FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has heard the complaints and is prepared to act; whether his response is enough to silence the critics, though, remains to be seen.
Last month, when Wheeler announced that he would propose new rules governing internet access and bandwidth control, it drew serious blowback. In a nutshell, his proposed rules would have given internet providers — like Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon — permission to charge content providers more money for premium (read: faster) access to consumers.
That rule, which Wheeler proposed in reaction to a January court case that struck down several key tenants of Net Neutrality, drew outrage. Both open internet advocates and content companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Google, which has now led to Wheeler making at least some sort of concessionary changes.
Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC chair will pitch rules that allow the agency to “scrutinize the deals to make sure that the broadband providers don’t unfairly put nonpaying companies’ content at a disadvantage. Further, he will ask for public comment about both whether “paid prioritization” deals (like the one Netflix recently signed with Comcast) should be banned outright.
Most significantly, Wheeler will ask for comment on whether broadband providers should be reclassified as public utilities — like phone line providers — which would make Net Neutrality a much more attainable goal.
Expect plenty of debate and protest, especially on that last item, from both conservatives and broadband providers, who loathe the prospect of regulation.