FCC's Copps: net neutrality requires reclassification of broadband
Federal Communications Commission member Michael J. Copps said Thursday night that the agency should strengthen its authority over the Internet by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, thereby subjecting network operators to heavier regulation.
The remarks, made at an event on media at the Columbia University School of Journalism, offer insight into Copps’ thinking on regulations proposed Wednesday that would force Internet service providers to treat all content on their networks equally.
"These rules must be put on the most solid possible legal foundation and be quickly and effectively enforceable," said Copps, a Democrat. "If this requires reclassifying advanced telecommunications as a Title II telecommunications . . . we should just do it and get it over with."
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Wednesday that his proposed net-neutrality rules would not require the agency to reclassify broadband. That stirred concerns among some public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, that have urged the agency to assert its regulatory authority to carry out broadband rules.
"Right now the FCC is at the floor, and the only place to go is up," Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn wrote in a blog post.
Genachowski's proposal, intended as a compromise between the interests of giant broadband providers and Web companies, has been criticized from many sides. Copps, a key Democratic ally to Genachowski, pressed for several elements that weren't included in the chairman's proposal. Genachowski needs three votes to pass his rules, which will be considered on Dec. 21 after deliberation between the commissioners.
Copps said broadband providers should be prevented from charging Web sites and applications for better delivery of service on channels of their networks at the expense of Internet users.
"So-called 'managed services' and 'paid priority' cannot be allowed to supplant the quality of the public Internet service available to us all," Copps said.
Genachowski's proposal would bar wireless carriers from blocking competing video and voice applications on their networks, but does not prohibit them from serving up some sites faster than others.
| December 3, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: FCC, Net Neutrality
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