FCC Previews Net Neutrality Plan, Sets Date for Vote

By Beecher Tuttle December 02, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday confirmed its intent to vote on net neutrality rules that will forbid phone and cable companies like AT&T and Verizon from blocking or discriminating against legal online traffic.

In a set of prepared remarks, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski outlined the agenda for the Dec. 21, vote and summarized the key points of the proposal, which is sure to raise ire from both sides of the debate.

Over the last three years, major Internet companies like Google and Skype have continually asked the FCC to step in and create net neutrality rules that prohibit broadband companies from blocking IP-based phone calls, online video and other bandwidth-hungry web services. Phone and cable companies have routinely done this in the past to keep their network running at high-speeds and to eliminate access to services that compete with their day-to-day business.

As PC World notes, this pushback began gaining momentum in 2007 when Comcast was accused of blocking consumers from accessing certain peer-to-peer sites that tend to slow network speeds. The new proposal that was hinted at on Wednesday includes a provision that bans companies like Comcast from blocking any legal sites or applications for any reason.

Meanwhile, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast continue to fight for their right to manage traffic as they see fit, and have remained opposed to regulating the Internet. These providers have said that they need to be able to police their own network and have asked the FCC to allow them to charge different rates for bandwidth consumption.

Genachowski has spent the better part of the year dealing with criticisms from both Internet companies and broadband providers. He said on Wednesday that the FCC has finally come up with a fair compromise, which will officially be unveiled later in the month at voting time.

The proposed rules "are consistent with President Obama’s commitment to 'keep the Internet as it should be -- open and free,'" Genachowski noted. "Their adoption would culminate recent efforts to find common ground -- at the FCC, in Congress, and outside government, including approaches advanced by both Democrats and Republicans, and by stakeholders of differing perspectives."

To read Genachowski's full remarks, click here.


Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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