FCC 'Net Neutrality' Rules Would Keep the Web Open and Innovative

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Sept. 28 editorial "The FCC's Heavy Hand" revealed fundamental misunderstandings of both the Internet and how competition and regulatory policy work together to benefit consumers. The editorial objected to the Federal Communications Commission's plan to develop rules on how broadband providers should manage the traffic on their networks to comply with a principle of nondiscrimination against particular Internet content or applications providers. We believe that the FCC is taking the right approach.

Nondiscrimination can be essential to ensure that Internet users -- not Internet providers -- control what succeeds in the marketplace. For example, Internet providers have economic incentives to favor the transmission of their own content and applications over those of competitors. Giving broadband providers carte blanche could enable them to squelch the dynamic innovation that the Internet encourages. Consumers benefit when both broadband providers, on the one hand, and content and applications providers, on the other, have proper incentives and opportunities to innovate.

If robust competition existed among broadband providers, they could have incentives to offer all of the content and applications their customers want, regardless of whether it originated with a competitor. But that competition does not exist right now. Most consumers have a choice of only one or two broadband providers, and consumers have not yet substituted wireless service for broadband access provided by cable or telephone companies to any great extent. In the absence of vigorous competition, some rules become necessary.

JON LEIBOWITZ

Chairman

Federal Trade Commission

Washington

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