Recently at the world’s largest consumer electronics show, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler appeared to defend the reclassification of broadband Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.
That bombshell appears to be a big win for net neutrality, the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all Internet content equally. Under Title II, broadband would be regulated like a utility and ISPs would be prohibited from discriminating against some websites, thus equally protecting all content.
During his presentation, the lobbyist turned FCC Chairman shot down industry arguments against the use of Title II to regulate broadband providers.
Critics claim that greater regulation would stunt innovation and network advancements, yet Wheeler insists that’s not true, and as proof he cited wireless carriers, which have been regulated under a version of Title II.
Additionally, the FCC chairman said that the “commercial reasonableness” test he’d previously proposed was flawed. The test would have analyzed deals made between ISPs and content companies to speed up content delivery to consumers—leaving the door open for Internet fast–and slow–lanes.
While no final decision has been made, the agency will hear Wheeler’s Title II proposal and vote on it Feb. 26.
Wheeler’s turnabout is a bit of a surprise, given the negative vibes he sparked in 2013 when he became chairman. One headline read: Uh-oh: AT&T and Comcast are ecstatic about the FCC’s new chairman.