FCC votes to begin crafting 'net neutrality' rules

Oct 22, 2009 By JOELLE TESSLER , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Federal regulators took an important step Thursday toward prohibiting broadband providers from favoring or discriminating against certain kinds of Internet traffic.

Despite the concerns of the agency's two Republicans and telecommunications companies, the voted to begin writing so-called "" regulations. Proponents say the rules would prevent phone and cable companies from abusing their control over the market for broadband access.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the rules are needed to ensure that broadband subscribers can access all legal Web sites and services, including Internet calling applications and video sites that compete with the broadband companies' core businesses.

"Internet users should always have the final say about their online service, whether it's the software, applications or services they choose, or the networks and hardware they use to the connect to the Internet," Genachowski said.

The FCC's two other Democrats voted to support his plan. The agency's two Republican commissioners voted merely to start the formal rule-making process, and said they remain opposed to the substance of Genachowski's proposal.

Republican commissioner Robert McDowell said he remains unconvinced that broadband providers are engaging in widespread anticompetitive behavior that requires government intervention.

"I do not share the majority's view that the Internet is showing breaks and cracks, nor do I believe that the government is the best tool to fix it," he said.

Next up for the FCC is to actually craft the rules, with a vote on whether to adopt them expected to come by next summer.

That would culminate a five-year debate in Washington that has pitted Internet companies such as Inc. against some of the biggest phone and cable companies - including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. - which say the government should not tell them how to manage their networks.

The broadband providers insist they need flexibility to keep their networks running smoothly. They want to ensure that high-bandwidth applications such as YouTube videos don't hog too much capacity and impede other traffic, like e-mail and online searches. They also say that net neutrality regulations would discourage them from expanding and upgrading their networks.

"We continue to hope that any rules adopted by the commission will not harm the investment and innovation that has made the Internet what it is today and that will make it even greater tomorrow," Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen said in a statement.

But companies such as Google, Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc.'s Skype and Facebook argue that without such rules, the broadband companies will become online gatekeepers that can prioritize their own online services or those of their business partners - and potentially put others at a disadvantage.

Markham Erickson, executive director of the Open Internet Coalition, called Thursday's vote "the first step toward ... creating a framework that promotes innovation and consumer choice on the Internet."

The Open Internet Coalition represents public interest groups and big Internet companies, including Google, Amazon and eBay.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Making smartphone browsing 20% faster while reducing power consumption by 40%

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Net neutrality rules face mounting GOP opposition

Oct 05, 2009

(AP) -- Republican opposition is mounting as federal regulators prepare to vote this month on so-called "network neutrality" rules, which would prohibit broadband providers from favoring or discriminating against certain ...

Hurdles remain as FCC ponders Internet data rules

Oct 18, 2009

(AP) -- With Democrats in charge in Washington, supporters of so-called "net neutrality" rules seem poised to finally push through requirements that high-speed Internet providers give equal treatment to all ...

Top tech firms back open Internet in FCC letter

Oct 19, 2009

Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other leading Web and technology companies expressed support Monday for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) efforts to ensure an open Internet.

FCC launches probe of Google Voice service

Oct 09, 2009

(AP) -- Federal regulators will look into complaints by AT&T Inc. that Google Inc.'s free messaging and calling service, Google Voice, blocks calls to rural communities where local phone companies charge ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

3 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

16 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

16 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

16 hours ago

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

20 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

21 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0