FCC Tom Wheeler 310x

Full details on the FCC’s plans for broadband providers will be unveiled in February.

While speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler offered a small preview of what we can expect in his new net neutrality rules.

The full set of rules and regulations won’t be revealed until next month, but the Chairman’s comments during his talk show that reclassification under Title II is a strong possibility, meaning internet service providers could soon receive the same treatment as other utilities.

If the new net neutrality rules do indeed go the reclassification route, the move would be a marked shift for Wheeler. The Chairman bristled at the idea when proposed by President Obama late last year.

“We’re going to propose rules that say that no blocking, no throttling, [no] paid prioritization, all that list of issues,” said Wheeler, “and that there is a yardstick against which behavior should be measured. And that yardstick is ‘just and reasonable.'”

The FCC will vote on these new rules on February 26th.

Reclassification of broadband would bring ISP’s under stricter purview by the federal government — Title II of the Telecommunications Act, specifically. But the FCC will likely offer up some concession with these rules, similar to concessions made to wireless providers in the 1990’s. While broadband providers might be subject to regulations on speed, access, and open networks, the feds would not, have a say on price (hence the compromise talk).

ISP’s like AT&T have already balked at the idea of reclassification, saying such a move would stifle infrastructural and innovation. But if the wireless industry (in all its current 4G glory) is an example of how government regulation works, such talk could ultimately end as a bluff.

Source: LA Times | Image Credit: LA Times

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