FCC Codifies Network Neutrality
Federal Communications Commission today voted to regulate Internet traffic. The
3-2 vote was down party lines, as expected, with support from the Democratic
members and dissent from the two Republicans. Commissioners voted on a proposal
from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to prevent wireline broadband providers
from throttling bandwidth-heavy users such as Netflix. The same rules would not
be applied to wireless providers.
“The rules require all broadband providers to publicly disclose network
management practices, restrict broadband providers from blocking Internet
content and applications, and bar fixed broadband providers from engaging in
unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic,” the
said. The order itself is not expected for another day or two.
Democrats and Republicans have fought over network neutrality for several
years. Democrats contend it preserves an open Internet. Republicans contend it
regulates the Internet unnecessarily. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the rules represented
a compromise because they allow usage-based pricing. The two commission
Republicans nonetheless submitted stinging assessment for the record.
“I cannot support this decision,” Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker wrote. “It
is not a consumer-driven or engineering-focused decision. It is not motivated
by a tangible competitive harm or market failure. The majority bypasses a
market power analysis altogether, and acts on speculative harms alone. The majority
is unable to identify a single ongoing practice of a single broadband provider
that it finds problematic upon which to base this action. In the end, the
Internet will be no more open tomorrow than it is today.”
Commissioner Robert McDowell spit 35 pages worth of nails critical not only of
the policy, but the process.
“On the night of Friday, Dec. 10, just two business days before the public
would be prohibited by law from communicating further with us about this
proceeding, the commission dumped nearly 2,000 pages of documents into the
record,” he wrote. “As if that weren’t enough, the FCC unloaded an additional
1,000 pages into the record less than 24 hours before the end of the public
All of these extreme
measures, defying the D.C. Circuit, Congress, and undermining the public
comment process, have been deployed to deliver on a misguided campaign
The grumbling spread fast.
Journal’s David Hatch is reporting that Verizon’s attorney’s are
gearing up for a lawsuit. B&C’s John Eggerton reports that lawmakers
are fixing to call the FCC to the carpet. Eggerton has more details on lawmaker
reactions at “Hill
as divided as FCC on Net Neutrality.”
Deborah D. McAdams