Tech

Net Neutrality Deal Getting Closer

| Wed Dec. 1, 2010 12:59 PM EST

Apparently a deal on net neutrality is close to completion:

Although the exact details of the plan have yet to be unveiled, analysts agreed that the FCC had made two big concessions to the US cable industry in its plan....Cable groups staunchly opposed a plan unveiled by Mr Genachowski earlier this year that could have led to price controls by the FCC — and that proposal now appears to be dead.

....The FCC has also, in effect, given a thumbs up to tiering practices that are already in place that allow companies to charge consumers based on internet usage. “The exception to that is if, for example, a cable company charges Netflix more to carry traffic because it is video content. That would not be permissable. But they could certainly charge by volume or by the speed that they are carrying traffic,” said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.

I don't have a firm position on the issue of regulating cable companies as telecommunications services, which would have given the FTC authority over pricing, but I think it's probably secondary to getting some strong net neutrality rules put in place. What's more, if real net neutrality is in the works — and we won't know for sure until we see the details — I also don't have any problem with allowing internet providers to institute usage-based charges. That's a market decision, and as long as the charges are strictly bit-based and not content or provider based, that's fine. I have no problem with the idea that if you want more of something, you have to pay for it.

In any case, this tentatively seems like good news. Stay tuned for the details.

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