FCC Listening to Consumers and Internet Service Providers on Government Regulation of Internet, Net Neutrality

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel discusses how possible new regulations could impact how we all use the Internet.

In a combined letter of 28 Internet providers to the FCC on Tuesday, CEOs of broadband providers, such as Lowell McAdam of Verizon, Randall Stephenson of AT&T, Robert Marcus of Time Warner Cable, and Brian Roberts of Comcast — warned that reclassifying broadband into a Title II public utility would threaten new investment in broadband infrastructure, slow down Internet speed for users, and jeopardize the expansion of broadband technology across the U.S.

The CEOs believe that to reclassify broadband services as Title II under the 1996 Telecommunications Act would give the government authority to “regulate rates, terms and conditions, mandate wholesale access to broadband networks and intrude into the business of content delivery networks, transit providers, and connected devices.” Treating the broadband as a utility would open the door to government regulation that would stretch beyond broadband service providers and could also affect Internet-based companies.

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Under FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s latest proposal, Internet providers could potentially strike deals with companies such as Netflix and Amazon to allow their services to be delivered to consumers faster than other companies without similar deals.

Bartees Cox Jr., spokesman for digital rights group Public Knowledge said in a statement, “Some ISPs claim that they are pro net neutrality, but when the buck stops they are quick to allow paid prioritization, sponsored data agreements, and other anti competitive measures that discourage competition and innovation on the web … In a world without reclassification, we inch closer and closer to paid prioritization on the Internet.”

To satisfy both sides, the FCC is looking to apply new classification rules narrowly on old telephony rules that pertain to network transmission, but not regulate Web-based services and applications, e-commerce sites, and online content.

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