The Next Steps for the Net Neutrality Plan
Posted at 11:51 a.m. on May 15, 2014
The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 this morning to advance a plan that would allow broadband companies to offer content producers premium “fast lane” service in exchange for payment, so long as those deals are “commercially reasonable.” The process isn’t over, though.
The vote opens the plan to a four-month comment period, “after which the commissioners will vote again on redrafted rules that are meant to take into account public opinion. But the enactment of final rules faces significant challenges,” notes the Washington Post. In writing the final rules, Chairman Tom Wheeler will try “to balance the interests pushed by Washington’s armies of telecom-industry lobbyists, increasingly powerful lobbyists from Silicon Valley and the fast and furious campaigns organized by consumer advocates online.”
The next few months will offer stakeholders more chances to make the same arguments they’ve been pushing over the past few weeks. The New York Times notes that even if Wheeler meets his goal of finishing the rule this year, “the issue will probably be challenged in court. Any new rules that impose restrictions on Internet service providers are all but certain to attract legal challenges from broadband companies or public advocacy groups — or both.”
The concept of “commercially reasonable” fast-lane deals is a “second shot at making regulation work” after a federal court decision earlier this year that struck down the FCC’s previous “Open Internet” order, writes CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta. “The problem, experts say, is that almost no one has a solid idea of how broadly that standard could be interpreted, or how exactly the FCC intends to enforce it.”