College IT officials track Google, Verizon talks

Genachowski's net neutrality plan has received wide-ranging support from educators.
Genachowski's net neutrality plan has received wide-ranging support from educators.

Higher education technologists, who largely support the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality plans, kept an eye on reports Aug. 5 that internet giants Google and Verizon were on the verge of announcing a deal that would provide faster web speeds only to content providers who could pay a premium.

IT decision makers in colleges and universities have said such a precedent could undermine major strides in providing educational content online, especially for small institutions without massive technology budgets.

After media reports said Google, which owns YouTube, and Verizon were hammering out the final details in the creation of “pay tiers” for internet users–a system that the FCC’s net neutrality plan was designed to avoid — Google responded with a statement calling the reports “quite simply wrong.”…Read More

FCC votes to reconsider broadband regulations

The FCC's decision could have important implications for schools, many of which favor net-neutrality rules.
The FCC's decision could have important implications for schools, many of which favor net-neutrality rules.

Federal regulators are reconsidering the rules that govern high-speed internet connections, wading into a bitter policy dispute that could be tied up in Congress and the courts for years. The dispute has important implications for schools and colleges, many of which are hoping for clear rules that prevent service providers from discriminating against certain types of internet traffic.

Over the objections of the agency’s two Republican commissioners, the Federal Communications Commission voted June 17 to begin taking public comments on three different paths for regulating broadband. These include a proposal by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, to define broadband access as a telecommunications service subject to “common carrier” obligations to treat all traffic equally.

Genachowski’s proposal is a response to a federal appeals court ruling this past spring that cast doubt on the agency’s authority over broadband under its existing regulatory framework.…Read More

FCC plan could revive ‘net neutrality’

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to reclassify broadband as a 'telecommunications' service, but without as much regulation.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to reclassify broadband as a 'telecommunications' service, but without as much regulation.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission thinks he has come up with a way to salvage his ambitious national broadband plans and his hope for “net neutrality,” a principle favored by many school technology advocates, without running into legal obstacles that have threatened to derail him.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said May 6 that his agency has crafted a compromise in how it regulates high-speed internet access: It will apply only narrow rules to broadband companies. The FCC chairman, a Democrat, said this delicate dance will ensure the agency has adequate authority to govern broadband providers without being too “heavy-handed.”

But his plan likely will hit legal challenges from the big phone and cable companies, and it already faces significant opposition from Republicans at the FCC and in Congress.…Read More

Could net-neutrality ruling hinder online education?

Genachowski's net neutrality and national broadband plans are in danger after the April 6 court ruling.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's net-neutrality and national broadband plans are in danger after an April 6 court ruling.

A federal court threw the future of internet regulations and U.S. broadband expansion plans into doubt April 6 with a far-reaching decision that went against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The ruling poses a major hurdle for federal policy that school and college administrators hoped would ensure the growth of online education and make high-speed internet affordable for even the smallest school systems and campuses.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all internet traffic flowing over their networks. That was a big victory for Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable company, which had challenged the FCC’s authority to impose such “net neutrality” obligations on broadband providers.

The ruling marks a serious setback for the FCC, which is trying to adopt official net-neutrality regulations. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, argues that such rules are needed to prevent phone and cable companies from using their control over internet access to favor some online content and services over others.…Read More