Net Neutrality: Up to the FCC?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Monday he is “ready, willing and able” to stop broadband providers that unreasonably interfere with subscribers’ access to Internet content.

The comment by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin came at the start of a day-long FCC hearing centering on allegations that some broadband providers have been improperly hindering access to some content. The agency is considering new rules that would force cable and telephone companies to more clearly disclose their policies.

Ed Markey is the sponsor of a new bill that would discourage, though not actually prohibit, “unreasonable discriminatory favoritism” of content traveling through their pipes.

The public hearing at Harvard Law School (real audio and event blog), featured testimony from Internet providers, policy experts and consumer groups.

“I think it’s important to understand that the commission is ready, willing and able to step in if necessary to correct any (unreasonable) practices that are ongoing today,” Martin said.

The dispute over so-called “network neutrality” pits open-Internet advocates against some service providers such as Comcast who say they need to take reasonable steps to manage traffic on their networks.

Martin acknowledged that broadband network operators have a legitimate need to manage the data flowing over their networks. But he said that “does not mean that they can arbitrarily block access to particular applications or services.”

The hearing, which included testimony from officials with Comcast and Verizon, is aimed at determining what network management techniques are reasonable.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, February 25th, 2008 at 11:01 am .

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