FCC chairman proposes to regulate ISP’s under Title II

“Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler revealed Wednesday that he’ll propose applying decades-old communications rules to Internet service providers to ensure that the Internet remains open to all legal content, an option that cable companies and other ISPs had feared and fought against vigorously,” Roger Yu and Mike Snider report for USA Today. “Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler revealed Wednesday that he’ll propose applying decades-old communications rules to Internet service providers to ensure that the Internet remains open to all legal content, an option that cable companies and other ISPs had feared and fought against vigorously”

“Wheeler’s proposal would mostly ban content providers from paying cable Internet companies, phone companies and wireless carriers to buy faster Internet ‘lanes’ for their service, a practice known as ‘paid prioritization.’ ISPs also specifically will be prohibited from blocking or deliberately slowing (‘throttling’) access to legal content,” Yu and Snider report. “Wheeler’s proposal will allow exceptions to Title II requirements and refrain from some provisions that don’t apply to ISPs. To encourage Internet providers to continue to invest, Wheeler also said he’ll ‘modernize’ Title II and ‘tailor it for the 21st century.'”

“The cable industry saw this move coming. In a blog post late Monday, AT&T vice president for federal regulatory Hank Hultquist said the company will likely sue if Title II was applied. ‘Those who oppose efforts at compromise because they assume Title II rests on bulletproof legal theories are only deceiving themselves,” he wrote,'” Yu and Snider report. “Several lawmakers in Congress have introduced legislation that would regulate the Internet without treating ISPs as public utilities and that should be sufficient, Glover argued. ‘It is unnecessary because all participants in the Internet ecosystem support an open Internet,’ he said. ‘It is counterproductive because heavy regulation of the Internet will create uncertainty and chill investment among the many players.'”

“Internet providers say tighter regulations could stifle innovation and prevent further investment. Title II allows the FCC to dictate pricing that ISPs charge consumers and content providers, as well as obligating ISPs to open their back-end networks to content providers and third-party content delivery companies. It could also require ISPs to sell portions of their networks to resellers and require them to file reams of documents and report cards on their quality of service and pricing structures,” Yu and Snider report. “Wheeler will circulate his proposal to other commissioners on Thursday with a vote scheduled for Feb. 26.”

Read more in the full article here.

“David J. Farber is among those who have misgivings about going the Title II route. Mr. Farber helped design parts of the Internet, served on the board of the Internet Society and is a former chief technologist of the F.C.C.,” Steve Lohr reports for The New York Times. “‘My fear,’ Mr. Farber said, ‘is that regulating the Internet like a telecommunications service potentially opens a Pandora’s box.'”

“This commission, said Mr. Farber, a professor of computer science and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, may well have no intention of deploying the broader powers of Title II. But, he added, there is no guarantee that future commissions will be similarly restrained,” Lohr reports. “Information services, Mr. Farber noted, are relatively free of taxes, while telecommunications services are not, especially at the state level. Telecommunications regulation, Mr. Farber said, is a step toward a more rigid regime at odds with the freewheeling innovation of the Internet economy.”

Read more in the full article here.

Citizens Against Government Waste has issued the following statement, verbatim:

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today reacted to the release of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to regulate the Internet and his op-ed in Wired, which promotes using antiquated common carrier regulations under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934 for the Internet. In short, Chairman Wheeler plans to treat the Internet like a dial-up telephone, which will hinder innovation and raise costs.

The Communications Act of 1934 created the foundation for regulating the telephone industry through common carrier rules and interconnection rate schemes. The law also established the Federal Communications Commission as the regulator body for the telecommunications industry. As technology developed, amendments to the Act were adopted, the most recent of which was the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Congress is currently working on modernizing the law, which is one of many reasons why the FCC should not act to promulgate regulations.

The phenomenal success of everything associated with the Internet is that it operates in an open, free manner that encourages growth and innovation. If Chairman Wheeler’s proposal is adopted, it will inhibit future technological advances by treating innovators in telecommunications and technology like plain old wireline telephone companies.

Even though the Chairman’s plan calls for forbearing, or refraining, from imposing provisions of Title II that are not relevant to broadband services, such a decision is at the discretion of the FCC. The plan at least relieves providers from contributing to the Universal Service fund and defers to the congressional moratorium on Internet taxes.

However, some states are preparing to implement state fees on broadband services based on the FCC’s proposed reclassification, as noted by Vermont Telecommunications Director Jim Porter, who said that it would give the state “the ability to assess a universal service fee on broadband services.” According to the Progressive Policy Institute, the changes being proposed by Chairman Wheeler could increase the average state and local fees imposed on wireline and wireless subscribers between $67 and $72 per year, along with an increase in federal fees of $17 per year. This constitutes a $15 billion increase in new user fees to consumers.

It appears that Chairman Wheeler is using forbearance in an attempt to both mollify the strong objections to his proposed regulation of the Internet and give opponents of proposed reform legislation in Congress another excuse to object to such efforts. Forbearance can be changed at any time, and is not an appropriate way to regulate any industry.

“Congress gave the FCC the authority to regulate the rules, not re-write the law through manipulation, forbearance and a flimsy analysis of court decisions,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “It is unfortunately that Chairman Wheeler wants his agency to intrude further into Americans’ daily lives and interfere with the most successful component of the U.S. economy. Once again, and typical of the Obama administration, ‘government knows best.’ As Congress considers legislation to modernize telecommunications laws, strong consideration should be given to whether the FCC is doing more harm than good and should be altered or eliminated altogether. At the very least, a biannual reauthorization of the agency is in order so that it will be required to justify its existence on a regular basis.”

Source: Citizens Against Government Waste

Related articles:
U.S. congressional Republicans’ bill aims to head off Obama’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ plan – January 17, 2015
U.S. Congressional proposal offers Internet rules of the road – January 15, 2015
U.S. FCC says it will vote on so-called ‘net neutrality’ in February – January 3, 2015
FCC hopes its rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ survive inevitable litigation – November 22, 2014
Obama-appointed FCC chairman distances himself from Obama on so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 12, 2014
What does so-called ‘net neutrality’ mean for Apple? – November 12, 2014
AT&T to pause fiber investment until net neutrality rules are decided – November 12, 2014
U.S. FCC plays Russian Roulette with so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner: Republicans will continue efforts to stop misguided scheme to regulate the Internet – November 10, 2014
Tech Freedom: Obama cynically exploits confusion over Title II, misses opportunity to lead on legislative deal – November 10, 2014
Obama want FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’ – November 10, 2014

37 Comments

  1. Awesome. Among many benefits: If Comcast teamed with a media provider to stream The Interview, it can’t throttle Netflix or YouTube because it has the same movie and streams over its service. It also means AT&T can’t crowd out Google Fiber or Verizon so it will be forced to compete against 1000Mbps GigE fiber instead of relying on overcharging customers for 5–25Mbps DSL over existing infrastructure.

      1. At least net neutrality will be real.

        Citizens Against Government Waste are paid by telecom companies “sponsorhips” to come up with the talking points like killing net neutrality would “encourage growth and innovation”.

        In reality much bigger innovation is within Internet, and not in the wires. So remember that all those excuses are only attempt to make everyone pay for faster internet or even just for normal internet which would be otherwise artificially slowed down by Comcast/TimeWarner/Verizon or whatever.

  2. Boy, who do you trust on this one? The internet providers like Comcast who can’t suck enough money out of their customers or government which is not only often incompetent but usually allows itself to be captured by the regulated industry.

    This is not going to end well for the users.

    1. At least this is going to be much better end than Comcast’ proposal — allowing them to charge you arbitrary money for arbitrary access speed.

      That would be true end of net neutrality and start of dark ages of corporate monopolism and censorship. The likes of Google, Facebook and Apple would certain survive and even thrive, but everything else would be epically beat up.

  3. Wheeler cannot “modernize” Title II nor can he “tailor it for the 21st century.”

    Note to the Obama administration and its lackeys: The Congress writes the law. You’re just supposed to administer them. All of them. As written.

    The nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan, the last great President of the United States of America

    1. The most terrifying words in the english language are “I’m George W Bush and I am your President”. America barely survived it’s first – and hopefully only- appointed President.

      Reagan was not a great President. History will not be kind despite the unending efforts of NeoCons to deify him.

  4. ‘If the Web becomes too complicated, too fraught with security concerns, then its proliferation may stop – or slow down. It should be kept open. It should be kept free. One of the major reasons for the Web’s proliferation is its simplicity. A lot of people want to make the Web more complicated. This simple model has had a profound impact by starting to become ubiquitous. The most important thing for the Web is not to become more complicated. By collective agreement. Sure. Go for ubiquity.’

    ‘Steve Jobs Bio: The Unauthorized Autobiography.’

  5. If it ain’t broke, don’t “fix” it.

    Obama’s B.S. via his lackey Wheeler, far from legally binding, by the way, would retard progress. The Internet grew to what is is today without the gubmint meddling in it.

    1. “The Internet grew to what is is today without the gubmint meddling in it.”

      Thank you Mr/Ms “I don’t know a thing about the Internet.”
      Comments here get dumber each day!

      1. Clearly this person knows much more about the growth and evolution of the Internet than you do. The Internet stands as a monument to spontaneous order. Until now, the Internet has functioned for the most part without human meddling. It has evolved based purely on people identifying technical needs, independents submitting proposals, and the best being adopted.

        It is the free market manifested. It will continue to develop without the government being involved. Government intervention will stifle its growth, create stupid taxes that obviously don’t need to exist, provide the government with censorship abilities and so on. This is not about net neutrality. This is yet again a government power grab.

        1. “It is the free market manifested.”

          So you admit the free market is responsible for the US having crappy Internet speeds and pathetic data caps compared to numerous other countries? See also DutchMacUser, below.

          1. My speed is 300Mb/s down 20 up. It varies in different areas obviously. The entire United States is most often compared to South Korea which is a joke. South Korea supposedly has the best internet speeds in the world. They average about 23Mb/s down. The United States averages 10.5. Now in this average is every possible connection. From my healthy 300Mb/s to someone in the middle of nowhere getting 1.4Mb/s down from a satellite.

            What is never mentioned is that South Korea is about 38,000 square miles, with only 50 million people compared to the United States’s 9.5 MILLION SQUARE MILES AND 300 MILLION PEOPLE. Quite a bit more of a challenge, don’t ya think?

            In other words, those comparisons are absurd.

        2. “Clearly this person knows much more about the growth and evolution of the Internet than you do.”

          Really?? Another ignorant statement! Spontaneous bullshit! The Internet became the Internet only because of the Government, and it’s ability to fund advanced research at R&D Labs, so please dispense with your anti-Government crap.

  6. Great! A 21st century asset regulated with a early 20th century telephone company law which was derived from a 19th century railroad statute.

    And the chairman promises to exercise forbearance (i.e.: “no intention of deploying the broader powers of Title II.”) which means that an unelected bureaucrat gets to decide what portion of the law gets to be enforced against whom.

    Time to dust off your 300 baud modems.

  7. Some winners, some losers. It’s amazing how people can look at the current situation, which has a lot of problems, and see such diametrically opposed solutions. What’s to goal here? Inexpensive, fast broadband everywhere? You’d think we could agree on at least that.

    1. You’re being naive. Yes, the goals are what we agree on, in most cases. Those goals will never come from granting the government any significant authority over the Internet and how it is run or managed. The Internet flies in the face of archaic ideas like centralized planning. How anyone can think that the people who brought us Iraq War 1, Iraq War 2, Afghanistan, ISIS, the most people on government assistance in history, and so on will make the Internet run better is beyond reason.

  8. I’m not a U.S. Citizen and I live currently in a country that most Americans would categorize as Third World, Mexico. That said, I have a 200MB symmetrical fibre connection to the Internet that costs me US$67 per month. In Mexico, Telcos are regulated and competition has increased after the government intervened to break existing monopolies. As a result, now most customers can choose among three to five ISPs (in major cities) and competition is bringing prices down. My take is that sometimes, the government needs to intervene.

    1. 26th vs 86th in the world…

      Mexico being the 86th…

      “Telmex has a de facto monopoly in providing (A)DSL connectivity. After being converted from a state monopoly to a private monopoly by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1990 it took the Mexican Government 5 years to establish regulations in the Telecommunications Act and only then competitors were allowed to enter the Mexican telecommunication market, leaving Telmex’ and its owner Carlos Slim enough time to extend their technological lead. Nevertheless, Mexico is lagging behind the world average in connection speeds.”

      Do you understand that the Mexican Government HAD the monopoly…. and switched it TO the private sector?….
      You have it backwards.

      http://lnweb90.worldbank.org/oed/oeddoclib.nsf/b57456d58aba40e585256ad400736404/02ba59e41714b982852567f5005d8a07

      Figures, Leftists can’t understand facts..

    2. If you have a 200MB ? Megabyte or Megabit? (Mb)?

      So that’s roughly 1600Mb/s download. Nice. It must be quite rare in Mexico as Mexico is number 37 on a list of 55 countries.

      I would like to see monopolies broken also. We have existing laws to combat this and the government has done nothing about it. Make no mistake, this is American politics. What is being proposed by the FCC is not about providing the people with better service. It is about providing the government with more power, which ultimately translates to money.

  9. 1- How the rules are implemented has not been detailed, so all the doomsayers need to take a pause and a deep breath.
    2- If the FCC rules for open and equal access on a common carrier, ISPs will be able to serve you over competitor’s lines. This could lead to a competitive marketplace in all of our country.
    3- If the ISPs were not such greedy bastards, trying to kill community broadband and limit competition while officially championing a ‘free market’ – this issue would have never gained traction.
    4- Wheeler in previous jobs was chief lobbyist for both the TelCos and the Cable Cartel. He knows where the bodies are buried.
    5- I fully expect a full court press (as in lawsuits) by the soon to be regulated.
    6- I fully expect the Republican dominated Congress to try to gut the FCCs authority on this issue.

    It will be interesting to watch.

    1. “… 2- If the FCC rules for open and equal access on a common carrier, ISPs will be able to serve you over competitor’s lines. This could lead to a competitive marketplace in all of our country….”

      I hate the monopolies, but does effectively seizing other people’s property and ordering them to provide it to their competitors truly strike you as RIGHT?

      1. This is what happened to the copper wire networks of AT&T/Baby Bells after the consent decree. Anyone who paid for access and met technical standards could push their signal over the wires.

        Comcast & AT&T run their lines through my back yard and did so without my permission and do not compensate me. In true capitalism, they would not use eminent domain to gain rights of way that they do not pay the property owners for.

        I have no problem with capitalism, but have a serious problem with crony capitalism- the most common form practiced by many large businesses in these United States.

        Under the possibility I mentioned, the line owners would still own, control and be compensated for their property. 3rd parties accessing their lines as a common carrier would have to pay for access- much like an MVNO pays for access to a wireless network.

        When AT&T and Comcast start paying me for the line running on my property I will consider their protests. Until then- not so much.

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