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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 12/20/2010

FCC chairman describes net-neutrality rule as down the middle

By Cecilia Kang

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski released excerpts of prepared remarks in advance of the agency's vote on net-neutrality rules set for Tuesday. In the remarks, Genachowski talks about how his proposal falls in the middle of a contentious debate over regulating Internet access:

"FCC CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

EXCERPTS FROM STATEMENT ON PROMOTING INTERNET FREEDOM AND OPENNESS

As we stand here now, the freedom and openness of the Internet is unprotected. No rules on the books to protect basic Internet values. No process for monitoring Internet openness as technology and business models evolve. No recourse for innovators, consumers, or speakers harmed by improper practices. And no predictability for the Internet service providers, so that they can manage and invest in broadband networks.

That will change once we vote to approve this strong and balanced order.

----
On one end of the spectrum, there are those who say government should do nothing at all.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who would adopt a set of detailed and rigid regulations.

I reject both extremes in favor of a strong and sensible framework – one that protects Internet freedom and openness and promotes robust innovation and investment.

We are told by some not to try to fix what isn’t broken, and that rules of the road protecting Internet freedom would discourage innovation and investment. But countless innovators and investors say just the opposite, including many who generally oppose government action. Over the course of this proceeding we have heard from so many entrepreneurs, engineers, venture capitalists and others working daily to maintain U.S. leadership in innovation. Their message has been clear: the next decade of innovation in this sector is at risk without sensible rules of the road …

At the same time, while acting to preserve Internet freedom and openness, government must not overreach by imposing rules that are overly restrictive or that pretend to knowledge about this dynamic and rapidly changing marketplace that we simply do not possess.…

We’re adopting a framework that will increase certainty for businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs. We’re taking an approach that will help foster a cycle of massive investment, innovation and consumer demand both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks.

Our action will strengthen the Internet job-creation engine.

This framework will advance our goal of having America’s broadband networks be the freest and fastest in the world …

… And so today we are adopting, for the first time, broadly applicable rules requiring transparency for mobile broadband providers, and prohibiting them from blocking websites and certain competitive applications.

… I am proud of this process, which has been one of the most transparent in FCC history.

And I am proud of the result, which has already garnered broad support – from the technology industry, including TechNet, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Internet Innovation Alliance and the hundreds of technology companies those groups represent; from investors, including some of the nation’s pre-eminent venture capitalists and angel investors. Our framework has also drawn support from key consumer, labor, and civil rights groups, a list that includes the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Communications Workers of America. And our framework has been supported by a number of broadband providers as well, who recognize the value of bringing a level of certainty to this fraught issue.…

Thanks to their work, today a strengthened FCC is adopting rules to ensure that the Internet remains a powerful platform for innovation and job creation; to empower consumers and entrepreneurs; and protect free expression.

These rules will increase certainty in the marketplace; spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks, and contribute to a 21st century job-creation engine in the United States.

Finally, these rules fulfill many promises, including a promise to the future – a promise to the companies that don’t yet exist, the entrepreneurs that haven’t yet started work in the dorm rooms or garages."


By Cecilia Kang  | December 20, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  FCC, Net Neutrality  
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