ALTHOUGH THERE HAVE BEEN RUMOURS that the FCC was going to walk away from reclassifying Internet access as a telecommunications service, it looks like that strategy will go ahead.
By classifying Internet service providers (ISPs) as telecommunications services, the FCC can make them subject to tougher net neutrality rules. The telcos will go into a spin over this plan and have already been spending shedloads on lobbyists to prevent it from happening. They are terrified that net neutrality rules will stop them from throttling traffic or selling higher quality service to some content providers, and could mean that they will have to spend money to upgrade the bandwidth on their networks. It might also mean that they will not be able to charge people extra to get the bandwidth they promised.
The pressure they have been placing on politicians to stop net neutrality regulations has been so intense that many expected the FCC to back down.
However FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is now said to be readying a proposal that would put Internet access providers under the same Title II "common carrier" rules as phone companies, requiring providers to treat all data equally on their networks.
Not all of the same rules will apply, but which Title II regulations will be exempted are not known at this point. However it looks like the FCC will not do things like make mandatory allowance for other ISPs to run on the networks or any rate regulation. It likely will prohibit bandwidth throttling and bar ISPs from blocking specific applications and websites or favouring others with better service.
According to Electronista it is not clear whether the FCC will be able to make such a reclassification stick. But for the FCC, it might be easiest way around a court ruling that it needs a change in the law before it can mandate net neutrality while ISPs are regulated under Title I of the Federal Communications Act. µ
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