FCC to propose new net neutrality rules

Julius Genachowski is set to make one of his first big moves as FCC chairman today with the introduction of a new set of net neutrality rules that will give users the right to get free and equal access to any bandwidth-intensive service. Industry sources say the new FCC rules, which will in effect prevent telecom giants AT&T, Verizon and cable MSO Comcast from being able to throttle or slow down specific Web sites, will pass today.

The new FCC rules will include a mandate that service providers will have to disclose how they manage their network traffic, or what it is called a "sixth principle" to the four previous rules that were created in 2005 for Internet operations. Genachowski will also unveil a "fifth principle" that would prevent service providers from discriminating against applications and services that traverse telecom, cable and wireless-based Internet networks.  

Not surprisingly, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast refused to comment on the proposed rules. Net neutrality has been a sticky issue between the FCC and Comcast. The MSO is appealing a previous FCC action barring it from rate limiting Internet user's bandwidth consumption on its network.

Some industry groups, however, believe the rules will actually hinder and not help consumers. "We believe that this kind of regulation is unnecessary in the competitive wireless space as it would prevent carriers from managing their networks -- such as curtailing viruses and other harmful content -- to the benefit of their consumers," said Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA, the wireless industry's trade group in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

If the rules are passed, customers of Google and other upstart application providers will be able to run their applications freely over any existing wireline or wireless broadband network or device. "Be they entrepreneurs or innovators or consumers or less powerful voices, a principle on transparency is about knowing how large carriers manage traffic on networks and understanding how their content will be treated ahead of time so no one is surprised," said a source at the agency in a Washington Post article.

For more:
- Washington Post has this article
- The Wall Street Journal also has this coverage

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