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Microsoft warns against net neutrality going too far

I dug a bit more today and found some interesting nuggets in Microsoft’s comments about the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules.

The software giant, long a proponent of open Internet policies, isn’t as keen on some portions of a proposed rule by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that would restrict any discrimination of Web traffic or applications by broadband access providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

Microsoft didn’t take a position on the FCC’s legal authority over broadband services. Microsoft said it favored better enforcement of guidelines for how Internet access providers handle traffic on their networks. And it said the FCC needed more investigation into whether it should include wireless network providers in new rules. Wireless providers argue that their networks have capacity constraints unlike those of fixed-wire broadband providers and shouldn't be subject to the same rules.

In its filing to the FCC earlier this week, the software giant said that as long as they're competitive and don’t harm consumers, broadband access providers should be able to offer enhanced and tiered services. An example would be Comcast offering streaming Netflix videos as a premium service.

“This approach would afford access providers the necessary flexibility to serve a wide range of entities, from multinational enterprises, to small businesses, to residential customers, so long as they do so in a manner that is not anticompetitive or harmful to consumers,” Microsoft's Washington counsel wrote in the filing.

By Cecilia Kang  |  April 29, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC , Microsoft , Net Neutrality  
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I have no problem with ISPs charging by that amount of access provided, i.e. tiered pricing based on the bandwidth offered. However, the example given in the article, Comcast offering streaming Netflix videos as a premium service is clearly discriminatory in that the user is already paying for both NetFlix and for Internet access. Now Comcast wants to charge a fee for a "service" that the user has already paid for to two vendors.

Please also be aware, as with any form of discrimination, that when one service is favored over another that this sets up a barrier to the non-favored service and creates an environment where you may have to choose your provider based on their contracts with content providers. Of course, many of us do not have a choice of providers and are subject to a defacto monopoly situation. This situation also argues strongly for net neutrality.

In summation, I pay the provider for the bandwidth. If they want to charge me more for it, I guess that is their right, although I may not have a choice (I don't). However, once they have taken my money they should get out of my way and let me do what I want with what I have purchased from them.

Posted by: hakngolfer1 | April 29, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Well written hakngolfer1.

I also would like add that, the article mentions wireless carriers but don't followup with any examples except the cable operator Comcast. Huh?

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 29, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

It's actually quite consumer-friendly for an ISP to be able charge you (or, better, an advertiser who wants your eyeballs for 30 seconds) for a burst of extra bandwidth so that you can enjoy one or two movies a month, rather than charging you for that amount of continuous bandwidth all month. Your total bill will be lower. See my comments at for more.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | April 29, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

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