The Federal Communications Commission let the rest of the country in on a big secret last Thursday: how it actually plans to make network neutrality (which it voted for two weeks earlier) work. In a massive 400-page PDF, the agency laid out its vision for net neutrality. Reading the document closely — as I've spent the past four days doing — reveals just how controversial the regulations will be. The concept of network neutrality has attracted broad public support, but translating that concept into specific rules turns out to be surprisingly tricky. Even after hundreds of pages of explanation, the FCC left a number of important questions unanswered.
The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to implement new net neutrality rules designed to make sure Internet service providers treat all legal content equally. The historic vote on the proposal, pitched by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, elicited hearty cheers from a wide array of technology companies and consumer groups while setting the table for lawsuits from Internet service providers. The controversial proceedings that led up to the vote generated heated lobbying in Washington and public clamor on social media, all in efforts to steer the future direction of the rules that guide Internet traffic.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to categorize the internet as a public utility and thereby uphold strong net neutrality regulations. Advocates applauded the passage as a victory for internet consumers, blocking what had been described as the creation of internet "fast lanes" for companies willing to pay more for high-speed service. The vote came down to a 3-2 margin, with dissents from Republicans Michael O'Reilly and Ajut Pai.
After several years of most people’s eyes glazing over at the words “network neutrality,” things finally seem to be changing. Last week the Federal Communications Commission appeared to be on the brink of implementing a net neutrality plan that would dramatically change the way the Internet works. Then President Obama injected a new dynamic into the debate this week when he called for clear network neutrality protections and uttered the magic words: reclassification of Internet access service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. (Magic has a very different meaning in telecommunications policy.
On Monday, President Obama unveiled a plan for strong network neutrality regulations. Before long, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had both denounced the president's proposal. Yet the views of these elected officials will be almost irrelevant to determining how the internet is regulated in the next few years. Instead, the future of network neutrality rests in the hands of Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler. But Wheeler has to work within the framework of an outdated statute that hasn't been updated in 18 years.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday said Internet service providers should be regulated more like public utilities to make sure they grant equal access to all content providers, touching off intense protests from cable and telecoms companies and Republican lawmakers. Obama's detailed statement on the issue of "net neutrality," a platform in his 2008 presidential campaign, was a rare intervention by the White House into the policy setting of an independent agency.
On the same morning net neutrality demonstrators showed up at FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's house to protest a plan that could let broadband providers charge for "fast lanes" to the Internet, the demonstrators found unexpected support from the White House. President Obama released a statement and video Monday in which he makes the same demand as the demonstrators: Reclassify the Internet — and mobile broadband — as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. "I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online," Obama said in the statement.
In a rather dramatic development, President Obama today announced that he wants the FCC to reclassify internet service providers as telecommunications services. Just typing that sentence can make a person a little snoozy, but it's actually an incredibly huge deal. Reclassification would give the federal government the authority to protect network neutrality, whereas the current classification basically doesn't. So even though the question of classification status sounds incredibly dull and obscure, it's really a huge deal. Watch Obama's statement on why he's making the switch below (text of the plan here), and read Tim Lee's explanation of why this matters.
The FCC's chairman says he's looking for more public comment on his proposal.
The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will once again seek to set rules that make sure broadband providers do not discriminate or block any content on the Internet, a senior FCC official said on Wednesday. The FCC will not appeal a U.S. court decision last month that rejected a previous version of these rules because of the way the FCC had classified broadband providers, the official said.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out Federal Communications Commission rules that require Internet service providers to give all traffic equal access through their networks.
"The television is just another appliance -- it's a toaster with pictures." That statement was made by Mark Fowler, Ronald Reagan's FCC Chairman who spearheaded a deregulatory trend that has continued for over three decades.