Originally published: February 23, 2014
Last updated: March 5, 2014 - 8:51am
[Commentary] After losing two court cases on the issue, the Federal Communications Commission last week came up with a promising way to prevent broadband companies from giving preferential treatment to big players like Netflix and Google, which could hurt smaller businesses and start-ups, as well as consumers. It is important that the commission get these rules right.
Without these regulations, broadband providers would be free to strike deals with the Amazons and Apples of this world to deliver their movies, software and other data to customers faster than, or ahead of, other content. Such deals would put smaller competitors at a serious disadvantage. The option the chairman has put on the back burner -- reclassifying broadband -- is more likely to survive a court challenge than using the FCC’s power to promote broadband (authority the court has said is quite limited and can’t be used to impose telecommunications-style regulation). Having failed twice to write rules acceptable to the appeals court, the FCC’s credibility is at stake. It has to prove that its latest strategy can work.