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FCC Chair Pitches Restraint In Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski revealed his "Third Way" to attempt to solve the Net neutrality issue that has been dogging Internet regulation negotiations for weeks. Genachowski's plan generally calls for regulation of Web transmission by Internet service providers, but would renounce some requirements on carriers, such as rules that they would have to share lines with competitors.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski revealed his "Third Way" to attempt to solve the Net neutrality issue that has been dogging Internet regulation negotiations for weeks. Genachowski's plan generally calls for regulation of Web transmission by Internet service providers, but would renounce some requirements on carriers, such as rules that they would have to share lines with competitors.

In a statement Thursday, the FCC chairman said he supported a "restrained approach" to broadband Net neutrality regulations, "one carefully balanced to unleash investment and innovation while also protecting and empowering consumers."

Genachowski's approach is likely to be criticized by major carriers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Communications, which want as little regulation as possible. However, firms like Google and Skype that rely on unfettered access to broadband are likely to support Genachowski.

The FCC chairman was clearly trying to pick his way through a complex minefield of regulations and arguments, but his "Third Way" is likely to be praised, challenged, and discussed from a variety of quarters. To start, however, Genachowski is certain to see his approach approved by his two Democratic colleagues on the FCC, commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, giving him a three-to-two endorsement over the two Republican commissioners.

While much of the issue is mired in arcane regulatory jargon, the results of the latest chapter in Net neutrality are likely to influence a wide sweep of Americans and measures ranging from delivery of broadband in rural areas to encouraging new investment and competition in broadband services.

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