Tuesday, December 21, 2010

FCC enacts Internet rules that fall short of 'net neutrality' and draw fire from left and right

"The Federal Communications Commission approved a set of net neutrality rules today, and nobody is happy," Dan Lyons reports for The Daily Beast. "While liberals claim the FCC has caved to pressure from carriers, right-wingers are calling the new rules a government takeover of the Internet." The Beast's headline says the 3-2, party-line vote "boils down to one fact: There will soon be a fast Internet for the rich and a slow Internet for the poor." (Read more)

Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota said the rules fell short of protecting rural consumers by limiting regulation of wireless providers. "Wireless technology is the future of the Internet, and for many rural Minnesotans, it’s often the only choice for broadband," Franken said. Wireless providers say they need more freedom to regulate traffic because they have less bandwidth than wireline companies. For the FCC's order, click here.

Milo Yiannopoulos writes for The Telegraph that he no longer thinks pure net neutrality is a great idea. "Net neutrality is simply not practical given the level of consumer demand for high-quality video and music," he writes. "The net-neutrality debate is as much political -- based, like so many laments from the Left, on vague 'what-if's -- as it is technical." (Read more)

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, whose position on the issue is closer to the middle than the other two Democratic appointees, "has argued that Internet access rules would protect companies just starting out on the Web, as well as consumers who are increasingly relying on the Internet for news, entertainment and communications," Cecilia Kang writes for The Washington Post.

The rules "are designed to ensure that the Internet is not dominated by major telecommunications and cable companies," David Hatch reports for National Journal. Hatch reported earlier today, citing several sources, that Verizon Communications Inc., the nation's No. 2 telecommunications company, might try to overturn the rules in court. Telecoms might also try to get that done in Congress, but that is unlikely to happen without a Republican president.

Amy Schatz of The Wall Street Journal gives examples, saying the rules "would prevent a broadband provider, such as Comcast Corp., AT&T Inc. or Verizon ... from hobbling access to an online video service, such as Netflix, that competes with its own video services" and "prohibit Internet providers from 'unreasonably discriminating' against rivals' Internet traffic or services on wired or wireless networks. The rules would allow phone and cable companies to offer faster, priority delivery services to Internet companies willing to pay extra. But the FCC proposal contains language suggesting the agency would try to discourage creation of such high-speed toll lanes." (Read more)

Arik Hessledahl writes on New Enterprise for All Things Digital that critics on the right are wildly exaggerating the FCC's move. He calls it "a dramatic step back from a far more ominous one," noting that when Comcast mounted a successful court challenge to the agency's Internet authority, "Genachowski considered reclassifying the Internet under the FCC’s Title II authority, which governs regulation of the phone system. This was an extreme response, thankfully abandoned, that would have certainly warranted the nickname. The current proposal is by no stretch of argument so extreme that it amounts to a seizure. But rules they are, and no one likes new rules where none existed before, least of all multibillion dollar corporations like Comcast and Verizon. Having established in the courts that they have the right to control the use of certain applications that impact the performance of their network–or, more precisely, the fact that the FCC has no legal authority to tell them not to exercise such control–they’re now going to be required to disclose how and why they exercise such controls. . . . Another court challenge is probably likely." (Read more)

No comments: