Genachowski Receives High-Profile Support On Internet Openness Debate

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FCC chairman Julius Genachowski got support from his corner of the Internet openness debate Monday as he prepares for an Oct. 22 open meeting proposing to expand and codify network neutrality guidelines.

In an open letter, two dozen executives, including EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen and Genachowski's old boss and IAC chairman Barry Diller said his announcement to "begin a process" of adopting those rules was critical to economic growth, innovation and competitiveness.

"America's leadership in the technology space has been due, in large part, to the open Internet," he said. "We applaud your leadership in initiating a process to develop rules to ensure that the qualities that have made the Internet so successful are protected."

Among other members of the Open Internet Coalition signing on to the letter were Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Amazaon CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay CEO John Donoahoe.

The proposal, which hasn't even officially been unveiled, has reopened the network neutrality debate big time. In addition to the usual industry and Republican arguments against codifying rules, some "Yellow Light" Demorats, including fiscal conservatives and Congressional Black Caucus members, have weighed in with cautionary comments about not disincentiving industry investment or somehow widening, rather than closing, the digital divide by making broadband more expensive.

One group has suggested it could cost $350 billion to get high-speed access to all Americans. The FCC must come up with a plan for universal broadband coverage by Feb. 17, 2009.

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