Should net neutrality also apply to companies like Google and Amazon?

By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org

Internet providers want federal regulators to rein in content and applications companies in the hopes of reframing a debate about how companies treat one each other over the Internet.

NET NEUTRALITY: Cable companies want the FCC to rein in content and applications companies.

Included among the million-plus comments the public filed with the Federal Communications Commission before July 18 deadline is an appeal by the American Cable Association for the commission to consider a broader definition of net neutrality.

The ACA, a Pittsburgh-based trade group representing small and medium-sized cable companies, implored the agency to take a “balanced approach” that would also prevent so-called “edge companies” — content and applications companies — from blocking and discriminating against Internet service providers.

The proposal seeks to redefine the current net neutrality approach favored by companies like Google and Netflix, which places the onus on Internet service providers to treat all user traffic fairly.

“These so-called ‘edge’ providers have the incentive and ability to limit access to their content in a commercially unreasonable manner, thereby undermining the intent of the Open Internet rules,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said in the comments, referring to recent actions CBS and Viacom have taken against cable companies.

“These concerns are not merely hypothetical,” said Polka.

While the proposal is certainly the latest in a lengthy legislative and regulatory war between service providers and the content companies, the trade group is not alone in its concerns.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist William Lehr, a telecommunications expert, also warned the FCC in a paper the ACA commissioned that “it would be a mistake to adopt one-sided rules targeting the network management behavior of broadband Internet access providers.”

The FCC is holding a second comment period until Sept. 10, during which the public may reply to comments filed during the previous period.

Contact Josh Peterson at jpeterson@watchdog.org. Follow Josh on Twitter at @jdpeterson

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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