Wheeler testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on oversight of the FCC on Capitol Hill in Washington

FCC Chairman Wheeler Vows To Provide A Free And Open Internet; Telecom Carriers Threaten Legal Action

February 4, 2015 - Written By Stephen Sard

The Federal Communication Commission (or FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has now officially stated that they will reclassify broadband both wired and wireless under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This will make wireless carriers a public utility and will open the doors to effective Net Neutrality rules which will keep the internet as an open platform for innovation. This proposal will place a ban on paid prioritization or “information fast lanes,” that content providers planned to use to charge content creators and providers such as NetFlix as special fee in order to keep their services running at optimal bandwidth. This is good new for consumers as well as companies such as NetFlix. If NetFlix has to pay companies such as Comcast to ensure their subscribers are able to view the content they pay for, then they have to eventually send that cost to their (NetFlix) customers. This ban will allow companies large and small access to the same bandwidth, allowing equal competition which should spur further innovation and pave the way for new startups.

Chairman Wheeler is also putting the breaks on throttling or blocking lawful content and services. This is especially important to mobile customers. In an Op-ed in Wired (source link below), Chairman Wheeler specifically stated that his proposals would allow internet users the right, “..to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.” This is the first time that mobile broadband has been mentioned, and Chairman Wheeler is making it clear that he intends to protect the rights of mobile consumers, as well as land-line subscribers. Chairman Wheeler admits there has to be some give and take. To offset the ban on prioritization and throttling, Chairman Wheeler proposes modernizing Title II bringing into the 21st century.

Wheeler proposes notes that this modernization would not cause rate regulation, tariffs or last-mile unbundling. He noted that a modernized Title II would still allow and encourage investment in the infrastructure and provide competition, both of which satisfies the needs of the consumer and the broadband providers. None the less, carriers have been very outspoken to the possibility of Title II, stating that it would hinder innovation. It is expected that Verizon and AT&T will file lawsuits to fight Title II regulation.

Wheeler’s final draft will be sent to the other commissioners tomorrow in prep for a February 26 vote which is expected to pass. If it does, this will be a groundbreaking ruling, one that will have huge impacts on both consumers and broadband carriers. It will also mark the first time that the FCC has extended its ruling to include mobile broadband. It is unclear how this will affect services that carriers provide such as streaming video and music. We will know more when the final draft of the proposals is published. Keep a lookout here on Android Headlines for the latest news about the FCC and its landmark ruling as well as the legal drama that is sure to follow. What do you think about Tom Wheeler’s proposals? Will it be effective at keeping the internet open and free? Will carriers find a way to circumvent the law? Let’s us know your opinions in the comment section below.