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December 3, 2010 / Matt Gerardi

Genachowski Reveals Draft of FCC Net Neutrality Rules

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, announced the current parameters of the commission’s Net Neutrailty rules which are set to be voted on December 21. (Ars Technica)

The rules as they stand now are far more lax than most Net Neutrality proponents were hoping for.

The plan has been boiled down to four basic principles: increasing ISP transparency, restricting the blocking of content, making sure any connection speed throttling ISP’s commit is “reasonable” and restricting any network management the companies go through with to, again,  “reasonable” management.

These rules only apply to wired networks. Wireless networks for mobile phones are remaining completely unregulated, although the FCC has made it clear they will continue to add rules and regulations in the future as it sees necessary.

In addition it seems Genachowski has come out in support of usage caps, such as Comcast’s 260 GB of download data per month. These are increasingly popular with ISPs and come with hefty overage charges. (Ars Technica)

It is also unsettling that nowhere in these rules are regulations on what some call “managed services.” These are basically data transmission services run by the ISPs, such as on demand cable services and possibly Hulu if the Comcast/NBCU deal is approved unabated.

These managed services are profitable for the ISPs and compete with third party services such as Netflix, whose streaming video business has become a runaway success. Netflix is arguing that the FCC should ensure managed services take up only a set fraction of the online pipeline as to ensure equal data transmission for competitive services such as its own.

The current FCC plans address no such managed service cap.

Also noteworthy is Genachowski’s decision to abandon the process of reclassifying broadband as a telecommunication service, thereby giving the FCC greater regulatory power. He believes the commission is within its legal bounds to regulate the industry as it stands, but many politicians, particularly on the Republican side of the aisle, have been quick to make their disagreement known. If the measure passes, even in this relatively weak state, it will likely be challenged in court.

The FCC’s next meeting will take place on December 21.


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