Kerry, Dorgan, Wyden Back Net Neutrality Compromise

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Three veteran Hill supporters of Federal Communications Commission action on network neutrality have given chairman Julius Genachowski a shout-out for what they and many others perceive as his plan to propose a compromise network neutrality item.

In a letter to Genachowski only hours before he is widely expected to circulate a network neutrality item to the other commissioners for a vote at the Dec. 21 meeting, Democratic Senators John Kerry (Mass.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.) urged him to "bring the Open Internet rulemaking to conclusion in December."

Their support of network neutrality regs is not a surprise, but given their support for strong such regulations, it is telling that all three say they support a "principled center" approach.

According to numerous sources inside and outside the FCC, the chairman is expected to propose expanding and codifying network neutrality regs pinned to the FCC's current Title I information services definition of Internet access, rather than reclassifying it as a Title II common carrier service with liberal forbearance.

While not explicitly supporting that approach, which is yet to be either announced or confirmed by the chairman, the legislators say that: "We understand that there are some who would have you go further and some that would have you do nothing. But we believe you are headed toward a principled center and we support that effort."

The chairman has three Democratic votes for network neutrality regs, though given Michael Copps' strong stand for Title II, the "principled center" will likely have to be strong enough to satisfy his express desire for sufficient Internet protections. An FCC source speaking on background said Tuesday that a number of industry players are also supportive of the chairman's new proposal. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association and AT&T, among others, were widely believed to have been ready to endorse a similar compromise proposal hammered out with the help of House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) before that fell apart for lack of Republican support.