Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)—December 21, 2010. The Federal Communications Commission today acted to preserve the Internet as an open network enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, user control, competition and the freedom to innovate.
Chairman Genachowski voted for the Order; Commissioner Copps concurred and Commissioner Clyburn approved in part and concurred in part. Commissioners McDowell and Baker dissented.
In 2009, the FCC launched a public process to determine whether and what actions might be necessary to preserve the characteristics that have allowed the Internet to grow into an indispensable platform supporting our nation’s economy and civic life, and to foster continued investment in the physical networks that enable the Internet.
This process has made clear that the Internet has thrived because of its freedom and openness — the absence of any gatekeeper blocking lawful uses of the network or picking winners and losers online. Consumers and innovators do not have to seek permission before they use the Internet to launch new technologies, start businesses, connect with friends, or share their views.
The Internet is a level playing field. Consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what content they want to access, create, or share with others. This openness promotes competition. It also enables a self-reinforcing cycle of investment and innovation in which new uses of the network lead to increased adoption of broadband, which drives investment and improvements in the network itself, which in turn lead to further innovative uses of the network and further investment in content, applications, services, and devices. A core goal of this Order is to foster and accelerate this cycle of investment and innovation.
The record and the economic analysis demonstrate, however, that the openness of the Internet cannot be taken for granted, and that it faces real threats. Broadband providers have taken actions that endanger the Internet’s openness by blocking or degrading disfavored content and applications without disclosing their practices to consumers. Finally, broadband providers may have financial interests in services that may compete with online content and services. The record also establishes the widespread benefits of providing greater clarity in this area: clarity that the Internet’s openness will continue; that there is a forum and procedure for resolving alleged open Internet violations; and clarity that broadband providers may reasonably manage their networks. In light of these considerations, the FCC has long recognized that certain basic standards for broadband provider conduct are necessary to ensure the Internet’s continued openness.
The rules ensure that Internet openness will continue, providing greater certainty to consumers, innovators, investors, and broadband providers, including the flexibility providers need to effectively manage their networks. These rules were developed following a public rulemaking process that began in fall 2009 and included input from more than 100,000 individuals and organizations and several public workshops.
The rules require all broadband providers to publicly disclose network management practices, restrict broadband providers from blocking Internet content and applications, and bar fixed broadband providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic. The rules ensure much-needed transparency and continued Internet openness, while making clear that broadband providers can effectively manage their networks and respond to market demands
The Order builds on the bipartisan Internet Policy Statement the Commission adopted in 2005. It concludes that adopting open Internet protections to ensure the continued vitality of the Internet is needed in light of instances of broadband providers interfering with the Internet’s openness and natural incentives they face to exert gatekeeper control over Internet content, applications, and services.
Broadband Internet access services are clearly within the Commission’s jurisdiction. Congress charged the FCC with “regulating a field of enterprise the dominant characteristic of which was the rapid pace of its unfolding” and therefore intended to give the FCC sufficiently broad authority to address new issues that arise with respect to “fluid and dynamic” communications technologies. Congress did not limit its instructions to the Commission to one section of the Communications Act. Rather, it expressed its instructions in multiple sections which, viewed as a whole, provide broad authority to promote competition, investment, transparency, and an open Internet through the rules adopted today.