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

BITAG Announces Publication of Report on SNMP DDoS Attacks

I am pleased to announce the publication of BITAG’s report on Simple Network Management Protocol Reflected Amplification Distributed Denial of Service Attack Mitigation , or “SNMP DDoS Attacks” for short. This technical report will give both technical and non-technical individuals alike insight into a problem beginning to be encountered by ISPs on their networks.

As described in the report, Internet service providers have begun to observe large-scale SNMP reflection attacks where subscriber devices can be used unwittingly to generate significant and sustained levels of traffic targeted against other networks or sites. These attacks can negatively affect service for the targets. The Report assesses the technical implications of such attacks and makes recommendations as to appropriate responses.

From my perspective as the Executive Director of BITAG, I am especially pleased with this report as it was the outcome of our first formal Review Request. A Review Request arises when a BITAG member has identified a technical issue and some potential solutions, but wishes to bring their proposed solution to the BITAG forum prior to implementation in order to solicit input from the rest of our Members. With our Members in turn representing a fairly broad cross-section of the Internet ecosystem, this report demonstrates what BITAG was designed to do. In short, BITAG was formed to look at the intended and unintended consequences of changes in network management techniques, to recommend best practices in implementation, or to recommend other less “harmful” alternatives if they are available. BITAG focuses on those techniques where implementation may have a differential impact or potentially anticompetitive effects on other players in the ecosystem.

SNMP DDoS Attacks is the third report produced by BITAG’s Technical Working Group (TWG) to date.  Our first report dealt with DNS Whitelisting, a technique used in the IPv6 transition, while our second report addressed Large Scale Network Address Translation (NAT), another technique used in the IPv6 transition.

The SNMP Report, including its recommendations, can be found at: http://www.bitag.org/report-snmp-ddos-attacks.php.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

BITAG Announces Publication of Report on Large Scale Network Address Translation (NAT)

I am pleased to announce the publication of BITAG’s report on Large Scale Network Address Translation, or, as it is called among us engineers, Large Scale NAT or LSN.  I believe this technical report represents a valuable contribution that enables technical and non-technical individuals alike to better understand a particular management technique that is being used to ease the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.  It also further demonstrates the constructive role that BITAG can play in the Internet ecosystem.  IPv4 and IPv6 refer to addressing schemes that allow machines (computers) to find each other when a user types in something like “www.bitag.org.”  The shift from IPv4 to IPv6 is motivated by the rapid growth in the Internet and the associated increasing scarcity of traditional IPv4 addresses.  These two addressing techniques must coexist for some time as it is impractical to do a flash-cut change from the older format to the new IPv6 format.

Large Scale NAT (LSN) is just one technique being used to facilitate the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 and to reduce any frictions caused by the necessary coexistence of the two addressing systems.  This report is the second report produced by BITAG’s Technical Working Group (TWG). Our first report dealt with DNS Whitelisting, which is another technique used to address the IPv6 transition.

Simply stated, LSN allows a large number of IPv4 devices to share a single IPv4 address. This technique has existed for some time in local or private networks to, for example, allow a company’s IT department to rely upon and manage its own private address space but it is now being adopted on a widespread basis by network operators as a means of postponing the ultimate exhaustion of their IPv4 address space. 

What makes this topic especially interesting from my perspective as Executive Director of BITAG is that it is likely to affect many different categories of players in the Internet ecosystems: ISPs, end users, application providers, equipment vendors, content delivery networks, and third parties such as law enforcement agencies. BITAG was established on a multi-stakeholder basis to address changes in network management and other techniques that could have wide-ranging (and potentially negative) impacts on end users and the applications that they rely upon.  By providing an overview of how network operators plan to use LSN and how the technique could impact these and other interest groups, I believe that this Report will both (a) help stakeholders prepare for the wider implementation of LSN and to take actions that minimize the impact on end users and applications and (b) help inform policymakers and regulators of the motivations and trade-offs for the deployment of this technology. More fundamentally, I hope this Report will help smooth the transition to IPv6 and more generally help to reduce or preclude friction and/or conflict surrounding use of this technique among stakeholders.  This is important in terms of BITAG’s overall mission because some observers have expressed the concern that Large Scale NAT could be abused by parties for anti-competitive, discriminatory, or other non-technical purposes.

The LSN report, including its recommendations, can be found at: http://www.bitag.org/documents/BITAG_TWG_Report-Large_Scale_NAT.pdf.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BITAG Publishes First Report on DNS Whitelisting

Denver, CO (Sept. 21 2011):  The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (“BITAG”), an organization created to develop consensus on broadband network management practices and other related technical issues that can affect users’ Internet experience, is pleased to announce the completion of its first Technical Review and publication of its first Technical Report, on the subject of DNS Whitelisting.  The Report can be found on the main page of the website at www.bitag.org.

DNS Whitelisting is intended as a means to smooth the global transition of Internet addressing from IPv4 to IPv6, to enable domains to gradually add IPv6 traffic, and/or to protect users from IPv6-related technical impairments. In DNS Whitelisting, Internet web sites or domains selectively return IPv6-related resource names from Domain Name System (“DNS”) servers. The authoritative server hands out different answers depending upon who is asking; for networks on the whitelist, requesters receive IPv4 and IPv6 DNS records, and for those not on the whitelist, requesters receive only IPv4 DNS records. This practice can have the effect of disabling a network (and as a consequence that network’s users) from accessing the domain’s content over IPv6.  

The possibility has been raised that the practice of whitelisting could be abused to accomplish non-technical objectives that could be viewed by some as anti-competitive, discriminatory, or violative of some other public policy objective.  

Dale Hatfield chaired the Whitelisting Review, and Jason Livingood, Executive Director of Internet Systems Engineering at Comcast and a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society (ISOC), was the lead editor of the Report. 
About BITAG. BITAG is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization focused on bringing together engineers and technologists in a Technical Working Group (TWG) to develop consensus on broadband network management practices and other related technical issues that can affect users’ Internet experience, including the impact to and from applications, content and devices that utilize the Internet.
BITAG’s mission includes: (a) educating policymakers on such technical issues; (b) addressing specific technical matters in an effort to minimize related policy disputes; and (c) serving as a sounding board for new ideas and network management practices. Specific TWG functions also may include: (i) identifying “best practices” by broadband providers and other entities; (ii) interpreting and applying “safe harbor” practices; (iii) otherwise providing technical guidance to industry and to the public; and/or (iv) issuing advisory opinions on the technical issues germane to the TWG’s mission that may underlie disputes concerning broadband network management practices.
BITAG TWG reports focus primarily on technical issues.  While the reports may touch on a broad range of questions associated with a particular network management practice, the reports are not intended to address or analyze in a comprehensive fashion the economic, legal, regulatory or public policy issues that the practice may raise. 
About BITAG’s Technical Review Process. BITAG’s core substantive work is performed through its Technical Working Group (TWG), which was formed with the core principles of being: technically driven, balanced, open, efficient, independent, and flexible. The TWG reviews technical issues brought to it through Review Requests submitted by both Members and non-Members, or through a majority weighted vote of the TWG engineers themselves. Each individual Review is taken up by a Committee of the TWG that is composed of engineers and other technical folks representing a broad cross section of the Internet ecosystem. TWG Committees generally operate on a consensus basis, with backstop weighted voting procedures so that when consensus cannot be achieved, each Member category has an equal say in the work product regardless of the composition of the Committee. Finally, BITAG was structured to work as expeditiously as possible, with each Committee operating under a 120-day “shot clock” to complete the respective Review and attendant technical report.


BITAG welcomes any questions, comments or suggestions. Please contact our Executive Director, Dale Hatfield, at dhatfield@bitag.org, or our Program Director, Kaleb A. Sieh, at ksieh@bitag.org. Also, for additional information please see our website at www.bitag.org.

BITAG Launches Second Technical Review on Large Scale Network Address Translation (Large Scale NAT)

Denver, CO (Sept. 21 2011):  The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (“BITAG”), an organization created to develop consensus on broadband network management practices and other related technical issues that can affect users’ Internet experience, is pleased to announce the initiation of its second technical review, on the topic of Large Scale Network Address Translation (“Large Scale NAT”, “LSN” or “Carrier Grade NAT”) – an IPv6 transition technique.

BITAG’s second review will describe and analyze the deployment of Large Scale NAT equipment that allows a large number of IPv4-enabled end devices to share a single IPv4 address. Since publicly routable IPv4 addresses are becoming scarce, LSN allows enterprises, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), wireless providers, and other networks that serve large numbers of devices to extend the lifespan of IPv4 connectivity. 

In general, Network Address Translation (NAT) is known to “break” or impair a variety of Internet applications, and some problems with NAT are exacerbated by LSN. When LSN is used by ISPs to provide IPv4 connectivity, subscribers behind the LSN may not be able to run certain applications that subscribers with unique public IP addresses are able to run. Beyond the technical implications, this may yield cases with performance imbalances between High-Speed Internet Access services and other IP-based services offered on the network. 

Dale Hatfield, Executive Director of BITAG and Adjunct Professor in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will chair the second Review, and Charles R. Kalmanek, Vice President of Networking and Services at AT&T, will be the lead editor of the resulting report. This review, and its attendant report, has an estimated completion date of early January 2012.

About BITAG. BITAG is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization focused on bringing together engineers and technologists in a Technical Working Group (TWG) to develop consensus on broadband network management practices and other related technical issues that can affect users’ Internet experience, including the impact to and from applications, content and devices that utilize the Internet.
BITAG’s mission includes: (a) educating policymakers on such technical issues; (b) addressing specific technical matters in an effort to minimize related policy disputes; and (c) serving as a sounding board for new ideas and network management practices. Specific TWG functions also may include: (i) identifying “best practices” by broadband providers and other entities; (ii) interpreting and applying “safe harbor” practices; (iii) otherwise providing technical guidance to industry and to the public; and/or (iv) issuing advisory opinions on the technical issues germane to the TWG’s mission that may underlie disputes concerning broadband network management practices.
BITAG TWG reports focus primarily on technical issues.  While the reports may touch on a broad range of questions associated with a particular network management practice, the reports are not intended to address or analyze in a comprehensive fashion the economic, legal, regulatory or public policy issues that the practice may raise. 
About BITAG’s Technical Review Process. BITAG’s core substantive work is performed through its Technical Working Group (TWG), which was formed with the core principles of being: technically driven, balanced, open, efficient, independent, and flexible. The TWG reviews technical issues brought to it through Review Requests submitted by both Members and non-Members, or through a majority weighted vote of the TWG engineers themselves. Each individual Review is taken up by a Committee of the TWG that is composed of engineers and other technical folks representing a broad cross section of the Internet ecosystem. TWG Committees generally operate on a consensus basis, with backstop weighted voting procedures so that when consensus cannot be achieved, each Member category has an equal say in the work product regardless of the composition of the Committee. Finally, BITAG was structured to work as expeditiously as possible, with each Committee operating under a 120-day “shot clock” to complete the respective Review and attendant technical report.


BITAG welcomes any questions, comments or suggestions. Please contact our Executive Director, Dale Hatfield, at dhatfield@bitag.org, or our Program Director, Kaleb A. Sieh, at ksieh@bitag.org. Also, for additional information please see our website at www.bitag.org.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

BITAG Now in Operation and Ready for Technical Review Requests

I am pleased to report that the BITAG is now in operation and ready to accept requests for technical review of broadband network management practices or other related technical issues. We are gearing up for our first Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting, scheduled for the end of February.  At the meeting, we will take up any technical issues that have been brought before the TWG for review, and begin to refine the process of how we will go about our work.  
We already have a great group of engineers on the TWG.  They have come together from a number of different organizations and stakeholder groups across the Internet ecosystem, and I am excited about bringing more engineers and other technical experts into the fold as technical reviews ramp up.
To help answer questions about how to submit technical Review Requests to the TWG and how the process works, I have prepared a brief set of FAQs that hopefully will address questions you may have regarding the TWG Review Request filing process.  Of course, if these FAQs do not fully address your questions, please feel free to email me at dhatfield@bitag.org or Kaleb at ksieh@bitag.org.
How will technical issues be brought before the TWG?
There are three ways that a technical issue may be brought before the TWG:
1.     The TWG takes up an issue on its own motion
2.     A governmental agency, such as the FCC, refers a technical issue to the TWG
3.     Someone submits a technical Review Request to the TWG and pays the appropriate filing fee
Who can submit a Review Request to the TWG?
Anyone with questions concerning a broadband network management practice or other related technical issue may submit a request to the TWG in order to have it reviewed.  You do not have to be a member of BITAG to submit a Review Request, although members do receive a discount on the required filing fee.   
Just to be clear, simply submitting a Request does not mean it will automatically be taken up by the TWG. The request must be approved and submitted with the appropriate filing fee.
Where can I get the Review Request form?
The form and its instructions can be found here: Technical Working Group (TWG) Review Request Form & Instructions.
How do I use the Review Request form?
The Review Request form must be filled out in its entirety in order for your Review Request to be reviewed. We will need such things as:
·       your contact information;
·       the organization you are affiliated with (if any);
·       a full description of the technical issue and any additional technical documentation that will be helpful to the TWG in its review;
·       a description of how review of the issue by the TWG will better inform the public and policy makers;
·       a short list of parties, if any, that may be on record as opposing  your own position on the technical issue requested for review;
·       and the filing fee.
Then simply email the completed and signed application (along with any additional technical documentation) back to BITAG at reviewrequest@bitag.org.
What are the TWG Filing Fees and Why are They Necessary?
Review Requests will not be considered complete nor considered for review until we receive the requisite filing fee. There is an administrative and operational burden to each review and the filing fee covers a portion of the cost of these reviews.  If your Review Request is not accepted, BITAG will provide a full refund. 

Filing fees vary based on whether you are member of the BITAG, your company’s annual revenues, and some other factors.  The filing fee schedule for 2011 is:

Industry Tier (revenue)
Member
Non-Member
Above $5B
$6,000
$30,000
$1B to $5B
$6,000
$15,000
$100M to $1B
$6,000
$13,500
Under  $100M
$6,000
$12,000
Trade Association Tier (budget)
Member
Non-Member
Any Size Budget
$25,000
$30,000
Community Representative Tier (budget)
Member
Non-Member
Any Size budget
$1,000
$5,000
Individual Tier
Member
Non-member
Any Individual
$1,000
$5,000

Please contact reviewrequest@bitag.org about submitting your filing fee payment. 
What Happens When The Review Request Reaches BITAG?
Once we receive a fully completed Review Request along with the appropriate filing fee, the following will occur:

·       FIRST, BITAG staff will check to make sure the Review Request has been filled out completely and correctly. The Staff will also confirm whether BITAG has received the filing fee.

·       SECOND, the BITAG Staff will review the substance of the Request to ensure it may properly be reviewed by BITAG in accordance with the BITAG Bylaws and TWG Governance Manual. The Request may be rejected if:

o   the Request is not germane to the Technical Working Group’s mission*;
o   the Request focuses too much on non-technical issues and/or TWG review would not help inform the public and policymakers on the underlying technical issues; or
o   due to other exigent circumstances.

*The Technical Working Group’s Mission is to: Bring together volunteer engineers and other similar technical experts to develop consensus on broadband network management practices or other related technical issues that can affect users’ Internet experience, including impact to and from applications, content and devices that utilize the Internet.

·       FINALLY, the BITAG Staff will inform the submitter by email of whether the Review Request has been accepted for review and its likely schedule on the BITAG Technical Working Group work agenda:

o   If the Request has been rejected at the staff level, you will receive a list of reasons why the Request was rejected. If you feel the Request is rejected in error, you may contest that rejection as outlined in the TWG Governance Manual. To initiate that process please contact us at reviewrequests@bitag.org.   If the Request is rejected, your filing fee will be refunded to you.

o   If the Request has been approved, you will receive notification of the next steps.

Once the Review Request is approved, BITAG will begin the internal processes necessary for the Technical Working Group to start its deliberations, as I described in my prior blog post.

I hope this helps to clarify things, but if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at dhatfield@bitag.org or Kaleb at ksieh@bitag.org and we will get you the information you need.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

BITAG’s Interim Board of Directors Announced; First Board Meeting Scheduled for Next Week

I am pleased to announce the appointment of the interim board of directors for the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group, Inc. (BITAG).  In the past several months, we have made great progress in establishing the operational structure of the BITAG to ensure it is open, transparent, technically-focused and balanced.  Following the initial meeting of the newly-appointed directors next week, the technical experts in the Technical Working Group (TWG) can start working on the substantive issues presented to it by BITAG members, non-members and governmental organizations.

I really must thank the individuals listed below for agreeing to volunteer their time for this endeavor.  Additionally, it is wonderful that we have such a great group of people from a wide range of the Internet community. 

The interim Board will consist of the following individuals:

Jeff Blum, Echostar
Jeff Campbell, Cisco Systems
Kyle Dixon, Time Warner
Dave Farber, Carnegie Mellon University
Susan Fox, Disney
Rick Lane, News Corp.
C. Lincoln Hoewing, Verizon
Kevin Krufky, Alcatel Lucent
Brent Olson, AT&T
Marjorie Dickman, Intel
Jim Rottsolk, Microsoft
Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge
Joe Waz, Comcast
Sally Wentworth, Internet Society
Rick Whitt, Google
and myself, Dale Hatfield, as the BITAG Executive Director and an ex-officio, nonvoting member.

Monday, December 13, 2010

BITAG Membership

As mentioned in my previous post, I have received a number of questions regarding becoming a member in the BITAG and how to join. Though some minor details could change, here is the process:

BITAG MEMBERSHIP

BITAG is open to any individual or organization in the Internet ecosystem with an interest in the mission of the BITAG, though there are some requirements. Namely, Members must have the willingness and ability to actively participate in the BITAG’s Technical Working Group (TWG), meaning that entity members (companies and other organizations) must be able to appoint an employee that meets the requisite technical requirements and members who are individuals must themselves meet the requisite technical requirements.  Members must also be willing to bear their appropriate share of the expenses through the payment of annual membership dues.

Membership Type.  There are two types of members, Participating Members and Observing Members.  Participating Members are full dues paying Members that have the right to fully participate in all aspects of the BITAG while Observing Members will have lesser rights of participation.  Observing Members will also have lower dues than Participating Members.  Participating Members will have the right to appoint a representative to the TWG, elect directors and vote on issues brought before the BITAG members.  Observing Members will have the right to observe TWG and BITAG proceedings.

Member Categories.  We have divided BITAG members into five categories designed to roughly reflect the broad constituencies identifiable across the Internet ecosystem.  These categories are: 1. Application Providers, 2. Community Representatives, 3. Content Producers, 4. Equipment Manufacturers, and 5. Internet Connectivity Providers.  To be sure, in the ever-changing world these categories are not perfect and blur together, but these five look to work well for purposes of BITAG membership.

THE PROCESS

The Application.

·      First, simply download a Membership Application.
·      Next, fill out the Application and sign.
·      Then, simply return the completed Application to applications@bitag.org.

Please note the application should include the resume and/or CV of yourself or your organization’s proposed TWG Representative. Also, you must select which Member Category you or your organization falls into. For organizations, the selection should be based on your source of revenue and line of business.

Application Review and Notice.  Once we receive your application, it will be reviewed.  You will be notified by email of whether your application was accepted or denied (at the email address you provide on the application).  This email will contain the next steps, and if you have been accepted it will also include an invoice for membership dues.  If you feel your application has been denied mistakenly, please feel free to contact us at applications@bitag.org.


Finally, if anything does not seem clear or if you have additional questions, please feel free to email me at dhatfield@bitag.org or Kaleb at ksieh@bitag.org.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some Thoughts on How the Technical Working Group (TWG) will Operate

Since my first blog post announcing that broad consensus on BITAG’s organizational structure had been achieved, we have received a number of responses and questions.  The most frequent questions have concerned: 1) how BITAG’s Technical Working Group (TWG) will operate; and 2) how to join.  Both are valid questions, and let me try to respond to each in turn.  In this post, I will focus on the first item, how the TWG will operate, and in the next post I will focus on how to join. 

Before I do so, however, I want to thank everyone for their enthusiasm and support for the BITAG.  I also want to apologize profusely to those that have emailed us and we have not responded to directly.  I assure you, we are not ignoring you. 

Over the past several months, in developing the operational procedures for the BITAG, I consulted with people from every part of the Internet ecosystem, including all of the companies listed on the initial press release, representatives from the Internet user community and other Internet service providers, application providers, equipment manufacturers and the content community.  The consensus organizational structure reflects the input received from each and every one of these groups. 

The Technical Working Group (“TWG”) will be the core of the substantive workings of the BITAG.  As indicated in the previous post, the BITAG will be open to any person or entity interested in the mission of the BITAG who has, or can appoint an employee that has, the necessary technical expertise to serve on the TWG.  To help maintain a balanced review of substantive issues, any participating member in the BITAG will have one and only one technical representative appointed to the TWG, and any TWG representative will have the ability to participate in the review of any technical issues brought before the TWG. 

To understand how I envision the TWG will practically operate, it might be best to use a hypothetical example:
Say, an Internet Connectivity Provider is contemplating a new or revised network management practice.  It could submit a “review request” to the BITAG asking for a review of the practice.  To be clear, anyone – whether a BITAG member or non-member – can submit a technical review request to the TWG.  If the review request falls within the mission of the TWG, a subcommittee of the TWG would be established and all TWG representatives would be invited to join the subcommittee.  The subcommittee would be tasked with conducting an objective engineering analysis of the proposed practice (new or revised) or other technical issue presented to the TWG.  As Executive Director, I personally – or someone I designate – would chair the subcommittee.  
The subcommittee would study the practice in order to determine how it might affect a “users’ Internet experience, including the impact on applications, content, or devices.”  The subcommittee would then prepare a technical report on its findings.  While there are provisions in the bylaws for weighted voting by the subcommittee, our hope and expectation is that we will be able to issue consensus-based reports in the vast majority of cases.  If the technical report is submitted to a vote, the vote would be weighted such that each member category (Application Providers, Community Representatives, Content Producers, Equipment Manufacturers and Internet Connectivity Providers) would have an equal say in the technical report and no one member category could dominate the outcome.
While we will need to develop the details of how the TWG will go about its analysis (and adjust as necessary), turning back to the hypothetical, one could imagine a process in which the TWG first makes sure it understands how the new or revised network management technique would work from a technical perspective.  Then, based on its understanding of how the technique would work and the applicant’s statement of what network management problem the applicant was trying to solve, the TWG would assess whether the technique would accomplish its intended purpose and, critically, assess whether “any unintended, adverse consequences on applications, content, or devices would result.” 
Based upon engineers working in a “problem solving” rather than adversarial process, the TWG would publicly issue a consensus report that, among other things, sets forth both the intended and unintended consequences of the network management practice in question.  Hopefully, this engineering process and resulting report would reduce the chance of miscommunications/ misunderstanding and the chance of litigation or regulatory complaint.  However, if someone chose to go the FCC or other governmental body with a complaint or to file a lawsuit about the technique, the agency involved would have, in the TWG report, relevant technical information with which it could then address any normative decisions that might be necessary.  That is, the agency would be in a much better position to expeditiously determine whether or not the intended public benefits of the new or revised technique sufficiently outweigh any adverse impact on applications, content, or devices.
The hypothetical above is just one example of how the TWG could be presented with a technical issue for review.  As I mention above, anyone – whether a BITAG member or non-member – can file a review request with the TWG.  Therefore, it is conceivable that anyone at any layer of the Internet stack who believes his or her network, application or content is being adversely impacted could submit a review request.  In such a case, the TWG would then form a subcommittee to review a request and the process would likely follow a similar path to that described above.  There will be some screening of review requests of course, for example for completeness, comprehensibility, and whether the request is germane to the mission of the BITAG.
I hope this helps you understand the nitty-gritty details of the operations of the TWG, and we will post the actual procedures as they are developed.  Again for clarity's sake, this is merely one take on how I think things will operate – the TWG itself will evolve to meet the needs of its members, and the Internet community.  Ultimately, the BITAG will succeed based on its integrity, rigor and the good faith efforts of those participating.   

Monday, October 4, 2010

Broad Consensus Achieved on BITAG’s Structure

The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) has taken another major step forward. 

Since initial plans for the BITAG were announced in June (Press Release), I’ve sought input from a variety of stakeholder groups, including academics, standard setting organizations, non-profit and Internet user communities, broadband providers, applications developers, equipment manufacturers and content producers.  Following a series of meetings held last week at the Silicon Flatirons Center in Boulder, Colorado, a broad consensus emerged on the BITAG’s organizational structure, operational procedures and membership guidelines.  I am very pleased with the progress we’ve made through collaboration.

We have reached an understanding that the BITAG will be an independent non-profit organization, with membership open to any person or entity interested in furthering its mission and able to bring the requisite technical expertise.  The BITAG’s primary purpose will be to support a balanced and diverse technical working group (TWG) of volunteer engineers and other experts tasked with analyzing and developing consensus on network management practices and other related technical issues that can affect the experience of Internet users.  As the BITAG’s Executive Director, I am strongly committed to shepherding an open, transparent, and collaborative expert technical forum that will enable engineers to do what they do best: solve problems. 

There is more to do before the BITAG is operational.  Shortly, I will post for everyone’s information the BITAG’s organizational and governance documents and other background material at www.bitag.org.  I will continue to seek stakeholder input and support, and I hope that the BITAG will commence operations before the end of the year.

If you have questions or are interested in joining the BITAG, please contact BITAG’s Program Director, Kaleb Sieh or me, Dale Hatfield.