FCC chief vows to stop ‘slow lanes’ on Internet


Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday vowed that his agency will not allow Internet providers to slow traffic under his new net neutrality proposal.

While the proposed new rules will allow Internet providers to boost traffic to websites that pay for better service, those “fast lanes” will not be allowed to come at the cost of all other traffic, Wheeler said.

“Prioritizing some traffic by forcing the rest of the traffic into a congested lane won’t be permitted under any proposed Open Internet rule,” he said Wednesday, speaking at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's annual conference.

Additionally, Wheeler pledged to keep Internet providers from slowing traffic to sites that don’t pay for a “fast lane.”

“Let me be clear. If someone acts to divide the Internet between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots,’ we will use every power at our disposal to stop it,” Wheeler said.

Earlier this month, Wheeler announced he would rewrite his agency’s net neutrality rules — which got struck down by a federal court earlier this year — to allow Internet providers and content companies to reach “commercially reasonable” agreements for the online “fast lanes.”

Since his announcement, Wheeler has faced backlash from public interest groups and Democrats on the Hill, many of whom say Wheeler’s plans are a reversal from the Obama administration’s original net neutrality rules.

Before they were struck down in January, the original net neutrality rules kept Internet providers from slowing or blocking access to certain websites.

Critics say Wheeler’s proposal would allow deep-pocketed Web companies to get better access to Internet users, while smaller companies that can’t afford to pay off Internet providers suffer.

Wheeler insists the agency would ensure that the “commercially reasonable” agreements between Internet providers and websites to boost traffic do not harm consumers or competition.

Citing his experience in the cable, wireless and venture capital worlds, Wheeler said he does “not intend to allow innovation to be strangled by the manipulation of the most important network of our time, the Internet.”

Wheeler said he is focused on getting net neutrality protections back in place as soon as possible to benefit consumers and the businesses that are regulated by the rules.

He pointed to the agency’s multiple attempts over the last decade to write and enforce net neutrality rules.

“It’s time for this job to be finished,” he said. “We have been waiting long enough.”