It’s now T-minus six days until the FCC is scheduled to take up a controversial plan to allow Internet providers to buy priority, fast-lane service to consumers — and the complaints continue to pile up.
Yesterday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler ignored a second call by an FCC commissioner, Republican Ajit Pai, to delay a vote on his net neutrality proposal, which would restrict Internet providers from blocking websites or apps but would open the door to allowing content companies to buy priority access to consumers.
The agency is scheduled to vote on draft net neutrality rules Thursday, but it’s not clear if Wheeler has the votes necessary to move the plan forward. Democratic FCC commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn have both expressed concerns about the plan. That’s a problem for Wheeler since the two Republicans on the five-member board aren’t likely to vote in favor of rules; they don’t think there’s currently any need for them.
Opponents of the plan continued to put pressure on Wheeler Friday, including:
- A group of ten Democratic senators — including California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Oregon’s Ron Wyden — sent a letter asking the agency to include plenty of questions in its draft about reclassifying Internet lines under old rules written for phone networks, which would give the agency clearer authority to police Internet providers. “The item should facilitate discussion of the best option for protecting the Open Internet — not merely accept that the Commission has no choice but to permit toll lanes and other kinds of unreasonable discrimination,” they wrote.
- A small Web hosting company apparently decided to take the protest a step further and downgraded the FCC’s access to its website to a 28.8 Kpbs rate, according to The Verge. The company also uploaded code to GitHub so other sites can do the same.
- FCC officials have been so inundated with calls the agency’s toll-free complaint hotline (1-888-225-5322) now directs people to email comments about the net neutrality plan to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Computer & Communications Industry Association, a tech trade group which represents companies including Dish, Foursquare, Intuit and eBay, also sent a letter to the agency letting them know they have concerns about the proposal.
In case you missed it earlier this week, more than 100 Internet startups and larger companies, including Google, Twitter and Amazon, sent a letter to the FCC Wednesday urging Wheeler to drop the fast-lane idea and adopt net neutrality rules that don’t allow broadband providers to discriminate against legal traffic.
Yesterday, dozens of venture capitalists lobbed their own letter to the FCC echoing some of the same concerns as the Internet companies.