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May 15, 2014

FCC Brings Net Neutrality Proposal to the Public

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission today voted in favor of opening its newly-proposed Net neutrality rules up to public comment.

The proposed rules, potentially, could allow broadband providers to offer “commercially reasonable” traffic management — a plan that is not sitting well with proponents of a free and open Internet, despite the assurances of FCC chairman Tom Wheeler who dreamed up the plan.

Although it was a close vote (3-2), Wheeler got his way, thanks to the two other democrats on the FCC board.

Those votes did not come without the two commissioners stating some misgivings, however.

“I believe the process that got us to this rulemaking today is flawed. I would have preferred a delay. I think we moved too fast to be fair,” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was quoted by Reuters.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is encouraging the public to comment on the notice of proposed rulemaking, which puts Wheeler’s plan before the public for the next 120 days.

The notice asks if “paid prioritization” by broadband providers should be forbidden as well as if they should be treated as utilities. If Internet providers were treated as utility providers, the FCC would have more regulatory power over them.

“This is your opportunity to formally make your points on the record,” Clyburn was quoted by Reuters. “You have the ear of the entire FCC. The eyes of the world are on all of us.”

The new proposal comes after weeks of criticism for Wheeler’s original Net neutrality plan which could have enabled broadband providers to implement a “fast lane” for streaming video providers willing to fork over enough cash.

Wheeler has since announced safeguards to prevent that. The revision includes language that Wheeler has said will enable the FCC to ensure the traffic of non-paying customers is not affected.

Wheeler has been saying for weeks his plans for Net neutrality have been misunderstood.

“I do not believe we should leave the market unprotected for multiple more years while lawyers for the biggest corporate players tie the FCC’s protections up in court,” Wheeler said in a recent blog post.

“Notwithstanding this, all regulatory options remain on the table. If the proposal before us now turns out to be insufficient or if we observe anyone taking advantage of the rule, I won’t hesitate to use Title II. However, unlike with Title II, we can use the court’s roadmap to implement Open Internet regulation now rather than endure additional years of litigation and delay.”


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.