Network neutrality issue is gaining traction at FCC


The FCC showed Tuesday that it is getting serious about the thorny problem of network neutrality, scheduling a public hearing on the issue this month in Boston.

The hearing comes in response to two petitions filed at the commission by the public-interest group Coalition and Vuze Inc. — a company that distributes video using BitTorrent file-sharing technology. The "network management" petitions neatly brack the decisions the commission will have to make about just what network neutrality means and how the government applies the principle.

"We are in a unique moment in history when the government will decide whether we have a closed Internet controlled by a small handful of giant corporations or an open Internet controlled by the people who use it," said Free Press campaign director Timothy Karr.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin contends that a group of network neutrality "principles" already adopted by the agency give the commission give it enough regulatory.

But some of his bosses in Congress don't see it that way. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House telecommunications subcommittee, introduced legislation Tuesday that ensconces the network neutrality principle into law. While Markey's move is a crucial one, it is unrealistic to think legislation that makes that big a change will get through this Congress.