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1/15/2010
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Net Neutrality Debate Sparks Public Comments

Remarks posted to the FCC's Web site range from trade associations criticizing proposed the rules to public interest groups supporting the rules to protect Net Neutrality.

The Thursday midnight deadline for the filing of comments on the FCC's Net Neutrality rules prompted a flood of comments from interested parties. The posted remarks ranged from trade associations criticizing proposed rules to public interest groups supporting rules to protect Net Neutrality.

At polar opposites, for instance, were filings from the CTIA-The Wireless Association, which generally criticized the proposed FCC rules because wireless networks are flourishing without the rules; on the other end of the issue was Free Press, which cited thousands of filings supporting the FCC to safeguard the Internet for the future. Free Press noted that hundreds of organizations ranging from small business groups to women's and civic groups support the proposed FCC rules.

"All elements of the wireless ecosystem are flourishing," said CTIA CEO Steve Largent in a statement. "As Americans continue to adopt mobile broadband at a rapid pace, our members are investing billions of dollars every year to deliver wireless Internet across the country. This is a model that is working for consumers and regulation is not needed."

Weighing in with support for strong rules was the Media Access Project (MAP). "Network neutrality principles must be enacted to ensure open and nondiscriminatory online communications," said Parul Desai, vice president of the Media Access Project. "Network neutrality would ensure that the public, and especially underprivileged communities, would be able to continue to speak out openly and avoid discrimination."

Focusing on the FCC definition of "reasonable network management", MAP called on the FCC to deal strictly with instances of limited or intermittent duration of legitimate congestion and traffic management issues.

The Free State Foundation, a Maryland-based "free market" organization, also made its position clear. "If adopted as proposed, this new Internet regulation almost certainly would discourage investment and job creation, stymie innovation, and harm overall consumer welfare," said two leaders of the organization, Randolph May and Seth Cooper.

Opposing the FCC rules, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Wayne Crews said: "The FCC is wrong to assume that today's politicians and regulators know what's best for companies not yet created, networks not yet deployed, and business plans not yet formulated."

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