This article originally appeared in the Jan. 2011 issue of InfoTECH SPOTLIGHT.
Christmas came early for some Capitol Hill lawmakers…or did it?
By a 3-2 vote on Dec. 21, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission paved the way to protect net neutrality on broadband networks. Under its plan, Internet service providers such as AT&T or Verizon (News - Alert) will be prevented from blocking access to lawful websites and content; the divisive plan also affects wired broadband providers.
As a result of the FCC’s (News - Alert) inquiry into the open Internet, the commission adopted the “Open Internet R&O,” in which the FCC adopts three basic rules that are grounded in broadly accepted Internet norms, as well as the commission’s prior decisions: Transparency; no blocking; and no unreasonable discrimination.
Democratic FCC commissioners – Michael Copps, Mignon Clyburn and Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) – voted for the plan, while Republican commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker were opposed to it – yet it’s still not clear that the FCC even has the authority to enforce the new laws.
In a statement released by President Barack Obama, he said the FCC’s decision “will help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet while encouraging innovation, protecting consumer choice, and defending free speech” and he described it as “an important component of our overall strategy to advance American innovation, economic growth, and job creation.”
Without a doubt, the issue of net neutrality will continue to be a heated discussion, and not just for politicians.
In this edition of InfoTech Spotlight, we look at “The Future of Social Media,” (page 30), a sector that has fiercely backed an open Internet, for obvious reasons. Facebook (News - Alert) entered the fray a few months back, and is reportedly boosting its personnel to help ensure an even playing field. According to a recent report from The Hill, it’s expected that Facebook will have an increased lobbying presence “in an attempt to forestall any onerous privacy regulations.”
What really distinguishes the year ahead, according to analysts, is that so-called disruptive technologies are finally being integrated with each other: social networking, cloud computing and mobile applications.
To find examples of such integration, look no further than our “10 Tech Companies to Watch” (page 22) – many of these firms are helping pave the way for a revitalized 2011. As Forrester’s (News - Alert) Andrew Bartels confirms, the researcher is predicting the U.S. tech industry will grow about twice as fast as nominal GDP in 2011, at 7.4 percent, as investments in cloud and smart computing solutions provide the IT tools for companies to grow profits.
So what does all of this mean for information technology decision-makers? We at InfoTech Spotlight are seeing a growing confidence in the economy, which is having a positive effect on cash flow for many IT companies. Although the New Year is sure to bring challenges, when viewed as opportunities they present a prospect for growth in 2011 and beyond.