Federal Communication Commission chairman Tom Wheeler has promised critics an updated version of the agency’s rules to regulate broadband Internet that will not permit the creation of fast and slow lanes for Internet traffic.
At issue is the FCC’s ability to ensure that broadband providers aren’t taking advantage of their role in delivering Internet traffic by prioritizing traffic from companies and services that pay a premium for faster, more reliable speeds. Critics call that kind of favoritism an Internet “fast lane,” with all other traffic traveling, by default, in the “slow lane.”
Netflix was among the first companies to forge an agreement to have its traffic move faster for a fee, and that move brought the issue into the public spotlight. Wheeler, for his part, doesn’t agree that these paid peering agreements will put a strain on the overall network, arguing, in essence, that there would be no “slow lane.” But not everyone is convinced, including some of Wheeler’s fellow FCC commissioners.
The updated set of broadband Internet rules could be revealed as early as today. Meanwhile, the FCC will be debating the new set of rules starting today but probably won’t reach a final decision for weeks.
It’ll be interesting to see what “assurances” Wheeler will make to ensure there are no fast and slow lanes without abolishing paid peering agreements such as those Netflix has already forged with a handful of broadband providers.