FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote an op-ed in Wired Wednesday saying he plans to propose that broadband internet be regulated under Title II.
Title II regulation means broadband internet will be treated as a utility, just like telephone lines. It also means companies won’t be able to pay Internet service providers (ISPs) for so-called “fast lanes” to users.
Wheeler’s proposal will also apply to wireless broadband for mobile devices.
This is a big win for advocates of net neutrality, the concept that all traffic on the internet should flow equally.
People in favour of net neutrality fear that if the internet isn’t regulated by the FCC, rich companies will be able to pay ISPs for priority access to customers. This could potentially shut out startups with better, more disruptive technologies and services and ensure the incumbents maintain a monopoly.
However, Wheeler’s op-ed in Wired doesn’t go into specifics. There are sure to be a bunch of caveats when the full proposal comes out Thursday.
In another big move, the FCC voted last week to classify broadband as a connections with download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps), which is a lot faster than many standard broadband connections today. That means your ISP can’t claim you’re getting a broadband connection unless it can provide those speeds. It should also push ISPs to improve their networks and make them faster.