Washington

Genachowski: Net Neutrality Order Rejects Extremes

Statement is according to excerpts from his opening statement for Dec. 21 meeting 12/20/2010 11:10:52 PM Eastern

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says the network neutrality order the FCC's Democratic majority plans to vote for
Tuesday is a rejection of two extremes.

According to excerpts from his opening statement for Tuesday's meeting, which were supplied by the chairman's office Monday night, Genachowski said that the choice was between doing nothing and "a set of detailed and rigid  regulations....I reject both extremes in favor of a strong and sensible framework - one that protects Internet freedom and openness and promotes robust innovation and investment."

The order is the result of talks between the FCC and stakeholders that moved to Capitol Hill and back to the FCC again. It replaces an earlier proposal that would have reclassified broadband as a Title II common carrier service, though not applying most of those regs. The chairman had the three votes for that proposal, but got pushback not only from ISPs but a majority of members of the House of Representatives. Cable and phone nets argued Title II was an innovation and investment-killing "nuclear option."

Genachowski's fellow Democrats were less sanguine about the order than he, particularly Michael Copps, who said it was not the order he would have crafted. But both signaled Monday they would support the order, which expands and codifies the network's Internet access guidelines.

Network Neutrality proponents including Free Press and Public Knowledge were unhappy about the compromise order, saying it gave away too much to industry. But Genachowski said that the government "must not overreach by imposing rules that are overly restrictive or that pretend to [have] knowledge about this dynamic and rapidly changing marketplace that we simply do not possess."

The FCC will enforce its new regs on a case-by-case basis, though senior executives have promised a "rocket docket"
for those complaints, and will investigate itself and potentially file its own complaints.

"We're adopting a framework that will increase certainty for businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs. We're taking
an approach that will help foster a cycle of massive investment, innovation and consumer demand both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks," he says.

Genachowski will point to some of the net neutrality fans who support the move, including the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Communications Workers of America.

He will also talk about the number of broadband providers who support it, though he does not name any, according to the remarks, and few if any of those were flooding B&C's e-mail transom with responses Monday after the FCC essentially outlined the new rules to reporters.

"[T]hese rules fulfill many promises, including a promise to the future," he says. "A promise to the companies that don't yet exist, the entrepreneurs that haven't yet started work in the dorm rooms or garages."

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