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Continuing Uncertainty Under FCC Network Neutrality Rules

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Abstract

In December 2010, the FCC adopted rules to preserve Internet freedom and openness, which are also referred to as network neutrality rules. These rules create obligations on broadband Internet access service providers to provide transparency, prohibit blocking, and ensure no unreasonable discrimination. In this presentation we will discuss reasons why great uncertainty remains under these rules. These include understanding the radical nature of recent broadband policy as a noncommon carriage service as well as the questionable sustainability of these rules upon judicial review. Furthermore, even if the rules are legally sustainable, there is also great uncertainty in the rules’ application. Problematic areas include the laxer obligations for wireless broadband, the undefined scope of permissible “pay for priority” services, and the ambiguity of what constitutes reasonable network management practices. If time permits, we will also discuss additional uncertainty that arises from the difficulties of coordinating these rules with other policies, such as universal service.

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