FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed on Wednesday, February 3rd that he intends to bring wired and wireless broadband services under utility-style rules based on Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. He said Title II would bring to end the debate over how to ensure that the Internet remains open to everyone, a concept known as Net neutrality.
In an op-ed published Wednesday on Wired.com, Wheeler said the new rules will ban paid prioritization. Thats the idea that an Internet company can pay a premium to ensure that its traffic gets to the consumer faster than everyone else's.
Wheeler also said he would reinstate rules that had been part of the previous open Internet regulation, which went into effect in 2010, but was overruled last year by a federal appeals court, leading to the current situation. The previous rules banned an Internet service provider from blocking traffic or slowing down access to content on the Internet to favor their own services.
Title II of the Communications Act holds the potential to radically change how the Internet is governed by giving the FCC unprecedented authority over it. The provision originally gave the FCC the power to set rates and enforce the "common carrier" principle, or the idea that every customer is treated fairly, on telephone service. FCC Chairman Wheeler hopes to apply that principle to Internet traffic, preventing broadband providers from favoring one bit of data over another.
Net Neutrality is important in all aspects of today's society including amateur radio since more and more emerging communications technologies are dependent on it. And in the years ahead it will be even more so.