Microsoft, eBay Join Consumers in FCC Protest

A broad range of consumer groups, trade associations and powerful computer and Internet companies including Microsoft , Apple , eBay and Yahoo! are joining forces to petition the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “protect broadband users’ ability to communicate across the Internet without interference that own broadband communications networks.”

In a letter to the FCC Tuesday, the group, calling itself the Coalition of Broadband Users and Innovators, outlined its concerns that broadband network operators such as cable and telephone companies will implement restrictions designed to block or impair access to Internet content, services or devices on their networks.

“The myriad benefits of the Internet Age flow from one fundamental feature — the ability of consumers and businesses to communicate with one another lawfully to create, share and access information, all without obstruction from network service providers,” the letter states.

Earlier this year, the FCC ruled that high-speed Internet service over cable systems was an “information service,” opening the door for cable companies to block access to competing Internet services, creating what critics call a “walled garden” of Web services. The agency is currently a similar provision that would apply to the phone companies.

Currently, incumbent local exchange carriers must interconnect with local telephone and broadband Internet providers on a non-discriminatory basis under open-access, common carrier rules.

“The Commission should assure that consumers and other Internet users continue to enjoy the unfettered ability to reach lawful content and services, and to communicate and interact with each other and reached desired Internet destinations without impediments imposed by transmission network providers,” the letter says.

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