retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), proposed that consumer internet service should be regulated as a public utility, "saying it was the right path to net neutrality. He also included provisions to protect consumer privacy and to ensure Internet service is available for people with disabilities and in remote areas."

According to the story, "Mr. Wheeler’s plan would also for the first time give the F.C.C. enforcement powers to police practices in the marketplace for handling of data before it enters the gateway network into people’s households - the so-called interconnect market. For good measure, he added a 'future conduct' standard to cover unforeseen problems." The story goes on to say that the open Internet order "will give the commission strong legal authority to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else. Those prohibitions are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept."

However, a proposal does not a policy make.

The Times writes that "Mr. Wheeler will circulate his proposal to other F.C.C. commissioners on Thursday, and the plan could be modified. The proposal is subject to a vote by the full commission on Feb. 26. The commission typically decides major decisions by 3-2 votes, with the two other Democrats joining Mr. Wheeler.

"If the proposal is approved, as expected, the cable and telecommunications companies have vowed to fight it in court ... The opponents of utility-style rules, led by the cable and telecommunications companies, view the approach as opening a door to heavy-handed regulation that will deter investment and innovation, ultimately harming consumers."
KC's View:
I figure it is a pretty good bet that cable and telecommunications companies will figure out how to make a buck even if the internet is ruled to be a public utility. They always do. I also figure that the interests of the public and small businesses need protecting a lot more than the interests of these corporations.