In response to the request by Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the three Democrats on the Federal Communication Commission, that the FCC delay a vote on Chair Tom Wheeler's proposal to get net neutrality, the FCC has instead extended the comment period on the rule. The original deadline for comment was midnight, May 7, but because of the groundswell of opposition, Wheeler has decided to leave the lobbying period open until the eve of the vote, which will be on May 15.
That's good news and bad news. The good news is that momentum is on the side of the opponents to the proposed rule. That's both inside and outside of the commission.
Inside the FCC, GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai on Thursday said he had “grave concerns about the chairman’s proposal.” Pai, like most Republicans, never has backed strong FCC net neutrality rules—but his statement put him in the company of Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a vocal supporter of open Internet protections who also asked Wheeler to push the vote back.That means both the giants of the internet and the people who helped them get there with start-up funding have weighed in, strongly in support of a free and open internet. It's pretty much the big telecoms—Comcast, Verizon, AT&T—against the rest of the information technology industry, consumer groups, the nonprofit world, small businesses like Daily Kos, and millions and millions of internet users on this one. We all now have another week to make our voices heard and to keep up the momentum on the side of preserving net neutrality.
Meanwhile, Silicon Valley’s top investors took aim: In a letter to the FCC, more than 50 venture capitalists expressed deep misgivings about the creation of an Internet "fast lane," which they said many start-ups and entrepreneurs could never afford to access.
"Start-ups with applications that are advantaged by speed (such as games, video, or payment systems) will be unlikely to overcome that deficit no matter how innovative their service," wrote the group, which included Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, Naval Ravikant of AngelList and Ron Conway of SV Angel.
The bad news is that Comcast, Verizon, AT&T et al. also have another week to try to break that momentum, and they have a disproportionately strong voice in the commission. That means they have to keep hearing from us.