The Federal Communications Commission appears poised to pass a controversial set of rules that broadly create two classes of Internet access, one for fixed-line providers and the other for the wireless Net.
The proposed rules of the online road would prevent fixed-line broadband providers like Comcast and Qwest from blocking access to sites and applications. The rules, however, would allow wireless companies more latitude in putting limits on access to services and applications.
Before a vote set for Tuesday, two Democratic commissioners said Monday that they would back the rules proposed by the F.C.C. chairman, Julius Genachowski, which try to satisfy both sides in the protracted debate over so-called network neutrality. But analysts said the debate would soon resume in the courts, as challenges to the rules are expected in the months to come.
Net neutrality, broadly speaking, is an effort to ensure equal access to Web sites and cutting-edge online services. Mr. Genachowski said these proposed rules aimed to both encourage Internet innovation and protect consumers from abuses.
“These rules fulfill a promise to the future — to companies that don’t yet exist, and the entrepreneurs that haven’t yet started work in their dorm rooms or garages,” Mr. Genachowski said in remarks prepared for the commission’s meeting on Tuesday in Washington. At present, there are no enforceable rules “to protect basic Internet values,” he added.
Many Internet providers, developers and venture capitalists have indicated that they would accept the proposal by Mr. Genachowski, which Rebecca Arbogast, a regulatory analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, a financial services firm, said “is by definition a compromise.”
"F.C.C. Approves Net Rules and Braces for Fight" by BRIAN STELTER, New York Times 12/21/2010
Want to watch hours of YouTube videos or sort through Facebook photos on the computer? Your Internet providers would be forbidden from blocking you under rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday. But if you want to do the same on your cellphone, you may not have the same protections.
The debate over the rules, intended to preserve open access to the Internet, seems to have resulted in a classic Washington solution — the kind that pleases no one on either side of the issue. Verizon and other service providers would prefer no government involvement. Public interest advocates think the rules stop far short of ensuring free speech.