Roundup: The FCC and Net Neutrality

FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski today outlined principles to ensure a "free and open" Internet that will preserve access and inovation. Here's a roundup of noteworthy reaction and commentary.

Rich Miller

September 21, 2009

3 Min Read
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Earlier today the Obama administration launched, accompanying a speech in which FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski outlined principles to ensure a "free and open" Internet that will preserve access and inovation. "While these goals are clear, the best means of achieving them are not," Genachowski said in unveiling the OpenInternet site as a clearinghouse for ideas and discussion. There was plenty of discussion of the Net Neutrality debate today around the web. Here's a sampling of notable links and commentary:

  • Foir the details of Genachowski's speech, see the full text online and a video summary on YouTube.   

  • Google was enthusiastic about the chairman's speech, as reflected in a blog post by Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf. "We could not be more pleased to see Chairman Genachowski take up this mantle, and we look forward to working with the Commission as it finalizes its plans," wrote Cerf. "Allowing a handful of broadband carriers to determine what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the features that have made the Internet such a success, and could permanently compromise the Internet as a platform for the free exchange of information, commerce, and ideas."

  • Comcast, which figured in a key FCC case related to its policies on BitTorrent traffic, said it welcomed the dialogue. "(Genachowski) showed appreciation of the 'substantial investment and technical ingenuity' on the part of companies like Comcast who make broadband Internet services available," wrote Comcast executive vice president David Cohen. "That is good news ... It will be incredibly important for the agency to review the data to determine whether there are actual and substantial problems that may require rules."

  • Telecom Ramblings wonder whether net neutrality could lead to "peering wars." By forcing certain bandwidth hygiene on the last mile providers, network neutrality rules could shift that balance by elevating the importance of traffic ratios to one side," Rob Powell writes. "Google has all sorts of peering relationships with ISPs of all sizes, and Akamai’s entire network was built around peering with ISPs by putting servers in their closets.  ... But if they must treat all traffic the same within their networks and traffic from content providers takes on a threatening hue, the economic case for maintaining those peering connections is weakened." 

  • The wireless carrier trade group CTIA said it is "concerned about the unintended consequences Internet regulation would have on consumers considering that competition within the industry has spurred innovation, investment, and growth for the U.S. economy" and raises hypotheticals about how the rules might apply to the Amazon Kindle or Google's content caching. 

  • AOL's Daily Finance has a lively back-and-forth with comments from Lawrence Lessig ("It was perfect. I'm thrilled") and Bartlett Cleland of the Center for Technology Freedom ("'Net neutrality' is nothing more than sweet-sounding words to obscure an attempt to involve the government in directing private sector investment and business models.")

  • Wired called today's announcement "a huge win for advocates say the rules are necessary to keep ISPs from stifling innovation by erecting tollbooths and created tiered access plans."

  • According to GigaOm, an FCC rulemaking meeting next month is "where we’ll see contention over which network management practices are reasonable, what information broadband providers should disclose about their network management practices and how the rules apply to differing platforms, including mobile Internet access services," Stacey Higginbotham writes. "The carriers will do a lot of grandstanding here, but there are some real technical issues that the FCC and consumers will have to understand."

  • Ars Technica notes that "Genachowski has picked his battle. The network neutrality fight will consume much of his energy as chairman and won't be resolved any time soon, but if Genachowski gets his six broad rules and applies them to all forms of Internet access, he will leave a pretty serious stamp on the direction of the Internet in the US."

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