FCC chairman gives no timeline for net neutrality decision

The agency needs to make sure any rules it passes will stand up to a lawsuit, Wheeler says

U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Tom Wheeler to be chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Tom Wheeler to be chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has no public timeline for voting on proposed net neutrality rules, despite pressure from President Barack Obama and some net neutrality advocates.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler declined to give a target date for a net neutrality vote when asked Friday by reporters, saying instead that the agency is working to make sure that any rules would hold up to an almost inevitable court challenge.

"The big dogs are going to sue, regardless of what comes out," Wheeler said. "We need to make sure that we have sustainable rules. That starts with making sure that we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that have come along."

Wheeler, facing reporter questions after the commission's meeting, said he wants to move forward quickly with net neutrality, or open Internet, rules, but the rules also need to be on firm legal ground. "We are going to be sued, because that's the history," he said "We want those rules to be in place after a court decision."

Wheeler declined to say whether he would put out a new net neutrality proposal or seek more public comment on existing proposals. About 4 million people filed comments this year on Wheeler's first net neutrality proposal, which would allow broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management.

Wheeler said he wants strong rules. The FCC should pass rules with "no blocking, no throttling of apps, with no fast lanes ... with no discrimination," he said.

Early this year, a U.S. appeals court threw out a large portion of net neutrality rules the FCC passed in 2010 after a court challenge from Verizon Communications.

Earlier this month, Obama called on the FCC to pass net neutrality rules by reclassifying broadband as a regulated public utility. Obama's comments came less than two weeks after reports that Wheeler was looking into a so-called hybrid approach that would classify one piece of broadband service as a utility.

Asked Friday if it was appropriate for Obama to take a position when the FCC is an independent agency, and whether Obama's opinion carries extra weight, Wheeler said: "There is a process and [presidents] have every right to express themselves."

After Wheeler said the FCC needs more time to work through issues related reclassifying broadband, net neutrality advocate Free Press called on the agency to stop delaying a vote on new rules. The FCC will not vote on net neutrality rules during its Dec. 11 meeting, according to a notice released this week.

Obama and millions of U.S. residents who have filed comments with the FCC want strong net neutrality rules, said Craig Aaron, Free Press' president and CEO.

"The FCC should have all of the information and motivation it needs to make the right decision and protect Internet users by reclassifying broadband providers," Aaron said in a statement. "President Obama has joined nearly 4 million Americans in calling on the agency to protect real Net Neutrality. Now it's time for the FCC to take action."

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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags governmentbroadbandregulationinternettelecommunicationBarack Obamafree pressInternet service providersU.S. Federal Communications CommissionCraig AaronTom Wheeler

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



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?