FCC Chief Endorses Usage-Based Pricing, Outlines Net Neutrality Proposal

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After receiving more than 100,000 comments from concerned Americans, the Federal Communications Commission’s top official said the FCC has reached an “important milestone” in its effort to protect Internet freedom and openness. 

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told reporters yesterday he circulated draft rules which endorsed the idea that broadband providers could charge extra for providing heavy Internet users with lots of online video or data-heavy services such as videogames, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The policies set forth by Genachowski could be adopted as soon as this month, which he said would advance a set of core goals: “It would ensure that the Internet remains a powerful platform for innovation and job creation; it would empower consumers and entrepreneurs; it would protect free expression; it would increase certainty in the marketplace, and spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks.”  

The FCC is expected to discuss the controversial issue of net neutrality at its meeting to be held on Dec. 21, after the chairman released a draft proposal to FCC colleagues this week.

Genachowski also backed “usage-based pricing” while outlining proposed rules that would bar Internet providers from deliberately tampering or slowing legal Web traffic. The Journal said that support for pay-as-you-go pricing represents a victory for cable and telecommunications companies “because it clarified whether broadband providers had the power to charge by what users consumed.”

The proposed framework would also prohibit the blocking of lawful content, apps, services, and the connection of non-harmful devices to the network, Genachowski said. The FCC, he added, would “closely monitor the development of the mobile broadband market and be prepared to step in to further address anti-competitive or anti-consumer conduct as appropriate.”

“We were appreciative of them clarifying it,” said AT&T Inc. Senior Vice President Robert W. Quinn Jr. told the Wall Street Journal.

Net neutrality has been a controversial topic for months: As TechZone360 reported in August, Verizon and Google proposed a scenario in which consumers would have an open “wired” Internet, but with significant exclusions for wireless broadband. This proposal would allow carriers to charge content companies more money for faster access and possibly block certain services from reaching customers at all, TechZone360 reported based on a Smartcomm letter.


Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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