Broadband/Cable

Genachowkski plans to reclassify portions of broadband to assert FCC authority over Internet access

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission will announce Thursday a way for the agency to better assert its authority over broadband services. An FCC official said in a statement that its move will be somewhere between deregulation, the state of broadband services today, and a more regulatory approach.

Legal experts interpreted the statement to say that portions of broadband under a classification of telecommunications services are firmly under the FCC's authority, with a plan to strip many rules that apply to phone services from broadband.

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FCC should keep options open on web rules, two Democrats say

Todd Shields, Business Week

The Federal Communications Commission should consider all options to retain authority over Internet services after a U.S. court restricted regulators’ powers, two Democratic lawmakers said. Representative Henry Waxman of California and Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who head each chamber’s commerce committee, said they may back an Internet law giving the agency more power, according to a letter today to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

“It is essential for the commission to have oversight” and protect an open Internet, the lawmakers said in a statement. The FCC should consider placing Internet services under the rules applied to telephone companies, they said.

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Broadband change we can believe in--or deja vu all over again?

Jonathan Lawson, Reclaim the Media

UPDATE: Your phone calls and emails to the FCC appear to have had an effect: Chairman Genachowski reportedly plans to announce Thursday morning a new strategy for asserting authority to protect broadband consumer rights. Stay tuned!

Ever get that feeling, like it's deja vu all over again?

When the FCC held a public hearing on media consolidation in Seattle two years ago, over 1100 people turned out to deliver a clear message: don't let big media get any bigger. But just days afterwards, then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin informed the readers of the New York Times that he planned to go ahead with plans to dismantle more of the rules protecting media diversity.

Now, days after Seattle urged the FCC to affirm its authority to protect broadband users from corporate content-blocking, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski appears to be backtracking from his stated support for strong net neutrality rules. Read more for details and take action!

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Microsoft warns against strong definition of net neutrality

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

I dug a bit more today and found some interesting nuggets in Microsoft’s comments about the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules.

The software giant, long a proponent of open Internet policies, isn’t as keen on some portions of a proposed rule by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that would restrict any discrimination of Web traffic or applications by broadband access providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

Microsoft didn’t take a position on the FCC’s legal authority over broadband services. Microsoft said it favored better enforcement of guidelines for how Internet access providers handle traffic on their networks. And it said the FCC needed more investigation into whether it should include wireless network providers in new rules. Wireless providers argue that their networks have capacity constraints unlike those of fixed-wire broadband providers and shouldn't be subject to the same rules.

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Clearwire departs from industry take on net neutrality

Brad Reed, Network World

While most wireless carriers have fiercely opposed the imposition of network neutrality standards on wireless data networks, WiMAX wholesaler Clearwire is taking a decidedly different approach.

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FCC panelists: Net neutrality protects innovation and freedom

Nick Eaton, Microsoft Blog/Seattle P-I

Failure to regulate the Internet and preserve net neutrality would thwart innovation and endanger the already-fragile U.S. economy, several experts told the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, a district court last week said the FCC doesn't have the power to prohibit Internet service providers from restricting access to specific websites, raising questions over the agency's ability to regulate the Internet. Now the FCC is trying to perhaps reclassify Internet-protocol (IP) communications as telecommunications, or find some other way around the ruling.

"An Internet in the dark runs too great a risk of becoming a closed Internet," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a video statement before an FCC workshop Wednesday at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle. Most panelists at the event agreed.

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Genachowski vows to continue net neutrality push

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Wednesday pledged to keep the faith when it comes to taking steps to insure network neutrality, court case or no.

At opening remarks for an open internet field hearing in Seattle, Wash., the chairman pointed out that it was only down the road a piece in Hillsboro, Ore., that Comcast's secret blocking of "lawful Internet traffic" was discovered.

That discovery, and others, he said "made clear that an Internet in the dark runs too great a risk of becoming a closed Internet -- with substantial costs to our ability to lead the world in innovation and freedom."

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Time for FCC to reclassify broadband to ensure Internet remains a democratic medium

Tim Karr, Seattle Times

TO be or not to be? That is the question weighing heavily on the Federal Communications Commission officials who visit Seattle this week for a public workshop on the future of the Internet and their agency's role in it.

There will be much to discuss. Earlier this month, a federal court ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to protect users' unfettered access to the most important communications medium of the 21st century.

The ruling caught the FCC in a regulatory limbo. The agency is now trying to sort out its authority to stop companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from "managing" the Web in ways that undermine the openness that has made it so user-friendly.

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Civil rights groups tell the FCC: social justice requires an open Internet

Media Action Grassroots Network et al.

This week, Reclaim the Media's national coalition, the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) joined with dozens of civil rights organizations across the country, in urging the Federal Communications Commission to preserve open Internet policies and reassert its authority to protect consumer and citizen rights online.

Read more for a summary and complete text of the comments filed this week. National organizations joining the comments include the Applied Research Center, Color of Change, Presente, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Mational Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native Public Media and the Rural Broadband Coalition. Washington State organizations supporting MAG-Net's digital justice call for open Internet rules include Reclaim the Media, the ACLU of Washington, the Seattle Minority Executive Directors Coalition, One America, KBCS, the Youth Media Institute, WashPIRG, Washington Bus, Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine, Common Language Project, Ozya, Reel Grrls, Hollow Earth Radio, Sustainable Ballard, NOW Seattle, Community Alliance & Peacemaking Project, Community Alliance for Global Justice, Langston Hughes Film Festival, and Newground Social Investment.

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Protect consumers by preserving Internet freedom

Jay Inslee, Seattle Times

The Internet, arguably the fastest world-changing invention since the Gutenberg printing press, has become the core of our social and business lives. However, the openness and freedom that lie at the heart of the Internet's success is under threat.

A recent federal court ruling determined that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority to regulate Internet service providers to prevent them from restricting access to the Internet. Put simply, service providers would have the power to control the pipes that deliver content to consumers and with it the ability to play favorites or discriminate against bits of data.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey