FCC changes its mind on net neutrality again

The US FCC appears to have had an epiphany on net neutrality and worked out that it is probably not a good idea to back the telcos as they kill off the internet.

The watchdog has previously said that there is nothing wrong with the telcos creating a two-tiered internet and that it would not create any rules which would force them to do otherwise.

Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, it seems that the FCC was a little shocked to discover that the great unwashed wanted their watchdog to protect them and not the telcos.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, is revising a proposal to regulate broadband internet. The WSJ says the changed report will offer “assurances that the agency won’t allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow lanes,” but may not appease the huge number of people who feel the FCC’s plans will allow internet service providers to dictate consumer web usage.

The revised proposal would stop large internet providers such as Comcast from brokering deals with content companies on special terms, and would seek comment on whether “paid prioritisation” which is PR speak for when broadband providers slow access to nonpaying companies’ sites and services  should be banned.

Also added to the draft proposal is new language designed to protect companies that require internet access, and a new ombudsman position who will advocate on behalf of start-ups in disputes, with “significant enforcement authority.”

Wheeler’s initial plans to surrender the Internet to the telcos and offer an internet “fast lane” for bloated internet providers, was blasted by some of the United States’ biggest investors, technology companies, senators, and even Wheeler’s own mates at the FCC.  The great unwashed claimed that he was a tool for cable companies that he used to lobby for.

One FCC official reportedly described the situation as “a debacle,” saying “we may not agree on the course, but we agree the road we are on is to disaster.” Certainly, if the proposal isn’t altered sufficiently ahead of its official review later this week the open Internet will be destroyed in the Land of the Fee.