FCC Lays Out Blueprint For The Open Internet

As expected, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined the agency’s plans this morning for new rules that will prevent telecom companies from discriminating what kind of traffic or applications run over wired or wireless networks.

In a lengthy speech at The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in DC, Genachowski detailed two new potential rules with the goal of “preserving the openness and freedom of the Internet.” The rules would join four principles that were adopted back in 2005. The fifth principle is about “non-discrimination,” meaning that networks can’t discriminate against particular internet content or applications. The sixth principle is about “transparency,” meaning that providers will have to be open about their network management practices. The agency has set up the site www.openinternet.gov for discussion. A full transcript of the chairman’s speech can be found here.

The FCC chairman kicked off the speech with a number of very sentimental childhood moments that made what otherwise could be a policy debate resonate better with consumers. But otherwise, the controversial “net neutrality” issue stretches way back and pits internet providers, like Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), AT&T (NYSE: T), and more recently wireless providers, like Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile, against internet companies, like Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Skype, which want unrestricted access to consumers. Meanwhile, the network providers wince at the cost of supporting unrestricted access, especially as people consume richer content at unparalleled rates.

Genachowski said he will ask the other commissioners to support the principles and issue a “proposed rulemaking,” which will provide more details and explanation. The goal is to develop a national broadband plan by Feb. 17, 2010, as requested by Congress. Genachowski: “This is not about government regulation of the Internet. It