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Letter to FCC Poses Another Roadblock to Wheeler’s Fast Lanes


Net Neutrality advocates have targeted FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s controversial Internet rules for weeks now – decrying the proposed “fast lanes” as discriminatory and unfair; influential tech companies like Google and Netflix have joined the debate as well, opposing changes that will have a clear and significant impact on streaming services and other forms of content delivery.

Dated May 7th, a letter addressed to the Federal Communications Commission presents the most recent roadblock to the proposed fast lanes. Addressed to Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Rielly, the letter writes to express resistance to the FCC’s new rules. Freedom of speech and an environment for innovation are among the primary objections to the new rules.

“The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination. An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and an opportunity for billions of users. The commission’s long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth.”

The letter maintains that the new rules would result in an environment of deal cutting and discriminating, with consumers ultimately becoming worse off. The letter asks for a less obtrusive system that allows established companies to keep doing what they do best – without discouraging or handicapping startups and entrepreneurs. “The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low.”

The eye-catching characteristic of the letter is not its argument but its signers – which include Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, EBay, Yahoo, and others. Without doing the math, one can see that a substantial proportion within the industry opposes what it perceives as an encroachment on Net Neutrality. (Apple is conspicuously missing from the list, for reasons unknown). Still, Google encompasses and influences the Internet as much as any other single company (not to mention the fact that it is valued at almost half a trillion dollars), and companies like Microsoft and Amazon are major players as well.

Although Chairman Wheeler has made some public comments in response to the mounting criticism, the FCC’s meeting on May 15th shed more light on its reaction to this opposition and how it plans to move forward.  You can watch how this meeting went and read all the supporting information at this link.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.