Net neutrality debate heats up ahead of vote

With less than a week left before the FCC is scheduled to vote on new net neutrality regulations, the proposal is drawing fire from various quarters across the wireless industry, including a key union and infrastructure vendors.

The union, the Communications Workers of America, and the vendors expressed their concern that the new regulations could hinder investment. The CWA, which has hundreds of thousands of members at AT&T, Verizon and other large telecom companies, specifically said in its letter to the FCC that the new rules should apply to all Internet companies, "including network providers, application and service providers, and content providers." 

That position puts the union shoulder-to-shoulder with AT&T, which has argued that companies such as Google should be regulated under the new rules. AT&T and Google have been engaged in a loud spat over Google's Google Voice service, which AT&T claims is violating both net neutrality principles and federal call-blocking rules. Google has argued that it should not be regulated like a regular telecom company. 

Meanwhile, several major vendors, including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, Ericsson and Motorola, expressed their concerns that the new proposals, which would apply to both wirless and wireline telecom companies, could "adversely impact those of us who supply vital network services, networking gear, and other devices and equipment used in building and maintaining networks."

"Public policy should encourage more investment to expand access to the Internet, whether it is access through a cell phone, a laptop, a PC or any new device that we have yet to imagine," the vendors said in the letter, which was signed by a total of 44 companies. "If the FCC takes a prescriptive approach to new regulations, then it could place itself in the position of being the final arbiter of what products and services will be allowed on the Internet."

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this IDG News Service article

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