Tech Bigwigs Tell FCC: Save Net Neutrality - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Government // Mobile & Wireless
03:06 PM
Connect Directly

Tech Bigwigs Tell FCC: Save Net Neutrality

Google, Amazon, and other tech companies speak out against proposal that would allow network providers to charge extra for data fast lanes.

Google's 10 Big Bets On The Future
Google's 10 Big Bets On The Future
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

More than 100 prominent Internet companies and two of the five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission have expressed doubts about FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to give network providers more latitude to charge extra for faster data delivery.

When Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, was nominated to head the FCC last year, there was concern about whether he would "buck his former corporate clients and stand up for the public interest." Since he proposed new rules last month weakening net neutrality by allowing network service providers to charge extra for accelerated data delivery, Internet companies and advocacy groups have been sounding the alarm.

The rule change was proposed because in January a federal court for the second time struck down the FCC's 2010 blocking and non-discrimination framework. The problem was that the FCC was attempting to regulate Internet providers under common carrier rules without actually declaring them to be utilities, a classification that would have broad consequences.

[Is lack of competition a problem in the net neutrality debate? Read Net Neutrality Debate Driven By Fear Of Change.]

Wheeler has said he remains open to considering a reclassification of broadband access as a telecommunications service.

In a letter published on Wednesday, Amazon, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and other large Internet companies urged the FCC to guard against discriminatory pricing.

"Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission's rules should protect users and Internet companies on fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for internet services more transparent," the letter says. "The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low."

Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel issued statements on Thursday expressing reservations about Wheeler's proposed rules.

"There is no doubt that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the core values of our democratic society, and I have an unwavering commitment to its independence," said Cyburn.

Rosenworcel, in remarks delivered at a library conference, called for a delay of at least a month before Wheeler's proposal is considered, to allow for additional public input. The FCC presently plans to vote on the proposal May 15th.

Level 3 Communications, a global network service provider, in March filed a statement with the FCC urging the agency to make sure its rules cover the interconnections between network service providers, which can be turned into toll-generating bottlenecks without oversight. The agency's rules, Level 3 said, should allow ISPs "to charge other providers for services they provide, but they may not charge fees simply for the privilege of accessing that ISP's customers."

Last month, the European Parliament voted to protect net neutrality in a series of telecom reforms. The proposal, which rejects pay-for-performance pricing, is slated to be reviewed later this year by the Council of the European Union before it is finalized and passed into law.

Trying to meet today's business technology needs with yesterday's IT organizational structure is like driving a Model T at the Indy 500. Time for a reset. Read our Transformative CIOs Organize For Success report today. (Free registration required.)

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/8/2014 | 4:01:04 PM
Re: The bald-faced greed of these companies is unbelievable
It's not up to Google to pay to upgrade, say, Comcast's network. That's Comcast's responsibility. Google pays Comcast for the data is sends over its network, but Comcast shouldn't have the ability to come back and tell Google is has to pay a second time or face degraded service. 
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

10 Things Your Artificial Intelligence Initiative Needs to Succeed
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/20/2021
Tech Spending Climbs as Digital Business Initiatives Grow
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  4/22/2021
Optimizing the CIO and CFO Relationship
Mary E. Shacklett, Technology commentator and President of Transworld Data,  4/13/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll