FCC Proposal Would Kill 'Fast Lanes' And Label Internet As Utility
Well, here's some long overdue progress. It's expected that on Thursday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will issue a proposal that works in net neutrality's favor, and fortunately, a vote will take place just a few weeks later.
Wheeler's proposal would make our Internet access a Title II utility. That means that it'd be regulated in much the same way as public utilities, such as power, but it's expected that this proposal will stop short of having any oversight on pricing.
Flickr: Stephen Melkisethian
One of the greatest benefits of putting our Internet access under Title II is that fast lanes will not be allowed, which is to say that companies will not be able to pay ISPs more for improved traffic performance. Ultimately, it means that all Internet content will be treated as equal.
This move would no doubt please president Obama, as he came out last November to toss in his vote for Title II classification, stating, "The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do".
FCC's Tom Wheeler and Commissioners
Opponents of net neutrality believe that strict regulation could stifle innovation and thwart growth, but that seems unlikely. If our Internet access falls under Title II, it'd remove data discrimination, becoming akin to a highway that has evened-out traffic across the board, rather than one that also has a carpool lane for companies willing to shell out extra money (eg: Netflix, Hulu, et cetera) for the privilege.
Wheeler's latest proposal is a stark contrast to one that was released last year, which in effect went against the basic principles of net neutrality, welcoming fast lanes. Could Obama's message have struck the right chord, or does Wheeler just realize that he's in a losing battle? I'm not sure it matters, because the latest proposal, as it seems right now, is much-needed, and really can't pass soon enough.