FCC approves net neutrality framework

John C. Tanner
22 Dec 2010
The US FCC voted to approve a net neutrality framework for wired and wireless networks Tuesday, but is already facing a promise by top Republican Congressmen to repeal it.
Under the proposed framework, wired ISPs must be transparent about network congestion management, and will be prohibited from blocking over-the-top services like VoIP and video that compete with carrier services. The rules also ban “unreasonable discrimination” against lawful network traffic.
However, the framework does allow broadband ISPs to create usage-based pricing and tiered services that charge heavy data users more.
ISPs will also be allowed to create “specialized services” separate from the public Internet for specific apps like healthcare and security, but will be required to justify such services to the FCC.
As expected, cellcos get a lighter touch under the framework, which exempt mobile from the “unreasonable discrimination” provision, and call for “reasonable” network management “appropriate and tailored to a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account network architecture.”
Cellcos will also be subject to a simpler “no blocking” rule that does not apply to cellcos running application storefronts.
Notably, the FCC stopped short of reclassifying broadband as a common-carrier service, a proposal suggested by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski earlier this year that was vehemently opposed by the telecoms sector and net neutrality proponents.


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