A Chat with FCC Chief Genachowski
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on broadband access, net neutrality, a spectrum gap, innovation, competition, and consumer empowerment
A day after the Federal Communications Commission voted to explore new rules to prevent Internet service providers from blocking certain services and content, the agency’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, stopped by BusinessWeek’s offices to discuss regulations for an open Internet as well as other media, telecom, and technology issues. A final decision on so-called net neutrality regulations isn’t expected for months.
But the unanimous FCC vote on Oct. 22 is a significant early victory for Genachowski in what is a major—and controversial—policy priority for the chairman, who has been on the job for just three months. Below are edited excerpts from Genachowski’s conversation with BusinessWeek staff members, compiled by senior writer Tom Lowry.
Q: You support a sweeping plan to make broadband more accessible in this country, an initiative that will require lots of private investment. At the same time, new regulations for a neutral Internet will certainly antagonize many of the companies that will be needed to make those investments. How do you reconcile that?
A: First of all, we are not regulating the Internet. What we did yesterday was launch a rule-making process where over the months ahead, we will be getting a lot of public input on what are fair, common-sense rules of the road to ensure that any small business, any entrepreneur, any speaker engaging in a lawful activity can have access to the Internet and the ability to reach an audience.
Q: When talking about net neutrality, is it a good idea to allow companies to charge more for better services on the Internet?
A: We need to make sure that our rules allow for business-model experimentation. Who knows exactly at this point how that will work? We want to make sure what we do welcomes technological changes, because the last thing we want to do is freeze anything in place.