The FCC is leaning toward calling broadband a utility

It’s all I can do to keep up with broadband happenings in Minnesota these days – but I had to at least capture at the highest level recent events at the FCC.

According to Minnesota Public Radio

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler laid out his proposal in a first-person essay Wednesday in Wired. He proposes using the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet as a utility, writing:

“I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.

“Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. 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.”

The Wall Street journal credits President Obama…

In November, the White House’s top economic adviser dropped by the Federal Communications Commission with a heads-up for the agency’s chairman, Tom Wheeler. President Barack Obama was ready to unveil his vision for regulating high-speed Internet traffic.

And his staff…

The prod from Mr. Obama came after an unusual, secretive effort inside the White House, led by two aides who built a case for the principle known as “net neutrality” through dozens of meetings with online activists, Web startups and traditional telecommunications companies.

Acting like a parallel version of the FCC itself, R. David Edelman and Tom Power listened as Etsy Inc., Kickstarter Inc., Yahoo Inc. ’s Tumblr and other companies insisted that utility-like rules were needed to help small companies and entrepreneurs compete online, people involved in the process say.

The Wall Street Journal also outlines folks who might be less than thrilled with the proposal…

The big losers in the White House process were cable and phone companies, which spent years lobbying to gain support for their view that toughened rules would make it harder for them to offer new kinds of services. Executives who tried to go over the two aides’ heads, including by appealing directly to Valerie Jarrett, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, got nowhere.

Nothing is set in stone yet; the FCC is expected to vote on Wheeler’s latest proposal Feb. 26

This entry was posted in FCC, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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