The Federal Communications Commission's chief has a plan to ensure that people have unfettered access to Internet content and services.
Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed this week that the FCC officially turn its four principles of network openness into regulation and suggested that the FCC add two more "principles" as part of these new rules. The existing principles can be summarized like this: network operators cannot prevent people from accessing lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice and cannot prohibit people from attaching nonharmful devices to a network.
The first new, proposed principle would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. The second would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.
The nation's two biggest phone companies, AT&T and Verizon Communications, have accepted the principles outlined by the FCC when it comes to their wired broadband networks. But the regulation that Genachowski is proposing will not apply to just wireline broadband networks, such as DSL and cable modem service. It will also apply to wireless services.
This is where the major phone companies will likely focus their opposition to the FCC's plans for new regulation. Verizon and AT&T, which operate the nation's largest and second-largest cell phone networks, respectively, say the rules should not apply to wireless Internet access. Among the arguments against the rules is that they would be difficult to implement because of capacity constraints on wireless networks.
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