YESTERDAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman about what it is going to do about net neutrality has made the telecom companies happy.
But FCC chairman Julius Genachowski's proposed rules to protect network neutrality have not made those who want the net protected from throttling by carriers and Internet service providers (ISPs) very comfortable.
Genachowski will present the principle that broadband companies shouldn't block or degrade rival web content, services or applications to a vote that will be held on 21 December.
The compromise rules in theory mean that US Internet users can use peer-to-peer software and see whatever websites they like and use any equipment they like on their cable or DSL connections.
Carriers and ISPs will be barred from slowing down or blocking content from competitors. The ISPs will also have to be transparent about how they manage congestion on their networks to ensure that anti-competitive behaviour isn't being disguised.
All well and good. Wireless outfits will have to be transparent about their network management and will be barred from discriminating unfairly against rivals.
But the carriers will be allowed to create paid fast lanes on the net and the FCC is not reclassifying the Internet as a "telecommunications service", which would have given it clear authority to enforce its rules.
But the rules are still pretty daft. It is using the same legal foundation that was rejected in a legal challenge by Comcast earlier this year. If an ISP decides to go to court, the FCC could lose.
The compromise has been welcomed by John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco and Jim Cicconi, an AT&T senior executive VP. Comcast EVP David Cohen said that the rules are workable.
However as Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative pointed out to Wired, the rules mirror AT&T's positions at the literal expense of the general public.
"The rules allow wireless providers to continue to block consumer's access to lawful applications, content, and devices; open the door to a 'pay to play' Internet where providers would create toll roads to prioritise the traffic of the largest and richest media conglomerates and content companies; and, permit all broadband providers to block consumer's access to applications and content under the guise of ‘reasonable network management'," Meinrath said. µ
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