Tuesday, December 21, 2010

FCC will approve net neutrality rules today, somehwhat open to GOP legal challenges; flexible billing supported

The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on network neutrality rule son Tuesday, December 21, 2010.

The expected policy is still a bit ambiguous, and could be challenged in court or by GOP lawmakers in the 112th Congress.

Liberals say there is little regulation of wireless, which poorer communities depend on, and particularly travelers. Cable companies are rapidly encouraging homes and businesses to manage their own local home wireless networks.

On its face, the rules will prevent ISP’s from slowing delivery of certain online services, but not prevent deals for faster access or billing by volume of bandwidth use. Flexible billing and tiered pricing seems essential for business profitability and growth. It’s likely that eventually a company like Comcast or Time Warner could provide its own Internet movie streaming and charge more for access to competitors like Netflix. That makes business sense because Comcast and TW are, after all, media and cable movie companies. (Time Warner is also connected to the movie studio Warner Brothers, which could raise more legal questions. In the past, movie distributors have been prohibited from owning theaters by anti-trust laws.)

Cecilia Kang’s front page Washington Post story (“FCC set to enact new rules affecting Internet access”) is here.

Doug Gross has a similar story on CNN here.  There is a picture of Julius Genachowski advocating an “open Internet”.

Update: Dec. 22

The FCC board 3-2 to adopt new rules, with a story by David Lieberman here reporting that ISP's have some leeway to control unusual broadwidth hogging if they announce their rules in advance or gave certain kinds of customers "preferential treatment."

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