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FCC now floating idea of hybrid net neutrality plan

The plan would give different regulations to back-end and front-end data transfer

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
November 1, 2014
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3a23

It does surprise me a bit, but Net neutrality is something people really care about. Typically something this wonky would spark the interest of a few people, but many really do care about their Internet speed and what they will have access to.

The  Federal Communications Commission has really stepped in it big time over the issue, so now it is working on a new plan, one that is described as a "hybrid solution," in a report from the New York Times on Friday. 

The plan would make is to that separate sections of Internet were regulated differently.

For the wholesale part of the Internet, meaning data that is exchanged between the content provider and the Internet service provider, it would be treated like any other utility. It would be regulated under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, meaning that the FCC would be allowed to oversee any deals made between the two parties.

That would mean that it could nix any deals that give an advantage to one content provider, or any deals that involved paid prioritization, when one content provider pays more for better Internet speeds.

On the other side is the exchange of data between the ISP and the consumer, a.k.a. the retail portion, which would face less regulation under this plan. It would be governed under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, making it what is known as a "common carrier." This would give the FCC more power to oversee how broadband capabilities are being deployed.

The hybrid plan is just one option for the FCC to consider. It could also go with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's "fast lane" approach which the FCC voted in favor of in May.

That idea that would, essentially, create a two-tiered system where sites that could pay more would get faster speeds. Nearly four million people had something to say about that plan, and the response was overwhelmingly negative.

The FCC could also reclassify the entire Internet as a common carrier, not just part of it as the hybrid approach does. This is what advocates of net neutrality are pushing for. It could also use Section 706 alone to oversee net neutrality or it could classify Internet service as a Title II common carrier but use Section 706 to regulate.

Some are already blasting the hybrid approach as another example of the FCC not listening to what citizens are asking for.

“The F.C.C. has already tried twice before to invent new classifications on the fly instead of clear rules grounded in the law,” Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, told the Times. “And twice their efforts have been rejected. This flimsy fabrication will be no different. And this approach will only serve to squander the political support of millions and millions of Americans who have weighed in at the agency asking for strong rules that will stand up in court.”

According to the Times, the hybrid proposal "has not yet been circulated by the chairman or his staff to the other four commissioners."

(Image source: wired.com)


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