The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is proposing unprecedented rules to regulate Internet service providers — including mobile broadband — like a public utility, in a far-reaching move that could be one of the most divisive plans to emerge from the agency in years.
In an op-ed in Wired magazine posted online, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said his plan would regulate Internet service much like phone service or any other public utility by applying Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.
In doing so, the agency would prohibit providers from slowing down, speeding up or blocking web content.
“I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,” he wrote. “My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.”
Net neutrality is the idea that Internet providers should not move some content faster than others or enter into paid agreements with companies such as Netflix to prioritize their data. Advocates for this approach say it would keep the Internet free and open — making content equally available to everyone and treating the Internet as a pipeline that must not restrict access.
“Reclassifying the Internet as a utility — equally accessible to all — is hugely popular with voters of all political stripes, who don’t want old corporations writing the rules,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said in a statement praising Wheeler’s plan.
New FCC Order Increases E-rate Program by $1.5 Billion Annually, and Introduces a Number of New Changes Including “Equalizing” Treatment of Lit and Dark Fiber
On December 19, the FCC released the text of its Second Report and Order in its E-rate modernization proceeding. The new Order increased the annual spending cap on the E-rate program by an additional $1.5 billion—taking the cap from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion per year starting in the 2015-2016 funding year. This increase was expected after its prior order in July announced a new two-year initiative to fund deployment of WiFi but stopped short of raising the cap. The FCC predicts that requests for funding will “not . check here. . immediately” reach the new cap, although it notes that it is not possible to “perfectly predict” what levels of funding school and libraries will seek in upcoming funding years. (The new Order also extends the $1 billion annual WiFi initiative for an additional three years, without explicitly noting whether those funds are subject to the overall cap.)
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