President Obama announces the nomination of Rep. Melvin Watt, left, as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Tom Wheeler, right, as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on May 1, 2013.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has thus far declined to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, which would open Internet service providers up to common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act. Today, he wrote that he won’t hesitate to do so, although this still seems to be an unlikely possibility.When proposing network neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from blocking websites while allowing them to charge Web services for a faster path to consumers, Wheeler set aside calls to declare ISPs common carriers. His proposal came after a federal appeals court overturned the FCC’s original anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules, ruling that the FCC imposed common carrier obligations on providers that it had not classified as common carriers.
Wheeler defended his proposal today while stressing that it’s not the only option.
“I do not believe we should leave the market unprotected for multiple more years while lawyers for the biggest corporate players tie the FCC’s protections up in court. Notwithstanding this, all regulatory options remain on the table,” Wheeler wrote in a blog post. “If the proposal before us now turns out to be insufficient or if we observe anyone taking advantage of the rule, I won’t hesitate to use Title II. However, unlike with Title II, we can use the court’s roadmap to implement Open Internet regulation now rather than endure additional years of litigation and delay.”
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