Net neutrality: A complex topic made simple

By , Computerworld |  Government, net neutrality

Two newer principles include one that would require service providers to treat all lawful Internet content applications and services in a non-discriminatory manner and another requiring them to disclose information about network management to users as well as content, application and other service providers.

Significantly, FCC Chairman Julius Genachjowski said in a video presentation in October that the proposed rules were "not about regulating the Internet," a comment that has led to continued debate about what he means (subscription required).

In fact, the October written notice, in section 14, specifically said: "The rules we propose today address users' ability to ACCESS the Internet and are not intended to regulate the Internet itself...."

On March 17, the FCC is expected to deliver a formal report to Congress on its National Broadband Plan, which was required in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Progress on the plan is outlined by the FCC at a separate Web site .

Who are the biggest players in the Net neutrality debate? One group of traditional cable, wireless and telecommunications providers has taken an active role in the debate: Netcompetition.org , which has posted a list of its members on its e-forum site. The site, which includes short papers on its positions, has one standing headline over a counting clock that reads, "What's the problem?" The clock notes that more than seven years has gone by "with no need for any Net neutrality mandate!"

The other big block of players is an array of citizen actions groups loosely aligned with Google and other companies that want to offer new and different uses for the Web but don't generally run networks carrying Internet data. Google communicates mainly on its official blog, where it announced on Feb. 10 its experimental fiber network . That blog entry includes links to Google's comments to the FCC from July 2009 where it promoted "open, ubiquitous broadband connectivity" as a means of improving American competitiveness.

Among various public interest groups active in Net neutrality issues is Free Press , a Washington-based nonprofit group that praised Google's high-speed broadband experiment. It also said Google's announcement "follows a trail already blazed by Verizon's FiOS network, which has fiber optic cables capable of speeds comparable to what Google proposes."


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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