In a dizzying volte face, the Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler has come out in favor of Title II regulation. Where he was previously minded to use Section 706 powers, he's now siding with Obama's wish to regulate fixed-line and mobile ISPs as common carriers.
What's new here? Wheeler published more flesh to put on the bones of his new pro-utility position. He's talking in some detail about how Title II might apply, and calling out the bits of the Communications Act that he wants the FCC to ignore. Naturally, ISPs aren't happy.
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What's the matter, Matt Hamblen?
Tom Wheeler today laid out an ambitious net neutrality plan…the "strongest open Internet protections," propos[ing] the [FCC] use its Title II authority…nearly in line with President Obama's position.
Wheeler originally had backed the less strict…Section 706 approach favored by [ISPs]. Wheeler also said his proposal [will] "stop new and novel threats to the Internet."
The full commission is expected to vote on the proposal Feb. 26. MORE
And Jon Brodkin clarifies the details:
Within a few weeks we’ll have a huge document full of legalese on the…rules. [But] this isn’t “utility-style regulation.” [despite] regulating them under Title II.
[ISPs] will be common carriers in their relationships with…broadband customers [and] with companies that deliver content…such as Amazon or Netflix. The rules…do not regulate Web applications or…content delivery networks like Akamai.
The ban on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization is the biggest takeaway. … Title II banning “unjust and unreasonable practices” will be used to enforce [it]. The FCC [could] intervene [if] caps are used to harm consumers or competitors. … ISPs will face…network management practices…disclosure requirements. [But an ISP] can’t cite reasonable network management to justify reneging on…‘unlimited’ data. [It will] enforce the part…that “ensures fair access to poles and conduits”.
There are dozens of [other] sections in Title II [that] will apply…includ[ing] investigations of…complaints, privacy…and protections for people with disabilities. MORE
Cometh the hour, cometh Tom Wheeler?
The time to settle the Net Neutrality question has arrived. [My] proposal is rooted in…regulatory principles, marketplace experience, and public input. … Congress gave the FCC broad authority…to reflect changes in technology and…behavior in a way that protects consumers.
Originally, I believed that the FCC could [use a] Section 706…determination of “commercial reasonableness.” [But] I became concerned that [it] might…be interpreted to mean…"reasonable" for commercial interests, not consumers. [So] I am proposing that the FCC use…Title II.
These…rules will ban paid prioritization…blocking and throttling. [I also] propose to fully apply [the] rules to mobile broadband. … This can be accomplished while encouraging investment [because we] will modernize Title II…in order to provide returns necessary [for] competitive networks…there will be no rate regulation…tariffs [nor] last-mile unbundling. [And] my proposal includes a general conduct rule that can be used [against] novel threats -- [it's] flexible enough…to deal with the realities of today [and] the as yet unimagined. MORE
But NCTA CEO Michael Powell is NOT a happy bunny:
Wheeler’s proposal to impose the heavy burden of Title II…on the Internet goes far beyond the worthy goal of…net neutrality. [It's] backward-looking…ill-suited…with far reaching and troubling consequences…unnecessary…will only deliver further uncertainty [and] will confer sweeping discretion to regulate rates.
[We have] repeatedly voiced our support for…important protections [like] no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization and transparency…without the significant regulatory baggage [of] utility regulation. MORE
Facing the music and dancing, Eli Dourado also alleges trouble ahead:
[These] rules will kick at least 4.7 million households offline [because] broadband will suddenly become subject to numerous…taxes and fees.
According to a policy brief by Brookings…and the Progressive Policy Institute [it] will increase fixed broadband costs on average by…$49/year…due to both federal and local taxes…this represents a…9.1 percent increase. … With 84 million fixed broadband subscribers [and] an elasticity of -0.62, there will be a…decline of…4.7 million…households.
This is a terrible result. MORE
Meanwhile, DustiiWolf offers his favorite ISP some delicious cake to have OR to eat:
If I’m not mistaken, Verizon has used Title II in the past to expand [its] infrastructure, but [are] against the regulatory functions.
You’re either a Title II common carrier or not. No reaping all the benefits while avoiding…consequences. MORE
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