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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 of those who were pushing for rules that prevent telecom and network companies from being able to block, slow or prioritize different kinds of traffic online, say they're disappointed. In fact, some groups have even declared the 'Open Internet' rules to be "fake" because they protect the wired Internet, but not fast-growing wireless or mobile networks.

Even FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who voted for the new rules, has voiced concerns that the regulations do not guarantee equal access for all users.

"An open Internet should be available to all end users, residential, enterprise, for profit or not."

Clyburn specifically outlined the potential 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's widely expected that the battle will now move to the courts, with challenges planned by both corporations and consumer groups.

Telecom companies say the rules shouldn't apply to mobile networks because bandwidth is more limited, and they need to be able to manage traffic to provide the best service.

But Amalia Deloney, grassroots media policy director with the Center for Media Justice, says she believes those companies are really interested in reserving the right to charge for different levels of network performance.

"All they're simply 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."

Andrea Quijada, executive director of the Media Literacy Project, says the rules are devastating to rural and low-income communities like those in South Dakota.

"We know that these are communities that are more likely to access the Internet on a cell phone than anywhere else. When we have less protection for wireless users than for wired Internet users, there's discrimination taking place, and we don't think that's right."

Quijada and Deloney and many others say they were disappointed in the significant role that corporations like Verizon played in crafting the new rules meant to regulate them.

More on the new rules, including statements from each commissioner, is at fcc.gov

Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD