More than 100 Internet
companies and two of five commissioners of the Federal Communications
Commission are taking issue with Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to regulate
Mr. Wheeler's proposed
Internet rules would allow broadband companies to charge content providers for
access to the fastest lanes. The proposal has angered proponents of network
neutrality—the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.
"If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat
to the Internet," said Amazon.com Inc.,
Google Inc., eBay Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Facebook Inc., among others, on Wednesday in a
letter to Mr. Wheeler.
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," the companies said in the
letter. "The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and
keep the costs of regulation low."
The FCC plans to vote May 15 on
whether to move forward the proposal by opening it up for public comment,
setting up for a final vote later this year. A spokeswoman for Mr. Wheeler said
he supports a "robust public debate" on the issue, which is why he
intends to put the proposal out for public comment next week.
Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, in statements released on Wednesday,
suggested they are not in favor of Mr. Wheeler's proposed Internet rules, which
would allow broadband companies to charge content providers for access to their
At a speech in
Washington, Ms. Rosenworcel said she has "real concerns" about the
proposal as well as the process being used to formulate the new rules. She said
the proposal has "unleashed a torrent of public response," including
tens of thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls.
"For this reason, I
think we should delay our consideration of his rules by a least a month. I
believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the
public response to his proposal," Ms. Rosenworcel said.
Ms. Clyburn published
a blog post reiterating her commitment to net neutrality, noting that, four
years ago, she supported stronger net-neutrality rules than those ultimately
adopted by the FCC in 2010. A federal court threw
out those rules in January, prompting Mr. Wheeler's latest attempt.
Ms. Clyburn, in her post,
noted her past support for rules that banned preferential treatment altogether
and covered wireless carriers, and linked to a previous statement that
expresses support for reclassifying broadband as a utility, which would subject
it to much greater regulation.
"There is no doubt
that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the
core values of our democratic society, and I have an unwavering commitment to
its independence. My mind remains open as I continue to evaluate how best to
promote these fundamental, core values," Ms. Clyburn wrote.
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, many net-neutrality advocates argue that, unless the FCC reclassifies
broadband as a utility, any attempt to limit paid arrangements would be
vulnerable to another legal challenge from the broadband providers.
Mr. Wheeler recently
stated that he is willing to reclassify broadband as a utility if needed to
protect the open Internet.
for the original article in the Wall Street Journal.
Related - New York Times: ‘F.C.C.
Commissioner Asks for Delay on New Net Neutrality Rules’