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Summary:

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, today outlined a framework aimed at ensuring that both wireline and wireless carriers don’t discriminate against traffic traversing their networks based on the type of traffic or the application. We speculated on Friday that he would outline […]

jgThe chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, today outlined a framework aimed at ensuring that both wireline and wireless carriers don’t discriminate against traffic traversing their networks based on the type of traffic or the application. We speculated on Friday that he would outline formal net neutrality principles today to augment the informal ones adopted back in 2005. The agency also unveiled a web site dedicated to tracking this issue at www.openinternet.gov.

Back in 2005, the FCC created a set of four principles that governed net neutrality on wired networks, but such principles weren’t codified through a formal rulemaking process (which has led to a lawsuit challenging the FCC’s right to enforce net neutrality at all). Today Genachowski set forth a framework by which those principles will become a formal rule and added two new ones. He plans to suggest that all six principles apply to both wired and wireless networks.

The first of the new principles would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. The second would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement. The other four are:

  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

In addition to expanding the principles, Genachowski is calling for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at the October commission meeting. The NPRM will ask for feedback on the proposed rules and how the FCC should apply them. This is where we’ll see contention over which network management practices are reasonable, what information broadband providers should disclose about their network management practices and how the rules apply to differing platforms, including mobile Internet access services. The carriers will do a lot of grandstanding here, but there are some real technical issues that the FCC and consumers will have to understand. We’ll outline some of those in a later story today, after the speech. Update: And here’s that analysis.

  1. Sounds like a great set of principles. In your future posts, please do talk about what caveats there may be in how these rules are passed as a law and practiced in the real world.

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  2. Reality check ( for the greedy carriers ): We the taxpayers own both the core Internet backbone and the frequency spectrum. You are merely the caretakers, our employees.

    Don’t like the terms of your employment? Fine, we’ll get someone else.

    http://www.freepress.net/node/62059

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    1. Employees of the taxpayers? Do explain.

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    2. But, as I recall, they bought the spectrum from us (taxpayers). And they paid, like, billions of dollars.

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  3. [...] pointed out the net neutrality issue in the past but today might be the day it starts to become less of an issue if I read Stacey’s news report correctly at GigaOm. For those that haven’t heard the term, it essentially means that those companies that [...]

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  4. I have mixed feelings about this, I’m glad the government is pushing this, but can’t help but think ISPs will use this as ammo to cry wolf and rape consumers even more with higher prices…

    Pretty sad state for the US telecom industry to be this way in today’s world. Makes me want to pack up and move to Japan where the Internet is fast AND cheap.

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  5. i have mixed feelings on this. i think all the major operators should be required to offer ‘dumb pipe’ access at reasonable prices. on the other hand i would not want to ban an operator that for instances wants to offer free of charge service to a ‘walled garden’ of applications. for example i would not want to see that the amazon kindle service be required to allow a tethering application and therefore no longer be sustainable as a free service.

    a compromise that a suppose i could accept would be that any monthly fee service be required to be a ‘dumb pipe.’ but service could use other charging mechanism to sell ‘services delivered by IP’

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  6. Thanks GigaOm for the article. I’m particularly interested in hearing how this applies to mobile devices. Any more information or commentary on that would be great!

    Thanks!

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  7. Google is hard at work in D.C.
    They must be praying for another OBAMA.term.

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  8. [...] today, formally releasing and adding two more principles to its informal 2005 list of four, reports GigaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham: Back in 2005, the FCC created a set of four principles that governed net neutrality on wired [...]

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  9. Genachowski did an Op-Ed piece as follow-on to the speech:

    http://tinyurl.com/mfuzjn

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  10. [...] Creating a formalized set of rules around net neutrality and applying them to all networks, a process announced today by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, isn’t as threatening a proposition as the major ISPs would have [...]

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