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Google, Verizon and Comcast get fingered by the FCC

Net neutrality bandits
Thu Nov 18 2010, 16:19

THE FICKLE FINGER OF BLAME has been pointed squarely at Google, Verizon and Comcast by US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) chairman Julius Genachowski when it comes to hindering net neutrality.

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Genachowski pressed the need for a net neutrality policy in order to help it oversee Internet service providers (ISPs) traffic management plans. He also blamed deals between Google and Verizon for dragging down the possibilities of net neutrality.

Particularly damaging was the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling throwing out the FCC's decision to regulate Comcast's traffic management policy. Genachowski said that this had "derailed" the FCC's plans, adding, "We were on course to adopt smart, sensible rules when we got a frustrating and seriously incorrect decision from the courts that complicated what we had to do."

Talking of the Google Verizon August pact, Genachowski said he thought that it had "an effect of slowing down some other policies that could have led to a resolution". Google's decision to side with one of the Internet's few Tier 1 transit providers was one of the first publicly acknowledged pacts between content and network providers.

It has been said that such deals could stifle competition, as smaller outfits are unable to pay the premiums that large companies such as Google are able to do so. This would in turn place them at a significant disadvantage and cripple their ability to compete with large firms.

The FCC has been lobbying for greater rights in order to enforce its net neutrality principles, however it has come up against resistance not only from network providers but courts ruling against it, as was the case with Comcast.

The FCC must hope that the tide turns before other firms announce similar deals to push their traffic at higher priority than others, potentially turning the Internet into a clone of cable TV. µ



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