FCC's Wheeler realigns net neutrality proposal, promises ISPs can't give preferential treatment

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is taking another stab at the net neutrality debate by incorporating elements into the plan that will ensure that service providers won't be able to put web traffic that travels over their last mile networks into fast and slow paths, reports The Wall Street Journal.

This new development follows a wave of criticism from content providers such as Netflix and consumer groups arguing that it would allow ISPs to enter into deals where they could pay to get faster delivery of their content to end-customers.

An unnamed FCC official told the WSJ that  Wheeler will leverage the same approach as his initial plan. However, the revised plan will include language that says the regulator would pay close attention to each deal to ensure that the broadband providers don't slow down the delivery of other companies' content to customers. 

In addition, the draft would ask for comments on whether these agreements, which are otherwise known as "paid prioritization," should be abolished. It also would prevent large cable operators and telcos like Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and AT&T (NYSE: T) from providing preferential treatment to certain content providers.

Wheeler's proposal also will ask for public comments on whether broadband Internet service should be classified as a public utility. At this point, the regulator has not reclassified it as a utility, a move that service providers contend would hinder innovation and investments.

However, Wheeler's revisions will not satisfy critics of his broader plan, particularly those who say all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

Besides industry advocates, Wheeler's plan has drawn fire from two of the five FCC commissioners, including Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai, who encouraged Wheeler to delay Thursday's vote, which would open the proposal up for public comment.

For more:
- WSJ has this article

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