FCC challenges app makers to protect open Internet

By Jasmin Melvin Jasmin Melvin - Wed Jan 5, 5:53 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are asking software developers in an "Open Internet Challenge" to create apps that let Internet users know when their service provider -- fixed or mobile -- is interfering with content.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is trying to get consumers to help police Internet service providers for network management abuses such as slowing bandwidth-hogging content from movies.

The wants to spur the deployment of innovative technologies to protect the openness of the Internet.

The FCC adopted Internet traffic rules last month that ban landline Internet providers such as Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc from blocking lawful traffic or discriminating against bandwidth-heavy content.

The rules would also prevent wireless carriers such as AT&T Inc from blocking access to websites, or competing voice and video applications.

The agency describes an "open" Internet as a "platform that enables consumer choice, freedom of expression, competition, user control, and the freedom to innovate without permission."

The Open Internet Challenge continues the FCC's efforts to keep the Internet accessible to all content providers.

"Our goal is to foster user-developed applications that shine light on any practice that might be inconsistent with the free and open Internet," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.

The challenge also tries to boost useful research into ways to measure, preserve and track the openness of the Internet.

The FCC said apps could provide real-time data to an individual experiencing a slow Internet connection speed, test networks for Internet service providers and aggregate network data for academics and policymakers.

The FCC's open Internet rules adopted on December 21 are expected to go into effect early in the year. But any legal challenges could tie the rules up for years.

(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; editing by Andre Grenon)



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