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Wheeler prepares to unleash Title II: Internet Hysteria over?

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via Flickr © Chris Piascik (CC BY-ND 2.0)

US news sources are reporting that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will regulate the internet as a public utility and that all will become clear on Thursday when chairman Wheeler’s proposals for network neutrality are expected to be rolled out to the public.

So what, just a couple of months ago, was viewed as an unlikely nuclear option has now become the new normal. Wheeler will reclassify internet access under Title II of the Communications Act as a telecommunications service rather than an information service. Once done, the FCC has clear legal authority (as already tested in court) to regulate it and prevent access providers from choking, discriminating and granting prioritised access.

Wheeler’s approach, however, is to avoid the draconian, detailed regulation much-feared by the telco lobby. So his Title II regulation won’t involve price setting, for instance. It’s also expected to include a watching brief on interconnection issues such as led to squabbles between Comcast and Netflix recently. Reports say these won’t be regulated tightly but will be scrutinised for fairness only.

So far there doesn’t appear to be a concerted chorus of grief and anger from the US telcos, although threatening an investment strike in the wake of the industry spending some $45 billion on mobile spectrum might not be the wisest next move.

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