A total of 145 companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, DropBox, and Yahoo issued a joint statement to FCC boss Tom Wheeler for his proposal to protect network neutrality by destroying it. The letter is not only signed by more than 100 Internet companies but also by two of five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission. In the letter, the companies take issue with Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to regulate broadband providers:
“According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and impose new tolls on them.If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet. Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent.”
Wheeler’s proposed plan will give incumbents like AT&T, Verizon, and others the gatekeeper, pay-to-play efforts that they have been dreaming about for years. Of course, what is left out is a concrete course of action for the FCC other than taking the “necessary steps to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce.”
Mr. Wheeler has tried to push back against some of the furor generated by his proposal by promising that the FCC won’t allow the Internet to be divided into fast and slow lanes. However, unless the FCC reclassifies ISPs as common carriers under the Communications Act, any attempt to limit paid arrangements would be vulnerable to another legal challenge from the broadband providers.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has asked for a delay in the Commission vote on Wheeler’s rules. The FCC was to vote on May 15 on the new rules, then giving ample time for public comment before passage before passing the final version of the rules.