Despite their earlier opposition, two Democrats on the Federal Communication Commission joined with the third, chair Tom Wheeler, to move forward with his proposed rule that would allow broadband companies to create, and charge for, a fast-lane of service for companies delivering content over the internet. That breaks net neutrality. The vote opens up a 120-day comment period, until July 15, when the FCC will vote on a final rule.
The proposal is not a final rule, but the three-to-two vote on Thursday is a significant step forward on a controversial idea that has invited fierce opposition from consumer advocates, Silicon Valley heavyweights, and Democratic lawmakers. […]Yes, the telcos are so concerned about their customers. Tell us another, Verizon. Meanwhile, all of the companies that do actually innovate for consumers—the tech firms in question—argue that all of that real innovation will drag to a halt when companies no longer have a free and open internet on which to deliver their products.
The next phase will be four months of public comments, after which the commissioners will vote again on redrafted rules that are meant to take into account public opinion. But the enactment of final rules faces significant challenges.
The proposal has sparked a massive fight between two of the most powerful industries in the country—on one side, Silicon Valley, and on the other, companies such as Verizon and AT&T that built the pipes delivering Web content to consumers’ homes. The telecom companies argue that without being able to charge tech firms for higher-speed connections, they will be unable to invest in faster connections for consumers.
We've got 120 days to push Congress, push the FCC and even push President Obama to urge the FCC to reject this rule and do what really needs to be done to save the internet: Reclassify broadband companies as public utilities and allow for real regulation.
10:03 AM PT: A note from Rachel Colyer on our campaigns team who was at the meeting: One of the Democrats, Jessica Rosenworcel, expressed a great deal of concern about how the process moved forward. She wanted a delay. She was not an actual "yes" vote on the rule, but instead voted to "concur," which is not as strong as a "yes," and signals to Wheeler that he has a lot of work to do in the next 120 days to figure this out.