It's official: the path has been cleared for Tuesday's historic vote at the Federal Communications Commission approving sweeping new "network neutrality" rules designed to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform that doesn't favor dominant telecommunications and cable companies.
Democratic FCC regulator Michael Copps just issued a statement in which he explains that he will "concur" on the proposed rules, meaning he supports their adoption but doesn't agree with everything in them.
Senior officials have also confirmed that all three Democrats on the five-member commission will support the rules, providing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski with the support he needed for the plan. Copps and fellow Democratic regulator Mignon Clyburn have been fighting for stronger provisions to better protect consumers and smaller competitors.
Wireless carriers have also endorsed (albeit grudgingly) the net neutrality plan, offering Genachowski critical industry support that can help dampen congressional criticism. They insist they need maximum flexibility in operating their networks due to capacity constraints, and won't block competitors.
Critics of the proposal dismiss it as unnecessary government intervention that seeks to correct marketplace problems that do not exist.
Below is Commissioner Copps' statement regarding the Open Internet Order slated for Tuesday's Commission meeting.
"These past three weeks have been devoted on my part to intensive discussions about ensuring the continued openness of the Internet and putting consumers, not Big Phone and Big Cable, in maximum control of their online experiences. I have been fighting for nearly a decade to make sure the Internet doesn't travel down the same road of special interest consolidation and gate-keeper control that other media and telecommunications industries--radio, television, film and cable--have traveled. What an historic tragedy it would be to let that fate befall the dynamism of the Internet. The item we will vote on tomorrow is not the one I would have crafted. But I believe we have been able to make the current iteration better than what was originally circulated. If vigilantly and vigorously implemented by the Commission--and if upheld by the courts--it could represent an important milestone in the ongoing struggle to safeguard the awesome opportunity-creating power of the open Internet. While I cannot vote wholeheartedly to approve the item, I will not block it by voting against it. I instead plan to concur so that we may move forward. I do thank the Chairman for his engagement, and I owe a special debt of gratitude to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for her thoughtful and creative work to improve this item."