Thursday, December 2, 2010

FCC Chairman - Net Neutrality Proposed Rules

I've written here in the past about Net Neutrality and the issues. Yesterday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced a set of proposed rules to protect the open Internet. Here's a summary of Genachowski's announcement with pieces taken from a post by Nick Farrell:

  • Genachowski will present the principle that broadband companies shouldn't block or degrade rival web content, services or applications to a vote that will be held on 21 December.
  • The compromise rules in theory mean that US Internet users can use peer-to-peer software and see whatever websites they like and use any equipment they like on their cable or DSL connections.
  • Carriers and ISPs will be barred from slowing down or blocking content from competitors. The ISPs will also have to be transparent about how they manage congestion on their networks to ensure that anti-competitive behavior isn't being disguised.
Sounds good so far but is it enough? Carriers will still be allowed to create paid fast lanes on the net and the FCC is not reclassifying the Internet as a "telecommunications service", which would have given the FCC clear authority to enforce its rules.

According to Farrrell, Genachowski has the support of Cisco CEO John Chambers, AT&T senior executive VP Jim Ciccono, and Comcast EVP David Cohen. The Communication Workers of America is also in support with a petition you can sign here. Not everyone thinks it goes far enough though. Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative has a post over at Wired. Here's a quote from Meinrath's piece:

Without fundamental changes to the current order, the Chairman’s proposal will be a great victory for the largest telecom corporations and a sound defeat for those working to support innovation and the economic vibrancy that an open Internet facilitates. The New America Foundation is hopeful that the Chairman’s office and Commissioners that support open Internet rules will develop a final order that uphold the FCC’s responsibility to protect consumers and Internet freedom.

In order to take effect, the proposal must be approved by a majority of the
five FCC commissioners . Here's how Wireless Week breaks down that vote if it were to happen today.
  • There’s no way Genachowski will vote against a proposal he himself introduced and has fought so hard for. He's a YES.
  • Michael Copps issued the most carefully-worded statement of the bunch, but so far he’s been a big proponent of Genachowski’s net neutrality push and it’s unlikely he’ll back out now. Also a YES.
  • Mignon Clyburn seemed to be in favor of the plan, saying “clear rules of road are absolutely necessary.” Another YES.
  • Meredith Baker and Robert McDowell came out against the idea in comments filed today. That is two NOs.
Right now it looks like it would pass 3-2. We'll see what happens on December 21.

No comments: