Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell said he will keep
an eye on cable and phone companies for signs that their high-speed-data
networks discriminate against Internet merchants and content providers.
"I fully recognize the possibility that the ability and incentive of a
network owner to engage in discrimination exists. For this reason, the [FCC]
will continue to keep a sharp eye on marketplace developments for troubling
signs of discrimination," Powell said.
Powell's comments came in a letter to Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.), who
asked the FCC in February to adopt rules maintaining the "open nature" of the
Internet as consumers switch from narrowband to broadband providers.
In his response, Powell said narrowband networks were pried open by
regulators because phone companies were monopolies. But he indicated that
applying narrowband-access rules to broadband would be inappropriate because
broadband is an emerging market with no monopoly characteristics.
"As you know, the broadband world is developing very differently than its
narrowband counterpart," Powell said, citing competition among cable companies,
phone companies, wireless providers, satellite carriers and even power
"Contrary to the one-wire world of narrowband, broadband services are growing
up over multiple, distinct technological platforms, both wired and wireless," he