FCC Stalls Net Neutrality Vote to Study Google/Verizon

Looking for comments on Google/Verizon that would “help complete our efforts to construct an enforceable framework to preserve internet freedom and openness”

The Federal Communications Commission apparently is putting its planned net-neutrality vote this fall on hold.

Before before making any final decisions on its own oversight of the internet, the commission said Wednesday it wants to take a closer look at the Google/Verizon plan for tiered net neutrality.

The Google/Verizon plan anticipates “two” internets — one free of discrimination and then a second private network where content providers could be charged for higher-quality “managed” services, including movie and TV programming.

The FCC was expected to vote this fall on reclassifying internet connections as telephone services, which would put the web and net neutrality under its umbrella, a move forced by a court decision earlier this year that ruled the commission did not have the authority to oversee the internet. 

That vote, seemingly, will be pushed back to accommodate the Verizon/Google study.

“All options remain on the table,” an agency official said, adding that the FCC staff is reviewing and analyzing more than 50,000 comments filed so far on related issues. “Securing a solid legal foundation for broadband policy is too important an issue to rush.”

Now it is seeking comments on the potential impact of Google/Verizon’s suggestion that mobile broadband and managed services be excluded from any net neutrality conditions.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski such comments would “help complete our efforts to construct an enforceable framework to preserve internet freedom and openness.”

Google and Verizon’s plan called for giving the FCC authority to ensure that internet service providers couldn’t discriminate between legal content for wired connections, but it left internet providers free to do anything they wanted on mobile connections or for the so-called managed services. Other than movies and TV, these could include medical services and gaming.

In addition, the proposal would let phone-company internet providers make their own decisions on which internet videos could be streamed to mobile devices at faster speeds.

Consumer groups criticized the plan, suggesting it would remove the FCC’s authority