L ast week FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, announced that the Federal Communications Commission would impose strict rules to enforce net neutrality. According to Law360, Wheeler seeks to re-classify broadband providers as public utilities, such that they will be regulated like electric companies. This announcement has been developing over the past few months. Originally, Wheeler sought to permit “commercially reasonable deals” between content providers (i.e. Netflix) and broadband providers for faster service. Yet, in response to the negative reception of this suggestion, the FCC seeks to apply the net neutrality regime Obama has proposed.
Those who support this move, praise the creation of an open and free Internet; while opponents claim that the more stringent regulations will prevent broadband providers from investing in their infrastructures and pursuing other advancements in the industry. However, Wheeler hopes to avoid this negative outcome by not implementing tariffs, unbundling, or rate regulation, which often are employed when Title II powers of the Communications Act are invoked.
Will the removal of these barriers improve the service of Netflix and other content providers, and thus subsequently increase the market for these services? While only time will tell, this proposed change still needs to be approved by the Commission. The vote will take place later this month on February 26th.