Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced in a public interview at the Consumer Electronics Show Wednesday his office will vote on an official proposal for net neutrality next month.
The vote will take place Thursday, Feb. 26.
“We’re going to circulate it to the commissioners on February 5th and vote on it February 26th,” Wheeler told CEA president Gary Shapiro, who was conducting the interview.
The concept of net neutrality says all content on the internet should be treated the same by service providers, and those same providers shouldn’t be able to intervene or treat data differently for any reason. The FCC initially voted against this idea back in May when it approved the creation of an “internet fast lane,” by a vote of 3-2.
Wheeler has been mum on details about the commission’s approach to this issue since then. But in November, President Barack Obama came out in favour of strong net neutrality, saying he wants the FCC to reclassify the internet as a utility, like phone lines.
Proponents say that if the internet isn’t categorized this way — “Title II,” it’s called — internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner could slow down content from some companies while favouring content from others that are able or willing to pay money for those “fast lanes.”
The FCC responded to the president’s endorsement of net neutrality, but declined to weigh in on the proposal one way or another. At least we will know the commission’s stance on the issue by the end of next month.