It’s official: The US Federal Communications Commission isn’t going to appeal the net neutrality ruling. Instead, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is just going to be writing a whole new set of rules. Supposedly, the new regulations would still ensure that internet service providers in the US wouldn’t be able to charge companies an additional fee to reach customers at faster speeds.
The original ruling outlined the same stipulations meant to ensure that telecom companies couldn’t favour certain types of web traffic over others, but it was ultimately rejected because the FCC had “chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers”. In other words, it had referred to broadband as an information service, distinguishing it from common carriers such as telephone providers. And that tiny, little distinction was net neutrality’s Achilles heel.
It’s not all bad news though. The court did agree that the FCC was within its rights in regulating broadband access (i.e. ensuring telecom companies don’t play favourites), so it can use that as a starting point for enforcing non-discrimination/blocking regulations. There’s still quite a bit of nail-biting left to be done, though, as the FCC said that it likely won’t complete the new set of rules until the middle of 2014 at the earliest. [Reuters]