Microsoft's Position on Net Neutrality 'Evolves'

Lora Bentley

When a federal court decided the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to tell Comcast or other Internet service providers how to manage the traffic on their networks, the agency was forced to rethink its ideas on regulating the Internet. The proposed net neutrality rules were suddenly in question and even portions of the National Broadband Plan became uncertain.


Many net neutrality proponents immediately began telling the FCC to reclassify broadband services so that they fall under Title II of the Communications Act rather than Title I, and then use its Title II authority to promulgate the net neutrality rules, but so far, all the FCC has done is extend the public comment period for the rules, from April 8 to April 26, 2010. The hope was that commenters would take the time to process what the court ruling means and then make their recommendations.


According to, Microsoft, which has appeared to stay out of the net neutrality fray until now, took advantage of every last second to formulate its response, filing it just before the comment period ended. And apparently, the company has changed its tune at least a little since the early days. Even though Microsoft stands to be significantly affected however the FCC acts, the company did not recommend either extreme. Instead, Microsoft recommended a third approach - a middle ground, if you will.


From the filing:

[B]roadband is a powerful engine for innovation and investment in America in part because the Internet is an open platform...At the same time, the adoption of unnecessary or insufficiently tailored regulations, such as a prohibition on all types of discrimination, could have the unintended consequence of limiting innovation and investment going forward.

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