Internet Service Regulation Soon
It’s a big week for the FCC as it is expected that the chairman will finally propose regulating Internet service much like a public utility. This move should unleash intense debate about how to maintain net neutrality. Net neutrality is often referred to as the open Internet, and make sure that everyone has access to the same content at the same speeds.
The proposal will reclassify high-speed Internet services as a telecommunications service and not an information service. While this sounds like a minor distinction in the eyes of the law it is enormous. If Internet access becomes classified as a telecommunications service it will then be subject to title II of the Communications Act that makes the public utility. This would instantly apply a massive amount of regulation to a previously unregulated service.
The change has been pushed by President Obama and would give strong legal authority to the commission to ensure that fast lanes don't show up on the Internet relegating some content to slower or even restricted status. This is at the heart of net neutrality any ideas thereof.
Tom Wheeler has said in the past that although he does advocate inclusion under title II he does advocate a lighter touch in the approach of the applications of this regulation. The more intrusive aspects of the regulation, ones that are currently being applied to public utilities and many states, will be avoided. Some of these include pricing decisions, service areas, and more. Wheeler also wants to put wireless data services under title II and increasing regulations for companies that manage the Internet backbone.
All of this is supposed to be made public this week on Thursday. Although it is not expected that the FCC will release the plan more than likely its contents will leak very soon a vote on the entire proposal is scheduled for February 26, so it is likely that the public will see it in its entirety before then.
The FCC in general and Tom Wheeler specifically have been trying to find a way to create open Internet rules for several years. The trouble is finding a balance between what is politically palatable and what will actually serve the public. Also this is not the first proposal the FCC is made to support net neutrality. In the first draft Internet service would not have been classified under title II and it would've allowed cable and telecommunications companies to internally handled deals with content companies as long as they were considered reasonable.
This cause a great deal of up for with critics of the plan claiming that the FCC would create the very thing is trying to avoid, a fast Lane for large companies to squeeze out the smaller.
President Obama became directly involved 20 called on the FCC to create the strongest rules possible on net neutrality and reclassify high-speed broadband services utility under title II. He claimed that for most Americans the Internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and life. Because of this it must be protected