The Federal Communications Commission revealed plans to vote on new net neutrality proposals on February 26, 2015.
The revelation came during a Q&A session with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler hosted by Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. “We’re going to circulate it to the commissioners on February 5 and vote on it February 26,” Wheeler said during the session at CES earlier today.
Although he refused to disclose exactly what the new proposal will be, Wheeler did reveal that the FCC are leaning towards reclassifying broadband internet as Title II communications infrastructure, which would go a long way towards protecting net neutrality. “That is the path we are going,” Wheeler told the audience. However, if reclassification were to go forward, he would also support additional rules to prohibit the FCC from imposing the kind of burdensome regulations that slow down innovation in traditional utilities like the electric grid.
Wheeler’s answers support months of growing speculation on Wall Street and Washington all pointing towards he FCC reclassifying broadband internet as a utility. These rumors caused lobbyists working on behalf of major ISPs like Comcast and AT&T, who are vehemently opposed to reclassification, to work overtime in an attempt to prevent new internet regulation.
However, support for Title II was bolstered in November when President Barack Obama came out in support of reclassification. The president’s comments came shortly after more than four million Americans sent messages during the first net neutrality proposal’s public comment period strongly opposing any proposal that allows for the existence of so-called ‘internet fast-lanes.’
Title II reclassification would prevent these ‘internet fast-lanes’ by giving the FCC the necessary regulatory oversight of ISPs to introduce and enforce rules that ban discrimination against the paid prioritization of certain types of content on the web.
Now that the date for the new vote has been revealed, you can expect to see elaborate campaigns designed to influence the FCC start appearing in the news cycle any day now.