FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has let his fellow commissioners know they should expect to vote on a draft proposal of net neutrality regulations in February.
President Obama's top telecom regulator, Tom Wheeler, told fellow FCC commissioners before the Christmas holiday that he intends to circulate a draft proposal internally next month with an eye toward approving the measure weeks later, said one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agency's deliberations are ongoing. The rules are meant to keep broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast from speeding up or slowing down some Web sites compared to others.
FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart declined to comment on Wheeler's communications with his colleagues, but confirmed the February timetable, which ends weeks of speculation as to when the FCC would make its next move.
It's still unclear what rules Wheeler has in mind for Internet providers. Analysts and officials close to the agency say that momentum has been building recently for far more aggressive regulations than Wheeler had initially proposed. Advocates of strong net neutrality, including President Obama, have urged the FCC to begin regulating Internet service providers using the same law it uses to oversee telephone companies — Title II of the Communications Act. Industry advocates have resisted that call, saying the FCC should continue to lightly regulate Internet providers under Title I of the act.
Meanwhile, don't take your eye off Google. They're also pressing hard for Title II oversight to become the rule, because that will allow them to roll out Google Fiber more efficiently.
In particular, Google tells the FCC that it’s had trouble gaining access to some utility poles, ducts, conduits and rights of way while it’s been rolling out Google Fiber. If it were regulated more like a utility, Google Fiber would be given access to these pieces of infrastructure, which would make it much cheaper and easier to build out its high-speed fiber network in new markets.
“Pole access is fundamental and Google will never be able to make the case for Google Fiber without pole access,” former FCC chairman Reed Hundt tells the Journal. “If Title II gives Google pole access, then it might really rock the world with broadband access.”
So to recap: Title II reclassification would not only slap ISPs with regulations they don’t want to deal with but it would also open the door for Google Fiber in more markets. If that’s not Comcast’s worst nightmare, I don’t know what is.
Oooh, Google vs. Comcast. Let the battle begin!