FCC Chairman announces plans to re-classify internet as utility

President Obama Expected To Nominate Rep. Mel Watt For Director Of The Federal Housing Finance Agency

A big topic in the tech industry throughout 2014 was “net neutrality”. Partly helped by THAT John Oliver video. There were concerns that internet, both mobile and fixed line, was being  corrupted by big players who sought to reward content/service providers with being on “fast lanes” if they paid enough for the privilege.

Under a net neutrality law, the internet is an open and equal space for any site, content or online service provider regardless of size, or how big their bank balances are.

In an op-ed published on Wired, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler states that he is seeking to reclassify the internet as a utility, and wants to “ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.”

It’s big news for net neutrality advocates, and is a huge step forward for the state of the industry. It includes both fixed line and wireless/cellular broadband.

“That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.

Using this authority, 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.”

Of course, we can expect the huge ISPs to lobby aggressively in an attempt to derail Tom Wheeler’s plans to make the internet an open space. Those companies who stand to lose the most will be the ones fighting hardest: Time Warner, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

As for T-Mobile, John Legere has openly supported net neutrality, but not under Title II being proposed today by Tom Wheeler, and previously by President Obama. In Legere’s ideal world, internet should be open and free, but not stringently and strictly regulated as to stifle innovation.

It’s unclear if T-Mobile stands to lose out under the Title II re-classification. Many criticized Music Freedom as being anti-net neutrality by freeing up lanes of data for music streaming for customers on specific plans.

With all the lobbying that’s bound to take place, and with all the ISPs looking to have their voices heard, it’s going to be some time before internet is re-classified for real. But today is a huge step towards net neutrality.

Sources: Wired, The Verge, Fierce Wireless

For those interested, the hilarious John Oliver video is below. It may, or may not, contain some strong language:

Tags: , , , , ,