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Genachowski unveils 5th and 6th principles: net neutrality and beyond

Two new principles would bar discrimination from cable, telco and even wireless networks.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

As I reported this morning, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech today proposing two new principles to the existing "Four Freedoms" adopted by the FCC in 2005 (and currently being challenged in court by Comcast). In his speech today (PDF), Genachowski announced the fifth and sixth principles:

The fifth principle is one of non-discrimination -- stating that broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications. This means they cannot block or degrade lawful traffic over their networks, or pick winners by favoring some content or applications over others in the connection to subscribers’ homes. Nor can they disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider. The Internet must continue to allow users to decide what content and applications succeed. ...

The sixth principle is a transparency principle -- stating that providers of broadband Internet access must be transparent about their network management practices. Why does the FCC need to adopt this principle? The Internet evolved through open standards. It was conceived as a tool whose user manual would be free and available to all. But new network management practices and technologies challenge this original understanding. Today, broadband providers have the technical ability to change how the Internet works for millions of users -- with profound consequences for those users and content, application, and service providers around the world.

I think we might expect a LOT of public comment on these principles. Here's two, reported by Wired:

Public Knowledge's Gigi Sohn: "Genachowski struck exactly the right balance ... (The new rules) will go a long way to freeing investment not only in the network but also in new services and features.”

The CTIA-The Wireless Industry's Chris Guttman-McCabe: "Unlike the other platforms that would be subject to the rules, the wireless industry is extremely competitive, extremely innovative, and extremely personal."

And from the American Cable Association: Hey, how about content neutrality? I got this release in email today:

ESPN, the largest and most dominant sports programming business in the country, uses its leverage in the satellite and cable marketplace to coerce broadband service providers into giving ESPN360 preferential treatment on their networks at the expense of consumers on the one hand and other Web-based services and applications that might seek to compete against them on the other. How can a Web-based sports site fairly compete against ESPN on the Internet when ESPN has secured for itself a substantial per-subscriber fee from every broadband customer in the country?

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