In a vote of 3-2 this morning, the F.C.C. moved the proposed “Net Neutrality” rules may allow the Internet service providers (ISP) to charge content companies for faster and the ease of more reliable service in delivery to their users, released Reuters.
It was two fellow Democrats on the F.C.C.with support for Chairman Tom Wheeler despite the torrent of consumer advocate and technology companies’ requests to maintain the integrity of the Internet. The phone lines overflowed with protest, emails ensued and consumer advocates sat outside the F.C.C. office since last Thursday.
This started in late April with a post from the Wall Street Journal that the F.C.C. would propose a higher fee charge from ISP large companies as a Comcast. Fear traveled throughout media that consumers will pay higher fees to get their “House of Cards” on Netflix or other content. It was segregation of classes between fast and slow lanes.
Chairman Wheeler held a conversation on Twitter yesterday to answer questions with legal counsel. He assured the consumers and technology companies that “reasonable” agreements would be allowed in which the content companies as a Netflix pay providers a fee to allow a priority on the traffic lane of the Internet Highway.
Google and Facebook led charges to request that fee ranges not be divided for fast and slow service along with letters from over one hundred technology companies. Protestors waved signs outside the F.C.C. today and some were led away in protest.
Wheeler claims that deals will be reviewed for fair pricing and stated today, "Personally, I don't like the idea that the internet could be divided into haves and have-nots, and I will work to see that does not happen." He explained that the plan lists a baseline of service not a degradation for the consumer. What has been provided and paid will not be changed to a lesser level of service to be provided.
There is a degree of anxiousness of today’s vote amidst protests and concerns from all levels. "I believe the process that got us to this rulemaking today is flawed. I would have preferred a delay. I think we moved too fast to be fair," said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
"At a time when technology businesses need certainty to innovate, this is not the time for the FCC to engage in a counterproductive effort to even further regulate the Internet," House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and other GOP leaders wrote to the FCC.
The next step is 60 days of comments and discussion to be submitted to the F.C.C. followed by a 60-day period for responses. The timeline for this placed it in September to finalize at a F.C.C. meeting and according to senior legal counsel Gigi Sohn on Twitter yesterday there would be a decision by end of 2014. The actual transcript of the meeting and the proposed rules will be released later.