FCC will revise Net Neutrality plan

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Chairman Tom Wheeler of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that the agency will be revising proposed rules for regulating broadband Internet and has offered assurances that the agency won’t allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow pipes. The revised language for the proposal may be available today.

The original proposal, unveiled last month, was met with harsh criticism from many in the technology sphere, including Google, Netflix and many others. The original deal would ban broadband providers from blocking or slowing down websites but would have allowed deals allowing companies to pay for faster delivery, over-and-above the “standard” speeds.

This, many criticized, created a back door to disabling Net Neutrality by allowing broadband providers to decide what the “standard delivery speed” would be and then requiring payment to move faster. Providers could then set the standard speed relatively low, creating a “slow lane” for the Internet, and then charge to allow access to the “fast lane.”

The new language is expected to be much the same, but include stricter scrutiny options and include a provision for open commentary on whether the FCC should just ban such agreements outright, prohibiting broadband providers from entering such deals at all.

Commentary will also be accepted by Mr. Wheeler on the reclassification of broadband Internet as a public utility, which would give the FCC greater powers of regulation. Many providers have claimed that such a move would undermine innovation and investment in the Internet’s infrastructure in the United States.

The FCC is calling for a vote on Thursday on the proposal, which would then become open to public comment as the agency moves forward with what Wheeler sees as its most pressing issue today.