FCC to Propose Regulating Internet Service as a Utility for Stronger Net Neutrality Rules
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler plans to submit a proposal that would allow the agency to regulate Internet service much like a public utility, reports The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The move would let the FCC introduce strong rules that could prevent Internet providers from creating "fast lanes" letting certain sites pay for faster speeds.
It is expected that the proposal will reclassify high-speed Internet service as a telecommunications service, instead of an information service, under Title II of the Communications Act, according to industry analysts, lobbyists and former F.C.C. staff members.
Net neutrality, which is the principle that all data on the Internet should be treated equally, has been a major topic of discussion in recent months as the FCC in 2014 approved commercially reasonable "Open Internet" net neutrality rules that could potentially allow companies to pay for better service.
In November, President Obama urged the FCC to instead implement strong rules to protect net neutrality, following a four tenet path that would prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling Internet sites. Obama's proposal also called for the prevention of paid prioritization, keeping companies from shelling out money for faster speeds, and it suggested greater transparency between ISPs and their customers.
More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago. And here's a big reason we've seen such incredible growth and innovation: Most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally. That's a principle known as "net neutrality" -- and it says that an entrepreneur's fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student's blog shouldn't be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.
Obama's call for stronger net neutrality rules caused FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to reverse course from his original plan that did allow for paid prioritization, and he is said to be aiming to submit the new proposal to FCC commissioners on Thursday. Wheeler may, however, aim for a "light-touch approach" to the plan, avoiding meddling in pricing decisions. A vote on the proposal is expected on February 26.
Apple has been working on developing its own content delivery network and has been pursuing deals with various ISPs to ensure the efficient delivery of content to customers, but it's possible these types of deals will no longer be allowed if the FCC's newest proposal is implemented.
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