FCC Chairman Revises Net Neutrality Proposal as Commission Vote Looms

According to this Politico report, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is "scrambling" to save his controversial net neutrality plan as the commission heads towards a vote on Thursday. According to FCC officials, Wheeler has circulated a new series of revisions to the plan revealed last week – which would allow ISPs to charge content providers for "faster lanes" to customers.

One revision would see Wheeler seeking public comment on whether the FCC should reclassify broadband as a communications utility, which would give the agency authority it legally needs to regulate Internet rates and services as it does with telephone companies. Net neutrality advocates like that option and would help the FCC avoid taking another trouncing in a federal court (that's how Verizon beat the FCC in the Federal Appeals court).

Another revision would keep the whole "fast lane" concept in place but would seek comment on whether a "fast lane" should be banned. Wheeler's other revision would also create a new ombudsman position at the FCC to act as a net neutrality advocate for startups and consumers.

The FCC also plans to seek comment on two other net neutrality proposals offered by Mozilla and Tim Wu, the Columbia University law professor credited with coining the term “net neutrality.”

A group of senators including Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon, Chuck Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts urged Wheeler to abandon the Internet fast lane approach.

The FCC is already fielding a barrage of calls and comments regarding net neutrality, having received nearly 35,000 letters and emails. The agency has extended its comment period and its phones are ringing off the hook, according to Politico. The FCC’s main switchboard is currently playing a message urging those calling about the “open Internet” to email the agency, instead.

Source: Politico

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