Republican FCCers call for delay in net neutrality vote

But the agency's chairman says he intends to move forward with Thursday's meeting

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission should delay its vote on net neutrality rules for at least a month after releasing Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal for public comment, the commission's two Republican members said Monday.

Instead of voting on Wheeler's net neutrality proposal on Thursday, as scheduled, the FCC should open his 332-page proposal to the public "and allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it," Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O'Rielly wrote in a joint statement.

Wheeler, part of the three-Democrat majority on the commission, immediately rejected the request, however. The FCC received more than 4 million public comments on net neutrality during the past year, and they "helped shape" his proposal," he wrote on Twitter. "It's time to act."

The open Internet's future is at stake, Wheeler added in a second tweet. "We cannot afford to delay finally adopting enforceable rules to protect consumers and innovators," he wrote.

Wheeler has proposed reclassifying broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated telecommunications service as a way to enforce net neutrality rules prohibiting broadband carriers from selectively blocking or degrading Web traffic. Wheeler's plan would treat broadband in some ways like a regulated public utility, but would have the FCC forbear from some traditional telecom rules, like price regulation.

Many Republicans have opposed Wheeler's plan to reclassify broadband as a regulated telecom service, with many questioning his change of heart from an earlier, less heavy-handed proposal that would have allowed broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management. Wheeler has said public comments helped convince him to instead reclassify broadband.

The public should see the new proposal because it is "dramatically different" than one the chairman put out for comment in May, said Matthew Berry, a spokesman for Pai. "The American people therefore deserve to see the plan and be able to offer feedback before the Commission takes the momentous step of regulating the Internet," he said by email.

If the FCC releases the proposal and public feedback "lacks merit," then the commission can pass the plan after 30 days, Berry added. "If people offered constructive suggestions and the commission wanted to make changes to the plan, then the delay would be longer," he added. "It is more important to get this right than to get it done right now."

Releasing Wheeler's complete proposal would be a change in standard FCC process. During other rule-making proceedings, the agency's chairman has released a nonpublic document to commissioners about three weeks before a vote, giving other commissioners time to debate and suggest changes to the proposal.

The FCC received "unprecedented levels of public comment on a variety of options" for net neutrality rules, FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart said. Wheeler has followed a long-standing FCC process of circulating his proposal to fellow commissioners, and he "has seriously considered all input he has received on this important matter, including feedback from his FCC colleagues," she said.

Reopening Wheeler's proposal to public input, as Pai and O'Rielly have requested, could delay the FCC's net neutrality vote by months, said Michael Weinberg, vice president at Public Knowledge, a digital rights group advocating for strong net neutrality rules. The request from Pai and O'Rielly suggests they want another round of public comments on net neutrality, after two rounds of comments in the past year, he said.

The Republican commissioners seem to want an endless "loop," with a new round of public comments after any revisions to a net neutrality proposal, he said. "We've spent the last year going over net neutrality in all sorts of permutations," Weinberg added. "It's unclear to me what would be achieved by delaying this vote further."

The request from Pai and O'Rielly that Wheeler release his proposal echoes a similar request from congressional Republicans.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationregulationKim HartMichael WeinberggovernmentinternetAjit PaiInternet service providersPublic KnowledgebroadbandMatthew BerryTom WheelerMike O'RiellyU.S. Federal Communications Commission

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?