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FCC promises to end net neutrality uncertainty 'in the coming days'

But it might not be quite that simple
Wed Feb 12 2014, 14:21
Federal Communications Commission emblem

UNITED STATES COMMUNICATIONS REGULATOR the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has said that it will roll out plans to rescue net neutrality "in the coming days".

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told an audience at the University of Colorado, "In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the Court of Appeals invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet.

"I accept that invitation, and in the coming days, I will be outlining how I propose to proceed."

Emergency legislation to protect net neutrality has already been drafted, and meanwhile Democrats have written an open letter to the FCC asking it to act "with expediency" and insisting, "Consumers, entrepreneurs and innovators deserve to know their right to view or use the content and services of their choice online will be protected."

Legislation to rewrite the Communications Act to include protection of net neutrality could be delayed for months if not years.

Meanwhile if the FCC were to simply reclassify internet services as "communications services" as opposed to "information services", bringing them back to under its jurisdiction, internet service providers (ISPs) would almost certainly attempt to block the move with legal action that might also result in lengthy delays.

However, they might not be able to halt FCC regulation under existing law, so there's a fair chance that might go ahead while the US Congress and federal courts deliberate for months or years.

As Verizon is alleged to have begun throttling traffic already, with some viewers complaining of limited bandwidth for Netflix, which the company claims is the cause of the problem, these delays would be galling for end users, who would be stuck with uncertainty.

The letter went on to say, "Without such rules in place, internet service providers are prone to act as gatekeepers of the internet, controlling access by blocking or throttling certain content and thereby limiting the opportunities for innovation, speech, and commerce." µ


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