Menu
FCC chairman says broadband should be treated as utility for net neutrality

FCC chairman says broadband should be treated as utility for net neutrality

Wheeler will offer net neutrality rules that reverse a long-standing agency practice of lightly regulating broadband

US government

US government

The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has proposed net neutrality rules based on reclassifying broadband as a regulated public utility and will ask fellow commissioners to approve that approach later this month.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, as expected, will offer net neutrality rules that reverse a long-standing agency practice of treating broadband as a lightly regulated information service, instead reclassifying it as a regulated common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

"I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC," Wheeler wrote in a Wired.com opinion piece published Wednesday. "These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services."

Wheeler's decision reflects a major evolution in the way he sees net neutrality rules, after he originally proposed regulations that would allow broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" network management early last year. Wheeler's original proposal came after a U.S. appeals court decision early last year appeared to suggest that approach to net neutrality rules. Subsequently, however, "I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers," he wrote in the Wired piece.

Wheeler's net neutrality rules, scheduled for a commission vote Feb. 26, would apply to both wired and mobile broadband service, even though the FCC's 2010 rules, partly thrown out by the appeals court, held mobile carriers to a lower standard. "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," he wrote.

Broadband providers have all but promised they would challenge Title II rules in court. The FCC will have to "grapple" with several issues when it defends a broadband reclassification in court, Hank Hultquist, AT&T's vice president for federal regulatory issues, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

If the agency redefines broadband as including a common-carrier service, it would empower itself "to regulate virtually every tech company that combines transmission with information to deliver digital goods and services to customers," Hultquist wrote. "Social networks, digital music, video chat, and even Internet search are all examples of information services that are provided via telecommunications, and thus have a transmission component that could be segregated and regulated under Title II."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationat&tregulationTom WheelerHank HultquistU.S. Federal Communications CommissiongovernmentinternetInternet service providersbroadband

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments