FCC expected to propose regulating Internet service as a utility
by James O’Connor
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is expected to propose regulating Internet service like a public utility. Also expected is that the move will unleash much debate and lobbying.
Chairman Tom Wheeler will seek a “Title II” regulation that would treat all broadband providers like telecommunications companies rather than less restricted information services. Wheeler is expected to present his plan on Thursday for a vote by the full Federal Communications Commission on Feb. 26.
The issue first surfaced a year ago, when a federal appeals court struck down the FCC’s net neutrality rules, forcing the agency to come up with a new way to regulate broadband. Using Title II of the Telecommunications Act to reclassify broadband companies as telecommunications providers is considered the strictest way to do so. Even so, the new proposal is expected to exempt broadband providers from many parts of Title II, including control over how much they charge their subscribers, according to PCWorld.
A key element of the new rules would prevent service providers from blocking, slowing or speeding up particular services in exchange for money.
Wheeler’s plan will have to be approved by the full five-member Commission, where views on net neutrality have been mixed. In addition, broadband providers are widely expected to sue over any plan the FCC brings forth. The vote is expected Feb. 26.
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