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FCC Pushes for Net Neutrality Laws

23 Sep, 2009 Response This Week

WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing new rules that would prevent Internet and wireless carriers from blocking Internet applications, also known as net neutrality. Proposed by Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC would codify the existing four open Internet principles, along with two new principles, through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at an October meeting of the Commission.

The current principles have been in place for four years to prevent telecom companies from restricting access to the Internet and the proposal would turn these principles into permanent rules. And for the first time, these rules would apply to wireless carriers.

Although the goal of the rules is to level the online playing field as more consumers are starting to surf the Web on mobile devices, wireless carriers do not share the same enthusiasm. It would mean open content to all consumers, anywhere on the Web. The telecommunications companies argue that customers who download large amounts of data, such as movies, can jam networks and would therefore delay networks and upgrades.

“Even though each form of Internet access has unique technical characteristics, they are all different roads to the same place,” says Genachowski. “It is essential that the Internet itself remain open, however users reach it.”

Companies such as Google worry that net neutrality will push out competitors offering video and faster downloading service for a fee. And now, major telecom companies, such as AT&T, also are concerned that it will force mobile devices such as the iPhone to allow any developer to offer their own applications on their devices.

The FCC will ask for input from major carriers including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast in the upcoming weeks.

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