FCC Net Neutrality Doesn’t Go Over Well

Written By: Khadeeja Coonrod

It seemed like a brilliant plan to the FCC (Federal Communications Commissions) when FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced in September 2009 his plans to develop formal rules prohibiting internet providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content and applications. Then 44 companies sent a letter to the FCC saying new regulations could make the process of the development of the Internet more difficult.

The letter stated; “Until now, the innovators who are building the Internet and creating the advancements in telemedicine, education and the vast array of other online products and services have done so in an environment driven by competition and innovation. We believe government’s role in the Internet should be to support investment, jobs and new technologies, especially if they increase the opportunity for all Americans to connect online. Public policy should encourage more investment to expand access to the Internet, whether it is access through a cell phone, a laptop, a PC or any new device that we have yet to imagine. If the FCC takes a prescriptive approach to new regulations, then it could place itself in the position of being the final arbiter of what products and services will be allowed on the Internet.” The letter was signed by Cisco Sytems, Alcatel-Lucent, Corning, Erricsson, Motorola, and Nokia.

The companies believe the new rules could prohibit broadband providers from offering advanced and well-managed networks. The day before these companies sent in their letter, a group of 18 Repulican U.S. senators also sent in a letter also raising concerns about net neutrality regulations. “Broadband is growing while other segments of the U.S. economy are struggling, and there have been only a couple of examples of broadband providers blocking or slowing Web content,” told the letter spearheaded by a Kansas Rebublican senator, Sam Brownback.

The net neutrality backers say new rules are necessary to protect the open nature of the Internet. “The FCC in 2005 relaxed rules requiring network providers to share their networks with competitors and without a net neutrality rule, powerful, large broadband providers could shut out Web sites or applications,” net neutrality advocates say.

“Net neutrality rules would protect innovators and small businesses that want equal access to broadband networks from large companies that can enter into deals with network providers,” said Art Brodsky, communications director for Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy group. “Broadband providers and others opposed to net neutrality are engaged in a coordinated effort to stop the FCC effort in its tracks. Arguments that net neutrality rules will stop telecom investments in networks are nonsense and insulting. All some industries do is threaten and bully. It’s like they’re saying, ‘If we don’t get what you want, then you’re not going to get your network.’ Telecom providers operated under network neutrality-like rules for more than 70 years and investment continued. Telecom providers and their allies have all the resources, Democrats and Republicans, that they’ve traditionally called upon, and it will obviously be incumbent on those of us who want a free and open and nondiscriminatory Internet to make the case.”

The consumers should have the biggest say on what is blocked or can be viewed on their computers. The FCC should make sure nothing too manipulative is happening behind the scenes but the end result should be that everyday people should be able to have a say on what’s blocked or isn’t blocked just like they have a right to get an anti-virus protector for their computer. Competition between companies do create more jobs.

If huge companies and Government lawmakers don’t agree with the FCC on this, then who knows what the rest of America will decide. Could it be that big corporations and lawmakers are just trying to remain powerful in the rights or will the FCC’s new Net Neutrality rule really be problematic until of a problem solver? Only time will tell.

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