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What's next for FCC on net neutrality?

What's next for net neutrality and the Federal Communications Commission? Industry insiders and analysts say FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will go back to square one, where the FCC is faced with a controversial push to re-regulate broadband access by defining it as a telecommunications service.

Genachowski’s staff announced Thursday that they couldn’t strike a deal with Web and network giants on a net neutrality footprint they hoped to serve up to Congress. Any further meetings were canceled, they said.

“Yesterday’s end to negotiations simply made it official,” wrote Sanford analyst Craig Moffett in a note to investors Friday morning. “It now seems that the FCC is painted into a corner. In a burning building. Made of wood.”

In that corner, if Genachowski wants to accomplish his very first policy initiative – net neutrality rules – he won’t be able to punt it to Congress. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) dimmed those prospects. What to watch for is whether the FCC puts its proposal for reclassification on its September meeting agenda.


Or, the FCC could just kick the issue down the line and try to postpone making a move hailed by public interest groups but reviled by businesses, instead concentrating on other issues such as retransmission consent and its weakened ability to be a watchdog over indecency in broadcast.

“This puts the chairman back into the role of being regulator instead of a facilitator of business-to-business dialogues,” said a source familiar with the FCC and private industry negotiations.

That source and others familiar with the talks said progress had been made between parties on to the extent net neutrality rules would apply to wireless providers and whether a carrier could offer specialized services at better quality and speed over others. But significant differences existed. Genachowski, meanwhile, was facing growing criticism for holding the meetings with hand-picked invitees who represented the largest Internet companies -- who had their own interests in mind.

And then another wrench was thrown into the process. Verizon and Google were in parallel conversations on their own and are expected to announce a deal they brokered on net neutrality ground rules. Their agreement would make wireless networks an unregulated space. Verizon and Google have denied some press reports, which they said inaccurately posed their agreement as a business deal that would allow Google to buy up priority access on Verizon’s network that would eventually lead to tiered pricing for consumers. But they haven’t publicly commented on the bigger point, which is that the firms agreed to allow for general priority service on its networks and no rules for wireless. Other participants in the FCC meetings said they wouldn't agree to such a framework.

“The premise of the FCC talks was to get a rifle shot deal to take to the Hill that could more easily pass through Congress,” said Markham Erickson, president of the Open Internet Coalition, which participated in the FCC talks. “That is unlikely, but the chairman has at his fingertips a number of tools with a robust docket. The agency has to take the ball.”

By Cecilia Kang  |  August 6, 2010; 8:50 AM ET
 
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Next: Verizon-Google deal could influence continued wrangling over net neutrality rules

Comments

"This puts the chairman back into the role of being regulator instead of a facilitator of business-to-business dialogues,” I thought that's what regulators are supposed to do--regulate.

Posted by: Irisher | August 6, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

As I mentioned in my recent comments at

http://www.brettglass.com/nprmreplycomments.pdf

and

http://www.brettglass.com/nprmcomment.pdf

the best way to ensure that consumers can enjoy the Internet to the fullest is not to impose onerous regulations upon ISPs but rather to enable competition and act promptly to address anticompetitive behaviors. Both of these things are indisputably within the scope of its currently delegated powers.

With Congress urging the Commission not to attempt to reclassify broadband under Title II (an approach which the courts will likely reject as well) and at the same time not eager to pass legislation, this may in fact be the only avenue left open to the Commission. It should have started down this path months or even years ago. Fortunately, there's still time for Julius Genachowski to salvage his reputation and chairmanship by moving in this direction.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | August 6, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

What would expect from the ISP's? Of course they are against any regulation; no need to even take their opinions.

Besides, ISP's are wrong anyways because the Internet is telecommunications.

The internet is just like telephone lines. We (the users) dial a number (IP address) of the website we are interested in seeing. Phone #'s look like (607)667-9999. IP addresses look like 234.354.354.345. We the users have the right to dial (search) any number (website) we see fit and have a quality connection unrestricted based on what we choose to find.

Faster networks are going to cost more and when the ISP's build them we (the consumers) will be floating the bill. We all know the ISP's are going to get tax $$ for upgrades. The ISP's crying about this is just a smoke screen. In most other countries they have giga-bite speed service and pay the same as we do.

Regulation only works when the regulators care about doing their job. P.G. O'Rourke said it best, "Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then get elected and prove it."

Net Neutrality forever! Regulate the ISP’s.

Posted by: ApostasyUSA | August 6, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The failure of the FCC to get some level of agreement is a problem, but the reality is that Verizon, et al have bought and paid for their favored members of congress; these powerful monopoly companies have every expectation of getting their way in Congress and do not have to yield anything to the FCC.

The net effect, however, is that we, the USA, will NEVER have a competitive broadband network that will meet the competition of other advanced countries (South Korea, Japan, Britain, France, .....) which will gain the economic grown benefits of a truly open, net-neutral broadband infrastructure. In these countries today, citizens pay less for faster broadband service. In the USA, Verizon et al have ensured that we will pay MORE for LESS service.

I still encourage the FCC to move internet back under Telecommunications section and push the ISPs to meet the sensible regulations that bring us net neutrality.

Posted by: RCharles1 | August 6, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Remember, the Internet as we know it today was created by the US Government with the High Speed Computing and Communications Act of 1991. Until 1993 the National Science Foundation (NSF) owned and operated the commercial Internet. In 1993 control of the Internet was leased to the original telcos (AT&T, MCI, Pacific Bell, Bell Atlantic) with the understanding that the Internet be operated in the public interest.

The FCC absolutely needs to determine if the public interest is being served by the current Internet environment where home users and businesses typically have a choice of one carrier or cable company, no competition. If the telcos are bot serving the public interest, then the NSF should take back control of the Internet, or lease control to a group or organization that would operate the Internet in a way that is fair to all.

Posted by: ApostasyUSA | August 6, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I see that Google's lobbyists are out in force today. (It's Google that's pushing the FCC to "deem and pass" onerous regulation of ISPs by "reclassifying" broadband as something that it's not: 19th century monopoly telephone service.)

The fact is that the Internet has prospered without regulation - so much so that Congress even stated that it was the policy of the United States to keep it unregulated (see 47 USC 230). The FCC should not violate this policy to placate a large corporation - especially when to do so would be a sign of corruption (Google was an extremely generous donor to the political party of which the President and the FCC's current Chairman are members).

Posted by: LBrettGlass | August 6, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that people are saying this isn't telecommunication? Sure, it has evolved far beyond what it was when you had to dial a number by calling a switchboard, but it is still a form of telecommunication nonetheless. As such, it should be regulated!
I think all big companies should be regulated, because a company doesn't have a conscience. It just has a board of directors with a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders that don't care about consumers or their rights. They want to squeeze out every penny they can from you, whether they offer value for it or not. It is definitely time for regulation!
(perfect example is BP saying it's going to take a tax-writeoff for cleaning up the gulf spill. How is that and example of them being responsible or having a conscience? It isn't. They are just trying to foist off on to us their obligations!)

Posted by: JJOhio | August 6, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

What are consumers going to get? Nothing. (except more commercials) There is already competition. If my ISP is the only one in my area, well then come over here with all your investor money and build something that gives me access to your ISP. Oh and thanks so much for the video ads that have recently popped up all over the internet in the past year or so. I'm being sarcastic. There will be some way around this stuff for the smart users, and we will just use it.

Posted by: kaltrop1 | August 6, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

what's the deal with news articles about net neutrality and regulating bandwidth based on how much someone is willing to pay?

I don't know anyone who is lucky enough to actually get the bandwidth that they want without paying more.

We are already suffering from slow speeds because we can't afford the monopoly's idea of what we should pay. True competition is the real pipe dream.

Posted by: kmh72756 | August 6, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Here's our experience with Internet giants blocking our email:
http://twforg.blogspot.com/2010/06/net-neutrality-our-experience-with.html, and http://twforg.blogspot.com/2010/05/to-chairman-and-ceo-aol-re-email.html
This is even worse than tiered access.

Enver Masud
Founder, The Wisdom Fund
a nonprofit corporations

Posted by: twforg | August 6, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Response to RCharles' comment ", the USA, will NEVER have a competitive broadband network that will meet the competition of other advanced countries (South Korea, Japan, Britain, France, .....) which will gain the economic grown benefits of a truly open, net-neutral broadband infrastructure. In these countries today, citizens pay less for faster broadband service."

FYI, cost to roll out broadband is a function, limiting factor of which is *population density*. Of course broadband is cheaper in Japan and Britain. They are islands with people crammed to the brim living stacked on top of each other. FYI, US in its infancy, still a lot of room to move about. To roll out broadband, # o' trenches x length of each trench you must dig to string fiber, cable or wire = many times greater than in those countries you mentioned, on a per capita basis: hence more expensive. Same reason people rail transport economically feasible over there, where its not over here: greater population density = less rail to run per capita per mile.

Posted by: Average_One | August 7, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Orange Julius has no legal tools in his toolkit. This whole subject of net neutrality is nonsense. The author and most of the commentors here have no idea this is all a psy-op to control your thoughts.

Posted by: stanlippmann | August 7, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Net neutrality is what freedom looks like...

Posted by: edmundsingleton1 | August 7, 2010 4:56 AM | Report abuse

1)How, exactly is the average consumer supposed to know what anti-competitive practices are? Run a packet sniffer and crunch the stats?

2)My internet connection slowed down hugely. Why? My ISP said they had to "re-provision my modem" (translation)I had shipped too many packets inbound (I am an IT professional and install patches and software daily for multiple PCs). How did I find out and fix this? Lengthy phone call after metering my connection. For which I pay handsomely.

3)They lie and you can't trust them. The FCC, ISPs,and content providers will tilt the table toward themselves for profit. (See: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair or Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader, etc.)Or read Robert X. Cringely.

4)Without some regulatory reform, consumers have no privacy, no base line expectation of service quality, and no redress of grievances, and our networks will become a substandard vs. other countries just like our auto industry, our steel industry, our electronics industry, and our educational system.

Posted by: zenmoose1 | August 7, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

'Net neutrality' is such a misnomer because as proposed the ordinary users will be hit with increased costs to support/subsidize the big users who NOW (as described in a previous post) have to pay extra for heavy use or get a limit put on their usage if they deem to pay only what the rest of us pay. Consumer protection? NOT. Extra regulation ALWAYS means that normal consumers will be paying more money. Let internet freedom and innovation (and competition) reign. Do not mess with success.

Posted by: nickyle | August 7, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Additional comment: I live rurally, so of course I have limited high-speed internet but at least it exists. I have two choices for access, DSL (because luckily high speed was brought to our nearby public school...a state education initiative and thus also made available to me at my home) or I could go with satellite internet. Both are priced about the same. BUT those of you who live in urban/suburban areas have even more choices at even higher speeds. So what is all the whining really about?

Posted by: nickyle | August 7, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Also please explain how privacy is a component of 'net neutrality' regulations. That argument is a red herring.

Posted by: nickyle | August 7, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

It's incredibly sad how the likes of Verizon has captured the legislative branch. Net neutrality must prevail.

Posted by: okahmad1 | August 7, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Those who would use the bandwidth should pay for it. Net Neutrality is a lie masking the financial oppression that Google, Amazon, eBay, and other high bandwidth users want to inflict on the American consumer. They are insisting that we pay for the build out of the infrastructure they want to run new profitable applications on -- even though we won't automatically get the benefit of those applications.

People need to stop parroting the twisted logic of the Net Neutrality group and realize that any deal where Google doesn't have to pay for the bandwidth it intends to make money on is a BAD deal for consumers.

Posted by: michaelmartnez | August 7, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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