U.S. web companies press demands for net neutrality with FCC

Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:10am EDT

A man uses a smartphone in New York City, in this picture taken November 6, 2013.   REUTERS/Mike Segar

A man uses a smartphone in New York City, in this picture taken November 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - Major U.S. web companies on Monday urged regulators to restrict the ability of Internet providers including mobile carriers to strike deals for faster delivery of some web traffic and planned a publicity campaign about the government's proposal.

The Internet Association, which represents three dozen web companies such as Google Inc, Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc, made their case in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, which plans to establish new so-called "net neutrality" rules.

The rules guide how Internet service providers (ISPs) manage traffic on their networks, aiming to ensure they do not unfairly limit consumers' access to website and applications.

In January, a court ruling struck down the FCC's previous version of such rules. The agency is now collecting public comments on a proposal that would ban ISPs from blocking users' access to websites or applications but allow some "commercially reasonable" deals between content providers and ISPs to prioritize delivery of some traffic.

In its comments on Monday, the Internet Association criticized the possibility of ISPs charging content providers "for enhanced or prioritized access" and called for equal Internet traffic rules for both wired and wireless networks.

"The Internet is threatened by broadband Internet access providers who would turn the open, best-efforts Internet into a pay-for-priority platform more closely resembling cable television than today's Internet," the group wrote.

The Internet Association argued that allowing technical "reasonable network management" should give ISPs enough flexibility to deal with congested networks, while paid prioritization on non-congested networks is likely to mean faster download speeds for some at the expense of others.

Dozens of tech companies in June called on the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to adopt rules that would protect the openness of Internet, but Monday's comments represent a more detailed industry position.

The Internet Association in the next few weeks plans to roll out a campaign about the FCC's proposal and net neutrality, distributing infographics and videos and inviting Internet users to suggest amendments to the FCC's proposed rules through an interactive document viewer on its website, the association's President Michael Beckerman told Reuters.

In particular, the Internet Association's push may spotlight anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules that in the past applied differently to fixed and wireless Internet traffic.

"We're going to be getting pretty vocal about this issue," Beckerman said. "It doesn't make sense anymore to differentiate the way net neutrality applies to mobile and wireline."

A senior FCC official last month told Reuters the issue will have "big resonance" at the FCC. Wireless carriers argue that stricter rules may hurt how they manage their dynamic shared networks, leading to slower Internet speeds for everyone.

Wheeler on Friday reiterated his plan to reject paid prioritization deals that are struck in bad faith: "If it hurts competition, if it hurts consumers, if it hurts innovation, I'm against it and we're not going to tolerate it."

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh in Toronto; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (4)
diluded001 wrote:
Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, is a former lobbyist for the cable industry. He is now pushing regulation that will benefit that industry. If HBO wants it’s content streamed on Comcast cable modems, and Netflix is already paying for faster delivery, HBO will have to top what Netflix pays to get their streaming service delivered with a pause-free clear picture. Comcast (remember Wheeler used to lobby for them) makes bank pitting content providers against each other, while customers have to pay to both content providers. Meanwhile some innovative new website will never get off the ground because HBO and Netflix are hogging the wires.

This is revolving door politics at it’s finest. While we bicker away about liberal versus conservative, our corporate overlords sneak in and make sure no upstart innovators can jeopardize their business plans, and figure out how to charge us more for doing it.

Jul 14, 2014 11:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
tmc wrote:
Very good comment @diluded001. I agree completely. The cable/Telco industry is far more entrenched and owns far more of the government than the web companies. If the web companies don’t spend a fortune on public advertising, and get the message right, then they and we will certainly lose. The telecoms will blast the waves with equal volumes of counter FUD for sure. I think we may have only about a 30% chance of winning this.

Jul 14, 2014 2:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bluto1960 wrote:
Nets neutrality when the regulated criminal enterprises
are in collusion with our elected dictatorship ………… right !

Safest place for criminals and terrorists is working within our elected dictatorship and in the case of terrorists our Universities also !

Jul 14, 2014 6:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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