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One week after a federal court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s landmark net neutrality policy, emboldened FCC officials are moving to advance an ambitious set of reforms that are already generating static from the broadband industry and its political allies. The decade-long battle over net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible to consumers, is not over. Industry giant AT&T has said it plans to join an appeal of the DC Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court, and net neutrality foes in Congress continue to pursue their relentless campaign aimed at knee-capping the FCC’s consumer protections. But now that the FCC’s regulatory authority is on the strongest legal footing in years, agency officials are well-positioned to address pressing policy issues without the albatross of net neutrality around their necks. Speaking to the National Press Club on Monday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sounded a defiant note on the question of the agency’s legal power as he outlined new plans to promote 5G wireless spectrum. “Our networks are open and will remain open for innovators to use without permission, and for consumers to access any place they want to go on the web, without permission, without blocking, without throttling, and without paid prioritization,” Wheeler told reporters. View the full article
A federal court upheld net-neutrality regulations designed to ensure an open internet, handing a victory to the Obama administration and a defeat to telephone and cable providers. The Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday acted after a decade of debate over web access that pitted Silicon Valley against companies that provide internet access to homes and businesses. The court likened internet service providers to utilities, saying they “act as neutral, indiscriminate platforms for transmission of speech.” The ruling is a triumph for the Federal Communications Commission’s Democratic majority that passed the rules last year. It is a win for Alphabet Inc.’s Google, online video provider Netflix Inc. and others who championed the notion of an open internet where internet service providers are prevented from offering speedier lanes to those willing to pay extra for them. “The open internet rules are here to stay,” Pantelis Michalopoulos, an attorney who represented Netflix and Dish Network Corp. in the case, said in an e-mail. “There is no doubt who is the winner: the open internet. The gatekeepers may not block or throttle our information. They may not ask information to pay tolls.” Challengers including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. said the rule would discourage innovation and investment. AT&T said it would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. View the full article
It may not come as much of a surprise, but the major US telecom companies have significantly outspent supporters of net neutrality when it comes to lobbying on Capitol Hill. And they seem far more intent on getting their way. Between 2005 and 2013, Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast all mentioned the issue of net neutrality in more lobbying reports than any pro-neutrality companies. The trend is particularly unsettling as debate around net neutrality and the "open internet" rages on during the FCC's comment period on Chairman Tom Wheeler's latest proposal. But the biggest surprise may be the top spender on the list in support of net neutrality. Despite Google having the biggest tech lobby in Washington aside from the big internet service providers, AOL â€” the company best known for giving the world dial-up internet in the '90s and being one of the country's largest ISPs â€” has outspent Google on net neutrality issues. That's one of the main takeaways from data collected by Sunlight Foundation and reported on by The Daily Dot. View the full article