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Mixed corporate reactions to next moves on net neutrality

Broadband service providers and Internet content firms are expressing mixed reactions to the U.S. House's failure to craft a net neutrality bill. And the biggest debate revolves around the Federal Communications Commission's proposal to assert its authority over broadband services in order to carry out a net neutrality rule.

AT&T, which has said it supports a limited net neutrality rule in Congress or at the Federal Communications Commission, expressed disappointment that Rep. Henry Waxman's bill did not succeed.

"After months of hard work, we were pleased to reach an agreement with Chairmen Waxman and Boucher on compromise legislation that would ensure the openness of the Internet while protecting investment – all without new, intrusive FCC regulation," wrote Jim Cicconi, senior vice president of external affairs at AT&T. That "intrusive FCC regulation" would be reclassification of broadband services. Waxman is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

"We remain convinced that the proper course is for Congress to decide the scope of authority it wishes the FCC to have in this area. And we remain equally convinced that the regulatory overreach being urged on the FCC by some is a major mistake that would adversely impact jobs and investment, and would likely be overturned in court," Cicconi wrote in a blog.

Dish Network disagreed. The broadband and television satellite services provider said the only way to create a net neutrality rule is for the FCC to redefine broadband as a telecommunications service.

"The FCC needs a sound jurisdictional foundation to implement sensible ‘rules of the road’ for the protection of consumers and competition," the company said in a statement Thursday.

Facebook, which has advocated for net neutrality rules regardless of whether they are mandated by Congress or the FCC, said it supported Waxman's efforts.

But spokesman Andrew Noyes said the social networking giant would be concerned if such a bill didn't include rules to prevent carriers from blocking applications such as Facebook.

"While we are supportive of codifying anti-discrimination principles, we remain concerned about how applications will fare in the wireless space," Noyes said. "If legislation is introduced, we hope that greater protections will be added to prevent discriminatory behavior against applications that are built on platforms that compete with wireless carriers’ applications."

By Cecilia Kang  | September 30, 2010; 2:56 PM ET
Categories:  AT&T, Broadband, Comcast, FCC, Facebook, Net Neutrality, Online Video  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: update: Dorgan, Markey add to call for FCC to assert authority over broadband
Next: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski caught in a net


Eighty-seven engineers who played a role in the creation of the Internet have sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee urging it to sideline the bill.

"If enacted, this legislation will risk fragmenting the Internet's global domain name system (DNS), create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure," they wrote. "All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but this bill will be particularly egregious in that regard because it causes entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under this bill."

Judson Berger

Posted by: corebanks1940 | September 30, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

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