FCC Fires Up Net Neutrality Rules

“The FCC must be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.  September 21, 2009

“Preserving a Free and Open Internet”:  Just the title of the speech today at the Brookings Institutes by FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, puts an end to any speculation about where he stands on Net Neutrality.  Stating that “Congress and the President have charged the FCC with developing a National Broadband Plan to ensure that every American has access to open and robust broadband,” he went on to say, “The FCC must be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet.”

Openness Has Created Opportunities: Quoting Tim Berners-Lee  that the Internet is a “blank canvas – allowing anyone to contribute and to innovate without permission.”   The Chairman reminded listeners that Netscape, Wikipedia and EBay were all able to thrive because there was no single entity picking winners and losers.   “This is the power of the Internet: distributed innovation and ubiquitous entrepreneurship, the potential for jobs and opportunity everywhere there is broadband.”

New Rules Proposed: Today, the Chairman stated he wanted to have the 4 existing FCC principals, known as the “Four Freedoms” made into law:  Network operators cannot prevent users from accessing the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, nor can they prohibit users from attaching non-harmful devices to the network.  Of particular note is the use of Skype, Vonnage and other VoIP services which use broadband pipes to compete with the owners of those pipes for telephone customers.

Net Management Practices to Be Transparent: In addition there would be a ban on those who discriminate against particular content or applications and that “providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices.”  In other words the FCC does not want to be the last to know what an ISP is doing to throttle bandwidth. Genachowski reminded us that the case involving a cable provider [Comcast] thwarting peer-peer downloading was brought to light by an engineer and hobbyist living in Oregon realized that his attempts to share public domain recordings of old barbershop quartet songs over a home Internet connection were being frustrated. He complained to the media and the FCC was forced to investigate.

Wireless Will Be Subject to the Same Neutrality Rules: If the wireless industry thought that they were skating under the radar, they got a wake up call today.   Citing new and wonderful wireless Internet access devices like WiFi cards and Smart Phones, the Chairman indicated that there would be no difference between cable, telephone line, satellite or wireless Internet access for the application of his new Net Neutrality Rules.

More Than Just Protecting Funny Video Streaming: Health-related Internet distributed applications, can help bring down health care costs and improve medical service. “Four out of five Americans who are online have accessed medical information over the Internet, and most say this information affected their decision-making” according to Genachowski.  He added that “the Internet is helping enable smart grid technologies, which promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds of millions of metric tons.”

Political Speech Will Be Protected Too: The open Internet enables much more than commerce. The use of YouTube and Twitter to tell the world of democratic movements around the world need to be protected.  We do not need AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Rupert Murdock or any other self anointed censor setting the social and political agenda for the world.  I for one, commend Chairman Genachowski for being straightforward and clear in his approach to protect the public assets controlled by private enterprise.

Further Information: You can read Genachowski’s complete prepared remarks on the Brookings’ site.  A short video explanation of Net Neutrality (in plain English) is posted on my YouTube Channel – http://tinyurl.com/jviptv

Keep pushing forward.

Jeff Vinson

jeff_vinson@sbcglobal.net

[Jeff is available for consulting and full time employment opportunities.]

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