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FCC details neutrality rules, sets wireless no-block rule

updated 11:35 am EST, Wed December 1, 2010

FCC chair puts net neutrality rules to vote

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski today outlined a new set of net neutrality rules that would be put to a vote at the agency's December meeting. The rules will guarantee a "right to know" for Internet access that focuses on transparency, including a "meaningful" transparency rule that tells users and developers what would be blocked or throttled. Subscribers would also have a right to send and receive any legal Internet traffic using any safe device.

Genachowski stressed that Internet providers would have the option of managing their networks in a non-discriminatory way, including usage-based pricing. They would be expressly forbidden, however, from "unreasonable discrimination" in blocking or throttling specific types of legal data.

The proposal also ignored an attempt by Google and Verizon to exempt wireless from regulation. Cellular Internet was still at an "earlier stage," Genachowski said, but it would still require transparency and a simple no-blocking rule. FCC officials reserved the right to get involved if there were signs of anti-competitive practices, he added.

Confirming rumors, the proposal is based largely on one from House and Energy Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and is a slight step back from spring proposals that would have reclassified Internet access under some of the tougher Title II regulations and held it to a tougher standard. It had also been suggested that the reclassification would have applied to wireless, although the new proposal would still embody some of those principles.

The regulation despite its slightly milder approach may be strongly opposed by Internet providers and cellular carriers, many of which have tried to persuade the FCC to either maintain existing light regulations or to deregulate further. It may have significant repercussions for polices like those set at Verizon, where Google's search widget and other apps are actively banned from certain Android phones. Carriers may also be required to stop blocking VoIP traffic sent over 3G, though the FCC didn't say how specific its no-block rules would be.

It may also lead the FCC to take action in its investigation of the Comcast/Level 3 dispute. Although Comcast has insisted that Level 3 was simply trying to avoid typical peering relationship deals, Level 3 has alleged that the move would block video even on its usual backbone service and has framed it as a net neutrality debate. Comcast has tried to argue that it should be exempt from having to allow access to NBC video as part of its proposed merger.


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By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. MyRightEye

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008

    -4

    Excuse me, EXCUSE ME??

    Seriously????

    "a new set of net neutrality rules that would be put to a vote at the agency's December meeting"

    Are you kidding me???????

    Only Congress can make Federal Laws.

  1. starwarrior

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2006

    -2

    For goodness sake they are not kidding

    The Feds write the laws. The overpaid and meddling three million Federal employees make the rules which apply the laws. Some five million state workers also help. It is a mindless morass lead by incompetent and self serving political drones.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999

    +7

    Uh...

    Yeah, federal agencies make their own policy. Congress can override them, but unless they do, these agencies are completely authorized to determine their own priorities and areas of focus. This should not be surprising to anyone. That's part of the power we give the president's administration in the US, to appoint the heads of the federal agencies, determining how they operate within the boundaries of their jurisdictions imposed by Congress.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +2

    Re: Excuse me

    And congress passed a law long ago to create the FCC, and passed some other laws that basically put internet access under their purview.

    Are you saying you would prefer to have Congress go around and approve every rule, concept, idea, etc, that any gov't dept. wants to make? You can see how well that would work. We'd end up with even more c*** like Congress forcing the DoD to buy/build certain military hardware, regardless of whether they want it or need it.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +2

    The 'rules'

    including a "meaningful" transparency rule that tells users and developers what would be blocked or throttled.

    So, throttling is OK, but they actually have to let you know what will be throttled.

    Subscribers would also have a right to send and receive any legal Internet traffic using any safe device.

    What the h*** is 'legal' traffic? Does that mean I can still get emails from my lawyer in Nigeria working on my 'business venture' out there? Or is 'legal' defined as any data that you aren't blocking (for if you say you have the right to send any data, theoretically that implies you can't block).

    They would be expressly forbidden, however, from "unreasonable discrimination" in blocking or throttling specific types of legal data.

    I think they're what they're going for here is "If Comcast allows it's customers to connect to Hulu, they must allow them to connect to Netflix. And If Comcast throttles Netflix, they have to throttle Hulu in the same way."

    but it would still require transparency and a simple no-blocking rule.

    But there is blocking. It's just that, say, Verizon can't block Hulu but allow access to Netflix.

    Bear in mind that Verizon just needs to repurpose some stuff and they could easily say "We're blocking all video from our lines, but you can use V-Cast, since it doesn't connect to the internet, it goes through a different pipe!"

    It may have significant repercussions for polices like those set at Verizon, where Google's search widget and other apps are actively banned from certain Android phones.

    Sorry, but it has no bearing on that. The phone is NOT the network, it's a device on the network. Since Verizon provides the phone, they are able to say what will and won't work on said device.

    Otherwise, one could argue just as easily that Apple would have to remove all restrictions from their app store as well.

    Carriers may also be required to stop blocking VoIP traffic sent over 3G, though the FCC didn't say how specific its no-block rules would be.

    But, again, did they say there would be no-block rules, or just the provider has to specify what is blocked? And it doesn't matter, because the carriers would just have to throttle VOIP traffic to a crawl. No problem, since throttling is allowed (as long as it is transparent.

    Level 3 has alleged that the move would block video even on its usual backbone service and has framed it as a net neutrality debate.

    Of course that's how they framed it. If Level 3 was wanting Comcast to fork over cash, Comcast would be whining and claiming a neutrality position. But backbones have deals to communicate with other backbones, otherwise the net would just be 9 separate networks that didn't talk to each other.

  1. MyRightEye

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008

    0

    Look at all of you voting down my comment

    IS YOUR SHIRT BROWN?

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