The Network Neutrality
Towards the end of the open access debate (2002-2005), it became evident that a real threat to openness on the Internet stemmed from network operators blocking end users from accessing certain types of applications, rather than from blocking competing ISPs from the network. In 2004, it came to the attention of the FCC that Madison River Communications, LLC, a small ISP in North Carolina, was blocking its customers from using a certain application type – voice over Internet protocol (or VoIP—Internet telephony) from one or more VoIP providers.1 In a consent decree entered into with the FCC, Madison River agreed to pay a $15,000 fine and stop blocking VoIP applications.2 In a statement applauding the decision, then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell stated that “the industry must adhere to
1 Another example of this involves Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). VPNs allow employees to access employers’ (or other) network drives via the Internet. For example, an employee working from home can use a VPN application to access a server located on-premise at his or her worksite. Many cable network providers initially banned the use of VPNs, but rescinded after the bans became widely publicized. For a more detailed account of these events, see Tim Wu and Lawrence Lessig, Ex Parte Submission in CS Docket No. 02-52 (2003); available at http://www.timwu.org/wu_lessig_fcc.pdf. Last accessed on March 24, 2012.
2 See In the Matter of Madison River Communication, LLC and Affiliated Companies, Consent Decree, 20 F.C.C.R. 6, 4296 (2005).