IT Execs Ask FCC to Keep Internet Open

A group of 27 IT executives, including leaders of prominent social networking and e-commerce companies, have penned a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting its move to adopt a set of rules to secure an open Internet.


The letter, dated October 19 and signed by executives at Google, Amazon, eBay, Mozilla, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others, stumps for a so-called net neutrality convention that would bar broadband providers from blocking or impeding the flow of information on the Internet.


"We write to express our support for your announcement that the Federal Communications Commission will begin a process to adopt rules that preserve an open Internet," the letter said. "An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail."


Last week, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, in a speech delivered at the Brookings Institute, detailed a plan to keep the Internet open. That was followed at week's end by a letter sent to the FCC by 72 House of Representative Democrats, many of whom are so-called Blue Dogs, arguing against new rules and expressing concern that regulation would retard investment in broadband networks.


The Democrats' letter suggested to the FCC that it "carefully consider the full range of consequences that government action may have on network investment."


The FCC is scheduled to vote this Thursday on a process of proposed rule making, which is the initial step to affirming formal net neutrality rules. An informal code of engagement has existed for about four years, but cable provider Comcast is challenging the FCC's right to enforcement.


A number of telecom companies, including Cisco Systems Inc. and Nokia, have argued that additional rules are not needed, in part because instances in which the pipes have been squeezed are infrequent.


Also, some minority groups are opposing government regulation, arguing that if enacted, new laws could inhibit the expansion of broadband to traditionally underserved communities.


About a year ago, AT&T launched a test case in which it capped the monthly bandwidth use for customers in Reno, NV, limiting downloading to a certain amount of data. At the time, AT&T contended that 5 percent of users camped on a few sites occupied a disproportionate percentage of bandwidth. The action following similar moves by Comcast, Time Warner and others to impose limits on usage.


Earlier in the year, the FCC told Comcast to stop slowing traffic from some peer-to-peer applications, contending that it was discriminating against specific online services.

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