Timeline set for FCC net neutrality action

Last week, officials told the Post’s Brian Fung that FCC Chair Tom Wheeler informed the committee he will be giving them a draft proposal next month with approval to come shortly thereafter. An FCC spokesperson declined to provide any details on what the proposal might entail but confirmed the timeline.

Even before the new Congress was sworn in Tuesday, Republicans have been vowing to take matters into their own hands and counteract or negate any regulations from the FCC they feel are too rigid or tough on service providers.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told the Wall Street Journal that the FCC’s tools are “outdated and its previous efforts to create rules to regulate the Internet were struck down by the courts. It’s hard to imagine that its new attempt will escape legal and challenges and avoid the kind of regulatory uncertainty that harms Internet innovation and investment.”

Of course, just a few weeks ago, executives from Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner said strict net neutrality rules, which have the support of the president and many free speech and media advocacy groups, would not hinder their willingness or plans to invest in Internet infrastructure or broadband expansion.

The Future of Music Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based group, tells Geeks & Beats that any and all movement from the FCC will be closely watched.

“We’d be thrilled to see a vote for strong Title II protections that ensure a level playing field for independent musicians and other creators,” says Future of Music Coalition spokesperson Kevin Erickson. He’s referring to Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which, if used to protect net neutrality, would regulate the Internet like a utility.

A weak rule could “stick all but the biggest companies in the slow lane,” he says. The FCC has “a unique opportunity to stand up for free expression and equality online; if and when they do the right thing, they should know that countless musicians are ready to stand up and back them up!”

The FCC’s next meeting, the first for 2015, is scheduled for Feb. 26.

Our previous net neutrality coverage can be read here, here and here.

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