Speculation Grows That FCC Is Readying Neutrality Regs For Wireline Providers


Fueling speculation that it's preparing to move forward with net neutrality regulations, the Federal Communications Commission pushed back the date of its final meeting of the year, giving itself extra time to finalize the agenda.

The new meeting date, Dec. 21, gives the FCC until around Tuesday to announce the matters it will take up. Some observers have said that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is readying a proposal based on one floated earlier this year by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), according to a recent press report. Waxman's proposal would have required wireline broadband providers, but not wireless providers, to follow neutrality principles for the next two years. He shelved the measure after failing to garner Republican support for it.

While some broadband advocates have said they want the FCC to move forward with neutrality regulations, they have expressed reservations about Waxman's proposal. In papers made public on Friday, advocacy group Public Knowledge called Waxman's plan "a good starting point," but said the FCC should expand on it. Specifically, Public Knowledge urged the FCC to reclassify broadband access as a telecommunications service -- which some advocates have said must happen before the FCC can impose neutrality regulations.

Public Knowledge also called on the FCC to "provide greater protection over wireless networks for content, application and service providers" and to reject paid prioritization. The latter was a key component of a proposal put forward earlier this year by Google and Verizon, who recommended that neutrality regulations allow broadband providers to prioritize so-called managed services, such as telemedicine, advanced educational services and new entertainment offerings.

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