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Powell dismisses proposed cable

FCC Chairman Michael Powell last week dismissed proposed rules designed to keep cable companies from favoring some Internet sites over others.

Speaking in Aspen, Colo. to attendees of an annual conference organized by the Progress and Freedom Foundation, Powell said he sees no need to act on a request for new rules aimed at establishing “net neutrality” in the cable television industry. The request, which, Microsoft, eBay and Yahoo submitted to the FCC in November, is pending before the commission.

“I don't know yet that I see anything that says we need a rulemaking on it,” Powell said, with a warning that such an FCC rule could interfere with legitimate future business models that broadband providers might devise.

“We don't know yet what the whole suite of services is that consumers will value and pay for,” Powell said. “We don’t know what business model is going to finally identify that sweet spot.”

Computer manufacturers and online services are worried that the cable industry might try to interpose themselves as gatekeepers between their customers and Internet content.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, in response to the proposed rule, said “cable operators have no intention of blocking access to content” and that no government regulations are necessary to guarantee this.

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