FCC Changing Broadband Rules Language to Reflect Concern Over Internet “Slow Lane”

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The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are both reporting the Federal Communications Commission are revising net neutrality rules. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will present a revised draft after two other commissioners dealing with the language that drew criticism from the public, as well as Google, Netflix and many tech investors.

Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Twitter and over 100 smaller web firms wrote a letter to the chairman last week regarding the pay for prioritization part of the rules.  The concern is the Internet will be divided into fast lanes for large companies that can pay and slow lanes for startups, non-profits or any other entities with a smaller budget.

The plan would still allow for paid prioritization of web content. However, the revised language would attempt to warn internet service providers against putting the content of companies that don’t pay for premium speed into the “slow lane”, this according to an anonymous source at the FCC.

The new draft will ask for public comment on whether prioritization should be banned but he is not dropping that option from the proposal. It may also ask for public opinion on whether broadband Internet service should be considered a public utility. This would make ISPs subject to more regulation. Providers fear it will place undue pressure on business.

“The new draft clearly reflects the public input the commission has received,” one of the FCC officials told the Wall Street Journal. “The draft is explicit that the goal is to find the best approach to ensure the Internet remains open and prevent any practices that threaten it.”

Wheeler denies this will be the case and says consumers will be guaranteed a baseline service.  However, many don’t think that is possible.

“With broadband, there is no such thing as accelerating some traffic without degrading other traffic,” Columbia University law professor Tim Wu in a recent New Yorker article said. “We take it for granted that bloggers, start-ups, or nonprofits on an open Internet reach their audiences roughly the same way as everyone else. Now they won’t. “


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