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FCC Will Get Passing Votes for Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission's proposal of new rules to prevent companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deliberately blocking or slowing certain Web traffic is expected to receive a passing three votes out of the five-member agency, according to sources.

The proposal, to be announced Monday by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, will include an additional guideline for carriers that they make public the way they manage traffic on their network, according to sources at the agency. The additional guideline would be a "sixth principle" to four existing guidelines adopted in 2005 on Internet network operations. A fifth principle is expected to be announced by Genachowski on Monday during a speech at the Brookings Institute that would prohibit the discrimination of applications and services on telecommunications, cable and wireless Internet networks.

Genachowski is expected to receive support from Democratic commissioner Michael Copps, who has publicly supported the idea of an additional rule that prevents Internet traffic discrimination, according to sources at the agency. He has also talked publicly about the need for transparency from carriers on how they run their networks to ensure that they aren't singling out technologies that might compete with their own services.

The question was whether new commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, would also agree to the proposed rules. Clyburn was nominated to the commission by President Obama after serving on the South Carolina Public Service Commission. Clyburn is also the daughter of South Carolina House Democrat Jim Clyburn.

"There won't be any question that she is going to support the chairman on this," said a source close to the commissioner. "Commissioner Clyburn sees transparency and an open internet across all platforms as key for consumers to know what kinds of services they receive."

The FCC is expected to vote on the proposed rulemaking of so-called net neutrality regulations at its October meeting. That vote will set off a series of regulatory procedures, and a final rule is expected to be introduced in the spring.

Sources said the guideline on transparency is viewed as important for consumers, so they know what services would be offered to them. Such a rule would ensure to Web applications companies that their new services would be permitted on networks.

"Be they entrepreneurs or innovators or consumers or less powerful voices, a principle on transparency is about knowing how large carriers manage traffic on networks and understand how their content will be treated ahead of time so no one surprised," said a source at the agency. "So a CTO of a fledging startup isn't shocked when a new product that got angel investment won't actually work on the Time Warner system, for example."
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the new rules have not been officially announced.

By Cecilia Kang  |  September 20, 2009; 6:04 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
Previous: Reader Asks if Net Neutrality Rule Spells Higher Costs for Users | Next: What To Expect On FCC Chairman Net Neutrality Speech

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Excellent decision by the commissioners. The monopolistic telecoms have had a checkered history in allowing open and fair access to their networks. Now the consumer has a better chance to make the right choice.

Posted by: maus92 | September 20, 2009 6:31 PM

This is great news! The internet will remain fair and open to all, and Comcast et al. will be denied veto power over which websites you choose to visit. What an excellent decision by the FCC.

Thanks should go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation people, too, for working hard for this one!

Posted by: SaucySauce | September 20, 2009 7:56 PM

Government "For the People" not "For the Corporation"....what a great idea I hope it catches on.

Posted by: metroman76 | September 20, 2009 8:05 PM

That sounds like a pro-free-expression ruling.

Posted by: Cha5ru5 | September 20, 2009 8:16 PM

Listen .....I think the two dissenting members should be fired immediately.

Anyone that restricts Americans ability to chose rather than be awarded limits with parameters decided by big business, should not be on any board making such monumental decisions.

The Bush years gave us monopolization in communications allowing for restricted markets for his gospel to be dispersed by Clear Channel. Freedom on the mind is the first essential freedom ...lack of free thought brought us atrocities as far back as one can see.

Remember the madrases effect on young minds
Fire the dissenters !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: vistaviewpoint | September 20, 2009 8:29 PM

The FCC should tread carefully.

Yes, net neutrality sounds good, for who thinks the internet should not be "neutral"? But any rule the FCC crafts is sure to have lots of negative, unintended consequences.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And the internet is one thing in our society that's working well.

Posted by: junomoneta88 | September 20, 2009 8:47 PM

Republicans see it differently.

Instead of equal unfettered access and what is good for all (net-neutrality), they'd prefer the large telecoms maximize profits by not only charging users access fees as an ISP, but also allow these telecoms to force users to use that telecom's "approved" "on-net" services and degrade response time or deny access to competitors' services (those who didn't pay the telecom a fee). The next phase would be fees to access competitor's services, roaming fees to access anything not on their network (on-net), and access fees to services that don't pay the telecom a fee.

If these telecoms continue their behavior the US government should build a competitive net-neutral network for all to access and traverse unabated, as it had been way back.

Ooooh, the Republican's hate this.

Isn't there anything about government Republican's like? One would think they'd like to abolish government altogether including the Constitution. They'd write their declaration of independence, "...their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty the pursuit of Maximized Profit, and screwing the every-day citizen."

Posted by: 1234xyz | September 20, 2009 8:53 PM

I hope junomoneta88's comments were in jest because if the FCC weren't poised to protect the consumer then the mega-carriers would not only pillage consumers' wallets for providing what was previously free and unfettered they'd demand tribute from all other ISPs, VoIP carriers and sites. There is reasonable profit and there is greed; given the choice corporations always chose greed.

As to vistaviewpoint's comments I concur that the dissenters should be removed from the FCC post haste. They must be the fossil remains of the appointees of the previous administration.

Posted by: bfjackjernigan | September 20, 2009 9:08 PM

I too hope that junomoneta88 was kidding. If not, "juno" needs to go and read the history of this struggle to protect unfettered access to the internet. I'm sure the fight isn't over. When/if Republicans gain control of the Congress and White House, telecommunications giants will try to help "select" "friendly" more FCC commissioners.

Posted by: JohnY1928 | September 20, 2009 9:31 PM

I wish such golden principles are followed worldwide. In third world countries governments and service providers are beyond law. They rather owe this facility. Global legislation is required in this regard.

Posted by: shahjahanbhatti1 | September 20, 2009 9:35 PM

Folks are commenting that is good news for Net Neutrality, but I disagree completely.

First and most importantly: We are opening a door to power for the FCC, which is a power that would be hard to remove once in place. No federal agency should have supreme authority over any industry - least of all our information-sharing industry. Imagine: What will the next Bush-like administration would do with expanded regulatory power over the internet?

Secondly, for those who think that the Republicans are the ones responsible for corporate hegemony and monopolies, I will remind you that Democrats have been just as bad. Look at the 1996 Telecom Act - the special provision for the Bell companies, in particular, and tell me that Clinton did not create a permanent monopoly on telecom with one stroke of a pen. That is but one example.

The appearance of a vast partisan conflict in Washington is only 50% real, if that. What matters most to those in power in Washington, far more importantly than winning for their side, is keeping the game strictly in Washington.

Because even the losers in Washington will still have their job: To fight the evil (insert one of the two major/same parties here.)

We are suckers!

Posted by: patrick4 | September 20, 2009 9:39 PM

Has anyone considered the security implications in not allowing service providers to realize the profits from their infrastructure outlays?

Those profits build networks. Telecom companies will implode.

Posted by: rp10661 | September 20, 2009 9:41 PM

I find the anti-Republican comments amusing and misguided. You think they are the only bad ones? The Democrats are just as bad. The Democrats are already proving just how badly they want to centralize all power into the corridors of Washington, D.C. And where can we go from there once the Dems prove they are as useless as the Republicans?

Folks, we need to start questioning this idea that "only Washington can help us now." It's actually destroying the country. We are actually going to suffer economically for many years because of our unswerving belief in our two-party system.

Democrats always lose eventually because they cannot pay for any of their outlandish promises - everything is on credit, and please don't bother citing Clinton as the fiscally responsible guy... that is a nasty fallacy when you look at how much his government borrowed from the Fed and the entitlement accounts, just to get spending under control. He left office in debt. AND, he also left office with Baby Bells in charge of all telecom!

The FCC needs to GO AWAY. It has not done anything useful. They are a major source of corruption in the industries they regulate - picking winners and losers is conceptually repugnant and cannot be shown to benefit society. The FCC is a NET LOSS. They will NOT protect the internet from whatever corporate evil you people are talking about - if anything, they will make a deal with Evil Corp much sooner than whatever ugliness is around the corner.

We are on our own when it comes to protecting our freedom, civility, our way of life. And that is not bad news. It is fine. We can and must acknowledge that our federal government has not improved anything they have gotten their corrupt mitts on.

Get rid of the damn FCC. Regulating the internet is OUR job, lazies. They will sell it to the highest bidder. If not now, then whenever the next Republican administration comes around. And they always do, because the Democrats, in the end, do not have the answers and cannot prove they know what they are doing.

Posted by: patrick4 | September 20, 2009 9:50 PM

Google's lobbying power is impressive.

Posted by: Corn_Laden | September 20, 2009 10:06 PM

I would hope this ruling will relive colleges who provide internet access the responsibility of being the internet police. From my understanding the college is viewed as an ISP and when a student has access through the wonder of free wireless technology they can then download illegal music and videos. The college is somehow supposed to stop this....This is especially true in labs. I wonder how this will play out for the motion picture industry.

IF the responsibility is removed from the colleges and placed squarely on the user, I am all for it...

Posted by: harveyg | September 21, 2009 1:22 PM

This is great news only if you want oppressive government and don't recognize property rights. Companies that build networks should be able to decide what is done with them, even if it means setting service tiers or content.

"Net neutrality" is euphemism for letting companies develop technology, then taking over and telling them what they can do with it, which is totally unjust. The Internet is not some sort of public commons, it should be controlled by whoever makes the financial investment, which should *always* be private companies.

The only reason utilities have been "monopolistic" in the past is because of government meddling in which it only allowed certain companies to operate, which is an illegitimate use of power. If government is involved in the form of special favors or infrastructure, the solution is to get government out of the picture, not further involve them in deciding what providers can do with pipe and content.

Jeff Montgomery

Posted by: mtnrunner2 | September 21, 2009 3:02 PM

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