The internet as we know it today delivers information without favoring one type of content over another: you can call up a video from the New York Times or from a Justin Bieber fan site, and it will arrive the same way. The broadband connection is just like a telephone line or other public utility.
Some people don’t see it that way, however. This week, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced a bill that would forbid the FCC from classifying broadband services as utilities even if, by every appearance, that is what they are.
“Congress must take action to put an end to this misguided regulatory proposal,” said Congressman Latta of his proposed bill, one that is supported by the cable industry.
The “misguided regulatory proposal” he is describing are proposed rules currently before the FCC that would see the agency regulate internet providers as Title II companies — the same category that applies to telephone companies.
Under Title II, the FCC would have the power to require broadband providers like Comcast or Time Warner Cable to treat all internet traffic the same way, which would bar them from, say, giving priority to an NBC-controlled website over the likes of Gigaom.
The proposed law is not going to pass given the gridlock in Congress and the upcoming mid-term elections. But it does give companies like Comcast, whose CEO sees himself as a “postman” rather than a pipe operator, a new talking point — and a potential stick to beat the FCC’s Commissioners into submission.
The FCC is currently taking public comments on various proposals, including one based on Title II, over how to regulate internet providers in the future. The process became necessary after the agency made a legal hash of the process last time around, leading an appeals court to strike down its last set of rules in January.