FCC set to back Obama net neutrality stance

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated that he is leaning towards President Barack Obama’s position on net neutrality, calling for Title II regulations for broadband providers that would regulate them as if they were utilities.

Speaking at International CES in Las Vegas, Wheeler suggested that current net neutrality proposals do not go far enough to protect consumers and argued that tougher regulations would not discourage providers from upgrading their networks.

“I am unequivocally committed to net neutrality,” Obama said in early October 2014. “It’s what has unleashed the power of the Internet, and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes.” The following month, the White House set out a plan to ensure a free and open Internet, asking the FCC to implement it.

In it, Obama reiterated his opposition to ‘paid prioritisation’ and suggested that the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, a basic acknowledgement of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone – not just one or two companies.

“There was an effort made to say that Wheeler and the President were pulling in opposite directions on this, which made for good headlines, but wasn’t exactly the reality,” said Wheeler. “We’re both pulling in the same direction which is no blocking, no throttling of applications…and transparency on how do we get there.”

The commission is expected to vote on a new set of net neutrality rules February 26.

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