Sunday, 30 April 2017

Internet giants square up to FCC over net neutrality

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Thursday 13 April 17

Lobby group representing Google, Amazon, Facebook etc. says existing rules should be kept.

Lobbyists on behalf of some of the world's biggest Internet companies met with U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai this week to voice their support for net neutrality. The Internet Association (IA), which counts Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft…

Lobbyists on behalf of some of the world's biggest Internet companies met with U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai this week to voice their support for net neutrality.

The Internet Association (IA), which counts Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Paypal, Twitter, Uber, and Yahoo, among others, as members, said the 2015 Open Internet Order is working well, and should be kept intact.

"The Internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online," said IA chief executive Michael Beckerman, in an ex parte filing with the FCC dated Tuesday, and published online on Wednesday.

Preliminary IA research indicates that the FCC's net neutrality rules, which came into force in June 2015, have not impeded investment by broadband providers, he said.

The FCC's Pai is a known opponent of the regulator's decision to enforce net neutrality under Title II of the Communications Act.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, Pai plans to make net neutrality a set of principles that telcos can voluntarily pledge to abide by.

He also wants to return jurisdiction of ISPs to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which would require scrapping the Title II classification of ISPs as common carriers.

The IA's Beckerman this week said "consumers want and need their Internet experience preserved and protected, regardless of the legal or regulatory mechanism."

Any net neutrality rules must prevent ISPs from offering paid prioritisation; must apply to fixed, fixed wireless, and mobile broadband services; and should prevent interconnection being used as a choke point to artificially slow traffic or extract money from over-the-top (OTT) providers.

The IA also made its voice heard with regard to rolling back the FCC's broadband privacy rules.

Beckerman was keen to point out that OTTs have limited visibility into consumers' online practices compared to telcos.

"Any continued departure from the FTC's framework should be grounded exclusively in the regulatory, policy, and economic factors that actually distinguish ISP and edge provider markets," he said.

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