Former FCC Chairman Powell: Net Neutrality 'Doing Great' - InformationWeek

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Former FCC Chairman Powell: Net Neutrality 'Doing Great'

Now private citizen Michael Powell says consumers are winning in what he sees as a "business scrum" between content and service companies.

BOULDER, Colo. -- Even as the debate about Network Neutrality heats up and spawns headline-grabbing rhetorical fury, the man who started it all -- former FCC chairman Michael Powell -- can kick back, relax, and say that his so-called Internet Freedoms are "doing great."

Two years removed and a few rows back from the same place where he first outlined the "freedoms" from his bully pulpit, the now-private-citizen Powell sees the current debate as mostly a "scrum" between big businesses like Verizon and Google, with consumers as the immediate beneficiaries.

"I think the Internet Freedoms are doing great," said Powell, who is scheduled to give a keynote speech Monday at the Silicon Flatirons telecommunications program's yearly conference on telecom regulatory issues, held here on the University of Colorado campus. Because of his public proclamation of the Freedoms -- and some timely action taken last year -- Powell said that there are no perceptible transgressions against consumers, and that service providers would now be "crucified" by their customers should they try to limit access to the Internet.

When Powell made the Freedoms declaration here at the Silicon Flatirons program two years ago, he said that there were many unanswered questions about how service providers might or might not limit competing applications that would run across their broadband lines.

"The concrete was just being poured, and things weren't really set yet," said audience member Powell during a break in Sunday's proceedings, some of which focused directly on the Network Neutrality question. Whether or not cable operators or telecom service providers actually ever planned to block services from independent operators, Powell posits that his open declaration of the Freedoms ideas helped "trip up those discussions, if they ever happened."

And then when one provider did publicly try to block services -- the now-heralded case of Madison River blocking Vonage's Voice over IP -- Powell said, "we went and shot them."

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