Yesterday, the FCC under the leadership of Chairman Julius Genachowski, took the first steps in a proceeding which aims to craft new federal rules for the public Internet. Chairman Genachowski first announced he would undertake this effort in a speech last month at the Brookings Institution and I wrote about that here.

As I said last month, this is a debate that has been going on for years, and we welcome this new chapter in the dialogue. We share and embrace the objective of preserving an open Internet, as we always have. While we may ultimately not agree on the level and extent of government involvement needed to accomplish this important objective, we appreciate and support Chairman Genachowski’s commitment to have a fair, fact-based, and data driven process to explore these matters.

As the Commission has prepared to issue its Notice, there have been many questions raised about how the FCC would initiate the debate and what signals it would send about its intentions. While a lot of this activity has created more heat than light, a lot of it has also contributed toward a better public debate. It is clear from the Commissioners’ statements and comments at the open meeting that a healthy internal debate occurred leading up to today’s vote, and that the Chairman and Commissioners worked closely together – all with the shared view of supporting an open internet - to improve the NPRM in ways that will foster a better dialogue on this important matter. Moreover, significant questions raised by Members of Congress, diversity organizations, editorial boards and many others have helped to crystallize the discussion. And a joint blogpost by executives from Google and Verizon Wireless shows that there may be elements of common ground on net neutrality policy among broadband network providers and applications providers, as well as a shared recognition that consumers have an interest in neutrality at all layers of the Internet. This is a good development.

We will participate actively in this proceeding in an effort to further many of the favorable developments in today’s action. As the FCC’s Broadband Task Force said recently, it could take $350 billion to build next-generation broadband across America, and most of that money will have to come from the private sector and companies like Comcast. We continue to hope that any rules adopted by the Commission will not harm the investment and innovation that has made the Internet what it is today and that will make it even greater tomorrow.