FCC Seeks Comment On Specialized Services, Mobile Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission has put out a call for further comment on how its proposed expanded and codified Internet openness guidelines should apply to mobile broadband and specialized services.

The commission has proposed codifying its four existing principles and adding ones on customer transparency and nondiscrimination.

"We have moved from a world of four disputed and unenforceable open Internet principles -- about blocking by broadband providers of lawful online content, applications, and services -- toward the acceptance of six enforceable rules: the original four principles plus the concepts of nondiscrimination and transparency," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in explaining the decision to seek comment in a public notice."These would prevent broadband providers from wrongly playing favorites with lawful Internet speech or businesses, and would empower consumers and entrepreneurs with information about broadband choices and networks. We have made progress over the last year -- but we still have work to do."
Genachowski characterized the call for input as the next step in that process.

"Recent events have highlighted questions on how open Internet rules should apply to ‘specialized' services and to mobile broadband -- what framework will guarantee Internet freedom and openness, and maximize private investment and innovation," said Genachowski. "As we've seen, the issues are complex, and the details matter. Even a proposal that accepts enforceable rules can be flawed in its specifics and risk undermining the fundamental goal of preserving the open Internet. "
Those recent events include heated debate over those two issues prompted by a network neutrality policy accord between Google and Verizon that included support for specialized services and for not applying most openness conditions to wireless broadband.

Public-interest groups argued specialized services meant the sort of paid prioritization the FCC proposed disallowing in its net neutrality rulemaking proposal and opposed the carve-out for wireless broadband.

It is not clear whether the call for comment will push back the FCC's timetable on its proposal to reclassify broadband transmissions as a Title II common carrier service, which is essentially an effort to find legally sustainable grounds for the actions it plans to take on network neutrality.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.