In February, the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of California convened a group of senior communication experts to discuss the hot topic of net neutrality. They agreed on a set of principles:
The Annenberg Center Principles for Network Neutrality
The goal of the Annenberg Center Principles for Network Neutrality is to provide a simple, clear set of guidelines addressing the public Internet markets for broadband access.
1. Operators and Customers Both Should Win: It is important to encourage network infrastructure investment by enabling operators to benefit from their investments. It also is important to ensure that customers have the option of unrestricted access to services and content on the global public Internet.
2. Light Touch Regulation: Any regulation should be defined and administered on a nationally uniform basis with a light touch. Regulations should be aimed primarily at markets in which it has been demonstrated that operators possess significant market power. The emphasis should be on prompt enforcement of general principles of competition policy, not detailed regulation of conduct in telecommunications markets.
3. Basic Access Broadband: Broadband network operators should provide “Basic Access Broadband,” a meaningful, neutral Internet connectivity service.* Beyond providing this level of service, operators would be free to determine all service parameters, including performance, pricing, and the prioritization of 3rd party traffic.
4. Transparency: Customers should receive clear, understandable terms and conditions of service explaining how any network operator, internet service provider or internet content provider will use their personal information and prioritize or otherwise control content that reaches them.
5. Encouraging Competitive Entry: Government policy should encourage competitive entry and technological innovation in broadband access markets in order to help achieve effective network competition and make available high speed Internet access to the largest number of customers.
* Network operators providing basic access should not insert themselves in the traffic stream by blocking or degrading traffic. Traffic should be carried regardless of content or destination, and operators should not give preferential treatment to their own or affiliated content in the basic access service. The specific parameters (speed and latency) of this service will be reviewed on a quadrennial basis. Current thinking is that speeds of 1.25+ Mb/s downstream and less upstream would be acceptable at this time, moving to increasingly symmetric bandwidth at higher speeds in the future.