Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, made this statement today at a news briefing on the expected actions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) later this week. The Commission is scheduled to approve AT&T's takeover of BellSouth and to issue an inquiry into Net Neutrality.
“The FCC this week has the opportunity to take real, substantive actions to maintain a free and open Internet. Although Public Knowledge has not been active in the merger proceeding, we recognize that the Commission could use this transaction to add another needed element to its current Net Neutrality policy. In addition to the four openness principles it already has, the Commission should add a fifth – that network providers must operate on a non-discriminatory basis to those who offer content, services and applications. Adding an enforceable non-discrimination principle to the merger conditions would send the signal that the Commission is serious that as the telephone industry becomes more and more concentrated, that its power over the operation of the Internet will be limited.
“Similarly, the Notice of Inquiry, if done correctly, should serve to force network operators to justify their comments of past months regarding their relationships with content companies who use their networks “for free.” The Notice should specifically require cable companies which boast of prioritizing their bits of Internet telephony service over the data bits of other services to explain this practice. On the other hand, if the only purposes of the notice are to deflect attention from the merger and to bury the issue, the Commission would be better not doing it. We don't need a sham inquiry.
“Anything short of a serious investigation will signal that the FCC intends to hand the fate of the Internet to telephone and cable companies – an outcome that no one other than those industries wants to see happen.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.