In fact, the October written notice, in section 14, specifically said: "The rules we propose today address users' ability to ACCESS the Internet and are not intended to regulate the Internet itself...."
On March 17, the FCC is expected to deliver a formal report to Congress on its National Broadband Plan, which was required in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Progress on the plan is outlined by the FCC at a separate Web site .
Who are the biggest players in the Net neutrality debate? One group of traditional cable, wireless and telecommunications providers has taken an active role in the debate: Netcompetition.org , which has posted a list of its members on its e-forum site. The site, which includes short papers on its positions, has one standing headline over a counting clock that reads, "What's the problem?" The clock notes that more than seven years has gone by "with no need for any Net neutrality mandate!"
The other big block of players is an array of citizen actions groups loosely aligned with Google and other companies that want to offer new and different uses for the Web but don't generally run networks carrying Internet data. Google communicates mainly on its official blog, where it announced on Feb. 10 its experimental fiber network . That blog entry includes links to Google's comments to the FCC from July 2009 where it promoted "open, ubiquitous broadband connectivity" as a means of improving American competitiveness.
Among various public interest groups active in Net neutrality issues is Free Press , a Washington-based nonprofit group that praised Google's high-speed broadband experiment. It also said Google's announcement "follows a trail already blazed by Verizon's FiOS network, which has fiber optic cables capable of speeds comparable to what Google proposes."
What's next? Congress will be the major battleground for Net neutrality, even though it has already taken up bills in recent years that included the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2007 and measures to protect how various service providers work together in sharing applications and services.
The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009, H.R. 3458, may be the broadest, and is now before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Sponsored by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and 21 co-sponsors, it would amend the Communications Act of 1934, establish a national broadband policy, and safeguard consumer rights .
Markey has called the FCC's non-discrimination principles a complement to the House bill .
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld . Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed@matthamblen or subscribe to . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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