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McClatchy-Tribune  07/23/2014 11:24 PM ET
Net neutrality needs 'strongest possible rules,' mayors of Portland, New York and San Francisco tell FCC [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]

July 23--Portland Mayor Charlie Hales joined the mayors of San Francisco and New York this week in a joint letter to the Federal Communications Commission, urging the FCC to enforce 'net neutrality.'

Net neutrality is the hotly contested principle that all traffic on the Internet ought to be treated equally, blocking service providers' ability to levy tolls on certain content or give preferential treatment to companies who pay a premium for faster access.

The FCC was swamped with comments last week as it approached a deadline for its current proposal, logging more than a million comments altogether. After a court tossed out a prior FCC plan last winter, the commission came up with a revised proposal that would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to offer premium Internet "fast lanes."

Consumer advocates feel the FCC's proposal would, in time, raise prices for Internet services like Netflix, because companies would charge subscribers to cover the cost of premium access on ISPs' networks.

The mayors' letter, dated July 18, asks the FCC "to issue the strongest possible rules to guarantee Net Neutrality." They ask the FCC to reverse prior decisions and classify high-speed Internet access as a telecommunications service, subject to a higher regulatory standard, citing in part "widespread consumer dissatisfaction with broadband providers."

"Perhaps no issue has generated as much alarm among members of the public, advocates and other stakeholders as the risk that content and content-provider based blocking and other discriminatory practices pose to Net Neutrality," the mayors write.

Improving broadband service has long been a city priority in Portland, and in June the city council approved a franchise agreement with Google Fiber, which is contemplating super-fast Internet in Portland and several nearby suburbs. Google says it supports net neutrality.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, has also been a leading advocate of net neutrality.

The flood of public comments on net neutrality prompted the FCC to extend a deadline for comments. That deadline passed last Friday, the date of the mayors' letter, but the FCC said it will accept additional input past the deadline.

-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; phone: 503-294-7699


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