Technology

FCC chief pushes ‘dynamic’ net neutrality

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler on Tuesday pledged to take a “dynamic” approach to regulating the way that Internet service providers treat different websites.

{mosads}The FCC chief declined to say whether he would propose new net-neutrality rules to replace the ones that were stuck down in court, only saying that the FCC should look at the issue in “a dynamic rather than a static way.”

“What we’re talking about is that the Internet is evolving so rapidly that we want to look at case sets as well as generic concept rules,” he said.

“What we don’t want to do is to say that somehow we’re smarter than the net.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit tossed out the commission’s net-neutrality regulations, known as the open Internet rules. The rules prevented companies from treating websites differently based on the type of content they offered and the bandwidth they took up.

Supporters of the rules have worried that the decision could lead Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast to impose additional charges for high-bandwidth services like Netflix, which use more data than simple web operations like email.

In siding with Verizon’s challenge to toss out the rules, however, the appeals court upheld the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet. To Wheeler, that amounted to a win for the commission.

“Verizon went to the court and said, ‘Tell us the FCC does not have jurisdiction over the Internet,’ and the court said, ‘Not so fast.’ And that’s a positive step,” he said.

Instead, the court ruled that the FCC was regulating the Web like a telecommunications service, though the commission has previous declared that the Internet is an “information service,” which should be treated differently.

Some supporters have urged the FCC to reclassify Internet access, but Wheeler has not yet endorsed that option.

On Tuesday, he said the court’s ruling was “an invitation to us, and I intend to accept that invitation.”

“I do think it is possible to establish some concepts” that will last over time, he said.

Wheeler said he wants to create a “broad canvas” that outlines a basic framework for Internet companies’ operations, “and then also gets really specific and says ‘No, that’s anti-competitive.’ ”

Tags Federal Communications Commission Network neutrality Tom Wheeler
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