Net Neutrality Debate Heats Up During Wait for FCC Decision

As the FCC decision deadline nears, political opinion seems to have shifted in favor of net neutrality, but cable companies and ISPs continue to fight the seemingly inevitable

NetNeutralityWordCloud650The wrangling and wrestling over net neutrality has continued for more than one year at this point, and it looks like this particular fight may be coming to an end. When the Federal Communications Commission lost a case against Verizon Communications in January 2014, the whole concept of net neutrality was blown wide open. However, by this time next month, there could be new, even stronger regulations than those Verizon had thrown out.

While initially it seemed like Internet-service providers had won as they struck fast-lane-style deals with online companies, we later saw a groundswell of public opinion. Even President Barack Obama spoke out in favor of net neutrality because of the yearlong lack of regulation.

In recent months, tens of thousands of constituents called their representatives, and more than 3.7 million submitted their comments to the FCC during an open-comment period.

As pressure increased, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler modified his positions from partially supporting fast lanes to adopting a strong position on net neutrality. Wheeler also stated that regulations are coming for both wired and wireless providers. “You will find [the new net neutrality order] expansive and using all the tools in the tool chest,” CNET quotes.

But even as milder, non-binding regulations are offered, political factions and the cable industry have found reasons to fight back. The reclassification of broadband as a speed of 25 megabits per second upload and 3 mbps upload —  a move to ensure competition in high-speed-Internet markets — was met with criticism from industry lobbying organizations.

Additionally, a bill has been submitted to congressional committees aiming to supersede the FCC decision on net neutrality. However, there are concerns that the bill was sponsored by lobbying organizations that could build in loopholes to undermine the regulatory power of the FCC.

Still, it seems that as the FCC decision deadline nears, political feelings have shifted in favor of net neutrality. The FCCs proposed legislation is set to be announced Feb. 5, and it could contain Title II reclassification, which would allow the FCC to regulate the internet as a public utility. If it does, it seems cable companies have brought the hammer down on themselves by making an enemy of public opinion.

Readers: Where do you stand on the issue of net neutrality?

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Publish date: January 27, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT