FCC Chairman: Opposition to Net Neutrality Is About Power
Washington — The nation’s biggest broadband providers oppose tough net neutrality regulations because they want “unfettered power” over the Internet, the head of the Federal Communications Commission said Friday.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the “avalanche of arguments” against regulations designed to ensure the free flow of online traffic showed that the indusry’s major firms had ulterior motives.
“We should conclude that the biggest broadband providers in the land have one objective — to operate free from control by their customers and free from oversight from government,” Wheeler said in a speech at Ohio State University.
“If they succeed, then, for the first time in America’s communications history, private gatekeepers will have unfettered power to control commerce and free expression,” he said.
The Democratic-controlled FCC approved the regulations last month on a party-line 3-2 vote. They prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing or selling faster delivery of legal content flowing through their networks to consumers.
Broadband providers have said they are committed to those principles, but opposed the FCC’s decision to enact the rules by classifying broadband as a more highly regulated telecommunications service.
On Monday, the USTelecom trade group and Alamo Broadband Inc., a small Texas provider, sued the FCC to stop the regulations. Other industry associations and possibly some additional providers are expected to join the legal effort, which could take three years to resolve.
Wheeler said the FCC’s order addressed the problem federal judges raised last year when they tossed out the agency’s 2010 net neutrality regulations.