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Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?

Mari Silbey
2/25/2015

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.


For the latest on the net neutrality debates, visit Light Reading's dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel. And be sure to register to attend Light Reading's Gigabit Cities Live event on May 13-14 in Atlanta.


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

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MikeP688
MikeP688
2/26/2015 | 12:45:35 AM
Re: Brilliant government ideas
You note the reality which is driven by market forces.       Let's reserve judgement until the FCC actually rolls out and deliberates the issue.  
MikeP688
MikeP688
2/26/2015 | 12:44:12 AM
Re: The subtle dance of regulatory language
Let's see what the FCC does with the "rule changes" it is proposing.    I hate to say it:  The so called "Two Twier interent" will be somewhat of a reality whatever the FCC does.  I  was on the record opposing it because working on my current start-up, I want to be able to be on equal footing--and I noted this when I sent in my thoughts during the Public Comment Period.    ISP's (Comcast et. al) will indeed fight it big time--and I saw how John Oliver mocked Comcast over this on HBO.

Interesting times....
VictorRBlake
VictorRBlake
2/25/2015 | 8:46:37 PM
Brilliant government ideas
I'm sure they'll come up with some "brilliant" government plan for forced shared peering and will be back in the 1980's with MAE East / West and the like on a forced exchange. End result, it will create another "lower" tier ...


The fact is that consumers DON'T want all bits to be treated equally. If they are on a call they WANT those bits to be a higher priority than a software driver update download or syncing of their mp3s. That's the real truth. And the further truth is that some applications are more tolerant (file transfer) than interactive apps and broadband service providers are smart enough to figure this out and make it happen without the internet.

If the government ran the Internet the way it runs our mail system, we'd have mostly junk Internet just like most of whats in my mail box is junk mail. Why ? Because it's all equal EVEN THOUGH NO ONE WANTS IT THAT WAY except for the junk mail providers.
DHagar
DHagar
2/25/2015 | 4:55:12 PM
Re: the subtle dance of regulatory language
brooks7, well said.  It's them I have concerns about - their agendas are a different matter!

I agree Carol presents wisdom, so I don't think you are cynical.  You can get up now, Carol!
cnwedit
cnwedit
2/25/2015 | 4:43:33 PM
What??? Even me? Interesting ideas?
I'm shocked, I must go lie down. 
brooks7
brooks7
2/25/2015 | 4:38:15 PM
Re: The subtle dance of regulatory language
I thought the Devil went down to Georgia...

Yeah, one thing that those who have not been to the FCC need to know is that the Commissioner's Offices are full of Politicians who are looking at building their resumes and continue their careers.  The Staff (a much better group) is filled with Bureaucrats that actually made me think they care about the topics.

The good news is that the Staff will write the rules.  The Commissioners will preen for their next jobs.

seven

PS - Naw I am not bitter and cynical about this stuff...I only play that on TV.  I mean sheesh I might disagree with many of you here but I think you oft times have interesting ideas and viewpoints.  Even Carol Wilson :)

 
DHagar
DHagar
2/25/2015 | 4:22:38 PM
Re: The subtle dance of regulatory language
KBode, true, and she could be looking for "political cover".  No matter what the motive, I still think the devil will be in the details of who interprets the regulations  and how they are applied.
KBode
KBode
2/25/2015 | 1:27:22 PM
Re: The subtle dance of regulatory language
I think she's responding to concerns by Google, Free Press and even AT&T that the specific wording in trying to regulate connections to edge providers could cause some problems. At least that's the gist I pulled from here:

http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/02/net-neutrality-order-could-get-last-minute-change-on-peering-disputes/
cnwedit
cnwedit
2/25/2015 | 12:05:23 PM
The subtle dance of regulatory language
When they start parsing the words around Net Neutrality, the lawyers start doing the happy dance. 

It's hard to tell from what Clyburn is proposing and what she said about it whether she is trying to mitigate the impact of the re-regulation of Internet access or just make it more clear what is covered. 

Right now, it's clear as mud. 

But if the FCC isn't able to address interconnection of networks, I'm not sure what is accomplished by the re-regulation of Internet access. 
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