FCC, industry debate merits of net neutrality rules

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reiterated his commitment to an open Internet but continues to face wireless industry challenges over his proposed net neutrality regulations.

Click here for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s net neutrality comments.In a video message before the start of an FCC workshop on net neutrality held in Seattle, Genachowski said that "an Internet in the dark runs too great a risk of becoming a closed Internet." He said a recent federal appeals court ruling that cast doubt on the FCC's authority to regulate broadband networks was "an unfortunate development" that has "done nothing to weaken my unwavering commitment to ensuring that the free and open Internet is preserved and protected."

Many panelists at the workshop defended the idea of net neutrality. However, T-Mobile USA CTO Cole Brodman said the proposed rules raise a host of issues for wireless carriers. He said that since spectrum is limited, unlimited wireless data access will become unsustainable. He also said that carriers will need to expand their networks to new areas, an effort that could be hindered by the FCC's regulations. And finally, he said, finite battery life limits what people can do on smartphones anyway.

Mike Sievert, Clearwire's (NASDAQ: CLWR) chief commercial officer, also tackled an area of contention around net neutrality: the idea that operators should have the ability to manage their networks to, for instance, ease congestion. "Some reasonable network management probably makes sense,'' he said.

Genachowski has remained mum on whether the FCC should reclassify broadband as a Title II common-carrier service to give the agency more authority over broadband. Wireless trade group CTIA has come out strongly against such a move, as well as the FCC's neutrality regulations in general.

Microsoft, in comments about the FCC's net neutrality proceeding, did not take a position on reclassification, but instead said the FCC should provide clear guidelines on how broadband providers manage their networks. The company also said the FCC needed to further investigate whether wireless networks should be included in the new rules.

Google, meanwhile, said in its filing that the FCC should consider reclassification as a potential legal option. "It would be unwise for the commission simply to continue relying solely or primarily on its Title I authority to adopt the proposed broadband openness rules," Google said in its comments. "Instead, the FCC should consider a number of options, including pursuing a decision grounded in whole or in part on its unquestioned authority under existing statutory titles, including Title II."

For more:
- see this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article
- see this Seattle Times article
- see this DSL Reports article
- see this Washington Post article
- see this Washington Post article
- see this Washington Post article

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