NY Times Says FCC Should Reclassify Broadband Under Title II

from the about-time... dept

The big fight in the net neutrality battle is whether or not the FCC will agree to reclassify broadband under Title II, effectively arguing that it's a "common carrier" subject to certain specific rules. While earlier this year many insiders insisted this was politically impossible, over the last few months, it's become increasingly feasible from a political standpoint. That doesn't mean it will happen. In fact, it's probably still a longshot, in part because I can't remember the last time an FCC chairperson didn't seek "the easy way out" rather than making a tough decision and standing up for what's right. However, the latest to jump on the "reclassify" bandwagon is the NY Times editorial board, making a clear case for reclassification.
As a candidate in 2007, Mr. Obama rightly opposed letting telecommunications companies charge “different rates to different websites.” But Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the F.C.C. who was appointed by Mr. Obama, has proposed troubling rules that would allow cable and phone firms to enter into specials with companies like Facebook and Google as long as the contracts are “commercially reasonable.” These rules would effectively allow telecoms to divide the Internet into fast and slow lanes.

The commission has a better option. It can reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service, which would allow regulators to prohibit phone and cable companies like Verizon and Comcast from engaging in unjust or unreasonable discrimination against content. The F.C.C. wrongly classified broadband as an information service during the administration of George W. Bush, a decision that has limited the F.C.C.’s ability to protect consumers and smaller Internet firms.

Mr. Obama is sending Mr. Wheeler and his fellow commissioners a message. They should pay attention.
Of course, one editorial board opinion might not seem like that big of a deal, but (whether for good reasons or bad), the NYT's editorial board still holds a fair amount of sway within DC circles. In other words, this is at least another partial step forward in driving home the idea that reclassifying broadband is both the right thing to do and completely politically feasible.
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Filed Under: common carrier, fcc, politics, reclassification, title ii
Companies: ny times

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  1. icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), 17 Aug 2014 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Whatever; you should quit while you're behind. The example of B4RN clearly demonstrates the limits of what can be delivered by private corporations pursuing profits, and where local communities and governments can step in to fill critical unmet needs. It shows how the British government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is putting in motion a robust, organized effort to bring next generation broadband to the majority of its citizens, something shamefully lacking in the U.S. It shows that good things happen when broadband is widely acknowledged to be a vital utility.

    But OK, let's unpack some of your stuff just for laughs.

    ". . their business plan, . . something that is rarely workable."

    There's nothing particularly unique about B4RN's plan, so you need to provide details to support that statement. Nonprofit development corporations come in all shapes and sizes; they do stuff ranging from infrastructure improvements, to building industrial parks and ball fields. In this instance, it's fiberoptic to homes. Government grants, tax breaks, providing services in leu of cash reimbursements, enlisting volunteers from the community, are all not new things.

    ". . what would be interesting is if land owners gave right of way for a larger, shared pipe to be installed for free so that all potential providers could use it."

    Fascinating. But please show me where private corporations are doing this. Perhaps I've been misinformed, and Verizon, COMCAST, and other service providers are competing with one another by simply using the big pipes laid by whoever was first to a locality. If that's not happening, then it was a nice try at moving the goal posts for B4RN.

    "The whole story points out why (in the UK at least) it's hard for commercial companies to make a true impact in getting higher speed internet into place."

    A nonsensical statement, in light of what the BDUK is doing, how its partnerships with major telecoms are rapidly building out broadband. The story does point out that laying fiberoptic to rural communities faces all the usual problems related to distance and density. Since private corporations see no profit potential, and therefore have no plans to service B4RN's rural communities any time soon, there are no issues concerning competition; so I hope you didn't mean to suggest that B4RN is in any way preventing for-profit corporations from laying broadband in places they have no intention of servicing anyhow, because that would be kinda stupid.

    "If muni broadband works only because major concessions are made, then it's perhaps time instead to look at fixing the problem, instead of creating an unfair competitive situation."

    Concessions are not the only means by which munis can succeed, not by a long shot; but you are so right that there's a big problem fueling the appeal and financial viability of munis; namely the crappy service provided by the major U.S. telecoms. Yeah, we oughta fix that.


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