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Opposition to FCC’s controversial “fast lane” plan is gaining steam

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Two commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission have come out saying the agency should delay its plans to implement new network neutrality rules amid a growing backlash. Wednesday Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai joined his colleague Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel in calling for the agency to delay the release of a Notice of Proposed Rule making that would set off the creation of new rules.

The FCC has indicated that the rules will focus on creating a paid prioritization scheme that could let ISPs charge content providers like Netflix(s nflx) extra fees to obtain faster delivery of their packets over last mile networks. This “fast lane” proposal has already led almost 100 internet companies including Amazon(s amzn), Google(s goog) and Facebook(s fb) to send a letter to the FCC asking it to avoid such a plan.

Today over 50 venture capitalists issued their own letter to the commission asking for it to reconsider, while several organizations are planning a May 15 protest ahead of the open meeting where the FCC planned to issue its formal documents that would start off the proceeding.

The protest effort also includes banners that companies can place on their web sites on May 15 to protest the proposed rules, and tools that make it easy for people to contact the FCC or their Congressperson to share their opinions. It’s reminiscent of the protests leading up to the SOPA/PIPA legislation in 2012 that galvanized tech firms and the internet community to band together to stop legislation.

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, has said that the rules would not lead to internet fast lanes, but his denials and the information the agency has offered about his plans don’t match. It seems that now, a week before the meeting, momentum is building to get him to fall back on the rules as proposed. Should he delay, the next big question is if the rules could change substantially, perhaps by attempting to reclassify broadband or even go an alternative route that could still preserve many of the business models we associate with the internet today.

11 Responses to “Opposition to FCC’s controversial “fast lane” plan is gaining steam”

  1. Try watching a movie on dial up. Not only will content providers have to pay more, we will too. I don’t care what anybody thinks, I’ll promise you, the consumer will pay more to get those two high-speed channels too. I’ll never forget AT&T pre-1984. I had to deal with the arrogant monopolistic, we know what’s best for you company.

  2. punkfmly

    Lets see . The person in charge of the FCC is Tom Wheeler . Mr Wheeler was the president of the cable industry lobby about 30 years ago and now he runs the FCC. Conflict of interest ? Who’s idea is it ? Mr Wheeler and his cronies. Who would it benefit? The same people he lobbied for. What he should do is remove these monopolies that cable/Internet providers have and allow more companies go in and offer more options. We are soo far behind and pay the most compared to other countries. This will create more competition and drive the price down!!!! Google Fiber has already started it but its not enough . Its about MONEY – Lets generate more money for Internet providers/ Share holders . I guarantee you Mr Wheeler has some beneficial interest in trying to pass this NET neutrality Its indirectly or directly. Its the Divided States of Cooperate America at its best. Eliminate competition – Make the shareholders happy – Create Monopolies ,Gauge the little people and the CEO’s are laughing all the way to the bank

  3. The FCC agenda item on open Internet isn’t a rule, it’s a notice, a set of questions about a proposed rule. The 20 hyper-giants and 80 startups who signed on to Engine Advocacy’s letter have effectively declared they’re against having a discussion about how to deal with the FCC’s loss in the DC Circuit on Genachowski’s open Internet rules. They do this without having seen Wheeler’s proposal.

    Similarly, the 50 angel investors who signed onto a similar letter are saying they don’t want to talk about how to preserve the open Internet. This is fine with those who feel the Internet doesn’t need massive new regulations, because the more this process drags on, the longer we have an Internet free from arbitrary regulations.

    It’s ironic that the parties who oppose an open discussion about the open Internet will all claim to be in favor of free speech, just as they did when they opposed protecting creative people from Internet piracy with the SOPA bill.

    So the hyper-giants want free content, free spectrum, free access to personal information, and free transit. At least they’re consistent across that set of issues, even if they oppose free speech.

  4. someoneplsexplain

    can someone put this in basic, dumbed-down english as to how this would affect the average, every day person who uses the internet like myself lol

    • Joe Tierney

      It’s like when you go to watch the game on your tv and it’s “blacked out” even though you have the channel and you pay for the channel – you pay for all the channels. TV has a “fast lane” and every other lane you could think of. So we pay out the noise for 200 channels we don’t watch to have a big piece of junk box record 2 channels unless they decide it’s blacked out … except for the Internet.

    • Brett C

      Basically, if these rules go through as is, large internet companies can pay Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and other Internet Service Providers a fee in order to let their traffic flow faster than other traffic to your home. That doesn’t seem like too much of an issue until you consider the fact that any new internet-based company that starts on a shoestring will not be able to buy into those fancy fast lane and will be stuck in the slooow lane to your home. It will make it very difficult for the next Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. to build a user base when service sucks to their site until they get big enough to pay to play. So, the big, existing Internet player win and the little guys (along with competition and therefore consumers) lose.

      • Though it seems more likely that ISP’s will only charge what the market will bear. So, in fact the small startups will get a free ride on the fees paid by Google, Facebook, etc. The ISP’s will want to incubate the next big thing and THEN grab their cut of it. The real risk I think is that it will be harder to raise capital with the realization that ISP’s are going to demand SOME of the upside. I am not certain this turns out bad for consumers. For sure it turns out worse for the Silicon Valley ecosystem.