FCC's Rosenworcel Wants To Put Brakes On 'Fast Lane' Proposal

Not everyone at the Federal Communications Commission is on board with Chairman Tom Wheeler's controversial effort to allow broadband providers to charge companies higher fees to deliver their content faster.

When Wheeler unveiled the pay-for-play proposal, he said the FCC would vote on May 15 about whether to move forward. He said his goal was to enact rules by the end of the year.

But Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said today that she wants to put the brakes on Wheeler's proposal for new rules.

“His proposal has unleashed a torrent of public response. Tens of thousands of e-mails, hundreds of calls, commentary all across the Internet. We need to respect that input and we need time for that input,” she said today at an event in Washington. “I believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the public response to his proposal.”

Rosenworcel -- who says she has “real concerns” about the Wheeler's blueprint -- adds that the vote should be delayed for at least one month.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also took the unusual step of commenting in advance of next week's meeting. “While it is my normal practice not to comment in advance on items which are on circulation ... given the high level of attention and the outpouring of expression on the notice of proposed rulemaking on Open Internet, I felt it was important to highlight my previously stated views,” she wrote in a blog post.

Clyburn didn't say whether or not she supported Wheeler's latest proposal, but pointed out that she is on record as opposing pay-for-priority deals between Internet service providers and content companies.

“There is no doubt that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the core values of our democratic society, and I have an unwavering commitment to its independence,” she wrote. “My mind remains open as I continue to evaluate how best to promote these fundamental, core values.”

Some observers believe that Wheeler's plan won't pass without the support of Clyburn and Rosenworcel, given that the two Republican members of the FCC are expected to oppose any new broadband regulations.

Meanwhile, net neutrality proponents like Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) have been rallying opposition to Wheeler's plan. Franken today urged people to “rise up and make our voices heard” in a new YouTube video about Wheeler's fast-lane proposal. “We cannot allow the FCC to implement a pay-to-play system that silences our voices and amplifies that of big corporate interests,” he says. “We pay for a free and open Internet. We can't let it be taken away. We have to win this and we have to win this now.”

Recommend (1) Print RSS