The FCC calls the initiative ”one of the biggest job creators in rural America in decades.” Regulators unanimously voted to help bring broadband to underserved areas via a new Connect America Fund — replacing the current Universal Service Fund where phone customers pay monthly fees that are used to promote phone connections. Instead, cash will be used to build wired and — for the first time — wireless broadband in sparcely populated or poor communities that cable and phone companies haven’t wanted to serve. The new fund will have a budget cap of $4.5B a year. The FCC estimates the fund will boost economic growth by $50B over the next six years while creating about 500,000 jobs and bringing high-speed Internet to more than 7M people. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association says that it’s “disappointed” that the FCC will provide “incumbent telephone companies an unwarranted advantage for broadband support” but adds that it will “work closely” with regulators to expand broadband coverage.
Verizon’s fight to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality rules is on. The phone giant today asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to step in and consider whether regulators have the right to set rules for the Internet. Verizon Deputy General Counsel Michael Glover says that the FCC’s “assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations” on the Web is “inconsistent with the statute and will create uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers.” The FCC says the rules are needed to protect competition: They would bar most broadband providers from favoring their own services — for example, Comcast couldn’t transmit videos from Hulu faster than ones from, say, Netflix. ”Ruling in Verizon’s favor would end the open Internet as we know it and leave companies like Verizon in charge of which sites and services work and which don’t,” says Matt Wood of consumer activist group Free Press — which just filed its own appeal to make the rules tougher.
Verizon’s challenge was expected: It tried early this year to have the net neutrality rules shot down but the court said the effort was premature since they hadn’t been formalized yet. That changed last week when the FCC put the regulations into the Federal Register.
UPDATED: Amidst criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, the FCC today adopted new rules designed to ensure that broadband service remains open to all. The five-member commission’s 3-2 vote went down along party lines, with the 3 Democrats supporting and the 2 Republicans opposing the measures that will prohibit broadband providers from blocking access to lawful content and discriminating against sites, giving priority to some over others. Offenders will face fines and injunctions. “Today, for the first time, we are adopting rules to preserve basic Internet values,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said. “These rules will increase certainty in the marketplace; spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks, and contribute to a 21st century job-creation engine in the United States.”
Under the new rules, Internet providers will still have room to manage their traffic but have to disclose their practices to the consumers. Also, they are stricter for wired Internet providers while giving leeway to wireless providers. In a statement, the Motion Picture Association of America applauded today’s ruling while stressing the need for protection of intellectual property on the Internet. “Combating IP theft is especially critical in an online world,” MPAA president and interim CEO Bob Pisano said. “Consistent with statements by the Obama Administration and recent law enforcement initiatives, the Commission understands that stemming the rising tide of online theft requires active participation by Internet service providers. Notably, Internet service providers …
Washington, DC – Calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to preserve an open Internet and address copyright infringement , the Writers Guild of America, West is asking that the agency institute net neutrality by reclassifying broadband transmission under Title II while also creating clear rules that require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to police piracy – but with techniques that do not interfere with lawful content, do not create barriers to entry, and do not disadvantage independent producers as they compete for viewers with huge media companies.
In reply comments filed today regarding the Framework for Broadband Internet Services, the WGAW voices strong concern with the implications to free speech and the right to privacy if the methods suggested by others in the entertainment industry are employed under the guise of network management.
“We are opposed to all forms of piracy,” said WGAW President John Wells, “But we must find solutions that do not trample on 1st and 4th Amendment rights. We are confident that a free and open Internet, governed by net neutrality principles, can and must coexist with strong copyright enforcement.”
For a full copy of the Guild’s comments, click here.