The Point

At Last, the Net Neutrality Fight Is Over

December 21, 2010

Official Washington, which usually doesn’t accomplish much at all, is having a week of extraordinary achievement.  There’s the deal on taxes which should boost the economy next year and into 2012, the START Treaty, the long-overdue end to discriminations against gays and lesbians in our military, and now new open Internet rules from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The text of those rules hasn’t been released yet; but based on the Commission’s public discussion and vote today, the FCC has finally resolved a very thorny issue by striking the right balance.  The order adopted today, which hopefully will end the battles over the concept of “net neutrality,” will apply new rules for fairness to broadband network providers, but without impairing the incentives they need to invest hundreds of billions of dollars more in the Internet’s basic infrastructure.

 As I wrote a few weeks ago after FCC Chair Julius Genachowski announced his view of these rules, the Commission’s decision should protect the rights of consumers while allowing broadband companies to manage their own networks and figure out for themselves how best to address online congestion and other quality-of-service issues. All of this will be open for public scrutiny, since today’s announcement includes new transparency requirements that oblige broadband providers to disclose their network management practices.  And if this resolution of net neutrality does lead to greater investments by those providers, as expected, that can only mean more jobs next year as well.

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