The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously today to move forward on a process - expected to take 120 days - that could lead to Net Neutrality regulations. The vote came after the two dissenters on the commission - Republicans Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker - went on the record to say they disagreed with some of the arguments in chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal. According to the Washington Post's PostTech blog, McDowell said:
Today we do disagree on substance. I do not agree with the majority’s view that the Internet is showing breaks and cracks and that the government ... needs to fix it. Nonetheless it is important to remember that the commission is starting a process, not ending one.
McDowell also said that the FCC should also be considering whether new rules should apply to a larger spectrum of companies, including Web companies and mobile carriers, and not just traditional access providers such AT&T and Comcast.
AT&T, which has been lobbying against Net Neutrality, has argued that any new rules should apply to content delivery networks - Web companies that deliver information to users and, therefore, act as gatekeepers of the Web in a way that's different from the access providers but definitely in line with what the FCC is looking into.
The Net Neutrality matter now heads into a period for public comments and other fact-gathering. That process will continue into early next year.
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- AT&T cries foul to FCC, uses Google Voice to spark Net Neutrality debate
- Smart Planet: Net neutrality: When does transparency collide with competitive edge?