FCC Chair Tom Wheeler
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will propose a new set of rules issued in response to a January federal court decision that tossed out the agency's prior Open Internet rules,
The New York Times reports
. It also reports that the proposed rules will essentially gut net neutrality, allowing Internet service providers what they've always wanted—the ability to charge content companies extra for preferential treatment. Pay, and you get more bandwidth, a bigger tube to send yourself out. Don't pay, you'll be last on the priority list for having your content distributed.
The new rules, according to the people briefed on them, will allow a company like Comcast or Verizon to negotiate separately with each content company – like Netflix, Amazon, Disney or Google – and charge different companies different amounts for priority service.
That, of course, could increase costs for content companies, which would then have an incentive to pass on those costs to consumers as part of their subscription prices.
Proponents of net neutrality have feared that such a framework would empower large, wealthy companies and prevent small start-ups, which might otherwise be the next Twitter or Facebook, for example, from gaining any traction in the market.
That's not the only fear. It will also be a potential disaster for sites like this one, and for nonprofits, for small businesses, for any content provider that doesn't have the big bucks to pay for priority treatment. That in turn will hurt you, the consumer of information and services via the Internet.
The rules will be considered by the commissioners for the next two weeks, before a vote on them on May 15. Stay tuned for our action to fight this proposed rule.