Federal Communication Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler published an article on Wired on Wednesday stating he intends to propose new net neutrality rules that will begin regulating Internet providers much like utility companies.
In the conclusion to his Wired article, Wheeler describes his vision for the Internet of the future: “The internet must be fast, fair and open. That is the message I’ve heard from consumers and innovators across this nation. That is the principle that has enabled the internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression… The proposal I present to the commission will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future, for all Americans.”
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Back in November of last year, President Obama made a speech calling on the FCC “to implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”
The FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules begin regulating Internet like a public utility
Wheeler says it’s time to begin regulating Internet providers to guarantee equal access to all. “I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.”
No rate regulation
“There will be no rate regulation,” Wheeler wrote. He emphasized this point and also noted “modernized” rules can encourage investment and competition.
With its new net neutrality rules, the FCC is moving settle a long-standing debate regarding whether the Internet is freely available to all, or whether broadband providers can charge fees for faster speeds or otherwise restrict user access. Wheeler will be offering his recommendations to the other FCC commissioners on February 5th. A vote on the new rules is planned for February 26th.
Pros and cons
The primary result of the new FCC Internet rules is that Internet service providers will be regulated much like telecommunications firms. This means that ISPs will now see closer oversight of how they manage traffic on their networks. Under the new rules, for example, the FCC could prevent broadband providers from slowing down those who use up more network bandwidth because they are streaming Netflix 12+ hours a day.
Most cable companies and ISPs oppose this new regulatory framework, saying they already support an open Internet and that more government regulation will just stifle innovation and investment in the sector.