The FCC Favors Net Neutrality

On Monday, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski announced the commission’s support of net neutrality, a principle which holds that Internet Service Providers (e.g. Comcast, Verizon, Time-Warner, AT&T) should not be permitted to discriminate against specific online content or applications and privilege other content with higher quality service.

In introducing the National Broadband Plan, Genachowski, described some of the threats to an open internet posed by the absence of a strong net neutrality policy:

We have witnessed certain broadband providers unilaterally block access to VoIP applications (phone calls delivered over data networks) and implement technical measures that degrade the performance of peer-to-peer software distributing lawful content. We have even seen at least one service provider deny users access to political content.

The new policy goals also require that ISPs make transparent to the public their network management policies.

Opponents of net neutrality have claimed that many wireless service providers do not have the capacity to move all data (including the download of large video files) indiscriminately and that if the FCC’s policy goals become law, ISPs would experience increased burdens on bandwidth, and be restrained in how they could manage these burdens thus leading to a degradation of service.

However, the growth of demand for new services and innovative applications can stimulate investment in increasing broadband capacity. As the CEO of Skype, the most popular VoIP application, puts it: “applications like Skype can grow the entire broadband pie,” he said. “We’re saying, let’s look at the investment incentives for everyone in this ecosystem, not just carriers.” (The new rules would make it impossible for Apple phones operating through the At&T network to block competing applications like Skype.)

The FCC has provided information on its policy and invited commentary from the public through its new website.

A bill supporting net neutrality was introduced in Congress last month by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458).

Additional coverage of Genachowski’s speech is available here.


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3 Responses to The FCC Favors Net Neutrality

  1. Simon Owens says:

    There’s actually a great piece in the WSJ arguing that Google isn’t exactly an innocent bystander in this whole net neutrality debate. into a few things; notably that while Google pretends to be against internet gate keeping, it does some questionable gate keeping of its own:

    1. Google picks winners and losers online through a search algorithm that no one can see and that constantly changes,

    2. Google discriminates in favor of corporate partners (through sponsored search results) and their own value-add services (by making YouTube videos, Google Maps results and other products prevalent in its search results), and

    3. Google discriminates against protected political speech (countless examples here and abroad).

    So the FCC has an important question to ask: as it considers revamping the rules of the online road, should it look at anticompetitve behavior among dominant Internet firms? The DOJ certainly seems to think so. And if the FCC believes antitrust law is sufficient to protect against misbehaving content/applications providers, is it not sufficient to curb bad behavior from ISPs?

    • James Higgins says:

      In response to Simon Owens: Response to #1. So? Don’t all companies do that? Companies have all kinds of secrets that they don’t want their competitors to know about. I don’t complain when i don’t know Exxonmobles secrets. Response to #2. Capitalism? Don’t companies help other companies that help them? Yes. Don’t companies have their own individual policies? Yes. Response to #3. I post what ever the hell i wont on blogger, owned by google.

      Its simple; google is where it is because of capitalism. And guess what, we the people, the consumer, the user, have the ability to bring them down… look at what happened to AOL. They were the google of the early 90s. If you don’t like googles practices… don’t use them. Use yahoo, lycos, Dogpile. There are hundreds of other sites that provide the same services. Its called freedom in capitalism.

      But google is so huge because half the world does find it useful. Their so called ‘discrimination’ doesn’t seem to effect people finding what they are looking for on the internet… if it did, billions of people wouldn’t be using it.

  2. Pingback: Setback for net neutrality « Blogging Censorship

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