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Genachowski Praises FCC’s ‘Internet Freedom’ Framework

Says commission’s efforts have played a ‘measurable role’

The chairman of the FCC is pleased with the agency’s efforts so far to “protect Internet freedom.”

During an award presentation a few days ago concluding the FCC’s “Open Internet Apps Challenge,” Julius Genachowski delivered something of a report card on its steps to improve “openness” and promote innovation, albeit a report card with all high marks.

“We’ve been committed to improving the information we provide the public; opening the agency to greater participation from external stakeholders; and pursuing transparency as a vehicle to empower consumers,” he said, according to a transcript.

He said the commission has “hosted more than 85 staff-led public workshops on topics from public safety to small business opportunities, workshops that have been streamed online and open to broad public participation.”

Ticking off more accomplishments, Genachowski said the FCC has “transformed” its website and eased public participation with efforts like a proceedings page on which people can submit comments into the public record with one click, something he described as “a first in government.”

He said the FCC is the first federal agency to launch a site that “makes government data available in formats that can help entrepreneurs build innovative applications.” He mentioned the FCC’s work with the software developer community, including Open Developer Day, and its use of the platform to collect public ideas.

The chairman believes the FCC’s framework to preserve “Internet freedom” has played a measurable role in the market. He cited new investments in fixed and mobile broadband networks, despite the economy, and to accelerated deployment of 4G networks; he said there’s more investment this year in U.S. Internet companies than in any year since 2001.

“Investments in Internet companies — these are companies that rely on a free and open Internet — surged in the second quarter of this year with $2.3 billion going into 275 companies. This represents a 72% increase in dollars and a 46% increase in deals from the first quarter of this year.” He predicted that 2011 is going to be the biggest year for tech IPOs in more than a decade and said Internet-based companies like Groupon and LivingSocial are creating a significant number of jobs.

“We’re seeing more and more evidence that the broadband sector is a bright light in our economy — and is strongly positioned to help drive and strengthen our economy.”

The commission announced winners in its “apps challenge.” Genachowski believes these tools will help shine light on network management practices.

MobiPerf was named best application. The Android and iOs app was created a team from the University of Michigan and Microsoft research. “With this tool, in only two minutes, you can give your mobile broadband network a thorough check-up,” the chairman said. “MobiPerf will not only give you basic information about your service, such as throughput speeds, but it can also reveal traffic management practices such as the blocking of certain ports and applications.”

The commission also saluted a team at Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Science for a method called “Differential Probing” that allows users and researchers to identify ways ISPs shape Internet traffic on their networks. The International Computer Science Institute at Berkeley was honored for Netalyzr, a Java applet that allows people to conduct a diagnostic of their Internet service.

The chairman added: “MobiPerf, DiffProbe and Netalyzr may sound like experimental pharmaceuticals, but these are practical tools that are giving consumers and researchers the information they need to understand and monitor the free and open Internet.”

FCC Launches App Contest (Jan. 2011)