FCC Tweaks Net Neutrality Proposal, Continues to Miss the Point [WSJ]

The FCC's new proposal – same meat, different gravy

The protests of over 100,000 people, activists and some 150 companies are landing on deaf ears, it seems, as the FCC appears to be ignoring everyone.

According to the Wall Street Journal, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has agreed to make some adjustments to the proposed rules that have upset so many people. However, the tweak allows providers to pay for faster delivery of their content across an ISP’s network.

Basically, he’s not going back on the controversial part of the proposal, but rather than give ISPs the possibility to charge more for certain companies, he’s given the content providers the power to pay for faster delivery of web content to customers.

It’s a small plot twist that doesn’t exactly change the essence of the proposal. Instead, big companies with deep pockets will simply be able to decide on their own about whether or not to pay for faster content delivery, while the smaller ones are left behind.

There’s a chance, of course, that the tech giants will simply refuse on principle to agree with such deals, but what happens when ISPs throttle with the Internet speeds, as it has happened with Netflix in recent months? They’ll most likely find that there’s no other way to provide the service quality that is expected of them and end up signing deals with the greedy ISPs.

Even though the FCC’s rules indicate that the broadband providers wouldn’t be allowed to fiddle with Internet speeds, it’s hard to prove that a company is doing such a thing. The fact that ISPs didn’t even get slapped on the hand for this up until now doesn’t exactly set a good precedent.

As the Wall Street Journal writes, the new language of the FCC proposal will make it clear that the Commission will scrutinize the deals to make sure that the broadband providers don’t unfairly put nonpaying companies’ content at a disadvantage. This is, of course, nonsense, and it will be impossible to enforce.

The controversial set of rules clearly indicates that content providers would be allowed to pay for faster delivery, which means that’s an advantage over other services that choose not to pay. Therefore, how exactly they are planning to make sure that no one is at a “disadvantage” is impossible to tell.

The FCC will, of course, accept comments on the proposal and no one is going to be happy with this. It will be interesting to see how the chairman will handle the situation when the criticism doesn’t waver even after the official presentation of this “miraculous” solution that he has come up with.

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