What To Expect On FCC Chairman Net Neutrality Speech
In case you missed it yesterday (here in Washington, a glorious sunny day kept many off Twitter and e-mail), the FCC Chairman is expected this morning to introduce a sixth principle, on transparency--in addition to the fifth principle, on discrimination, we reported about on Friday.
His speech takes place at 10 a.m. at The Brookings Institute.
That sixth principle would essentially make network operators reveal how they manage their network to ensure they aren't deliberately blocking content or services. By seeing how network are managed, Web applications firms will also have a greater shot at thriving on the Web, sources at the agency explain. Check out our story Friday on the broader proposal of rules.
Much of the debate will come down to economic arguments for and against new net neutrality rules. Genachowski, a veteran regulator with business chops (IAC/Interactive Corp. executive, venture capitalist) as well, is expected to address these concerns in his speech.
The debate boils down to this: carriers say they need to have the flexibility to manage their network traffic to keep down costs and make sure some bandwidth hogs aren't ruining the experience for others. Web applications firms like Google and Skype argue that by ensuring that users get access to any content or service they want, more innovative technologies will be created for the Web and more competion among carriers will result.
To get into some of the thinking at the FCC, I came across testimony by a former Wall Street analyst who is now heading the agency's push to create a plan to bring broadband Internet to all Americans.
Blair Levin, who also served along Genachowski as technology advisors to President Obama, said at a 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on telecommunications competition that regulation itself doesn't impede or promote investment in network infrastructure.
"In my view, this is like believing that a piece of a puzzle is the entire puzzle," Levin wrote.
The promise of a competitive marketplace, however, can be a bigger incentive for investment by companies in what he calls the broadband value chain.
Levin noted that capital expenditures by the biggest telecom carriers rose after the 1996 Telecom Act and decreased after the industry was deregulated.
"Ultimately, to serve the goal of stimulating a rising standard of living for Americans, the challenge for government is to assure a broadband environment characterized by survival of the fittest, as selected by the market, rather than survival of the friendliest, as selected by the network owners or government," he said.
In short: it's about competition and the agency believes the new rules would create more competition. Of course, we'll havce to wait to see how closely Genachowski agrees with Levin's ideas. We'll watch today to see where the economic conversation leads.
What do you think?
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Posted by: open4g | September 21, 2009 1:48 PM