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FCC presses for neutrality on internet traffic
|22 сентября 2009|
US regulators moved on Monday towards forbidding internet access providers – including those serving mobile devices – from favouring some content companies, programs or devices over others, arguing that the principle known as network neutrality had to be preserved for innovation to flourish.
Julius Genachowski, Federal Communications Commission chairman, said he wanted to establish formal regulations to ban connectivity companies from discriminating against any form of legal internet traffic. Explaining a second principle he wants enshrined in law, the FCC chief said that as companies tried to manage congestion, they should be transparent about the actions they took.
Mr Genachowski immediately drew the support of two colleagues on the five-member commission. Barack Obama, US president, called the plan “an important reminder that the role of government is to provide investment that spurs innovation and common-sense ground rules to ensure that there is a level playing field”.
With Democrats in control of Congress, which is weighing bills to give the FCC clearer power in the area, the prospects are good that the new rules will come into effect.
Cable service providers reacted cautiously, but wireless carriers came out fighting. They said their immense investments in wireless spectrum and enabling technology could be undermined if they lost all control over what happened between devices and the web.
“We have our work cut out for us,” said Chris Guttman-McCabe, regulatory vice-president for CTIA, the wireless association. “We are surprised that the proposal is being extended to wireless devices.”
The issue has been simmering for years with little consumer concern, because most internet providers have never done much to influence customer choice. Time Warner’s America Online didn’t make Time magazine content appear on home computer any faster than pages from Newsweek.
Service providers do stop some malicious traffic, such as the meaningless probes aimed at rendering targeted websites inaccessible. They will still be allowed to do so, and they also can charge customers extra for using beyond a set limit of bandwidth.
But some home service providers have experimented with slowing or even preventing peer-to-peer file sharing. Much of that high-volume traffic is the unauthorized spread of copyrighted material, but not all of it is.
The tensions came into the open with Apple’s iPhone, a product tied in the US to contracts for connectivity from AT&T. In answer to an FCC probe, AT&T confirmed last month that it told Apple it could not allow inexpensive internet calls, such as those over Skype, on the iPhone’s 3G network.
Skype could be among the big winners from the FCC initiative. It should also help Google, which distributes a free operating system for handheld devices.
Источник: Financial Times