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New FCC Rules on an Open Internet Called "Fake"

December 22, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission approved new rules Tuesday meant to protect an 'open Internet,' but many who were pushing for rules that prevent telecom and network companies from being able to block, slow or prioritize different kinds of online traffic say they're disappointed. In fact, some groups have declared the Open Internet rules to be a "fake," because they protect the wired Internet but not fast-growing wireless or mobile networks.

Bryan Mercer with the Media Mobilizing Project, Philadelphia, voices one concern.

"It leaves important services that Americans need every day, from wireless service to services that are used for critical needs, open to whatever Internet service providers try to do with them."

Telecom companies say the rules should not apply to mobile networks because bandwidth is more limited and they need to be able to manage traffic to provide the best service. However, Amalia Deloney with the Center for Media Justice says what those companies are really interested in is reserving the right to charge for different levels of network performance.

"Simply, all they're saying is they need to protect their bottom line. They want to have the ability to be able to charge for as many things as they possibly can, as mobile continues to grow. And that is about making more profit - it is not at all about the bandwidth or the capabilities that exist."

Bryan Mercer says the vote Tuesday does an injustice to some Pennsylvanians, based on where they live.

"For example, in rural communities across Pennsylvania, often the only way to access the Internet is through wireless services. Those services are not protected by the FCC's new rules."

One FCC member said she was particularly concerned about the impact the rules could have on communities of color, which are more likely to use the mobile Internet for everything from work to keeping in touch with family.

It is widely expected that the battle over an open Internet will now move to the courts, with challenges planned by both corporations and consumer groups.

More information on the new rules, including statements from each commissioner, are available at www.fcc.gov.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA