There is a subdued debate taking place in the halls of Congress, the Silicon Valley, and in pretty much all corners of the country. It concerns parties on either side of the argument surrounding net neutrality and the latest proposal drafted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Everyone is weighing in on the subject, with the latest support coming in from a consortium of some of the largest technology companies. Google Inc. (GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) are just a few names part of a huge coalition that has reached out to the FCC to maintain what has been the status quo.
The companies, while not reaching as far as recommending a specific course of action, outlined their stance on the issue. The letter drafted by the group goes: "The Commission's long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open internet are a central reason why the internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth."
The letter further states: "This Commission should take the necessary steps to ensure that the internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce so that America continues to lead the world in technology markets."
This latest outreach comes on the back of a new set of proposals drafted by the FCC on April 23. While they still wait approval by the four remaining commissioners of the FCC, battle lines are already being drawn, with some of the largest US corporations on each side of the fence. Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) took the FCC to court where thelatest ruling by the Court of Appeals agreed with the company early this year.
That decision has opened up the gates, allowing broadband cable companies, such as Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), along with telecoms such as AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon, to create partnerships with content providers for enhanced access to users. Consumer advocates have cited that decision as giving the ISPs too much control over the flow of information.
Currently, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operate under the umbrella of “net neutrality,” which implies unhindered and non-discriminatory access to users by content providers and developers such as Netflix Inc. (NFLX). The new proposal by Tom Wheeler would allow the companies to strike deals in which content providers could get a dedicated bandwidth with uninterrupted service for their subscribers.
While the final outcome by the member commissioners is still awaiting an internal vote, public opinion has been strongly in favor of the content providers. Now the big names have shown up to the discussion, which will only increase the intensity and the potential influence that gets wielded in Washington.