'Net neutrality' rules to protect web competition

Jasmin Melvin,Reuters
Wednesday 22 December 2010 01:00
Comments

Internet providers are barred from restricting how customers use their service even if it means allowing competitors to run rival services under new rules adopted by US Federal communications regulators.

The rules are intended to promote "net neutrality" and have the backing of the White House, but immediately came in for condemnation by Republicans who said investors would be discouraged from putting money into providing broadband services.

The rules were agreed by the Federal Communications Commission by a vote of 3:2, and are the culmination of a year of pressure by Julius Genachowski, the regulator's chairman.

Among the consequences of the new rules is that telephone and cable companies will be banned from favouring or discriminating against internet content and services that travel over their networks. The content can include online calling services such as Skype, internet video services such as Netflix and other applications that are direct competitors to their core businesses.

While Republicans complained the rules were too proscriptive, other critics argued the rules are too weak to protect the way people are accessing the internet through devices such as smart phones and tablets.

Net neutrality, and the threats to it, became a political issue for many people in 2007 when Comcast Corp. slowed traffic from an internet file-sharing service called BitTorrent. The cable giant argued that the service, which was used to trade movies and other big files was clogging its network.

The rules wouldn't apply to phone makers, so Apple could still dictate which applications to accept or reject for the iPhone. Apple could choose to block Skype, for instance, even if AT&T, which provides wireless service for the iPhone, can't. At a time when more and more people go online using smart phones and other mobile devices, the rules leave wireless carriers with tremendous control over tomorrow's internet, said Gigi Sohn, president of the public interest group Public Knowledge.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in