There has been a major update today in the net neutrality debate. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has come out in support of net neutrality and has revealed that the FCC is going to propose reclassification of internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The fight is far from over. Corporations like Comcast and Verizon staunchly opposed this and will not take this lying down.
Wheeler writes that he is submitting to his colleagues the strongest open internet products that the FCC has ever proposed. “These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.”
Paid prioritization is already being done. Netflix is paying Verizon and Comcast to not throttle its traffic because if they do that the users get a poor streaming experience. Net neutrality advocates strongly object to these internet fast lanes for which companies have to pay ISPs.
Wheeler believes that the time to settle the net neutrality question has arrived. He was going to circulate the proposal to FCC commissioners tomorrow but he has shown his cards today. The proposal needs to be voted on by the FCC on February 26th.
Congress can take away some of the FCC’s authority through legislation though. There’s no doubt that lobbyists for ISPs are roaming Washington trying to put something together that blocks FCC’s proposal.
ISPs also have the option to approach the courts so this battle is going to go on for a while.