Within a few weeks we’ll have a huge document full of legalese on the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, to replace the near-200-page order from 2010 that was mostly overturned by a court ruling last year.
But there are enough details in the 4-page summary of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal released today for us to tell you in general terms what it does and doesn’t do. FCC officials also provided further background in a phone call with reporters today. One thing they were clear on: this isn’t “utility-style regulation,” because there will be no rate regulation, Internet service providers (ISPs) won’t have to file tariffs, and there’s no unbundling requirement that would force ISPs to lease network access to competitors.
But the order does reclassify ISPs as common carriers, regulating them under Title II of the Communications Act, the same statute that governs telephone companies. ISPs will not be allowed to block or throttle Internet content, nor will they be allowed to prioritize content in exchange for payments. The rules will apply to home Internet service such as cable, DSL, and fiber, and to mobile broadband networks generally accessed with smartphones.
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