Potential ‘hybrid’ net neutrality proposal under fire

By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Not everyone is on board with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s potential plan to have the FCC oversee business deals between websites and Internet service providers.

TECH DIVIDE: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is reportedly entertaining the idea of a ‘hybrid’ net neutrality proposal.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Wheeler was considering a “hybrid” plan that would have the FCC strictly regulate business deals between websites and ISPs, while consumers would pay broadband providers for service.

In a recent report published by the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, visiting senior policy scholar Anna-Maria Kovacs wrote, “communications investors expect that it will avoid the ‘nuclear option’ of Title II reclassification and will continue to recognize the special challenges that mobile broadband faces.”

Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 regulates communications services as common carriers. Net neutrality proponents have pushed for the FCC to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II.

Berin Szoka, president of the free market tech think tank TechFreedom, said in a statement Friday that “subjecting any part of broadband to Title II opens the FCC regulation of the heart of the Internet,” and that Title II is “unworkable in any form.”

Ev Ehrlich, president of economics consulting firm ESC Company, said, “So called ‘compromise proposals’ all share one thing — they preserve the advantage that lets edge providers shift the costs they create to consumers.”

Ehrlich, a telecommunications expert, served as undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs during the Clinton administration.

“Proposals that would ‘limit’ the application of Title II to the Internet ‘backbone’ — a market that has never been regulated in its entire existence — are not only unfounded, they are intended to give content behemoths a free ride,” Ehrlich said.

Contact Josh Peterson at jpeterson@watchdog.org. Follow Josh on Twitter at @jdpeterson

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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