Net neutrality suffered a setback in January when a U.S. Federal Appeals Court shot down the Federal Communications Commission's rules blocking companies like Verizon from giving certain Internet traffic priority instead of treating all data passing through its lines equally. That could change soon because FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has a new plan to bring back control over net neutrality.
FCC ready to reveal a new plan to preserve Net neutrality
Verizon challenged the FCC's authority to regulate Internet traffic and won, but on a technicality. The court found that the FCC was treating Internet providers as common carriers, but wasn't classifying them as such.
The court added that the FCC does have jurisdiction to regulate net neutrality and urged the commission to find a way to do so.
Mr. Wheeler made it clear in a speech earlier this week that he plans on doing that saying,
In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the Court of Appeals invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet. I accept that invitation, and in the coming days, I will be outlining how I propose to proceed.
Mr. Wheeler hasn't offered up any details about the FCCs new plan, and hasn't offered an exact date for the coming announcement. He did, however, hint that what ever is in store is something that can be enacted quickly instead of spending years working its way through the legislative system.
"We have an obligation to act now with the principles that have been transmitted to us in the form of statutes, judicial and regulatory precedents, scholarship, and experience," he said, according to CNET.
Since Mr. Wheeler wants to act quickly, that rules out redefining Internet providers as common carriers. The process wouldn't happen quickly, and companies such as Verizon and AT&T would oppose the change. Waiting for Congress to draft new laws would take years and the legislation would be out of date by the time it was finally approved.
Currently, carriers can choose to throttle bandwidth for services that compete with their own products. Verizon has already been accused of doing that with Amazon Web Services and Netflix streaming content over its FIOS network. Verizon has denied it is throttling any traffic and claimed employees saying otherwise have been misinformed.
Verizon, AT&T, and other Internet service providers have said they don't have any plans to throttle traffic or charge streaming content companies fees for faster data speeds. That said, waiting to see how the FCC's plans play out is a good idea because implementing changes only to have them reversed would be a PR mess as well as expensive.