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As first FCC anti-‘fast lane’ comment period comes to end, startups rally their voices

Above: The end of Net Neutrality will look like this (but not with cars and roads, of course).

Image Credit: Shutterstock

More startups are trying to jam up the Federal Communications Commission’s “fast lane” proposal — with comments.

Browser maker Opera Software, health care advocate Global Health Living Foundation, mobile advertising firm Heyzap, and interactive video provider Touchcast are the latest organizations to file comments asking the federal agency to keep Net Neutrality alive.

The first public comment period ends July 15, followed by reply comments until Sept. 10.

The four organizations are the latest organized by Engine, a San Francisco-based non-profit that engages the startup community with policy issues. A previous wave of Engine-organized comments came from Codecamedy, CodeCombat, General Assembly, and Open Curriculum.

Other waves of anti-fast lane comments have included stories and notices from more than 10,000 MoveOn.org members and a letter that 150 technology companies signed, including such giants as Google, Facebook, eBay, Microsoft, Twitter, and Netflix. Over 100,000 comments have been delivered thus far.

“Our worst-case scenario is that other countries copy [the] FCC’s proposal,” wrote Opera Software CTO Haakon Wium Lie in his company’s comments. “Under the Chairman’s proposal, in order to have a viable web compression service, we would have to secure agreements for a fast lane. [But] competition will suffer if some browser vendors have fast lane arrangements, or if the non-fast lanes do not provide sufficient capacity.”

Opera is based in Norway.

“We could not have become the company we are today under the rules proposed by the FCC,” commented Heyzap cofounder and president Jude Gomila. “We provide real-time recommendations of apps based on data gathered from users. This requires gathering a lot of data, bringing it to our computers, processing it, and sending recommendations and ads back to our users—all in fractions of a second.”

The statement from TouchCast cofounders Erick Schonfeld, Edo Segal, and Charley Miller provides a specific example of how their company could be wiped out by fast lanes:

“Established broadcast companies are wealthy and powerful, and they could easily forge exclusive agreements with broadband providers and lock us out from those providers’ networks. While the Chairman’s proposal prevents NBC from forming an exclusive agreement with its affiliate, Comcast, it does nothing to prevent NBC from forming the same agreement with Verizon, or CBS with both Verizon and Comcast. These exclusive agreements could shut us out of the game entirely.”

Pro-Net Neutrality comments, according to Engine cofounder and senior strategist Michael McGeary, recently saw a major spike from companies and users following the recent exposure the subject received on John Oliver’s HBO series, Last Week Tonight.


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