updated 12:40 pm EDT, Thu October 22, 2009
FCC codifies tentative net neutrality rules
The FCC on Thursday published a draft version of its proposed network neutrality rules. The six terms in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would prevent Internet providers from blocking any legal apps, devices or services. They will also ban other forms of discrimination, except for neutral, "reasonable" management, and will require that providers also reveal any steps they're taking for network management, such as throttling or metered service.
The Notice opens the door to commentary from the public and may be followed by the FCC's own responses or amendments until January 14th. Officials at the agency expect much of the debate to center on the relevance of the rules to wireless networks and mobile apps.
Most of the rules would solidify those put into a non-binding FCC statement from 2005 but, if approved, would prevent US providers from engaging in practices they've used in the past, such as Comcast's since-discarded attempt to throttle BitTorrent traffic. Cellular carriers like AT&T would also be required to allow Internet calling and video streaming apps that they have previously barred from the iPhone or other devices.
Carriers have publicly objected to most any net neutrality rules under the belief that these would prevent any forms of controlling excessive bandwidth use; they have also contended that the existing industry is innovative on its own. However, Verizon late Wednesday recently agreed with Google to support basic elements of net neutrality. AT&T has so far been more adamantly opposed to any competition and has gone so far as to distribute anti-neutrality messages to employees in the hopes of encouraging more widespread opposition.