Thursday, August 4, 2005

FCC Adopts Policy Statement on Broadband Internet Access

The FCC adopted a policy statement that outlines four principles to encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of public Internet:

  • (1) consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice

  • (2) consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;

  • (3) consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network;

  • (4) consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

The FCC has not adopted formal rules to enforce these principles, but said it would incorporate these principles into its ongoing policymaking activities. The FCC's policy statement also noted that "all of these principles are subject to reasonable network management."

In a separate statement, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said "Cable and telephone companies have led the way in bringing broadband to millions of Americans. The evidence today is that their internet access consumers have the ability to reach any internet content. Indeed, cable and telephone companies' practices already track well the internet principles we endorse today. I remain confident that the marketplace will continue to ensure that these principles are maintained. I also am confident, therefore, that regulation is not, nor will be, required."http://www.fcc.govIn February 2004, the previous FCC Chairman, Michael K. Powell, issued a challenge to high-speed Internet providers to adopt a set of four voluntary “Net Freedom�? principles:

  • Freedom to Access Content. Consumers should have access to their choice of legal content.

  • Freedom to Use Applications. Consumers should be able to run applications of their choice.

  • Freedom to Attach Personal Devices. Consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes.

  • Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information. Consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans.

“I would emphasize that consumers also have a role in this challenge to preserve ‘Net Freedom,'�? said Powell. “I encourage consumers to challenge their broadband providers to live up to these standards and to let the Commission know how the industry is doing.�?

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