Net neutrality: Will the FCC get it over with already?
In the least-surprising development ever in the ongoing network-neutrality debate, Congress is giving up on passing a bill on this subject this year.
As my colleague Cecilia Kang reported in two posts yesterday, House net-neutrality advocate Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) couldn't get any Republican backing for a bill that would ban Internet providers from discriminating against legal sites, services and applications.
Well, duh. Of course a bipartisan bill wasn't going to happen, not this close to an election that will probably leave the GOP in a stronger negotiating position.
This returns the net-neutrality debate to where it was back in May, when Federal Communications Commission chair Julius Genachowski suggested that the FCC could write net-neutrality rules on its own by reversing its 2005 decision placing broadband providers under a looser regulatory framework than dial-up services. This "Title II reclassification" doesn't require a permission slip from Congress; a mere majority vote of the FCC's five commissioners will do.
And not only is this Title II fix (named after the chapter of the Telecommunications Act of 1934 regulating "common carrier" services) the only way left to have any effective net-neutrality rules, it's also a requirement for some important provisions in the FCC's not-terribly-ambitious National Broadband Plan.
So will the FCC go ahead and do what it's been saying it will do, or will it punt on the entire issue? I don't see any other option left.
The weird thing is, of course, that most telecom firms opposing net-neutrality rules say they would continue to treat legitimate sites and services equally anyway. Some, such as Verizon Wireless, have already committed to net-neutrality obligations imposed in wireless-spectrum sales or merger approvals.) So if we take them at their word, the FCC's actions wouldn't affect their work at all.
(But, inconveniently enough, not all Internet providers have lived up to their words.)
If anything, corporate executives' currently fashionable complaints about "uncertainty" out of Washington suggest that the FCC might as well get it over with and write a simple set of net-neutrality rules already.
If the FCC won't do that, now that every other remedy appears exhausted, the commission should admit the obvious, end this effort and stop wasting everybody's time.
| September 30, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
Categories: Policy and politics, Telecom
Save & Share: Previous: Gmail lets you cancel its 'conversation view'
Next: Short review of Google's goo.gl address shortener
Posted by: corebanks1940 | September 30, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bitter_Bill | September 30, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | September 30, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fgoodwin | September 30, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LBrettGlass | September 30, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tomtildrum | September 30, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: BoteMan | October 1, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | October 1, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LBrettGlass | October 5, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LBrettGlass | October 5, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse