Tech companies object to FCC's net neutrality proposal

It didn't take long for tech companies big and small--including Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Yahoo--to rally against the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules that would allow broadband providers to charge a fee for a fast lane on the Internet. The companies said the new rules would hurt consumers and industry competition.

"Consumers should not be denied highest quality access to the content of their choice because of discriminatory deals cut by their broadband Internet access provider," Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global public policy, told the The Wall Street Journal. "A strong non-discrimination rule is needed."

Tech giant Amazon joined other companies including Google and Yahoo in a letter earlier this month opposing the FCC's previous proposal. But critics claim it's really smaller companies that will really be hurt if the new rules are implemented. Technology-investment firm Union Square Ventures used a mock pop-up ad on its website Thursday to criticize the proposed FCC rules and two of the biggest broadband companies.

"Please wait while we prioritize traffic from our preferred partners," reads the pop-up message, as the Union Square website appears to slow to a crawl. The message shows logos from Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and urges Web visitors to sign a petition to Congress in opposition to the net neutrality rules.

Meanwhile, in a blog post on Thursday, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen said the MSO has no plans to launch any new data usage policies at this time, noting the company recently suspended its 250-Gigabyte-per-month excessive use policy in 2012. Still, the company has pushed for fees on deals where providers like Netflix can directly connect to Comcast's network and is currently testing usage-based policies that link soft monthly caps with overage fees in a handful of markets including Atlanta. Customers are fitted with a monthly limit of 300 GB per month before they face a $10 charge for each additional 50GB they consume.

Other operators including Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) and Mediacom Communications were keeping their options open, according to WSJ, while Verizon (NYSE: VZ), whose legal challenge against the FCC's last attempt at regulating the Net led those rules to be struck down by a federal appeals court earlier this year, has pushed for the right to charge an extra fee for a fast lane.

"For the FCC to impose 1930s utility regulation on the Internet would lead to years of legal and regulatory uncertainty and would jeopardize investment and innovation in broadband," Randal Milch, Verizon's general counsel, said in a prepared statement.

Hardware companies also weighed in on the proposed rules. In a letter to the commission, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers said it's important to protect end users and content providers from "unwarranted blocking," urging the commission against implementing any additional regulation that could slow innovation.

For more:
- The Wall Street Journal has this story (sub. req.)
- Business Week has this story
- Multichannel News has this story

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