Good Summary Of The FCC’s Open Internet Rules

Barbara van Schewick, Director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, and a leading academic voice in the Net Neutrality debate, has a good blog post about the FCC's adoption of Open Internet Rules last week. I've been traveling and out of the country since the FCC adopted these rules and have been meaning to get updated on what was finally adopted. I'm pleased to see that the final order was worded in a way that deals with some of our concerns.

In particular;

- Non discrimination: This is the key net neutrality provision for entrepreneurs and investors in internet based businesses. We need protection that those who control the last mile of internet access will not discriminate against certain services and favor others. We believe the ideal approach is an application agnostic standard. In the words of Commissioner Copps:

“In discussing the “no unreasonable discrimination” standard, we put particular emphasis on keeping control in the hands of users and preserving an application-blind network—a key part of making the Internet the innovative platform it is today.”

- Access fees: We believe that Internet access providers charging application providers for access to their customers should be prohibited. The order comes very close to doing so:

The text of the order clearly prohibits network providers from charging application and content providers for access to the network providers’ Internet service customers

However, it does provide the possibility of "paid prioritization" with a very high hurdle.

as a general matter,” arrangements of this kind [paid prioritization] are “unlikely” to be considered reasonable

- Wireless: We believe that the Open Internet Rules should be applied to both wireline and wireless networks. That didn't happen leading many to interpret it as the end of net neutrality for wireless networks. I am optimistic that the FCC will remain vigilant regarding open wireless networks and may push for wireless net neutrality in the future.

We emphasize that our decision to proceed incrementally with respect to mobile broadband at this time should not suggest that we implicitly approve of any provider behavior that runs counter to general open Internet principles.

Nothing is perfect that comes out of a political process and when you add in a negotiation between carriers and service providers, it is amazing we got anything of value. I think Chairman Genachowski, who is a friend of mine, did a terrific job on this and we thank him and his staff at the FCC for pushing these rules forward in a very difficult political climate.