Science and Tech


Internet Providers Make Last Stand On Net Neutrality Vote

Internet providers say calls for classifying their services under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act wouldn't solve anything.
Posted at 1:57 PM, May 14, 2014

Internet providers are making their final arguments ahead of a vote this week that could shape the future of Net neutrality.

"The board is set. The pieces are moving." (Via Warner Bros. / "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King")

Twenty-eight CEOs from a collection of companies that includes Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision and Charter have sent one last letter to the FCC urging the commission to categorically dismiss calls for reclassification of broadband service under Title II. (Via Broadband for America)

Title II refers to a section of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which if adopted would classify Internet providers as common carriers, like the phone companies — and subject them to stricter government regulation.

"In defending their approach, Title II proponents now argue that reclassification is necessary to prohibit paid prioritization, even though Title II does not discourage — let alone outlaw — paid prioritization models."

Tomorrow's vote is the culmination of almost a month of back-and-forth Internet argument over Net neutrality. It started in April, when former cable lobbyist and current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed an Internet "fast lane" that would let providers like AT&T or Comcast charge content creators a premium for faster delivery over their networks. (Via C-SPAN)

This triggered a storm of criticism from all corners of the Web. Reddit and Twitter users began raining feedback on the FCC, urging the chairman to reconsider.

A consortium of tech companies put their name on an official letter to the FCC expressing support for the open Internet. (Via The Verge)

Sen. Al Franken called the proposed rules "the opposite of Net Neutrality." (Via Flickr / John Taylor)

There's even hesitation within the FCC — where some commissioners have promised to be careful to preserve the open Internet.

Wheeler did soften his stance somewhat at the end of April, saying he wouldn't hesitate to use Title II "if the proposal before us now turns out to be insufficient or if we observe anyone taking advantage of the rule." (Via Federal Communications Commission)

FCC officials confirmed that contingency on Tuesday. It seems all that's left is the commission's vote itself. (Via Twitter / @GigiBSohnFCC)

If the FCC votes to move forward, we'll get our first look at the text of the proposal tomorrow. The public will then have another 60 days to submit comments.