U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to propose this week that the agency reclassify Internet access as a telecommunications utility.
Wheeler will not seek to interfere in pricing, according to the New York Times, but will instead model his new proposal on the “light touch” regulations adopted for mobile voice service in 1993. The report comes days after the commission updated its definition of “broadband” to mean connections with download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second.
The classification of Internet service providers as “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act would give the commission the authority to impose more strict regulations, such as prohibiting the creation of “fast lanes” for certain data. Common carriers are not allowed to discriminate against customers who want to use a service, and are willing to pay a “reasonable fee.”
While net neutrality activists have been clamoring for a reclassification such as this for years, the process was kicked into high-gear when President Obama called for just such an action last year.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 10, 2014
In his statement, the President highlighted these major points:
- Internet providers wouldn’t be allowed to block websites offering legal content.
- They wouldn’t be allowed to intentionally slow down or speed up certain websites or services based on their own preferences.
- They wouldn’t be able to offer paid fast lanes.
Wheeler is expected to submit his proposal to the entire commission by Thursday of this week, with a vote scheduled for Feb. 26.