FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Speaks on Title II Net Neutrality at CES Super Session

Posted by at 12:31 am on January 8, 2015

FCC LogoWednesday at CES in Las Vegas, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President Gary Shapiro sat down for a “Super Session” with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, and asked what had changed in his world since they spoke at the conference in 2013. “Oh, nothing,” deadpanned Wheeler, prompting laughter from the audience, “it’s all exactly the same.” As the discussion went on, Wheeler’s responses to questions seem to be confirming earlier reports that the Commission is strongly leaning towards adopting some level of Communications Act Title II as a base for ensuring Net Neutrality, as urged by President Obama — similar to how it was imposed on the wireless industry.

The move has been strongly opposed by Republicans, carriers and other industries, but popular among tech companies, Democrats, and consumers who opposed previous iterations of the proposal. The FCC commissioners were supposed to hold a hearing early last December, but delays pushed the review into 2015. Wheeler indicated the new proposal will be distributed on February 5, with a vote to be taken on the 25th.

Wheeler pointed out that Section 332 of the Communications Act brought wireless carriers under Title II 20 years ago, with no ill effects to carriers or “innovators.” A time during which, Wheeler pointed out rather ironically, he worked on the proposal from the carrier side as a lobbyist. “I was an entrepenurer, I was a VC,” Wheeler stated in the interview. “I have seen, up close and personal, the effects of networks being closed on innovation.”

On the subject of paid prioritization, Wheeler took the stance that web companies shouldn’t be able to buy priority network access. “We’re going to propose rules that say, ‘no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization’ — and that there is a yardstick against which behavior should be measured, and that yardstick was ‘just and reasonable,'” he said.

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