Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
As the clock ticks down toward the FCC's scheduled vote on net neutrality tomorrow morning, The Hill is reporting that Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has asked for edits to the proposed rules drafted by Chairman Tom Wheeler.
According to unnamed sources, Clyburn would like to roll back a new legal authority established in the rules that would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) control over "broadband subscriber access services." That new legal category is supposed to make it easier for the Commission to oversee network interconnection agreements (also known as peering agreements) by allowing it to determine when those deals are "not just and reasonable."
While he originally classified interconnection deals as outside the bounds of net neutrality, Wheeler announced last June that the FCC would start collecting data on the topic in response to complaints about paid peering deals negotiated between Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and several large ISPs. (See Net Neutrality Redux? FCC Probes Peering Problems.)
Wheeler has been less clear, however, about how closely the FCC might regulate such peering agreements. If Clyburn's rumored edits to the net neutrality proposal are implemented, it would signal a more cautious approach than even the vague strategy that Wheeler has outlined so far.
As reported by The Hill, Clyburn is also seeking to narrow the standard described in Wheeler's proposal for defining ISP misconduct. Her recommendation is to return to language used in earlier rules that referred to preventing "unreasonable discrimination."
The FCC is scheduled to vote on net neutrality at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday and is expected to reclassify broadband services under Title II of the Communications Act. The three Democratic Commissioners have expressed support for Title II regulation while the two Republican Commissioners are vehemently opposed.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading