Google, Verizon, Comcast Hindered Network Neutrality: FCC Chairman

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the Comcast ruling and Google and Verizon's separate plan threw a hitch in his agency's own network neutrality plans.

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski blamed the lack of a new policy for network neutrality on a federal court's decision to expel his agency's bid to regulate Comcast's online management.

Genachowski, who spoke at the Web 2.0 Summit here Nov. 17, also said a parallel network neutrality plan from Google and Verizon threw a hitch in FCC plans, too.

Network neutrality calls for Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally and not give preferential treatment to some Websites over others. Net neutrality is a staple of the FCC National Broadband Plan to connect all individuals and businesses to broadband Internet service.

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out the FCC's decision to regulate Comcast's online management April 6, it derailed the FCC's plans, said Genachowski.

"We were on course to adopt smart, sensible rules when we got a frustrating and seriously incorrect decision from the courts that complicated what we had to do," he said.

Genachowski warned Congress that the court ruling would put a crimp in the FCC's plans to ensure that broadband providers keep their pipes open without favoring their own content over that of other providers. He echoed that position here.

"We're dealing with that," he said. "We have terrific, smart lawyers trying to figure out the best way, the best basis on which we can rest rules. That will happen."

Genachowski also asserted that Google and Verizon's net neutrality proposal in August threw a hitch in the FCC's negotiations.

Google and Verizon pledged to provide enforceable prohibition of any move by an Internet provider against openness, and that there would be no blocking or degrading of traffic. Paid prioritization, they argued, would be against the law.

The FCC promptly abandoned ongoing negotiations, a sign that Google and Verizon had touched a sore spot by going over its head.

The chairman said that while some of the ideas Google and Verizon proposed reflect progress made on the issue of establishing openness and freedom on the Internet, he would have "preferred that they not do exactly what they did, when they did."

"I think that it had an effect of slowing down some other policies that could have led to a resolution," Genachowski said.

Meanwhile, he also said the FCC is trying to maximize innovation and investment and "get the rules right."

On another matter, Genachowski said he wasn't sure yet whether the expanding powers of Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms on the mobile Web were good or bad for the industry.
He said the new "apps economy" has created hundreds of thousands of jobs for software developers.