The Federal Communications Commission approved network neutrality rules Tuesday, with Chairman Julius Genachowski's two Democratic colleagues providing tepid support for his plan aimed at ensuring the Internet remains an open platform.
Genachowki said the order provides a "strong and sensible nonideological framework framework - one that protects Internet freedom and openness and promotes robust innovation and investment."
The order establishes three basic rules: requirements for transparency; a ban on blocking access to lawful content, applications, services, and the connection of devices to the network; and a prohibition on "unreasonable" discrimination. While all three rules apply to wired broadband, the order only applies the transparency and blocking provisions to wireless broadband.
Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael Copps "concurred" with the order, meaning they supported it but did not back every detail while the FCC's two GOP members opposed it. While he did not "whole heartedly" support the order, Copps said it was a "step in the right direction."
Net neutrality supporters have been critical of the proposal, particularly its treatment of wireless broadband, saying it contains too many loopholes for big broadband providers.
"These rules don't do enough to stop the phone and cable companies from dividing the Internet into fast and slow lanes, and they fail to protect wireless users from discrimination. No longer can you get to the same Internet via your mobile device as you can via your laptop," Free Press Managing Director Craig Aaron said in a statement.
At the same time, others oppose the order because they believe it goes too far. Senate Commerce ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said it's an "unprecedented power-grab by the unelected members" of the commission and vowed to move forward with a resolution of disapproval of the FCC's move.
Other groups praised the FCC's move, saying it provides certainty on a bitterly contested issue. "The FCC decision not only provides the regulatory certainty for our member companies and industry more broadly, but it ensures continued innovation and investment in the Internet so that future generations may benefit from the promise of the Internet as our generation has," Information Technology Industry Council President Dean Garfield said in a statement.