FCC Contest Looks for Open Internet Apps

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has launched a contest seeking applications to help broadband customers measure and protect Internet openness, or network neutrality.

The FCC on Wednesday announced its Open Internet Apps Challenge, in an effort to help consumers monitor broadband providers' compliance with net neutrality rules.

"This challenge is about using the open Internet to protect the open Internet," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "Our goal is to foster user-developed applications that shine light on any practice that might be inconsistent with the free and open Internet. Empowering consumers with information about their own connections will promote a vibrant, innovative, world-leading broadband ecosystem."

The FCC in December voted to approve a set of net neutrality rules over the objections of some consumer groups, who called the rules weak, and some congressional Republicans, who said the agency overstepped its authority.

The Open Internet Challenge seeks to encourage developers to create applications that provider broadband users with information about the extent to which their fixed and mobile broadband services are consistent with the open Internet, the FCC said in a press release. An app could detect whether a broadband provider is interfering with application packet headers or Web content, the FCC said.

The challenge also seeks academic papers that analyze Internet openness measurements and techniques, the agency said.

The winners of the Open Internet Challenge will be invited to FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C., to present their work and be honored with a reception. Winners will have their apps and research featured on the FCC's website.

The submission deadline for the challenge is June 1. Public voting on the apps will run from June 15 to July 15, and the winner of the public vote will receive the People's Choice Award. A panel of expert judges will choose the other winners.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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