Internet providers frown on new FCC rules


The commission approved new rules meant to prohibit broadband companies from interfering with Internet traffic flowing to their customers.

Known as “net neutrality,” the rules prohibit phone and cable companies from favoring or discriminating against Internet content and services, such as those from rivals.

The rules require broadband providers to let subscribers access all legal online content, applications and services over their wired networks — including online calling services, Internet video and other Web applications that compete with their core businesses. But the rules give broadband providers flexibility to manage data on their systems to deal with problems such as network congestion and unwanted traffic including spam as long as they publicly disclose their network management practices.

In addition, the regulations prohibit wireless carriers from blocking access to any websites or competing applications such as Internet calling services on mobile devices, and require them to disclose their network management practices, too. But the rules give wireless companies more leeway to manage data traffic because wireless systems have more bandwidth constraints than wired networks.

— The Associated Press

New rules approved last week by the Federal Communications Commission regarding Internet customers’ access to content are not needed and might not last, service providers said.

The new rules, referred to as “net neutrality,” were approved on a partisan vote, the three Democrats on the commission in favor and the two Republicans opposed.

The issues the new rules are supposed to address would be better resolved with additional competition, not more regulation, said John Hart, president and owner of Grand Junction-based ACS Online, 1305 N. Fourth St.

“I would anticipate it being overturned,” Hart said. “It certainly doesn’t make sense for the environment of the Internet,” which he said needs no more government regulations.

Hart concurred in his reservations about the new rules with two larger providers of Web-based services, Denver Qwest Communications and Cablevision, which recently purchased Bresnan Communications.

“Qwest is disappointed the FCC moved forward with these regulations at such a critical time in our nation’s economy,” Steve Davis, senior vice president of Qwest Public Policy and Government Relations, said in a statement. “The Internet is a vital source of innovation and job creation, especially in rural areas, and those should be our priorities, not more government.”

Cablevision officials referred inquiries to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, which said it would reserve judgment until it completed a study of the final rules.

“While, like apparently everyone else in America, this would not be the order we would have written, we do appreciate the attempt to provide certainty and to balance the openness of the Internet with the preservation of an incredibly dynamic and successful marketplace,” said Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the association.

ACS still is reviewing the new rules to determine how they will affect the business, Hart said.

There is a business case to be made for the rules, especially with large internet service providers carrying content from competitors, such as Netflix, through a cable-company network, Hart said.

ACS doesn’t “throttle” or prioritize packets of Internet content as they move through its system, Hart said.


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