FCC Adopts Net Neutrality Rules

By Cindy Waxer December 21, 2010

The votes are in: the Federal Communications Commission has given the OK to new rules that forbid broadband companies from interfering with Internet traffic traveling to their customers. According to an Associated Press (News - Alert) report, the 3-2 vote heralds a victory for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert), who has been working hard to unite the divided agency.

The FCC's three Democrats voted to pass the rules, while the two Republicans opposed them. But the fight isn’t over just yet. The new rules still have to pass muster on Capitol Hill once Republicans take control of the House.

As reported previously by TechZone360.com, over the last three years, major Internet companies like Google (News - Alert) 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 (News - Alert) 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 noted, 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 FCC’s new rules essentially bans companies like Comcast from blocking any legal sites or applications for any reason.

Tech giants including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have long fought 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 (News - Alert) 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.

"Today, for the first time, we are adopting rules to preserve basic Internet values," Genachowski said in a statement. "For the first time, we'll have enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness."

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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