The Wall Street Journal was first to report that The Federal Communications Commission will propose new open Internet rules this Thursday that will allow content companies to pay Internet service providers "for special access to consumers."
Under the new rules, service providers may not block or discriminate against specific websites, but they can charge certain sites or services for preferential traffic treatment if the ISPs' discrimination is "commercially reasonable."
Bye-bye, Net Neutrality, and the internet as we know it. Hello, greater connectivity gap between rich and poor in America.
For what it's worth: The FCC's current Chairman, Tom Wheeler, previously worked as a VC and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry.
The FCC Commissioners' email addresses, to which concerned citizens might send concerned email: Tom.Wheeler@fcc.gov Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov Mike.O'Rielly@fcc.gov. The FCC's main telephone line is 1-888-225-5322. More contact information and postal mail address here.
From the New York Times:
The new rules, according to the people briefed on them, will allow a company like Comcast or Verizon to negotiate separately with each content company – like Netflix, Amazon, Disney or Google – and charge different companies different amounts for priority service. That, of course, could increase costs for content companies, which would then have an incentive to pass on those costs to consumers as part of their subscription prices.
Proponents of net neutrality have feared that such a framework would empower large, wealthy companies and prevent small start-ups, which might otherwise be the next Twitter or Facebook, for example, from gaining any traction in the market.
From Mashable, confirmation:
In a statement issued to Mashable, the FCC said the draft rules would propose "that broadband providers would be required to offer a baseline level of service to their subscribers, along with the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers." The draft, written by FCC chair Tom Wheeler and his staff, will be circulated within the FCC on Thursday, and the commissioners will vote on a final proposal on May 15.
Michael Weinberg at Public Knowledge:
The FCC is inviting ISPs to pick winners and losers online. The very essence of a "commercial reasonableness" standard is discrimination. And the core of net neutrality is non discrimination. This is not net neutrality. This standard allows ISPs to impose a new price of entry for innovation on the Internet. When the Commission used a commercial reasonableness standard for wireless data roaming, it explicitly found that it may be commercially reasonable for a broadband ISP to charge an edge provider higher rates because its service is competitively threatening.