FCC defends new net neutrality proposal

The agency will ask the public for comments on pay-for-priority agreements, an official says

A new net neutrality proposal from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission meets the goals of past efforts and does not destroy open Internet principles, as critics have feared, FCC officials said Thursday.

Critics have said the new proposal, to be released Thursday, would gut net neutrality principles because it would allow some traffic management. But the proposed rulemaking will ask for public input about whether so-called pay-for-priority traffic agreements between broadband carriers and Web content providers are commercially reasonable, an FCC official said.

The new proposal, on the agenda during the FCC's May 15 meeting, will restore net neutrality rules after an appeals court struck down the agency's old rules in January, while following a roadmap to net neutrality regulation that the court set out, FCC officials said. The FCC will vote on opening up the proposal to public comment during that meeting.

News reports saying the new proposal is gutting net neutrality rules "are flat out wrong," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. The new open Internet proposal "will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court's ruling in January."

The FCC has made no "turnaround in policy," as some commentators have suggested, Wheeler added.

"To be very direct, the proposal would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet will not be permitted," Wheeler added in a blog post.

The new proposal includes rules saying broadband providers can't block legal Web traffic, and broadband providers "may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity," he added.

Wheeler wants the new net neutrality rules in place by the end of the year, he said.

In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the FCC's 2010 net neutrality rules, but the court said the agency could pass new rules using authority from a section of the Telecommunications Act that gives the FCC authority to ensure broadband deployment.

The FCC proposal would look at traffic management practices on a case-by-case basis, because that's what's required by the court, an FCC official said. The agency will look hard at pay-for-priority agreements, but it hasn't proposed banning them all, because some such agreements -- like prioritization for online heart-monitor services -- may be appropriate, the official said.

The court's ruling said the FCC would stop harmful conduct by broadband providers if it's found to not be commercially reasonable, Wheeler said in his blog post.

"Acting within the constraints of the court's decision, the notice will propose rules that establish a high bar for what is 'commercially reasonable,'" he wrote. "In addition, the notice will seek ideas on other approaches to achieve this important goal consistent with the court's decision."

Asked why the FCC doesn't reclassify broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service, an FCC official said the court's roadmap using the broadband deployment section of the Telecom Act was a quicker way to restore net neutrality rules.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentbroadbandregulationinternettelecommunicationU.S. Federal Communications CommissionU.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia CircuitTom Wheeler

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?