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FCC Chairman Asks Cable Providers to Support Open Internet

NCTA 2014: Tom Wheeler insists new government proposals work for net neutrality, not against it

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told cable providers they have a responsibility to make broadband available to consumers without bias to certain products or content.

“Our goal is to put into place real protections for consumers, innovators and entrepreneurs that until now have been only a matter of debate and litigation,” Wheeler said at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association annual Cable Show in Los Angeles Wednesday. “I believe this process will put us on track to quickly get to legally-enforceable Open Internet rules.”

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Wheeler said a new proposal by the FCC sets new guidelines that supports net neutrality, which faced a significant threat in January after the D.C. Circuit Court ruled against existing FCC regulation that enforced internet competition.

“The D.C. Circuit in the Verizon v. FCC decision upheld the Commission’s judgment that, ‘absent such rules such as those set forth in the Open Internet Order, broadband providers represent a threat to Internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment,'” Wheeler said.

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Instead, the Federal Communications Commission introduced new net neutrality rules last week that some say encourage content companies like Netflix to pay for premium access to internet service providers for higher speed service.

Wheeler countered those claims Wednesday, saying that the new set of rules — set for a vote within the government agency on May 15, followed by a period of public comment — will actually support open access and competition.

“If you read some of the press accounts about what we propose to do, those of you who oppose net neutrality might feel like a celebration was in order,” the chairman said.

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“Reports that we are gutting the Open Internet rules are incorrect. I am here to say wait a minute. Put away the party hats. The Open Internet rules will be tough, enforceable and, with the concurrence of my colleagues, in place with dispatch.”

Wheeler addressed his remarks to an audience of cable providers from Comcast, Time Warner, and others at the NCTA show.