FCC Chairman Defends Calls for Net Neutrality
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