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Communications Networks

Net Neutrality – An Accomplishment

The FCC voted yesterday to establish clear rules intended to protect an open internet and promote competition. As an initial reaction, it strikes me that the rules are clear and enforceable.  The full set of written rules has not been published yet.

FCCThere are clear rules against an internet service provider blocking or throttling traffic.  They may not create “fast lanes”.  There will be increased transparency, particularly in the case of reasonable network management practices.  In those cases, as well as, zero rating (think free Spotify) or peering (think Netflix) there will be oversight and review.  While there is potential for some policy changes alongside regime change, it’s a reasonable answer to a complicated issue. 

Verizon’s Public Policy group has issued a protest in Morse Code, a appropriate way for them to highlight the problems with using throwback law to manage today’s technology.  We can expect to see legal challenges from the ISPs in addition to complaints, but my personal feeling is that the large ISPs will benefit from clear definitions and rules over the long run.  Evidently the initial stock market results seem to agree.

In an era when gridlock and infighting is the norm, I think it is important to recognize that this rulemaking represents a significant accomplishment.  While the courts and marketplace will have their say in determining what the internet ends up being, it is important to recognize a job well done by the FCC.  This is a complicated issue, and they have done an excellent job of managing an open and transparent process.

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