[Ed. – The FCC chairman’s proposal would treat Liberty Unyielding the same as the Time-Warner empire. Don’t be fooled: this is an attack on freedom of expression on the web.]
Advocates of net neutrality say that the only way to achieve it is to classify the Internet as common carrier, or a public utility.
The broadband providers would like the FCC to keep them classified as information services, which makes the industry subject to far less regulation.
Caught in the middle, Mr. Wheeler is close to settling on a hybrid approach, people close to the chairman say. The emerging proposal is a departure from an FCC plan put forth last spring, which kept broadband classified as an information service, though Mr. Wheeler at the time made clear that he welcomed input on whether to go the common-carrier route.
The plan now under consideration would separate broadband into two distinct services: a retail one, in which consumers would pay broadband providers for Internet access; and a back-end one, in which broadband providers serve as the conduit for websites to distribute content. The FCC would then classify the back-end service as a common carrier, giving the agency the ability to police any deals between content companies and broadband providers. [This is where the bite happens. Anyone who runs a for-profit blog can be considered a “content company.” This could literally subject the internet-provider subscriptions of LU’s management and contributors to special FCC scrutiny. – Ed.]
One industry official admitted the hybrid plans could be more tolerable “at the margins,” but predicted they would prompt the same legal challenge from the broadband providers as full reclassification. …
Broadband providers say reclassification would give the FCC wide-ranging authority over everything from content to pricing and that it would curtail investment in upgrading and expanding broadband networks.