Friday, May 07, 2010

FCC: Third Way On Net Neutrality

FCC statement on 'third way' for broadband
May 6, 2010


Chairman Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission

FCC says it has compromise on key broadband rules
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday that his agency has crafted a compromise in how it regulates high-speed Internet access: It will apply only narrow rules to broadband companies. [...]

So now Genachowski is seeking to redefine broadband as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations to treat all traffic equally. Similar rules apply to other networks that serve the public, including roads, electrical grids and telephone lines. But Genachowski said he will refrain from imposing more burdensome mandates that also apply to traditional telecom companies. For instance he would avoid requiring the broadband companies to share their networks with competitors.

The proposal is intended to strike a balance that can satisfy both Internet service providers that oppose new regulations and public interest groups that are demanding greater consumer protections. FCC officials stressed that they intend to regulate only Internet connections, not the online services flowing through them.

FCC to Restore Authority Over Net Neutrality, Broadband Service: Netroots Backlash Cited
The "third way" plan, designed to appease Net Neutrality advocates - while not completely enraging the phone and cable companies - is good in some areas, and bad in others.

It will enable the FCC to enact many important provisions of their celebrated National Broadband Plan, including Net Neutrality and modifying government subsidy of Internet services. However, the new plan explicitly states that the FCC will not try to advance policies that promote more competition and affordability. Genachowski will use a technical process called "forbearance" to strip some of the agency's authority.

FCC seeking to apply narrow rules to broadband
The head of the Federal Communications Commission is pledging to apply only narrow regulations to high-speed Internet access to ensure the agency has adequate authority to govern broadband providers without adopting heavy-handed rules.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday that the commission will seek to regulate broadband connections as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations to treat all traffic equally. But it will refrain from imposing other burdensome obligations.

Update: FCC plans 'third way' to address 'Comcast dilemma,' net neutrality
In regulator-speak, Genachowski's plan says that broadband transmission will be reclassified as a "Title II" service - a telecommunications service of the type subject to close oversight since the FCC was established in the 1930s. Under the Bush administration, the FCC declared broadband offerings to be "Title I" data service, subject to much looser regulation. [ ...]

He says that the new rules would apply only to "the transmission component of broadband access service," and that the FCC will formally promise stay away from rules "that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service."

In other words, Genachowski is trying to thread a needle. He wants to make plain to the public that regulators can and will enforce reasonable net-neutrality principals against network owners who want to manage the broadband Internet like a private toll road, potentially favoring some people's or companies' traffic over others' in ways that distort the market. At the same time, he wants to signal businesses and entrepreneurs that the FCC will stay away from needless interference in a technology that has been a tremendous engine for growth.

To that end, the Genachowski-led commission also plans to push forward with its visionary National Broadband Plan, which sees wired and wireless broadband networks as the railroad, highway, and telephone networks of the 21st century: essential public services - whoever owns and operates them - that don't just connect the country but that will provide a framework for robust economic growth in the decades ahead. (It's not clear yet whether today's framework will directly affect wireless carriers.)

Labels: ,

All rights reserved.
Disclaimer And Comment Policy