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Not Everyone is Neutral on Neutrality

The Federal Communication Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules could hamper innovation on the Web, said David Farber, as guest on a panel held Friday at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Farber is a professor of computer science and policy at Carnegie Mellon University and a former chief technology officer for the FCC.

Drew Clark

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The Federal Communication Commission's proposed net neutrality rules could hamper innovation on the Web, said David Farber, as guest on a panel held Friday at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Farber is a professor of computer science and policy at Carnegie Mellon University and a former chief technology officer for the FCC.

Farber said that Internet networks have always prioritized certain traffic and that the new rules proposed by the Commission to try to stop discrimination on cable, DSL and wireless networks could constrain operators and tech companies from properly managing their networks. “There are too many lawyers talking about net neutrality and not enough engineers,” he said.

Other computer experts on the panel also warned against the potential constraints that net neutrality rules would have on network engineering, emphasizing the need for an environment where innovation is possible. "The marketplace determines what is acceptable or not, and so far that has gotten us a long way,” asserted Farber.

Such concerns are expected to be part of the FCC's review of network management practices, Colin Crowell, a senior adviser at the FCC, has said. When FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski introduces the new proposal on Oct. 22, a process will begin to explore these complicated questions and to decide what kinds of practices are reasonable.

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