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Live Blogging the Commission Meeting

October 22nd, 2009 by George Krebs


Thank you for joining us today. This morning saw a productive Open Commission Meeting and we are now looking forward to the Rulemaking process that will transpire over the coming months. These discussions will shape the openness of the Internet. Please add your voice as we seek public input. As a reminder, all videos, slides, documents and other resources can be found on our new Open Meeting portal. Please continue to follow our Open Internet efforts and stay up to date on all FCC happenings through

Open Meeting Live Blog

10:05AM EDT
Chairman Julius Genachowski opens the meeting, recognizes a handful of helpful staffers, and outlines the agenda. Today’s Open Commission Meeting will focus on one item. Commissioners will consider a proposed rulemaking on Open Internet.

10:13AM EDT
The presentation begins, “We present to you a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks public input on draft rules to preserve an open internet.” There is good precedent for this movement toward an open internet. “The Commission has considered the issue of Internet openness in a wide variety of contexts and proceedings.” A policy statement released in 2005, several enforcement actions, and a notice of inquiry on broadband industry practices in 2007 are among those steps taken toward the issue.

10:24AM EDT
Specifically, the presenters mention that the FCC previously created four principles regarding the management internet. Today’s Notice will add two more principles to the list and will seek to codify them. The six principles are below:

“Under the draft rules, subject to reasonable network management, a provider of broadband Internet access service may not:
1) prevent any of its users from sending or receiving the lawful content of the user’s choice over the Internet;
2) prevent any of its users from running the lawful applications or using the lawful services of the user’s choice;
3) prevent any of its users from connecting to and using on its network the user’s choice of lawful devices that do not harm the network;
4) deprive any of its users of the user’s entitlement to competition among network providers, application providers, service providers, and content providers.
5) A provider of broadband Internet access service must treat lawful content, applications, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.
6) A provider of broadband Internet access service must disclose such information concerning network management and other practices as is reasonably required for users and content, application, and service providers to enjoy the protections specified in this rulemaking.”

10:26AM EDT
The Notice will seek comment and input on these principles and their affect on internet services. With the tremendous growth of mobile and wireless broadband enabled devices, there will be a  large question concerning the application of these principles to those devices.
There is no doubt that this is a momentous day for the Commission and the trajectory of the internet. The conclusion of the presentation reflects this. “Today’s Notice is the beginning of the process towards adopting clear, enforceable, and common sense rules of the road that broadband providers and Internet companies of all sizes can build their businesses around.”

10:29AM EDT
Following the presentations, each Commissioner is given a chance to deliver a statement. Chairman Genachowski cedes the microphone to Commissioner Michael Copps and he begins. “This is a truly historic day at the FCC. It is historic because the Commission takes a long stride, perhaps its longest ever, in ensuring a free, open, and dynamic internet. While in one sense today’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking marks a natural progression from our adoption of the Internet Policy Statement in 2005, in reality it is the clearest statement yet that we will ensure that the genius of the Internet is not subverted as it leaves its infancy and begins to come of age.”

10:33AM EDT
Commissioner Copps, highlighting the central role that consumers play in shaping the direction of FCC policy, continues. “I have advocated long and hard for the Commission to establish a mechanism to ensure that consumers have continued access to a vibrant, open Internet—an Internet that was born on openness, thrived on openness, and depends on openness to realize its going-forward potential.  This Commission will act, I predict, to maintain that openness. …The principles I pushed for in the Internet Policy Statement four years ago focused on consumer rights.  This is, after all, a consumer protection agency.  While just about everybody gains from the availability of an open Internet, no one gains so much as consumers. …We need to recognize that the gatekeepers of today may not be the gatekeepers of tomorrow.  Our job is not so much to mediate among giants as it is to protect consumers.”

10:42AM EDT
In this next statement, Commissioner Robert McDowell notes that he appreciates the collaboration between the slate of Commissioners but emphasizes that they do not agree on all policy recommendations. He contends that internet providers have taken care of the problems and the hiccups that have arisen.

10:58AM EDT
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn shares her experience running a small newspaper in South Carolina. With the assistance of the internet she may have been able to adequately compete with the larger newspapers and media outlets in the area. The internet is a crucial pillar of our society and our economy that we must protect, she explains in supporting today’s Notice.

11:05AM EDT
Commissioner Meredith Baker also acknowledges the collegiality among the commissioners while noting their differences on some policies. As for the current proposal, she cautions against adding additional rules, saying, “Before imposing new rules, we need to carefully think through all potential unintended consequences that could harm consumers by increasing prices, impeding innovation, eliminating choices, and/or reducing quality of service.” Although she will dissent in the current matter, Commissioner Baker states that she agrees that “it is reasonable to take a step back and ask tough and probing questions about the Internet as it exists today and about where we want it to be tomorrow.” Her reservations aside,  “a complete and accurate understanding of the internet ecosystem” is vital.

11:19AM EDT
In the last statement of the five commissioners, Chairman Genachowski advocates strongly on behalf of the concept of Open Internet and for this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in particular.  This begins with the central idea that “we must promote investment and innovation broadly.” In outlining his beliefs he says, “Government’s role in preserving openness is important but also modest.  It should be no greater than necessary to achieve the core goal of preserving a free and open Internet.” Essentially the goal is to minimize the roll in government, not to enlarge it. Addressing the fears of those who believe this will constitute an overreach, he clarifies:

“Government should promote competition.  It should protect consumers’ right to access the lawful content, applications, and services of their choosing.  It should ensure that there is no central authority preventing people or businesses from communicating over the Internet. …This Commission fully agrees that government must not restrict the free flow of information over the Internet.”

To end the Commission’s Open Meeting the Chairman says, “I am pleased to see leaders outside the Commission working to find common ground on enforceable rules.  Given the importance of an open Internet to prosperity and opportunity for all Americans, our country deserves no less.”

The Chairman motions for a vote and all five commissioners vote in favor of pursuing the Rulemaking . Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Copps and Clyburn vote yes without qualifications. Commissioners Baker and McDowell “dissent in part, concur in part,” meaning they support the inquiry but not the associated underlying arguments.

11:45AM EDT
With the structured portion of the meeting having come to a close, a press conference will begin shortly.

11:51AM EDT
Chairman Genachowski begins the press conference and is taking questions.

One reporter asks about the connection between the Broadband Plan and Open Internet. “The Broadband process has always assumed…that there needs to be a free and open internet, it needs to be preserved,” the Chairman responds. Though with regards to the overlap between the two, “we’ll be dealing with them in separate proceedings.”

Following another question, the Chairman makes a point that he wishes to emphasize, “There’s nothing in anything we’ve suggested” that would indicate that the FCC will meddle with companies’ delivery of the internet.  “We’re not going to require anyone to come to the FCC and ask permission,” he says. Instead, this Notice is focused on “how we’re going to codify the rules of the road.”

Many of the questions asked of the Chairman seek an answer concerning specific effects of codifying the six open Internet principles. He explains that these cannot be answered now. These issues “will be addressed vigorously” during the rulemaking process, Genachowski replies. Through this process, he assures the assembled reporters, answers will arise in the months to come.

  1. 2bapackard says:

    This looks to become another way for the government to interfere with the free and open flow of information, and a way to “decide” what is legal and “illegal”. So far the internet is the way most people keep in touch, research, consume, and market. Regulating any of the ways a company charges for that connection would be an automatic restriction to the consumer. If you do not like the company operates use another one. The government needs to keep its hands off the internet.

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  2. Fred Bosick says:

    DO NOT give AT&T what they want! No “Voluntary Priority Access Deals”. Do you know what “voluntary” turns into when there’s only one carrier? It turns into “mandatory”. BTW, how about separating content from transport? As in ComCast buying NBC. And doesn’t the present AT&T actually violate the Consent Decree of 1984?

    You guys all make more money than I do. How about doing your jobs?

    Thank you.

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  3. Guest says:

    The country’s big Internet giants are once again lobbying the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for dangerously misguided regulations that could negatively impact your wireless and Internet services.

    These big online companies want to stop wireless carriers from managing their wireless networks – especially wireless Internet. This would make the Internet companies lots of money, by shifting costs onto network providers like the wireless carriers. But it could cost consumers even more. That’s not fair, and it’s simply bad policy.

    These companies are making a dangerous request of the FCC and Congress – basically to force wireless carriers to add capacity to their networks to accommodate a very small number of users’ desire for bandwidth-heavy peer-to-peer services like gaming, streaming and sharing of high-definition audio and video files. Sounds good at first, right? But, if approved, this request will jeopardize the service quality, competitive pricing, features and security you have come to expect from your wireless service. The proposed regulations could seriously degrade the quality of your wireless and Internet service (including the ability to make E9-1-1 emergency calls), opening it up to a host of quality and security problems – unwanted SPAM, viruses, adult content and more. Not to mention that you may end up paying higher bills for worse service!

    Wireless consumers have numerous choices of providers, phones, features, plans and numerous other options. They can freely choose what best fits their needs and their lifestyles. Preventing wireless carriers from managing their own networks, so that ALL customers enjoy quality of service, means that only a few users of high capacity could cause delays, or even blockages, of the wireless network for all others. Can you imagine being unable to send a simple email, or check your favorite Web site, all because the guy next door is constantly uploading and downloading huge files? It could happen! Remember the painfully slow days of dial-up Internet service? Do we really want to go back? And what’s even worse, you’d be paying more, for services you weren’t even using.

    If the FCC and Congress let online companies write regulations that favor their businesses, American wireless and Internet consumers will ultimately lose money, choices, security and quality.

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  4. Nate Gay says:

    FCC please continue to fight for net neutrality!

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  5. Chuck Nichols says:

    The internet has grown rapidly for years. It is acessible to everyone ,even if they must visit their local library. This idea of neutral is insane. Us spending our taxes on such a useless thing is idiotic. If this passes,which I think it will,then surley it will prevent even the President from shutting it down. As in an emergency! This would be like turning off the electricity during an emergency. Also the last thing one would do in an emergency. Frankly I believe this is only an attempt to have the control to spy on us without the need for a warrant.

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    • Guest says:


      Do you really believe that, or are you a shill for the cable/telco industry? If you’re not just a sock-puppet PLEASE educate yourself about what Net Neutrality actually is.

      Wikipedia is a good source, also has good information.

      Net Neutrality has NOTHING to do with spying on people, and has NOTHING to do with letting the President shut down the internet.

      I’m right there with you about not letting the government spy on us, or letting them control the internet. But Net Neutrality regulation is NOT what would allow the government to spy. The Patriot Act is what lets the government spy on us without a warrant. If you want to stop government spying, oppose the Patriot Act, not Net Neutrality.

      You argument makes about as much sense at this:

      I oppose the FDA because it allows the government to force us to take mind control drugs.
      I’m against speed limits because it will lead to the government bugging our cars.

      Just because Net Neutrality has to do with the internet, and the government could potentially spy on the internet, does not mean that Net Neutrality regulations allows the government to spy on the internet.

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  6. AJV says:

    Net neutrality has so far created an environment where small and large companies compete on near equal footing, providing a near free market and instant information access to all. Why change this?

    Investment in the internet infrastructure will occur as needed, humans are great and creating solutions for their needs, whether the investment comes from those opposing net neutrality now or not. Opposing net neutrality is about greed and control.

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  7. Brian says:

    I support Net Neutrality and to a greater extent any legislation which attempts to empower citizens and arrest that power from select controlling interests.

    I am a citizen. I support a free and open internet.

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  8. Steve Jenkins says:

    Net Neutrality is essential for a healthy democracy. If ISPs are allowed to favor traffic the result on the Internet will be chilling. Without net neutrality protecting the Internet, companies which have deals with ISPs will get 90% of available bandwidth while all others share the remaining 10%.

    Backbone providers can’t even work out IPV6 peering arrangements. Imagine the complexity if the Internet were to turn into a series of restricted speed toll roads. It would hearken back to the day of intralata phone calls what AT&T was a phone monopoly.

    I think we need to focus on making the Internet ubiquitous throughout the USA and making it faster. I realize the cable cos. are scared of streaming content and are capping bandwidth and throttling speeds. Without net neutrality, the cable cos. will simply keep the status quo in place while the USA falls even further behind in Internet penetration and speed.

    Please do not let Rupert Murdoch and John McCain (a guy who can’t even use a computer) strong arm the FCC into opposing net neutrality. Without net neutrality free speech and innovation on the Internet will be severely curtailed.

    Net neutrality now.
    Faster Internet now.
    Bandwidth for everyone, now!

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  9. Brian Kennedy says:

    We should try hard to maintain the status quo on the Internet, and by status quo, of course, I’m referring to the freedom provided by net neutrality. Net neutrality as a broad concept is akin to freedom of speech. It doesn’t exist automatically: it requires rules in order to be preserved and to flourish. I whole heartedly support a free and open Internet in which consumers and businesses aren’t treated unfairly or prejudicially by Internet service providers who would violate net neutrality.

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  10. Matthew says:

    McCain’s bill favors his telecom benefactors, and not the common people. The net should be available free and unfettered for everyone. I support net neutrality.

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  11. Guest says:

    Don’t let these people stop Net Neutrality from happening. It is clear that the telecom companies are paying polictians like McCain off. Net Neutrality is in the interest of the people and will help ensure these companies don’t turn the internet into something more like basic cable.

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  12. Jon Villarreal says:

    I would at least entertain the idea of net-neutrality being not necessarily in the best interest of all *IF* there was actual competition in most major markets. The fact of the matter is that in most areas, there’s a monopoly or a duopoly (cable and whichever half of ma-bell serves your area).

    With the current situation, net-neutrality is the *ONLY* option to keep consumers from being abused and extorted.

    If you’re of the mindset that companies do what’s in the best interest of consumers, all you have to do is look at SMS/text messaging rates for most providers. How is it that I can download gigs of data for a set price from the Internet, yet I have to have every text message counted? If the free market was actually at play, they wouldn’t be.

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  13. Brendan says:

    Naming John McCain’s bill the Internet Freedom Act is probably the biggest piece of doublespeak we’ve seen since the Patriot Act. Removing Net Neutrality will guarantee de facto censorship of the internet, not by the government, but by our own ISPs. Kill this bill and keep the internet free!

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  14. Devon Oslund says:

    Perhaps we can follow this up with the “Postal Freedom Act”, that allows the Post Office to open your mail, read it, and then decide if it wants to deliver it or not, and how quickly…

    Dumb idea, John McCain. But then, what can you expect when people who don’t even know how to use a computer try to regulate the internet?

    Why you septuagenarian technical ignoramuses just keep your damn hands in your pockets and stop trying to screw with complicated machines that you do not understand?

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  15. SVernon says:

    The net must remain neutral just as the highways are neutral. Ford, GM, Honda, would all be in the road business if they could restrict which people could move freely on the roads and which would be charged based on the model car they bought. This is the same thing. The net is a bastion where ideas can flow free and even the smallest voice can ring very loud. That is freedom at its finest and to take that away and let companies decide who gets a voice based on cost, is about as unAmerican as taking taxes from the people and handing it over to the corporations. Oh wait…. well why dont you guys try not to make the same mistake twice…sorry three times.

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  16. Rob N says:

    Net Neutrality is ESSENTIAL!!!! The internet is way more important to me than abortion, gay rights, and the Iraq war put together. If you mess with this, old man, you will see opposition the likes of which you cannot comprehend.

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  17. Guest says:

    Keeping the internet “free” and “open” with no gatekeepers is what has got us this far. It’s (arguably) the most important invention of modern times. Let’s not screw it up.

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  18. Kristen Ward says:

    Don’t let the internet turn into a one directional media source like television or a newspaper! We need net neutrality to be certain that independent journalists, bloggers, video creators, etc. can continue to provide the content that makes the internet what it is. User-created content can not be stunted or we’ll be one step closer to an Orwellian future where all media is strictly controlled.

    ISPs did not Create the internet! we did!

    Don’t let them take that away.

    Preserve net neutrality!

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  19. Guest says:

    Without net neutrality, you may look forward to a balkanized internet experience whereby your access to websites may be limited to those operated by business partners of your ISP- say, you might be allowed access to Tiger Direct, but not to NewEgg. Amazon, but not eBay- and/or your ISP might require you to pay extra for a “premium” subscription which allows you access to those sites.

    Are you a gamer? Is anyone in your household a gamer? Without net neutrality, you may look forward to the creation of “gamer packages” that sell you the functionality you’ve enjoyed for years back to you for a premium.

    Please, support Net Neutrality now.

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  20. Al K. says:

    As a computer scientist and network administrator, I am absolutely in favor of net neutrality. It fosters competition, innovation and simply makes communication easier. All of them good things.

    A robust, capable and global Internet architecture is a good thing for human prosperity, as far as I can tell. Who could honestly disagree?

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