The letter (full text below) is addressed to Chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow FCC commissioners, though Wheeler is definitely the intended recipient, as it was his boneheaded idea to half-arse a second attempt at net neutrality by allowing so-called “fast lanes,” which would allow Internet service providers like Verizon to charge content companies a premium for faster and more reliable service to the end-user.
Chairman Wheeler maintains that his proposed neutrality rules would still be in the spirit of an unbiased Internet because they would prohibit ISPs from actively blocking or slowing down content. But that is only half the neutrality equation; the recently gutted FCC rules forbade giving anyone higher priority distribution of their data.
“According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them,” reads the letter. “If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.”
The letter’s authors believe that neutrality rules “should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent. The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low.”
It calls upon the FCC to “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.”
While the letter isn’t exactly the most scathing takedown of fast lanes, one has to appreciate both its plainspoken, common-sense approach to the subject, and the sheer number of companies that have signed on.
Whether the FCC heeds these companies’ call, or those from concerned consumers, remains to be seen. We’ll know more next week when the full commission votes on how to proceed with the draft introduced by Chairman Wheeler.
Below is the full text of the letter, complete with list of signatories:
Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Reilly:
We write to express our support for a free and open internet. Over the past twenty years, American innovators have created countless Internet-based applications, content offerings, and services that are used around the world. These innovations have created enormous value for Internet users, fueled economic growth, and made our Internet companies global leaders. The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination. An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and opportunity for billions of users.
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.
According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them. If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.
Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrim- ination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent. The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low.
Such rules are essential for the future of the Internet. 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.
Vonage Holdings Corp.
Agile Learning Labs
Assembly Made, Inc.
Meteor Development Group
Minds + Machines
Opera Software ASA
Poll Everywhere, Inc
Rewheel/Digital Fuel Monitor
The Next Web