FCC May Not Follow Obama’s Plan For Net Neutrality
We are all well aware of U.S. President Barack Obama’s stance favoring net neutrality. While we are thankful for that, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certainly isn’t. Responding to President Obama’s call for adopting fresh legislation to protect net neutrality, FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, subtly reminded the President that the agency works for Congress, not the White House.
Net neutrality refers to the principle of treating all of Internet traffic the same way. FCC is handing out rules for net neutrality but still allows telecom and broadband providers to charge content providers like Netflix for fast Internet lanes. If the content providers refuse to pay for the service, it means the customers get slower speeds compared to the rivals so they have no choice now.
Unsurprisingly, this proposal caused an uproar by the general public. But the mass protest also led the agency to take a step back and wait for the right moment to bring this to action again.
According to Obama, Internet services should be reclassified as a utility and something Americans have a right to. Therefore, Obama does not support any plans which would result in throttling, blocking or paid priority lanes of traffic.
Obama’s statement read:
The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services.
The president then advised FCC further by saying that it should include mobile broadband in their horizon. In support of Obama’s demands, Wheeler said “the Internet must remain an open platform for free expression, innovation, and economic growth [and] we both oppose Internet fast lanes.”
He then told executives from big companies that FCC is looking forward to combine both approaches — Obama’s proposals and also addresses concerns registered by ISPs — but the route may not follow the US president’s wishes.
As reported by The Washington Post, sources in attendance said Wheeler looked “visibly frustrated” as he told the executives:
What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business. What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.
It is unknown how the president’s declaration of support is going to change the FCC’s path going forward. While supporters of net neutrality say the open flow of Internet traffic should remain sacred, opponents argue that priority lanes could grant better services to content providers whose customers require heavy volumes of traffic.