FCC Wants Your Opinion on Proposed "Third Way" for Broadband

The thing is, the inordinate backlash from the broadband providers betrays their intentions. For example, I don't really care if the IRS wants to implement a rule saying that tax evaders must repay five times the actual back taxes owed. Do you know why? Because I am not planning to be a tax evader so it has no impact on me.

Broadband Internet has become a critical element of the national infrastructure and can't be left entirely to private interests.
If Verizon isn't planning on throttling bandwidth for customers, why worry? If Comcast isn't going to discriminate against competing traffic and give preferential treatment to its own content, then it has nothing to worry about with net neutrality regulations.

More importantly, why so much pressure just to prevent the debate from even occurring in the first place? The actions of the FCC today are just to initiate a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking public comment. According to the FCC press release, the NOI is looking for input to determine:

• Whether the current classification of broadband as a Title I "information service" provides the FCC with the authority and legal standing it needs to perform its duties in the interests of the public good.

• What the legal or practical consequences might be of simply reclassifying broadband Internet as a "telecommunications service" and applying all requirements of Title II of the Communications Act.

• Or, what the impact might be from the proposed "third way"--under which the FCC treats online content and applications as "information services", but applies Title II regulations to the "telecommunications service" aspects of broadband to ensure universal service, competition and market entry, and protect consumer interests.

Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and all other parties opposed to reclassifying broadband under Title II, or opposed to the FCC's "third way" proposal are welcome to participate in the process and make those arguments during the NOI period. If the concerns and reservations are valid, they should have no issue with presenting them publicly and allowing for an open debate.

Genachowski sums it up nicely, "I ask only this of all participants in this discussion, inside and outside the Commission: Let's not pretend that the problems with the state of broadband in America don't exist; let's not pretend that the risk of excessive regulation is not real, or, at the other extreme, that the absence of basic protections for competition and consumers is acceptable.

Genachowski adds, "Instead, let's put rhetoric and posturing aside, and work together to solve the problem created by the court case, so that we can rise together to the major 21st century challenges of achieving U.S. world leadership in broadband and innovation, fostering sustainable economic growth and job creation, and bringing the benefits of broadband to all Americans."

The notice of inquiry provides extensive detail regarding the issues at hand, and provides until July 15 for submission of comments pertaining to this initiative. Businesses should take advantage of this opportunity and participate in the process to express any concerns and make any suggestions during the NOI period.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com . He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW .

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