The FCC declared that consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice, run applications and services of their choice and plug in and run legal devices of their choice. The FCC also said consumers have a right to competition among network providers, application and service providers and content providers.
“Consumers have demanded this ability, and cable and telephone companies have delivered it,” Martin said at the Friday open meeting of the FCC. “In a competitive marketplace, providers must do so. They provide a service consumers want or they do not succeed.”
There’s only one problem with the FCC’s lofty statement of principle: it has absolutely no force of law.
…Monday, U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), a longtime player in congressional Internet policy circles, praised the FCC’s statement but pointed out the inherent weakness of its position.
“The absence of a binding statute codifying the principles of Net Neutrality leaves a significant gap in our regulatory structure which will undoubtedly be exploited again by companies seeking to gain an inappropriate competitive advantage,” Boucher said in a statement.
The 12-term congressman called for lawmakers to turn the FCC statement of principles into law since no binding rule or law currently exists to prohibit network operators from engaging in anti-competitive practices in the operation of their platforms.
“The next step must be taken by the Congress in codifying the Net neutrality principles and bestowing on the FCC the clear authority to enforce the principles,” he said.
The article gives an exampel of the kind of behavior we don’t want:
Evidence of anti-competitive behavior is thin so far, but in March the FCC fined a small North Carolina telecom carrier for blocking Voice over IP (define) calls delivered by competitors to the telecom’s own VoIP service.
Madison River Communications of Mebane, N.C., which owns and operates four rural telephone companies in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Illinois, admitted no guilt but agreed to pay a $15,000 fine and promised to drop the practice.
“This is the single-largest problem VoIP will face. It’s critical not only to our survival but for all next-generation IP services,” Jason Talley, CEO of VoIP provider Nuvio, told internetnews.com at the time. “Port blocking is easy to point out, but the other stuff [degrading the VoIP signal] is harder to prove.”
Talley added, “Here’s what cable is afraid of: they sell someone a broadband connection and then they get their video service from, say, SBC.”