FCC targets Title II regulation of Internet services with forbearances for Net Neutrality

Please read the entire article to understand the extent of what Wheeler is proposing. The lack of being able to prioritize content and possible scrutinization of peering arrangements is the most troublesome to me. The inability to prioritize content puts the OTT providers at a disadvantage to the incumbent service providers that are the ISP too because it does not allow them to provide the same quality of service as the incumbents do with their voice and video out of band.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Thomas Wheeler today unveiled his new attempt to implement Net Neutrality. As had been signaled for several weeks, the plan involves limited application of Title II reclassification of Internet service provision as a telecommunications service.

Reclassifying Internet service as a telecommunications service under the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 would give the FCC sweeping authority to regulate broadband service provision. However, in an attempt to survive expected court challenges from communications service providers as well as blunt expected criticism, Chairman Wheeler said he would only implement some aspects of Title II.

Chairman Wheeler and the FCC issued a fact sheet describing the new Net Neutrality policy ahead of a vote on it among FCC commissioners February 26. Key points of the strategy include:

  • The initial target of the policy is Internet service provision, in a move designed to address concerns voiced by the D.C. Circuit in overturning the FCC’s last attempt to enforce Net Neutrality in January 2014. But if a court finds it necessary to include peering agreements within the Net Neutrality framework, those services would fall under Title II as well.
  • The FCC believes reclassification under both the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 strengthens its hand in court. The DC Court had suggested as much in its ruling against the previous policy.
  • The approach should enable the FCC to regulate mobile broadband as well.
  • The FCC chairman also believes Title II’s “just and reasonable” standard and the DC Court’s finding that Section 706 authorizes the FCC to protect the “virtuous circle” of network innovation and infrastructure development would enable the FCC to continue to enforce Net Neutrality “against new tactics that would close the Internet,” in the words of the fact sheet.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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