Newly aggressive FCC takes on net neutrality, national broadband plan

After laying out its net neutrality position last week, the FCC’s meeting this week will be devoted entirely to the National Broadband Plan, which is due to Congress by Feb. 17.

The FCC’s Sept. 29 meeting will be devoted entirely to presentations for the development of broadband technology in the nation. Much of the money was appropriated in President Obama’s stimulus package passed earlier this year.

Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed “net neutrality” rules that would require Internet service providers to treat all Web content the same with regard to transmission speed. Under the proposed regulations, providers would not be able to discriminate on how they handle net content or applications on their networks and will have to make their network management practices clear to their customers.

The net neutrality rules, which would apply to both wireless and landline services, will be formally proposed at an open FCC meeting in October. It is then that the details of the plan will become known.

“Today, we can’t imagine what our lives would be like without the Internet — any more than we can imagine life without running water or the light bulb,” Genachowski said in his first major policy speech, delivered at the Brookings Institution.

The FCC chairman proposed organizing the Internet principles with existing principles issued several years ago by the FCC. They say that network operators can neither prevent users from accessing lawful Internet content, applications and services of their choice, nor can they prohibit users from attaching non-harmful devices to the network.

Genachowski proposed the addition of two new principles. The first would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. The second principle would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.

He also proposed clarifying that all six principles apply to all platforms that access the Internet. The FCC also opened a new Web site to encourage public participation in the process.