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FCC publishes draft net neutrality rules

updated 12:40 pm EDT, Thu October 22, 2009

FCC codifies tentative net neutrality rules

The FCC on Thursday published a draft version of its proposed network neutrality rules. The six terms in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would prevent Internet providers from blocking any legal apps, devices or services. They will also ban other forms of discrimination, except for neutral, "reasonable" management, and will require that providers also reveal any steps they're taking for network management, such as throttling or metered service.

The Notice opens the door to commentary from the public and may be followed by the FCC's own responses or amendments until January 14th. Officials at the agency expect much of the debate to center on the relevance of the rules to wireless networks and mobile apps.

Most of the rules would solidify those put into a non-binding FCC statement from 2005 but, if approved, would prevent US providers from engaging in practices they've used in the past, such as Comcast's since-discarded attempt to throttle BitTorrent traffic. Cellular carriers like AT&T would also be required to allow Internet calling and video streaming apps that they have previously barred from the iPhone or other devices.

Carriers have publicly objected to most any net neutrality rules under the belief that these would prevent any forms of controlling excessive bandwidth use; they have also contended that the existing industry is innovative on its own. However, Verizon late Wednesday recently agreed with Google to support basic elements of net neutrality. AT&T has so far been more adamantly opposed to any competition and has gone so far as to distribute anti-neutrality messages to employees in the hopes of encouraging more widespread opposition.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Salsa

    Joined: Dec 1969


    There is no free lunch...

    If ATT can't ban bandwidth hogging apps, then they will have to move to a metered service. That will hurt iPhone sales big time. People don't want metered internet access.

    Wont these rules also ban Uverse and other IPTV services that rely on dedicated bandwidth? I don't own stock in ATT, but I am in their fiber to the node service area and I hope that their service is profitable enough to them to motivate them to invest in fiber to the home to give my cable co some competition.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It should have no affect on IPTV, because ATT and the like aren't so stupid as to run or market that service as a broadband service. It might technically be all on one line, but they segregate a portion of that broadband specifically for their TV service, another portion for their customers. All they have to do is make sure that the TV side has no effect on the broadband customers (in that more people watching TV doesn't cause internet users slower upload times).

  1. Salsa

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: IPTV

    Testudo said:

    "they segregate a portion of that broadband specifically for their TV service"

    Segregating certain broadband services to give them priority over others is not considered neutral by the FCC. This is exactly what broadband providers have been complaining about. The last thing I want is to reduce the incentive for more companies to invest in broadband infrastructure to compete against the cable cos.

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