The Federal Communications Commission is poised to approve the agency’s network neutrality principles tomorrow, Oct. 22, 2009. The issue is hotly debated. The new network neutrality rules would require carriers to deliver broadband in a non-discriminatory manner and to disclose their network management policies in a transparent manner.
The rules would prohibit broadband carriers like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast from favoring their own content by blocking or slowing content from other content providers. FCC Chair Genachowski points out that the non-discrimination principle would not prevent ISPs from “reasonably managing” their broadband networks, notes Light Reading. “During periods of network congestion, for example, it may be appropriate for providers to ensure that very heavy users do not crowd out everyone else,” he said.
Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, discusses the Obama administration’s policy toward Net Neutrality (above).
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg called the proposal a “mistake, pure and simple — an analog idea in a digital universe.” During his keynote address Wednesday at the Supercomm 2009 trade show in Chicago, Seidenberg argued that imposing stricter regulations would pit network providers against application providers in a way that would ruin the Internet’s potential for economic growth and societal change.
A new study (pdf), by net neutrality supporter Free Press, disputes the often-repeated criticism that new rules will hurt broadband investment by pointing to investments made by AT&T when the telecom giant was subject to similar regulations.
AT&T, as part of conditions it agreed to in its late-2006 merger with BellSouth, agreed to net neutrality rules for two years, and the telecom’s investments increased significantly during that time period, the Free Press study said. AT&T’s gross capital investment increased by nearly US$1.9 billion from 2006 to 2008, the largest increase among U.S. telecoms, Free Press said in the study, released Wednesday.
“It is troubling that we are debating a filing on investment and job creation from an organization such as Free Press. The industry I represent directly or indirectly employs more than 2.4 million Americans and contributed over $140 billion in direct economic benefit to the U.S. economy over the last three years.
An illustration of the gaps in the Free Press filing is that counter to their own conclusions, they based their ‘analysis’ on rhetoric and avoided specific factual evidence of what Net Neutrality would mean to wireless. In the 700 MHz auction, the larger, regulated ‘open access’ license sold for half the smaller non-regulated license. These, and many other shortcomings, are littered throughout the filing. I am confident that the FCC, through its fact-based analysis, will draw the same conclusion.”
Google, which developed the “open” Android OS and the Android Marketplace, that will soon be used in Verizon phones, now seems more cautious on Net Neutrality with their official statement cross-posted on Verizon’s PolicyBlog.
While Google supports light touch regulation, it believes that safeguards are needed to combat the incentives for carriers to pick winners and losers online.
Related Dailywireless stories on Net Neutrality include; Craig Settles on Net Neutrality Debate, Net Neutrality Opposition Stopped — For Now,Genachowski Opens Net Neutrality Battle, FCC Chair Spells Out Net Neutrality, Net Neutrality Gets a Hearing — & Proposal, CTIA: We ARE Competitive, FCC to Investigate Wireless Competition, and Genachowski to Enforce “Net Neutrality”