PublishedDecember 21, 2010

FCC Approves Open Internet Rules

The FCC approved rules today designed to defend consumers’ access to an open Internet. The rules offer some protections to ensure the Internet remains open after a recent court decision invalidated the protections of the FCC’s Internet policy statement for end user access.

The FCC’s Open Internet rules do not guarantee anyone’s right to an open Internet or ban paid prioritization by Internet Access Providers, but they did indicate that IAPs should not set up toll roads on the Internet or unreasonably discriminate among streams of Internet traffic.

Commissioners Copps and Clyburn fought successfully for some improvements to net neutrality protections. One key was a better definition of broadband Internet access so that consumers, small businesses, educational institutions and libraries will be protected under the Open Internet rules.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association represents a diverse array of communications and tech companies, and supported the FCC’s stronger net neutrality proposal released late last year.

The following comments can be attributed to Ed Black, CCIA President & CEO:

“We appreciate the intense pressure Chairman Genachowski faced and continues to face from entrenched monopoly and duopoly companies, but his original net neutrality proposal is what consumers and the innovation economy really needed. We are glad for the tweaks closing a few loopholes, the enhanced transparency measures and expedited process for consumer complaints against discrimination. We are deeply disappointed, however, it did not include equal protections for wireless Internet customers and a ban on paid prioritization.

“Ahead of the vote Commissioner Copps outlined a decades long history of AT&T blocking technology and applications it did not invent itself at the expense of innovation and consumers. He rightly pointed out that the FCC stood up to the gatekeepers and did the right thing, but that so far this millennium the FCC has taken consumers ‘on a dangerous deregulatory ride.’

“Because of these errors by the previous FCC, the legal framework to prevent discrimination by Internet access providers was inadequate. Commissioners Copps and Clyburn fought through this week to more strongly preserve the open Internet. It is disappointing this order today falls short.

“This open Internet order, which does not clearly classify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service, we fear, leaves end users’ rights to quality Internet access on legally weaker ground.”

The following comments can be attributed to CCIA Vice President Cathy Sloan:

“Chairman Genachowski had it right the first time a year ago and this past spring, before he was worn down by the best funded lobbyists in this business.  This is a missed opportunity to clearly protect all Internet users from big telco and cable broadband providers intent on staying deregulated and ensuring quality open Internet access only to the highest commercial bidders. Maybe there’s a backstop as long as Congress has not repealed Title II of the Telecommunications Act.”

“Commissioners Copps and Clyburn are the true champions of Internet freedom and openness. We commend their diligent efforts to improve the Open Internet order on behalf of all ordinary Internet users from households to small businesses, nonprofit organizations to students to entrepreneurs. However, all are still at risk from the commercial self interests of their duopoly access providers.”

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