Watchdog actually growls at US comms companies

angry-puppyUS comms companies are in a tizzy after it is looking like the watchdog put in charge of monitoring them is actually doing its job.

For a while now the comms companies had a wizard wheeze of charging customers twice for the same service by insisting that if they stream content they will have to pay more. In the good old days they would present the plan to the FCC which would promptly roll over and do what it was told. This time the comm companies are collectively fleeing from the building with a figurative chunk of their pants missing.

On May 1st, a group of organisations including AT&T, CenturyLink, USTelecom, and wireless trade association CTIA petitioned for the FCC to delay the implementation of its Open Internet order, which would reclassifying broadband as a service. They claim that it is against the public interest because customers are keen to play more for no marked improvement of service and love to be throttled for not paying up.

Normally that would have done the trick and the FCC would have fallen into line.

But the FCC denied the petition, issuing an order that states its classification of broadband internet as a telecommunications service “falls well within the Commission’s statutory authority, is consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and fully complies with the Administrative Procedure Act.”

The petition had argued specifically against the reclassification, stating that it would lead to “unrecoverable losses” for broadband providers, and “significant costs” that would hurt people.

To be fair, the organisations involved did not complain about the three rules that stop providers from blocking legal content, throttling subscribers, and from offering paid prioritisation. What they wanted was to stop the idea of the internet being seen as a service.

FCC head Tom Wheeler is sure the Open Internet order will get through, bringing in a new and fairer set of rules for the internet, but we expect a few more problems to come.