Tuesday, December 3, 2013

FCC's Wheeler Supports Net Neutrality

Tom Wheeler
New FCC chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday expressed support for continuing the agency’s net neutrality rules, now being challenged in a federal appellate court, but, according to Variety,  he said that they should let the marketplace “evolve” before addressing whether Internet providers should be able to charge users based on the amount of bandwidth they use.

Wheeler’s remarks, made at Ohio State University at a Q&A session following his first major policy speech, touched on the contentious question of usage-based pricing, which some public interest groups warn will limit the growth of Internet video if consumers face pressure to limit their viewing of movies and TV shows. Internet providers have said that usage-based pricing so far has been aimed at so-called data hogs, or the most egregious cases.

Wheeler said that “we are seeing the market evolve in such a way that there will be variations in pricing, there will be variations in service.”

He added: “I am a firm believer in the market. I think we’re also going to see a two-sided market where Netflix might say, ‘Well, I’ll pay to make sure that my subscriber receives the best possible transmission of this movie.’ I think we want to let those kinds of things evolve, and we want to observe what happens from that and we want to make decisions accordingly. I go back to the fact that the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made, and the functionality of a competitive marketplace dictates the degree of regulation.”

Nevertheless, much of Wheeler’s speech was devoted to a robust role he saw for the FCC in the digital age. In fact, shortly before the speech, the FCC released an eBook he wrote, called Net Effects, in which he put the digital revolution in context with the printing press, the railroad and the telegraph and telephone.

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