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9/21/2009
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FCC Chair's Net Neutrality Position Picks Up Support

The eventual approval of the free flow of Web content without blocking or slowing by broadband carriers or ISPs seems assured.

The battle over the net neutrality concept was formally joined Monday by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, who threw his support behind the free flow of Internet traffic without interference from carriers and ISPs.

He was immediately supported by commissioners Michael J. Copps and Mignon Clyburn, both Democrats like Genachowski. With those commissioners forming a 3 to 2 majority over the FCC's Republican commissioners, the eventual approval of the free flow of Web content without blocking, slowing or extra charges seems assured.

"It is essential that the Internet remain open," Genachowski said in a Web-televised speech from the Brookings Institution in Washington. "If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late." Genachowski said he favors net neutrality rules that will favor both business innovators and consumers.

In a statement, Copps, a long-serving FCC commissioner, said: "I have long advocated an enforceable principle of non-discrimination, ensuring that product and service providers understand the difference between advancing and short-circuiting Internet freedom." Recently appointed commissioner Clyburn, noted that she has been a small business owner and has been "keenly aware" of the importance of an open Internet for new businesses.

Genachowski signaled that wireless providers should be included in the FCC's efforts to make traffic flow freely, in much the same way that wired networks are compelled to provide open and transparent service. With wireless networks increasingly becoming more robust, the status of open wireless service grows more important daily.

The wireless situation may become increasingly sensitive because the major wireless carriers can stress that they have already paid out billions to the FCC for their spectrum.

The issue is expected to be fleshed out at the FCC's October meeting.


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