Net Neutrality and how the FCC dropped the ball

I’ll be pulling quotes from the article but you can read the whole thing at this link.

The following paragraphs set up the whole diatribe I’m about to embark upon and give much needed background information to the whole net neutrality debate. It’s unfortunate that it falls several paragraphs into the article.

The Internet today largely operates under the principle of net neutrality, which most people don’t even notice, so it’s easy to take for granted. But all Web users and companies have equal access to the Internet, in the same way that all Americans have the right to take a road trip anywhere in the 50 states without a passport. Companies and institutions have closed networks, but the main public internet is accessible by all.

Without this open access, net neutrality advocates argue, startups like Google, Twitter and untold thousands of others could never have taken hold. Indeed, innovation online would be grievously stifled. For the last five years, Internet-dependent companies like Google and Skype have been fighting a series of running battles with the giant broadband providers over how net neutrality should be enshrined — if at all — in regulation and law moving forward.

Those “giant broadband providers” are none other than Verizon, at&t, Comcast and Cox. As the article mentions right now those broadband providers are classified as Title I. Title I is classified as an information service. Title II is a communication service aka common carrier.

The FCC has no real domain over Title I. But they have enormous power over Title II entities. And it’s high time that broadband be shifted into that category. It no longer carries just web and email but voice and video. It presents a case that net neutrality MUST be maintained and even enhanced in the area of wireless networks and devices.

But more galling is the ineptitude of the leadership of the FCC in one Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Genchowski did have one immediate option, what some referred to as “the nuclear option.” That was to simply reclassify broadband Internet from a Title I “information” service to a Title II “communications” service, which would give the commission the needed regulatory authority to enforce net neutrality. Of the five FCC commissioners, Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, were ready to vote for immediate Title II reclassification, according to sources with knowledge of the matter. Genachowski would have been the third and deciding vote, but the chairman chose to hold off.

Decided to hold off? What? Why? In other parts of the article many people lament how difficult Genachowski is to work with. I would imagine the same is true of ‘work for’.

But he could have been a hero. Alas this is what happens when you make the position political rather than technical.

2 thoughts on “Net Neutrality and how the FCC dropped the ball

  1. I’m split on this issue. I’m all for freedom of information (freedom of FREE information, that is — I’m opposed to stealing copyrighted information), and look at it in this way: The telephone and cable companies used their own resources to build the local infrastructure. Shouldn’t they be allowed to control it? It’s not like highways which were paid for by the taxpayers. After all, if some company built a highway shouldn’t they be allowed to put a toll on it?

    What I don’t know, Tony, and I think you’ll be able to tell me, is who owns the backbone of the internet? The taxpayers? If that’s the case, then I think the ISPs should not be permitted to interfere with the flow.

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