Thanksgiving Week Serves Up Net Neutrality

Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 13:10

The concept of net neutrality became a reality November 20, when long-sought rules slipped into effect to protect equitable access to online content. However, an unresolved lawsuit filed by Verizon in January continues to challenge the underlying principles codified by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC regulations (PDF file) establish three rules crafted to “preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation, investment, job creation, economic growth, competition, and free expression.” Specifically, the agency forbids mobile and fixed telecommunications providers from blocking or delaying the transmission of constitutionally protected content or online devices for any reason, including the amount of bandwidth needed to transmit that content. It also requires that carriers disclose “their network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their broadband services.”

Rationing bandwidth, or throttling, has been a contentious issue that has thwarted Congress from enacting net neutrality legislation for years. A lawsuit amended by Verizon in October and gathering amicus curiae petitions (PDF file) may keep the controversy alive for the foreseeable future.