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 FCC's New Internet Regulations......threat?

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PostSubject: FCC's New Internet Regulations......threat?    Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:51 pm


Tomorrow morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government's reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

How did the FCC get here?

For years, proponents of so-called "net neutrality" have been calling for strong regulation of broadband "on-ramps" to the Internet, like those provided by your local cable or phone companies. Rules are needed, the argument goes, to ensure that the Internet remains open and free, and to discourage broadband providers from thwarting consumer demand. That sounds good if you say it fast.

David Klein
.Nothing is broken that needs fixing, however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to protect consumers already exist. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department and the European Commission both decided this year that net-neutrality regulation was unnecessary and might deter investment in next-generation Internet technology and infrastructure.

Analysts and broadband companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs. By moving forward with Internet rules anyway, the FCC is not living up to its promise of being "data driven" in its pursuit of mandates—i.e., listening to the needs of the market.

It wasn't long ago that bipartisan and international consensus centered on insulating the Internet from regulation. This policy was a bright hallmark of the Clinton administration, which oversaw the Internet's privatization. Over time, however, the call for more Internet regulation became imbedded into a 2008 presidential campaign promise by then-Sen. Barack Obama. So here we are.

Last year, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski started to fulfill this promise by proposing rules using a legal theory from an earlier commission decision (from which I had dissented in 2008) that was under court review. So confident were they in their case, FCC lawyers told the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., that their theory gave the agency the authority to regulate broadband rates, even though Congress has never given the FCC the power to regulate the Internet. FCC leaders seemed caught off guard by the extent of the court's April 6 rebuke of the commission's regulatory overreach.

In May, the FCC leadership floated the idea of deeming complex and dynamic Internet services equivalent to old-fashioned monopoly phone services, thereby triggering price-and-terms regulations that originated in the 1880s. The announcement produced what has become a rare event in Washington: A large, bipartisan majority of Congress agreeing on something. More than 300 members of Congress, including 86 Democrats, contacted the FCC to implore it to stop pursuing Internet regulation and to defer to Capitol Hill.

Facing a powerful congressional backlash, the FCC temporarily changed tack and convened negotiations over the summer with a select group of industry representatives and proponents of Internet regulation. Curiously, the commission abruptly dissolved the talks after Google and Verizon, former Internet-policy rivals, announced their own side agreement for a legislative blueprint. Yes, the effort to reach consensus was derailed by . . . consensus.

After a long August silence, it appeared that the FCC would defer to Congress after all. Agency officials began working with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on a draft bill codifying network management rules. No Republican members endorsed the measure. Later, proponents abandoned the congressional effort to regulate the Net.

Still feeling quixotic pressure to fight an imaginary problem, the FCC leadership this fall pushed a small group of hand-picked industry players toward a "choice" between a bad option (broad regulation already struck down in April by the D.C. federal appeals court) or a worse option (phone monopoly-style regulation). Experiencing more coercion than consensus or compromise, a smaller industry group on Dec. 1 gave qualified support for the bad option. The FCC's action will spark a billable-hours bonanza as lawyers litigate the meaning of "reasonable" network management for years to come. How's that for regulatory certainty?

To date, the FCC hasn't ruled out increasing its power further by using the phone monopoly laws, directly or indirectly regulating rates someday, or expanding its reach deeper into mobile broadband services. The most expansive regulatory regimes frequently started out modest and innocuous before incrementally growing into heavy-handed behemoths.

On this winter solstice, we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation. The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter's night for Internet freedom.

Mr. McDowell is a Republican commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.


WASHINGTON—The top U.S. telecommunications regulator on Wednesday endorsed the idea that broadband providers could charge extra for providing heavy Internet users with lots of online video or data-heavy services such as videogames.

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, backed "usage-based pricing" while outlining proposed rules that would bar Internet providers from deliberately tampering or slowing legal Web traffic.
Mr. Genachowski's support for pay-as-you-go pricing represents a victory for cable and telecommunications companies because it clarified whether broadband providers had the power to charge by what users consumed.

"We were appreciative of them clarifying it," said AT&T Inc. Senior Vice President Robert W. Quinn Jr.

But communications providers may still get pushback from consumers, Silicon Valley and lawmakers on pay-as-you-pricing depending on how network operators implement such plans.

Last April, Time Warner Cable Inc. shelved its tests of usage-based pricing after a consumer outcry and pressure from some lawmakers.

Some consumers complained the caps on data usage were too low and the pricing tiers were too expensive. In one trial, Time Warner Cable offered plans with five gigabytes of monthly data for $30 and 40 gigabytes for $55. Exceeding those caps cost $1 for each gigabyte.

Watching one streamed high-definition movie would consume about four gigabytes of data.

The advent of usage-based pricing could harm the development of the Internet, say critics. The rapid adoption of fast Internet service was fueled in part by the availability of all-you-can-eat service plans. Consumers didn't have to worry about exceeding bandwidth limits.

Reaction to the proposal was mixed. Several venture capitalists, including John Doerr, voiced support. A coalition of Internet companies, including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., and public interest groups said they will work to limit broadband providers' ability to extract extra payments for faster delivery.

The proposal also exposed divisions within the FCC. Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps said he would continue to press for tougher so-called net neutrality rules than the chairman outlined. "It's no secret that I am looking for the strongest protections we can get to preserve an open Internet built on the most secure legal foundation, so we don't find ourselves in court every other month," Mr. Copps said.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski today endorsed the use of metered-broadband internet pricing as he formally unveiled proposed rules to prevent Internet providers from interfering with traffic. Amy Schatz has details.

The FCC's two Republican members blasted the proposal. Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker said the FCC does "not have authority to act" while Commissioner Robert McDowell said he would "strongly oppose this ill-advised maneuver."

It's been more than a year since the FCC chairman proposed net neutrality rules, but that effort hit a snag this spring when a federal appeals court questioned the FCC's authority to enforce them.

In May, Mr. Genachowski suggested re-regulating Internet lines would give the FCC clearer authority to act as an Internet traffic cop, reversing a 2002 decision that deregulated them. At the time, Mr. Genachowski said he had little choice because the agency didn't have legal authority as things stood.

He has since made an about-face on that issue, saying Wednesday the agency has "a sound legal basis" for acting as an Internet traffic cop without re-regulating Internet lines.

Mr. Genachowski's proposals would require Internet providers to tell consumers how they are managing traffic on their networks, and bar "unreasonable discrimination" of traffic. They also include more limited restrictions for mobile networks, which are already straining under the load of increased data traffic.

Details about Mr. Genachowski's proposal remain scarce and are likely to change before the FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposal Dec. 21.

Large phone and cable companies weren't enthusiastic about the plan but expressed relief that Mr. Genachowski hadn't proposed completely re-regulating the broadband Internet networks.

Phone providers are "looking at it as the lesser of two evils," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who's in the running to lead the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee next year. He promised House Republicans would be "like a dog to a Frisbee on this issue."

Republican lawmakers expressed hostility toward the FCC's actions Wednesday. Rep. Joe Barton (R, TX) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R, FL) demanded Mr. Genachowski explain why he didn't think he had authority to enforce net neutrality in May but now believes he does. Meanwhile, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R, Va.) promised lawmakers would "conduct rigorous oversight and explore all our legislative options to put things back on the proper track."

Public interest groups said they'd work with FCC Democrats to strengthen the rules. They worry the FCC doesn't have authority to enforce net neutrality as Mr. Genachowski has suggested and the issue will end up in federal appeals courts for years.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704594804575648043301403732.html#ixzz18lHn0fOY

DON'T TREAD ON ME! ....Hey Who Took My Duct Tape

Last edited by LarryWNY on Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: 'Net Neutrality' Rules Set to Pass .   Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:01 pm


WASHINGTON—The top communications regulator won support to pass contentious new rules for Internet traffic, a move likely to face legal challenges and create uncertainty about Internet regulation.

The Federal Communications Commission is set to approve on Tuesday Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposed rules governing net neutrality—a concept aimed at preventing Internet providers from interfering with web traffic.

The rules are expected to bar providers from discriminating against legal Internet traffic and require more transparency. They also would let broadband providers for the first time charge more to companies that want faster service for delivery of games, videos or other services.

Net neutrality has become a contentious issue as worries grow that large phone and cable companies are growing too powerful as Internet gatekeepers. Start-ups and small businesses that rely on the Internet to provide shopping, information or other services to consumers are particularly concerned.

The FCC has wanted to step in and act as an Internet traffic cop, but Congress has never given it clear authority to do so.

"We must take action to protect consumers against price hikes and closed access to the Internet—and our proposed framework is designed to do just that: to guard against these risks while recognizing the legitimate needs and interests of broadband providers," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a blog post this month.

The proposal has split the five-member FCC board. The two Republican members say the proposed rules impose an unneeded burden and will discourage broadband investment.

Mr. Genachowski's two Democratic colleagues said his plan didn't go far enough, particularly on rules covering wireless networks, but agreed to back it anyway.

The proposed rules are expected to provide some new protections for consumers, such as a guarantee that they can access legal websites, and require providers to give more data on Internet speeds and service.

The rules include fewer restrictions on wireless broadband networks.

Mr. Genachowski's proposal has drawn mixed reaction from industry, advocacy groups and members of Congress.

Phone and cable companies have offered some praise, as have some venture capitalists, including John Doerr, who called it "pragmatic balance of innovation, economic growth and crucial investment in the Internet."

For the most part, phone and cable companies have said they didn't want new rules on Internet lines. But they have mostly backed AT&T Inc.'s push to compromise with Mr. Genachowski.

Liberal activists and some consumer advocates have sharply criticized the proposal, saying it allows too much leeway to big broadband providers and falls well short of promises made by President Barack Obama, including limits on how the rules apply to mobile broadband networks.

."The chairman seems more willing to work with the companies he's supposed to be regulating than his fellow commissioners at the FCC," said Joel Kelsey, political advisor for Free Press, a public advocacy group.

Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) wrote on a blog Monday that "grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we've been had" and that the proposal was "worse than nothing."

Republicans are vowing a fight. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas) wants to cut off FCC funding to enforce the rules. House GOP lawmakers plan hearings and legislation to overturn the FCC's planned rules.

The rules are also expected to be challenged in court. Similar rules proposed by the agency in 2005 were thrown out by a federal appeals court in April.

In April, a federal appeals court tossed the FCC's first effort to enforce net neutrality rules, saying the agency hadn't justified its authority to act. The current proposal is expected to use a similar argument to the one used in the April case.

In May, the FCC's general counsel said using a variation on the same argument was "a recipe for prolonged uncertainty" but FCC lawyers now say upon further consideration, they believe their plan will withstand challenge.


............Oh Joy!(please infer EXTREAM sarcasm) Rolling Eyes

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PostSubject: FCC Posts Net Neutrality Rules    Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:30 pm

Before the
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
Preserving the Open Internet
Broadband Industry Practices

GN Docket No. 09-191
WC Docket No. 07-52
Adopted: December 21, 2010 Released: December 23, 2010
By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski issuing a statement; Commissioner Copps
concurring and issuing a statement; Commissioner Clyburn approving in part, concurring in part
and issuing a statement; Commissioners McDowell and Baker dissenting and issuing separate

pdf below:


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