THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC) has voted to delay adopting a policy on net neutrality for 120 days.
In a heated debate that saw several protests including one observer physically removed from the chamber, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced that there will be a 120 day consultation and response period - an indecisive result that came as a shock to many.
The commission will listen to arguments for and against the adoption of either Section 706 of the Open Internet Act of 2010, which promotes competition among internet service providers (ISPs), or their reclassification under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 as "telecommunications services".
Wheeler began by telling the assembly, "There is one internet. Not a fast internet. Not a slow internet, one internet," an emphatic exclamation that emphasised his publicly held belief that the end of net neutrality will not, in fact, be the result of his proposal.
Wheeler said that it is unacceptable that any internet user should be provided an internet connection slower than what they had paid for, saying that the solution might come by allowing the leasing of unused capacity. This risks end users being denied the maximum speed their ISP is capable of delivering, to ensure that there is enough 'spare' capacity to offer to paying content providers. In other words, fast and slow lanes via the back door.
Several commissioners admitted in their remarks that they did not believe that the decision should be made today, saying that it was being rushed, and some even said that five non-elected officials had no right to decide on behalf of the entire American people.
The vote was split three votes to two in favour of a 60 day consultation period, followed by 60 days for the FCC to develop its response.
The INQUIRER will be following the fallout of the FCC vote and will present a full review of the decision tomorrow. µ