Michael Grotticelli /
01.03.2011 08:00 AM
FCC posts net neutrality order during holiday

The FCC has officially posted its full net neutrality rules package, which runs 194 pages, online. The document reiterates much of what was discussed at the official vote on Dec. 21, but clarifies some of the more contentious points.

The IDG News Service summarized some of the key provisions:

  • “Transparency: The order will require broadband providers to publicly disclose accurate information about their network management practices, the performance of their services and their commercial terms. The goal is to provide information sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services, the FCC said.

  • “No blocking: The rules will prohibit wire-based broadband providers from blocking legal Web content, applications and services. The order will also require broadband providers to allow harmless devices to be connected to their networks. The no-blocking rule is subject to reasonable network management.

  • “Exemption on no-blocking rules for mobile broadband carriers: The order does not prohibit mobile broadband providers from blocking some Web content and services, but it does prohibit them from blocking services that compete with the carriers’ voice or video telephony services. The FCC will monitor the mobile broadband industry for signs of anti-consumer behavior, FCC Chairman Genachowski said.

  • “No unreasonable discrimination: The rules bar wired — but not mobile — broadband providers from unreasonable discrimination against legal network traffic, with reasonable network management again the exception.

  • “Exemption for specialized services: Specialized, or managed services, are exempt from the rules, for now, the FCC said. The FCC will monitor the broadband industry for signs that providers are hurting the public Internet or acting in an anti-competitive manner by pouring more resources into specialized services, the commission said.

  • “Paid prioritization of Web traffic: Any commercial agreements between broadband providers and other companies that would allow providers to prioritize some types of Web traffic would likely violate the prohibition on unreasonable discrimination, the rules say. Those types of commercial agreements would raise significant cause for concern, the FCC noted. The commission said, 'This departure from long-standing norms could cause great harm to innovation and investment in and on the Internet.'

  • “Complaints: Broadband customers and providers of Web applications and services will be able to file informal complaints through the FCC’s website, without paying the normal fee for formal complaints. Customers and others can also file formal complaints after notifying the broadband provider. The FCC will allow requests for expedited action on complaints.”

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