Net neutrality: FCC comments roundup

Today’s the last day to submit comments to the FCC on the net neutrality issue. The principle of equal treatment of and access to all Internet traffic may not be the sexiest topic out there, but the more than 1 million comments submitted so far are reportedly the most the agency has received since the famous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl.

In case you haven’t weighed in but would like to, here’s a quick summary of the main points submitted by key players in the debate, with links to their submissions. Remember, the FCC has proposed Open Internet rules that would, among other things, make it officially OK to establish Internet fast lanes.

Comcast, Verizon and AT&T: The big broadband and cable providers seem to want it all. They say they want net neutrality. But their definition of it is different from everyone else’s. Comcast says it’s “for a free and open Internet,” but it “strongly” supports FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal. Verizon seconds that emotion. AT&T thirds it. They all say they support the Open Internet, but they basically want to keep things the way they are — in the name of innovation and quality network connections, they say. The way things are, so far: Internet content providers such as Netflix are grudgingly paying these companies for direct connections so Netflix’s streaming video will reach its customers smoothly and quickly.

“Further regulation of broadband providers’ behavior is not needed at this time and would threaten the healthy dynamics fueling the growth and continued improvement of the Internet and the many services it enables,” Verizon says in its submitted comments.

Netflix, one of the most outspoken tech companies on this issue: The Los Gatos video entertainment provider has engaged in a war of words with Verizon and Comcast, with which it has paid interconnection deals. Netflix says: “By endorsing the concept of paid prioritization, as well as ambiguous enforcement standards and processes, the Commission’s proposed rules arguably turn the objective of Internet openness on its head — allowing the Internet to look more like a closed platform, such as a cable television service.”

The Internet Association (TIA), whose members include Netflix, Google, Facebook and others: We wrote this week that this group called for “light-touch” changes that would prohibit “segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes.” So, no paid prioritization. The TIA also calls for rules that apply to both fixed and wireless broadband, something that was not the case under the Open Internet rules adopted in 2010.

• Advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation: The EFF calls for the reclassification of broadband providers as telecommunications services. This would give the FCC clear authority over their actions. In addition, the EFF says: “The concept of ‘net neutrality’ or the ‘open Internet’ is very close to the much older legal concept of common carriage that applies to most telecommunications services.” Once the FCC has this authority, it can then ensure no paid prioritization, blocking and “application-specific discrimination,” says the EFF.

To submit comments to the FCC, follow this link. You can also email the agency at


Photo: FCC Commissioner Ajit Paj speaks as Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, center, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, right, look on during a meeting of the commissioners May 15, 2014 at the FCC in Washington, D.C. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • ken

    There was a time (in the 90’s and earlier) when the tech community was so morally righteous. I remember when the CEO asked my boss to scan corporate emails; my boss (the it manager) refused on moral grounds. We pushed for low cost open-source solutions and willingly shared code fragments with each other for free as part of a sharing community.
    Yeah now you guys out there have your millions and are lobbying against net-neutrality and for software patents and more h1b1 visas.
    Some of those techies sold out big time. I guess they won. Congrats.
    yeah lobby for more h1b1’s you guys. you know there’s a shortage of American’s who know how to do math, right? Funny how you forget the people who helped you get to where you are.

  • Jeremiah Jones

    So, basically, the only people that want the proposed changes are those that will profit most from it – Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and other major IPs that will be able to strongarm companies into paying more to provide content. This is one of the single most broken and biased changes that the FCC could ever make.