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December 21, 2010
FCC Adopts Basic Net Neutrality Rules
The FCC voted 3-2 today to implement so-called net neutrality rules for the Internet. The rules were resisted by industry and their political allies as unnecessary while public advocacy grounds were disappointed that they did not go far enough in regulating Internet service providers. The backdrop of implementation includes an appellate court case that struck down a previous Commission attempt at regulating network management practices by Comcast.
The rules, as described, give wired subscribers access to all legal web sites and services including those that compete with a provider's own content. There are allowances, however, for paid prioritization of some traffic and services in some circumstances. The rules allow reasonable network management practices as well, along with a requirement that those practices be transparent to consumers. Wireless networks are included in the no-blocking and transparency requirements but have looser restraints on network management practices.
A good question is what happens next. A court challenge questioning the Commission's authority at the very least is expected. Some members of Congress are threatening to cut off funding for implementation and/or definitively limiting the Commission's authority to regulate. I don't think a divided Congress will act without a substantial and costly lobbying effort. The Courts may be a better and first alternative for those opposed to regulations. For those that wished the Commission went further, I can't see the future of the Internet as a strongly regulated public resource, in the U.S., anyway. The leeway for network management built into the rules suggest that any future changes to them have to start from this point, whether or not they survive a court challenge. Absent some outrageous business practice drawing the Commission's ire, this, with slight variations, will be the Internet we know. [MG]
The order has not been published. The description is the carefully chosen language of a press release. They are probably hiding it because they want their rhetorical description to be quotes as the order itself.
Posted by: anon | Dec 21, 2010 2:08:59 PM