New York Times: FCC Chairman Outlines Broadband Framework

by on Dec.01, 2010, under Uncategorized

(There is some promise here in that Genachowski is having specialized services justify themselves for not using the open Internet. But if he doesn’t define that right, this looks like a formula for rationalizing shortsighted policies piecemeal. The right definition can be guarded over time; the lack of it looks like it would accommodate the incumbents gradually baking all sorts of bad things into the Net. — Seth)

(Original article at New York Times)

“Broadband providers have natural business incentives to leverage their position as gatekeepers to the Internet,” the text of the speech says. “The record in the proceeding we’ve run over the past year, as well as history, shows that there are real risks to the Internet’s continued freedom and openness.”

The proposal will allow broadband companies to impose usage-based pricing, charging customers higher prices if they make heavy use of data-rich applications like streaming movies. Users who use the Internet only to check e-mail, for example, could be charged lower prices for using less data.

The F.C.C. also will allow companies to experiment with the offering of so-called specialized services, providing separate highways outside the public Internet for specific uses like medical services or home security.

But companies will be required to justify why those services will not be provided over the open Internet and to demonstrate that their implementation does not detract from a company’s investment in the more widely used open Internet infrastructure.

As for broadband service delivered over wires, providers to homes or offices will be prohibited from blocking lawful content, applications, services and the connection of nonharmful devices to the network.

The companies also will be subject to transparency requirements as to how their networks are managed.

For wireless broadband, the fastest-growing segment of the industry, the proposal includes a transparency requirement and “a basic no-blocking rule” covering Web sites and certain applications that compete with services that the broadband provider also offers.

But Mr. Genachowski says he recognizes “differences between fixed and mobile broadband,” and therefore will allow for flexibility for wireless rules. But he said he planned to “address anticompetitive or anticonsumer behavior as appropriate.”

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