Net neutrality compromise in the US

Posted on December 22, 2010  /  0 Comments

The FCC has issued the long-awaited net neutrality rules. As evidence of the sad state of policy debate in the US, some people have claimed that the decision has even the lukewarm support of operators suggests it is bad. What is wrong with these people? The only good decision is one that sends the companies screaming to the courts?

The fact that the rules received support — even the lukewarm kind — from big businesses should worry consumers, some public interest groups said Tuesday.

“There is a reason that so many giant phone and cable companies are happy, and we are not. These rules are riddled with loopholes,” Andrew Jay Schwartzman, the policy director for the nonprofit Media Access Project, said in one representative statement. “They foreshadow years of uncertainty and regulatory confusion, which those carriers will use to their advantage.”

Wireless rules are different; we have always claimed they should be.

Other groups warned that the rules would smooth the way for fast and slow lanes on the Internet. They objected especially loudly to the looser rules for wireless devices, which are becoming important on-ramps to the Internet.

But wireless was treated differently, Mr. Genachowski said, because it has “unique technical issues” and is at a more nascent stage of growth. He added, “Any reduction in Internet openness would be a cause for concern, as would any reduction in innovation and investment in mobile broadband applications, devices or networks that depend on Internet openness.”

While wireless carriers will be able to block various apps and services, they won’t be able to block basic Web sites or any apps that compete with their own voice and video products. That represents a win for Skype, the Internet phone service, which praised the F.C.C. rules on Tuesday.

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