Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler testified before a House oversight committee Tuesday for the first time since the FCC moved forward with a controversial net neutrality proposal. As expected, he got an earful from Republicans who want the FCC to forego any internet regulation, and Democrats who want a level playing field enforced by government.
Many Democrats think Wheeler's effort doesn't go far enough in asserting stronger regulatory powers to prevent broadband providers from charging companies more for higher-speed delivery of their content.That's the best possible example of conflicting ideology as you can imagine. Democrats are looking out to protect the little guy, Republicans looking out for the big companies that could profit even more if the watchdogs are called off. Wheeler has attempted to find a middle path, making no one happy—except the telecoms.
"Paid prioritization divides the Internet into haves and have-nots, and it will entrench the big companies at the expense of start-ups," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills). […]
Republicans oppose any Net neutrality rules, arguing that the Internet has flourished in large part because it has been free from heavy government regulation. They are particularly upset about the idea of reclassifying Internet providers as so-called common carriers, similar to phone companies.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said such a move would "give the bureaucrats at the FCC the authority to second-guess business decisions and to regulate every possible aspect of the Internet."
If Wheeler truly wants what he says he wants—"There's not a fast Internet and a slow Internet ... and when the consumer buys access to the Internet, they are buying access to the full Internet and that’s what our rules attempt to protect"—he has pretty much just one choice. That's reclassifying broadband as a public utility that the FCC has a clear, legal path to oversee.