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FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rule Making

The move opens up a vehicle for comments, but how and to what degree the Internet should be free or regulated remains to be decided.
Public interest groups, and content providers such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter want as few restrictions on the Internet as possible. Carriers AT&T, Verizon Communications, Comcast, and others worry that they could be thwarted from delivering robust connections by new services and applications such as video that could hog their networks.

Wireless A Special Case

Special attention is likely to be directed at wireless broadband, and therein lies a special dilemma for the FCC. Genachowski indicated the status of wireless broadband should receive attention in the rules-making procedure.

“It doesn’t make sense to have one Internet when your laptop is plugged into a wall and another when accessing the Internet through a wireless modem,” he said Thursday. “At the same time, wireless networks are different from wired networks… This is an important issue on which the Notice seeks to develop a full and informed record.” Genachowski has also bemoaned the coming crunch on spectrum, which is running out.

Rules and regulations for wireless, a relatively new technology, haven’t been as formed and set in concrete as wireline regulations. The CTIA wireless trade association has argued that wireless carriers have successfully been innovating without government interference. In a statement issued Thursday, the CTIA said: “Rules that could impact the ecosystem from continuing to evolve, such as the ability of wireless carriers, device makers, and applications developers to optimize their devices, applications, and networks to work together, will stifle innovation and harm consumers.”

A net neutrality back story of sorts is developing in Congress. Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA) said this week that he is supporting the FCC’s open Internet stance while Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he is introducing legislation aimed at stopping the FCC from passing rules to regulate the Internet.

InformationWeek Analytics has published a report on setting up a requirements process that serves everyone. Download the report here (registration required).