FCC receives 3.7 million net neutrality comments

Technology -

The Federal Communications Commission is facing resistance over net neutrality rules that would allow companies to pay broadband providers to make certain sites and content faster.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

The FCC said Sept. 16 it had received approximately 3.7 million comments through midnight earlier that day. That's up from 1.4 million comments just five days earlier. The agency has now received more comments regarding net neutrality than it received in 2004 regarding Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at that year's Super Bowl.

While there is no formal deadline in place, the FCC has said it expects to finalize net neutrality rules before the end of the year.

The FCC voted May 15 to move forward with the agency's proposed net neutrality rules. The rules, which allow broadband providers to reach deals with companies for preferred access to their customers, were published shortly after the final vote. The vote passed three to two.

Opponents fear the proposed net neutrality rules would allow broadband providers to make deals with large companies -- such as streaming video providers, mobile messaging providers, and online video game producers, among others -- for faster access to subscribers at the expense of newer, smaller companies.

Several websites, including Digg, Netflix, and Reddit (among others), staged <a href="https://www.battleforthenet.com/sept10th/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">an online protest</a> Sept. 10 against proposed net neutrality legislation. Opponents fear it could divide the Internet into fast and slow lanes. The websites showed messages asking visitors to contact Congress. Battle for the Net

Several websites, including Digg, Netflix, and Reddit (among others), staged an online protest Sept. 10 against proposed net neutrality legislation. Opponents fear it could divide the Internet into fast and slow lanes. The websites showed messages asking visitors to contact Congress.

"The average broadband speeds jumped 25 percent in 2013 alone, highlighting there are no 'slow lanes' in today's Internet… Title II backers fail to explain where the next hundreds of billions of dollars of risk capital will come from to improve and expand today's networks." Letter from ISPs

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has not altogether ruled out using Title II to classify broadband providers as telecommunication services and not information services. Regulating broadband providers using Title II (which is how the FCC regulates telephone companies) would allow for stricter regulation.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler warned ISPs July 23 that they are required to give subscribers "accurate and truthful" information for subjects like pricing and actual download speeds. Wheeler said he would hold ISPs "accountable" for not providing such information, but did not say what that might entail.

The FCC first implemented net neutrality rules in late 2010, but it was quickly sued by Verizon to prevent their imposition. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 14 that the agency did not have the regulatory authority to implement net neutrality rules as they were then written.

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