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FCC to Overhaul Regulation of Internet Lines to protect Net Neutrality

FCC to Overhaul Regulation of Internet Lines to protect Net Neutrality. (Sorry the WSJ doesn’t have open access. One workaround is to copy the headline into the Google News search and link from there.)

Net Neutrality – the principle that all packets on an ISP’s network will be treated the same, no matter where they’re from – is important to the future of the Internet. Without it, an Internet provider could decide to delay VOIP packets from say, Vonage, but favor VOIP packets from their own service; or the ISP could try and force Google to pay a premium so Google’s traffic isn’t slowed on the Internet.

However, the real problem is not Net Neutrality, it’s a lack of real competition in most markets. If there was robust competition in supplying high speed internet connections, there would be no question about one ISP selectively slowing traffic. If any ISP tried it, they would lose customers to the competition. Right now the lack of real competition in most markets makes Net Neutrality legislation important.

But I’d rather it was achieved by competition rather than legislation, as most legislators don’t really understand the issues and “collatoral” damage ensues.

On Wednesday, Mr. Genachowski’s staff began briefing the FCC’s commissioners on how they will propose to regulate Internet lines under rules that were written for traditional phone networks. Some of those rules won’t be applied to Internet networks, FCC officials say, but others will be used to enforce net neutrality, or regulations that require Internet providers to treat traffic equally and not slow or block websites.