Wheeler Comes Out Strong for Net Neutrality in Op-Ed


In an op-ed released this morning on Wired, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler came out strong in favor of net neutrality.

I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission,

Wheeler wrote in the piece that is sure to fire up private companies on the heels of his support for municipal broadband reported yesterday.

Wheeler is proposing a modernization to Title II regulations which would effectively make broadband a public utility. “There will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling,” he says in the piece by way of reminding telecommunications providers that part of their job function includes building networks.

It seems that Wheeler realized existing rules, and the original proposal to use the “commercial reasonableness” distinction under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 effectively turned over broadband infrastructure to corporate interests at the expense of the public. Again Wheeler – “While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers.”

“The internet must be fast, fair and open. That is the message I’ve heard from consumers and innovators across this nation,” he writes in closing. The full commission will vote on the proposed rules February 26, alongside two petitions CivSource reported on yesterday that would locally expand two municipal broadband networks. Game on open internet advocates.