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FCC chairman proposes controversial 'Open Internet' rules
FCC chairman proposes controversial 'Open Internet' rules
April 24, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

April 24, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
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    6 comments
More: Social/Online, Business/Marketing



The Wall Street Journal reports that Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing a new set of FCC guidelines that would bar internet service providers from restricting their customers' access to certain websites or services, but at the same time allow those providers to cut deals with companies willing to pay for faster delivery of their content.

Wheeler is expected to propose the rules to his four fellow commissioners today. If the commission votes to approve them during its May 15th meeting, the guidelines will be finalized and opened up for public comment.

Many have expressed concerns about Wheeler's allowance for "pay-to-play" deals wherein companies like Netflix or EA might pay an ISP like Time Warner Cable to boost the speed with which its customers can stream and download data from their services.

An FCC official confirmed to Ars Technica that this understanding was accurate, but that under Wheeler's proposed guidelines broadband providers would be required to provide a "baseline level of service."

Wheeler responded to public criticism of his proposal in an FCC Blog post published earlier today which -- among other things -- highlights the FCC's power to put a stop to conduct it finds "commercially unreasonable."

"The allegation that [this proposal] will result in anti-competitive price increases for consumers is unfounded," wrote Wheeler. "That is exactly what the 'commercially unreasonable' test will protect against: harm to competition and consumers stemming from abusive market activity."

Defining what "commercially unreasonable" ISP deals are and what an appropriate baseline for service is are among the tasks that the FCC will seek public comment on if Wheeler's guidelines are approved.


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Comments


Michael Joseph
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it would be a new source of never ending inflation for the entire internet. and the colluding anti-competitive practices against little guys just goes without saying. the FCC will not act as police on your behalf. the expensive court systems will be your only recourse and of course you wont be able to prove a thing.

end users already pay tiered pricing for bandwidth... why should the telecoms in collusion with each other and the FCC also have the power to decide which websites get to load faster than others? will end users running a bittorrent client now meet the definition of "content provider" and find their capacity to share files degraded?

And for these deals to get passed, big content providers like Microsoft, Netflix and Google and others must all be appeased and brought on board. They won't be paying more for top level service, although they may use it as an excuse to raise prices. The people who will be paying for this are the people who weren't represented during the secret, closed door negotiations.

Doug Poston
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The thing I fear most is that the big content providers will be more than happy to push this through.

Microsoft, Netflix, and Google would love to spend millions of dollars on preferred bandwidth plans if it gave them an edge over all the other start-ups that could take over their business model if the playing field was level.

Greg Scheel
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Internet packets, and the transmission of internet packets, are speech.

First amendment rights are absolute, and any 'tiers' or 'zones' related to speech, are an abrogation of first amendment rights.

Money, and the expenditure of money, is not speech, it is commerce. As such, it is covered under the commerce clause, and is taxable. This includes money donated to churches, and paid to priests.

Methinks it is time for an amendment to the Constitution.

John Flush
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"Internet packets, and the transmission of internet packets, are speech."

Are you sure? What if that was a packet that did direct deposit to pay a priest?

Greg Scheel
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@Flush

The communication of payment information, is speech, the payment it self, is commerce, this is obvious.

And please, do not be so flippant, this is our lives and the future of our country we are talking about.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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"baseline level of service."

let me guess... 56k?


none
 
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