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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Future of Network Neutrality


On November 1, 2007, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was asked to evaluate whether Comcast, an Internet Service Provider (ISP), was violating principles of network neutrality, a Darwinian theory of Internet innovation that makes ISPs treat all Internet traffic the same. Because this FCC case acted as the front lines for the battle over network neutrality, the FCC’s final ruling a year later can give us a good idea about what the future holds for network neutrality in the United States. This paper examines the basic workings of the Internet, theories of innovation the Internet was built upon, levels of potential neutrality regulation and, finally, an analysis of the FCC’s ruling. This paper argues that while the FCC did not designate a clear long-term future for network neutrality, President Barack Obama’s strong stated support of network neutrality bodes well for a stronger FCC commitment to its preservation.

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