WSJ: FCC chief mulls ‘hybrid’ net neutrality regulation

Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is considering a two-tiered Internet, one for consumers and one for websites, the Wall Street Journal reports.

FCC: FCC Chief Tom Wheeler is reportedly considering a ‘hybrid’ Internet regulation that would have the Commission overseeing deals between websites and network operators.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is reportedly considering a “hybrid approach” to regulating the Internet in the wake of congressional Democrats having proposed their own hybrid approaches — in favor of the commission taking the lead in overseeing how broadband providers manage Internet traffic.

Wheeler’s plan, which he has said has kept open the door for stricter regulations of Internet service providers, follows months of negotiations and debate over the future of the Internet.

“The plan now under consideration would separate broadband into two distinct services: a retail one, in which consumers would pay broadband providers for Internet access; and a back-end one, in which broadband providers serve as the conduit for websites to distribute content,” says the WSJ.

“The FCC would then classify the back-end service as a common carrier, giving the agency the ability to police any deals between content companies and broadband providers,” the newspaper reports.

The plan’s reasoning is that by regulating broadband services used by website operators, the FCC can oversee the business deals that take place between the broadband providers and the services that run over the top of their networks.

According to the WSJ, the proposal is influenced by ideas from the Mozilla Foundation, which created the Firefox browser. A ZDNet report in 2013 revealed that, in 2012, 90 percent of Mozilla’s funding came from Google.

The commission is expected to come to a decision in December.

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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