FCC chairman backs strong net neutrality rules
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed regulating internet service as a public utility to ensure so-called net neutrality, or an open internet.
In an op-ed published Wednesday at Wired.com, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced his intention to create “the strongest open internet protection ever proposed by the FCC”, that would – for the first time – apply to both mobile and broadband providers.
“The internet must be fast, fair and open,” Wheeler wrote. “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 plan will reclassify internet service as a telecoms service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The “bright-line rules” will ban paid prioritisation and the blocking, slowing down or throttling of lawful content and services.
“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,” said Wheeler.
In order to preserve incentives for ISPs to invest in their networks, Wheeler said the agency will modernise Title II, citing no rate regulation, no tariffs and no last-mile unbundling as examples. “Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernised Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition.”
In November, US president Barack Obama called on the FCC “to implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality”.
The commission is scheduled to vote on February 26.