FCC Chairman Reaffirms Network Neutrality Plan, Extends Principles to Wireless
In a high-profile presentation with few policy surprises, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski confirmed his support for Network Neutrality rules that would prevent Internet service providers from favoring certain Web content, presumably because of financial considerations. Genachowski added a major ingredient to the plan: inclusion of wireless carriers, which previously had not been under the same scrutiny as wireline providers.Genachowski's presentation at the Brookings Institution think tank on Monday added two items to the Four Principles of the FCC's 2005 Internet Policy Statement: no discrimination against particular Internet content or applications and "transparency" about network management practices. The new Internet plans will go into a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that the FCC will issue at its October meeting.
"The Internet is an extraordinary platform for innovation, job creation, investment, and opportunity," Genachowski said. "It has unleashed the potential of entrepreneurs and enabled the launch and growth of small businesses across America. It is vital that we safeguard the free and open Internet."
The two Republican members of the FCC wasted no time in voicing limited support of Genachowski's plan while offering words of caution. Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker said, in a statement, that they are "concerned that both factual and legal conclusions may have been drawn before the process has begun. ... We do not believe that the Commission should adopt regulations based merely on anecdotes, or in an effort to alleviate the political pressures of the day, if the facts do not clearly demonstrate that a problem needs to be remedied."