FCC Chairman Defends Calls for Net Neutrality

LOS ANGELES -- The Cable Show -- FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski defended the commission’s decision to push for new net neutrality regulations that could impact the cable industry, but he told cable operators here today that he won't call for new rules to regulate the prices cable operators charge for programming packages.

In an Q&A with National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow, Genachowski said that rate regulation is "off the table." But when McSlarrow prodded the FCC chairman on his justifications for net neutrality rules, and suggested new regulations could create a market imbalance that could give more power to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Genachowski wouldn’t back down.

"This isn’t about Google. The issue is about the next Google, the next eBay, the next Amazon... It's about making sure that consumers who want to connect to the Internet can connect to whatever is on the Internet, and people who want to put lawful content and applications on the Internet can do that," Genachowski said.

The FCC began considering how it could regulate cable as a common carrier under Title II after an appeals court in April vacated an FCC order that forced Comcast to halt discriminatory bandwidth management policies, and ruled that the commission didn't have the authority to impose network neutrality rules. (See Title II's Nuclear Fallout .)

"It created a problem, not one that I desired," Genachowski said, adding that the commission is in the early stages of a proceeding that could lead to rules that could allow it to impose net neutrality rules on the industry.

Last fall, Genachowski called for broadband providers to provide more transparency in disclosing how they manage their broadband networks, and how customers could be impacted. He told cable operators Thursday that they would be best served by adhering to his calls for more transparency. "That will ultimately minimize the need for government involvement," he added.

While Genachowski praised the "pioneers of the cable industry," calling broadband "an amazing American success story," he also noted that the United States lags behind dozens of nations when it comes to broadband adoption. He noted that the United States has a broadband adoption rate of 65 percent, well below Singapore, which has a 90 percent adoption rate. "We need to close that gap," Genachowski said.

The FCC chairman also touted the Adoption Plus (A+) program that the cable industry launched earlier this year, which will offer 50 percent discounts on broadband Internet service to families with kids in a school lunch program. (See Cable Offers 50% Broadband Discount to School Lunch Bunch.)

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

SteveDonohue 12/5/2012 | 4:36:20 PM
re: FCC Chairman Defends Calls for Net Neutrality <div align="center">Video Comment

tomcoseven 12/5/2012 | 4:36:19 PM
re: FCC Chairman Defends Calls for Net Neutrality

Both Genachowski and Schlick have repeatedly used section 254 (Universal Service) as part of the Title II justification (Look at their 05/06 statements on FCC.gov).


Sure looks like it includes rate regulation to me.

-- Coseven

nelson3748 12/5/2012 | 4:36:12 PM
re: FCC Chairman Defends Calls for Net Neutrality

the FCC can talk up their fairness manifesto until there are no hungry children left, but bottom line: we will have less freedom; companies will make less money; companies will innovate less; fewer jobs will be created; and, moral hazard is infinite. this is one of the most important issues of our lifetimes, sliding down the slippery slope of government control of the internet. we need to be&nbsp;as angry and noisy about this&nbsp;as any other issue, including health care, this IS the future!

and by the way, there is no excuse whatsoever for the Feds to get involved in cable, this is tar, feather, and pitchforks time for me

fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 4:36:09 PM
re: FCC Chairman Defends Calls for Net Neutrality

No, Tom, it's not rate regulation.&nbsp; Section 254 allows for an ad valorem (or other) tax to be applied to the product, regardless of its price.

The Schlick plan seems to be to forbear from applying any of the other normal common carrier protections of Title II, such as common carriage itself, or providing transmission (telecommunications) service on a nondiscriminatory basis.&nbsp; Instead it assumes that there is "vibrant" competition in the form of a duopoly reaching many homes. But instead, since the competition is adequate to forbear from Title II itself but not adequate to create a real market in ISPs, they want to apply "ancillary" nondiscrimination (content neutrality) rules to the information service itself.&nbsp; Truly bizarro-world stuff, but about what we've come to expect from the FCC in the past decade.

It's like doing Computer I over, from 1966, and deciding to regulate the computers who use the network and to not regulate the monopoly networks any more.&nbsp; There won't be many computers but they'll be required to return the right answer.

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