In what is his strongest move in favor of Net Neutrality since taking the position, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced a major plan that will hopefully take a serious strike against corporate control in the cable industry.
The basis for the proposal is what many have been pushing for all along: that the internet be officially labeled under Title II as a telecommunications service. This would put strict guidelines on what providers can and cannot do. In particular, three major changes will be made in the name of consumer interest:
- No blocking legal content.
- No throttling speeds for any reason, arbitrary or otherwise, on any legal activity or unharmful devices.
- No paid prioritization, blocking what has been the most troubling aspect of Net Neutrality, as companies cannot create a ‘tiered internet’ that provides better service and access to higher paying sources.
In his address regarding this plan, Wheeler pointed out that investment in broadband was still forthcoming. He called it an incentive as mobile and broadband technology is protected under rules adapted for the current age.
In addition to these above changes, the proposal also calls for greater transparency, allows for what it calls “reasonable network management” within the boundaries of the new policy, and a standard for future conduct that can grow as the internet itself changes over time.
This is a major win for proponents of Net Neutrality, who have been calling for a Title II change for some time. It is also a major blow to companies like Verizon and Comcast/Time Warner, who will not have a strict set of guidelines that will put a stop to many of their practices that have landed them in hot water before.
However, it won’t come as a surprise. Verizon has already been called out multiple times in the past year for their plans to throttle unlimited users (including in a letter by Wheeler himself), and Comcast has been seeing their lobbying support dwindle as Google Fiber begins to expand and poach customers.
While the policy isn’t perfect, and the possibility of loopholes that can be exploited will always exist, it is the best possible outcome for consumers who have been waiting for more than a decade for a policy that actually protects them and their interests.
I have to admit to feeling a personal satisfaction after years of being with Comcast, one of the most vile, exploiting ISP’s imaginable. Looks like they better shape up, because they are going to start loosing their hold.