Clyburn cautioned that net neutrality does not cause the development of two different kinds of Internet worlds.
Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn
distanced herself from the position of the body's chairman, Julius
Genachowski, with remarks during the Practicing Law Institute's annual
telecommunications summit, telling the audience she thought net
neutrality-a concept supporting a free and open Internet-- should
extend to wireless networks as well. "While I recognize that there are
distinctions between wired and wireless networks, I think it is
essential that our wireless networks-those of the present and
future-grow in an open way just as our wired ones have," she said.
The speech came as the FCC prepares for a vote on net neutrality later
this month. The proposal would build upon framework developed by House
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and Sen. Harry Waxman, D-Calif.,
which would see the agency move phone and cable companies into the
Title II, or Broadcast Servers, section of the Telecommunications Act
passed in 1996. In September, legislation aimed at regulating how
Internet providers such as Comcast offer Internet service to their
customers collapsed in the face of Republican opposition.
"During the past year, we observed consensus in action, when Verizon
and Google put their collective heads together, for the specific
purpose of finding common ground. They first submitted a letter to the
Commission highlighting their commonalities, followed by a proposal on
which they both agreed," Clyburn said. "While those two companies may
not agree on every single facet of open Internet principles, they
reached agreement on several important standards."
Clyburn cautioned that net neutrality should ensure that, although
there are two kinds of networks, does not cause the development of two
kinds of Internet worlds. She noted that aside from technical
differences, the basic user experience should be the same, adding many
consumers use wireless networks exclusively to access good and
"More generally, we have observed that many companies, public interest
advocates, and other stakeholders, have been engaged on these issues
during the past 14 months, at the Commission and on the Hill, and I am
greatly encouraged by the increased communication," she said. "It is my
belief that collaboration can work when all parties are committed to
A group of those public interest activists and stakeholders
expressed their opinion of the FCC's net neutrality plan in a joint
letter released Friday, which said the regulations don't go far enough.
Representatives from organizations like the Center for Media Justice,
Center for Digital Democracy and the MIT Center for Future Civic Media
found flaws in five areas of the order: paid prioritization, which the
letter termed the "antithesis" of openness, loophole-free definitions,
protection against specialized services, a lack of sound legal footing
and adequate protection for wireless.
"At the end of the day for me, this is about consumers. Their access to
an open Internet must be protected, because I believe that currently,
there are no clear, enforceable rules," Clyburn said. "We need
guidelines-or in the Chairman's parlance-"rules of the road," so that
providers know precisely what is acceptable behavior and consumers
clearly know their rights."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.