The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved a proposal for an open Internet. Proponents such as Google, eBay and more than a dozen others have voiced support, while opponents, including Comcast, Verizon Communications, and AT&T, say the government needs to take a close look its involvement.
The rule change means consumers will have more say in which Internet products succeed and entrepreneurs, technologists and investors will have an opportunity to develop products and services to spur innovation and new business, executives from 24 companies said in a letter to the FCC.
The change gives telephone and cable companies such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon less control over the Internet content that customers can view. The opponents believe the new rules will only apply to them and not to Internet companies like Google and Amazon.com.
Moving To Block the FCC
Just hours after the FCC moved to create the new rules, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation to block the rules. His Internet Freedom Act would bar the FCC from implementing rules stopping broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Internet content and applications.
"Today I'm pleased to introduce The Internet Freedom Act of 2009 that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation," McCain said. "It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment."
Comcast, which has been an opponent of the FCC rule change, said it wants the FCC to take a closer look at the issue.
"We share and embrace the objective of an open Internet, as we always have," said David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast. "While we may ultimately not agree on the level and extent of government involvement needed to accomplish this important objective, we appreciate and support (FCC) Chairman (Julius) Genachowski's commitment to have a fair, fact-based, and data-driven process to explore these issues."
"As the FCC's Broadband Task Force said recently, it could take $350 billion to build next-generation broadband across America, and most of that money will have to come from the private sector and companies like Comcast," Cohen added. "We continue to hope that any rules adopted by the commission will not harm the investment and innovation that has made the Internet what it is today and that will make it even greater tomorrow."
Wireless Business To Suffer
The Net-neutrality rules may have a big impact on wireless companies that may no longer be able to orchestrate deals such as Apple's iPhone exclusivity agreement with AT&T.
Groups such as CTIA - The Wireless Association said the FCC needs to take another look at how the rules apply to wireless broadband services.
"Rules that could impact the ecosystem from continuing to evolve, such as the ability of wireless carriers, device makers, and applications developers to optimize their devices, applications, and networks to work together will stifle innovation and harm consumers," said Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA. "Further, the imposition of Net-neutrality rules will degrade the value of unencumbered licenses purchased in the most recent (spectrum) auctions and threaten the integrity of the auction process."
McCain's office supports the CTIA's argument, adding that the wireless industry exploded over the past two decades because of limited government regulation.