Tom Wheeler, F.C.C. Chairman and special counsel Gigi Sohn launched an hour-long Q & A session at 2:00 pm on Twitter today. They were reached by #FCCNetNeutrality with a summary report on the Verge late Tuesday afternoon.
The consumer uproar began in late April when F.C.C. Chairman Tom Wheeler announced proposal changes to Net Neutrality to be presented May 15 at the F.C.C. meeting. There was news regarding a two-tiered system, which raised the question if the wealthy companies would provide the content and service to the market of consumers at the cost of the younger, less capitalized firms. You were either on a fast streaming track or slower steaming track with a higher fee for the former.
If large Internet service providers (ISP) such as Comcast could charge higher fees for faster streaming service of content, it begged the question what would happen to the market of consumers at the cost of the younger, less capitalized firms. The F.C.C. and Wheeler were accused of preferential treatment by special interest groups and the consumer leading protest rallies.
Visions of big entertainment and telecommunications companies spending millions on lobbying were released to the media as concerns of all consumers and smaller technology companies as well as non-profit organizations.
As May 15 loomed closer, protestors tied up phone lines at the F.C.C. and protestors sat in the hallways at the F.C.C. waiting for the meeting this Thursday in protest of a segregation of large, wealthy providers against the disadvantage of the smaller factions providing Internet content.
It all reached a crescendo when late Sunday afternoon Wheeler released a statement that the wording of the proposal would be adjusted for the Thursday meeting. Today, Wheeler and Sohn went to Twitter to answer questions and get out the message that the proposal concerning the fast lane and slow lane controversy and the F.C.C. proposed review would be revised.
Sohn placed a tweet response that the F.C.C. will discuss on Thursday the change in definition for broadband companies as "common carriers" subject to stricter regulation known as Title II. Other alternatives will be considered responded Sohn.
CEOs Brian Roberts of Comcast, Robert Marcus of Time Warner Cable, Lowell McAdam of Verizon, Randall Stephenson of AT&T, joined two dozen more ISP leaders to tell the FCC not to "reclassify" broadband as a Title II or same as a telecommunications service in a letter delivered to Wheeler today.
The original comment by Wheeler to review agreements between the ISP and the large and small companies is at the center of losing Net Neutrality on the Internet. What would define an agreement to be over priced and discriminatory to the competition? What guidelines would be used by the F.C.C. to maintain fairness in agreements? Would ISP companies be reclassified?
Wheeler has clarified that paid priority for faster streaming service will be deemed illegal unless justified on an individual case review. What will happen on Thursday is that if a proposal is adopted at the meeting, then there is a 60-day comment period and 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 Sohn on Twitter there would be a decision by end of 2014.