Higher-education organizations such as the Association of American Universities (AAU), EDUCAUSE, and the American Council on Education have lobbied Congress in recent years to support a neutral internet policy that would require telecommunications companies to adopt more transparent network management practices.

“University research laboratories are developing next-generation internet technologies that will drive the internet economy,” AAU wrote in a letter to members of the Congressional Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “These technologies will require an open and accessible internet to develop and flourish.”

EDUCAUSE and Internet2, an organization that advocates internet innovation, wrote in a letter to the FCC and President Obama that establishing net-neutrality laws would “safeguard the ability of students, faculty, and staff to rely upon their broadband connections to engage in the free flow of ideas without interference by commercial internet service providers.”

“Preserving the openness of the internet is as fundamental to our institutions of higher education as the principle of academic freedom,” Greg Jackson, EDUCAUSE’s vice president for policy and analysis, and Gary Bachula, Internet2’s vice president for external relations, said in the statement.

Critics of Genachowski’s proposal say internet growth can only continue if government does not institute policies that regulate telecommunications companies. Hands Off The Internet, an Arlington-Va.-based organization lobbying against net-neutrality policies, has said such government intervention would interrupt market forces that could keep prices down for web users. Hands Off The Internet did not return several interview requests from eCampus News.

The Republicans are calling on Genachowski to conduct a “thorough market analysis” to determine whether new regulations are necessary.

Their points echoed those made in a letter that House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia sent to President Barack Obama on Oct. 2.

Genachowski’s office had no comment on the letters.

Meanwhile in the Senate, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, is considering legislation that would prohibit the FCC from developing net-neutrality rules.

Genachowski’s proposal calls for the FCC to formally adopt four existing principles that have guided the agency’s enforcement of communications laws since 2005. Those principles state that network operators must allow subscribers to access all legal online content, applications, services, and devices.

Genachowski also is calling for the FCC to adopt two additional principles that would prevent broadband providers from discriminating against particular content or applications and would require them to be open about their network management practices. And he is calling for the agency to apply these rules across different types of broadband networks, including wireless networks.

Activist organizations siding with Genachowski and others favoring net neutrality said adoption of the proposed policies would simply be a return to the “status quo,” before telecommunications corporations built massive data networks across the globe.

“To suggest that a return to that status quo threatens broadband investment is not borne out by experience,” said Markham Erickson, executive director of the Open Internet Coalition (OIC), an organization that promotes open internet policies. “In fact, it is critical to investment that this issue be addressed sooner, rather than later. Further delay in addressing this core policy issue will harm investment flows into new and innovative technologies.”

The OIC’s list of supporters reads as a who’s who of internet powerhouses, including Google, Amazon, Ask.com, and YouTube. EDUCAUSE is also a supporter of OIC’s lobbying efforts to create an accessible internet with net-neutrality policies.

Links:

FCC’s OpenInternet.gov

Hands Off The Internet

EDUCAUSE

Association of American Universities


Add your opinion to the discussion.